The Foundations of the Origin of Species - Two Essays written in 1842 and 1844
by Charles Darwin
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{385} The comparison between New Zealand and the Cape is given in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 389, vi. p. 542.

{386} In a corresponding discussion in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 393, vi. p. 546, stress is laid on the distribution of Batrachians not of reptiles.

{387} The whole argument is given—more briefly than here—in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 394, vi. p. 547.

{388} See Origin, Ed i. p. 393, vi. p. 547. The discussion is much fuller in the present Essay.

Before summing up all the facts given in this section on the present condition of organic beings, and endeavouring to see how far they admit of explanation, it will be convenient to state all such facts in the past geographical distribution of extinct beings as seem anyway to concern the theory of descent.


Geographical distribution of extinct organisms.

I have stated that if the land of the entire world be divided into (we will say) three sections, according to the amount of difference of the terrestrial mammifers inhabiting them, we shall have three unequal divisions of (1st) Australia and its dependent islands, (2nd) South America, (3rd) Europe, Asia and Africa. If we now look to the mammifers which inhabited these three divisions during the later Tertiary periods, we shall find them almost as distinct as at the present day, and intimately related in each division to the existing forms in that division{389}. This is wonderfully the case with the several fossil Marsupial genera in the caverns of New South Wales and even more wonderfully so in South America, where we have the same peculiar group of monkeys, of a guanaco-like animal, of many rodents, of the Marsupial Didelphys, of Armadilloes and other Edentata. This last family is at present very characteristic of S. America, and in a late Tertiary epoch it was even more so, as is shown by the numerous enormous animals of the Megatheroid family, some of which were protected by an osseous armour like that, but on a gigantic scale, of the recent Armadillo. Lastly, over Europe the remains of the several deer, oxen, bears, foxes, beavers, field-mice, show a relation to the present inhabitants of this region; and the contemporaneous remains of the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, hyaena, show a relation with the grand Africo-Asiatic division of the world. In Asia the fossil mammifers of the Himalaya (though mingled with forms long extinct in Europe) are equally related to the existing forms of the Africo-Asiatic division; but especially to those of India itself. As the gigantic and now extinct quadrupeds of Europe have naturally excited more attention than the other and smaller remains, the relation between the past and the present mammiferous inhabitants of Europe has not been sufficiently attended to. But in fact the mammifers of Europe are at present nearly as much Africo-Asiatic as they were formerly when Europe had its elephants and rhinoceroses, etc.; Europe neither now nor then possessed peculiar groups as does Australia and S. America. The extinction of certain peculiar forms in one quarter does not make the remaining mammifers of that quarter less related to its own great division of the world: though Tierra del Fuego possesses only a fox, three rodents, and the guanaco, no one (as these all belong to S. American types, but not to the most characteristic forms) would doubt for one minute classifying this district with S. America; and if fossil Edentata, Marsupials and monkeys were to be found in Tierra del Fuego, it would not make this district more truly S. American than it now is. So it is with Europe{390}, and so far as is known with Asia, for the lately past and present mammifers all belong to the Africo-Asiatic division of the world. In every case, I may add, the forms which a country has is of more importance in geographical arrangement than what it has not.

{389} See Origin, Ed. i. p. 339, vi. p. 485.

{390} In the Origin, Ed. i. p. 339, vi. p. 485, which corresponds to this part of the present Essay, the author does not make a separate section for such cases as the occurrence of fossil Marsupials in Europe (Origin, Ed. i. p. 340, vi. p. 486) as he does in the present Essay; see the section on Changes in geographical distribution, p. 177.

We find some evidence of the same general fact in a relation between the recent and the Tertiary sea-shells, in the different main divisions of the marine world.

This general and most remarkable relation between the lately past and present mammiferous inhabitants of the three main divisions of the world is precisely the same kind of fact as the relation between the different species of the several sub-regions of any one of the main divisions. As we usually associate great physical changes with the total extinction of one series of beings, and its succession by another series, this identity of relation between the past and the present races of beings in the same quarters of the globe is more striking than the same relation between existing beings in different sub-regions: but in truth we have no reason for supposing that a change in the conditions has in any of these cases supervened, greater than that now existing between the temperate and tropical, or between the highlands and lowlands of the same main divisions, now tenanted by related beings. Finally, then, we clearly see that in each main division of the world the same relation holds good between its inhabitants in time as over space{391}.

{391} "We can understand how it is that all the forms of life, ancient and recent, make together one grand system; for all are connected by generation." Origin, Ed. i. p. 344, vi. p. 491.

Changes in geographical distribution.

If, however, we look closer, we shall find that even Australia, in possessing a terrestrial Pachyderm, was so far less distinct from the rest of the world than it now is; so was S. America in possessing the Mastodon, horse, [hyaena,]{392} and antelope. N. America, as I have remarked, is now, in its mammifers, in some respects neutral ground between S. America and the great Africo-Asiatic division; formerly, in possessing the horse, Mastodon and three Megatheroid animals, it was more nearly related to S. America; but in the horse and Mastodon, and likewise in having the elephant, oxen, sheep, and pigs, it was as much, if not more, related to the Africo-Asiatic division. Again, northern India was much more closely related (in having the giraffe, hippopotamus, and certain musk-deer) to southern Africa than it now is; for southern and eastern Africa deserve, if we divide the world into five parts, to make one division by itself. Turning to the dawn of the Tertiary period, we must, from our ignorance of other portions of the world, confine ourselves to Europe; and at that period, in the presence of Marsupials{393} and Edentata, we behold an entire blending of those mammiferous forms which now eminently characterise Australia and S. America{394}.

{392} The word hyaena is erased. There appear to be no fossil Hyaenidae in S. America.

{393} See note 1{390}, p. 175, also Origin, Ed. i. p. 340, vi. p. 486.

{394} <Note by the author.> And see Eocene European mammals in N. America.

If we now look at the distribution of sea-shells, we find the same changes in distribution. The Red Sea and the Mediterranean were more nearly related in these shells than they now are. In different parts of Europe, on the other hand, during the Miocene period, the sea-shells seem to have been more different than at present. In{395} the Tertiary period, according to Lyell, the shells of N. America and Europe were less related than at present, and during the Cretaceous still less like; whereas, during this same Cretaceous period, the shells of India and Europe were more like than at present. But going further back to the Carbonaceous period, in N. America and Europe, the productions were much more like than they now are{396}. These facts harmonise with the conclusions drawn from the present distribution of organic beings, for we have seen, that from species being created in different points or areas, the formation of a barrier would cause or make two distinct geographical areas; and the destruction of a barrier would permit their diffusion{397}. And as long-continued geological changes must both destroy and make barriers, we might expect, the further we looked backwards, the more changed should we find the present distribution. This conclusion is worthy of attention; because, finding in widely different parts of the same main division of the world, and in volcanic islands near them, groups of distinct, but related, species;—and finding that a singularly analogous relation holds good with respect to the beings of past times, when none of the present species were living, a person might be tempted to believe in some mystical relation between certain areas of the world, and the production of certain organic forms; but we now see that such an assumption would have to be complicated by the admission that such a relation, though holding good for long revolutions of years, is not truly persistent.

{395} <Note by the author.> All this requires much verification.

{396} This point seems to be less insisted on in the Origin.

{397} Origin, Ed. i. p. 356, vi. p. 504.

I will only add one more observation to this section. Geologists finding in the most remote period with which we are acquainted, namely in the Silurian period, that the shells and other marine productions{398} in North and South America, in Europe, Southern Africa, and Western Asia, are much more similar than they now are at these distant points, appear to have imagined that in these ancient times the laws of geographical distribution were quite different than what they now are: but we have only to suppose that great continents were extended east and west, and thus did not divide the inhabitants of the temperate and tropical seas, as the continents now do; and it would then become probable that the inhabitants of the seas would be much more similar than they now are. In the immense space of ocean extending from the east coast of Africa to the eastern islands of the Pacific, which space is connected either by lines of tropical coast or by islands not very distant from each other, we know (Cuming) that many shells, perhaps even as many as 200, are common to the Zanzibar coast, the Philippines, and the eastern islands of the Low or Dangerous Archipelago in the Pacific. This space equals that from the Arctic to the Antarctic pole! Pass over the space of quite open ocean, from the Dangerous Archipelago to the west coast of S. America, and every shell is different: pass over the narrow space of S. America, to its eastern shores, and again every shell is different! Many fish, I may add, are also common to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

{398} <Note by the author.> D'Orbigny shows that this is not so.

Summary on the distribution of living and extinct organic beings.

