Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 85.djvu/317

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY



OCTOBER, 1914



PHENOMENA OF INHERITANCE[1]
By Professor EDWIN G. CONKLIN
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
A. OBSERVATIONS OF INHERITANCE

THE observations of men in all ages have established the "fact that in general "like produces like/' and that, in spite of many exceptions, children are in their main characteristics like their parents. And yet offspring are never exactly like their parents, and this has led to the saying that "like does not produce like but only somewhat like." What is meant is that there are general resemblances but particular differences between parents and offspring.

 

Individuals and Their Characters

In considering organic individuals one may think of them as wholes or as composed of parts, as indivisible unities or as constituent characters; either aspect is a true one and yet neither is complete in itself. Formerly in discussions on heredity the individual was regarded in its entirety and when all hereditary resemblances and differences were averaged it was said that one child resembled the father, another child the mother. This method of lumping together and averaging resemblances and differences led to endless confusion. In heredity, no less than in anatomy, it is necessary to deal with the constituents of organisms; in short, the organism must be analyzed and each part studied by itself. Francis Gallon was one of the first to bring order out of chaos by dealing with traits or characters singly instead of treating all together. He made careful studies on the inheritance of weight and size in the seeds of sweet peas, and on the inheritance of stature, eye color, intellectual capacity, artistic ability and certain diseases in man. At the same time that Galton was thus laying the foundations for a scientific study of heredity by dealing with characters separately,

  1. Third of the Norman W. Harris Lectures for 1914 at Northwestern University on "Heredity and Environment in the Development of Men," to be published by the Princeton University Press.