Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/33

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23
THE INADEQUACY OF "NATURAL SELECTION."

of a rodent's tail as that which, by successive increases, produces the trowel-shaped tail of the beaver, no advantage will be derived unless there also take place certain modifications in the bulks and shapes of the adjacent vertebrae and their attached muscles, as well, probably, as in the hind limbs, enabling them to withstand the reactions of the blows given by the tail. And the question is, by what process these many parts, changed in different degrees, are co-adapted to the new requirements—whether variation and natural selection alone can effect the readjustment. There are three conceivable ways in which the parts may simultaneously change: (1) they may all increase or decrease together in like degrees; (2) they may all simultaneously increase or decrease independently, so as not to maintain their previous proportions or assume any other special proportions; (3) they may vary in such ways and degrees as to make them jointly serviceable for the new end. Let us consider closely these several conceivabilities.

And first of all, what are we to understand by co-operative parts? In a general sense, all the organs of the body are co-operative parts, and are respectively liable to be more or less changed by change in any one. In a narrower sense, more directly relevant to the argument, we may, if we choose to multiply difficulties, take the entire framework of bones and muscles as formed of co-operative parts; for these are so related that any considerable change in the actions of some entails change in the actions of most others. It needs only to observe how, when putting out an effort, there goes, along with a deep breath, an expansion of the chest and a bracing up of the abdomen, to see that various muscles beyond those directly concerned are strained along with them. Or, when suffering from lumbago, an effort to lift a chair will cause an acute consciousness that not the arms only are brought into action, but also the muscles of the back. These cases show how the motor organs are so tied together that altered actions of some implicate others quite remote from them.

But without using the advantage which this interpretation of the words would give, let us take as co-operative organs those which are obviously such—the organs of locomotion. What, then, shall we say of the fore and hind limbs of terrestrial mammals, which co-operate closely and perpetually? Do they vary together? If so, how have there been produced such contrasted structures as that of the kangaroo, with its large hind limbs and small fore limbs, and that of the giraffe, in which the hind limbs are small and the fore limbs large—how does it happen that, descending from the same primitive mammal, these creatures have diverged in the proportions of their limbs in opposite directions? Take, again, the articulate animals. Compare one of the lower types, with its rows of almost equal-sized limbs, and one of the higher