Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/318

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The term "sexual selection" must, therefore, be restricted to the direct results of male struggle and combat. This is really a form of natural selection, and is a matter of direct observation; while its results are as clearly deducible as those of any of the other modes in which selection acts. And if this restriction of the term is needful in the case of the higher animals it is much more so with the lower. In butterflies the weeding out by natural selection takes place to an enormous extent in the egg, larva, and pupa states; and perhaps not more than one in a hundred of the eggs laid produces a perfect insect which lives to breed. Here, then, the impotence of female selection, if it exist, must be complete; for, unless the most brilliantly coloured males are those which produce the best protected eggs, larvae, and pupae, and unless the particular eggs, larvae, and pupae, which are able to survive, are those which produce the most brilliantly coloured butterflies, any choice the female might make must be completely swamped. If, on the other hand, there is this correlation between colour development and perfect adaptation to conditions in all stages, then this development will necessarily proceed by the agency of natural selection and the general laws which determine the production of colour and of ornamental appendages.[1]

General Laws of Animal Coloration.

The condensed account which has now been given of the phenomena of colour in the animal world will sufficiently show the wonderful complexity and extreme interest of the subject; while it affords an admirable illustration of the importance of the great principle of utility, and of the effect of the theories of natural selection and development in giving a new interest

  1. The Rev. O. Pickard-Cambridge, who has devoted himself to the study of spiders, has kindly sent me the following extract from a letter, written in 1869, in which he states his views on this question:—
    "I myself doubt that particular application of the Darwinian theory which attributes male peculiarities of form, structure, colour, and ornament to female appetency or predilection. There is, it seems to me, undoubtedly something in the male organisation of a special, and sexual nature, which, of its own vital force, develops the remarkable male peculiarities so commonly seen, and of no imaginable use to that sex. In as far as these peculiarities show a great vital power, they point out to us the finest and strongest individuals of the sex, and show us which of them would most certainly appropriate to themselves the best and greatest number of females, and leave behind them the strongest and greatest number of