Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/22

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eyes, brains, ears, fins and pulsating hearts, blood and blood vessels, but could live only a limited time because no blood circulation was established at all—in spite of the fact that the heart beat for weeks—or that the circulation, if it was established at all, did not last long.

What prevented these heterogeneous fish embryos from reaching the adult stage? The lack of the proper "dominants"? Scarcely. I succeeded in producing the same type of faulty embryos in the pure breeds of a bony fish (Fundulus heteroclitus) by raising the eggs in 50 c.c. of sea-water to which was added 2 c.c. one one-hundredth per cent. NaCN", The latter substance retards the velocity of oxidations and I obtained embryos which were in all details identical with the embryos produced by crossing the eggs of the same fish with the sperm of remote teleosts, e. g., Ctenolabrus or Menidia. These embryos, which lived about a month, showed the peculiarity of possessing a beating heart and blood, but no circulation. This suggests the idea that heterogeneous embryos show a lack of "adaptation" and durability for the reason that in consequence of the chemical difference between heterogeneous sperm and egg the chemical processes in the fertilized egg are abnormal.

The possibility of hybridization goes much further than we have thus far assumed. We can cause the eggs of echinoderms to develop with the sperm of very distant forms, even mollusks and worms (Kupelwieser); but such hybridizations never lead to the formation of durable organisms.

It is, therefore, no exaggeration to state that the number of species existing to-day is only an infinitely small fraction of those which can and possibly occasionally do originate, but which escape our notice because they can not live and reproduce. Only that limited fraction of species can exist which possesses no coarse disharmonies in its automatic mechanism of preservation and reproduction. Disharmonies and faulty attempts in nature are the rule, the harmonically developed systems the rare exception. But since we only perceive the latter we gain the erroneous impression that the "adaptation of the parts to the plan of the whole" is a general and specific characteristic of animate nature, whereby the latter differs from inanimate nature.

If the structure and the mechanism of the atoms were known to us we should probably also get an insight into a world of wonderful harmonies and apparent adaptations of the parts to the whole. But in this case we should quickly understand that the chemical elements are only the few durable systems among a large number of possible but not durable combinations. Nobody doubts that the durable chemical elements are only a product of blind forces. There is no reason for conceiving otherwise the durable systems in living nature.