HORMONES AND HEREDITY
A Discussion Of The Evolution Of Adaptations And The Evolution Of Species
By J. T. CUNNINGHAM, M.A. (OXON), F.Z.S.
Sometime Fellow of University College, Oxford Lecturer in zoology at East London College, University of London
LONDON CONSTABLE AND CO. LTD. 1921
My chief object in writing this volume was to discuss the relations of modern discoveries concerning hormones or internal secretions to the question of the evolution of adaptations, and on the other hand to the results of recent investigations of Mendelian heredity and mutations. I have frequently found, from verbal or written references to my opinions, that the evidence on these questions and my own conclusions from that evidence were either imperfectly known or misunderstood. This is not surprising in view of the fact that hitherto my only publications on the hormone theory have been a paper in a German periodical and a chapter in an elementary text-book. The present publication is by no means a thorough or complete exposition of the subject, it is merely an attempt to state the fundamental facts and conclusions, the importance of which it seems to me are not generally appreciated by biologists.
I have reviewed some of the chief of the recent discoveries concerning mutations, Mendelism, chromosomes, etc., but have not thought it necessary to repeat the illustrations which are contained in many of the volumes to which I have referred. I have made some Mendelian experiments myself, not always with results in agreement with the strict Mendelian doctrine, so that I am not venturing to criticise without experience. I have not hesitated to reprint the figure, published many years ago, of a Flounder showing the production of pigment under the influence of light, because I thought it was desirable that the reader should have before him this figure and those of an example of mutation in the Turbot for comparison when following the argument concerning mutation and recapitulation.
I take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to the Councils of the Royal Society and the Zoological Society for permission to reproduce the figures in the Plates. I also desire to thank Professor Dendy, F.R.S., of King's College for his sympathetic interest in the publication of the book, and Messrs. Constable and Co. for the care they have taken in its production.
J. T. CUNNINGHAM. London, June 1921.
INTRODUCTION - Historical Survey Of Theories Or Suggestions Of Chemical Influence In Heredity
CHAPTER I - Classification And Adaptation
CHAPTER II - Mendelism And The Heredity Of Sex
CHAPTER III - Influence Of Hormones On Development Of Somatic Sex-Characters
CHAPTER IV - Origin Of Somatic Sex-Characters In Evolution
CHAPTER V - Mammalian Sexual Characters, Evidence Opposed To The Hormone Theory
CHAPTER VI - Origin Of Non-Sexual Characters: The Phenomena Of Mutation
CHAPTER VII - Metamorphosis and Recapitulation
LIST OF PLATES
PLATE I. Recessive Pile Fowls
PLATE II. Abnormal Specimen Of Turbot
PLATE III. Flounder, Showing Pigmentation Of Lower Side After Exposure To Light
Historical Survey Of Theories Or Suggestions Of Chemical Influence In Heredity
Weismann, strongly as he denied the possibility of the transmission of somatic modifications, admitted the possibility or even the fact of the simultaneous modification of soma and germ by external conditions such as temperature. Yves Delage [Footnote: Yves Delage, L'Heredite (Paris, 1895), pp. 806-812.] in 1895, in discussing this question, pointed out how changes affecting the soma would produce an effect on the ovum (and presumably in a similar way on the sperm). He writes:—
'Ce qui empeche l'oeuf de recevoir la modification reversible c'est qu'etant constitue autrement que les cellules differenciees de l'organisme il est influence autrement qu'elles par les memes causes perturbatrices. Mais est-il impossible que malgre la difference de constitution physico-chimiques il soit influence de la meme facon?'
The author's meaning would probably have been better expressed if he had written 'ce qui parait empecher.' By 'modification reversible' he means a change in the ovum which will produce in the next generation a somatic modification similar to that by which it was produced. It seems natural to think of the influence of the ovum on the body and of the body on the ovum as of similar kind but in opposite directions, but it must be remembered always that the development of the body from the ovum Is not an influence at all but a direct conversion by cell-division and differentiation of the ovum into the body.
Delage argues that if the egg contains the substances characteristic of certain categories of cells of the organism it ought to be affected at the same time as those cells and by the same agents. He thinks that the egg only contains the substances or the arrangements characteristic of certain general functions (nervous, muscular, perhaps glandular of divers kinds) but without attribution to localised organs. In his view there is no representation of parts or of functions in the ovum, but a simple qualitative conformity of constitution between the egg and the categories of cells which in the body are charged with the accomplishment of the principal functions. Thus mutilations of organs formed of tissues occurring also elsewhere in the body cannot be hereditary, but if the organ affected contains the whole of a certain kind of tissue such as liver, spleen, kidney, then the blood undergoes a qualitative modification which reacts on the constitution of the egg.
Suppose the internal secretion of a gland (e.g. glucose for the liver, glycolytic for the ferment for the pancreas) is the physiological excitant for the gland. If the gland is removed in whole or in part the proportion of its internal secretion in the blood will be diminished. Then the gland, if the suppression is partial, will undergo a new diminution of activity But in, the egg the specific substance of the gland will also be less stimulated, and in the next generation a diminution of the gland may result. Thus Delage states Massin found that partial removal of the liver in rabbits had an inherited effect. In the case of excretory glands the contrary will be the case, for their removal causes increase in the blood of the exciting urea and uric acid.
The effects of disuse are similar to those of mutilations and of use vice versa. Delage, as seen above, does not consider that increase or decrease of particular muscles can be inherited, but only the muscular system in general. If, however, in consequence of the disuse of a group of muscles there was a general diminution of the inherited muscular system, the special group would remain diminished while the rest were developed by use in the individual: there would thus be a heredity produced indirectly. With regard to general conditions of life, Delage states that there are only two of which we know anything—namely, climate and alimentation—and he merely suggests that temperature and food act at the same time on the cells of the body and on the similar substances in the egg.
H. M. Vernon (Variation in Animals and Plants, 1903, pp. 351 seq.) cites instances of the cumulative effects of changed conditions of life, and points out that they are not really instances of the inheritance of acquired characters, but merely of the germ-plasm and the body tissues being simultaneously affected. He then asks, Through what agency is the environment enabled to act on the germ-plasm? And answers that the only conceivable one is a chemical influence through products of metabolism and specific internal secretions. He cites several cases of specific internal secretions, making one statement in particular which seems unintelligible, viz. that extirpation of the total kidney substance of a dog leads not to a diminished secretion of urine but to a largely increased secretion accompanied by a rapid wasting away which soon ends fatally.
Whenever a changed environment acts upon the organism, therefore, it to some extent affects the normal excretions and secretions of some or all of the various tissues, and these react not only on the tissues themselves, but also to a less degree upon the determinants representing them in the germ-plasm. Thus the relative size of the brain has decreased in the tame rabbit. This may be due to disuse; the excretions and secretions of the nervous tissues would be diminished, and the corresponding determinants less stimulated. Another instance is afforded by pigmentation of the skin in man; which varies with the amount of light and heat from the sun to which the skin is exposed. Specific excretory products of pigment in the skin may stimulate the pigment determinants in the germ-plasm to vigour. But only those characters of which the corresponding tissues possess a specific secretion or excretion could become hereditary in this way. For instance, the brawny arm of the blacksmith could not be transmitted, as it is scarcely possible that the arm muscles can have a secretion different from that of the other muscles.
In 1904, P. Schiefferdecker [Footnote: P. Schiefferdecker, Ueber Symbiose. S.B. d. Niederrhein. Gesellsch. zu Bonn. Sitzung der Medicinischen Sektion, 13 Juni 1904.] made the definite suggestion that the presence of specific internal secretions could be very well used for the explanation of the inheritance of acquired characters. When particular parts of the body were changed, these modifications must change the mixture of materials in the blood by the substances secreted by the changed parts. Thereby would be found a connexion between the modified parts of the body and the germ-cells, the only connexion in existence. It is to be assumed, according to this author, that only a qualitative change in the nutritive fluid of the germ-cells could produce an effect: a quantitative change would only cause increased or decreased nourishment of the entire germ cells.
