Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/377

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373
FOR DARWIN

despite the splendid example of Darwin to the contrary. Is it not strange, therefore, with all the real interest in the theory of evolution, that so few of the immediate followers of Darwin devoted themselves exclusively to a study of that process? As I have said, the systematists have been accumulating a vast amount of valuable material, but their chief interest has, on the whole, been in its classification, only secondarily in its bearing on evolution. The morphologist has been busy in applying the theory of evolution to the explanation of group relationships. The paleontologist has perhaps been more directly concerned with the evolution question than has any other worker.

There is a school that calls itself Lamarckian or Neo-Lamarckian which as far as its name goes should include the followers of Lamarck rather than of Darwin. Yet with few exceptions the Neo-Lamarckians derive their inspiration, I think, directly from Darwin. Darwin held that characters acquired during the life-time of the individual may be transmitted to the offspring. He abhorred what he supposed to be Lamarck's rubbish, that an animal acquired a new part by willing it. We have seen that this is a travesty on Lamarck's real teaching, and that on the whole Darwin's view of acquired characters is almost Lamarck's. Yet the modern Lamarckians get their doctrine direct from Darwin rather than from Lamarck, who propounded it fifty years earlier, as had Erasmus Darwin, still earlier.

I have laid emphasis on the relation of Lamarckism to Darwinism in order to draw attention to the problem of adaptation. The NeoLamarckians have kept this all-important question in the foreground, while others have taken adaptation too much for granted in their attempts to explain the origin of species; for species, in a technical sense, may have little to do with the problem of adaptation. The life of an animal is intimately dependent on its adaptative characters, but its "specific characters" may be largely unimportant for its existence. Systematists and morphologists include broadly the followers of Darwin during the thirty years after the publication of the "Origin of Species." They have advanced to a high degree the principles of their science, and the modern aspect of zoology is largely the outcome of their varied and far-reaching labors.

There is a small group of writers scattered amongst these larger groups that are ranked or rank themselves Neo-Darwinians. I must pause a moment to pay them my tardy respects. They have set themselves up to be the true Darwinians. They seem less concerned with the advancement of the study of evolution than with expounding Darwinism as dogma. Their credulity is more remarkable than their judgment. To imagine a use for an organ is for them equivalent to explaining its origin by natural selection without further inquiry. Any examination, in fact, into the nature of variation, they appear to