Let us sum up the several facts now given with respect to the past and present geographical distribution of organic beings. In a previous chapter it was shown that species are not exterminated by universal catastrophes, and that they are slowly produced: we have also seen that each species is probably only once produced, on one point or area once in time; and that each diffuses itself, as far as barriers and its conditions of life permit. If we look at any one main division of the land, we find in the different parts, whether exposed to different conditions or to the same conditions, many groups of species wholly or nearly distinct as species, nevertheless intimately related. We find the inhabitants of islands, though distinct as species, similarly related to the inhabitants of the nearest continent; we find in some cases, that even the different islands of one such group are inhabited by species distinct, though intimately related to one another and to those of the nearest continent:—thus typifying the distribution of organic beings over the whole world. We find the floras of distant mountain-summits either very similar (which seems to admit, as shown, of a simple explanation) or very distinct but related to the floras of the surrounding region; and hence, in this latter case, the floras of two mountain-summits, although exposed to closely similar conditions, will be very different. On the mountain-summits of islands, characterised by peculiar faunas and floras, the plants are often eminently peculiar. The dissimilarity of the organic beings inhabiting nearly similar countries is best seen by comparing the main divisions of the world; in each of which some districts may be found very similarly exposed, yet the inhabitants are wholly unlike;—far more unlike than those in very dissimilar districts in the same main division. We see this strikingly in comparing two volcanic archipelagoes, with nearly the same climate, but situated not very far from two different continents; in which case their inhabitants are totally unlike. In the different main divisions of the world, the amount of difference between the organisms, even in the same class, is widely different, each main division having only the species distinct in some families, in other families having the genera distinct. The distribution of aquatic organisms is very different from that of the terrestrial organisms; and necessarily so, from the barriers to their progress being quite unlike. The nature of the conditions in an isolated district will not explain the number of species inhabiting it; nor the absence of one class or the presence of another class. We find that terrestrial mammifers are not present on islands far removed from other land. We see in two regions, that the species though distinct are more or less related, according to the greater or less possibility of the transportal in past and present times of species from one to the other region; although we can hardly admit that all the species in such cases have been transported from the first to the second region, and since have become extinct in the first: we see this law in the presence of the fox on the Falkland Islands; in the European character of some of the plants of Tierra del Fuego; in the Indo-Asiatic character of the plants of the Pacific; and in the circumstance of those genera which range widest having many species with wide ranges; and those genera with restricted ranges having species with restricted ranges. Finally, we find in each of the main divisions of the land, and probably of the sea, that the existing organisms are related to those lately extinct.

Looking further backwards we see that the past geographical distribution of organic beings was different from the present; and indeed, considering that geology shows that all our land was once under water, and that where water now extends land is forming, the reverse could hardly have been possible.

Now these several facts, though evidently all more or less connected together, must by the creationist (though the geologist may explain some of the anomalies) be considered as so many ultimate facts. He can only say, that it so pleased the Creator that the organic beings of the plains, deserts, mountains, tropical and temperature forests, of S. America, should all have some affinity together; that the inhabitants of the Galapagos Archipelago should be related to those of Chile; and that some of the species on the similarly constituted islands of this archipelago, though most closely related, should be distinct; that all its inhabitants should be totally unlike those of the similarly volcanic and arid Cape de Verde and Canary Islands; that the plants on the summit of Teneriffe should be eminently peculiar; that the diversified island of New Zealand should have not many plants, and not one, or only one, mammifer; that the mammifers of S. America, Australia and Europe should be clearly related to their ancient and exterminated prototypes; and so on with other facts. But it is absolutely opposed to every analogy, drawn from the laws imposed by the Creator on inorganic matter, that facts, when connected, should be considered as ultimate and not the direct consequences of more general laws.


An attempt to explain the foregoing laws of geographical distribution, on the theory of allied species having a common descent.

First let us recall the circumstances most favourable for variation under domestication, as given in the first chapter—viz. 1st, a change, or repeated changes, in the conditions to which the organism has been exposed, continued through several seminal (i.e. not by buds or divisions) generations: 2nd, steady selection of the slight varieties thus generated with a fixed end in view: 3rd, isolation as perfect as possible of such selected varieties; that is, the preventing their crossing with other forms; this latter condition applies to all terrestrial animals, to most if not all plants and perhaps even to most (or all) aquatic organisms. It will be convenient here to show the advantage of isolation in the formation of a new breed, by comparing the progress of two persons (to neither of whom let time be of any consequence) endeavouring to select and form some very peculiar new breed. Let one of these persons work on the vast herds of cattle in the plains of La Plata{399}, and the other on a small stock of 20 or 30 animals in an island. The latter might have to wait centuries (by the hypothesis of no importance){400} before he obtained a "sport" approaching to what he wanted; but when he did and saved the greater number of its offspring and their offspring again, he might hope that his whole little stock would be in some degree affected, so that by continued selection he might gain his end. But on the Pampas, though the man might get his first approach to his desired form sooner, how hopeless would it be to attempt, by saving its offspring amongst so many of the common kind, to affect the whole herd: the effect of this one peculiar "sport{401}" would be quite lost before he could obtain a second original sport of the same kind. If, however, he could separate a small number of cattle, including the offspring of the desirable "sport," he might hope, like the man on the island, to effect his end. If there be organic beings of which two individuals never unite, then simple selection whether on a continent or island would be equally serviceable to make a new and desirable breed; and this new breed might be made in surprisingly few years from the great and geometrical powers of propagation to beat out the old breed; as has happened (notwithstanding crossing) where good breeds of dogs and pigs have been introduced into a limited country,—for instance, into the islands of the Pacific.

{399} This instance occurs in the Essay of 1842, p. 32, but not in the Origin; though the importance of isolation is discussed (Origin, Ed. i. p. 104, vi. p. 127).

{400} The meaning of the words within parenthesis is obscure.

{401} It is unusual to find the author speaking of the selection of sports rather than small variations.

Let us now take the simplest natural case of an islet upheaved by the volcanic or subterranean forces in a deep sea, at such a distance from other land that only a few organic beings at rare intervals were transported to it, whether borne by the sea{402} (like the seeds of plants to coral-reefs), or by hurricanes, or by floods, or on rafts, or in roots of large trees, or the germs of one plant or animal attached to or in the stomach of some other animal, or by the intervention (in most cases the most probable means) of other islands since sunk or destroyed. It may be remarked that when one part of the earth's crust is raised it is probably the general rule that another part sinks. Let this island go on slowly, century after century, rising foot by foot; and in the course of time we shall have instead a small mass of rock{403}, lowland and highland, moist woods and dry sandy spots, various soils, marshes, streams and pools: under water on the sea shore, instead of a rocky steeply shelving coast, we shall have in some parts bays with mud, sandy beaches and rocky shoals. The formation of the island by itself must often slightly affect the surrounding climate. It is impossible that the first few transported organisms could be perfectly adapted to all these stations; and it will be a chance if those successively transported will be so adapted. The greater number would probably come from the lowlands of the nearest country; and not even all these would be perfectly adapted to the new islet whilst it continued low and exposed to coast influences. Moreover, as it is certain that all organisms are nearly as much adapted in their structure to the other inhabitants of their country as they are to its physical conditions, so the mere fact that a few beings (and these taken in great degree by chance) were in the first case transported to the islet, would in itself greatly modify their conditions{404}. As the island continued rising we might also expect an occasional new visitant; and I repeat that even one new being must often affect beyond our calculation by occupying the room and taking part of the subsistence of another (and this again from another and so on), several or many other organisms. Now as the first transported and any occasional successive visitants spread or tended to spread over the growing island, they would undoubtedly be exposed through several generations to new and varying conditions: it might also easily happen that some of the species on an average might obtain an increase of food, or food of a more nourishing quality{405}. According then to every analogy with what we have seen takes place in every country, with nearly every organic being under domestication, we might expect that some of the inhabitants of the island would "sport," or have their organization rendered in some degree plastic. As the number of the inhabitants are supposed to be few and as all these cannot be so well adapted to their new and varying conditions as they were in their native country and habitat, we cannot believe that every place or office in the economy of the island would be as well filled as on a continent where the number of aboriginal species is far greater and where they consequently hold a more strictly limited place. We might therefore expect on our island that although very many slight variations were of no use to the plastic individuals, yet that occasionally in the course of a century an individual might be born{406} of which the structure or constitution in some slight degree would allow it better to fill up some office in the insular economy and to struggle against other species. If such were the case the individual and its offspring would have a better chance of surviving and of beating out its parent form; and if (as is probable) it and its offspring crossed with the unvaried parent form, yet the number of the individuals being not very great, there would be a chance of the new and more serviceable form being nevertheless in some slight degree preserved. The struggle for existence would go on annually selecting such individuals until a new race or species was formed. Either few or all the first visitants to the island might become modified, according as the physical conditions of the island and those resulting from the kind and number of other transported species were different from those of the parent country—according to the difficulties offered to fresh immigration—and according to the length of time since the first inhabitants were introduced. It is obvious that whatever was the country, generally the nearest from which the first tenants were transported, they would show an affinity, even if all had become modified, to the natives of that country and even if the inhabitants of the same source (?) had been modified. On this view we can at once understand the cause and meaning of the affinity of the fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands with that of the coast of S. America; and consequently why the inhabitants of these islands show not the smallest affinity with those inhabiting other volcanic islands, with a very similar climate and soil, near the coast of Africa{407}.

