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OriginOfSpecies - 475 Rows
Column Type #Values Column Stats
id int(11) 475 Column Stats
subject varchar(80) 14 Column Stats
title varchar(250) 139 Column Stats
ordinal int(11) 30 Column Stats
description text 474 Column Stats

475 rows, page 102 of 119 (4/p)
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13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or 13-02 - Natural system 10 Naturalists try to arrange the species, genera, and families in each class, on what is called the Natural System.

But what is meant by this system?

Some authors look at it merely as a scheme for arranging together those living objects which are most alike, and for separating those which are most unlike; or as an artificial means for enunciating, as briefly as possible, general propositions, that is, by one sentence to give the characters common, for instance, to all mammals, by another those common to all carnivora, by another those common to the dog-genus, and then by adding a single sentence, a full description is given of each kind of dog.

dog
dog


The ingenuity and utility of this system are indisputable.

But many naturalists think that something more is meant by the Natural System; they believe that it reveals the plan of the Creator; but unless it be specified whether order in time or space, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge.

Such expressions as that famous one of Linnaeus, and which we often meet with in a more or less concealed form, that the characters do not make the genus, but that the genus gives the characters, seem to imply that something more is included in our classification, than mere resemblance.

Carl Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus


I believe that something more is included; and that propinquity of descent, the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings, is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classifications.
13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or 13-03 - Rules and difficulties in classification, explained on the theory of descent with modification 10 Let us now consider the rules followed in classification, and the difficulties which are encountered on the view that classification either gives some unknown plan of creation, or is simply a scheme for enunciating general propositions and of placing together the forms most like each other.

It might have been thought (and was in ancient times thought) that those parts of the structure which determined the habits of life, and the general place of each being in the economy of nature, would be of very high importance in classification.

Nothing can be more false.

No one regards the external similarity of a mouse to a shrew, of a dugong to a whale, of a whale to a fish, as of any importance.

mouse
mouse

shrew
shrew

dugong
dugong

whale
whale

fish
fish
13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or 13-03 - Rules and difficulties in classification, explained on the theory of descent with modification 20 These resemblances, though so intimately connected with the whole life of the being, are ranked as merely `adaptive or analogical characters;' but to the consideration of these resemblances we shall have to recur.

It may even be given as a general rule, that the less any part of the organisation is concerned with special habits, the more important it becomes for classification.

As an instance: Owen, in speaking of the dugong, says, `The generative organs being those which are most remotely related to the habits and food of an animal, I have always regarded as affording very clear indications of its true affinities.

Richard Owen
Richard Owen


We are least likely in the modifications of these organs to mistake a merely adaptive for an essential character.' So with plants, how remarkable it is that the organs of vegetation, on which their whole life depends, are of little signification, excepting in the first main divisions; whereas the organs of reproduction, with their product the seed, are of paramount importance!

We must not, therefore, in classifying, trust to resemblances in parts of the organisation, however important they may be for the welfare of the being in relation to the outer world.
13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or 13-03 - Rules and difficulties in classification, explained on the theory of descent with modification 30 Perhaps from this cause it has partly arisen, that almost all naturalists lay the greatest stress on resemblances in organs of high vital or physiological importance.

No doubt this view of the classificatory importance of organs which are important is generally, but by no means always, true.

But their importance for classification, I believe, depends on their greater constancy throughout large groups of species; and this constancy depends on such organs having generally been subjected to less change in the adaptation of the species to their conditions of life.

That the mere physiological importance of an organ does not determine the classificatory value, is almost shown by the one fact, that in allied groups, in which the same organ, as we have every reason to suppose, has nearly the same physiological value, its classificatory value is widely different.

No naturalist can have worked at any group without being struck with this fact; and it has been most fully acknowledged in the writings of almost every author.

It will suffice to quote the highest authority, Robert Brown, who in speaking of certain organs in the Proteaceae, says their generic importance, `like that of all their parts, not only in this but, as I apprehend, in every natural family, is very unequal, and in some cases seems to be entirely lost.' Again in another work he says, the genera of the Connaraceae `differ in having one or more ovaria, in the existence or absence of albumen, in the imbricate or valvular aestivation.

Robert Brown
Robert Brown

Proteaceae
Proteaceae