Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/661

This page has been validated.


THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.


OCTOBER, 1877.


BATHYBIUS AND THE MONERS.[1]
By Professor ERNST HAECKEL.

"BATHYBIUS, about which so much has been said, has no existence; the assumption of its existing rested on illusions. It will be the same with the rest of the Moneres; these supposed primordial organisms, too, will prove to be the product of erroneous observation. So has one of the main supports of the modern development doctrine fallen, and it will yet be found that all its other supports rest upon illusions and on error. The whole fabric of Darwinism is simply an air-castle, the theory of natural selection is a soap bubble, and the doctrine of descent is not true."

Such is the gist of many an article published during the past year in all sorts of periodicals. Simply and solely from the supposed non-existence of Bathybius it is rashly inferred that there is no such thing at all as Moneres, and that the doctrine of evolution is badly hit. This assertion is of course made with most gusto by the opponents of the development theory. The clergy is already rejoicing over the utter downfall of the theory of descent. But even among the adherents of the theory of evolution, the non-existence of Bathybius is held to be proved, and from this fact a series of conclusions is drawn which suggests more or less weighty objections against some of the main principles of Darwinism, These circumstances, as also the confusion of the public mind as to the actual state of the case, have induced me to consider the Moneres question with special reference to Bathybius. It would appear to be specially my right, nay, even my duty, to discuss this question, inasmuch as it was my dubious luck to have stood godfather to this "ill-famed primordial slime of the sea-depths." When, in 1868, my friend Thomas Huxley gave

  1. Translated from the German, by J. Fitzgerald, A.M.