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- Facts and Arguments for Darwin - 2/20 -


independent judgment upon a matter affecting the highest questions so deeply, even this alone could not but be esteemed a great gain.

Having determined to make the attempt, I had in the first place to decide upon some particular class. The choice was necessarily limited to those the chief forms of which were easily to be obtained alive in some abundance. The Crabs and Macrurous Crustacea, the Stomapoda, the Diastylidae, the Amphipoda and Isopoda, the Ostracoda and Daphnidae, the Copepoda and Parasita, the Cirripedes and Rhizocephala of our coast, representing the class of Crustacea with the deficiency only of the Phyllopoda and Xiphosura, furnished a long and varied, and at the same time intimately connected series, such as was at my command in no other class. But even independently of this circumstance the selection of the Crustacea could hardly have been doubtful. Nowhere else, as has already been indicated by various writers, is the temptation stronger to give to the expressions "relationship, production from a common fundamental form," and the like, more than a mere figurative signification, than in the case of the lower Crustacea. Among the parasitic Crustacea, especially, everybody has long been accustomed to speak, in a manner scarcely admitting of a figurative meaning, of their arrest of development by parasitism, as if the transformation of species were a matter of course. It would certainly never appear to any one to be a pastime worthy of the Deity, to amuse himself with the contrivance of these marvellous cripplings, and so they were supposed to have fallen by their own fault, like Adam, from their previous state of perfection.

That a great part of the larger and smaller groups into which this class is divided, might be regarded as satisfactorily established, was a further advantage not to be undervalued; whilst in two other classes with which I was familiar, namely, the Annelida and Acalephae, all the attempted arrangements could only be considered preliminary revisions. These undisplaceable groups, like the sharply marked forms of the hard, many-jointed dermal framework, were not only important as safe starting points and supports, but were also of the highest value as inflexible barriers in a problem in which, from its very nature, fancy must freely unfold her wings.

When I thus began to study our Crustacea more closely from this new stand-point of the Darwinian theory,--when I attempted to bring their arrangements into the form of a geological tree, and to form some idea of the probable structure of their ancestors,--I speedily saw (as indeed I expected) that it would require years of preliminary work before the essential problem could be seriously handled. The extant systematic works generally laid more weight upon the characters separating the genera, families and orders, than upon those which unite the members of each group, and consequently often furnished but little employable material. But above all things a thorough knowledge of development was indispensable, and every one knows how imperfect is our present knowledge of this subject. The existing deficiencies were the more difficult to supply, because, as Van Beneden remarks with regard to the Decapoda, from the often incredible difference in the development of the most nearly allied forms, these must be separately studied--usually family by family, and frequently genus by genus--nay, sometimes, as in the case of Peneus, even species by species; and because these investigations, in themselves troublesome and tedious, often depend for their success upon a lucky chance.

But although the satisfactory completion of the "Genealogical tree of the Crustacea" appeared to be an undertaking for which the strength and life of an individual would hardly suffice, even under more favourable circumstances than could be presented by a distant island, far removed from the great market of scientific life, far from libraries and museums--nevertheless its practicability became daily less doubtful in my eyes, and fresh observations daily made me more favourably inclined towards the Darwinian theory.

In determining to state the arguments which I derived from the consideration of our Crustacea in favour of Darwin's views, and which (together with more general considerations and observations in other departments), essentially aided in making the correctness of those views seem more and more palpable to me, I am chiefly influenced by an expression of Darwin's: "Whoever," says he ('Origin of Species' page 482), "is led to believe that species are mutable, will do a good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction." To the desire expressed in these words I respond, for my own part, with the more pleasure, as this furnishes me with an opportunity of publicly giving expression in words to the thanks which I feel most deeply to be due from me to Darwin for the instructions and suggestions for which I am so deeply indebted to his book. Accordingly I throw this sand-grain with confidence into the scale against "the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed," without troubling myself as to whether the priests of orthodox science will reckon me amongst dreamers and children in knowledge of the laws of nature.

CHAPTER 2. THE SPECIES OF MELITA.

A false supposition, when the consequences proceeding from it are followed further and further, will sooner or later lead to absurdities and palpable contradictions. During the period of tormenting doubt--and this was by no means a short one--when the pointer of the scales oscillated before me in perfect uncertainty between the pro and the con, and when any fact leading to a quick decision would have been most welcome to me, I took no small pains to detect some such contradictions among the inferences as to the class of Crustacea furnished by the Darwinian theory. But I found none, either then, or subsequently. Those which I thought I had found were dispelled on closer consideration, or actually became converted into supports for Darwin's theory.

