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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/328

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

from the animals, even in his anatomical character, that he ought not to be classed with them; and he expressed surprise that 'it has been possible for a celebrated naturalist to place man in the rank of the quadrupeds, and to associate him in the same class with the monkeys, the lemurs and the bats.'

Minds of another type, however, at once saw how the facts laid bare by Daubenton demanded for their satisfactory explanation a hypothesis such as Maupertuis had already come upon from another line of inquiry. Even Buffon, as is well known, pointed out, in the 'Histoire de l'Âne' in the fourth volume of the 'Histoire Naturelle,' how forcibly the homologies to which his colleague had called attention suggested the idea of a family relationship between all animals. "If," he wrote, "in the immense variety of animate creatures that people the world, we choose as a starting point for our study. some one animal, or even the body of man, and if we compare it with all the other organisms, we shall find that. . . there exists a certain primitive and general type (dessein) which can be traced out very far. . . . Even in the parts which contribute most to give variety to the external form of animals, there is a prodigious degree of resemblance, which inevitably brings to our minds the idea of an original model upon which every creature seems to have been conceived. . . . As M. Daubenton has remarked, the foot of a horse, in appearance so different from the hand of man, is nevertheless composed of the same bones, and we have at the extremities of our fingers the same small bone of horse-shoe shape which terminates the foot of that animal." By one who considered these facts alone, "not only the ass and the horse, but also man, the ape, the quadrupeds and all the animals might be regarded as constituting but a single family. If it were admitted that the ass were of the family of the horse, and differs from the horse only because it has degenerated, one could equally well say that the ape is of the family of man, that it is a degenerate man, that man and ape have a common origin; that, in fact, all the families among the plants as well as among the animals, come from a single stock; and that all animals are descended from a single animal which in the course of time, as the result of progress or of degeneration, has given rise to all the races of other animals. . . . If it were true that the ass is a degenerated variety of the horse, there would be no longer any limits to the power of Nature, and one would not be wrong in supposing that from a single being she has been able to derive all the other organized beings." But of course Buffon finally pronounced, at least nominally, against such a supposition: Mais non; il est certain par la révélation que tous les animaux ont également participé à la grace de la création. Diderot, however—although he was himself not wholly unpractised in perfunctory and ironical professions of orthodoxy—was somewhat more