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of colour or marking, often superimposed upon protective tints, in the importance of easy recognition by many animals of their fellows, their parents, or their mates. By this need we have been able to account for markings that seem calculated to make the animal conspicuous, when the general tints and well-known habits of the whole group demonstrate the need of concealment. Thus also we are able to explain the constant symmetry in the markings of wild animals, as well as the numerous cases in which the conspicuous colours are concealed when at rest and only become visible during rapid motion.
In striking contrast to ordinary protective coloration we have “warning colours,” usually very conspicuous and often brilliant or gaudy, which serve to indicate that their possess. ors are either dangerous or uneatable to the usual enemies of their tribe. This kind of coloration is probably more prevalent than has been hitherto supposed, because in the case of many tropical animals we are quite unacquainted with their special and most dangerous enemies, and are also unable to determine whether they are or are not distasteful to those enemies. As a kind of corollary to the “warning colours,” we find the extraordinary phenomena of “mimicry,” in which defenceless species obtain protection by being mistaken for those which, from any cause, possess immunity from attack. Although a large number of instances of warning colour and of mimicry are now recorded, it is probably still an almost unworked field of research, more especially in tropical regions and among the inhabitants of the ocean.
The phenomena of sexual diversities of coloration next engaged our attention, and the reasons why Mr. Darwin's theory of “sexual selection,” as regards colour and ornament, could not be accepted were stated at some length, together with the theory of animal coloration and ornament we propose to substitute for it. This theory is held to be in harmony with the general facts of animal coloration, while it entirely dispenses with the very hypothetical and inadequate agency of female choice in producing the detailed colours, patterns, and ornaments, which in so many cases distinguish the male sex.
If my arguments on this point are sound, they will dispose also of Mr. Grant Allen's view of the direct action of the colour sense on the animal integuments. He argues that the colours of insects and birds reproduce generally the colours of the flowers they frequent or the fruits they eat, and he adduces numerous cases in which flower-haunting insects and fruit-eating birds are gaily coloured. This he supposes to be due to the colour-taste, developed by the constant presence of bright flowers and fruits, being applied to the selection of each variation towards brilliancy in their mates ; thus in time producing the gorgeous and varied hues they now possess. Mr. Allen maintains that “insects are bright where bright flowers exist in numbers, and dull where flowers are rare or inconspicuous ;” and he urges that “we can hardly explain this wide coincidence otherwise than by supposing that a taste for colour is produced through the constant search for food among entomophilous blossoms, and that this taste has reacted upon its possessors through the action of unconscious sexual selection.”
The examples Mr. Allen quotes of bright insects being associated with bright flowers seem very forcible, but are really deceptive or erroneous; and quite as many cases could be quoted which prove the very opposite. For example, in the dense equatorial forests flowers are exceedingly scarce, and there is no comparison with the amount of floral colour to be met with in our temperate meadows, woods, and hillsides. The forests about Para in the lower Amazon are typical in this respect, yet they abound with the most gorgeously coloured butterflies, almost all of which frequent the forest depths, keeping near the ground, where there is the greatest deficiency of brilliant flowers. In contrast with this let us take the Cape of Good Hope—the most flowery region probably that exists upon the globe, — where the country is a complete flower-garden of heaths, pelargoniums, mesembryanthemus, exquisite iridaceous and other bulbs, and numerous flowering shrubs and trees; yet the Cape butterflies are hardly equal, either in number or variety, to those of any country in South Europe, and are utterly insignificant when compared with those of the comparatively flowerless forest-depths of the Amazon or of New Guinea. Neither is there any relation between the colours of other insects and their haunts. Few
1 The Colour Sense, chap. ix.
are more gorgeous than some of the tiger-beetles and the carabi, yet these are all carnivorous; while many of the most brilliant metallic buprestidæ and longicorns are always found on the bark of fallen trees. So with the humming-birds ; their brilliant metallic tints can only be compared with metals or gems, and are totally unlike the delicate pinks and purples, yellows and reds of the majority of flowers. Again, the Australian honey-suckers (Meliphagidæ) are genuine flowerhaunters, and the Australian flora is more brilliant in colour display than that of most tropical regions, yet these birds are, as a rule, of dull colours, not superior on the average to our grain-eating finches. Then, again, we have the grand pheasant family, including the gold and the silver pheasants, the gorgeous fire-backed and ocellated pheasants, and the resplendent peacock, all feeding on the ground on grain or seeds or insects, yet adorned with the most gorgeous colours.