{402} This brief discussion is represented in the Origin, Ed. i. by a much fuller one (pp. 356, 383, vi. pp. 504, 535). See, however, the section in the present Essay, p. 168.

{403} On the formation of new stations, see Origin, Ed. i. p. 292, vi. p. 429.

{404} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 390, 400, vi. pp. 543, 554.

{405} In the MS. some of the species ... nourishing quality is doubtfully erased. It seems clear that he doubted whether such a problematical supply of food would be likely to cause variation.

{406} At this time the author clearly put more faith in the importance of sport-like variation than in later years.

{407} Origin, Ed. i. p. 398, vi. p. 553.

To return once again to our island, if by the continued action of the subterranean forces other neighbouring islands were formed, these would generally be stocked by the inhabitants of the first island, or by a few immigrants from the neighbouring mainland; but if considerable obstacles were interposed to any communication between the terrestrial productions of these islands, and their conditions were different (perhaps only by the number of different species on each island), a form transported from one island to another might become altered in the same manner as one from the continent; and we should have several of the islands tenanted by representative races or species, as is so wonderfully the case with the different islands of the Galapagos Archipelago. As the islands become mountainous, if mountain-species were not introduced, as could rarely happen, a greater amount of variation and selection would be requisite to adapt the species, which originally came from the lowlands of the nearest continent, to the mountain-summits than to the lower districts of our islands. For the lowland species from the continent would have first to struggle against other species and other conditions on the coast-land of the island, and so probably become modified by the selection of its best fitted varieties, then to undergo the same process when the land had attained a moderate elevation; and then lastly when it had become Alpine. Hence we can understand why the faunas of insular mountain-summits are, as in the case of Teneriffe, eminently peculiar. Putting on one side the case of a widely extended flora being driven up the mountain-summits, during a change of climate from cold to temperate, we can see why in other cases the floras of mountain-summits (or as I have called them islands in a sea of land) should be tenanted by peculiar species, but related to those of the surrounding lowlands, as are the inhabitants of a real island in the sea to those of the nearest continent{408}.

{408} See Origin, Ed. i. p. 403, vi. p. 558, where the author speaks of Alpine humming birds, rodents, plants, &c. in S. America, all of strictly American forms. In the MS. the author has added between the lines "As world has been getting hotter, there has been radiation from high-lands,—old view?—curious; I presume Diluvian in origin."

Let us now consider the effect of a change of climate or of other conditions on the inhabitants of a continent and of an isolated island without any great change of level. On a continent the chief effects would be changes in the numerical proportion of the individuals of the different species; for whether the climate became warmer or colder, drier or damper, more uniform or extreme, some species are at present adapted to its diversified districts; if for instance it became cooler, species would migrate from its more temperate parts and from its higher land; if damper, from its damper regions, &c. On a small and isolated island, however, with few species, and these not adapted to much diversified conditions, such changes instead of merely increasing the number of certain species already adapted to such conditions, and decreasing the number of other species, would be apt to affect the constitutions of some of the insular species: thus if the island became damper it might well happen that there were no species living in any part of it adapted to the consequences resulting from more moisture. In this case therefore, and still more (as we have seen) during the production of new stations from the elevation of the land, an island would be a far more fertile source, as far as we can judge, of new specific forms than a continent. The new forms thus generated on an island, we might expect, would occasionally be transported by accident, or through long-continued geographical changes be enabled to emigrate and thus become slowly diffused.

But if we look to the origin of a continent; almost every geologist will admit that in most cases it will have first existed as separate islands which gradually increased in size{409}; and therefore all that which has been said concerning the probable changes of the forms tenanting a small archipelago is applicable to a continent in its early state. Furthermore, a geologist who reflects on the geological history of Europe (the only region well known) will admit that it has been many times depressed, raised and left stationary. During the sinking of a continent and the probable generally accompanying changes of climate the effect would be little, except on the numerical proportions and in the extinction (from the lessening of rivers, the drying of marshes and the conversion of high-lands into low &c.) of some or of many of the species. As soon however as the continent became divided into many isolated portions or islands, preventing free immigration from one part to another, the effect of climatic and other changes on the species would be greater. But let the now broken continent, forming isolated islands, begin to rise and new stations thus to be formed, exactly as in the first case of the upheaved volcanic islet, and we shall have equally favourable conditions for the modification of old forms, that is the formation of new races or species. Let the islands become reunited into a continent; and then the new and old forms would all spread, as far as barriers, the means of transportal, and the preoccupation of the land by other species, would permit. Some of the new species or races would probably become extinct, and some perhaps would cross and blend together. We should thus have a multitude of forms, adapted to all kinds of slightly different stations, and to diverse groups of either antagonist or food-serving species. The oftener these oscillations of level had taken place (and therefore generally the older the land) the greater the number of species would tend to be formed. The inhabitants of a continent being thus derived in the first stage from the same original parents, and subsequently from the inhabitants of one wide area, since often broken up and reunited, all would be obviously related together and the inhabitants of the most dissimilar stations on the same continent would be more closely allied than the inhabitants of two very similar stations on two of the main divisions of the world{410}.

{409} See the comparison between the Malay Archipelago and the probable former state of Europe, Origin, Ed. i. p. 299, vi. p. 438, also Origin, Ed. i. p. 292, vi. p. 429.

{410} Origin, Ed. i. p. 349, vi. p. 496. The arrangement of the argument in the present Essay leads to repetition of statements made in the earlier part of the book: in the Origin this is avoided.

I need hardly point out that we now can obviously see why the number of species in two districts, independently of the number of stations in such districts, should be in some cases as widely different as in New Zealand and the Cape of Good Hope{411}. We can see, knowing the difficulty in the transport of terrestrial mammals, why islands far from mainlands do not possess them{412}; we see the general reason, namely accidental transport (though not the precise reason), why certain islands should, and others should not, possess members of the class of reptiles. We can see why an ancient channel of communication between two distant points, as the Cordillera probably was between southern Chile and the United States during the former cold periods; and icebergs between the Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego; and gales, at a former or present time, between the Asiatic shores of the Pacific and eastern islands in this ocean; is connected with (or we may now say causes) an affinity between the species, though distinct, in two such districts. We can see how the better chance of diffusion, from several of the species of any genus having wide ranges in their own countries, explains the presence of other species of the same genus in other countries{413}; and on the other hand, of species of restricted powers of ranging, forming genera with restricted ranges.

{411} Origin, Ed. i. p. 389, vi. p. 542.

{412} Origin, Ed. i. p. 393, vi. p. 547.

{413} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 350, 404, vi. pp. 498, 559.

As every one would be surprised if two exactly similar but peculiar varieties{414} of any species were raised by man by long continued selection, in two different countries, or at two very different periods, so we ought not to expect that an exactly similar form would be produced from the modification of an old one in two distinct countries or at two distinct periods. For in such places and times they would probably be exposed to somewhat different climates and almost certainly to different associates. Hence we can see why each species appears to have been produced singly, in space and in time. I need hardly remark that, according to this theory of descent, there is no necessity of modification in a species, when it reaches a new and isolated country. If it be able to survive and if slight variations better adapted to the new conditions are not selected, it might retain (as far as we can see) its old form for an indefinite time. As we see that some sub-varieties produced under domestication are more variable than others, so in nature, perhaps, some species and genera are more variable than others. The same precise form, however, would probably be seldom preserved through successive geological periods, or in widely and differently conditioned countries{415}.

{414} Origin, Ed. i. p. 352, vi. p. 500.

{415} Origin, Ed. i. p. 313, vi. p. 454.

