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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/455

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451
ZOOLOGY

In one fundamental respect the doctrine is incomplete, as it fails to explain the causes for the variations with which selection deals. It accounts for the perpetuation of favoring variations, but it does not account for their inception. Because of this defect, investigators reacted from the academic discussion of Darwin's original doctrine, and returned to deeper and wider study of heredity and variation with brilliant success. Some neo-Darwinians have endeavored to make the selective process an originative influence—notably Koux, and Weismann in his theory of germinal selection. Darwin himself added the subsidiary process of sexual selection, which regards the preference by one sex of characteristics of the opposite sex as a conserving influence. But while such attempts have failed, zoologists believe, to explain the whole method of evolution, much of the process has been demonstrated more and more clearly with further study. The laws of fluctuating variations have now been formulated with mathematical accuracy, through the employment of the statistical methods used earlier by anthropologists like Quetelet. The studies of Galton and Pearson, Boas, Weldon and Davenport have demonstrated that structural and physiological characters of men, of other animals, and of plants as well, vary according to the formulas of chance or error—a result they say that follows from the combined influence of innumerable and independent factors. Variation is a natural phenomenon of chance. Furthermore, the reality of the selective process has also been proved by statistical methods. Bumpus's English sparrows, Weldon's snails and crabs, and many other cases show that the individuals which depart widely from an average condition, or that are uncorrected in their organization, are marked for destruction.

In brief, while natural selection has not been established as in any sense an originative process, it has been demonstrated, I believe, as a judicial process. For we may liken the many varied vital conditions to jurymen, before whom every organism must present itself for judgment; and a unanimous verdict of complete or at least partial approval must be rendered, or the organism must perish.

The phenomena of biological inheritance, however, have demanded the greater attention of Darwinian and post-Darwinian investigators. A complete statement of the whole of evolution must show how species maintain the same general characteristics through inheritance, how the type is held true with passing generations, and it must also show how new characters may enter into the heritage of any species to be transmitted as organisms transform in evolution.

The earliest naturalists had accepted the fact of inheritance as self-sufficient. The resemblance between parent and offspring did not demand an explanation any more than variation. When Buffon, however, added the element of species transformation, he held that external