In my own volume on Sexual Dimorphism in the Animal Kingdom, published in 1900, I attempted to explain the limitation of secondary sexual characters not only to one sex, but usually to one period of the individual life, namely, that of sexual maturity; and in some cases, as in male Cervidae, to one season of the year in which alone the sexual organs are active. It had been known for centuries that the normal development of male sexual characters did not take place in castrated animals, but the exact nature of the influence of the male generative organs on that development was not known till a year or two later than 1900, when it was shown to be due to an internal secretion. My argument was that all selection theories failed to account for the limitation of secondary sexual characters in heredity, whereas the Lamarckian theory would explain them if the assumption were made that the effects of stimulation having been originally produced when the body and tissues were under the influence of the sexual organs in functional activity, these effects were only developed in heredity when the body was in the same condition.
About the year 1906, when preparing two special lectures in London University on the same subject, I became acquainted with the work of Starling and others on internal secretions or hormones, and saw at once that the hormone from the testes was the actual agent which constituted the 'influence' assumed by me in 1900. In these lectures I elaborated a definite Lamarckian theory of the origin of Secondary Sexual Characters in relation to Hormones, extending the theory also to ordinary adaptive structures and characters which are not related to sex. Having met with many obstacles in endeavouring to get a paper founded on the original lectures published in England, I finally sent it to Professor Wilhelm Roux, the editor of the Archiv fuer Entwicklungsmechanik der Organismen, in which it was published in 1908.
In his volume on the Embryology of the Invertebrata, 1914 (Text-Book of Embryology, edited by Walter Heape, vol. i.), Professor E. W. MacBride in his general summary (chapter xviii.) puts forward suggestions concerning hormones without any reference to those who have discussed the subject previously. He considers the matter from the point of view of development, and after indicating the probability that hormones are given off by all the tissues of the body, gives instances of organs being formed in regeneration (eye of shrimp) or larvae (common sea-urchin) as the result of the presence of neighbouring organs, an influence which he thinks can only be due to a hormone given off by the organ already present. He then states that Professor Langley had pointed out to him in correspondence that if an animal changes its structure in response to a changed environment, the hormones produced by the altered organs will be changed. The altered hormones will circulate in the blood and bathe the growing and maturing genital cells. Sooner or later, he assumes, some of these hormones may become incorporated in the nuclear matter of the genital cells, and when these cells develop into embryos the hormones will be set free at the corresponding period of development at which they were originally formed, and reinforce the action of the environment. In this way MacBride attempts to explain recapitulation in development and the tendency to precocity in the development of ancestral structures. His idea that the hormones act by 'incorporation' in the genital cells is different from that of stimulation of determinants put forward by myself and others, but it is surprising that he should refer to unpublished suggestions of Professor Langley, and not to the publications of authors who had previously discussed the possible action of hormones in connexion with the heredity of somatic modifications.
Dr. J. G. Adami in 1918 published the Croonian Lectures, delivered by him in 1917 under the title 'Adaptation and Disease,' together with reprints of previous papers, in a volume entitled Medical Contributions to the Study of Evolution. In this work (footnote, p. 71) the author claims that he preceded Professor Yves Delage by some two years in offering a physico-chemical hypothesis in place of determinants, and also asserts that 'the conclusions reached by him in 1901 regarding metabolites and, as we subsequently became accustomed to term them, hormones, and their influence on the germ-cells, have since been enunciated by Heape, Bourne, Cunningham, MacBride, and Dendy, although in each case without note of his (Adami's) earlier contribution.' These somewhat extensive claims deserve careful and impartial examination. The paper to which Dr. Adami refers was an Annual Address to the Brooklyn Medical Club, published in the New York Medical Journal and the British Medical Journal in 1901, and entitled 'On Theories of Inheritance, with special reference to Inheritance of Acquired Conditions in Man.' The belief that this paper had two years' priority over the volume of Delage entitled L'Heredite appears to have arisen from the fact that Adami consulted the bibliographical list in Thomson's compilation, Heredity 1908, where the date of Delage's work is as 1903. But this was the second edition, the first having been published, as quoted above, in 1895, six years before the paper by Adami.
Next, with regard to the claim that Adami's views as stated in the paper to which he refers were essentially the same as those brought forward by myself and others many years later, we find on reading the paper that its author discussed merely the effect of toxins in disease upon the body-cells and the germ-cells, causing in the offspring either various forms of arrested and imperfect development or some degree of immunity. In the latter case he argues that the action of the toxin of the disease has been to set up certain molecular changes, certain alterations in the composition of the cell-substance so that the latter responds in a different manner when again brought into contact with the toxin. Once this modification in the cell-substance is produced the descendants of this cell retain the same properties, although not permanently. Inheritance of the acquired condition has to be granted, he says, in the case of the body-cells in such cases. But this is not the question: inheritance in the proper sense of the word means the transmission to individuals of the next generation.
On this point Adami says we must logically admit the action of the toxins on the germ-cells, and the individuals developed from these must, subject to the law of loss already noted, have the same properties. He admits that inherited immunity is rare, but says that it has occasionally been noted. Here we have again merely the same influence, chemical in this case, acting simultaneously on somatic cells and germ-cells, which is not the inheritance of acquired characters at all. Adami remarks that Weismann would make the somewhat subtle distinction that the toxins produce these results not by acting on the body-cells but by direct action on the germ-cells, that the inheritance is blastogenic not somatogenic, and calls this 'a sorry and almost Jesuitic play upon words.' On the contrary, it is the essential point, which Adami fails to appreciate. However, he goes further and refers to endogenous intoxication, to disturbed states of the constitution, due to disturbances in glandular activity or to excess of certain internal secretions. Such disturbances he says, acting on the germ-cells, would be truly somatogenic. In the case of gout he considers that defect in body metabolism has led to intoxication of the germ-cells, and the offspring show a peculiar liability to be the subjects of intoxications of the same order. Now, however important these views and conclusions may be from the medical point of view, in relation to the heredity of general physiological or pathological conditions, they throw no light on the problems considered by myself and other biologists—namely, the origin of species and of structural adaptations.
There is no mention anywhere in Adami's short paper of the evolution or heredity of structural characters or adaptations such as wing of Bird or Bat, lung of Frog, asymmetry of Flat-fish or of specific characters, still less of secondary sexual characters, which formed the basis of the hormone theory in my 1908 paper. He does not even consider the evolution of the structural adaptations which enable man to maintain the erect position on the two hind-limbs. He does not consider the action of external stimulation, whether the direct action on epidermal or other external structures or the indirect action through stimulation of functional activity. All his examples of external agents are toxins produced by bacteria invading the body, except in the case of gout, for which he suggests no external cause at all.
Only once in the last of the part of the paper considered does Adami mention internal secretions. His actual words are: 'We recognise yearly more and more the existence of auto-intoxications, of disturbed states of the constitution due to disturbances in glandular activity or to excess of certain internal secretions or of the substances ordinarily neutralised by the same.' The only example he gives is that of gout. How remote this is from the discoveries concerning the specific action of hormones on the growth of the body or of special parts of the body, or on the function of glands, and from a definite hormone theory of heredity as proposed by myself, is sufficiently obvious.
Classification And Adaptation
The study of the animals and plants now living on the earth naturally divides itself into two branches, the one being concerned with their structure and classification, the other with their living activities, their habits, life histories, and reproduction. Both branches are usually included under the terms Natural History, or Zoology, or Botany, and a work on any group of animals usually attempts to describe their structure, their classification, and their habits. But these two branches of biological science are obviously distinct in their methods and aims, and each has its own specialists. The pursuit, whose ultimate object is to distinguish the various kinds of organisms and show their true and not merely apparent relations to one another in structure and descent, requires large collections of specimens for comparison and reference: it can be carried on more successfully in the museum than among the animals or plants in their natural surroundings. This study, which may be called Taxonomics, deals, in fact, with organisms as dead specimens, and it emphasises especially the distinguishing characters of the ultimate subdivisions of the various tribes of animals and plants—namely, species and varieties. The investigation, on the other hand, of the different modes of life of animals or plants is based on a different mental conception of them: it regards them primarily as living active organisms, not as dead and preserved specimens, and it can only be carried on successfully by observing them in their natural conditions, in the wide spaces of nature, under the open sky.
The object of this kind of inquiry is to ascertain what are the uses of organs or structures, what they are for, as we say in colloquial language, to discover what are their functions and how these functions are useful or necessary to the life of the animals or plants to which they belong. For example, some Cuttle-fishes or Cephalopoda have eight arms or tentacles and others ten. The taxonomist notices the fact and distinguishes the two groups of Octopoda and Decapoda.
