Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/342

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Chap. X.

wide difference between the pig and the camel. In regard to the Invertebrata, Barrande, and a higher authority could not be named, asserts that he is every day taught that palæozoic animals, though belonging to the same orders, families, or genera with those living at the present day, were not at this early epoch limited in such distinct groups as they now are.

Some writers have objected to any extinct species or group of species being considered as intermediate between living species or groups. If by this term it is meant that an extinct form is directly intermediate in all its characters between two living forms, the objection is probably valid. But I apprehend that in a perfectly natural classification many fossil species would have to stand between living species, and some extinct genera between living genera, even between genera belonging to distinct families. The most common case, especially with respect to very distinct groups, such as fish and reptiles, seems to be, that supposing them to be distinguished at the present day from each other by a dozen characters, the ancient members of the same two groups would be distinguished by a somewhat lesser number of characters, so that the two groups, though formerly quite distinct, at that period made some small approach to each other.

It is a common belief that the more ancient a form is, by so much the more it tends to connect by some of its characters groups now widely separated from each other. This remark no doubt must be restricted to those groups which have undergone much change in the course of geological ages; and it would be difficult to prove the truth of the proposition, for every now and then even a living animal, as the Lepidosiren, is discovered having affinities directed towards very distinct groups. Yet if we compare the older Reptiles and