Part I: The Intrusion of Death
Death For Animals:
Thou takest away their
and return to the dust.
Who knoweth the spirit
that goeth upward,
and the spirit of the beast
that goeth downward to the earth?
sometimes held that when Paul wrote of death entering into the
world as a consequence of man's sin (Romans 5:12), he was not
speaking only of human death but of all death, the death of animals
and man alike. It is argued that prior to the Fall animals did
not die, and that, had Adam and Eve not sinned, death among animals
would still be unknown. Presumably, plant death is accepted as
inevitable since all the animals are seen by these writers as
having been originally herbivorous, becoming carnivorous only
after the Fall.
Those who hold this view see further
confirmation of their view in Romans 8:20-22 which reads:
For the creation [margin] was
made subject to vanity, not willingly but by reason of him who
hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creation itself
also shall be delivered from the bondage
of corruption into the glorious liberty
of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth
and travaileth in pain together until now.
Now there are
some problems in determining exactly what these verses mean;
among these, the question of the antecedent of who in
the phrase "who hath subjected the same in hope," as
well as the significance of the words "in hope." For
example, was it man or God who subjected the creation in hope?
But in the present context, the critical phrase is "the
whole creation" (verse 22), which is felt to be clearly
a reference to the whole animate creation (men and animals
alike). Yet is this the real intent of the passage?
The phrase "the whole creation"
is perhaps an unfortunate rendering. The original Greek here
pasa he ktisis is found only in three other places in
the New Testament. These are:
[Jesus] who is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (pases ktiseos).
. . . and be not moved away from
the hope of the Gospel which ye have heard, and which
was preached to every creature
(en pase [ta] ktise) that is under heaven. . . ,
And He said unto them, Go ye into
all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature (pase
It seems clear
enough that the Great Commission of Mark's Gospel has reference
to the human race alone. There is the familiar story of St. Francis
of Assisi preaching to the birds, but I doubt if it is really
the intent of the original that the Gospel is to be preached
to animals as well as to man, commanding them all alike to believe
and be saved. If it is, the command has certainly never been
taken seriously by the overwhelming majority of Christian people.
So at least in Mark the Greek phrase rendered "the whole
creation" clearly refers only to humanity, to human society.
2 of 12
This must surely be equally true
of Colossians 1:15, for it would be absurd to suppose that the
Lord is to be called the firstborn of animals and plants. Nor
can one suppose that Paul was including the world of animals
in Colossians 1:23.
So it seems clear that the same
phrase occurring in Romans 8:22 must be taken to mean only that
the whole of mankind has been subjected to dying as a penalty,
and that the preaching of the Gospel must accordingly be
to all those under condemnation. Death as a punishment does not
seem to apply in the animal kingdom except
possibly in the case
of an ox that gores a man (Exodus 21:28) and even this is capable
of a different interpretation.
It is perhaps
pertinent to remind ourselves that death seems such a terrible
thing to us largely because we have such a highly developed consciousness
of our own existence as individuals. We not merely enjoy
being alive, as animals most certainly seem to do, but we are
very self-conscious about this aliveness. We reflect upon our
enjoyment consciously: we plan for it deliberately, we seek to
enhance it in a hundred different ways that animals never do,
and so we develop culture. And normally we try to postpone its
termination by every means at our disposal even when we are tired
to death of it anyway! In the animal kingdom death is merely
the annihilation of the animal: with man death is a violation
of his very being, the tearing apart of body and spirit unnaturally.
Since the animal does not live in the future, annihilation has
no conscious reality for it. It is not anticipated as it is in
man. Since man lives in the present and the future, the
violation done to his person by death becomes a fearful thing.
It is in this sense that man lives all his life in the fear of
it (Hebrews 2:15).
Professor Carleton S. Coon rightly
observes, "No animal knows that death is inevitable. The
gazelle lives from day to day, now and then facing death but
each time facing it as a separate event" (118) It has been observed in Africa that when one animal
in a herd is brought down by a lion, the general disturbance
of the herd which accompanied the initial chase dies down instantly
and the rest of the animals resume browsing with complete indifference
to the fate of their poor brother. Even animal parents appear
to be comparatively unmoved once they are certain, under natural
conditions, that they cannot save their offspring. (119) There is clearly no sense
of individual anticipation whatever, at least not until the threat
is immediate. Animals probably never reflect upon the death of
others, or on anything else for that matter. Their memory is
contingent memory, which is really more recognition than memory
in any case. As far as we know, they must be in the presence
of familiar things before their familiarity is observed or recognized,
whereas we re-create mental images and so reconstitute situations
from the past and project them into the future. We live in the
future in a way animals probably never do, and the future that
we anticipate includes our own decease and, hopefully, renewed
existence hereafter. This is what makes us capable of dying many
deaths where animals die but one. And they experience that one
only when it is too late to reflect upon its consequences for
their own individual existence.
Animals can hardly anticipate or
fear death much in advance, and therefore it cannot be anything
like the dread prospect it tends to be
118. Coon, Carleton, S., The Story of Man,
New York, Knopf, 1962, p.67.
