Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/346

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334
Chap. X.
GEOLOGICAL SUCCESSION.

mediate in general character between that which preceded and that which succeeded it. Thus, the species which lived at the sixth great stage of descent in the diagram are the modified offspring of those which lived at the fifth stage, and are the parents of those which became still more modified at the seventh stage; hence they could hardly fail to be nearly intermediate in character between the forms of life above and below. We must, however, allow for the entire extinction of some preceding forms, and for the coming in of quite new forms by immigration, and for a large amount of modification, during the long and blank intervals between the successive formations. Subject to these allowances, the fauna of each geological period undoubtedly is intermediate in character, between the preceding and succeeding faunas. I need give only one instance, namely, the manner in which the fossils of the Devonian system, when this system was first discovered, were at once recognised by palæontologists as intermediate in character between those of the overlying carboniferous, and underlying Silurian system. But each fauna is not necessarily exactly intermediate, as unequal intervals of time have elapsed between consecutive formations.

It is no real objection to the truth of the statement, that the fauna of each period as a whole is nearly intermediate in character between the preceding and succeeding faunas, that certain genera offer exceptions to the rule. For instance, mastodons and elephants, when arranged by Dr. Falconer in two series, first according to their mutual affinities and then according to their periods of existence, do not accord in arrangement. The species extreme in character are not the oldest, or the most recent; nor are those which are intermediate in character, intermediate in age. But