Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/151

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VI
129
DIFFICULTIES AND OBJECTIONS

difficult cases, and this Mr. Darwin has done. One or two of these may be briefly given here, but the whole series should be carefully read by any one who wishes to see how many curious facts and observations have been required in order to elucidate them; whence we may conclude that further knowledge will probably throw light on any difficulties that still remain.[1]

In the case of the mammary glands Mr. Darwin remarks that it is admitted that the ancestral mammals were allied to the marsupials. Now in the very earliest mammals, almost before they really deserved that name, the young may have been nourished by a fluid secreted by the interior surface of the marsupial sack, as is believed to be the case with the fish (Hippocampus) whose eggs are hatched within a somewhat similar sack. This being the case, those individuals which secreted a more nutritious fluid, and those whose young were able to obtain and swallow a more constant supply by suction, would be more likely to live and come to a healthy maturity, and would therefore be preserved by natural selection.

In another case which has been adduced as one of special difficulty, a more complete explanation is given. Soles, turbots, and other flatfish are, as is well known, unsymmetrical. They live and move on their sides, the under side being usually differently coloured from that which is kept uppermost. Now the eyes of these fish are curiously distorted in order that both eyes may be on the upper side, where alone they would be of any use. It was objected by Mr. Mivart that a sudden transformation of the eye from one side to the other was inconceivable, while, if the transit were gradual the first step could be of no use, since this would not remove the eye from the lower side. But, as Mr. Darwin shows by reference to the researches of Malm and others, the young of these fish are quite symmetrical, and during their growth exhibit to us the whole process of change. This begins by the fish (owing to the increasing depth of the body) being unable to maintain the vertical position, so that it falls on one side. It then twists the lower eye as much as possible towards the upper side; and, the whole bony structure of the head being at

  1. See Origin of Species, pp. 176-198.