Finally, during the long periods of time and probably of oscillations of level, necessary for the formation of a continent, we may conclude (as above explained) that many forms would become extinct. These extinct forms, and those surviving (whether or not modified and changed in structure), will all be related in each continent in the same manner and degree, as are the inhabitants of any two different sub-regions in that same continent. I do not mean to say that, for instance, the present Marsupials of Australia or Edentata and rodents of S. America have descended from any one of the few fossils of the same orders which have been discovered in these countries. It is possible that, in a very few instances, this may be the case; but generally they must be considered as merely codescendants of common stocks{416}. I believe in this, from the improbability, considering the vast number of species, which (as explained in the last chapter) must by our theory have existed, that the comparatively few fossils which have been found should chance to be the immediate and linear progenitors of those now existing. Recent as the yet discovered fossil mammifers of S. America are, who will pretend to say that very many intermediate forms may not have existed? Moreover, we shall see in the ensuing chapter that the very existence of genera and species can be explained only by a few species of each epoch leaving modified successors or new species to a future period; and the more distant that future period, the fewer will be the linear heirs of the former epoch. As by our theory, all mammifers must have descended from the same parent stock, so is it necessary that each land now possessing terrestrial mammifers shall at some time have been so far united to other land as to permit the passage of mammifers{417}; and it accords with this necessity, that in looking far back into the earth's history we find, first changes in the geographical distribution, and secondly a period when the mammiferous forms most distinctive of two of the present main divisions of the world were living together{418}.

{416} Origin, Ed. i. p. 341, vi. p. 487.

{417} Origin, Ed. i. p. 396, vi. p. 549.

{418} Origin, Ed. i. p. 340, vi. p. 486.

I think then I am justified in asserting that most of the above enumerated and often trivial points in the geographical distribution of past and present organisms (which points must be viewed by the creationists as so many ultimate facts) follow as a simple consequence of specific forms being mutable and of their being adapted by natural selection to diverse ends, conjoined with their powers of dispersal, and the geologico-geographical changes now in slow progress and which undoubtedly have taken place. This large class of facts being thus explained, far more than counterbalances many separate difficulties and apparent objections in convincing my mind of the truth of this theory of common descent.

Improbability of finding fossil forms intermediate between existing species.

There is one observation of considerable importance that may be here introduced, with regard to the improbability of the chief transitional forms between any two species being found fossil. With respect to the finer shades of transition, I have before remarked that no one has any cause to expect to trace them in a fossil state, without he be bold enough to imagine that geologists at a future epoch will be able to trace from fossil bones the gradations between the Short-Horns, Herefordshire, and Alderney breeds of cattle{419}. I have attempted to show that rising islands, in process of formation, must be the best nurseries of new specific forms, and these points are the least favourable for the embedment of fossils{420}: I appeal, as evidence, to the state of the numerous scattered islands in the several great oceans: how rarely do any sedimentary deposits occur on them; and when present they are mere narrow fringes of no great antiquity, which the sea is generally wearing away and destroying. The cause of this lies in isolated islands being generally volcanic and rising points; and the effects of subterranean elevation is to bring up the surrounding newly-deposited strata within the destroying action of the coast-waves: the strata, deposited at greater distances, and therefore in the depths of the ocean, will be almost barren of organic remains. These remarks may be generalised:—periods of subsidence will always be most favourable to an accumulation of great thicknesses of strata, and consequently to their long preservation; for without one formation be protected by successive strata, it will seldom be preserved to a distant age, owing to the enormous amount of denudation, which seems to be a general contingent of time{421}. I may refer, as evidence of this remark, to the vast amount of subsidence evident in the great pile of the European formations, from the Silurian epoch to the end of the Secondary, and perhaps to even a later period. Periods of elevation on the other hand cannot be favourable to the accumulation of strata and their preservation to distant ages, from the circumstance just alluded to, viz. of elevation tending to bring to the surface the circum-littoral strata (always abounding most in fossils) and destroying them. The bottom of tracts of deep water (little favourable, however, to life) must be excepted from this unfavourable influence of elevation. In the quite open ocean, probably no sediment{422} is accumulating, or at a rate so slow as not to preserve fossil remains, which will always be subject to disintegration. Caverns, no doubt, will be equally likely to preserve terrestrial fossils in periods of elevation and of subsidence; but whether it be owing to the enormous amount of denudation, which all land seems to have undergone, no cavern with fossil bones has been found belonging to the Secondary period{423}.

{419} Origin, Ed. i. p. 299, vi. p. 437.

{420} "Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the frequent discovery of her transitional or linking forms," Origin, Ed. i. p. 292. A similar but not identical passage occurs in Origin, Ed. vi. p. 428.

{421} Origin, Ed. i. p. 291, vi. p. 426.

{422} Origin, Ed. i. p. 288, vi. p. 422.

{423} Origin, Ed. i. p. 289, vi. p. 423.

Hence many more remains will be preserved to a distant age, in any region of the world, during periods of its subsidence{424}, than of its elevation.

{424} Origin, Ed. i. p. 300, vi. p. 439.

But during the subsidence of a tract of land, its inhabitants (as before shown) will from the decrease of space and of the diversity of its stations, and from the land being fully preoccupied by species fitted to diversified means of subsistence, be little liable to modification from selection, although many may, or rather must, become extinct. With respect to its circum-marine inhabitants, although during a change from a continent to a great archipelago, the number of stations fitted for marine beings will be increased, their means of diffusion (an important check to change of form) will be greatly improved; for a continent stretching north and south, or a quite open space of ocean, seems to be to them the only barrier. On the other hand, during the elevation of a small archipelago and its conversion into a continent, we have, whilst the number of stations are increasing, both for aquatic and terrestrial productions, and whilst these stations are not fully preoccupied by perfectly adapted species, the most favourable conditions for the selection of new specific forms; but few of them in their early transitional states will be preserved to a distant epoch. We must wait during an enormous lapse of time, until long-continued subsidence shall have taken the place in this quarter of the world of the elevatory process, for the best conditions of the embedment and the preservation of its inhabitants. Generally the great mass of the strata in every country, from having been chiefly accumulated during subsidence, will be the tomb, not of transitional forms, but of those either becoming extinct or remaining unmodified.

The state of our knowledge, and the slowness of the changes of level, do not permit us to test the truth of these remarks, by observing whether there are more transitional or "fine" (as naturalists would term them) species, on a rising and enlarging tract of land, than on an area of subsidence. Nor do I know whether there are more "fine" species on isolated volcanic islands in process of formation, than on a continent; but I may remark, that at the Galapagos Archipelago the number of forms, which according to some naturalists are true species, and according to others are mere races, is considerable: this particularly applies to the different species or races of the same genera inhabiting the different islands of this archipelago. Furthermore it may be added (as bearing on the great facts discussed in this chapter) that when naturalists confine their attention to any one country, they have comparatively little difficulty in determining what forms to call species and what to call varieties; that is, those which can or cannot be traced or shown to be probably descendants of some other form: but the difficulty increases, as species are brought from many stations, countries and islands. It was this increasing (but I believe in few cases insuperable) difficulty which seems chiefly to have urged Lamarck to the conclusion that species are mutable.



{425} Ch. XIII of the Origin, Ed. i., Ch. XIV Ed. vi. begins with a similar statement. In the present Essay the author adds a note:—"The obviousness of the fact (i.e. the natural grouping of organisms) alone prevents it being remarkable. It is scarcely explicable by creationist: groups of aquatic, of vegetable feeders and carnivorous, &c., might resemble each other; but why as it is. So with plants,—analogical resemblance thus accounted for. Must not here enter into details." This argument is incorporated with the text in the Origin, Ed. i.

Gradual appearance and disappearance of groups.

It has been observed from the earliest times that organic beings fall into groups{426}, and these groups into others of several values, such as species into genera, and then into sub-families, into families, orders, &c. The same fact holds with those beings which no longer exist. Groups of species seem to follow the same laws in their appearance and extinction{427}, as do the individuals of any one species: we have reason to believe that, first, a few species appear, that their numbers increase; and that, when tending to extinction, the numbers of the species decrease, till finally the group becomes extinct, in the same way as a species becomes extinct, by the individuals becoming rarer and rarer. Moreover, groups, like the individuals of a species, appear to become extinct at different times in different countries. The Palaeotherium was extinct much sooner in Europe than in India: the Trigonia{428} was extinct in early ages in Europe, but now lives in the seas of Australia. As it happens that one species of a family will endure for a much longer period than another species, so we find that some whole groups, such as Mollusca, tend to retain their forms, or to remain persistent, for longer periods than other groups, for instance than the Mammalia. Groups therefore, in their appearance, extinction, and rate of change or succession, seem to follow nearly the same laws with the individuals of a species{429}.

{426} Origin, Ed. i. p. 411, vi. p. 566.

{427} Origin, Ed. i. p. 316, vi. p. 457.

{428} Origin, Ed. i. p. 321, vi. p. 463.

{429} In the Origin, Ed. i. this preliminary matter is replaced (pp. 411, 412, vi. pp. 566, 567) by a discussion in which extinction is also treated, but chiefly from the point of view of the theory of divergence.

What is the Natural System?

