The Origin of Species

The Origin of Species

by Charles Darwin

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Overview

Darwin's most important work introducing the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presents a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin includes evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation. The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781365980923
Publisher: Enhanced Media Publishing
Publication date: 05/23/2017
Sold by: StreetLib SRL
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 77,950
File size: 493 KB

About the Author


Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection appeared in 1859 and is arguably one of the most important scientific works ever published. 

Date of Birth:

February 12, 1809

Date of Death:

April 19, 1882

Place of Birth:

Shrewsbury, England

Place of Death:

London, England

Education:

B.A. in Theology, Christ¿s College, Cambridge University, 1831

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Variation Under Domestication


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 much 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 greater 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 during the early or late period of development of the embryo, or at the instant of conception. Geoffroy St Hilaire's experiments show that unnatural treatment of the embryo causes monstrosities; and monstrosities cannot be separated by any clear line of distinction from mere variations. But I am strongly inclined to suspect that the most frequent cause of variability may be attributed to the male and female reproductive elements having been affected prior to the act of conception. Several reasons make me believe in this; but the chief one is the remarkable effect which confinement or cultivation has on the functions of the reproductive system; this system appearing to be far more susceptible than any other part of the organization, to the action of any change in the conditions of life. Nothing is more easy than to tame an animal, and few things more difficult than to get it to breed freely under confinement, even in the many cases when the male and female unite. How many animals there are which will not breed, though living long under not very close confinement in their native country! This is generally attributed to vitiated instincts; but how many cultivated plants display the utmost vigour, and yet rarely or never seed! In some few such cases it has been found out that very trifling changes, such as a little more or less water at some particular period of growth, will determine whether or not the plant sets a seed. I cannot here enter on the copious details which I have collected on this curious subject; but to show how singular the laws are which determine the reproduction of animals under confinement, I may just mention that carnivorous animals, even from the tropics, breed in this country pretty freely under confinement, with the exception of the plantigrades or bear family; whereas, carnivorous birds, with the rarest exceptions, hardly ever lay fertile eggs. Many exotic plants have pollen utterly worthless, in the same exact condition as in the most sterile hybrids. When, on the one hand, we see domesticated animals and plants, though often weak and sickly, yet breeding quite freely under confinement; and when, on the other hand, we see individuals, though taken young from a state of nature, perfectly tamed, long-lived, and healthy (of which I could give numerous instances), yet having their reproductive system so seriously affected by unperceived causes as to fail in acting, we need not be surprised at this system, when it does act under confinement, acting not quite regularly, and producing offspring not perfectly like their parents or variable.

Sterility has been said to be the bane of horticulture; but on this view we owe variability to the same cause which produces sterility; and variability is the source of all the choicest productions of the garden. I may add, that as some organisms will breed most freely under the most unnatural conditions (for instance, the rabbit and ferret kept in hutches), showing that their reproductive system has not been thus affected; so will some animals and plants withstand domestication or cultivation, and vary very slightly—perhaps hardly more than in a state of nature.

A long list could easily be given of 'sporting plants;' by this term gardeners mean a single bud or offset, which suddenly assumes a new and sometimes very different character from that of the rest of the plant. Such buds can be propagated by grafting, &c., and sometimes by seed. These 'sports' are extremely rare under nature, but far from rare under cultivation; and in this case we see that the treatment of the parent has affected a bud or offset, and not the ovules or pollen. But it is the opinion of most physiologists that there is no essential difference between a bud and an ovule in their earliest stages of formation; so that, in fact, 'sports' support my view, that variability may be largely attributed to the ovules or pollen, or to both, having been affected by the treatment of the parent prior to the act of conception. These cases anyhow show that variation is not necessarily connected, as some authors have supposed, with the act of generation.

Seedlings from the same fruit, and the young of the same litter, sometimes differ considerably from each other, though both the young and the parents, as Mxller has remarked, have apparently been exposed to exactly the same conditions of life; and this shows how unimportant the direct effects of the conditions of life are in comparison with the laws of reproduction, and of growth, and of inheritance; for had the action of the conditions been direct, if any of the young had varied, all would probably have varied in the same manner. To judge how much, in the case of any variation, we should attribute to the direct action of heat, moisture, light, food, &c., is most difficult: my impression is, that with animals such agencies have produced very little direct effect, though apparently more in the case of plants. Under this point of view, Mr Buckman's recent experiments on plants seem extremely valuable. When all or nearly all the individuals exposed to certain conditions are affected in the same way, the change at first appears to be directly due to such conditions; but in some cases it can be shown that quite opposite conditions produce similar changes of structure. Nevertheless some slight amount of change may, I think, be attributed to the direct action of the conditions of life—as, in some cases, increased size from amount of food, colour from particular kinds of food and from light, and perhaps the thickness of fur from climate.

