Page:Descent of Man 1875.djvu/620

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Part III.
The Descent of Man.

it is of great length, and with the American natives it not rarely reaches to the ground. Some species of Semnopithecus have their heads covered with moderately long hair, and this probably serves as an ornament and was acquired through sexual selection. The same view may perhaps be extended to mankind, for we know that long tresses are now and were formerly much admired, as may be observed in the works of almost every poet; St. Paul says, "if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her;" and we have seen that in North America a chief was elected solely from the length of his hair.

Colour of the Skin.—The best kind of evidence that in man the colour of the skin has been modified through sexual selection is scanty; for in most races the sexes do not differ in this respect, and only slightly, as we have seen, in others. We know, however, from the many facts already given that the colour of the skin is regarded by the men of all races as a highly important element in their beauty; so that it is a character which would be likely to have been modified through selection, as has occurred in innumerable instances with the lower animals. It seems at first sight a monstrous supposition that the jet-blackness of the negro should have been gained through sexual selection; but this view is supported by various analogies, and we know that negroes admire their own colour. With mammals, when the sexes differ in colour, the male is often black or much darker than the female; and it depends merely on the form of inheritance whether this or any other tint is transmitted to both sexes or to one alone. The resemblance to a negro in minature of Pithecia satanas with his jet black skin, white rolling eyeballs, and hair parted on the top of the head, is almost ludicrous.

The colour of the face differs much more widely in the various kinds of monkeys than it does in the races of man; and we have some reason to believe that the red, blue, orange, almost white and black tints of their skin, even when common to both sexes, as well as the bright colours of their fur, and the ornamental tufts about the head, have all been acquired through sexual selection. As the order of development during growth, generally indicates the order in which the characters of a species have been developed and modified during previous generations; and as the newly-born infants of the various races of man do not differ nearly as much in colour as do the adults, although their bodies are as completely destitute of hair, we have some slight evidence that the tints of the different races were acquired at a period subsequent to the removal of the hair, which must have occurred at a very early period in the history of man.