The proper arrangement of species into groups, according to the natural system, is the object of all naturalists; but scarcely two naturalists will give the same answer to the question, What is the natural system and how are we to recognise it? The most important characters{430} it might be thought (as it was by the earliest classifiers) ought to be drawn from those parts of the structure which determine its habits and place in the economy of nature, which we may call the final end of its existence. But nothing is further from the truth than this; how much external resemblance there is between the little otter (Chironectes) of Guiana and the common otter; or again between the common swallow and the swift; and who can doubt that the means and ends of their existence are closely similar, yet how grossly wrong would be the classification, which put close to each other a Marsupial and Placental animal, and two birds with widely different skeletons. Relations, such as in the two latter cases, or as that between the whale and fishes, are denominated "analogical{431}," or are sometimes described as "relations of adaption." They are infinitely numerous and often very singular; but are of no use in the classification of the higher groups. How it comes, that certain parts of the structure, by which the habits and functions of the species are settled, are of no use in classification, whilst other parts, formed at the same time, are of the greatest, it would be difficult to say, on the theory of separate creations.

{430} Origin, Ed. i. p. 414, vi. p. 570.

{431} Origin, Ed. i. p. 414, vi. p. 570.

Some authors as Lamarck, Whewell &c., believe that the degree of affinity on the natural system depends on the degrees of resemblance in organs more or less physiologically important for the preservation of life. This scale of importance in the organs is admitted to be of difficult discovery. But quite independent of this, the proposition, as a general rule, must be rejected as false; though it may be partially true. For it is universally admitted that the same part or organ, which is of the highest service in classification in one group, is of very little use in another group, though in both groups, as far as we can see, the part or organ is of equal physiological importance: moreover, characters quite unimportant physiologically, such as whether the covering of the body consists of hair or feathers, whether the nostrils communicated with the mouth{432} &c., &c., are of the highest generality in classification; even colour, which is so inconstant in many species, will sometimes well characterise even a whole group of species. Lastly, the fact, that no one character is of so much importance in determining to what great group an organism belongs, as the forms through which the embryo{433} passes from the germ upwards to maturity, cannot be reconciled with the idea that natural classification follows according to the degrees of resemblance in the parts of most physiological importance. The affinity of the common rock-barnacle with the Crustaceans can hardly be perceived in more than a single character in its mature state, but whilst young, locomotive, and furnished with eyes, its affinity cannot be mistaken{434}. The cause of the greater value of characters, drawn from the early stages of life, can, as we shall in a succeeding chapter see, be in a considerable degree explained, on the theory of descent, although inexplicable on the views of the creationist.

{432} These instances occur with others in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 416, vi. p. 572.

{433} Origin, Ed. i. p. 418, vi. p. 574.

{434} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 419, 440, vi. pp. 575, 606.

Practically, naturalists seem to classify according to the resemblance of those parts or organs which in related groups are most uniform, or vary least{435}: thus the aestivation, or manner in which the petals etc. are folded over each other, is found to afford an unvarying character in most families of plants, and accordingly any difference in this respect would be sufficient to cause the rejection of a species from many families; but in the Rubiaceae the aestivation is a varying character, and a botanist would not lay much stress on it, in deciding whether or not to class a new species in this family. But this rule is obviously so arbitrary a formula, that most naturalists seem to be convinced that something ulterior is represented by the natural system; they appear to think that we only discover by such similarities what the arrangement of the system is, not that such similarities make the system. We can only thus understand Linnaeus'{436} well-known saying, that the characters do not make the genus; but that the genus gives the characters: for a classification, independent of characters, is here presupposed. Hence many naturalists have said that the natural system reveals the plan of the Creator: but without it be specified whether order in time or place, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, such expressions appear to me to leave the question exactly where it was.

{435} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 418, 425, vi. pp. 574, 581.

{436} Origin, Ed. i. p. 413, vi. p. 569.

Some naturalists consider that the geographical position{437} of a species may enter into the consideration of the group into which it should be placed; and most naturalists (either tacitly or openly) give value to the different groups, not solely by their relative differences in structure, but by the number of forms included in them. Thus a genus containing a few species might be, and has often been, raised into a family on the discovery of several other species. Many natural families are retained, although most closely related to other families, from including a great number of closely similar species. The more logical naturalist would perhaps, if he could, reject these two contingents in classification. From these circumstances, and especially from the undefined objects and criterions of the natural system, the number of divisions, such as genera, sub-families, families, &c., &c., has been quite arbitrary{438}; without the clearest definition, how can it be possible to decide whether two groups of species are of equal value, and of what value? whether they should both be called genera or families; or whether one should be a genus, and the other a family{439}?

{437} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 419, 427, vi. pp. 575, 582.

{438} This is discussed from the point of view of divergence in the Origin, Ed. i. pp. 420, 421, vi. pp. 576, 577.

{439} <Footnote by the author.> I discuss this because if Quinarism true, I false. <The Quinary System is set forth in W. S. Macleay's Horae Entomologicae, 1821.>

On the kind of relation between distinct groups.

I have only one other remark on the affinities of organic beings; that is, when two quite distinct groups approach each other, the approach is generally generic{440} and not special; I can explain this most easily by an example: of all Rodents the Bizcacha, by certain peculiarities in its reproductive system, approaches nearest to the Marsupials; of all Marsupials the Phascolomys, on the other hand, appears to approach in the form of its teeth and intestines nearest to the Rodents; but there is no special relation between these two genera{441}; the Bizcacha is no nearer related to the Phascolomys than to any other Marsupial in the points in which it approaches this division; nor again is the Phascolomys, in the points of structure in which it approaches the Rodents, any nearer related to the Bizcacha than to any other Rodent. Other examples might have been chosen, but I have given (from Waterhouse) this example as it illustrates another point, namely, the difficulty of determining what are analogical or adaptive and what real affinities; it seems that the teeth of the Phascolomys though appearing closely to resemble those of a Rodent are found to be built on the Marsupial type; and it is thought that these teeth and consequently the intestines may have been adapted to the peculiar life of this animal and therefore may not show any real relation. The structure in the Bizcacha that connects it with the Marsupials does not seem a peculiarity related to its manner of life, and I imagine that no one would doubt that this shows a real affinity, though not more with any one Marsupial species than with another. The difficulty of determining what relations are real and what analogical is far from surprising when no one pretends to define the meaning of the term relation or the ulterior object of all classification. We shall immediately see on the theory of descent how it comes that there should be "real" and "analogical" affinities; and why the former alone should be of value in classification—difficulties which it would be I believe impossible to explain on the ordinary theory of separate creations.

{440} In the corresponding passage in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 430, vi. p. 591, the term general is used in place of generic, and seems a better expression. In the margin the author gives Waterhouse as his authority.

{441} Origin, Ed. i. p. 430, vi. p. 591.

Classification of Races or Varieties.

Let us now for a few moments turn to the classification of the generally acknowledged varieties and subdivisions of our domestic beings{442}; we shall find them systematically arranged in groups of higher and higher value. De Candolle has treated the varieties of the cabbage exactly as he would have done a natural family with various divisions and subdivisions. In dogs again we have one main division which may be called the family of hounds; of these, there are several (we will call them) genera, such as blood-hounds, fox-hounds, and harriers; and of each of these we have different species, as the blood-hound of Cuba and that of England; and of the latter again we have breeds truly producing their own kind, which may be called races or varieties. Here we see a classification practically used which typifies on a lesser scale that which holds good in nature. But amongst true species in the natural system and amongst domestic races the number of divisions or groups, instituted between those most alike and those most unlike, seems to be quite arbitrary. The number of the forms in both cases seems practically, whether or not it ought theoretically, to influence the denomination of groups including them. In both, geographical distribution has sometimes been used as an aid to classification{443}; amongst varieties, I may instance, the cattle of India or the sheep of Siberia, which from possessing some characters in common permit a classification of Indian and European cattle, or Siberian and European sheep. Amongst domestic varieties we have even something very like the relations of "analogy" or "adaptation{444}"; thus the common and Swedish turnip are both artificial varieties which strikingly resemble each other, and they fill nearly the same end in the economy of the farm-yard; but although the swede so much more resembles a turnip than its presumed parent the field cabbage, no one thinks of putting it out of the cabbages into the turnips. Thus the greyhound and racehorse, having been selected and trained for extreme fleetness for short distances, present an analogical resemblance of the same kind, but less striking as that between the little otter (Marsupial) of Guiana and the common otter; though these two otters are really less related than the horse and dog. We are even cautioned by authors treating on varieties, to follow the natural in contradistinction of an artificial system and not, for instance, to class two varieties of the pine-apple{445} near each other, because their fruits accidentally resemble each other closely (though the fruit may be called the final end of this plant in the economy of its world, the hothouse), but to judge from the general resemblance of the entire plants. Lastly, varieties often become extinct; sometimes from unexplained causes, sometimes from accident, but more often from the production of more useful varieties, and the less useful ones being destroyed or bred out.