But it is also of interest to ascertain what is the use of the two additional arms in the Decapoda. They differ from the other arms in being much longer, and provided with sockets into which they can be retracted, and suckers on them are limited to the terminal region. In the majority of zoological books in which Cephalopoda are described, nothing is said of the use or function of these two special arms. Observation of the living animal in aquaria has shown that their functions is to capture active prey such as prawns. They act as a kind of double lasso. Sepia, for instance, approaches gently and cautiously till it is within striking distance of a prawn, then the two long tentacles are suddenly and swiftly shot out from their sockets and the prawn is caught between the suckers at the ends of them. Another example is afforded by the masked crab (Corystes cassivelaunus). This species has unusually long and hairy antennae. These are usually tactile organs, but it has been found that the habit of Corystes is to bury itself deep in the sand with only the tips of the antennae at the surface, and the two are placed close together so as to form a tube, down which a current of water, produced by movements of certain appendages, passes to the gill chamber and provides for the respiration of the crab while it is buried, to a depth of two or three inches. The results of the investigation of habits and functions may be called Bionomics. It may be aided by scientific institutions specially designed to supplement mere observation in the field, such as menageries, aquaria, vivaria, marine laboratories, the objects of which are to bring the living organism under closer and more accurate observation. The differences between the methods and results of these two branches of Biology may be illustrated by comparing a British Museum Catalogue with one of Darwin's studies, such as the 'Fertilisation of Orchids' or 'Earthworms.'
Other speculations in Biology are related to Taxonomics or Bionomics according as they deal with the structure of the dead organism or the action of the living. Anatomy and its more theoretical interpretation, morphology, are related to Taxonomics, physiology and its branches to Bionomics. In fact, the fundamental principles of physiology must be understood before the study of Bionomics can begin. We must know the essential nature of the process of respiration before we can appreciate the different modes of respiration in a whale and a fish, an aquatic insect and a crustacean. The more we know of the physiology of reproduction, the better we can understand the sexual and parental habits of different kinds of animals.
The two branches of biological study which we are contrasting cannot, however, be completely separated even by those whose studies are most specialised. In Bionomics it is necessary to distinguish the types which are observed, and often even the species, as may be illustrated by the fact that controversies occasionally arise among amateur and even professional fishermen on the question whether dog-fishes are viviparous or oviparous, the fact being that some species are the one and others the other, or the fact that the harmless slow-worm and ring-snake are dreaded and killed in the belief that they are venomous snakes. Taxonomics, on the other hand, must take account of the sex of its specimens, and the changes of structure that an individual undergoes in the course of its life, and of the different types that may be normally produced from the same parents, otherwise absurd errors are perpetrated. The young, the male, and the female of the same species have frequently been described under different names as distinct species or even genera. For example, the larva of marine crabs was formerly described as a distinct genus under the name of Zoaea, and in the earlier part of the nineteenth century a lively controversy on the question was carried on between a retired naval surgeon who hatched Zoaea from the eggs of crabs, and an eminent authority who was Professor at Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Society, and who maintained that Zoaea was a mature and independent form. In the end taxonomy had to be altered so as to conform with the fact of development, and the name Zoaea disappeared altogether as that of an independent genus, persisting only as a convenient term for an important larval stage in the development of crabs.
These two kinds of study give us a knowledge of the animals now living. But we find it a universal rule that the individual animal is transitory, that the duration of life, though varying from a few weeks to more than a century, is limited, and that new individuals arise by reproduction, and we have no evidence that the series of successive generations has ever been interrupted; that is to say, the series in any given individual or species may come to an end; species may be exterminated, but we know of no instance of individuals coming into existence except by the process of reproduction or generation from pre-existing individuals. Further, we know from the evidence of fossil remains that the animals existing in former periods were very different from those existing now, and that many of the existing forms, such as man, mammals, birds, bony fishes, can only be traced back in the succession of stratified rocks to the later strata or to those about the middle of the series, evidence of their existence in the periods represented by the most ancient strata being entirely absent. Existing types then must have arisen by evolution, by changes occurring in the succession of generations.
These three facts—namely, the limited duration of individual life, the uninterrupted succession of generations, and the differences of the existing animals and plants from those of former geological periods whose remains are preserved in stratified rocks—are sufficient by themselves to prove that evolution has taken place, that the history of organisms has been a process of descent with modification. If the animals and plants whose remains are preserved as fossils, or at any rate forms closely related to these, were not the ancestors of existing forms, there are only two other possibilities: either the existing forms came into existence by new creations after the older forms became extinct, or the ancestors of existing forms, although they coexisted with the older forms, never left any fossil remains. Each of these suppositions is incredible.
In view of these plain facts and their logical conclusion it is curious to notice how Darwin in his Origin of Species constantly mingles together arguments to prove the proposition that evolution has occurred, that the structure and relations of existing animals can only be explained by descent with modification, with arguments and evidence in favour of natural selection as the explanation and cause of evolution. In the great controversy about evolution which his work aroused, the majority of the educated public were ultimately convinced of the truth of evolution by the belief that a sufficient cause of the process of change had been discovered, rather than by the logical conclusion that the organisms of a later period were the descendants of those of earlier periods. Even at the present day the theory of natural selection is constantly confused with the doctrine of evolution. The fact is that the investigation of the causes of evolution has been going on and has been making progress from the time of Darwin, and from times much earlier than his, down to the present day.
Bionomics show that every type must be adapted in structure to maintain its life under the conditions in which it lives, the primary requirements being food and oxygen. Every animal must be able to procure food either of various kinds or some special kind—either plants or other animals; it may be adapted to feed on plants or to catch insects or fish or animals similar to itself; its digestive organs must be adapted to the kind of food it takes; it must have respiratory organs adapted to breathe in air or water; it must produce eggs able to survive in particular conditions, and so on.
One of the most interesting results of the study of the facts of evolution is that each type of animal tends to multiply to such an extent as to occupy the whole earth and adapt itself to all possible conditions. In the Secondary period reptiles so adapted themselves: there were oceanic reptiles, flying reptiles, herbivorous reptiles, carnivorous reptiles. At the present day the Chelonia alone include oceanic, fresh-water, and terrestrial forms. Birds again have adapted themselves to oceanic conditions, to forests, plains, deserts, fresh waters. Mammals have repeated the process. The organs of locomotion in such cases show profound modifications, adapting them to their special functions. One thing to be explained is the origin of adaptations.
It is, however, necessary to distinguish between the adapted condition or structure of an organ and the process by which it became adapted in evolution; two ideas which are often confused. The eye would he equally adapted for seeing whether it had been created in its actual condition or gradually evolved. We have to distinguish here, as in other matters, between being and becoming, and, further, to distinguish between two kinds of becoming—namely, the development of the organ in the individual and its evolution in the course of descent. The word 'adaptation' is itself the cause of much fallacious reasoning and confusion of ideas, inasmuch as it suggests a process rather than a condition, and by biological writers is often used at one time to mean the former and at others the latter. We may take the mammary glands of mammals or organs adapted for the secretion of milk, whose only function is obviously the nourishment of the offspring. Here the function is certain whatever view we take of the origin of the organs, whether we believe they were created or evolved. But if we consider the flipper or paddle of a whale, we see that it is homologous with the fore-leg of a terrestrial mammal, and we are in the habit of saying that in the whale the fore-limb is modified into a paddle and has become adapted for aquatic locomotion. This, of course, assumes that it has become so adapted in the course of descent. But the pectoral fin of a fish is equally 'adapted' for aquatic locomotion, but it is certainly not the fore-leg of a terrestrial mammal adapted for that purpose. The original meaning of adaptation in animals and plants, of organic adaptation to use another term, is the relation of a mechanism to its action or of a tool to its work. A hammer is an adaptation for knocking in nails, and the woodpecker uses its head and beak in a similar way for making a hole in the bark of trees. The wings and the whole structure of a bird's body form a mechanism for producing one of the most difficult of mechanical results, namely, flight. Then, again, there are stationary conditions, such as colour and patterns, or scales and armour, which may he useful in the life of an animal or flower, but are not mechanisms of moving parts like a bird's wing, or secreting organs like mammary glands. Unless we choose or invent some new term, we must define adaptations apart from all questions of evolution as any structures or characters in an organism which can be shown either by their mere presence, or by their active function, to be either useful or necessary to the animal's existence. We must be on our guard against assuming that the word 'adaptation' implies any particular theory or conclusion concerning the method and process by which adaptations have arisen in the course of evolution. It is that method and process which we have to investigate.
