Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lovecraft, Packard, and Beast In The Cave

I submit this long extract from Packard's book: Lamarck, the Founder of Evolution

The present writer, {Alpeus Spring Packard, Jr. - CP} from a study of the development and anatomy ofLimulus and of Arthropod ancestry, was early (1870)[217] led to adoptLamarckian views in preference to the theory of Natural Selection, which
never seemed to him adequate or sufficiently comprehensive to explain
the origin of variations.

In the following year, from a study of the insects and other animals of Mammoth Cave, we claimed that "the characters separating the genera and species of animals are those inherited from adults, modified by their physical surroundings and adaptations to changing conditions of life, inducing certain alterations in parts which have been transmitted with more or less rapidity, and become finally fixed and habitual."

In an essay entitled "The Ancestry of Insects" (1873) we adopted the Lamarckian factors of change of habits and environment, of use and disuse, to account for the origin of the appendages, while we attributed the origin of the metamorphoses of insects to change of habits or of the temperature of the seasons and of climates, particularly the change in the earth's climates from the earlier ages of the globe, "when the temperature of the earth was nearly the same the world over, to the
times of the present distribution of heat and cold in zones."

From further studies on cave animals, published in 1877, we wrote as follows:

"In the production of these cave species, the exceptional phenomena of darkness, want of sufficient food, and unvarying temperature, have been plainly enough _verae causae_. To say that the principle of natural selection accounts for the change of structure is no explanation of the phenomena; the phrase has to the mind of the writer no meaning in connection with the production of these cave forms, and has as little meaning in accounting for the origination of species and genera in general. Darwin's phrase 'natural selection,' or Herbert Spencer's term 'survival of the fittest,' expresses simply the final result, while the process of the origination of the new forms which have survived, or been selected by nature, is to be explained by the action of the physical environments of the animals coupled with inheritance-force. It has always appeared to the writer that the phrases quoted above have
been misused to state the cause, when they simply express the result of the action of a chain of causes which we may, with Herbert Spencer, call the 'environment' of the organism undergoing modification; and thus a form of Lamarckianism, greatly modified by recent scientific discoveries, seems to meet most of the difficulties which arise in accounting for the origination of species and higher groups of organisms. Certainly 'natural selection' or the 'survival of the fittest' is not a _vera causa_, though the 'struggle for existence' may show us the causes which have led to the _preservation_ of species, while changes in the environment of the organism may satisfactorily account for the original tendency to variation assumed by Mr. Darwin as the starting-point where natural selection begins to act."

In our work on _The Cave Animals of North America_, after stating that Darwin in his _Origin of Species_ attributed the loss of eyes "wholly to disuse," remarking (p. 142) that after the more or less perfect obliteration of the eyes, "natural election will often have effected other changes, such as an increase in the length of the antennae or palpi, as a compensation for blindness," we then summed up as follows the causes of the production of cave faunae in general:

"1. Change in environment from light, even partial, to twilight or
total darkness, and involving diminution of food, and compensation
for the loss of certain organs by the hypertrophy of others.

"2. Disuse of certain organs.

"3. Adaptation, enabling the more plastic forms to survive and
perpetuate their stock.

"4. Isolation, preventing intercrossing with out-of-door forms,
thus insuring the permanency of the new varieties, species, or

"5. Heredity, operating to secure for the future the permanence of
the newly originated forms as long as the physical conditions remain
the same.

"Natural selection perhaps expresses the total result of the working of these five factors rather than being an efficient cause in itself, or at least constitutes the last term in a series of causes. Hence Lamarckism in a modern form, or as we have termed it, Neolamarckism, seems to us to be nearer the truth than Darwinism proper or natural selection."

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