First Published: 1859
Source: 6th London Edition (1872)
Transcription/HTML: Sue Asscher/Brian Baggins
Online Version: Project Gutenberg (1999); Charles Darwin Reference Archive (marxists.org) 2000
"Of the Darwinian doctrine I accept the theory of evolution , but Darwin's method of proof (struggle for life, natural selection) I consider only a first, provisional, imperfect expression of a newly discovered fact. Until Darwin's time the very people who now see everywhere only struggle for existence (Vogt, Búchner, Moleschott, etc.) emphasized precisely cooperation in organic nature, the fact that the vegetable kingdom supplies oxygen and nutriment to the animal kingdom and conversely the animal kingdom supplies plants with carbonic acid and manure, which was particularly stressed by Liebig. Both conceptions are justified within certain limits, but the one is as one-sided and narrowminded as the other. The interaction of bodies in nature — inanimate as well as animate — includes both harmony and collision, struggle and cooperation.
Engels to P. L. Lavrov in London
AN HISTORICAL SKETCH
CHAPTER I. VARIATION UNDER DOMESTICATION.
Causes of Variability — Effects of Habit and the use or disuse of Parts Correlated Variation — 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 — Principles of Selection, anciently followed, their Effects — Methodical and Unconscious Selection Unknown Origin of our Domestic Productions — Circumstances favourable to Man's power of Selection.
CHAPTER II. VARIATION UNDER NATURE.
Variability — Individual Differences Doubtful species Wide ranging, much diffused, and common species, vary most — Species of the larger genera in each country vary more frequently than the species of the smaller genera — Many of the species of the larger genera resemble varieties in being very closely, but unequally, related to each other, and in having restricted ranges.
CHAPTER III. STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE.
Its bearing on natural selection — The term used in a wide sense Geometrical ratio of increase — Rapid increase of naturalised animals and plants — Nature of the checks to increase Competition universal Effects of climate — Protection from the number of individuals Complex relations of all animals and plants throughout nature — Struggle for life most severe between individuals and varieties of the same species; often severe between species of the same genus — The relation of organism to organism the most important of all relations.
CHAPTER IV. NATURAL SELECTION; OR THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.
Natural Selection — its power compared with man's selection its power on characters of trifling importance — its power at all ages and on both sexes — Sexual Selection On the generality of intercrosses between individuals of the same species — Circumstances favourable and unfavourable to the results of Natural Selection, namely, intercrossing, isolation, number of individuals — Slow action Extinction caused by Natural Selection — Divergence of Character, related to the diversity of inhabitants of any small area and to naturalisation — Action of Natural Selection, through Divergence of Character and Extinction, on the descendants from a common parent — Explains the Grouping of all organic beings — Advance in organisation Low forms preserved Convergence of character — Indefinite multiplication of species Summary.
CHAPTER V. LAWS OF VARIATION.
Effects of changed conditions — Use and disuse, combined with natural selection; organs of flight and of vision — Acclimatisation Correlated variation — Compensation and economy of growth False correlations Multiple, rudimentary, and lowly organised structures variable — Parts developed in an unusual manner are highly variable; specific characters more variable than generic; secondary sexual characters variable — Species of the same genus vary in an analogous manner — Reversions to long-lost characters — Summary.
CHAPTER VI. DIFFICULTIES OF THE THEORY.
Difficulties of the theory of descent with modification — Absence or rarity of transitional varieties — Transitions in habits of life Diversified habits in the same species — Species with habits widely different from those of their allies — Organs of extreme perfection Modes of transition — Cases of difficulty Natura non facit saltum Organs of small importance — Organs not in all cases absolutely perfect The law of Unity of Type and of the Conditions of Existence embraced by the theory of Natural Selection.
CHAPTER VII. MISCELLANEOUS OBJECTIONS TO THE THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION.