On the other hand, when we look primarily at differences of structure we find that not only are there wide and distinct gaps between the larger categories, such as mammals and birds, with few or no intermediate forms, but the actual individuals most closely similar to one another naturally and inevitably fall into distinct groups which we call kinds or species. The conception of a species is difficult to define, and authorities are not agreed about it. Some, like Professor Huxley, state that a species is purely a mental conception, a generalised idea of a type to which actual individuals more or less closely conform. According to Huxley, you cannot lock the species 'horse' in a stable. Others regard the matter more objectively, and regard the species merely as the total number of individuals which possess a certain degree of resemblance, including, as mentioned above, all the forms which may be produced by the same parents, or which are merely stages in the life of the individual. There are cases in which the limits of species or the boundaries between them are indistinct, where there is a graduated series of differences through a wide range of structure, but these cases are the exception; usually there are a vast majority of individuals which belong distinctly to one species or another, while intermediate forms are rare or absent. The problem then is, How did these distinct species arise? How are we to explain their relations to one another in groups of species or genera; why are the genera grouped into families, families into orders, orders into classes, and so on?
There are thus two main problems of evolution: first, how have animals become adapted to their conditions of life, how have their organs become adapted to the functions and actions they have to perform, or, at least, which they do perform? The power of flight, for example, has been evolved by somewhat different modifications in several different types of animals not closely related to one another: in reptiles, in birds, and in mammals. We have no reason to believe that this faculty was ever universal, or that it existed in the original ancestors. How then was it evolved? The second great problem is, How is it that existing animals, and, as the evidence of the remains of extinct animals shows, these that existed at former periods of time also, are divided into the groups or types we call species, naturally classified into larger groups which are subdivisions of others still larger, and so on, in what we call the natural system of classification? The two problems which naturalists have to solve, and which for many recent generations they have been trying to solve, are the Origin of Species and the Origin of Adaptations.
Former generations of zoologists have assumed that these problems were the same. Lamarck maintained that the peculiarities of different animals were due to the fact that they had become adapted to modes of life different to those of their ancestors, and to those in which allied forms lived, the change of structure being due to the effect of the conditions of life and of the actions of the organs. He did not specially consider the differences of closely allied species, but the peculiarities of marked types such as the long neck of the giraffe, the antlers of stags, the trunk of the elephant, and so on; but he considered that the action of external conditions was the true cause of evolution, and assumed that in course of time the effects became hereditary.
Lamarck's views are expounded chiefly in his Philosophie Zoologique, first published in 1809, and an excellent edition of this work with biographical and critical introduction was published by Charles Martins in 1873. Although his conception of the mode in which structural changes were produced is of little importance to those now engaged in the investigation of the process of evolution, since it was naturally based on the physiological ideas of his time, many of which are now obsolete, for the sake of accuracy it is worth while to cite his principal propositions in his own words:—
'Il sera en effet evident que l'etat ou nous voyons tous les animaux, est d'une part, le produit de la composition croissante de l'organisation, qui tend a former une gradation reguliere, et de l'autre part qu'il est celui des influences d'une multitude de circonstances tres differentes qui tendent continuellement a detruire la regularite dans la gradation de la composition croissante de l'organisation.
'Ici il devient necessaire de m'expliquer sur le sens que j'attache a ces expressions: Les circonstances influent sur la forme et l'organisation des animaux, c'est-a-dire qu'en devenant tres differentes elles changent avec le temps et cette forme et l'organisation elle-meme par des modifications proportionnees.
'Assurement si l'on prenait ces expressions a la lettre, on m'attribuerait une erreur; car quelles que puissent etre les circonstances elles n'operent directement sur la forme et sur l'organisation des animaux aucune modification quelconque. Mais de grands changements dans les circonstances amenent pour les animaux de grands changements dans leurs besoins et de pareils changements dans les besoins en amenent necessairement dans les actions. Or, si les nouveaux besoins deviennent constants ou tres durables, les animaux prennent alors de nouvelles habitudes qui sont aussi durables que les besoins qui les ont fait naitre. Il en sera resulte l'emploi de telle partie par preference a celui de telle autre, et dans certains cas le defaut total d'emploi de telle partie qui est devenue inutile.'
The supposed effect of these changes of habit is definitely stated in the form of two 'laws':—
'Dans tout animal qui n'a point depasse le terme de ses developpements l'emploi plus frequent et soutenu d'un organe quelconque, fortifie peu a peu cet organe, le developpe, l'agrandit et lui donne une puissance proportionee a la duree de cet emploi; tandis que le defaut constant d'usage de tel organe Paffaiblit insensiblement, le deteriore, diminue progressivement ses facultes, et finit par le faire disparaitre.
'Tout ce que la nature a fait acquerir ou perdre aux individus par l'influence des circonstances ou leur race se trouve depuis longtemps exposee, et par consequent, par l'influence de l'emploi predominant de tel organe, ou par celle d'un defaut constant d'usage de telle partie, elle le conserve par la generation aux nouveaux individus qui en proviennent, pourvu que les changements acquis soient communs aux deux sexes, ou a ceux qui ont produits ces nouveaux individus.'
It will be seen that this last condition excludes the question of the origin of organs or characters confined to one sex, or secondary sexual characters. With regard to the expression 'emploi de telle partie,' the explanation which Lamarck gives of the evolution of horns and antlers is curious. He does not attempt to show how the use or employment of the head leads to the development of these outgrowths of bone and epidermic horn, but attributes their development in stags and bulls to an 'interior sentiment in their fits of anger, which directs the fluids more strongly towards that part of their head.'
Lamarck's actual words (Phil. Zool., edit. 1873, p. 254) are: 'Dans leurs acces de coliere qui sont frequents surtout entre les males, leur sentiment interieurs par ses efforts dirige plus fortement les fluides vers cette partie de leur tete, et il s'y fait une secretion de matiere cornee dans les uns (Bovidae) et de matiere osseuse melangee de matiere cornee dans les autres (Cervidae), qui donne lieu a des protuberances solides: de la l'origine des cornes, et des bois, dont la plupart de ces animaux ont la tete armee.'
Darwin, on the other hand, definitely set before himself the problem of the origin of species, which the majority of naturalists, in spite of Lamarck and his predecessor Buffon, regarded as permanent and essentially immutable types established by the Creator at the beginning of the world. This principle of the persistence and fundamentally unchangeable nature of species was regarded as an article of religion, following necessarily from the divine inspiration of the Bible. This theological aspect of the subject is sufficiently curious when we consider it in relation to the history of biological knowledge, for Linnaeus at the beginning of the eighteenth century was the first naturalist who made a systematic attempt to define and classify the species of the whole organic world, and there are few species of which the limits and definition have not been altered since his time. In fact, at the present time there are very numerous groups, both in animals and plants, on the species of which scarcely any two experts are agreed.
In many cases a Linnaean species has been split up till it became, first, a genus, then a family, and, in some cases, an order. What one naturalist considers a species is considered by another a genus containing several species, and, vice versa, the species of one authority is described as merely a variety by another. The older naturalists might have said with truth: we do not know what the species are, but we are quite certain that whatever they are they have never undergone any change in their distinguishing characters. At the same time we know that whether we call related forms varieties or species or genera in different cases, we find, whatever organisms we study, whether plants or animals, definite types distinguished by special characters of form, colour, and structure, and that individuals of one species or type never give rise by generation to individuals of any other known species or type. We do not find wolves producing foxes, or bulldogs giving birth to greyhounds. As a general rule the distinguishing characters are inherited, and it is by no means easy even in domesticated animals and plants to obtain an exact and complete record of the descent of a new variety from the original form. Among species in a state of nature it is the exception to find two recognised species which can be crossed or hybridised. In the case of the horse and the ass, although mules are the hybrid offspring of the two, the mules themselves are sterile, and there are many similar cases, so that some naturalists have maintained that mutual infertility should be recognised as the test of separation in species.
