Alexander Winchell.

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one; and even if Whitfield's suggestions v^^ere con-
firmed, the endurance of an unaltered specific form
through time would still be so great as to convey
a vivid impression of the constancy of species;
and we should still have no evidence that the later
form was derived from the earlier. Another spe-
cies — Sirophomena rhomhoidalis of Wahlenberg — has
an equal, or even greater, range in time, while similar
doubts have not been expressed of the strict identity
of the earlier and later forms. It should also be
stated that both these species have a very wide geo-
graphical range, having been first discovered and
named in Europe, where the diverse conditions did
not stamp npon them an aspect specifically different
from the American forms.

We could cite from paleontology numerous in-
stances of the persistence of specific types; while the
persistence of well-restricted generic types, through
even greater intervals, is a fact of the same purport,
and probably of equal weight. Thus, among exist-

* Whitfield : Nineteenth Eeport Kew York Kegents on the State


existing genera, we find Kauiilus^ wliich reaches back
probably to Lower Silurian time; Lingida, which
penetrates even to the beginning of the Silurian ;
ElujnchoneUa, which dates from the Lower Silurian ;
7h'ehmtula, which comes down from the middle De-
vonian; Ostrea, which commences in the older Car-
boniferous. Of similar import is the persistence of
family and ordinal types, like ganoid fishes and cri-
noidea, from remote ages to the present."^

We may also cite the parallelism of the lines of de-
scent of closely allied species, through long intervals
of geological history. The hypothesis of derivation
implies the probability that at least some of these
affiliated species should have had a common origin,
and must have been descending along divergent
lines; but no such divergences have been pointed

The unavoidable conclusion from this class of ob-
jections is, that whereas the theory of variative deri-
vation requires that every species should be capable
of assuming, by insensible degrees, not only specific
characters, but even generic, fiimily, ordinal, and class
characters not originally belonging to it — thus pre-
senting, at successive times, totally changed categories

* See a candid admission of such facts by Huxley in Critiques and
Addresses, pp. 184-18G.


of structure of all grades — the facts only show that
individuals are capable temporarily of exhibiting
considerable, though definitely restricted, variatior'^
wholly within the limits of the specific tj-pe.

Another set of facts which it concerns the advo-
cates of the hypothesis of variative derivation to ex-
plain, is the existence of breaks in the chain of affini-
ties among animals and plants. Professor Huxley as-
serts that " it is an easy matter to prove that, so far as
structure is concerned, man differs to no greater ex-
tent from the animals which are immediately below
him than these do from other members of the same
order." In this, however, he is in disaccord with
Wallace, Owen, Dana, Cuvier, and all the great au-
thorities on the subject. But we demand why he re-
stricts the comparison to points of structure, since it
is man in his completeness, with all his intellectual,
moral, and sesthetic faculties, that the doctrine of der-
ivation is summoned to explain. We must insist,
with Tyndal, that here yawns an immense gap which
it is impossible to bridge.

But the case stands worse than this. "We are not
left at liberty to assume man the descendant of quad-
rumana nearest akin, since their lineage goes little if
any further back than his. If man be a derived form,
he must look for his crest among the ruling families
of monkeys existing in the miocene or eocene age.


This necessity discovered, the assertion of kinship is
intellectual temerity.

The chasm between vertebrates and invertebrates
is one which it has taxed the ingenuity of transmuta-
tionists to bridge ; but it is thought the row of cells
which, in the young ascidian, presents so much the
appearance of the dorsal chord of the vertebrate em-
bryo, must be the long-sought abutment from whicli
the arch of the bridge may be sprung. But two cir-
cumstances seem to render this hope illusory. First,
the cells of the ascidian sustain relations to the ven-
tral instead of the dorsal side of the animal ; and, sec-
ondly, in the adult ascidian, in which the higher (ver-
tebrate) characters ought to be more pronounced, there
is nothing to indicate that they ever existed.

Many similar gaps exist in the actual world of life.
In fact, when we remember that variative derivation
implies that even the intervals between the most kin-
dred species have at some time been filled by inter-
mediate forms, it must appear that the actual state of
the world comes far short of the requirements of the
theory ; and that creation, in spite of what we know
of the persistence of types, must have lost incalcula-
bly more species than have come down to our times,
or left their records in the rocks.

