Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/220

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198
CHAP.
DARWINISM

from dusky through pinkish to pale green. It is interesting to note, that the colours produced were in all cases such only as assimilated with the surroundings usually occupied by the species, and also, that colours which did not occur in such surroundings, as dark red or blue, only produced the same effects as dusky or black.

Careful experiments were made to ascertain whether the effect was produced through the sight of the caterpillar. The ocelli were covered with black varnish, but neither this, nor cutting off the spines of the tortoise-shell larva to ascertain whether they might be sense-organs, produced any effect on the resulting colour. Mr. Poulton concludes, therefore, that the colour-action probably occurs over the whole surface of the body, setting up physiological processes which result in the corresponding colour-change of the pupa. Such changes are, however, by no means universal, or even common, in protectively coloured pupae, since in Papilio machaon and some others which have been experimented on, both in this country and abroad, no change can be produced on the pupa by any amount of exposure to differently coloured surroundings. It is a curious point that, with the small tortoise-shell larva, exposure to light from gilded surfaces produced pupae with a brilliant golden lustre; and the explanation is supposed to be that mica abounded in the original habitat of the species, and that the pupae thus obtained protection when suspended against micaceous rock. Looking, however, at the wide range of the species and the comparatively limited area in which micaceous rocks occur, this seems a rather improbable explanation, and the occurrence of this metallic appearance is still a difficulty. It does not, however, commonly occur in this country in a natural state.

The two classes of variable colouring here discussed are evidently exceptional, and can have little if any relation to the colours of those more active creatures which are continually changing their position with regard to surrounding objects, and whose colours and markings are nearly constant throughout the life of the individual, and (with the exception of sexual differences) in all the individuals of the species. We will now briefly pass in review the various characteristics and uses of the colours which more generally prevail in nature;