Darwin founded his theory on the assumption that differences of species were differences of adaptation. His theory of natural selection is a theory of the origin of adaptations, and only a theory of the origin of species on the assumption that their distinguishing characters are adaptations to different modes and conditions of life, to different requirements. He pointed out that there is always a considerable range of variation in the specific characters, that, as a rule, no two individuals are exactly alike, even when produced by the same two parents. The central principle of his theory was the survival of individuals possessing those variations which were most useful in the competition of species with species and of individual with individual. He thus explained adaptation to new conditions and divergence of several species from a common ancestor. Characters which were not obviously adaptive were explained either by correlation or by the supposition that they had a utility of which we were ignorant. Darwin also admitted the direct action of conditions as a subordinate factor.
Weismannism not only retained the principle of utility and selection, but made it the only principle, rejecting entirely the action of external conditions as a cause of congenital modifications, i.e. of characters whose development is predetermined in the fertilised ovum. It is to Weismann that we owe precise and definite conceptions, if not of the nature of heredity, at least of the details of the process. From him we learned to think of the ova or sperms, of the reproductive cells or 'gametes' of an individual, as cells which were from an early stage of development distinguished from the cells forming the organs and tissues; to regard the organism as consisting of soma on the one hand and gametes on the other, both derived from the original zygote cell, not the gametes from the soma. Weismann saw no possibility of changes induced by any sort of stimulation in the soma affecting the gametes in such a way as to be redeveloped in the soma of the next generation. He attributed variation partly to the union of gametes containing various determinants, which he termed amphimixis: this, however, would introduce nothing new. Then he proposed his theory of germinal selection, determinants growing and multiplying in competition, some perhaps disappearing altogether, though this does not satisfactorily account for entirely new characters. With Weismann, however, every species was a different adaptation, and natural selection was the deus ex machina; to quote his own words, Alles ist angepasst.
Romanes and other writers, on the other hand, had always maintained that in many cases the constant peculiarities of closely allied species had no known utility whatever, so that the problem presented by these characters was not explained by any theory of the origin of adaptations.
Mendelism, since 1900, has studied experimentally the transmission of definite characters, and maintains that the characters of species are of the same nature as the characters which segregate in Mendelian experiments. Such characters are not in any way related to external conditions, and cannot, therefore, be adaptive except by accident. Professor Bateson goes so far as to admit that such large variations or mutations offer more definite material to selection than minute variations too small to make any important difference in survival, but as regards species the important factor is the occurrence of mutations which are inherited and at once form a distinct definite difference between allied species which is not due to selection and has nothing to do with adaptation.
In a book entitled Problems of Genetics, 1913, Bateson describes several particular cases which show how impossible it is to find any relation at all between the diagnostic characters of certain species or local forms and their mode of life. One of these cases is that of the species of Colaptes, a genus of Woodpeckers in North America, of which a detailed study was published in the Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 1892. The two forms specially considered are named C. auratus and C. cafer, and they differ in the following seven characters:—
C. auratus. C. cafer.
1. Quills yellow. 1. Quills red.
2. Male with black cheek stripe. 2. Male with red cheek stripe.
3. Adult female with no 3. Adult female with usually cheek stripe. brown cheek stripe.
4. A scarlet nuchal crescent 4. No nuchal crescent in in both sexes. either sex.
5. Throat and fore-neck brown. 5. Throat and fore-neck grey.
6. Top of head and hind-neck grey. 6. Top of head and hind-neck brown.
7. General tone of plumage 7. General tone of plumage olivaceous. rufescent.
C. auratus occurs all over Canada, and the United States, from the north to Galveston; westwards it extends to Alaska and the Pacific coast to the northern border of British Columbia. C. cafer in comparatively pure form occupies Mexico, Arizona, California, part of Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and is bounded on the east by a line drawn from the Pacific south of Washington State, south and eastward through Colorado to the mouth of the Rio Grande on the Gulf of Mexico. Between the two areas thus roughly defined is a tract of country about 300 to 400 miles wide, which contains some normal birds of each type, but chiefly birds exhibiting irregular mixtures of the characters of both. Bateson remarks that some naturalists may be disposed once more to appeal to our ignorance, and suggest that if we only knew more we should find that the yellow quills, the black 'moustache,' and the red nuchal crescent specially adapt auratus to the conditions of the northern and eastern region, while the red quills, red moustache, and absence of crescent fit cafer to the conditions of the more southern and western territory. But, as the author we are quoting points out, when we think of the wide range of conditions in the country occupied by auratus, extending from Florida to the Arctic, it is impossible to believe that there is any common element in the conditions which demands a scarlet nuchal patch in auratus, while the equally varied conditions in the cafer area do not require that character. It may be added that the same objection is equally valid whether we apply it to the utility of such a character or to the supposition that the character has been caused by external conditions; in other words, whether we attempt to explain the facts by selection or by the Lamarckian principle.
Another case quoted by Bateson is that of the two common British Wasps, Vespa vulgaris and Vespa germanica. Both usually make subterranean nests, but of somewhat different materials. That of V. vulgaris is of a characteristic yellow colour, because made of rotten wood, while that of V. germanica is grey, from the weathered surface wood of palings or other exposed timber which is used in its construction. In characters the differences of the two forms are so slight as to be distinguishable only by the expert. V. vulgaris often has black spots on the tibiae, which are wanting in germanica. A horizontal yellow stripe on the thorax is enlarged downwards in the middle in germanica, not in vulgaris. There are distinct though slight differences in the genital appendages of the males in the two species. Here there are differences of habit, and slight but constant differences of structure; but it is impossible to find any relation between the former and the latter.
Mendelism in itself affords no evidence of the origin of new characters, since it deals only with the heredity of the characters which it finds usually in the varieties of cultivated animals and plants. But indirectly it draws the inference that new characters arose in the form in which they are found to be inherited, as complete units, and not by gradual, continuous increase, that specific characters are due to mutations, and that all evolution has been the result of similar hereditary factors, arising by some internal process in the divisions of reproductive cells, and not determined by external conditions. Some Mendelians maintain that if the mutations are not compatible with the existing conditions of life, the organism must either die or find new conditions in which it can live.
Bateson remarks (Mendel's Principles of Heredity, 1909, p. 288): 'Mendelism provides no fresh clue to the problem of adaptation except in so far as it is easier to believe that a definite integral change in attributes can make a perceptible difference to the prospect of success, than that an indefinite and impalpable change should entail such consequences.' Here the distinction between adaptive and non-adaptive characters is recognised, but both are emphatically attributed to the same origin.
The American evolutionist, T. H. Morgan, also a specialist in Mendelism, goes further, and maintains, not merely that mutations which happened to make a 'difference to the prospect of success' survived, or were selected, but that if a mutation arising from a change in the gametes was not compatible with the conditions of the animal's life at the time, it either died, or found other conditions, or adopted new habits which were adapted to the new character or structure. He takes Flat-fishes as an example, and suggests that having by mutation become asymmetrical, and having both eyes on one side, etc., the fish adopted the habit of lying on the ground on one side of its body. This is, of course, the exact opposite of the older conception: the structure of the animal has not been changed by new habits or conditions, but new habits and conditions have been sought and found in order to meet the requirements of the change of structure.
The present writer, on the other hand, believes that not only are adaptive characters distinct from non-adaptive specific characters, and from non-adaptive diagnostic characters in general, but that their origin and evolution are entirely distinct and different. There are two separate problems, the origin of adaptations and the origin of species, and the investigation of these two problems leads not to one explanation common to both, but to two entirely different explanations, to two different processes going on throughout the organic world and affecting every individual and every group in classification.
