Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/684

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
664
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

punishment after death. These three sanctions must always exist. The science of morality might not have any effect in compelling its laws to be observed, hut it undoubtedly would explain to many minds which now are groping in darkness and disbelief the why and where-fore of moral codes.

 

RECENT PROGRESS IN BIOLOGY.
By E. RAY LANKESTER.

THE English universities have at various times in their history been remarkable as centers of scientific investigation and progress. The Royal Society took its origin in Oxford about two hundred and forty years ago, and from time to time there have been brilliant groups of scientific investigators in either university who have, though separated by intervals of darkness, sufficed to maintain the character of these institutions as something more than schools of classical training or mathematical gymnastic. At the present moment the energy of the Biological school, which has grown up in Cambridge within the last fifteen years, forms one of the most remarkable features among the many recent evidences of healthy life and of capacity for the performance of its great national duties which that time-honored institution has afforded.

One of the most fascinating problems of biology is that involved in the attempt to trace out the pedigrees of the immense variety of living plants and animals according to the teachings of Charles Darwin. Every animal grows from a perfectly simple homogeneous egg to the more or less complicated form which it presents when adult, and we have reason to believe that the changes through which the growing developing "embryo" passes correspond to a large extent, according to certain definite laws, with the changes through which its ancestors have passed in the greater evolution of the world. Accordingly, these embryonic changes, if rightly understood, can furnish us with the most important evidence as to the ancestry, and therewith the pedigree and family relationships, of the various kinds of existing animals. The study of embryology, from this point of view, was followed with great success by the late Professor Frank Balfour (whose early death has caused incalculable loss to science), and is being prosecuted in Germany and America, but nowhere more energetically than by Balfour's pupils. It will be readily understood that if the history of growth from the egg can furnish a clew to the ancestral relationships of various animals, then the discovery of this history in the case of curious and abnormal animals must be especially important. The histories of whole groups of common animals will necessarily be very much alike, and there is no likelihood of one differing from another in