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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume IV (1876-1877)

Oldenhage, H.
Remarks on the descent of animals,   pp. 138-146 PDF (2.9 MB)

Page 138

138    lVisconsmn Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.
  Whether species are constant and have been created with the
same specific characteristics they now possess, or whether they are
variable and have desended from common ancestors, is the point
at issue between the defendants of special creation and the evolu-
tionists. Since Linne first introduced the idea of species into
Botany and Zoology, many attempts have been made to define in
an exact manner, what we are to understand by the term species;
but when a systematizer underakes to apply these definitions, it is
at once seen that they are either glittering generalities, or unmean-
ing phrases. Among the most recent, and no doubt the ablest of
these attempts, is Agassiz's " Essay on Classification,"
the dogmat-
ism and fulitity of which, Haeckel has so thoroughly exposed in
his " Generelle Morphologie."
  "Even before the appearance of Darwin's work on the ' Origin
of Species," says Oscar Schmidt, "Carpenter, in the course
of his
researches on the Foraminifera,- arrived at the conclusion, proved
in special instances, that in this group of low organisms, which
secrete the most delicate calcareous shells, there could be no ques-
tion of "species," but only of "series of forms."
the systematizer, had reduced to different genera and families, he
beheld developing themselves from one another" (Descent and
Darwinism., p. 92). But as these Foraminifera are "so simple in
structure, and so little is known of their individual development,
the defenders of the persistency of species might claim, that
Carpenter's series of forms are mere varieties, and only prove that
the true ' species' have not yet been found." To determine this
point, however, the researches of Oscar Schmidt and Hzeckel, on
sponges, have been of the greatest importance. Oscar Schmidt
shows, that " we arrive gradually at the conviction. that no rea-
sonable dependence can be placed on any 'characteristic;' that
with a certain constancy in microscopic constituents, the outward

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