Page:Origin of Species 1872.djvu/392

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allied genera existing during the Silurian epoch, and descended from some still earlier form. In three of these genera (A, F, and I) a species has transmitted modified descendants to the present day, represented by the fifteen genera ( to ) on the uppermost horizontal line. Now, all these modified descendants from a single species are related in blood or descent in the same degree. They may metaphorically be called cousins to the same millionth degree, yet they differ widely and in different degrees from each other. The forms descended from A, now broken up into two or three families, constitute a distinct order from those descended from I, also broken up into two families. Nor can the existing species descended from A be ranked in the same genus with the parent A, or those from I with parent I. But the existing genus may be supposed to have been but slightly modified, and it will then rank with the parent genus F; just as some few still living organisms belong to Silurian genera. So that the comparative value of the differences between these organic beings, which are all related to each other in the same degree in blood, has come to be widely different. Nevertheless, their genealogical arrangement remains strictly true, not only at the present time, but at each successive period of descent. All the modified descendants from A will have inherited something in common from their common parent, as will all the descendants from I; so will it be with each subordinate branch of descendants at each successive stage. If, however, we suppose any descendant of A or of I to have become so much modified as to have lost all traces of its parentage in this case, its place in the natural system will be lost, as seems to have occurred with some few existing organisms. All the descendants of the genus F, along its whole line of descent, are supposed to have been but little modified, and they form a single genus. But this genus, though much isolated, will still occupy its proper intermediate position. The representation of the groups as here given in the diagram on a flat surface, is much too simple. The branches ought to have diverged in all directions. If the names of the groups had been simply written down in a linear series the representation would have been still less natural; and it is notoriously not possible to represent in a series, on a flat surface, the affinities which we discover in nature among the beings of the same group. Thus, the natural system is genealogical in its arrangement, like a pedigree. But the amount of modification which the different groups have undergone has to be expressed by ranking them under different so-called genera, sub-families, families, sections, orders, and classes.

It may be worth while to illustrate this view of classification, by