VI. THEORIES OF ORGANIC EVOLUTION

Wild animals which subsist upon herbage feel the influence of climate a little more extensively, because there is added to it the influence of food, both in regard to its abundance and its quality. Thus the elephants of one forest are larger than those of another; their tusks also grow somewhat longer in places where their food may happen to be more favorable for the production of the substance of ivory. The same may take place in regard to the horns of stags and reindeer. But let us examine two elephants, the most dissimilar that can be conceived, we shall not discover the smallest difference in the number and articulations of the bones, the structure of the teeth, etc. . . . . . . . .

"Nature appears also to have guarded against the alterations of species which might proceed from mixture of breeds by influencing the various species of animals with mutual aversion from one another. Hence all the cunning and all the force that man is able to exert is necessary to accomplish such unions, even between species that have the nearest resemblances. And when the mule breeds that are thus produced by these forced conjunctions happen to be fruitful, which is seldom the case, this fecundity never continues beyond a few generations, and would not probably proceed so far without a continuance of the same cares which excited it at first. Thus we never see in a wild state intermediate productions between the hare and the rabbit, between the stag and the doe, or between the marten and the weasel. But the power of man changes this established order, and continues to produce all these intermixtures of which the various species are susceptible, but which they would never produce if left to themselves.

"The degrees of these variations are proportional to the intensity of the causes that produced them—namely, the slavery or subjection under which those animals are to man. They do not proceed far in half-domesticated species. In the cat, for example, a softer or harsher fur, more brilliant or more varied colors, greater or less size—these form the whole extent of variety in the species; the skeleton of the cat of Angora differs in no regular and constant circumstances from the wild-cat of Europe. . . . . . . .

The most remarkable effects of the influence of man are produced upon that animal which he has reduced most completely under subjection. Dogs have been transported by mankind into every part of the world and have submitted their action to his entire direction. Regulated in their unions by the pleasure or caprice of their masters, the almost endless varieties of dogs differ from one another in color, in length, and abundance of hair, which is sometimes entirely wanting; in their natural instincts; in size, which varies in measure as one to five, mounting in some instances to more than a hundredfold in bulk; in the form of their ears, noses, and tails; in the relative length of their legs; in the progressive development of the brain, in several of the domesticated varieties occasioning alterations even in the form of the head, some of them having long, slender muzzles with a flat forehead, others having short muzzles with a forehead convex, etc., insomuch that the apparent difference between a mastiff and a water-spaniel and between a greyhound and a pugdog are even more striking than between almost any of the wild species of a genus. . . . . . . .

It follows from these observations that animals have certain fixed and natural characters which resist the effects of every kind of influence, whether proceeding from natural causes or human interference; and we have not the smallest reason to suspect that time has any more effect on them than climate.

"I am aware that some naturalists lay prodigious stress upon the thousands which they can call into action by a dash of their pens. In such matters, however, our only way of judging as to the effects which may be produced by a long period of time is by multiplying, as it were, such as are produced by a shorter time. With this view I have endeavored to collect all the ancient documents respecting the forms of animals; and there are none equal to those furnished by the Egyptians, both in regard to their antiquity and abundance. They have not only left us representatives of animals, but even their identical bodies embalmed and preserved in the catacombs.

"I have examined, with the greatest attention, the engraved figures of quadrupeds and birds brought from Egypt to ancient Rome, and all these figures, one with another, have a perfect resemblance to their intended objects, such as they still are to-day.

"From all these established facts, there does not seem to be the smallest foundation for supposing that the new genera which I have discovered or established among extraneous fossils, such as the paleoetherium, anoplotherium, megalonyx, mastodon, pterodactylis, etc., have ever been the sources of any of our present animals, which only differ so far as they are influenced by time or climate. Even if it should prove true, which I am far from believing to be the case, that the fossil elephants, rhinoceroses, elks, and bears do not differ further from the existing species of the same genera than the present races of dogs differ among themselves, this would by no means be a sufficient reason to conclude that they were of the same species; since the races or varieties of dogs have been influenced by the trammels of domesticity, which those other animals never did, and indeed never could, experience."[3]