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05 - Laws of Variation 05-09 - Specific Characters more Variable than Generic Characters 10 The principle discussed under the last heading may be applied to our present subject. It is notorious that specific characters are more variable than generic.

To explain by a simple example what is meant: if in a large genus of plants some species had blue flowers and some had red, the colour would be only a specific character, and no one would be surprised at one of the blue species varying into red, or conversely; but if all the species had blue flowers, the colour would become a generic character, and its variation would be a more unusual circumstance.

I have chosen this example because the explanation which most naturalists would advance is not here applicable, namely, that specific characters are more variable than generic, because they are taken from parts of less physiological importance than those commonly used for classing genera.

I believe this explanation is partly, yet only indirectly, true; I shall, however, have to return to this point in the chapter on Classification.

It would be almost superfluous to adduce evidence in support of the statement, that ordinary specific characters are more variable than generic; but with respect to important characters I have repeatedly noticed in works on natural history, that when an author remarks with surprise that some important organ or part, which is generally very constant throughout a large group of species, differs considerably in closely-allied species, it is often variable in the individuals of the same species.

And this fact shows that a character, which is generally of generic value, when it sinks in value and becomes only of specific value, often becomes variable, though its physiological importance may remain the same.

Something of the same kind applies to monstrosities: at least Isidore Geoffroy St-Hilaire apparently entertains no doubt that the more an organ normally differs in the different species of the same group, the more subject it is to anomalies in the individuals.
04 - Natural Selection 04-02 - Its Power Compared with Man's Selection 10 As man can produce a great result with his domestic animals and plants by adding up in any given direction individual differences, so could natural selection, but far more easily from having incomparably longer time for action.

Nor do I believe that any great physical change, as of climate, or any unusual degree of isolation to check immigration, is necessary in order that new and unoccupied places should be left, for natural selection to fill up by improving some of the varying inhabitants.

For as all the inhabitants of each country are struggling together with nicely balanced forces, extremely slight modifications in the structure or habits of one species would often give it an advantage over others; and still further modifications of the same kind would often still further increase the advantage, as long as the species continued under the same conditions of life and profited by similar
means of subsistence and defence.

No country can be named in which all the native inhabitants are now so perfectly adapted to each other and to the physical conditions under which they live, that none of them could be still better adapted or improved; for in all countries, the natives have been so far conquered by naturalised productions, that they have allowed some foreigners to take firm possession of the land.

And as foreigners have thus in every country beaten some of the natives, we may safely conclude that the natives might have been modified with advantage, so as to have better resisted the intruders.
06 - Difficutiles in Theory 06-11 - Organs of Small Importance 10 As natural selection acts by life and death,- by the survival of the fittest, and by the destruction of the less well-fitted individuals,- I have sometimes felt great difficulty in understanding the origin or formation of parts of little importance; almost as great, though of a very different kind, as in the case of the most perfect and complex organs.
06 - Difficutiles in Theory 06-02 - Transitions 10 As natural selection acts solely by the preservation of profitable modifications, each new form will tend in a fully-stocked country to take the place of, and finally to exterminate, its own less improved parent-form and other less favoured forms with which it comes into competition.