Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/11

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


 

THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



NOVEMBER, 1876.



WHAT AMERICAN ZOÖLOGISTS HAVE DONE FOR EVOLUTION.[1]
By Professor EDWARD S. MORSE.
I.

IT would be pleasant indeed if only a lecture or an essay were expected from the presiding officer of the Section; but an address implies a great deal more, and the giver of it is not only expected to be entertaining, where perhaps he never entertained before, but instructive upon grounds upon which, perchance, he has made but partial survey. Among the many questions of sustaining interest, a number of subjects intrude themselves. A general review of the work accomplished since the last meeting of the Association would seem an appropriate subject for discourse. Yet beyond my special studies I feel quite incompetent to scan so broad a field. In this year of Centennial reviews, one might naturally fall into an attempt to sketch the growth of science and the work accomplished within the last hundred years, but that would not only be too vast a field, but would on the whole be unprofitable, since time-boundaries, like the surveyor's lines bordering a State, have no definite existence in Nature. The natural boundaries of oceans and sierras do indeed isolate and impress peculiarities of thought and action upon man, as upon the creatures below him, and for this reason we may with propriety examine the work of our nation in any line of investigation. Never before has the study of animals been raised to so high a dignity as at present. While chemistry could point to its triumphs in the arts, and geology to the revelations of hidden wealth in the rocks, zoology was for the most part a mere adjunct to geology, or a means to thwart the

  1. An address delivered at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Read at Buffalo, New York, August, 1876. By Edward S. Morse, Vice-President Biological Section.