Longevity — Modifications not necessarily simultaneous Modifications apparently of no direct service — Progressive development Characters of small functional importance, the most constant — Supposed incompetence of natural selection to account for the incipient stages of useful structures — Causes which interfere with the acquisition through natural selection of useful structures — Gradations of structure with changed functions Widely different organs in members of the same class, developed from one and the same source — Reasons for disbelieving in great and abrupt modifications.
CHAPTER VIII. INSTINCT.
Instincts comparable with habits, but different in their origin — Instincts graduated — Aphides and ants Instincts variable Domestic instincts, their origin — Natural instincts of the cuckoo, molothrus, ostrich, and parasitic bees — Slave-making ants Hive-bee, its cell- making instinct — Changes of instinct and structure not necessarily simultaneous — Difficulties on the theory of the Natural Selection of instincts — Neuter or sterile insects Summary.
CHAPTER IX. HYBRIDISM.
Distinction between the sterility of first crosses and of hybrids — Sterility various in degree, not universal, affected by close interbreeding, removed by domestication — Laws governing the sterility of hybrids — Sterility not a special endowment, but incidental on other differences, not accumulated by natural selection — Causes of the sterility of first crosses and of hybrids — Parallelism between the effects of changed conditions of life and of crossing — Dimorphism and Trimorphism — Fertility of varieties when crossed and of their mongrel offspring not universal — Hybrids and mongrels compared independently of their fertility — Summary.
CHAPTER X. ON THE IMPERFECTION OF THE GEOLOGICAL RECORD.
On the absence of intermediate varieties at the present day — On the nature of extinct intermediate varieties; on their number — On the lapse of time, as inferred from the rate of denudation and of deposition — On the lapse of time as estimated in years — On the poorness of our palaeontological collections — On the intermittence of geological formations — On the denudation of granitic areas On the absence of intermediate varieties in any one formation — On the sudden appearance of groups of species — On their sudden appearance in the lowest known fossiliferous strata — Antiquity of the habitable earth.
CHAPTER XI. ON THE GEOLOGICAL SUCCESSION OF ORGANIC BEINGS.
On the slow and successive appearance of new species — On their different rates of change — Species once lost do not reappear Groups of species follow the same general rules in their appearance and disappearance as do single species — On extinction On simultaneous changes in the forms of life throughout the world — On the affinities of extinct species to each other and to living species — On the state of development of ancient forms — On the succession of the same types within the same areas Summary of preceding and present chapter.
CHAPTER XII. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.
Present distribution cannot be accounted for by differences in physical conditions — Importance of barriers Affinity of the productions of the same continent — Centres of creation Means of dispersal by changes of climate and of the level of the land, and by occasional means — Dispersal during the Glacial period — Alternate Glacial periods in the north and south.
CHAPTER XIII. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION — CONTINUED.
Distribution of fresh-water productions — On the inhabitants of oceanic islands — Absence of Batrachians and of terrestrial Mammals On the relation of the inhabitants of islands to those of the nearest mainland — On colonisation from the nearest source with subsequent modification — Summary of the last and present chapter.
CHAPTER XIV. MUTUAL AFFINITIES OF ORGANIC BEINGS: MORPHOLOGY — EMBRYOLOGY RUDIMENTARY ORGANS.
Classification, groups subordinate to groups — Natural system Rules and difficulties in classification, explained on the theory of descent with modification — Classification of varieties Descent always used in classification — Analogical or adaptive characters Affinities, general, complex and radiating — Extinction separates and defines groups Morphology, between members of the same class, between parts of the same individual — Embryology, laws of, explained by variations not supervening at an early age, and being inherited at a corresponding age — Rudimentary Organs; their origin explained — Summary.
CHAPTER XV. RECAPITULATION AND CONCLUSION.
Recapitulation of the objections to the theory of Natural Selection — Recapitulation of the general and special circumstances in its favour — Causes of the general belief in the immutability of species — How far the theory of Natural Selection may be extended — Effects of its adoption on the study of Natural history — Concluding remarks.
GLOSSARY OF SCIENTIFIC TERMS.