The Flat-fishes, now regarded not as merely a family but a sub-order of Teleosteans, afford a good example of the contrast between adaptive and non-adaptive diagnostic characters. For the whole group the adaptive characters are diagnostic, distinguishing it from other sub-orders. It is conceivable that different phyletic groups of fishes, that is fishes of different descent, might have been modified in the same way, as, for instance, grasshoppers and fleas have been adapted for leaping without being closely related to each other. It is generally held, however, that the Flat-fishes are of common descent. In this group the adaptive characters are diagnostic; that is to say, they distinguish the group from other sub-orders, though there are other non-adaptive characters which indicate the relationship to other groups and which are not adapted to the horizontal position of the original median plane of symmetry. The principal adaptive characters are: both eyes and the pigmentation on the side which is uppermost in the natural position, lower side without eyes and colourless; dorsal and ventral fins continuous and extending nearly the whole length of the dorsal and ventral edges; dorsal fin extending forwards on the head, not along the morphological median line, which is between the eyes, but between the more dorsal eye and the lower side of the body, in the same horizontal plane as the posterior part of the same fin. The 'adaptive' quality in these characters, as in other cases, does not necessarily consist in their utility to the animal, but in the definite relation between them and the external conditions. When the relation is one of function, the organ may be said to be useful: for example, the position of the two eyes is adaptive because they are on the upper side where alone light can reach them, the other side resting on the ground; and the adaptation is one of function, and therefore useful, because if the eyes were in their normal position, one of them would be useless, being generally in contact with the ground or buried in it. Similarly with the extension of the dorsal and ventral fins, the undulations of which serve to move the fish gently along in a plane parallel to the ground. If the dorsal fin was not extended forward, the head would not be so well supported. But when we consider the pigmentation of the upper side and the normally white lower side, although the adaptation is equally obvious, the utility is by no means certain. To any naturalist who has observed these fishes in the living state the protective resemblance of the pigmentation of the upper side is very evident, especially because, as in many other fishes and amphibians, the intensity of the colour varies in harmony with the colour of the ground on which the fish rests. But the utility of the white lower side is not so easy to prove. Would the fish be any worse off if the lower side were coloured like the upper? Probably it would not, although it has been maintained that the white lower side serves to render the fish less visible when seen against the sky by an enemy below it. Ambicolorate specimens occur, and there is no evidence that their lives are less secure than those of normal specimens. The essential and universal quality of adaptation, then, is not utility, but relation to surroundings or to function or to habit. In this case colour is related to incidence of light, absence of colour to absence of light. Position of eyes is also related to light; they are situated where they can see, absent from the side which is shut off from light. The marginal fins are extended where their movements best support and move the body.
It is to be noted also that these adaptations of different organs of the body, eyes, fins, colour, are entirely independent of each other physiologically. It may appear on first consideration that eyes and colour, being both on the upper side, may have been somehow connected in the constitution of the body, whereas the only connexion is external in their common relation to light. This independence is well shown in the modification of the dorsal fin: if this were physiologically affected by the change in the eyes, which is brought about by the twisting of the interorbital region of the skull, the anterior end of the fin would be between the two eyes, since the morphological median line of the body is in that position. In fact, on the contrary, the attachment of the dorsal fin is continued forward where it is required for its mechanical function, regardless entirely of the morphology of the head.
This is even more clearly evident in the structure of the jaws and teeth. These are entirely unaffected by the torsion of the interorbital part of the skull. In cases where the mouth is large and teeth are required on both sides, the prey being active fish of other species, as in Turbot, Brill, and Halibut, the jaws and teeth are equally developed on the upper and lower sides, and there is almost complete symmetry in these parts of the skull. In Soles and Plaice, on the other hand, whose food consists of worms, molluscs, etc., living on or in the ground, the jaws of the lower side are well developed and strong, those of the upper side diminished, and teeth are confined to the lower side. Here it is not a question of the jaws twisted, but simply unequally developed. There is no general and constitutional asymmetry of head or body, but a modification of different organs independently of each other in relation to external conditions— light, food, movement.
On the other hand, let us consider some of the diagnostic characters by which species and genera are distinguished in the Flat-fishes or Pleuronectidae. The genus Pleuronectes is distinguished by the following characters: eyes on the right side, mouth terminal and rather small, teeth most developed on the blind (left) side. Of this genus there are five British species, namely:—
P. platessa, the Plaice: scales small, mostly without spinules, reduced and not imbricated, imbedded in the skin; bony knobs on the head behind the eyes, red spots on the upper side.
P. flesus, the Flounder: no ordinary scales; rough tuberoles along the bases of the marginal fins and along the lateral line; these are modified and enlarged scales; elsewhere scales of any kind are absent.
In these two species the lateral line is nearly straight, having only a slignt curve above the pectoral fin.
P. limanda, the Dab: scales uniform all over the body, with spinules on the projecting edges, making the skin rough; lateral line with a semicircular curve above the pectoral fin.
P. microcephalus, the Lemon-dab: scales small, smooth, and imbedded; skin slimy, head and mouth very small, colour yellowish brown with large round darker marks.
P. cynoglossus, the Witch or Pole-dab: head and mouth smaller than in the Plaice, eyes rather larger; scales all alike and uniformly distributed, slightly spinulate on upper side, smooth on the lower; blister-like cavities beneath the skin of the head on the lower side.
With regard to the generic characters, it is difficult to give any reason why the mouth should be at the end of the head instead of behind the apex of the snout as in the genus Solea, but, as we have seen already, the small size of the mouth and the greater development of teeth on the lower side are adapted to the food and mode of feeding. It is impossible to say why one genus of Flat-fishes should have the right side uppermost and others, e.g. Sole and Turbot, the left; it would almost seem to have been a matter of chance at the commencement of the evolution: reversed specimens occur as variations in most of the species.
When we consider the specific differences, we find very definite characters in the structure and distribution of the scales, and no evidence has yet been discovered that these differences are related to external conditions. There are, of course, slight differences in habits and habitat, but no constant relation between these and the structural differences of the scales. Plaice and Dab are taken together on the same ground, and nothing has been discovered to indicate that the spinulate scales of the Dab are adapted to one peculiarity in habits or conditions, the spineless scales of the Plaice to another. In comparing certain geographical races of Plaice and Flounder the facts seem to suggest that differences of habitat may have something to do with the development of the scales. In the Baltic the Flounders are as large as those on our own coasts, but the thorny tubercles are much more developed, nearly the whole of the upper surface being covered with them. The Plaice, on the other hand, are smaller than those of the North Sea, and the males have the scales spinulate over a considerable portion of the upper side. The chief difference between the Baltic and the North Sea is the reduced salinity of the former, so that it might be supposed that fresher water caused the greater development of the dermal skeleton. On the other hand, a species or geographical variety of the Plaice, whose proper is P. glacialis, is found on the Arctic coasts of Asia and America, on both sides of the extreme North Pacific, and on the east coast of North America. In this form the bony tubercles on the head in the Plaice are replaced by a continuous rough osseous ridge, and the scales are as much spinulated as in the Plaice of the Baltic. On the east coast of North America the males in this form are more spinulated than the females; on the Alaskan coast, and apparently the Arctic coast, the females are spinulated, and the sexual difference in this respect is slight or absent. Lower salinity cannot be the cause of greater spinulation in this case, and thus it might be suggested that the condition was due to lower temperature. But we do not find that northern or Arctic species of fish in general have the scales more developed than southern species.
The Dab, which occurs in the same waters as the Plaice, has the spines more spinulated than any of the forms of plaice above mentioned, therefore the absence or slight development of spinules in the typical Plaice is not explained by physical conditions alone. Freshness of water again will not explain the difference of the structure and distribution of scales in Flounder and Plaice, considering the variety of squamation in fishes confined to fresh water. Still less can we attribute any of the peculiarities of scales to utility. We can discover no possible benefit of the condition in one species which would be absent in the case of other species. We can go much further than this, and maintain that there is no reason to believe that scales in general in Teleosteans, or any of their various modifications, are of special utility: they are not adaptive structures at all, although of great importance as diagnostic characters. It may be urged that in some cases, such as the little Agonus cataphractus or the Seahorse among the Syngnathidae, the body is protected by a complete suit of bony armour; but accompanying these in the littoral region are numerous other species such as the Gobies, and even other species of Syngnathidae which have soft unprotected skins.
Similarly with colour characters: the power of changing the colour so as to harmonize with the ground is obviously beneficial and adaptive, but in each species there is a specific pattern or marking which remains constant throughout life and has nothing to do with protective resemblance, variable or permanent. The red spots of the Plaice are specific and diagnostic, but they confer no advantage over the Dab or the Lemon-dab, in which they are absent, nor can any relation be discovered between these spots and mode of life or habits.
