Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 4 (1900).djvu/113

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

( 87 )


A First Book in Organic Evolution. By D. Kerfoot Shute, A.B., M.D.Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd.

The recognition of organic evolution is well pronounced among American biologists, and as a rule possesses a marked characteristic, which by some thinkers in this country is stated to exhibit the traces of what is considered the Neo-Lamarckian heresy. The present volume may, or may not, be tainted with an unpopular or heretical consideration of the inheritance of acquired characters, but there is much more profitable subject-matter to be found in its pages than the search for soundness of view as regards this dogma, while probably the author may be pronounced orthodox on the point. The book "has been written chiefly for the use of students in the medical department of the Columbian University," and by the ophthalmic surgeon to the University Hospital, while its author states that its production has been materially assisted by the advice of Prof. Gill, the eminent ichthyologist. We have thus an American survey of the subject by a surgeon, with the suggestions of a good zoologist, and on the subject of evolution the special standpoint of the author should always be understood.

Dr. Shute's special knowledge thus enables him to point out the confusion of thought which often fails to discriminate between heredity and pseudo-heredity, even physicians frequently writing of certain diseases as hereditary, whereas congenital bacterial infection, or the transmission of a microbe of the disease through the germ-cells of the parents is the correct explanation. That variation may be influenced by environment seems to be proved by several facts adduced by the author, and the following may be taken as an example:—"A certain species of Snail was introduced into Lexington, Virginia, a few years ago from Europe. In its new habitat it varied very much. One