But owing to the length of the present work, I have thought it better to reserve my essay, which is partially completed, for separate publication. He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws which prevail with the lower animals; such as that of the transmission of characters to the same age or sex.
It might also naturally be enquired whether man, like so many other animals, has given rise to varieties and sub-races, differing but slightly from each other, or to 10 races differing so much that they must be classed as doubtful species? How are such races distributed over the world; and how, when crossed, do they react on each other, both in the first and succeeding generations? And so with many other points. The enquirer would next come to the important point, whether man tends to increase at so rapid a rate, as to lead to occasional severe struggles for existence, and consequently to beneficial variations, whether in body or mind, being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated.
Do the races or species of men, whichever term may be applied, encroach on and replace each other, so that some finally become extinct? We shall see that all these questions, as indeed is obvious in respect to most of them, must be answered in the affirmative, in the same manner as with the lower animals.
But the several considerations just referred to may be conveniently deferred for a time; and we will first see how far the bodily structure of man shows traces, more or less plain, of his descent from some lower form. In the two succeeding chapters the mental powers of man, in comparison with those of the lower animals, will be considered.
The Bodily Structure of Man.
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All the bones in his skeleton can be compared with corresponding bones in a monkey, bat, or seal. So it is with his muscles, nerves, blood-vessels and internal viscera. The brain, the most important of all the organs, follows the same law, as shewn by Huxley and other anatomists.
Bischoff, 3 who is a hostile witness, admits that every chief fissure and fold 11 in the brain of man has its analogy in that of the orang; but he adds that at no period of development do their brains perfectly agree; nor could this be expected, for otherwise their mental powers would have been the same.
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It may, however, be worth while to specify a few points, not directly or obviously connected with structure, by which this correspondence or relationship is well shewn. These monkeys suffered also from apoplexy, inflammation of the bowels, and cataract in the eye. The younger ones when shedding their milk-teeth often died from fever. Medicines produced the same effect on them as on us.
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Many kinds of monkeys have a strong taste for tea, coffee, and spirituous liquors: they will also, as I have myself seen, smoke tobacco with pleasure. Brehm asserts that the natives of north-eastern Africa catch the wild baboons by exposing vessels with strong beer, by which they are made drunk.
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He has seen some of these animals, which he kept in confinement, in this state; and he gives a laughable account of their behaviour and strange grimaces. On the following morning they were very cross and dismal; they held their aching heads with both hands and wore a most pitiable expression: when beer or wine was offered them, they turned away with disgust, but relished the juice of lemons. These trifling facts prove how similar the nerves of taste must be in monkeys and man, and how similarly their whole nervous system is affected.
Man is infested with internal parasites, sometimes causing fatal effects, and is plagued by external parasites, all of which belong to the same genera or families with those infesting other mammals. Man is subject like other mammals, birds, and even insects, to that mysterious law, which causes certain normal processes, such as gestation, as well as the maturation and duration of various diseases, to follow lunar periods. The whole process of that most important function, the reproduction of the species, is strikingly the same in all mammals, from the first act of courtship by the male 9 to the birth and nurturing of the young.
Monkeys are born in almost as helpless a condition as our own infants; and in certain genera the young differ fully as much in appearance from the adults, as do our children from their full-grown parents. It is, in short, scarcely possible to exaggerate the close correspondence in general structure, in the minute structure of the tissues, in chemical composition and in constitution, between man and the higher animals, especially the anthropomorphous apes. Embryonic Development.
The embryo itself at a very early period can hardly be distinguished from that of other members of the vertebrate kingdom.
Startling as this last assertion may appear to be, it is demonstrably true. As some of my readers may never have seen a drawing of an embryo, I have given one of man and another of a dog, at about the same early stage of development, 15 carefully copied from two works of undoubted accuracy. Upper figure human embryo, from Ecker. Lower figure that of a dog, from Bischoff. After the foregoing statements made by such high authorities, it would be superfluous on my part to give a number of borrowed details, shewing that the embryo of man closely resembles that of other mammals.