There is, therefore, no adequate basis of facts for this theory to rest upon, even if there were the slightest reason to believe that not only birds, but butterflies and beetles, take any delight in colour for its own sake, apart from the food-supply of which it indicates the presence. All that has been proved or that appears to be probable is, that they are able to perceive differences of colour, and to associate each colour with the particular flowers or fruits which best satisfy their wants. Colour being in its nature diverse, it has been beneficial for them to be able to distinguish all its chief varieties, as manifested more particularly in the vegetable kingdom, and among the different species of their own group; and the fact that certain species of insects show some preference for a particular colour may be explained by their having found flowers of that colour to yield them a more abundant supply of nectar or of pollen. In those cases in which butterflies frequent flowers of their own colour, the habit may well have been acquired from the protection it affords them.
It appears to me that, in imputing to insects and birds the same love of colour for its own sake and the same asthetic tastes as we ourselves possess, we may be as far from the truth as were those writers who held that the bee was a good mathematician, and that the honeycomb, was constructed throughout to satisfy its refined mathematical instincts; whereas it is now
generally admitted to be the result of the simple principle of economy of material applied to a primitive cylindrical cell.1
In studying the phenomena of colour in the organic world we have been led to realise the wonderful complexity of the adaptations which bring each species into harmonious relation with all those which surround it, and which thus link together the whole of nature in a network of relations of marvellous intricacy. Yet all this is but, as it were, the outward show and garment of nature, behind which lies the inner structure
— the framework, the vessels, the cells, the circulating fluids, and the digestive and reproductive processes,—and behind these again those mysterious chemical, electrical, and vital forces which constitute what we term Life. These forces appear to be fundamentally the same for all organisms, as is the material of which all are constructed ; and we thus find behind the outer diversities an inner relationship which binds together the myriad forms of life.
Each species of animal or plant thus forms part of one harmonious whole, carrying in all the details of its complex structure the record of the long story of organic development; and it was with a truly inspired insight that our great philosophical poet apostrophised the humble weed—
Flower in the crannied wall,
i See Origin of Species, sixth edition, p. 220.
THE GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF ORGANISMS
The facts to be explained—The conditions which have determined dis
tribution—The permanence of oceans-Oceanic and continental areas - Madagascar and New Zealand–The teachings of the thousandfathom line-The distribution of marsupials—The distribution of tapirs-Powers of dispersal as illustrated by insular organisms—Birds and insects at sea-Insects at great altitudes—The dispersal of plants ---Dispersal of seeds by the wind--Mineral matter carried by the wind -Objections to the theory of wind-dispersal answered—Explanation of north temperate plants in the southern hemisphere—No proof of glaciation in the tropics-Lower temperature not needed to explain the facts-Concluding remarks.
THE theory which we may now take as established—that all the existing forms of life have been derived from other forms by a natural process of descent with modification, and that this same process has been in action during past geological time—should enable us to give a rational account not only of the peculiarities of form and structure presented by animals and plants, but also of their grouping together in certain areas, and their general distribution over the earth's surface.
In the absence of any exact knowledge of the facts of distribution, a student of the theory of evolution might naturally anticipate that all groups of allied organisms would be found in the same region, and that, as he travelled farther and farther from any given centre, the forms of life would differ more and more from those which prevailed at the starting-point, till, in the remotest regions to which he could penetrate, he would find an entirely new assemblage of animals and plants, altogether unlike those with which he was
those whichorms of lif
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