Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/170

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significance. We have seen how organs exactly alike in the beginning may differentiate before our eyes into parts altogether dissimilar, just as individual animals of a like kind may have their progeny gradually modified from generation to generation, until, finally, different races are produced from a common ancestry. The adult opossum has rather slender and delicate limbs and fingers, and a long, slender, pointed nose; hence it may naturally be wondered that her offspring, even at such an early period of development, should have the parts of the body of an opposite character, they being, as is shown in Fig. 3, wonderfully bulky and clumsy, more like those of the hippopotamus than any thing else. But, if we look to its possible ancestry, and find something similar, we can discover a tolerably satisfactory reason for this by regarding it as inherited. Going back to the Diluvial formation, we find the remains of huge fossil marsupials with similar coarse, bulky proportions. Such were the Diprotodon and Nototherium of New Holland. The skull of the former is three feet long, really surpassing that of the hippopotamus in clumsiness, while its body and limbs were built in the same bulky style, and it is probable that numerous smaller marsupials of the same pattern existed in those remote ages. The embryo opossums show resemblance to lower animals in the general shape of the body, in the early form of the brain, the peculiarities of the lips, the thymus gland, the glandular apparatus of the stomach, the early conditions of the reproductive and urinary organs, and the primitive condition of the mammary glands. Peculiar embryonic resemblances are found in the young of every animal of which the embryology is known, and these facts have no meaning at all to us unless they mean inheritance and descent.



FACTS already named show how sacrifices to the man recently dead pass into sacrifices to his preserved body. We have seen that to the corpse of a Tahitian chief daily offerings were made on an altar by a priest; and the ancient Central Americans performed kindred rites before bodies dried by artificial heat. That, along with a developed system of embalming, this grew into mummy-worship, Peruvians and Egyptians have furnished proof. Here the thing to be observed is that, while believing the ghost of the dead man to have gone away, these peoples had confused notions, either that it

  1. From advance-sheets of the "Principles of Sociology."