The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species

Synopsis

In The Origin of Species (1859) Darwin challenged many of the most deeply-held beliefs of the Western world. Arguing for a material, not divine, origin of species, he showed that new species are achieved by "natural selection." The Origin communicates the enthusiasm of original thinking in an open, descriptive style, and Darwin's emphasis on the value of diversity speaks more strongly now than ever. As well as a stimulating introduction and detailed notes, this edition offers a register of the many writers referred to by Darwin in the text.

Excerpt

Causes of Variability--Effects of Habit--Correlation of Growth--Inheritance--Character of Domestic Varieties-- Difficulty of distinguishing between Varieties and Species-- Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species-- Domestic Pigeons, their Differences and Origin--Principle of Selection anciently followed, its Effects--Methodical and Unconscious Selection--Unknown Origin of our Domestic Productions--Circumstances favourable to Man's power of Selection.

WHEN we look to the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals, one of the first points which strikes us is, that they generally differ more from each other than do the individuals of any one species or variety in a state of nature. When we reflect on the vast diversity of the plants and animals which have been cultivated, and which have varied during all ages under the most different climates and treatment, I think we are driven to conclude that this great variability is simply due to our domestic productions having been raised under conditions of life not so uniform as, and somewhat different from, those to which the parent-species have been exposed under nature. There is also, I think, some probability in the view propounded by Andrew Knight, that this variability may be partly connected with excess of food. It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable amount of variation; and that when the organisation has once begun to vary, it generally continues to vary for many generations. No case is on record of a variable being ceasing to be variable under cultivation. Our oldest cultivated plants, such as wheat, still often yield new varieties: our oldest domesticated animals are still capable of rapid improvement or modification.

It has been disputed at what period of life the causes of variability, whatever they may be, generally act; whether . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.