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05 - Laws of Variation 05-11 - Species of the Same Genus Vary in an Analogous Manner 20 Many similar cases of analogous variation have been observed by Naudin in the great gourd-family, and by various authors in our cereals.

turgourdnip
turgourdnip

cereals
cereals


Similar cases occurring with insects under natural conditions have lately been discussed with much ability by Mr. Walsh, who has grouped them under his law of Equable Variability.

insect
insect

Benjamin Dann Walsh
Benjamin Dann Walsh


With pigeons, however, we have another case, namely, the occasional appearance in all the breeds, of slaty-blue birds with two black bars on the wings, white loins, a bar at the end of the tail, with the outer feathers externally edged near their basis with white.

As all these marks are characteristic of the parent rock-pigeon, I presume that no one will doubt that this is a case of reversion, and not of a new yet analogous variation appearing in the several breeds.

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon


We may, I think, confidently come to this conclusion, because, as we have seen, these coloured marks are eminently liable to appear in the crossed offspring of two distinct and differently coloured breeds; and in this case there is nothing in the external conditions of life to cause the reappearance of the slaty-blue, with the several marks, beyond the influence of the mere act of crossing on the laws of inheritance.
05 - Laws of Variation 05-12 - Reversion to Long Lost Characters 10 No doubt it is a very surprising fact that characters should reappear after having been lost for many, probably for hundreds of generations.

But when a breed has been crossed only once by some other breed, the offspring occasionally show for many generations a tendency to revert in character to the foreign breed- some say, for a dozen or even a score of generations.

After twelve generations, the proportion of blood, to use a common expression, from one ancestor, is only 1 in 2048;
and yet, as we see, it is generally believed that a tendency to reversion is retained by this remnant of foreign blood.

In a breed which has not been crossed, but in which both parents have lost some character which their progenitor possessed, the tendency, whether strong or weak, to reproduce the lost character might, as was formerly remarked, for all that we can see to the contrary, be transmitted for almost any number of generations.

When a character which has been lost in a breed, reappears after a great number of generations, the most probable hypothesis is, not that one individual suddenly takes after an ancestor removed by some hundred generations, but that in each successive generation the character in question has been lying latent, and at last, under unknown favourable conditions, is developed.

With the barb-pigeon, for instance, which very rarely produces a blue bird, it is probable that there is a latent tendency in each generation to produce blue plumage.

Barb Pigeon
Barb Pigeon


The abstract improbability of such a tendency being transmitted through a vast number of generations, is not greater than that of quite useless or rudimentary organs being similarly transmitted. A mere tendency to produce a rudiment is indeed sometimes thus inherited.
05 - Laws of Variation 05-12 - Reversion to Long Lost Characters 100 He who believes that each equine species was independently created, will, I presume, assert that each species has been created with a tendency to vary, both under nature and under domestication, in this particular manner, so as often to become striped like the other species of the genus; and that each has been created with a strong tendency, when crossed with species inhabiting distant quarters of the world, to produce hybrids resembling in their stripes, not their own parents, but other species of the genus.

To admit this view is, as it seems to me, to reject a real for an unreal, or at least for an unknown, cause. It makes the works of God a mere mockery and deception; I would almost as soon believe, with the old and ignorant cosmogonists, that fossil shells had never lived, but had been created in stone so as to mock the shells living on the seashore.
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05 - Laws of Variation 05-13 - Summary 10 Our ignorance of the laws of variation is profound.

Not in one case out of a hundred can we pretend to assign any reason why this or that part has varied.

But whenever we have the means of instituting a comparison, the same laws appear to have acted in producing the lesser differences between varieties of the same species, and the greater differences between species of the same genus.

Changed conditions generally induce mere fluctuating variability, but sometimes they cause direct and definite effects; and these may become strongly marked in the course of time, though we have not sufficient evidence on this head.

Habit in producing constitutional peculiarities and use in strengthening and disuse in weakening and diminishing organs, appear in many cases to have been potent in their effects.

Homologous parts tend to vary in the same manner, and homologous parts tend to cohere.

Modifications in hard parts and in external parts sometimes affect softer and internal parts.

When one part is largely developed, perhaps it tends to draw nourishment from the adjoining parts; and every part of the structure which can be saved without detriment will be saved.

Changes of structure at an early age may affect parts subsequently developed; and many cases of correlated variation, the nature of which we are unable to understand, undoubtedly occur.

Multiple parts are variable in number and in structure, perhaps arising from such parts not having been closely specialised for any particular function, so that their modifications have not been closely cheeked by natural selection.

It follows probably from this same cause, that organic beings low in the scale are more variable than those standing higher in the scale, and which have their whole organisation more specialised.

Rudimentary organs, from being useless, are not regulated by natural selection, and hence are variable.

Specific characters- that is, the characters which have, come to differ since the several species of the same genus branched off from a common parent- are more variable than generic characters, or those which have long been inherited, and have not differed from this same period.