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the old. Call the breeds of pigeons, some of which have bred true for centuries, species; and how exactly parallel is the case with that of the species of the horsegenus ! For myself, I venture confidently to look back thousands on thousands of generations, and I see an animal striped like a zebra, but perhaps otherwise very differently constructed, the common parent of our domestic horse, whether or not it be descended from one or more wild stocks, of the ass, the hemionus, quagga, and zebra.
He who believes that each equine'species was independently created, will, I presume, assert that each species has been created with a tendency to vary, both under nature and under domestication, in this particular manner, so as often to become striped like other species of the genus; and that each has been created with a strong tendency, when crossed with species inhabiting distant quarters of the world, to produce hybrids resembling in their stripes, not their own parents, but other species of the genus. To admit this view is, as it seems to me, to reject a real for an unreal, or at least for an unknown, cause. It makes the works of God a mere mockery and deception ; I would almost as soon believe with the old and ignorant cosmogonists, that fossil shells had never lived, but had been created in stone so as to mock the shells now living on the sea-shore.
Summary.-Our ignorance of the laws of variation is profound. Not in one case out of a hundred can we pretend to assign any reason why this or that part differs, more or less, from the same part in the parents. But whenever we have the means of instituting a comparison, the same laws appear to have acted in producing the lesser differences between varieties of the same species, and the greater differences between species of the same genus.
The external conditions of life, as climate and food, etc., seem to have induced some slight modifications. Habit in producing constitutional differences, and use in strengthening and disuse in weak
ening and diminishing organs, seem to have been more potent in their effects.
Homologous parts tend to vary in the same way, and homologous parts tend to cohere. Modifications in hard parts and in external parts sometimes affect softer and internal parts.
When one part is largely developed, perhaps it tends to draw nourishment from the adjoining parts; and every part of the structure which can be saved without detriment to the individual, will be saved. Changes of structure at an early age will generally affect parts subsequently developed ; and there are very many other correlations of growth, the nature of which we are utterly unable to understand. Multiple parts are variable in number and in structure, perhaps arising from such parts not having been closely specialised to any particular function, so that their modifications have not been closely checked by natural selection. It is probably from this same cause that organic beings low in the scale of nature are more variable than those which have their whole organisation more specialised, and are higher in the scale. Rudimentary organs, from being useless, will be disregarded by natural selection, and hence probably are variable. Specific characters—that is, the characters which have come to differ since the several species of the same genus branched off from a common parentare more variable than generic characters, or those which have long been inherited, and have not differed within this same period. In these remarks we have referred to special parts or organs being still variable, because they have recently varied and thus come to differ; but we have also seen in the second Chapter that the same principle applies to the whole individual; for in a district where many species of any genus are found--that is, where there has been much former variation and differentiation, or where the manufactory of new specific forms has been actively at work—there, on an average, we now find most varieties or incipient species. Secondary sexual characters are highly variable, and such characters differ much in the species of the same group. Variability in the same parts of
the organisation has generally been taken advantage of in giving secondary sexual differences to the sexes of the same species, and specific differences to the several species of the same genus. Any part or organ developed to an extraordinary size or in an extraordinary manner, in comparison with the same part or organ in the allied species, must have gone through an extraordinary amount of modification since the genus arose ; and thus we can understand why it should often still be variable in a much higher degree than other parts; for variation is a long-continued and slow process, and natural selection will in such cases not as yet have had time to overcome the tendency to further variability and to reversion to a less modified state. But when a species with any extraordinarily-developed organ has become the parent of many modified descendants -which on my view must be a very slow process, requiring a long lapse of time-in this case, natural selection may readily have succeeded in giving a fixed character to the organ, in however extraordinary a manner it may be developed. Species inheriting ne
nearly the same constitution from a common parent and exposed to similar influences will naturally tend to present analogous variations, and these same species may occasionally revert to some of the characters of their ancient progenitors. Although new and important modifications may not arise from reversion and analogous variation, such modifications will add to the beautiful and harmonious diversity of nature.
Whatever the cause may be of each slight difference in the offspring from their parents and a cause for each must exist—it is the steady accumulation, through natural selection, of such differences, when beneficial to the individual, that gives rise to all the more important modifications of structure, by which the innumerable beings on the face of this earth are enabled to struggle with each other, and the best adapted to survive.
DIFFICULTIES ON THEORY
Diißculties on the theory of descent with modification--Transitions
Absence or rarity of transitional varieties-Transitions in habits of life-Diversified habits in the same species-Species with habits widely different from those of their allies-Organs of extreme perfection-Means of transition-Cases of difficultyNatura non facit saltum-Organs of small importance-Organs not in all cases absolutely perfect-The law of Unity of Type and of the Conditions of Existence embraced by the theory of Natural Selection.
Long before having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader. Some of them are so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered; but, to the best of my judgment, the greater number are only apparent, and those that are real are not, I think, fatal to my theory.
These difficulties and objections may be classed under the following heads :—Firstly, why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms ? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined ?
Secondly, is it possible that an animal having, for instance, the structure and habits of a bat, could have been formed by the modification of some animal with wholly different habits ? Can we believe that natural selection could produce, on the one hand, organs of trifling importance, such as the tail of a giraffe, which serves as a fly-flapper, and, on the other hand, organs of
such wonderful structure, as the eye, of which we hardly as yet fully understand the inimitable perfection ?
Thirdly, can instincts be acquired and modified through natural selection ? What shall we say to so marvellous an instinct as that which leads the bee to make cells, which has practically anticipated the discoveries of profound mathematicians ?
Fourthly, how can we account for species, when crossed, being sterile and producing sterile offspring, whereas, when varieties are crossed, their fertility is unimpaired?
The two first heads shall be here discussed—Instinct and Hybridism in separate chapters.
On the absence or rarity of transitional varieties.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 or other lessfavoured forms with which it comes into competition. Thus extinction and natural selection will, as we have seen, go hand in hand. Hence, if we look at each species as descended from some other unknown form, both the parent and all the transitional varieties will generally have been exterminated by the very process of formation and perfection of the new form.
But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth? It will be much more convenient to discuss this question in the chapter on the Imperfection of the geological record ; and I will here only state that I believe the answer mainly lies in the record being incomparably less perfect than is generally supposed; the imperfection of the record being chiefly due to organic beings not inhabiting profound depths of the sea, and to their remains being embedded and preserved to a future age only in masses of sediment sufficiently thick and extensive to withstand an enormous amount of future degradation; and such fossiliferous masses can be accumulated only where much