Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/162

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140
CHAP.
DARWINISM

that they are inherited, and that they are constant. Admitting that this peculiar appendage is (as Mr. Romanes says rather confidently, "we happen to know it to be") wholly useless and meaningless, the fact would be rather an argument against specific characters being also meaningless, because the latter never have the characteristics which this particular variation possesses.

These useless or non-adaptive characters are, apparently, of the same nature as the "sports" that arise in our domestic productions, but which, as Mr. Darwin says, without the aid of selection would soon disappear; while some of them may be correlations with other characters which are or have been useful. Some of these correlations are very curious. Mr. Tegetmeier informed Mr. Darwin that the young of white, yellow, or dun-coloured pigeons are born almost naked, whereas other coloured pigeons are born well clothed with down. Now, if this difference occurred between wild species of different colours, it might be said that the nakedness of the young could not be of any use. But the colour with which it is correlated might, as has been shown, be useful in many ways. The skin and its various appendages, as horns, hoofs, hair, feathers, and teeth, are homologous parts, and are subject to very strange correlations of growth. In Paraguay, horses with curled hair occur, and these always have hoofs exactly like those of a mule, while the hair of the mane and tail is much shorter than usual. Now, if any one of these characters were useful, the others correlated with it might be themselves useless, but would still be tolerably constant because dependent on a useful organ. So the tusks and the bristles of the boar are correlated and vary in development together, and the former only may be useful, or both may be useful in unequal degrees.

The difficulty as to how individual differences or sports can become fixed and perpetuated, if altogether useless, is evaded by those who hold that such characters are exceedingly common. Mr. Romanes says that, upon his theory of physiological selection, "it is quite intelligible that when a varietal form is differentiated from its parent form by the bar of sterility, any little meaningless peculiarities of structure or of instinct should at first be allowed to arise, and that they should then be allowed to perpetuate themselves by heredity," until they are finally