{442} In a corresponding passage in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 423, vi. p. 579, the author makes use of his knowledge of pigeons. The pseudo-genera among dogs are discussed in Var. under Dom., Ed. ii. vol. I. p. 38.

{443} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 419, 427, vi. pp. 575, 582.

{444} Origin, Ed. i. pp. 423, 427, vi. pp. 579, 583.

{445} Origin, Ed. i. p. 423, vi. p. 579.

I think it cannot be doubted that the main cause of all the varieties which have descended from the aboriginal dog or dogs, or from the aboriginal wild cabbage, not being equally like or unlike—but on the contrary, obviously falling into groups and sub-groups—must in chief part be attributed to different degrees of true relationship; for instance, that the different kinds of blood-hound have descended from one stock, whilst the harriers have descended from another stock, and that both these have descended from a different stock from that which has been the parent of the several kinds of greyhound. We often hear of a florist having some choice variety and breeding from it a whole group of sub-varieties more or less characterised by the peculiarities of the parent. The case of the peach and nectarine, each with their many varieties, might have been introduced. No doubt the relationship of our different domestic breeds has been obscured in an extreme degree by their crossing; and likewise from the slight difference between many breeds it has probably often happened that a "sport" from one breed has less closely resembled its parent breed than some other breed, and has therefore been classed with the latter. Moreover the effects of a similar climate{446} may in some cases have more than counterbalanced the similarity, consequent on a common descent, though I should think the similarity of the breeds of cattle of India or sheep of Siberia was far more probably due to the community of their descent than to the effects of climate on animals descended from different stocks.

{446} A general statement of the influence of conditions on variation occurs in the Origin, Ed. i. pp. 131-3, vi. pp. 164-5.

Notwithstanding these great sources of difficulty, I apprehend every one would admit, that if it were possible, a genealogical classification of our domestic varieties would be the most satisfactory one; and as far as varieties were concerned would be the natural system: in some cases it has been followed. In attempting to follow out this object a person would have to class a variety, whose parentage he did not know, by its external characters; but he would have a distinct ulterior object in view, namely, its descent in the same manner as a regular systematist seems also to have an ulterior but undefined end in all his classifications. Like the regular systematist he would not care whether his characters were drawn from more or less important organs as long as he found in the tribe which he was examining that the characters from such parts were persistent; thus amongst cattle he does value a character drawn from the form of the horns more than from the proportions of the limbs and whole body, for he finds that the shape of the horns is to a considerable degree persistent amongst cattle{447}, whilst the bones of the limbs and body vary. No doubt as a frequent rule the more important the organ, as being less related to external influences, the less liable it is to variation; but he would expect that according to the object for which the races had been selected, parts more or less important might differ; so that characters drawn from parts generally most liable to vary, as colour, might in some instances be highly serviceable—as is the case. He would admit that general resemblances scarcely definable by language might sometimes serve to allocate a species by its nearest relation. He would be able to assign a clear reason why the close similarity of the fruit in two varieties of pine-apple, and of the so-called root in the common and Swedish turnips, and why the similar gracefulness of form in the greyhound and racehorse, are characters of little value in classification; namely, because they are the result, not of community of descent, but either of selection for a common end, or of the effects of similar external conditions.

{447} Origin, Ed. i. p. 423, vi. p. 579. In the margin Marshall is given as the authority.

Classification of "races" and species similar.

Thus seeing that both the classifiers of species and of varieties{448} work by the same means, make similar distinctions in the value of the characters, and meet with similar difficulties, and that both seem to have in their classification an ulterior object in view; I cannot avoid strongly suspecting that the same cause, which has made amongst our domestic varieties groups and sub-groups, has made similar groups (but of higher values) amongst species; and that this cause is the greater or less propinquity of actual descent. The simple fact of species, both those long since extinct and those now living, being divisible into genera, families, orders &c.—divisions analogous to those into which varieties are divisible—is otherwise an inexplicable fact, and only not remarkable from its familiarity.

{448} Origin, Ed. i. p. 423, vi. p. 579.

Origin of genera and families.

Let us suppose{449} for example that a species spreads and arrives at six or more different regions, or being already diffused over one wide area, let this area be divided into six distinct regions, exposed to different conditions, and with stations slightly different, not fully occupied with other species, so that six different races or species were formed by selection, each best fitted to its new habits and station. I must remark that in every case, if a species becomes modified in any one sub-region, it is probable that it will become modified in some other of the sub-regions over which it is diffused, for its organization is shown to be capable of being rendered plastic; its diffusion proves that it is able to struggle with the other inhabitants of the several sub-regions; and as the organic beings of every great region are in some degree allied, and as even the physical conditions are often in some respects alike, we might expect that a modification in structure, which gave our species some advantage over antagonist species in one sub-region, would be followed by other modifications in other of the sub-regions. The races or new species supposed to be formed would be closely related to each other; and would either form a new genus or sub-genus, or would rank (probably forming a slightly different section) in the genus to which the parent species belonged. In the course of ages, and during the contingent physical changes, it is probable that some of the six new species would be destroyed; but the same advantage, whatever it may have been (whether mere tendency to vary, or some peculiarity of organization, power of mind, or means of distribution), which in the parent-species and in its six selected and changed species-offspring, caused them to prevail over other antagonist species, would generally tend to preserve some or many of them for a long period. If then, two or three of the six species were preserved, they in their turn would, during continued changes, give rise to as many small groups of species: if the parents of these small groups were closely similar, the new species would form one great genus, barely perhaps divisible into two or three sections: but if the parents were considerably unlike, their species-offspring would, from inheriting most of the peculiarities of their parent-stocks, form either two or more sub-genera or (if the course of selection tended in different ways) genera. And lastly species descending from different species of the newly formed genera would form new genera, and such genera collectively would form a family.

{449} The discussion here following corresponds more or less to the Origin, Ed. i. pp. 411, 412, vi. pp. 566, 567; although the doctrine of divergence is not mentioned in this Essay (as it is in the Origin) yet the present section seems to me a distinct approximation to it.

The extermination of species follows from changes in the external conditions, and from the increase or immigration of more favoured species: and as those species which are undergoing modification in any one great region (or indeed over the world) will very often be allied ones from (as just explained) partaking of many characters, and therefore advantages in common, so the species, whose place the new or more favoured ones are seizing, from partaking of a common inferiority (whether in any particular point of structure, or of general powers of mind, of means of distribution, of capacity for variation, &c., &c.), will be apt to be allied. Consequently species of the same genus will slowly, one after the other, tend to become rarer and rarer in numbers, and finally extinct; and as each last species of several allied genera fails, even the family will become extinct. There may of course be occasional exceptions to the entire destruction of any genus or family. From what has gone before, we have seen that the slow and successive formation of several new species from the same stock will make a new genus, and the slow and successive formation of several other new species from another stock will make another genus; and if these two stocks were allied, such genera will make a new family. Now, as far as our knowledge serves, it is in this slow and gradual manner that groups of species appear on, and disappear from, the face of the earth.

The manner in which, according to our theory, the arrangement of species in groups is due to partial extinction, will perhaps be rendered clearer in the following way. Let us suppose in any one great class, for instance in the Mammalia, that every species and every variety, during each successive age, had sent down one unaltered descendant (either fossil or living) to the present time; we should then have had one enormous series, including by small gradations every known mammiferous form; and consequently the existence of groups{450}, or chasms in the series, which in some parts are in greater width, and in some of less, is solely due to former species, and whole groups of species, not having thus sent down descendants to the present time.

{450} The author probably intended to write "groups separated by chasms."

With respect to the "analogical" or "adaptive" resemblances between organic beings which are not really related{451}, I will only add, that probably the isolation of different groups of species is an important element in the production of such characters: thus we can easily see, in a large increasing island, or even a continent like Australia, stocked with only certain orders of the main classes, that the conditions would be highly favourable for species from these orders to become adapted to play parts in the economy of nature, which in other countries were performed by tribes especially adapted to such parts. We can understand how it might happen that an otter-like animal might have been formed in Australia by slow selection from the more carnivorous Marsupial types; thus we can understand that curious case in the southern hemisphere, where there are no auks (but many petrels), of a petrel{452} having been modified into the external general form so as to play the same office in nature with the auks of the northern hemisphere; although the habits and form of the petrels and auks are normally so wholly different. It follows, from our theory, that two orders must have descended from one common stock at an immensely remote epoch; and we can perceive when a species in either order, or in both, shows some affinity to the other order, why the affinity is usually generic and not particular—that is why the Bizcacha amongst Rodents, in the points in which it is related to the Marsupial, is related to the whole group{453}, and not particularly to the Phascolomys, which of all Marsupialia is related most to the Rodents. For the Bizcacha is related to the present Marsupialia, only from being related to their common parent-stock; and not to any one species in particular. And generally, it may be observed in the writings of most naturalists, that when an organism is described as intermediate between two great groups, its relations are not to particular species of either group, but to both groups, as wholes. A little reflection will show how exceptions (as that of the Lepidosiren, a fish closely related to particular reptiles) might occur, namely from a few descendants of those species, which at a very early period branched out from a common parent-stock and so formed the two orders or groups, having survived, in nearly their original state, to the present time.

