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By William Bateson

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It is to the origin and nature of Symmetry that the first section of the evidence of Variation will relate. That a knowledge of the modes of Variation of so universal a character is important to the general study of Biology must at once be evident, but to the particular problem of the nature of Specific Differences this importance is immense. This special importance comes from two reasons. As it is the fact first that Repetition and Symmetry are among the commonest features of organized structure, so it will be found next that it is by differences in those features that the various forms of organisms are very commonlydifferentiated from each other.

Many who would hesitate thus to formulate such a belief nevertheless have taken part in inquiries which can succeed only on the hypothesis that this has been the history of such parts. Of this nature are the old attempts to divide the skull into vertebrz, recognizing the several parts of each ; the modern disquisitions on the segmentation of' the cranial nerves ; the attempts to homologize the several phalanges of the vertebrate pollex and hallux with the several phalanges of the other digits; similar attempts to trace the precise equivalence of the elements of the carpus and tarsus, and many other quests of a like nature.

2 The well-known evidence relating to this subject will be spoken of later. The view given above, which is now very generally received, finds support in the striking observations of DRIESCH,lately published ( Z t . f. w . , 1891, LIII. p. 160). monster, united by homologous surfaces. Similar experiments attended by similar results have since been made on Amphioxus by E. B. WILSON,Anat. A m . , VII. 1892, p. 732. 3 Evidence of such abrupt Variation between the two sides of the body belongs for the most part to the Substantive group.

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Materials for the Study of Variation by William Bateson


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