It may, however, be added that the human embryo likewise resembles in various points of structure certain low forms when adult. Rudimentary organs must be distinguished from those that are nascent; though in some cases the distinction is not easy. Organs in this latter state are not strictly rudimentary, but they are tending in this direction. Nascent organs, on the other hand, though not fully developed, are of high service to their possessors, and are capable of further development.
Rudimentary organs are eminently variable; and this is partly intelligible, as they are useless or nearly useless, and consequently are no longer subjected to natural selection. They often become wholly suppressed. When this occurs, they are nevertheless liable to occasional reappearance through reversion; and this is a circumstance well worthy of attention. Disuse at that period of life, when an organ is chiefly used, and this is generally during maturity, together with inheritance at a corresponding period of life, seem to have been the chief agents in causing organs to become rudimentary.
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Rudiments, however, may occur in one sex of parts normally present in the other sex; and such rudiments, as we shall hereafter see, have often originated in a distinct manner. In some cases organs have been reduced by means of natural selection, from having become injurious to the species under changed habits of life.
The process of reduction is probably often aided through the two principles of compensation and economy of growth; but the later stages of reduction, after disuse has done all that can fairly be attributed to it, and when the saving to be effected by the economy of growth would be very small, 21 are difficult to understand.
The final and com 19 plete suppression of a part, already useless and much reduced in size, in which case neither compensation nor economy can come into play, is perhaps intelligible by the aid of the hypothesis of pangenesis, and apparently in no other way. But as the whole subject of rudimentary organs has been fully discussed and illustrated in my former works, 22 I need here say no more on this head. Rudiments of various muscles have been observed in many parts of the human body; 23 and not a few muscles, which are regularly present in some of the lower animals can occasionally be detected in man in a greatly reduced condition.
Every one must have noticed the power which many animals, especially horses, possess of moving or twitching their skin; and this is effected by the panniculus carnosus. Remnants of this muscle in an efficient state are found in various parts of our bodies; for instance, on the forehead, by which the eyebrows are raised. The platysma myoides , which is well developed on the neck, belongs to this system, but cannot be voluntarily brought into action.
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He has also shewn 24 that the musculus sternalis or sternalis brutorum , which is not an extension of the rectus abdominalis , but is closely allied to the panniculus, oc 20 curred in the proportion of about 3 per cent. Some few persons have the power of contracting the superficial muscles on their scalps; and these muscles are in a variable and partially rudimentary condition. He knows a family, in which one member, the present head of a family, could, when a youth, pitch several heavy books from his head by the movement of the scalp alone; and he won wagers by performing this feat.
His father, uncle, grandfather, and all his three children possess the same power to the same unusual degree. This family became divided eight generations ago into two branches; so that the head of the above-mentioned branch is cousin in the seventh degree to the head of the other branch. This distant cousin resides in another part of France, and on being asked whether he possessed the same faculty, immediately exhibited his power. This case offers a good illustration how persistently an absolutely useless faculty may be transmitted.
The extrinsic muscles which serve to move the whole external ear, and the intrinsic muscles which move the different parts, all of which belong to the system of the panniculus, are in a rudimentary condition in man; they are also variable in development, or at least in function.
I have seen one man who could draw his ears forwards, and another who could draw them backwards; The faculty of erecting the ears and of directing them to different points of the compass, is no doubt of the highest service to many animals, as they thus perceive the point of danger; but I have never heard of a man who possessed the least power of erecting his ears,—the one movement which might be of use to him.
Some authors, however, suppose that the cartilage of the shell serves to transmit vibrations to the acoustic nerve; but Mr. Toynbee, 26 after collecting all the known evidence on this head, concludes that the external shell is of no distinct use. The ears of the chimpanzee and orang are curiously like those of man, and I am assured by the keepers in the Zoological Gardens that these animals never move or erect them; so that they are in an equally rudimentary condition, as far as function is concerned, as in man.
