Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/341

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Chap. X.
329
AFFINITIES OF EXTINCT SPECIES.

periods,—a formation in one region often corresponding with a blank interval in the other,—and if in both regions the species have gone on slowly changing during the accumulation of the several formations and during the long intervals of time between them; in this case, the several formations in the two regions could be arranged in the same order, in accordance with the general succession of the form of life, and the order would falsely appear to be strictly parallel; nevertheless the species would not all be the same in the apparently corresponding stages in the two regions.


On the Affinities of extinct Species to each other, and to living forms.—Let us now look to the mutual affinities of extinct and living species. They all fall into one grand natural system; and this fact is at once explained on the principle of descent. The more ancient any form is, the more, as a general rule, it differs from living forms. But, as Buckland long ago remarked, all fossils can be classed either in still existing groups, or between them. That the extinct forms of life help to fill up the wide intervals between existing genera, families, and orders, cannot be disputed. For if we confine our attention either to the living or to the extinct alone, the series is far less perfect than if we combine both into one general system. With respect to the Vertebrata, whole pages could be filled with striking illustrations from our great palæontologist, Owen, showing how extinct animals fall in between existing groups. Cuvier ranked the Ruminants and Pachyderms, as the two most distinct orders of mammals; but Owen has discovered so many fossil links, that he has had to alter the whole classification of these two orders; and has placed certain pachyderms in the same sub-order with ruminants: for example, he dissolves by fine gradations the apparently