10 - On The Geological Succession of Organic Beings
10-09 - On the succession of the same types within the same areas
Mr Clift many years ago showed that the fossil mammals from the Australian caves were closely allied to the living marsupials of that continent.
In South America, a similar relationship is manifest, even to an uneducated eye, in the gigantic pieces of armour like those of the armadillo, found in several parts of La Plata; and Professor Owen has shown in the most striking manner that most of the fossil mammals, buried there in such numbers, are related to South American types.
This relationship is even more clearly seen in the wonderful collection of fossil bones made by MM. Lund and Clausen in the caves of Brazil.
|Peter Wilhelm Lund|
I was so much impressed with these facts that I strongly insisted, in 1839 and 1845, on this `law of the succession of types,' on `this wonderful relationship in the same continent between the dead and the living.' Professor Owen has subsequently extended the same generalisation to the mammals of the Old World.
We see the same law in this author's restorations of the extinct and gigantic birds of New Zealand.
|Extinct Birds of New Zealand|
We see it also in the birds of the caves of Brazil.
Mr Woodward has shown that the same law holds good with sea-shells, but from the wide distribution of most genera of molluscs, it is not well displayed by them.
Other cases could be added, as the relation between the extinct and living land-shells of Madeira; and between the extinct and living brackish-water shells of the Aralo-Caspian Sea.
Now what does this remarkable law of the succession of the same types within the same areas mean?
He would be a bold man, who after comparing the present climate of Australia and of parts of South America under the same latitude, would attempt to account, on the one hand, by dissimilar physical conditions for the dissimilarity of the inhabitants of these two continents, and, on the other hand, by similarity of conditions, for the uniformity of the same types in each during the later tertiary periods.
Nor can it be pretended that it is an immutable law that marsupials should have been chiefly or solely produced in Australia; or that Edentata and other American types should have been solely produced in South America.
For we know that Europe in ancient times was peopled by numerous marsupials; and I have shown in the publications above alluded to, that in America the law of distribution of terrestrial mammals was formerly different from what it now is.
North America formerly partook strongly of the present character of the southern half of the continent; and the southern half was formerly more closely allied, than it is at present, to the northern half.
In a similar manner we know from Falconer and Cautley's discoveries, that northern India was formerly more closely related in its mammals to Africa than it is at the present time.
Analogous facts could be given in relation to the distribution of marine animals.
On the theory of descent with modification, the great law of the long enduring, but not immutable, succession of the same types within the same areas, is at once explained; for the inhabitants of each quarter of the world will obviously tend to leave in that quarter, during the next succeeding period of time, closely allied though in some degree modified descendants.
If the inhabitants of one continent formerly differed greatly from those of another continent, so will their modified descendants still differ in nearly the same manner and degree.
But after very long intervals of time and after great geographical changes, permitting much inter-migration, the feebler will yield to the more dominant forms, and there will be nothing immutable in the laws of past and present distribution.
It may be asked in ridicule, whether I suppose that the megatherium and other allied huge monsters have left behind them in South America the sloth, armadillo, and anteater, as their degenerate descendants.
This cannot for an instant be admitted.
These huge animals have become wholly extinct, and have left no progeny.
But in the caves of Brazil, there are many extinct species which are closely allied in size and in other characters to the species still living in South America; and some of these fossils may be the actual progenitors of living species.
It must not be forgotten that, on my theory, all the species of the same genus have descended from some one species; so that if six genera, each having eight species, be found in one geological formation, and in the next succeeding formation there be six other allied or representative genera with the same number of species, then we may conclude that only one species of each of the six older genera has left modified descendants, constituting the six new genera.
The other seven species of the old genera have all died out and have left no progeny.
Or, which would probably be a far commoner case, two or three species of two or three alone of the six older genera will have been the parents of the six new genera; the other old species and the other whole genera having become utterly extinct.
In failing orders, with the genera and species decreasing in numbers, as apparently is the case of the Edentata of South America, still fewer genera and species will have left modified blood-descendants.
13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or
13-07 - Affinities, general, complex and radiating
Mr. Waterhouse has remarked that, when a member belonging to one group of animals exhibits an affinity to a quite distinct group, this affinity in most cases is general and not special: thus, according to Mr. Waterhouse, of all Rodents, the bizcacha is most nearly related to Marsupials; but in the points in which it approaches this order, its relations are general, and not to any one marsupial species more than to another.
As the points of affinity of the bizcacha to Marsupials are believed to be real and not merely adaptive, they are due on my theory to inheritance in common.
Therefore we must suppose either that all Rodents, including the bizcacha, branched off from some very ancient Marsupial, which will have had a character in some degree intermediate with respect to all existing Marsupials; or that both Rodents and Marsupials branched off from a common progenitor, and that both groups have since undergone much modification in divergent directions.
On either view we may suppose that the bizcacha has retained, by inheritance, more of the character of its ancient progenitor than have other Rodents; and therefore it will not be specially related to any one existing Marsupial, but indirectly to all or nearly all Marsupials, from having partially retained the character of their common progenitor, or of an early member of the group.
On the other hand, of all Marsupials, as Mr. Waterhouse has remarked, the phascolomys resembles most nearly, not any one species, but the general order of Rodents.
In this case, however, it may be strongly suspected that the resemblance is only analogical, owing to the phascolomys having become adapted to habits like those of a Rodent.
04 - Natural Selection
04-13 - Convergence of Character
Mr. H. C. Watson thinks that I have overrated the importance of divergence of character (in which, however, he apparently believes) and that convergence, as it may be called, has likewise played a part. If two species, belonging to two distinct though allied genera, had both produced a large number of new and divergent forms, it is conceivable that these might approach each other so closely that they would have all to be classed under the same genus; and thus the descendants of two distinct genera would converge into one.