Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/73

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III
51
VARIABILITY OF SPECIES IN A STATE OF NATURE

mencing with the outer one. As an example of the irregular variation constantly met with, the following occurred among twenty-five specimens of Dendraeca coronata. Numbers bracketed imply that the corresponding feathers were of equal length.[1]

RELATIVE LENGTHS OF PRIMARY WING FEATHERS OF

DENDRAECA CORONATA.

Longest. Second in Third in Fourth in Fifth in Sixth in
Length. Length. Length. Length. Length.
2 3 1 4 5 6
3 2 4 1 5 6
3 2 / 4 1 5 6 7
2 /3 4 1 5 6 7
2 / 1 / 3 / 4 5 6 7 8 9

Here we have five very distinct proportionate lengths of the wing feathers, any one of which is often thought sufficient to characterise a distinct species of bird; and though this is rather an extreme case, Mr. Allen assures us that "the comparison, extended in the table to only a few species, has been carried to scores of others with similar results."

Along with this variation in size and proportions there occurs a large amount of variation in colour and markings. "The difference in intensity of colour between the extremes of a series of fifty or one hundred specimens of any species, collected at a single locality, and nearly at the same season of the year, is often as great as occurs between truly distinct species." But there is also a great amount of individual variability in the markings of the same species. Birds having the plumage varied with streaks and spots differ exceedingly in different individuals of the same species in respect to the size, shape, and number of these marks, and in the general aspect of the plumage resulting from such variations. "In the common

  1. See Winter Birds of Florida, p.206, Table F.