{451} A similar discussion occurs in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 427, vi. p. 582.

{452} Puffinuria berardi, see Origin, Ed. i. p. 184, vi. p. 221.

{453} Origin, Ed. i. p. 430, vi. p. 591.

Finally, then, we see that all the leading facts in the affinities and classification of organic beings can be explained on the theory of the natural system being simply a genealogical one. The similarity of the principles in classifying domestic varieties and true species, both those living and extinct, is at once explained; the rules followed and difficulties met with being the same. The existence of genera, families, orders, &c., and their mutual relations, naturally ensues from extinction going on at all periods amongst the diverging descendants of a common stock. These terms of affinity, relations, families, adaptive characters, &c., which naturalists cannot avoid using, though metaphorically, cease being so, and are full of plain signification.



Unity of Type{454}.

{454} Origin, Ed. i. p. 434, vi. p. 595. Ch. VIII corresponds to a section of Ch. XIII in the Origin, Ed. i.

Scarcely anything is more wonderful or has been oftener insisted on than that the organic beings in each great class, though living in the most distant climes and at periods immensely remote, though fitted to widely different ends in the economy of nature, yet all in their internal structure evince an obvious uniformity. What, for instance, is more wonderful than that the hand to clasp, the foot or hoof to walk, the bat's wing to fly, the porpoise's fin{455} to swim, should all be built on the same plan? and that the bones in their position and number should be so similar that they can all be classed and called by the same names. Occasionally some of the bones are merely represented by an apparently useless, smooth style, or are soldered closely to other bones, but the unity of type is not by this destroyed, and hardly rendered less clear. We see in this fact some deep bond of union between the organic beings of the same great classes—to illustrate which is the object and foundation of the natural system. The perception of this bond, I may add, is the evident cause that naturalists make an ill-defined distinction between true and adaptive affinities.

{455} Origin, Ed. i. p. 434, vi. p. 596. In the Origin, Ed. i. these examples occur under the heading Morphology; the author does not there draw much distinction between this heading and that of Unity of Type.


There is another allied or rather almost identical class of facts admitted by the least visionary naturalists and included under the name of Morphology. These facts show that in an individual organic being, several of its organs consist of some other organ metamorphosed{456}: thus the sepals, petals, stamens, pistils, &c. of every plant can be shown to be metamorphosed leaves; and thus not only can the number, position and transitional states of these several organs, but likewise their monstrous changes, be most lucidly explained. It is believed that the same laws hold good with the gemmiferous vesicles of Zoophytes. In the same manner the number and position of the extraordinarily complicated jaws and palpi of Crustacea and of insects, and likewise their differences in the different groups, all become simple, on the view of these parts, or rather legs and all metamorphosed appendages, being metamorphosed legs. The skulls, again, of the Vertebrata are composed of three metamorphosed vertebrae, and thus we can see a meaning in the number and strange complication of the bony case of the brain. In this latter instance, and in that of the jaws of the Crustacea, it is only necessary to see a series taken from the different groups of each class to admit the truth of these views. It is evident that when in each species of a group its organs consist of some other part metamorphosed, that there must also be a "unity of type" in such a group. And in the cases as that above given in which the foot, hand, wing and paddle are said to be constructed on a uniform type, if we could perceive in such parts or organs traces of an apparent change from some other use or function, we should strictly include such parts or organs in the department of morphology: thus if we could trace in the limbs of the Vertebrata, as we can in their ribs, traces of an apparent change from being processes of the vertebrae, it would be said that in each species of the Vertebrata the limbs were "metamorphosed spinal processes," and that in all the species throughout the class the limbs displayed a "unity of type{457}."

{456} See Origin, Ed. i. p. 436, vi. p. 599, where the parts of the flower, the jaws and palpi of Crustaceans and the vertebrate skull are given as examples.

{457} The author here brings Unity of Type and Morphology together.

These wonderful parts of the hoof, foot, hand, wing, paddle, both in living and extinct animals, being all constructed on the same framework, and again of the petals, stamina, germens, &c. being metamorphosed leaves, can by the creationist be viewed only as ultimate facts and incapable of explanation; whilst on our theory of descent these facts all necessary follow: for by this theory all the beings of any one class, say of the mammalia, are supposed to be descended from one parent-stock, and to have been altered by such slight steps as man effects by the selection of chance domestic variations. Now we can see according to this view that a foot might be selected with longer and longer bones, and wider connecting membranes, till it became a swimming organ, and so on till it became an organ by which to flap along the surface or to glide over it, and lastly to fly through the air: but in such changes there would be no tendency to alter the framework of the internal inherited structure. Parts might become lost (as the tail in dogs, or horns in cattle, or the pistils in plants), others might become united together (as in the feet of the Lincolnshire breed of pigs{458}, and in the stamens of many garden flowers); parts of a similar nature might become increased in number (as the vertebrae in the tails of pigs, &c., &c. and the fingers and toes in six-fingered races of men and in the Dorking fowls), but analogous differences are observed in nature and are not considered by naturalists to destroy the uniformity of the types. We can, however, conceive such changes to be carried to such length that the unity of type might be obscured and finally be undistinguishable, and the paddle of the Plesiosaurus has been advanced as an instance in which the uniformity of type can hardly be recognised{459}. If after long and gradual changes in the structure of the co-descendants from any parent stock, evidence (either from monstrosities or from a graduated series) could be still detected of the function, which certain parts or organs played in the parent stock, these parts or organs might be strictly determined by their former function with the term "metamorphosed" appended. Naturalists have used this term in the same metaphorical manner as they have been obliged to use the terms of affinity and relation; and when they affirm, for instance, that the jaws of a crab are metamorphosed legs, so that one crab has more legs and fewer jaws than another, they are far from meaning that the jaws, either during the life of the individual crab or of its progenitors, were really legs. By our theory this term assumes its literal meaning{460}; and this wonderful fact of the complex jaws of an animal retaining numerous characters, which they would probably have retained if they had really been metamorphosed during many successive generations from true legs, is simply explained.

{458} The solid-hoofed pigs mentioned in Var. under Dom., Ed. ii. vol. II. p. 424 are not Lincolnshire pigs. For other cases see Bateson, Materials for the Study of Variation, 1894, pp. 387-90.

{459} In the margin C. Bell is given as authority, apparently for the statement about Plesiosaurus. See Origin, Ed. i. p. 436, vi. p. 598, where the author speaks of the "general pattern" being obscured in "extinct gigantic sea lizards." In the same place the suctorial Entomostraca are added as examples of the difficulty of recognising the type.

{460} Origin, Ed. i. p. 438, vi. p. 602.


The unity of type in the great classes is shown in another and very striking manner, namely, in the stages through which the embryo passes in coming to maturity{461}. Thus, for instance, at one period of the embryo, the wings of the bat, the hand, hoof or foot of the quadruped, and the fin of the porpoise do not differ, but consist of a simple undivided bone. At a still earlier period the embryo of the fish, bird, reptile and mammal all strikingly resemble each other. Let it not be supposed this resemblance is only external; for on dissection, the arteries are found to branch out and run in a peculiar course, wholly unlike that in the full-grown mammal and bird, but much less unlike that in the full-grown fish, for they run as if to aerate blood by branchiae{462} on the neck, of which even the slit-like orifices can be discerned. How wonderful it is that this structure should be present in the embryos of animals about to be developed into such different forms, and of which two great classes respire only in the air. Moreover, as the embryo of the mammal is matured in the parent's body, and that of the bird in an egg in the air, and that of the fish in an egg in the water, we cannot believe that this course of the arteries is related to any external conditions. In all shell-fish (Gasteropods) the embryo passes through a state analogous to that of the Pteropodous Mollusca: amongst insects again, even the most different ones, as the moth, fly and beetle, the crawling larvae are all closely analogous: amongst the Radiata, the jelly-fish in its embryonic state resembles a polype, and in a still earlier state an infusorial animalcule—as does likewise the embryo of the polype. From the part of the embryo of a mammal, at one period, resembling a fish more than its parent form; from the larvae of all orders of insects more resembling the simpler articulate animals than their parent insects{463}; and from such other cases as the embryo of the jelly-fish resembling a polype much nearer than the perfect jelly-fish; it has often been asserted that the higher animal in each class passes through the state of a lower animal; for instance, that the mammal amongst the vertebrata passes through the state of a fish{464}: but Mueller denies this, and affirms that the young mammal is at no time a fish, as does Owen assert that the embryonic jelly-fish is at no time a polype, but that mammal and fish, jelly-fish and polype pass through the same state; the mammal and jelly-fish being only further developed or changed.