Habit also has a deciding influence, as in the period of flowering with plants when transported from one climate to another. In animals it has a more marked effect; for instance, I find in the domestic duck that the bones of the wing weigh less and the bones of the leg more, in proportion to the whole skeleton, than do the same bones in the wild-duck; and I presume that this change may be safely attributed to the domestic duck flying much less, and walking more, than its wild parent. The great and inherited development of the udders in cows and goats in countries where they are habitually milked, in comparison with the state of these organs in other countries, is another instance of the effect of use. Not a single domestic animal can be named which has not in some country drooping ears; and the view suggested by some authors, that the drooping is due to the disuse of the muscles of the ear, from the animals not being much alarmed by danger, seems probable.

There are many laws regulating variation, some few of which can be dimly seen, and will be hereafter briefly mentioned. I will here only allude to what may be called correlation of growth. Any change in the embryo or larva will almost certainly entail changes in the mature animal. In monstrosities, the correlations between quite distinct parts are very curious; and many instances are given in Isidore Geoffroy St Hilaire's great work on this subject. Breeders believe that long limbs are almost always accompanied by an elongated head. Some instances of correlation are quite whimsical; thus cats with blue eyes are invariably deaf; colour and constitutional peculiarities go together, of which many remarkable cases could be given amongst animals and plants. From the facts collected by Heusinger, it appears that white sheep and pigs are differently affected from coloured individuals by certain vegetable poisons. Hairless dogs have imperfect teeth; long-haired and coarse-haired animals are apt to have, as is asserted, long or many horns; pigeons with feathered feet have skin between their outer toes; pigeons with short beaks have small feet, and those with long beaks large feet. Hence, if man goes on selecting, and thus augmenting, any peculiarity, he will almost certainly unconsciously modify other parts of the structure, owing to the mysterious laws of the correlation of growth.

The result of the various, quite unknown, or dimly seen laws of variation is infinitely complex and diversified. It is well worth while carefully to study the several treatises published on some of our old cultivated plants, as on the hyacinth, potato, even the dahlia, &c.; and it is really surprising to note the endless points in structure and constitution in which the varieties and subvarieties differ slightly from each other. The whole organization seems to have become plastic, and tends to depart in some small degree from that of the parental type.

Any variation which is not inherited is unimportant for us. But the number and diversity of inheritable deviations of structure, both those of slight and those of considerable physiological importance, is endless. Dr Prosper Lucas's treatise, in two large volumes, is the fullest and the best on this subject. No breeder doubts how strong is the tendency to inheritance: like produces like is his fundamental belief: doubts have been thrown on this principle by theoretical writers alone. When a deviation appears not unfrequently, and we see it in the father and child, we cannot tell whether it may not be due to the same original cause acting on both; but when amongst individuals, apparently exposed to the same conditions, any very rare deviation, due to some extraordinary combination of circumstances, appears in the parent—say, once amongst several million individuals—and it reappears in the child, the mere doctrine of chances almost compels us to attribute its reappearance to inheritance. Every one must have heard of cases of albinism, prickly skin, hairy bodies, &c., appearing in several members of the same family. If strange and rare deviations of structure are truly inherited, less strange and commoner deviations may be freely admitted to be inheritable. Perhaps the correct way of viewing the whole subject, would be, to look at the inheritance of every character what ever as the rule, and non-inheritance as the anomaly.

