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|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-05 - Descent always used in classification||60||
On my view of characters being of real importance for classification, only in so far as they reveal descent, we can clearly understand why analogical or adaptive character, although of the utmost importance to the welfare of the being, are almost valueless to the systematist.
For animals, belonging to two most distinct lines of descent, may readily become adapted to similar conditions, and thus assume a close external resemblance; but such resemblances will not reveal will rather tend to conceal their blood-relationship to their proper lines of descent.
We can also understand the apparent paradox, that the very same characters are analogical when one class or order is compared with another, but give true affinities when the members of the same class or order are compared one with another: thus the shape of the body and fin-like limbs are only analogical when whales are compared with fishes, being adaptations in both classes for swimming through the water; but the shape of the body and fin-like limbs serve as characters exhibiting true affinity between the several members of the whale family; for these cetaceans agree in so many characters, great and small, that we cannot doubt that they have inherited their general shape of body and structure of limbs from a common ancestor.
So it is with fishes.
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-06 - Analogical or adaptive characters||10||
As members of distinct classes have often been adapted by successive slight modifications to live under nearly similar circumstances, to inhabit for instance the three elements of land, air, and water, we can perhaps understand how it is that a numerical parallelism has sometimes been observed between the sub-groups in distinct classes.
A naturalist, struck by a parallelism of this nature in any one class, by arbitrarily raising or sinking the value of the groups in other classes (and all our experience shows that this valuation has hitherto been arbitrary), could easily extend the parallelism over a wide range; and thus the septenary, quinary, quaternary, and ternary classifications have probably arisen.
As the modified descendants of dominant species, belonging to the larger genera, tend to inherit the advantages, which made the groups to which they belong large and their parents dominant, they are almost sure to spread widely, and to seize on more and more places in the economy of nature.
The larger and more dominant groups thus tend to go on increasing in size; and they consequently supplant many smaller and feebler groups.
Thus we can account for the fact that all organisms, recent and extinct, are included under a few great orders, under still fewer classes, and all in one great natural system.
As showing how few the higher groups are in number, and how widely spread they are throughout the world, the fact is striking, that the discovery of Australia has not added a single insect belonging to a new order; and that in the vegetable kingdom, as I learn from Dr. Hooker, it has added only two or three orders of small size.
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-06 - Analogical or adaptive characters||20||
In the chapter on geological succession I attempted to show, on the principle of each group having generally diverged much in character during the long-continued process of modification, how it is that the more ancient forms of life often present characters in some slight degree intermediate between existing groups.
A few old and intermediate parent-forms having occasionally transmitted to the present day descendants but little modified, will give to us our so-called osculant or aberrant groups.
The more aberrant any form is, the greater must be the number of connecting forms which on my theory have been exterminated and utterly lost.
And we have some evidence of aberrant forms having suffered severely from extinction, for they are generally represented by extremely few species; and such species as do occur are generally very distinct from each other, which again implies extinction.
The genera Ornithorhynchus and Lepidosiren, for example, would not have been less aberrant had each been represented by a dozen species instead of by a single one; but such richness in species, as I find after some investigation, does not commonly fall to the lot of aberrant genera.
We can, I think, account for this fact only by looking at aberrant forms as failing groups conquered by more successful competitors, with a few members preserved by some unusual coincidence of favourable circumstances.
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-07 - Affinities, general, complex and radiating||10||
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.