Nor, so far as I am aware, have any of the NECESSARY consequences of Darwin's hypotheses been proved by any one else, to stand in clear and irreconcilable contradiction. And yet, as the most profound students of the animal kingdom are amongst Darwin's opponents, it would seem that it ought to have been an easy matter for them to crush him long since beneath a mass of absurd and contradictory inferences, if any such were to be drawn from his theory. To this want of demonstrated contradictions I think we may ascribe just the same importance in Darwin's favour, that his opponents have attributed to the absence of demonstrated intermediate forms between the species of the various strata of the earth. Independently of the reasons which Darwin gives for the preservation of such intermediate forms being only exceptional, this last mentioned circumstance will not be regarded as of very great significance by any one who has traced the development of an animal upon larvae fished from the sea, and had to seek in vain for months, and even years, for those transitional forms, which he nevertheless knew to be swarming around him in thousands.

A few examples may show how contradictions might come forth as necessary results of the Darwinian hypotheses.

It seems to be a necessity for all crabs which remain for a long time out of the water (but why is of no consequence to us here), that air shall penetrate from behind into the branchial cavity. Now these crabs, which have become more or less estranged from the water, belong to the most different families--the Raninidae (Ranina), Eriphinae (Eriphia gonagra), Grapsoidae (Aratus, Sesarma, etc.), Ocypodidae (Gelasimus, Ocypoda), etc., and the separation of these families must doubtless be referred to a much earlier period than the habit of leaving the water displayed by some of their members. The arrangements connected with aerial respiration, therefore, could not be inherited from a common ancestor, and could scarcely be accordant in their construction. If there were any such accordance not referable to accidental resemblance among them, it would have to be laid in the scale as evidence against the correctness of Darwin's views. I shall show hereafter how in this case the result, far from presenting such contradictions, was rather in the most complete harmony with what might be predicted from Darwin's theory.

(FIGURE 1. Melita exilii n. sp., male, enlarged five times. The large branchial lamellae are seen projecting between the legs.)

A second example.--We are already acquainted with four species of Melita (M. valida, setipes, anisochir, and Fresnelii), and I can add a fifth (Figure 1), in which the second pair of feet bears upon one side a small hand of the usual structure, and on the other an enormous clasp-forceps. This want of symmetry is something so unusual among the Amphipoda, and the structure of the clasp-forceps differs so much from what is seen elsewhere in this order, and agrees so closely in the five species, that one must unhesitatingly regard them as having sprung from common ancestors belonging to them alone among known species. But one of these species, M. Fresnelii, discovered by Savigny, in Egypt, is said to want the secondary flagellum of the anterior antennae, which occurs in the others. From the trustworthiness of all Savigny's works there can scarcely be a doubt as to the correctness of this statement. Now, if the presence or absence of the secondary flagellum possessed the significance of a distinctive generic character, which is usually ascribed to it, or if there were other important differences between Melita Fresnelii and the other species above-mentioned, which would make it seem natural to separate M. Fresnelii as a distinct genus, and to leave the others united with the rest of the species of Melita--that is to say, in the sense of the Darwinian theory, if we assume that all the other Melitae possessed common ancestors, which were not at the same time the ancestors of M. Fresnelii--this would stand in contradiction to the conclusion, derived from the structure of the clasp-forceps, that M. Fresnelii and the four other species above-mentioned possessed common ancestors, which were not also the ancestors of the remaining species of Melita. It would follow:--

1. From the structure of the clasp-forceps: that M. exilii, etc. and M. Fresnelii would branch off together from a stem which branches off from M. palmata.

2. From the presence or absence of the secondary flagellum: that M. palmata, etc. and M. exilii, etc. would branch off together from a stem which branches off from M. Fresnelii.

As, in the first case, among the Crabs, a typical agreement of arrangements produced independently of each other would have been a very suspicious circumstance for Darwin's theory, so also, in the second, would any difference more profound than that of very nearly allied species. Now it seems to me that the secondary flagellum can by no means furnish a reason for doubting the close relationship of M. Fresnelii to M. exilii, etc., which is indicated by the peculiar structure of the unpaired clasp-forceps. In the first place we must consider the possibility that the secondary flagellum, which is not always easy to detect, may only have been overlooked by Savigny, as indeed Spence Bate supposes to have been the case. If it is really deficient it must be remarked that I have found it in species of the genera Leucothoe, Cyrtophium and Amphilochus, in which genera it was missed by Savigny, Dana and Spence Bate--that a species proved by the form of the Epimera (Coxae Sp. B.) of the caudal feet (uropoda Westw.), etc., to be a true Amphithoe* possesses it (* I accept this and all the other genera of Amphipoda here mentioned, with the limits given to them by Spence Bate ('Catalogue of Amphipodous Crustacea').)--that in many species of Cerapus it is reduced to a scarcely perceptible rudiment--nay, that it is sometimes present in youth and disappears (although perhaps not without leaving some trace) at maturity, as was found by Spence Bate to be the case in Acanthonotus Owenii and Atylus carinatus, and I can affirm with regard to an Atylus of these seas, remarkable for its plumose branchiae--and that from all this, at the present day when the


Facts and Arguments for Darwin - 2/20

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