The rocky record reveals the existence of breaks
of serious import in the historical succession of or-


ganic types. There are facts of a suspicious charac-
ter in the very first chapter of this record. The low-
est and oldest assemblage of fossils of which we have
any certain knowledge is in the bottom of the Lower
Silurian. According to variative derivation, these
should be the simplest possible organisms — structure-
less, formless, and germ -like. They are, in fact, as
highly organized as brachiopods and trilobites. Mr.
Darwin suo^orests that their humbler ancestors must
have been buried in strata of Pre-Silurian age; but
in this country those strata have been too faithfully
and too fruitlessly studied to permit such a presump-
tion. But then, he says, their remains, though once
there, have been destroj^ed by metamorphic agencies.
We reply, it is contrary to probabilities that the im-
mediate progenitors of animals as imperishable and
as well-preserved as the stone-secreting brachiopods
and cephalopods of the Silurian should have left no
single trace of themselves in the well-explored strata
immediately beneath the Silurian. But there is Eo-
zoon^ the theorist may now rejoin, as low down as the
Lower Laurentian, and this is the primitive organism
which w^e require. To this we say, the discovery
makes the case even worse; for if this fragile primi-
tive creature could have been preserved from times
FO early, others certainly could have been preserved
during the vast succeeding stretch of Laurentian and


Iluronian time, bad tbcy existed. The gap, then,
between Eozoon and tbe Silurian types is an impassa-
ble gulf. Even if we admit tbe organic nature of Eo-
zoon^ it is a solitary species, representing a space of
perbaps millions of years, wbile, in tbe first zone of
Silurian rocks, we know more tban tbree bund red
and seventy different species. But, in trutb, Eozoon
is only doubtfully admitted witbin tbe bounds of or-
ganization. Two Irisb geologists, Messrs. King and
Rownej^, bave all along most strenuously demurred
from tbe conclusion tbat it is organic; wbile in our
own country Messrs. Burbank and Perry bave brought
to ligbt some facts wbicb are seemingly incompatible
witb a belief in its animal character.^

M. Joacbim Barrande bas treated witb so much
tborougbness, logic, and perspicuity tbe bearing of
tbe paleontological facts of tbe Lower Silurian upon
theories of variative development,! tbat we should
leave tbe discussion very incomplete without making
especial reference to bis labors. Suffice it to say of
his preparation for the work, that be bas devoted a
lifetime to the study of the Silurian system of Bohe-
mia, and, collaterally, of all other countries; that he

* Proceedings Boston Soc. Nat. Hist,, April 19, 1871, vol. xiv.,
p. 189.

t Barrande : Si/steme Silurien du centre de la Boheme. Supplement
to vol. i. See further, the Appendix to this Essav.


has published several ponderous quarto volumes of
results, and that his name is as familiar to the geolo-
gists of Europe and America as is that of Uljsses
S. Grant to the politicians. M. Barrande has shown
that of three hundred and sixtj-six species of fossils
from the primordial zone of Europe and America,
collected in twelve different countries, only fourteen
are " migrant," i. e., common to two of these countries.
Now, as these species are so closely related to each
other that geologists refer them to identical genera
known as Paradoxides, Olenus^ Conoceplicdites^ Agnos-
tus, etc., and as they rose into being simultaneously
in various countries, and under circumstances so wide-
ly contrasted, it is difficult to conceive of any filiative
relationship among them ; and he feels constrained to
believe that the phenomenon is the result of a com-
mon sovereign and ordaining cause.*

The "lower phase" of the Primordial Zone of the
Silurian is measured by the lifetime of the genus
Paradoxides. Contemporaneous with Paradoxides
were a hundred and sixty-eight species of trilobites,
which came suddenly into existence with the dawn
of the Silurian Age — having no trilobitic forerunners
in earlier time, and with no animal organism what-
ever of earlier date, except some very questionable

* See the 8vo " Extrait," from the "Supplement," p. 193.


forms, bearing, if we take tliem into account, but a
remote relationship to trilobites. We seek in vain
for the relics of such ancestral forms as theories of
variative derivation demand.^