The laws governing inheritance are quite unknown; no one can say why the same peculiarity in different individuals of the same species, and in individuals of different species, is sometimes inherited and sometimes not so; why the child often reverts in certain characters to its grandfather or grandmother or other much more remote ancestor; why a peculiarity is often transmitted from one sex to both sexes, or to one sex alone, more commonly but not exclusively to the like sex. It is a fact of some little importance to us, that peculiarities appearing in the males of our domestic breed are often transmitted either exclusively, or in a much greater degree, to males alone. A much more important rule, which I think may be trusted, is that, whatever period of life a peculiarity first appears in, it tends to appear in the offspring at a corresponding age, though sometimes earlier. In many cases this could not be otherwise; thus the inherited peculiarities in the horns of cattle could appear only in the offspring when nearly mature; peculiarities in the silkworm are known to appear at the corresponding caterpillar or cocoon stage. But hereditary diseases and some other facts make me believe that the rule has a wider extension, and that when there is no apparent reason why a peculiarity should appear at any particular age, yet that it does tend to appear in the offspring at the same period at which it first appeared in the parent. I believe this rule to be of the highest importance in explaining the laws of embryology. These remarks are of course confined to the first appearance of the peculiarity, and not to its primary cause, which may have acted on the ovules or male element; in nearly the same manner as in the crossed offspring from a short-horned cow by a long-horned bull, the greater length of horn, though appearing late in life, is clearly due to the male element.

Having alluded to the subject of reversion, I may here refer to a statement often made by naturalists—namely, that our domestic varieties, when run wild, gradually but certainly revert in character to their aboriginal stocks. Hence it has been argued that no deductions can be drawn from domestic races to species in a state of nature. I have in vain endeavoured to discover on what decisive facts the above statement has so often and so boldly been made. There would be great difficulty in proving its truth: we may safely conclude that very many of the most strongly-marked domestic varieties could not possibly live in a wild state. In many cases we do not know what the aboriginal stock was, and so could not tell whether or not nearly perfect reversion had ensued. It would be quite necessary, in order to prevent the effects of intercrossing, that only a single variety should be turned loose in its new home. Nevertheless, as our varieties certainly do occasionally revert in some of their characters to ancestral forms, it seems to me not improbable, that if we could succeed in naturalising, or were to cultivate, during many generations, the several races, for instance, of the cabbage, in very poor soil (in which case, however, some effect would have to be attributed to the direct action of the poor soil), that they would to a large extent, or even wholly, revert to the wild aboriginal stock. Whether or not the experiment would succeed, is not of great importance for our line of argument; for by the experiment itself the conditions of life are changed. If it could be shown that our domestic varieties manifested a strong tendency to reversion,—that is, to lose their acquired characters, whilst kept under unchanged conditions, and whilst kept in a considerable body, so that free intercrossing might check, by blending together, any slight deviations of structure, in such case, I grant that we could deduce nothing from domestic varieties in regard to species. But there is not a shadow of evidence in favour of this view: to assert that we could not breed our cart and race-horses, long and short-horned cattle, and poultry of various breeds, and esculent vegetables, for an almost infinite number of generations, would be opposed to all experience. I may add, that when under nature the conditions of life do change, variations and reversions of character probably do occur; but natural selection, as will hereafter be explained, will determine how far the new characters thus arising shall be preserved.