{461} Origin, Ed. i. p. 439, vi. p. 604.

{462} The uselessness of the branchial arches in mammalia is insisted on in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 440, vi. p. 606. Also the uselessness of the spots on the young blackbird and the stripes of the lion-whelp, cases which do not occur in the present Essay.

{463} In the Origin, Ed. i. pp. 442, 448, vi. pp. 608, 614 it is pointed out that in some cases the young form resembles the adult, e.g. in spiders; again, that in the Aphis there is no "worm-like stage" of development.

{464} In the Origin, Ed. i. p. 449, vi. p. 618, the author speaks doubtfully about the recapitulation theory.

As the embryo, in most cases, possesses a less complicated structure than that into which it is to be developed, it might have been thought that the resemblance of the embryo to less complicated forms in the same great class, was in some manner a necessary preparation for its higher development; but in fact the embryo, during its growth, may become less, as well as more, complicated{465}. Thus certain female Epizoic Crustaceans in their mature state have neither eyes nor any organs of locomotion; they consist of a mere sack, with a simple apparatus for digestion and procreation; and when once attached to the body of the fish, on which they prey, they never move again during their whole lives: in their embryonic condition, on the other hand, they are furnished with eyes, and with well articulated limbs, actively swim about and seek their proper object to become attached to. The larvae, also, of some moths are as complicated and are more active than the wingless and limbless females, which never leave their pupa-case, never feed and never see the daylight.

{465} This corresponds to the Origin, Ed. i. p. 441, vi. p. 607, where, however, the example is taken from the Cirripedes.

Attempt to explain the facts of embryology.

I think considerable light can be thrown by the theory of descent on these wonderful embryological facts which are common in a greater or less degree to the whole animal kingdom, and in some manner to the vegetable kingdom: on the fact, for instance, of the arteries in the embryonic mammal, bird, reptile and fish, running and branching in the same courses and nearly in the same manner with the arteries in the full-grown fish; on the fact I may add of the high importance to systematic naturalists{466} of the characters and resemblances in the embryonic state, in ascertaining the true position in the natural system of mature organic beings. The following are the considerations which throw light on these curious points.

{466} Origin, Ed. i. p. 449, vi. p. 617.

In the economy, we will say of a feline animal{467}, the feline structure of the embryo or of the sucking kitten is of quite secondary importance to it; hence, if a feline animal varied (assuming for the time the possibility of this) and if some place in the economy of nature favoured the selection of a longer-limbed variety, it would be quite unimportant to the production by natural selection of a long-limbed breed, whether the limbs of the embryo and kitten were elongated if they became so as soon as the animal had to provide food for itself. And if it were found after continued selection and the production of several new breeds from one parent-stock, that the successive variations had supervened, not very early in the youth or embryonic life of each breed (and we have just seen that it is quite unimportant whether it does so or not), then it obviously follows that the young or embryos of the several breeds will continue resembling each other more closely than their adult parents{468}. And again, if two of these breeds became each the parent-stock of several other breeds, forming two genera, the young and embryos of these would still retain a greater resemblance to the one original stock than when in an adult state. Therefore if it could be shown that the period of the slight successive variations does not always supervene at a very early period of life, the greater resemblance or closer unity in type of animals in the young than in the full-grown state would be explained. Before practically{469} endeavouring to discover in our domestic races whether the structure or form of the young has or has not changed in an exactly corresponding degree with the changes of full-grown animals, it will be well to show that it is at least quite possible for the primary germinal vesicle to be impressed with a tendency to produce some change on the growing tissues which will not be fully effected till the animal is advanced in life.

{467} This corresponds to the Origin, Ed. i. pp. 443-4, vi. p. 610: the "feline animal" is not used to illustrate the generalisation, but is so used in the Essay of 1842, p. 42.

{468} Origin, Ed. i. p. 447, vi. p. 613.

{469} In the margin is written "Get young pigeons"; this was afterwards done, and the results are given in the Origin, Ed. i. p. 445, vi. p. 612.

From the following peculiarities of structure being inheritable and appearing only when the animal is full-grown—namely, general size, tallness (not consequent on the tallness of the infant), fatness either over the whole body, or local; change of colour in hair and its loss; deposition of bony matter on the legs of horses; blindness and deafness, that is changes of structure in the eye and ear; gout and consequent deposition of chalk-stones; and many other diseases{470}, as of the heart and brain, &c., &c.; from all such tendencies being I repeat inheritable, we clearly see that the germinal vesicle is impressed with some power which is wonderfully preserved during the production of infinitely numerous cells in the ever changing tissues, till the part ultimately to be affected is formed and the time of life arrived at. We see this clearly when we select cattle with any peculiarity of their horns, or poultry with any peculiarity of their second plumage, for such peculiarities cannot of course reappear till the animal is mature. Hence, it is certainly possible that the germinal vesicle may be impressed with a tendency to produce a long-limbed animal, the full proportional length of whose limbs shall appear only when the animal is mature{471}.

{470} In the Origin, Ed. i. the corresponding passages are at pp. 8, 13, 443, vi. pp. 8, 15, 610. In the Origin, Ed. i. I have not found a passage so striking as that which occurs a few lines lower "that the germinal vesicle is impressed with some power which is wonderfully preserved, &c." In the Origin this preservation is rather taken for granted.

{471} <In the margin is written> Aborted organs show, perhaps, something about period which changes supervene in embryo.

In several of the cases just enumerated we know that the first cause of the peculiarity, when not inherited, lies in the conditions to which the animal is exposed during mature life, thus to a certain extent general size and fatness, lameness in horses and in a lesser degree blindness, gout and some other diseases are certainly in some degree caused and accelerated by the habits of life, and these peculiarities when transmitted to the offspring of the affected person reappear at a nearly corresponding time of life. In medical works it is asserted generally that at whatever period an hereditary disease appears in the parent, it tends to reappear in the offspring at the same period. Again, we find that early maturity, the season of reproduction and longevity are transmitted to corresponding periods of life. Dr Holland has insisted much on children of the same family exhibiting certain diseases in similar and peculiar manners; my father has known three brothers{472} die in very old age in a singular comatose state; now to make these latter cases strictly bear, the children of such families ought similarly to suffer at corresponding times of life; this is probably not the case, but such facts show that a tendency in a disease to appear at particular stages of life can be transmitted through the germinal vesicle to different individuals of the same family. It is then certainly possible that diseases affecting widely different periods of life can be transmitted. So little attention is paid to very young domestic animals that I do not know whether any case is on record of selected peculiarities in young animals, for instance, in the first plumage of birds, being transmitted to their young. If, however, we turn to silk-worms{473}, we find that the caterpillars and coccoons (which must correspond to a very early period of the embryonic life of mammalia) vary, and that these varieties reappear in the offspring caterpillars and coccoons.

{472} See p. 42, note 5.{Note 160}

{473} The evidence is given in Var. under Dom., I. p. 316.

I think these facts are sufficient to render it probable that at whatever period of life any peculiarity (capable of being inherited) appears, whether caused by the action of external influences during mature life, or from an affection of the primary germinal vesicle, it tends to reappear in the offspring at the corresponding period of life{474}. Hence (I may add) whatever effect training, that is the full employment or action of every newly selected slight variation, has in fully developing and increasing such variation, would only show itself in mature age, corresponding to the period of training; in the second chapter I showed that there was in this respect a marked difference in natural and artificial selection, man not regularly exercising or adapting his varieties to new ends, whereas selection by nature presupposes such exercise and adaptation in each selected and changed part. The foregoing facts show and presuppose that slight variations occur at various periods of life after birth; the facts of monstrosity, on the other hand, show that many changes take place before birth, for instance, all such cases as extra fingers, hare-lip and all sudden and great alterations in structure; and these when inherited reappear during the embryonic period in the offspring. I will only add that at a period even anterior to embryonic life, namely, during the egg state, varieties appear in size and colour (as with the Hertfordshire duck with blackish eggs{475}) which reappear in the egg; in plants also the capsule and membranes of the seed are very variable and inheritable.

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