Again, we know of forty -six primordial genera
"which came into existence with Paradoxides. All
these are very distinctly defined. We look for the
intermediate generic forms which, on the derivative
hypothesis, must have existed; but to this day no
single one has been found.f

The larger groups are similarly isolated. We know
eleven distinct fimily types of primordial fossils whicli
are as sharply cut off from each other as the same
families are in any subsequent age. Between a trilo-
bite like Paradoxides^ for instance, and an ostracod
like PrimiU'a, a little bivalve crustacean, the difference
of conformation is so pronounced that if one could
imagine the two types derived from the same com-
mon ancestor, he would feel compelled to concede
the existence of a multitude of intermediate forms
which must have existed before the period of Para-
doxides and the contemporaneous ostracods. But we
have said no trace of such forms has been discovered.
Similar statements apply to the other firnily types of
the primordial zone; and, in fact, to a large number

* Op. cit., p. 20G. t Ibid., pp. 200, 201.


of zoological types distributed through the later peri-
ods of the earth's histor3^

The paleontological record has furnished us with
other facts of even a stronger character than these.
The graduated order of succession, judging from the
facts in our possession, has sometimes been actually
reversed. In the Mesozoic time, certain gigantic rep-
tiles, called Deinosauria, of high organization, and in
some respects presenting an approximation to mam-
mals, existed as a dominant type. Their position was
near the head of the class ; and yet they had not been
preceded by all the lower orders of reptiles. Ser-
pents, for instance, did not make their appearance
till the Eocene Period. In like manner Labyrinth-
odonts, which are hypertypical batrachians, appeared
during the deposition of the Coal Measures; while
typical batrachians — frogs— did not make their ad-
vent till the Eocene.* So fishes related to sharks,
and gar-pikes were the earliest representatives of their
class. Ordinary fishes, lower in rank than these, did
not appear till the Mesozoic time.f

The primordial zone may be again appealed to for
its testimonv. Here, in the first assemblage of animal

* This is a recent determination by Professor Cope : Proc. Acad.
Nat. Sciences, March, 1873, p. 207.
" t Facts of this class are also admitted by Huxley to present diffi-
culties. Critiques and Addresses, p. 187.


forms which ever existed, we have a large predomi-
nance of animals as high in organization as trilobites.
In the earlier phase, three-fourths of all the fossils are
crustaceans. The remaining species are all lower in
rank than crustaceans. In the later phase of the
primordial, two -thirds are crustaceans. In the sub-
sequent periods, the lower types increase still further
in relative abundance, both of individuals and species.
Among the trilobites themselves may be traced an
inversion of the order required by theory. M. Bar-
rande has found the embryos of this type fossilized
in considerable numbers, and has studied their de-
velopment-historj^ The successive stages are charac-
terized by a gradually increasing number of thoracic
sesfments. This order, according^ to the law univers-
ally recognized, indicates that tribolites with few seg-
ments occupy a position below those with numerous
segments. Accordino^lv, the f^renera with few seo -
ments should precede, in time, the others. But the
exact reverse of this is the fact. Nearly all the gen-
era of the earlier phase of the primordial have more
than eleven seofinents — Paradoxides itself havin^j
twenty. But in the second fauna of the Lower Silu-
rian we encounter simultaneouslv, in all the countries
of the two continents, a large number of species hav-
ing few segments. We know three hundred and
twenty -two species whose thorax is composed of five


to nine segments. At the same time, the second fauna
does not a£ford a single trilobite having as numerous
segments as Ariojiellus, Sao and Paradoxides of the
first phase of the primordial fauna.*

It is a principle first enunciated by Professor Dana,f
that the earliest representatives of a zoological group
were neither the highest nor the lowest members, but
generally some type a little distance above the bot-
tom of the group. From this point the evolution
proceeded chiefly upward, but also, to some extent,

Were the species of animals and plants variatively
derived from a few simple primordial ancestors, it is
unaccountable that the simplest types have remained
in existence to the present day. If changed condi-
tions occasion new modifications, and new specific and
higher types, we should expect the primitive stocks
to have disappeared.