The function of the lateral line organs is still somewhat obscure. The theory that they are sensitive to differences of hydrostatic pressure as the fish moves from one depth to another rests on no foundation, since it has yet to be shown how a change of pressure within the limits of the incompressibility of water can produce a sensation in an organ permeated throughout with water. It is more probable that the organs are affected by vibrations in the water, but we are unable to understand how a difference in the anterior curvature of the lateral line would make a difference in the function in any way related to the difference in conditions of life between Plaice and Dab. There is, however, reason to conclude that the organs, especially on the head, are more important and larger in deeper water, and thus the enlargement of the sensory canals in the head of the Witch, which lives in deeper water than other species, may be an adaptive character.
Another genus of whose characters I once made a special study is that named Zeugopterus. The name was originally given by Gottsche to the largest species Z. punctatus, from the fact that the pelvic fins are united to the ventral, but this character does not occur in other species now included in the genus. There are three species, occurring only in European waters, which form this genus and agree in the following characters. The outline of the body is more nearly rectangular than in other Flat-fishes from the obtuseness of the snout and caudal end, and the somewhat uniform breadth of the body. The surface is rough from the presence of long slender spines on the scales. There is a large perforation in the septum between the gill cavities, but this occurs also in Arnoglossus megastoma, which is placed in another genus. But the generic character of Zeugopterus, which is most important for the present discussion, is the prolongation of the dorsal and ventral fins on to the lower of the body at the base of the tail, the attachments of these accessory portions being transverse to the axis of the body. These fishes have the peculiar habit of adhering to the vertical surfaces of sides of aquaria, even the smooth surfaces of slate or glass. In nature they are taken occasionally on gravelly or sandy ground, but probably live also among rocks and adhere to them in the same way as to vertical surfaces in captivity. Many years ago (Journ. Mar. Biol. Assn., vol. iii 1893-95) I made a careful investigation of the means by which these fishes were able to adhere to a smooth surface, at least in the case of the largest and commonest species Z. punctatus. It was observed that so long as the fish was clinging to a vertical surface the posterior parts of the fins were in rhythmical motion, undulations passing along them in succession from before backwards, the edge of the body to which they were attached moving with them. The effect of these movements was to pump out water backwards from the space between the body and the surface it was clinging to, and to cause water to flow into this space at the anterior edges of the head. The subcaudal flaps were perfectly motionless and tightly pressed between the base of the tail and the surface of support, so that any movement of them was impossible. The question arose, however, whether the tail and these flaps acted as a sucker which aided in the adhesion. The flaps were therefore cut off with scissors—an operation which caused practically no pain or injury to the fish—and it adhered afterwards quite as well as when the fin-flaps were intact. The subcaudal prolongations of the fins are therefore not necessary to the adhesion, nor to the pumping action, of the muscles and fins, which went on as before. It seemed probable, therefore, that the pumping action was itself the cause of the adhesion. But the difficulty in accepting this conclusion was that there was a distinct though gentle respiratory movement of the jaws and opercula; and if the pumping of the water from beneath the body caused a negative pressure there, and a positive pressure on the outer side of the body, it seemed equally certain that the respiratory movement must force water into the space beneath the body and so cause a positive pressure there which would tend to force the fish away from the surface with which it was in contact. Examination of the currents of water around the edges of the fish, by means of suspended carmine, showed that water passed in at the mouth and out at the lower respiratory orifice, but also into the space below the body at the upper and lower edges of the head, without passing through the respiratory channel. It was thus proved that the rate at which water was pumped out at the sides of the tail was greater than that at which it passed in by the respiratory movements, and consequently there a resultant negative pressure beneath the body. By means of a model made of a thin flexible sheet of rubber, at each end of which on one side was fastened a short piece of glass tube, I was able to imitate the physical action observed in the fish. A long piece of rubber tube was attached to one of the pieces of glass tube, and brought over the edge of the glass front of an aquarium. The long rubber tube was set in action as a siphon and the sheet of rubber placed against the glass. As long as water was running through the siphon the sheet of rubber remained pressed against the glass and supported. As soon as the current of water was stopped the apparatus fell to the bottom of the tank. In this model water passed out from beneath the rubber through the glass tube attached to the siphon and passed in by the opposite glass tube, and at the sides of it. The latter tube represented the respiratory channel of the fish, and the space between tube and rubber represented the spaces between the head of the fish and the vertical surface to which it clung.
In the fish the marginal fins not only extend to the base of the tail, but are broader at the posterior end than elsewhere, whereas in other Flat-fishes the posterior part of the marginal fins are the narrowest parts. The shape of the fins and the breadth of the body posteriorly, then, are adaptations which have a definite function, that of enabling the fish to adhere to vertical surfaces. But, on the other hand, the extension of the marginal fins in a transverse direction beneath the tail has no use in the process of adhesion, nor has any other use been found for it. It is a generic character, so far as we know, without utility. On the other hand, it is very probable that this subcaudal extension of the fins is merely a result of the posterior extension and enlargement of these fins which has taken place in the evolution of the adaptation. If the Lamarckian explanation of adaptation were true, it would be possible to understand that the constant movements of the fins and muscles by which the adhesion was effected caused a longitudinal growth of the fins in excess of the length actually required, and that this extra growth extended on to the body beneath the tail, although the small flaps on the lower side were not necessary to the new function which the fins performed.
When we consider such cases as this we are led to the conclusion that the usual conception of adaptation is not adequate. We require something more than function or utility to express the difference between the two kinds of characters to be distinguished. For example, the absence of pigmentation from the lower sides of Flat-fishes may have no utility whatever, but we see that it differs from the specific markings of the upper side in the fact that it shows a relation to or correspondence with a difference of external conditions—namely, the incidence of light, while in such a case as the red spots of the Plaice we can discover no such correspondence.
We know that the American artist and naturalist Thayer has shown that the lighter colour of the ventral side of birds and other animals aids greatly in reducing their visibility in their natural surroundings, the diminution in coloration compensating for the diminution in the amount of light falling on the lower side, so that the upper and lower sides reflect approximately the same amount of light, and contrast, which would be otherwise conspicuous, is avoided. But the white lower sides of Flat-fishes are either not visible at all, or, if visible, are very conspicuous, so that the utility of the character is very doubtful.
We may distinguish then between characters which correspond to external conditions, functions, or habits, and those which do not. The word 'adaptation,' which we have hitherto used, does not express satisfactorily the peculiarities of all the characters in the former of these two divisions. If we consider three examples—enlarged hind-legs for jumping as in kangaroo or frog, absence of colour from the lower sides of Flat-fishes, and, thirdly, the finlets on the lower side of Zeugopterus—we see that they represent three different kinds of characters, all related to habits or external conditions. We may say that the third kind are correlated with some other character that has a relation to function or external conditions, as the extension of the fins on the under side of Zeugopterus is correlated with the enlargement of the fins, whose function is to cause the adhesion of the fish to a vertical surface.
With regard to the specific characters of the species of Zeugopterus nothing is known of peculiarities in mode of life which would give an importance in the struggle for existence to the concrescence of the pelvic fins with the ventral in punctatus, to the absence of this character and the elongation of the first dorsal ray in unimaculatus, or to the absence of both characters in norvegicus. No use is known for any of the other specific characters, which tend in each case to form a series. Thus in size norvegicus is the smallest, unimaculatus larger, and punctatus largest, the last reaching a of 8-1/2 inches. The subcaudal fin-flaps are developed in norvegicus, most in punctatus; each has four rays in norvegicus and unimaculatus, six in punctatus. The shortening and spinulation of the scales are greatest in punctatus, least in norvegicus. In punctatus there are teeth on the vomer, in unimaculatus none, in norvegicus they are very small.
If we consider fishes in general, we see that there is no evidence of any relation between many of the most important taxonomic characters and function or external conditions. In the seas Elasmobranchs and Teleosteans exist in swarming numbers side by side, but it is impossible to say that one type is more adapted to marine life than the other. There is good reason to believe that bony fishes were evolved from Elasmobranchs in fresh water which was shallow and foul, so that lungs were evolved for breathing air, and that marine bony fishes are descended from fishes with lungs; but no reason has been given for the evolution of bone in place of cartilage or for the various kinds of scales. Professor Houssaye, on the other hand, believes that the number and position of fins is adapted to the shape and velocity of movement of each kind of fish.