Why these animals, as well as the progenitors of man, should have lost the power of erecting their ears we cannot say. It may be, though I am not quite satisfied with this view, that owing to their arboreal habits and great strength they were but little exposed to danger, and so during a lengthened period moved their ears but little, and thus gradually lost the power of moving them.
This would be a parallel case with that of those large and heavy birds, 22 which from inhabiting oceanic islands have not been exposed to the attacks of beasts of prey, and have consequently lost the power of using their wings for flight. Human Ear, modelled and drawn by Mr. The projecting point.
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The celebrated sculptor, Mr. Woolner, informs me of one little peculiarity in the external ear, which he has often observed both in men and women, and of which he perceived the full signification. His attention was first called to the subject whilst at work on his figure of Puck, to which he had given pointed ears. He was thus led to examine the ears of various monkeys, and subsequently more carefully those of man.
The peculiarity consists in a little blunt point, projecting from the inwardly folded margin, or helix. Woolner made an exact model of one such case, and has sent me the accompanying drawing.
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These points not only project inwards, but often a little outwards, so that they are visible when the head is viewed from directly in front or behind. They are variable in size and somewhat in position, standing either a little higher or lower; and they sometimes occur on one ear and not on the other. Now the meaning of these projections is not, I think, doubtful; but it may be thought that they offer too trifling a character to be worth notice.
This thought, however, is as false as it is natural. Every character, however slight, must be the result of some definite cause; and if it occurs in many individuals deserves consideration. The helix obviously consists of the extreme margin of the ear folded inwards; and this folding appears to be in some manner connected with the 23 whole external ear being permanently pressed backwards. In many monkeys, which do not stand high in the order, as baboons and some species of macacus, 27 the upper portion of the ear is slightly pointed, and the margin is not at all folded inwards; but if the margin were to be thus folded, a slight point would necessarily project inwards and probably a little outwards.
This could actually be observed in a specimen of the Ateles beelzebuth in the Zoological Gardens; and we may safely conclude that it is a similar structure—a vestige of formerly pointed ears—which occasionally reappears in man. The nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, with its accessory muscles and other structures, is especially well developed in birds, and is of much functional importance to them, as it can be rapidly drawn across the whole eye-ball. It is found in some reptiles and amphibians, and in certain fishes, as in sharks.
It is fairly well developed in the two lower divisions of the mammalian series, namely, in the monotremata and marsupials, and in some few of the higher mammals, as in the walrus. But in man, the quadrumana, and most other mammals, it exists, as is admitted by all anatomists, as a mere rudiment, called the semilunar fold. The sense of smell is of the highest importance to the greater number of mammals—to some, as the ruminants, in warning them of danger; to others, as the 24 carnivora, in finding their prey; to others, as the wild boar, for both purposes combined.
But the sense of smell is of extremely slight service, if any, even to savages, in whom it is generally more highly developed than in the civilised races. It does not warn them of danger, nor guide them to their food; nor does it prevent the Esquimaux from sleeping in the most fetid atmosphere, nor many savages from eating half-putrid meat. Those who believe in the principle of gradual evolution, will not readily admit that this sense in its present state was originally acquired by man, as he now exists.
No doubt he inherits the power in an enfeebled and so far rudimentary condition, from some early progenitor, to whom it was highly serviceable and by whom it was continually used. We can thus perhaps understand how it is, as Dr. Man differs conspicuously from all the other Primates in being almost naked. But a few short straggling hairs are found over the greater part of the body in the male sex, and fine down on that of the female sex, In individuals belonging to the same race these hairs are highly variable, not only in abundance, but likewise in position: thus the shoulders in some Europeans are quite naked, whilst in others they bear thick tufts of hair.
I am informed by Mr. Paget that persons belonging to the same family often have a few hairs in their eyebrows much longer than the others; so that this slight peculiarity seems to be inherited. In a young chimpanzee I observed that a few upright, rather long, hairs, projected above the eyes, where the true eyebrows, if present, would have stood.