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|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||110||
Instances could be given amongst plants and insects, of a group of forms, first ranked by practised naturalists as only a genus, and then raised to the rank of a sub-family or family; and this has been done, not because further research has detected important structural differences, at first overlooked, but because numerous allied species, with slightly different grades of difference, have been subsequently discovered.
All the foregoing rules and aids and difficulties in classification are explained, if I do not greatly deceive myself, on the view that the natural system is founded on descent with modification; that the characters which naturalists consider as showing true affinity between any two or more species, are those which have been inherited from a common parent, and, in so far, all true classification is genealogical; that community of descent is the hidden bond which naturalists have been unconsciously seeking, and not some unknown plan of creation, or the enunciation of general propositions, and the mere putting together and separating objects more or less alike.
But I must explain my meaning more fully.
I believe that the arrangement of the groups within each class, in due subordination and relation to the other groups, must be strictly genealogical in order to be natural; but that the amount of difference in the several branches or groups, though allied in the same degree in blood to their common progenitor, may differ greatly, being due to the different degrees of modification which they have undergone; and this is expressed by the forms being ranked under different genera, families, sections, or orders.
The reader will best understand what is meant, if he will take the trouble of referring to the diagram in the fourth chapter.
|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||120||
We will suppose the letters A to L to represent allied genera, which lived during the Silurian epoch, and these have descended from a species which existed at an unknown anterior period.
Species of three of these genera (A, F, and I) have transmitted modified descendants to the present day, represented by the fifteen genera (a14 to z14) on the uppermost horizontal line.
Now all these modified descendants from a single species, are represented as related in blood or descent to the same degree; they may metaphorically be called cousins to the same millionth degree; yet they differ widely and in different degrees from each other.
The forms descended from A, now broken up into two or three families, constitute a distinct order from those descended from I, also broken up into two families.
Nor can the existing species, descended from A, be ranked in the same genus with the parent A; or those from I, with the parent I.
But the existing genus F14 may be supposed to have been but slightly modified; and it will then rank with the parent-genus F; just as some few still living organic beings belong to Silurian genera.
So that the amount or value of the differences between organic beings all related to each other in the same degree in blood, has come to be widely different.
Nevertheless their genealogical arrangement remains strictly true, not only at the present time, but at each successive period of descent.
All the modified descendants from A will have inherited something in common from their common parent, as will all the descendants from I; so will it be with each subordinate branch of descendants, at each successive period.
If, however, we choose to suppose that any of the descendants of A or of I have been so much modified as to have more or less completely lost traces of their parentage, in this case, their places in a natural classification will have been more or less completely lost, as sometimes seems to have occurred with existing organisms.
All the descendants of the genus F, along its whole line of descent, are supposed to have been but little modified, and they yet form a single genus.
But this genus, though much isolated, will still occupy its proper intermediate position; for F originally was intermediate in character between A and I, and the several genera descended from these two genera will have inherited to a certain extent their characters.
|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||130||
This natural arrangement is shown, as far as is possible on paper, in the diagram, but in much too simple a manner.
If a branching diagram had not been used, and only the names of the groups had been written in a linear series, it would have been still less possible to have given a natural arrangement; and it is notoriously not possible to represent in a series, on a flat surface, the affinities which we discover in nature amongst the beings of the same group.
Thus, on the view which I hold, the natural system is genealogical in its arrangement, like a pedigree; but the degrees of modification which the different groups have undergone, have to be expressed by ranking them under different so-called genera, sub-families, families, sections, orders, and classes.
It may be worth while to illustrate this view of classification, by taking the case of languages.
If we possessed a perfect pedigree of mankind, a genealogical arrangement of the races of man would afford the best classification of the various languages now spoken throughout the world; and if all extinct languages, and all intermediate and slowly changing dialects, had to be included, such an arrangement would, I think, be the only possible one.
Yet it might be that some very ancient language had altered little, and had given rise to few new languages, whilst others (owing to the spreading and subsequent isolation and states of civilisation of the several races, descended from a common race) had altered much, and had given rise to many new languages and dialects.
The various degrees of difference in the languages from the same stock, would have to be expressed by groups subordinate to groups; but the proper or even only possible arrangement would still be genealogical; and this would be strictly natural, as it would connect together all languages, extinct and modern, by the closest affinities, and would give the filiation and origin of each tongue.
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-04 - Classification of varieties||10||
In confirmation of this view, let us glance at the classification of varieties, which are believed or known to have descended from one species.
These are grouped under species, with sub-varieties under varieties; and with our domestic productions, several other grades of difference are requisite, as we have seen with pigeons.
The origin of the existence of groups subordinate to groups, is the same with varieties as with species, namely, closeness of descent with various degrees of modification.
Nearly the same rules are followed in classifying varieties, as with species.
Authors have insisted on the necessity of classing varieties on a natural instead of an artificial system; we are cautioned, for instance, not to class two varieties of the pine-apple together, merely because their fruit, though the most important part, happens to be nearly identical; no one puts the swedish and common turnips together, though the esculent and thickened stems are so similar.
Whatever part is found to be most constant, is used in classing varieties: thus the great agriculturist Marshall says the horns are very useful for this purpose with cattle, because they are less variable than the shape or colour of the body, &c.; whereas with sheep the horns are much less serviceable, because less constant.
In classing varieties, I apprehend if we had a real pedigree, a genealogical classification would be universally preferred; and it has been attempted by some authors.
For we might feel sure, whether there had been more or less modification, the principle of inheritance would keep the forms together which were allied in the greatest number of points.
In tumbler pigeons, though some sub-varieties differ from the others in the important character of having a longer beak, yet all are kept together from having the common habit of tumbling; but the short-faced breed has nearly or quite lost this habit; nevertheless, without any reasoning or thinking on the subject, these tumblers are kept in the same group, because allied in blood and alike in some other respects.
If it could be proved that the Hottentot had descended from the Negro, I think he would be classed under the Negro group, however much he might differ in colour and other important characters from negroes.