If we turn to other groups of animals we find everywhere similar evidence of the distinction between adaptive and non-adaptive characters. Birds are adapted in their whole organization for flight, the structure of the wing, of the sternum, breast muscles, legs, etc., are all co-ordinated for this end. But how do we know that feathers in their origin were connected with flight? It seems equally probable that feathers arose as a mutation in place of scales in a reptile, and the feathers were then adapted for flight. Nothing shows the distinction better than convergent adaptation. Owls resemble birds of prey in bill and claw and mode of life, yet they are related to insect-eating swifts and goat-suckers and not to eagles and hawks. Swifts and swallows are similar in adaptive characters, but not in those which show relationship. It may be said that the characters believed to show true affinities were originally adaptive, but we do not know this. Similarly, in reptiles the Chelonia are distinguished by the most extraordinary union of skin-bones and internal skeleton enclosing the body in rigid armour: it may be said that the function of this is protection, that it is adaptation, and can be explained by natural selection, but the adaptation in this case is so indefinite that it is difficult to be convinced of it.
Systematists have always distinguished between adaptive characters and those of taxonomic value—those which show the true affinities—and they are perfectly right: also they have always distrusted and held aloof from theories of evolution which profess to explain all characters by one universal formula. In my opinion, those who, like Weismann, consider all taxonomic characters adaptive, are equally mistaken with Bateson and his followers, who regard all characters as mutational. No system of evolution can be satisfactory unless it recognises that these two kinds of characters are distinct and quite different in their nature. But it may be asked, What objection is there to the theory of natural selection as an explanation of adaptations? The objection is that all the evidence goes to show that the necessary variations only arose under the given conditions, and, further, that the actions of the conditions and the corresponding actions of the organism give rise to stimuli which would produce somatic modifications in the same direction as the permanent modifications which have occurred. My view is, then, that specific characters are usually not adaptations, that other characters of taxonomic value are some adaptive and some unrelated to conditions of life, and that while non-adaptive characters are due to spontaneous blastogenic variations or mutations, adaptive characters are due to the direct influence of stimuli, causing somatic modifications which become hereditary, in other words, to the inheritance of acquired characters. It has become a familiar statement that every individual is the result of its heredity and its environment. The thesis that I desire to establish is that the heredity of each individual and each type is compounded of variations or changes of two distinct origins, one external and one internal; that is to say, of variations resulting from changes originating in the germ-cells or gametes, and of modifications produced originally in the soma by the action of external stimuli, and subsequently affecting the gametes.
When we study the characters of animals in relation to sex we find that in many cases there are conspicuous organs or characters present in one sex, usually the male, which are absent or rudimentary in the other. The conception of adaptation applies to these also, since we find that characters consist often of weapons such as horns, antlers, and spurs, used in sexual combat, of copulatory or clasping organs such as the pads on a frog's forefeet, of ornamental plumage like the peacock's tail serving to charm the female, or of special pouches as in species of pipe-fish and frog for holding the eggs or young. Darwin attempted to explain sexual adaptation by sexual selection. The selective process in this case was supposed to be, not the survival of individuals best adapted to secure food or shelter or to escape from enemies, but the success of those males which were victorious in combat, or which were most attractive to the females, and therefore left the greater number of offspring which inherited their variations. But, as Darwin himself admitted, this theory of selection does not in any way explain the differences between the sexes—in other words, the limitation of the characters or organs to one sex—since there is no reason in the process of selection itself why the peculiarity of a successful male should not be inherited by his female offspring as well as by his male offspring. The real problem, then, is the sex-limited heredity, and we shall consider later whether in this kind of heredity also there are characters of internal as well as external origin, blastogenic as well as somatogenic.
Mendelism And The Heredity Of Sex
We know that now individuals are developed from single cells which have either been formed by the union of two cells or which develop without such union, and that these reproductive cells are separated from pre-existing organisms: the gametes or gonocytes are separated from the parents and develop into the offspring. The zygote has the power of developing particular structures and characters in the complicated organisation of the adult, and we recognise that the characters are determined by the properties and constitution of the zygote; that is to say, of one or both of the gametes which unite to form the zygote. The distinction between peculiarities or 'characters,' determined in the ovum before development, and modifications due to influences acting on the individual during its development or life, is often obvious enough. A child's health, size, mode of speech, and behaviour may be greatly influenced by feeding, training, and education, but the colour of his or her eyes and hair were determined before birth. A human individual has, we know, a number of congenital or innate characters, by which we mean characters which arise from the constitution of the individual at the time of birth, and not from influences acting on him or her after birth. We have to remember, however, that modifications may be caused during development in the uterus, as, for example, birth-marks on the skin, and these would not be due to peculiarities in the constitution of the ovum. Karl Pearson and other devotees of the cult of Eugenics have been lately impressing on the public by pamphlets, lectures, and addresses the great importance of nature as compared with nurture, maintaining that the latter is powerless to counteract either the good or bad qualities of the former, and that the effects of nurture are not transmitted to the next generation.
We recognise that the characters of varieties of flowers, fruits, and domesticated animals are not to be produced by any particular mode of treatment. We see the various kinds of orchids or carnations in the same greenhouse, of sweet peas and roses in the same garden. We go to a show and see the extraordinary variety of breeds of pigeons, rabbits, or fowls, and we know that these cannot be produced by treating the progeny of individuals of one kind in special ways, but are the progeny of parents of the same various races. If we want fowls of a particular breed we obtain eggs of that breed and hatch them with the certainty born of experience that we shall obtain chickens of that breed which will develop the colour, comb, size, and qualities proper to it. Similarly, in nature we recognise that the 'characters' of species or varieties are not due to circumstances acting on the individual during its development, but to the properties of the ova or seeds from which the individuals were developed.
Formerly we regarded these congenital or innate characters as derived from the parents or inherited, and heredity was the transmission of constitutional characters from parent to offspring. Now that we fix our attention on the fertilised ovum or the gametes by which it is formed we see that the characters are determined by some properties in the constitution of the gametes. What, then, is heredity? Clearly, it is merely the development in the offspring of the same characters which were present in the ova from which the parents developed. When the characters persist unchanged from generation to generation, we call the process by which they are continued heredity. When new characters appear, i.e. new characters determined in the ovum not due to changes in the environment, we call them variations. When a fertilised ovum develops into a new individual, it divides repeatedly to form a very large number of cells united into a single mass. Gradually the parts of this mass are differentiated to form the tissues and organs of the body or soma, but some of the cells remain in their original condition and become the reproductive cells which will give rise to the next generation. The reproductive cells also undergo division and increase in number, and when they separate from the new individual and unite in fertilisation they still possess all the determinants of the fertilised ovum from which they are descended. Heredity thus continues from gamete to gamete, not from zygote to soma, and then from soma to gamete.
Modern researches have shown that the nucleus, when the cell divides, assumes the form of a spindle of fibres, associated with which are distinct bodies called chromosomes, that the number of these chromosomes where it can be counted is constant for all individuals of the same species, and that before the gametes are ready for fertilisation two cell-divisions take place, which result in the reduction of the number of chromosomes to half the original number. When two gametes unite, the specific number is restored. Since the male gamete is very small and seems to contribute to the zygote almost nothing except the chromosomes, which carry with them all the characters of the male parent, it seems a necessary conclusion that the chromosomes alone determine the character of the adult. There are, however, facts which point to an opposite conclusion.
Hegner, [Footnote: R. W. Hegner, 'Experiments with Chrysomelid Beetles,' III., Biological Bulletin, vol. xx. 1910-11.] for example, found that in the egg of the beetle Leptinotarsa, which is an elongated oval in shape, there is at the posterior end in the superficial cytoplasm a disc-shaped mass of darkly staining granules, while the fertilised nucleus is in the middle of the egg. When the protoplasm containing these granules was killed with a hot needle, development in some cases took place and an embryo was formed, but the embryo contained no germ cells. Here no injury had been done to the zygote nucleus, but these particular granules and the portion of protoplasm containing them were necessary for the formation of germ cells. In other experiments a large amount of protoplasm at the posterior end of the ovum was killed before the nucleus had begun to segment, and the result was the development of an embryo consisting of the head and part of the thorax, while the rest was wanting. The nucleus segmented and migrated into that part of the superficial cytoplasm which remained alive, and this