Animals are generally intolerant of changed condi-
tions. Instead of undergoing any profound modifica-
tions, they migrate or perish. Thus, the molluscs
which in Post-Tertiary time inhabited the estuary
of the St. Lawrence, have removed, under changed
conditions, to the shores of the ISTorth Atlantic. The

* Barrande : Op. cit., pp. 240-242.
t Dana : Manual of Geology^ p. 39G.


descendants of species which flourished on the coast
of New England in a cooler age are now to be found
upon the coast of Greenland. In a similar manner,
the reindeer has withdrawn, wuth the amelioration of
the climate, from Southern Europe to Lapland.

We have thus briefly adverted to the leading class-
es of facts which seem difficult and, in some cases, im-
possible to reconcile with any of the theories of vari-
ative derivation — whether Spencerian evolution or
Lamarckian transmutation, or any of the phases of
Darwinism. It remains to signalize an array of facts
which reveal themselves in the field of the physiolog-
ical forces.

(2.) Prominent Ohjections in the Field of the PJnjsio-
logical Forces. — The defenders of theories of variative
derivation repose great stress upon the modifying or
directive influence of external conditions. A further
critical examination of facts will sliow that an un-
warranted degree of importance has been conceded to
influences of this class, and that the phenomena arc
better explained by referring them to the action of
some internal force which- exerts itself both with ref-
erence to physical surroundings and with reference to
the necessities of the animal, and also with reference
to archetypal conceptions.

The action of the j^hysical influence is often^ if not al-
luays^ against the development of the organic modification


luhich appears in correlation icith it. Lamarck alleged
that the elongated proboscis of the elephant, and the
long neck and extensile tongue of the giraffe, all so
beautifully correlated to the instincts of these brows-
ing animals, have been produced by their continued
efforts to secure the food suited to their organization.
Now the idea is conceivable that a long -continued
physical action upon an organ should result in a cer-
tain degree of modification ; and that the action of
muscles, in extending the lips, for instance, should
eventuate in a permanent extension, as in the pro-
boscidians; but it is not conceivable that physical
forces should conduce to an ororanic modification
which proceeds in a direction diametrically opposed
to the direction of those forces. Kow, no one can
deny that the elongated fore legs of the giraffe stand
in as intimate relation to its wants as its elongated
neck or tongue. But the p)liysical force acting uj^on
the legs is the weight of the animal, which tends
rather to shorten than lens^then them. It will not do
to reply that the legs of all animals in the growing
state continue to lengthen, -notwithstanding the press-
ure in the opposite direction; since noone will pretend
that this growth is the effect of the pressure, but rath-
er of some force which, in spite of the pressure, acts
toward a result correlated to the ideal concept of the
adult animal. Here, consequently, is a real correla-


tion which is not produced by any known physical
force. It must, therefore, be produced by some other
kind of force. It will not suffice to call it a physio-
logical force, if by this is meant some force resolva-
ble into endosmose, capilLarity, affinity, etc. — as main-
tained by Draper, Barker, Spencer, and others — for
these are physical forces, and act, like mechanical
forces, only along lines of least resistance. A\"e sec
no alternative but to refer the phenomenon in ques-
tion, and the whole class to wdiich it belonc^s, to the
directive and controlling action of some force which
is superphysical.

The difficulty in this case is paralleled by that of
every case in which we attempt to conceive of phys-
ical agencies as developing organs from their incipi-
ency; as, for instance, the electric organs of certain
fishes, the illuminatinG^ or<]^ans of fire flies and other
insects, and the mammary organs of a whole class of
vertebrates. Mr. Darwin himself has admitted the

Nor does the situation seem to be materially al-
tered when we attempt to npply the thcor}^ to organs
ill any stage of development. The physical influ-
ences, strictly speaking, are generally opposed to the
result. The result takes place, and manifests a cor-
relation to the physical conditions; and a natural
suofcrestion is, that the ])hvsical condilions were the


cause. The conditioning cause they may be, but not
the efficient cause.

