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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/700

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

where it exists at all, is founded on family life, because every normal vertebrate animal is attracted to some individual of the opposite sex by the strongest impulse of its nature, that of self-preservation alone, and not always, being excepted. Invertebrate society where it exists in perfection, as among certain Hymenoptera, is not formed of an aggregation of families because the great majority of hymenopterous insects of the social species are neuters, incapable of domestic attachment and devoted to the community alone. To attempt without the existence of neuters to introduce among mankind the social arrangements of the ant-hill is an utterly baseless scheme.

Looking a little further in the same direction, we see that among men there is a wide diversity both in intelligence and in energy. The more highly endowed individual, if he does not leave his children in a better position, materially speaking, is yet likely to hand down to them his own personal superiority. In this manner the equality craved for by theorists is practically annulled.

Among ants nothing parallel can occur. The workers and the fighters are sexless. If any individual is superior to its fellows in strength and intelligence—and certain facts recorded lead us to believe that such must be the case—it has no offspring to whom its gains could be bequeathed or its personal superiority handed down.

Hence the origin of a pariah, a criminal, or a pauper class is prevented. Conversely, the formation of a class d'élite is rendered impossible. The ant-hill is, indeed, safe from the existence of the pedagogue and his disciples; but it is, on the other hand, deprived of the thinker, the inventor, and the discoverer.

This is doubtless the reason of the stationary character of the civilization of ants. In proof of this ossification or stagnation, a very interesting fact was pointed out by the eminent Swiss naturalist Oswald Heer. Certain ants belonging to one and the same species are found both in Switzerland and in England. Between the two groups no intercourse can have taken place and no communication can have been transmitted since the "silver streak of sea" was interposed between Dover and Calais—that is, for many thousands of years. Yet on careful examination the social arrangements of these two severed portions, their architecture, and their habits in general, appear identical. Now, had their civilization been undergoing any changes, it is not conceivable that such changes would in both these communities have proceeded at the same rate and taken exactly the same direction. Hence the inference seems plain that in that species of ant progress is at an end.

The brevity of the career of each individual insect acts also