Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/822

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sonably assume that in the absence of some differentiating process, all parts of the surface would have like powers of perceiving relative positions. They can not have become widely unlike in perceptiveness without some cause. And if the cause alleged is natural selection, then it is necessary to show that the greater degree of the power possessed by this part than by that, has not only conduced to the maintenance of life, but has conduced so much that an individual in whom a variation had produced better adjustment to needs, thereby maintained life when some others lost it; and that among the descendants inheriting this variation, there was a derived advantage such as enabled them to multiply more than the descendants of individuals not possessing it. Can this, or anything like this, be shown?

That the superior perceptiveness of the forefinger-tip has thus arisen, might be contended with some apparent reason. Such perceptiveness is an important aid to manipulation, and may have sometimes given a life-saving advantage. In making arrows or fish-hooks, a savage possessing some extra amount of it may have been thereby enabled to get food where another failed. In civilized life, too, a seamstress with well-endowed finger-ends might be expected to gain a better livelihood than one with finger-ends which were obtuse; though this advantage would not be so great as appears. I have found that two ladies whose finger-ends were covered with glove-tips, reducing their sensitiveness from one twelfth of an inch between compass points to one seventh, lost nothing appreciable of their quickness and goodness in sewing. An experience of my own here comes in evidence. Toward the close of my salmon-fishing days, I used to observe what a bungler I had become in putting on and taking off artificial flies. As the tactual discriminativeness of my finger-ends, recently tested, comes up to the standard specified by Weber, it is clear that this decrease of manipulative power, accompanying increase of age, was due to decrease in the delicacy of muscular co-ordination and sense of pressure—not to decrease of tactual discriminativeness. But not making much of these criticisms, let us admit the conclusion that this high perceptive power possessed by the forefinger-end may have arisen by survival of the fittest; and let us limit the argument to the other differences.

How about the back of the trunk and its face? Is any advantage derived from possession of greater tactual discriminativeness by the last than by the first? The tip of the nose has more than three times the power of distinguishing relative positions which the lower part of the forehead has. Can this greater power be shown to have any advantage? The back of the hand has scarcely more discriminative ability than the crown of the head, and has only one fourteenth of that which the finger-tip has.