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OriginOfSpecies - 475 Rows
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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

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07 - Instinct 07-02 - Instincts Graduated 10 It will be universally admitted that instincts are as important as corporeal structures for the welfare of each species, under its present conditions of life.

Under changed conditions of life, it is at least possible that slight modifications of instinct might be profitable to a species; and if it can be shown that instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in natural selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of instinct to any extent that may be profitable.

It is thus, as I believe, that all the most complex and wonderful instincts have originated.

As modifications of corporeal structure arise from, and are increased by, use or habit, and are diminished or lost by disuse, so I do not doubt it has been with instincts.

But I believe that the effects of habit are of quite subordinate importance to the effects of the natural selection of what may be called accidental variations of instincts; that is of variations produced by the same unknown causes which produce slight deviations of bodily structure.
07 - Instinct 07-02 - Instincts Graduated 20 No complex instinct can possibly be produced through natural selection, except by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous, slight, yet profitable, variations.

Hence, as in the case of corporeal structures, we ought to find in nature, not the actual transitional gradations by which each complex instinct has been acquired for these could be found only in the lineal ancestors of each species but we ought to find in the collateral lines of descent some evidence of such gradations; or we ought at least to be able to show that gradations of some kind are possible; and this we certainly can do.

I have been surprised to find, making allowance for the instincts of animals having been but little observed except in Europe and North America, and for no instinct being known amongst extinct species, how very generally gradations, leading to the most complex instincts, can be discovered.

The canon of 'Natura non facit saltum' applies with almost equal force to instincts as to bodily organs.

Changes of instinct may sometimes be facilitated by the same species having different instincts at different periods of life, or at different seasons of the year, or when placed under different circumstances, &c.; in which case either one or the other instinct might be preserved by natural selection. And such instances of diversity of instinct in the same species can be shown to occur in nature.
07 - Instinct 07-03 - Aphides and ants 30 as in the case of corporeal structure, and conformably with my theory, the instinct of each species is good for itself, but has never, as far as we can judge, been produced for the exclusive good of others.

One of the strongest instances of an animal apparently performing an action for the sole good of another, with which I am acquainted, is that of aphides voluntarily yielding their sweet excretion to ants: that they do so voluntarily, the following facts show.

aphid
aphid

ant
ant


I removed all the ants from a group of about a dozen aphides on a dock-plant, and prevented their attendance during several hours.

Dock Plant
Dock Plant


After this interval, I felt sure that the aphides would want to excrete.

I watched them for some time through a lens, but not one excreted; I then tickled and stroked them with a hair in the same manner, as well as I could, as the ants do with their antennae; but not one excreted.

Afterwards I allowed an ant to visit them, and it immediately seemed, by its eager way of running about, to be well aware what a rich flock it had discovered; it then began to play with its antennae on the abdomen first of one aphis and then of another; and each aphis, as soon as it felt the antennae, immediately lifted up its abdomen and excreted a limpid drop of sweet juice, which was eagerly devoured by the ant.

Even the quite young aphides behaved in this manner, showing that the action was instinctive, and not the result of experience.

But as the excretion is extremely viscid, it is probably a convenience to the aphides to have it removed; and therefore probably the aphides do not instinctively excrete for the sole good of the ants.

Although I do not believe that any animal in the world performs an action for the exclusive good of another of a distinct species, yet each species tries to take advantage of the instincts of others, as each takes advantage of the weaker bodily structure of others.

So again, in some few cases, certain instincts cannot be considered as absolutely perfect; but as details on this and other such points are not indispensable, they may be here passed over.
07 - Instinct 07-04 - Instincts variable 40 As some degree of variation in instincts under a state of nature, and the inheritance of such variations, are indispensable for the action of natural selection, as many instances as possible ought to have been here given; but want of space prevents me.

I can only assert, that instincts certainly do vary for instance, the migratory instinct, both in extent and direction, and in its total loss.

So it is with the nests of birds, which vary partly in dependence on the situations chosen, and on the nature and temperature of the country inhabited, but often from causes wholly unknown to us: Audubon has given several remarkable cases of differences in nests of the same species in the northern and southern United States.

Fear of any particular enemy is certainly an instinctive quality, as may be seen in nestling birds, though it is strengthened by experience, and by the sight of fear of the same enemy in other animals.

But fear of man is slowly acquired, as I have elsewhere shown, by various animals inhabiting desert islands; and we may see an instance of this, even in England, in the greater wildness of all our large birds than of our small birds; for the large birds have been most persecuted by man.

We may safely attribute the greater wildness of our large birds to this cause; for in uninhabited islands large birds are not more fearful than small; and the magpie, so wary in England, is tame in Norway, as is the hooded crow in Egypt.

magpie
magpie

England
England

Norway
Norway

crow
crow

Egypt
Egypt


That the general disposition of individuals of the same species, born in a state of nature, is extremely diversified, can be shown by a multitude of facts.

Several cases also, could be given, of occasional and strange habits in certain species, which might, if advantageous to the species, give rise, through natural selection, to quite new instincts.

But I am well aware that these general statements, without facts given in detail, can produce but a feeble effect on the reader's mind. I can only repeat my assurance, that I do not speak without good evidence.