Page:Descent of Man 1875.djvu/212

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196
Part I.
The Descent of Man.

although larger than freckles, and that these patches were never affected by sun-burning, whilst the white parts of his skin have on several occasions been much inflamed and blistered. With the lower animals there is, also, a constitutional difference in liability to the action of the sun between those parts of the skin clothed with white hair and other parts.[1] Whether the saving of the skin from being thus burnt is of sufficient importance to account for a dark tint having been gradually acquired by man through natural selection, I am unable to judge. If it be so, we should have to assume that the natives of tropical America have lived there for a much shorter time than the Negroes in Africa or the Papuans in the southern parts of the Malay archipelago, just as the lighter-coloured Hindoos have resided in India for a shorter time than the darker aborigines of the central and southern parts of the peninsula.

Although with our present knowledge we cannot account for the differences of colour in the races of man, through any advantage thus gained, or from the direct action of climate; yet we must not quite ignore the latter agency, for there is good reason to believe that some inherited effect is thus produced.[2]

We have seen in the second chapter that the conditions of life affect the development of the bodily frame in a direct manner, and that the effects are transmitted. Thus, as is generally admitted, the European settlers in the United States undergo a slight but extraordinary rapid change of appearance. Their bodies and limbs become elongated; and I hear from Col. Bernys that during the late war in the United States, good evidence was afforded of this fact by the ridiculous appearance presented by the German regiments, when dressed in ready-made clothes manufactured for the American market, and which were much too long for the men in every way. There is, also, a considerable body of evidence shewing that in the Southern States the house-slaves of the third generation present a markedly different appearance from the field-slaves.[3]

  1. 'Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. ii., pp. 336, 337.
  2. See, for instance, Quatrefages ('Revue des Cours Scientifiques,' Oct. 10, 1868, p. 724) on the effects of residence in Abyssinia and Arabia, and other analogous cases. Dr. Rolle ('Der Mensch, seine Abstammung,' &c., 1865, s. 99) states, on the authority of Khanikof, that the greater number of German families settled in Georgia, have acquired in the course of two generations dark hair and eyes. Mr. D. Forbes informs me that the Quechuas in the Andes vary greatly in colour, according to the position of the valleys inhabited by them.
  3. Harlan, 'Medical Researches,' p. 532. Quatrefages ('Unité de l’Espece Humaine,' 1861, p. 128) has collected much evidence on this head.