Page:Origin of Species 1872.djvu/204

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But in all the foregoing cases the insects in their original state no doubt presented some rude and accidental resemblance to an object commonly found in the stations frequented by them. Nor is this at all improbable, considering the almost infinite number of surrounding objects and the diversity in form and colour of the hosts of insects which exist. As some rude resemblance is necessary for the first start, we can understand how it is that the larger and higher animals do not (with the exception, as far as I know, of one fish) resemble for the sake of protection special objects, but only the surface which commonly surrounds them, and this chiefly in colour. Assuming that an insect originally happened to resemble in some degree a dead twig or a decayed leaf, and that it varied slightly in many ways, then all the variations which rendered the insect at all more like any such object, and thus favoured its escape, would be preserved, while other variations would be neglected and ultimately lost; or, if they rendered the insect at all less like the imitated object, they would be eliminated. There would indeed be force in Mr. Mivart's objection, if we were to attempt to account for the above resemblances, independently of natural selection, through mere fluctuating variability; but as the case stands there is none.

Nor can I see any force in Mr. Mivart's difficulty with respect to "the last touches of perfection in the mimicry;" as in the case given by Mr. Wallace, of a walking-stick insect (Ceroxylus laceratus), which resembles "a stick grown over by a creeping moss or jungermannia." So close was this resemblance, that a native Dyak maintained that the foliaceous excrescences were really moss. Insects are preyed on by birds and other enemies whose sight is probably sharper than ours, and every grade in resemblance which aided an insect to escape notice or detection, would tend towards its preservation; and the more perfect the resemblance so much the better for the insect. Considering the nature of the differences between the species in the group which includes the above Ceroxylus, there is nothing improbable in this insect having varied in the irregularities on its surface, and in these having become more or less green-coloured; for in every group the characters which differ in the several species are the most apt to vary, while the generic characters, or those common to all the species, are the most constant.


The Greenland whale is one of the most wonderful animals in the world, and the baleen, or whalebone, one of its greatest peculiarities. The baleen consists of a row, on each side, of the upper