The Origin of Species, Volume 11

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P. F. Collier & son, 1909 - Evolution - 551 pages

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This book marked an inflexion point in our understanding of biology. It gave a coherent explanation for the data unearthed by countless scientists who found fossils of species no longer seen on earth. All of this data was numbingly complex and magical until Darwin placed it in a reasonable logical framework. A hundred and fifty years ago he was able to collect enough data to formulate this cohesive theory while leaving the door open to modification if later findings showed any serious flaws in the theory. In the subsequent century and a half the data has grown tremendously and no significant flaws have been found. The theory of evolution has now been verified beyond the pale of doubt for anyone who puts forth the mental effort to understand the theory. To have this monumental, prescient work available to anyone on earth with an unfiltered internet connection is a tribute to humankinds progress from the dark ages of only a few centuries ago. Google's contribution to this effort is significant. Any flaws in the process such as copying the fingers of the copyist in the forematter I can easily tolerate while the major effort goes toward getting all the worlds information available online. 

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A strange experience. One of the seminal science books of all time, well-written (and read by an Englishman who sounds like a contemporary of Darwin), but so outpaced by current science that it
's almost laughable. His theory is so powerful, amplified but not superseded by progress, that its tenets are part of everyday life and thought, and to hear him struggle to explain and support his notion of natural selection - "descent by modification" - is almost amusing, as he goes on at great length about breeds of dogs and how bats, but not frogs, populate remote islands. It's an absolutely incredible thought experiment for which has has almost no direct evidence - Mendel's explanation of inheritance followed publication of "Origin" by less than a decade - but his monumental effort seems quaint in the age of genomes. Incredibly brilliant no matter the era, and as brave. 

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Page 73 - I have taken some pains to estimate its probable minimum rate of natural increase; it will be safest to assume that it begins breeding when thirty years old, and goes on breeding till ninety years old, bringing forth six young in the interval, and surviving till one hundred years old; if this
Page 236 - development will probably appear to the reader a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole theory. I may here premise, that I have nothing to do with the origin of the mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself. We are concerned only with the diversities of instinct and of the other mental faculties in
Page 78 - in several parts of the world insects determine the existence of cattle. Perhaps Paraguay offers the most curious instance of this; for here neither cattle nor horses nor dogs have ever run wild, though they swarm southward and northward in a feral state; and
Page 147 - a more general principle, namely, that natural selection is continually trying to economise every part of the organisation. If under changed conditions of life a structure, before useful, becomes less useful, its diminution will be favoured, for it will profit the individual not to have its nutriment wasted in building up an useless
Page 345 - in character. The inhabitants of the world at each successive period in its history have beaten their predecessors in the race for life, and are, in so far, higher in the scale, and their structure has generally become more specialised; and this may
Page 269 - feeding within the live bodies of caterpillars,—not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law leading to the advancement of all organic beings,—namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.
Page 450 - of modification, the slight differences characteristic of varieties of the same species, tend to be augmented into the greater differences characteristic of the species of the same genus. New and improved varieties will inevitably supplant and exterminate the older, less improved, and intermediate varieties ; and thus species are rendered to a large extent
Page 27 - change may be safely attributed to the domestic duck flying much less, and walking more, than its wild parents. The great and inherited development of the udders in cows and goats in countries where they are habitually milked, in
Page 74 - each generation or at recurrent intervals. Lighten any check, mitigate the destruction ever so little, and the number of the species will almost instantaneously increase to any amount. NATURE OF THE CHECKS TO INCREASE The
Page 88 - which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection. Man keeps the natives of many climates in the same country; he seldom exercises each

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