M Database Inspector (cheetah)
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|OriginOfSpecies - 475 Rows|
|12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued||12-30 - Absence of Batrachians and of terrestrial Mammals||20||
I have taken pains to verify this assertion, and I have found it strictly true.
I have, however, been assured that a frog exists on the mountains of the great island of New Zealand; but I suspect that this exception (if the information be correct) may be explained through glacial agency.
This general absence of frogs, toads, and newts on so many oceanic islands cannot be accounted for by their physical conditions; indeed it seems that islands are peculiarly well fitted for these animals; for frogs have been introduced into Madeira, the Azores, and Mauritius, and have multiplied so as to become a nuisance.
|05 - Laws of Variation||05-05 - Compensation and Economy of Growth||20||
With species in a state of nature it can hardly be maintained that the law is of universal application; but many good observers, more especially botanists, believe in its truth.
I will not, however, here give any instances, for I see hardly any way of distinguishing between the effects, on the one hand, of a part being largely developed through natural selection and another and adjoining part being reduced by this same process or by disuse, and, on the other hand the actual withdrawal of nutriment from one part owing to the excess of growth in another and adjoining part.
I suspect, also, that some of the cases of compensation which have been advanced, and likewise some other facts, may be merged under a more general principle, namely, that natural selection is continually trying to economise every part of the organization.
If under changed conditions of life a structure, before useful, becomes less useful, its diminution will be favoured, for it will profit the individual not to have its nutriment wasted in building up an useless structure.
I can only thus understand a fact with which I was much struck when examining cirripedes, and of which many analogous instances could be given: namely, that when a cirripede is parasitic within another cirripede and is thus protected, it loses more or less completely its own shell or carapace.
This is the case with the male Ibla, and in a truly extraordinary manner with the Proteolepas: for the carapace in all other cirripedes consists of the three highly-important anterior segments of the head enormously developed, and furnished with great nerves and muscles; but in the parasitic and protected Proteolepas, the whole anterior part of the head is reduced to the merest rudiment attached to the bases of the prehensile antennae.
Now the saving of a large and complex structure, when rendered superfluous, would be a decided advantage to each successive individual of the species; for in the struggle for life to which every animal is exposed, each would have a better chance of supporting itself, by less nutriment being wasted.
Thus, as I believe, natural selection will tend in the long run to reduce any part of the organisation, as soon as it becomes, through changed habits, superfluous, without by any means causing some other part to be largely developed in a corresponding degree.
And, conversely, that natural selection may perfectly well succeed in largely developing an organ without requiring as a necessary compensation the reduction of some adjoining part.
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-05 - Descent always used in classification||20||
But it may be asked, what ought we to do, if it could be proved that one species of kangaroo had been produced, by a long course of modification, from a bear?
Ought we to rank this one species with bears, and what should we do with the other species?
The supposition is of course preposterous; and I might answer by the argumentum ad hominem, and ask what should be done if a perfect kangaroo were seen to come out of the womb of a bear?
According to all analogy, it would be ranked with bears; but then assuredly all the other species of the kangaroo family would have to be classed under the bear genus.
The whole case is preposterous; for where there has been close descent in common, there will certainly be close resemblance or affinity.
|14 - Recapitulation and Conclusion||14-05 - Effects of its adoption on the study of Natural history||20||
It is quite possible that forms now generally acknowledged to be merely varieties may hereafter be thought worthy of specific names, as with the primrose and cowslip; and in this case scientific and common language will come into accordance.
In short, we shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combinations made for convenience.
This may not be a cheering prospect; but we shall at least be freed from the vain search for the undiscovered and undiscoverable essence of the term species.
The other and more general departments of natural history will rise greatly in interest.
The terms used by naturalists of affinity, relationship, community of type, paternity, morphology, adaptive characters, rudimentary and aborted organs, &c., will cease to be metaphorical, and will have a plain signification.
When we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as at something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, nearly in the same way as when we look at any great mechanical invention as the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting, I speak from experience, will the study of natural history become!
A grand and almost untrodden field of inquiry will be opened, on the causes and laws of variation, on correlation of growth, on the effects of use and disuse, on the direct action of external conditions, and so forth.
The study of domestic productions will rise immensely in value.