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The Origin of Species 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Coda1229 More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book for anyone interested in the origins of the current biological theories. It is well written and very convincing, and quite impressive, considering that it was written well before modern genetics provided such voluminous evidence for his conclusions. Have a wonderful day!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is slow to read, but very interesting. Darwin and his theory of evolution have been so currupted by modern teaching. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the actual history and the original theory as it was first presented. Take your time and digest this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great piece of work and will give you a better understanding of natural selection. I have heard darwins name mentioned for years in school but they never tell what he said in his own words and how he said them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the great minds among Newton, and Einstein, that history has misbelieved and forgotten.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First off i didn't read this edition of the book I read 'Origin of Species' a Facsimilie of the original edition. By Charles Darwin which is basically the same book except it is completely unaltered from the original edition. It is an excelent book and gives proof beyond any reasonable doubt that evolution is a fact. But nowhere in this book by Darwin does it say anywhere that Man came from apes. Though the entire theory of evolution suggests it, it isn't anywhere in this book.That information is in another book by Charles Darwin called 'The Descent of man' which mainly deals with sexual selection. What is in the book is a spectactularly written step by step play by play look at why he and his coleagues were lead to believe beyond any doubt that evolution really is the mechanism which nature uses to create new species and get rid of other ones. Darwin gives countless examples from species around the world and explains the overwhelming evidence in support of his theory. The detail given by Darwin far exceeds any found in any text book anywhere on the subject. This is the single best book available anywhere in the world on the subject and a total must read. Some of his explanations are kind of long and the book can get overwhelming and boring from time to time but you have to keep in mind while reading it that it isn't just a book it is a complete scientific explanation of how evolution works , why it works, and the problems with it and other scientific theories. I don't think it was originally published for the layman to read. It is a true scientific work and should be read like one. If you plan on readling this book Plan on reading something that is like a 500 page scientific theory. Don't expect it to be really easy to read because it is not. You wouldn't read through 'Einsteins Theory of Relativity' by Max Borne in a few days and fully understand it. The same goes for this book. Evolution in general is fairly easy to understand in Highschool Biology class but they don't give the kind of detail that Darwin gives. keep that in mind when reading this book. It is fairly easy to understand if you take your time with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with it all. I hate black people and enyone not like me. Hahahaha!!! Right?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The pages are all over the place. Some looked like a scanned copy and others looked like regular ebook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I ordered this book, it came up on my Nook as the book "Your Guide to Flatter Abs; Tips That Work." Yes, really. I had to call customer serivice and they were able to eventually send the The Orgin of Species to my Nook. Buyer Beware!
T-Eagle More than 1 year ago
We all know who Darwin was, and many will quote this work without ever reading it in its entirety. I think that everyone should read this amazing book, and you may even gain a new perspective on the world around you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book to be used as reference material for my zoology paper. The observations of Charles Darwin have long been pilars of biology as we know it today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to do a report on Darwin, and this really helped me understand the stuff he did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Darwin's Origin of Species is an excellent book. The ideas immersed within the text are essential to life today. But Darwin is dense and a horrible writer, so this book is a hard read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I consider Charles Darwin to be among the most important scientific thinkers in history. His theory set the stage for a revolution of thought, and more than a century of continually groundbreaking evidence and exciting revisions. Without Darwin, the majority of us might still be stuck in the primitive, ignorant belief in creationism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
origon of species is a great book on were species came from and how they evoleved into the present day creatures that you see today i recomend that all animal lovers and scientists,bioligists anone that studies or loves or wants to know about the evelution of animals should get this book
lpg3d on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's amazing to me how much Darwin got right in this book, and also all that he got wrong.
Lammers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Facsimile of first edition, with "An Historical Sketch" and "Glossary" from sixth edition.
TheCrow2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Origin of Species:This groundbreaking 150 years old book is simply one of the most important book ever written. Changed the science and the way mankind looks and analyse the world so much it was impossible to even imagine before. Well written, easy to understand and stunning that it explains clearly many things which dumbhead creationists debating even today. A must read to everyone who wants to understand the basics of biology and wants to call himself/herself an open-minded and learned person
brose72 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The journey of Charles Darwin on the H.M.S. Beagle and his reports, discoveries and observations relating to natural science and evolution. Fairly interesting for a book on science even though it is rather dated. The stir it caused in the mid 1800s no longer carries the same groundbreaking impact.
psiloiordinary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not what I was expecting at all.Here we have a very readable if thorough going explanation of his theory of descent with modification through variation and natural selection. I have seen comments such as dry and stodgy but did not find this to be the case to any great extent.I must confess to skimming a total of about three pages out of nearly five hundred. I did this because I had already got the point and he was listing in minute detail the implications of this or that on his famous "tree of life diagram" a to a' etc. etc.Apart from the exposition of such a simple theory the two main things I enjoyed most about the book were as follows;Firstly, just how much evidence in favour of evolution he did not have an inkling about. He bases his theory on how it explains the geographical distribution of life on the earth, variation, fertility, vestigial organs, eyes on cave dwellers, webbed feet on mountain ducks etc. It is therefore surprising just how much he got right and how little has since been shown to be wrong. Remember he had no idea of DNA or the molecular side of reproduction at all and yet he predicts a good deal of it.Secondly, his forays into experiment. Ranging from the counting of plant species in cleared ground, measuring and comparison of greyhound and bulldog puppies and adult dogs, to the immersal of seeds in sea-water and so on.The book is written for the lay audience and should be accessible, with a little patience, to most.Despite what many Creationists have told me there is nothing I could find about the origin of life, support for the Nazi's, reasons in favour of the Holocaust or the futility of existence at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Surprisingly readable despite being written mid-19th century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
G O O D
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