M Database Inspector (cheetah)
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|07 - Instinct||07-11 - Summary||10||
I have endeavoured briefly in this chapter to show that the mental qualities of our domestic animals vary, and that the variations are inherited.
Still more briefly I have attempted to show that instincts vary slightly in a state of nature.
No one will dispute that instincts are of the highest importance to each animal.
Therefore I can see no difficulty, under changing conditions of life, in natural selection accumulating slight modifications of instinct to any extent, in any useful direction. In some cases habit or use and disuse have probably come into play.
I do not pretend that the facts given in this chapter strengthen in any great degree my theory; but none of the cases of difficulty, to the best of my judgment, annihilate it.
On the other hand, the fact that instincts are not always absolutely perfect and are liable to mistakes; that no instinct has been produced for the exclusive good of other animals, but that each animal takes advantage of the instincts of others; that the canon in natural history, of 'natura non facit saltum' is applicable to instincts as well as to corporeal structure, and is plainly explicable on the foregoing views, but is otherwise inexplicable, all tend to corroborate the theory of natural selection.
This theory is, also, strengthened by some few other facts in regard to instincts; as by that common case of closely allied, but certainly distinct, species, when inhabiting distant parts of the world and living under considerably different conditions of life, yet often retaining nearly the same instincts.
For instance, we can understand on the principle of inheritance, how it is that the thrush of South America lines its nest with mud, in the same peculiar manner as does our British thrush: how it is that the male wrens (Troglodytes) of North America, build 'cock-nests,' to roost in, like the males of our distinct Kitty-wrens, a habit wholly unlike that of any other known bird.
Finally, it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination it is far more satisfactory to look at such instincts as the young cuckoo ejecting its foster-brothers, ants making slaves, -- the larvae of ichneumonidae feeding within the live bodies of caterpillars, not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.
|05 - Laws of Variation||05-05 - Compensation and Economy of Growth||10||
The elder Geoffroy and Goethe propounded, at about the same time, their law of compensation or balancement of growth; or, as Goethe expressed it, "In order to spend on one side, nature is forced to economise on the other side."
I think this holds true to a certain extent with our domestic productions: if nourishment flows to one part or organ in excess, it rarely flows, at least in excess, to another part; thus it is difficult to get a cow to give much milk and to fatten readily.
The same varieties of the cabbage do not yield abundant and nutritious foliage and a copious supply of oil-bearing seeds.
When the seeds in our fruits become atrophied, the fruit itself gains largely in size and quality. In our poultry, a large tuft of feathers on the head is generally accompanied by a diminished comb, and a large beard by diminished wattles.
|06 - Difficutiles in Theory||06-12 - Organs not in all Cases Absolutely Perfect||10||
The foregoing remarks lead me to say a few words on the protest lately made by some naturalists, against the utilitarian doctrine that every detail of structure has been produced for the good of its possessor.
They believe that many structures have been created for the sake of beauty, to delight man or the Creator (but this latter point is beyond the scope of scientific discussion), or for the sake of mere variety, a view already discussed.
Such doctrines, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.
I fully admit that many structures are now of no direct use to their possessors, and may never have been of any use to their progenitors; but this does not prove that they were formed solely for beauty or variety.
No doubt the definite action of changed conditions, and the various causes of modifications, lately specified, have all produced an effect, probably a great effect, independently of any advantage thus gained.
|08 - Hybridism||08-04 - Sterility not a special endowment, but incidental on other differences||10||
The foregoing rules and facts, on the other hand, appear to me clearly to indicate that the sterility both of first crosses and of hybrids is simply incidental or dependent on unknown differences, chiefly in the reproductive systems, of the species which are crossed.
The differences being of so peculiar and limited a nature, that, in reciprocal crosses between two species the male sexual element of the one will often freely act on the female sexual element of the other, but not in a reversed direction.
It will be advisable to explain a little more fully by an example what I mean by sterility being incidental on other differences, and not a specially endowed quality.
As the capacity of one plant to be grafted or budded on another is so entirely unimportant for its welfare in a state of nature, I presume that no one will suppose that this capacity is a specially endowed quality, but will admit that it is incidental on differences in the laws of growth of the two plants.
We can sometimes see the reason why one tree will not take on another, from differences in their rate of growth, in the hardness of their wood, in the period of the flow or nature of their sap, &c.; but in a multitude of cases we can assign no reason whatever.
Great diversity in the size of two plants, one being woody and the other herbaceous, one being evergreen and the other deciduous, and adaptation to widely different climates, does not always prevent the two grafting together.
As in hybridisation, so with grafting, the capacity is limited by systematic affinity, for no one has been able to graft trees together belonging to quite distinct families; and, on the other hand, closely allied species, and varieties of the same species, can usually, but not invariably, be grafted with ease.
But this capacity, as in hybridisation, is by no means absolutely governed by systematic affinity.
Although many distinct genera within the same family have been grafted together, in other cases species of the same genus will not take on each other.
The pear can be grafted far more readily on the quince, which is ranked as a distinct genus, than on the apple, which is a member of the same genus.
Even different varieties of the pear take with different degrees of facility on the quince; so do different varieties of the apricot and peach on certain varieties of the plum.
As Gaertner found that there was sometimes an innate difference in different individuals of the same two species in crossing; so Sagaret believes this to be the case with different individuals of the same two species in being grafted together.
As in reciprocal crosses, the facility of effecting an union is often very far from equal, so it sometimes is in grafting; the common gooseberry, for instance, cannot be grafted on the currant, whereas the currant will take, though with difficulty, on the gooseberry.
We have seen that the sterility of hybrids, which have their reproductive organs in an imperfect condition, is a very different case from the difficulty of uniting two pure species, which have their reproductive organs perfect; yet these two distinct cases run to a certain extent parallel.
Something analogous occurs in grafting; for Thouin found that three species of Robinia, which seeded freely on their own roots, and which could be grafted with no great difficulty on another species, when thus grafted were rendered barren.
On the other hand, certain species of Sorbus, when grafted on other species, yielded twice as much fruit as when on their own roots.
We are reminded by this latter fact of the extraordinary case of Hippeastrum, Lobelia, &c., which seeded much more freely when fertilised with the pollen of distinct species, than when self-fertilised with their own pollen.
We thus see, that although there is a clear and fundamental difference between the mere adhesion of grafted stocks, and the union of the male and female elements in the act of reproduction, yet that there is a rude degree of parallelism in the results of grafting and of crossing distinct species.
And as we must look at the curious and complex laws governing the facility with which trees can be grafted on each other as incidental on unknown differences in their vegetative systems, so I believe that the still more complex laws governing the facility of first crosses, are incidental on unknown differences, chiefly in their reproductive systems.
These differences, in both cases, follow to a certain extent, as might have been expected, systematic affinity, by which every kind of resemblance and dissimilarity between organic beings is attempted to be expressed.
The facts by no means seem to me to indicate that the greater or lesser difficulty of either grafting or crossing together various species has been a special endowment; although in the case of crossing, the difficulty is as important for the endurance and stability of specific forms, as in the case of grafting it is unimportant for their welfare.