Another general principle indicating that the effi-
cient cause of organic modifications is hyperphysical,
is the fact that very specific plnjsiccd influences are not
alivcnjs, nor even generally^ accompanied hy such modifi-
cations as are^ in j^ctrallel cases, attributed to them. The
quadrumanous tribes of different countries are accus-
tomed to ascend trees for the purpose of procuring
nuts to serve as their natural food. Their Ions: arms,
their four prehensile extremities, and, in some cases,
their prehensile tails, seem especially adapted to the
function of climbing; and, on derivative hypothe-
ses, these organs have been moulded to these capabili-
ties by the pressure of their wants and long practice
in efforts to climb. But the nuts, for the procure-
ment of which these orcrans are so serviceable, are
equally, in some cases, the principal food of the na-
tive people of the same countries; and they are in
the habit of training these quadrumana to collect the
nuts for them. One of the baboons of Sumatra is
said to exercise great judgment in selecting only the
ripe ones, and in pulling no more than he is ordered."^
The capuchin and cacajao monkeys, according to
Humboldtjf are similarly expert. Now, it seems

* Raffles, Sir Stamford : Linnean Trans. ^ vol. xii., p. 244.
t Humboldt : Personal Narrative.


that these quadrumana and the people associated with
them are equally in need of the cocoa-nut, and are
surrounded and influenced by the same climate, the
same longings, and the same food ; and it is unac-
countable that Nature has not developed for the men
a set of organs as well adapted to the situation as
those she has given to the brutes. If, furthermore,
we assert that men are developed quadrumana, we
behold in these cases a development directly opposed
to the tendency of the strongest physical influences.

To take another example from a different field.
Professor Hooker^ informs us that he traced dis-
tinctly a stream of identical vegetable forms all tire
way from Scandinavia to Tasmania, "Scandinavian
genera," saj's he, "and even species, re-appear every-
where from Lapland and Iceland to the tops of the
Tasmanian Alps. - "^^ ■^* They abound on the Alps
and Pyrenees, pass on to the Caucasus and Himalaya,
thence they extend along the Khasia Mountains and
those of the peninsulas of India to '^ '" '" Java and
Borneo, "-^ * * and re-appear on the Alps of Kew
South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, and beyond
these again on those of Xew Zealand and the Ant-
arctic islands — manij of the species remaining unchanged
throughout^ These are very remarkable fiiets, even

* Hooker : Flora of Tasmania. Introductory Essay. Eeprinted,
Araer. Jour, Science and Arts [2], xxix., 323.


taken by themselves; but tlie more extraordinary
the width of this distribution of identical species, the
more completely are "we at a loss to account, on de-
rivative principles, for such uniformities of character
under circumstances so diverse. The widely sepa-
rated stations of these Scandinavian species can hard-
ly possess any other common resemblance than their
Alpine climate. If, however, it w^ere supposable that
similar conditions have developed identical species at
points so remote, a degree of coincidence is implied
which is rendered extremely improbable by the doc-
trine of chances ; and if we suppose that Scandinavian
species have migrated to the antipodes, the wonder
is that they had not been transmuted before travers-
ing half the circumference of the earth. The expla-
nation of these and similar phenomena seems to be,
that specific types possess a degree of constancy which
withstands all external modifying influences, except
wnthin certain limits of elasticity which do not sac-
rifice their identity.

We should remark further, that the same physical
wfluence is often accompanied hy profoundly differing
organizations. It is natural to suppose that an apter-
ous insect and an apterous vertebrate would be ex-
cited by similar longings for the power to rise above
the earth. It should be supposed that in the same
region, and under the same set of circumstances, the


necessity of flight would result in the development of
wings constructed at leost upon the same fundamental
plan. But the plan of the insect's wing is conformed
to the articulate archetype, and the plan of the bird's
wing to the vertebrate archetj^pe. Nor is the result
the same when the wings are developed under the
same archetype. The bird's wing is a fan of quills
fixed in a consolidated mass of obsolescent phalangeal,
metacarpal, carpal, and ulnar bones and cartilages,
and leaving the hinder extremities entirely free. The
bat's wing is a leathery membrane stretched over the
elongated and fully articulated fingers, and thence
joining the body and the whole length of the poste-
rior limb, and continuinsr to the tail. It is fair to
bring into the same comparison the winged reptiles
which, though no longer existent, manifested a corre-
lation of an identical kind by means of a still difler-
ent structure. Tlic wing of the Plerodadijl was a

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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellThe doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings → online text (page 4 of 10)