Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/37

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27
THE INADEQUACY OF "NATURAL SELECTION."

probability that the many required changes of shape, as well as of size, in bones will each of them be effected before all the others are lost again? If the probabilities against success are incalculable, when we take account only of changes in the size of parts, what shall we say of their incalculableness when differences of form also are taken into account?

"Surely this piling up of difficulties has gone far enough"; the reader will be inclined to say. By no means. There is a difficulty immeasurably transcending those named. We have thus far omitted the second half of the leap, and the provisions to be made for it. After ascent of the animal's body comes descent; and the greater the force with which it is projected up, the greater is the force with which it comes down. Hence, if the supposed creature has undergone such changes in the hind limbs as will enable them to propel it to a greater height, without having undergone any changes in the fore limbs, the result will be that on its descent the fore limbs will give way, and it will come down on its nose. The fore limbs, then, have to be changed simultaneously with the hind. How changed? Contrast the markedly bent hind limbs of a cat with its almost straight fore limbs, or contrast the silence of the upward spring on to the table with the thud which the fore paws make as it jumps off the table. See how unlike the actions of the hind and fore limbs are, and how unlike their structures. In what way, then, is the required co-adaptation to be effected? Even were it a question of relative sizes only, there would be no answer; for facts already given show that we may not assume simultaneous increases of size to take place in the hind and fore limbs; and, indeed, a glance at the various human races, which differ considerably in the ratios of their legs to their arms, shows us this. But it is not simply a question of sizes. To bear the increased shock of descent the fore limbs must be changed throughout in their structures. Like those in the hind limb, the changes must be of many parts in many proportions; and they must be both in sizes and in shapes. More than this. The scapular arch and its attached muscles must also be strengthened and remolded. See, then, the total requirements. We must suppose that by natural selection of miscellaneous variations, the parts of the hind limbs shall be co-adapted to one another, in sizes, shapes, and ratios; that those of the fore limbs shall undergo co-adaptations similar in their complexity, but dissimilar in their kinds; and that the two sets of co-adaptations shall be effected pari passu. If, as may be held, the probabilities are millions to one against the first set of changes being achieved, then it may be held that the probabilities are billions to one against the second being simultaneously achieved, in progressive adjustment to the first.