Size Inheritance in Rabbits

Size Inheritance in Rabbits

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Size Inheritance in Rabbits

Size Inheritance in Rabbits

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Excerpt

In 1909 my pupils and I described certain preliminary studies of size characters in successive generations of rabbits bred chiefly for a study of color inheritance. We reached the provisional conclusion that total body-weight and skeletal dimensions are subject to intermediate or blending inheritance and do not conform with Mendel's law, as this law was then understood and as it was understood by Mendel himself. This conclusion seems to me still sound. But almost immediately after the publication of our paper the whole matter of blending inheritance was placed in a new light by the work of Nilsson-Ehle (which then came to my notice for the first time). Accordingly my experiments with rabbits were straightway arranged to show if possible whether or not blending inheritance is (as suggested by Nilsson-Ehle) really Mendelian, but without the occurrence of dominance and with several independent factors concerned in producing the observed results. These experiments were intrusted to Mr. MacDowell in the fall of 1909 and by him continued under my supervision until June 1912, when the results which he had obtained were presented in the form of a dissertation for the degree of doctor of science.

A number of animals not then mature have since furnished material which is incorporated in this publication.

While these studies were in progress several different investigations of size-inheritance in plants were published which have favored the interpretation of Nilsson-Ehle (and also of my colleague, Professor East) that in all inheritance, whether blending or not, Mendelian factors are concerned. Very naturally Mr. MacDowell has been strongly influenced by this idea, which seems to unify, if not to simplify, our conceptions of the method of inheritance. While not entirely sharing his views, I have tried not to bias his judgment either for or against the multiple-factor hypothesis which he adopts in this paper. But to avoid misunderstanding, I wish to say that in my own opinion the theory of the purity of the gametes has not been established, and too great definiteness and fixity is ascribed to Mendelian units and factors in current descriptions of heredity; consequently, too great importance is attached to hybridization and too little to selection, in explaining evolution.

But neither my views nor Dr. MacDowell's should bias the judgment of the reader. We wish to place before him clearly the results of experiments which have entailed much painstaking observation; the correct interpretation will become evident in due time.

These experiments have been made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, for which grateful acknowledg-

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