119. Skutch, Alexander, "The Parental Devotion of Birds,"
Scientific Monthly, April, 1946, p.369.
for man for a large part
of his life. It is not foreseen at all except when it is actually
upon them. Indeed, they probably have to experience it before
it has any reality, and in experiencing it the reality of it
ceases for them! Moreover, there is some doubt now, contrary
to former opinion, whether the experience of death is accompanied
by any suffering. (120)
Prior to death they may suffer, but having no anticipation of
the meaning of death at least frees them from unnecessary fear
of it. Even a trapped animal, suffering unnatural pain, probably
does not foresee that its position is fatal to its life, that
it is in mortal danger, though it is certainly aware of
unnatural restraint upon its freedom.
Perhaps we have viewed the problem
of death in creatures below man in an artificial way, anthropomorphically,
with the use of too little and too much imagination: too little
because we do not enter realistically into the animal's world
of experience, and too much because we attribute to the animal
mind our own prescience.
As we have already seen, the vast
majority of living things suffer death by accident and not as
an inevitable consequence of being alive. For such creatures
death is unrelated to life per se, it is a hazard not
inherent to life but "adherent" to it. Death is more
in the nature of a control external to the processes of life
itself, serving in the economy of nature to place checks upon
unlimited proliferation, just as the brakes we install on a car
can stop the vehicle without really having anything to do with
the operation of the engine itself. The two are separate mechanisms.
Most Christians believe that there
were geological ages before man while the earth was being divinely
prepared for his creation. "The testimony of the rocks,"
to use Hugh Miller's apt phrase, is that fossils of animals which
were carnivorous, if we are to judge by their jaw and teeth structure,
must have abounded. The seas particularly seemed to have swarmed
with large fishes which lived upon smaller ones, and smaller
fishes which lived ‹ in turn ‹ on smaller ones still.
At the bottom of the food chain were, and are, the plankton which
occur as both plants and animals and which must surely have experienced
death by the million in order that life at higher levels might
go on. (121) The
whole chain of marine life is virtually inconceivable without
the lower links being sacrificed for the higher ones.
Moreover, fish eggs must surely
be considered as being alive, yet in the present economy of nature
only two or three codfish eggs, for example, survive to maturity
at each spawning out of the millions laid by the parent fish.
Thus the accidental death rate is enormous. It is sometimes said
that the dying or destroyed eggs which do not survive contribute
in some way chemically to the survival of the two or three which
do reach maturity. But this only seems to confirm that death
120. Hirst, J. Crowther, Is Nature Cruel?,
London, James Clark & Co., 1899. This work is a most
valuable assessment of the amount of pain actually inflicted
on their victims by predators. It is based on studies of some
60 individuals mauled severely by wild animals. Almost without
exception they experienced no pain at the time. Interestingly,
the same has now been reported for those attacked by sharks.
A good summary of Hirst's findings (which may be more accessible
to most readers than his book) will be found in the British
Spectator, 3 June, 1899, p.782, 783.
121. Plankton: Fred Bodsworth, The Natural History of Canada:
the Pacific Coast, Toronto, McClelland, 1970, p.97.
is essential to life.
The survival rate of human spermatozoa is probably even lower
since there is normally only one survivor (the one that fertilizes
the ovum) out of several million forming the initial attacking
host. (122) Before
Adam fell, or in an unfallen world, are we to suppose that codfish
would only lay two eggs, both of which would survive? And, indeed,
the question might be asked whether the codfish could be allowed
to lay any eggs at all after a little while, for the seas would
soon become filled to bursting point. What, otherwise, would
prevent overflow? And would only one spermatozoon be released
to unite with the single ovum? What has been said of cod-fish
has to be said of all animals, including insects whose proliferation
can be even more dramatic because of the short breeding cycle.
It therefore seems clearly necessary
that death be programmed as a numerical balancing mechanism.
If millions are to be born, millions must die. It is not at all
certain whether death is a built-in limitation for any species,
as Hayflick has proposed. (123) It could be due to the very circumstances in which
the members of any species play their part in the web of life,
some roles being more hazardous. Or perhaps cell differentiation
may carry with it some kind of programmed limitation within
the individual, as the Gershons have recently proposed? (124) Possibly all three factors
are at work governing the multiplication rate of any species
and holding it in check as part of the natural balance to be
seen everywhere, except where man interferes.
And there may be good reason for
the need of death among animals apart from the danger of over-population.
The potential for variation of many species is important in relation
to the part which that species will play in different areas of
the world where foods, climatic conditions, altitude, temperature,
etc., are different enough to require a modification of its form
in order for it to meet the new exigencies of its habitat as
it spreads or when the environment changes locally for geophysical
reasons. Every species seems to be able to respond to new environmental
conditions when necessary with remarkable rapidity, and to adapt
(within species specific limits) both its structural form and
patterns of instinctive behaviour. We see this in response to
temperature, for example, where limbs are shortened to conserve
heat, where body shapes are elongated to dissipate heat, where
fur covering density is adjusted, where protective colouring
is modified, and where even home building patterns are altered
as the supply of raw material is changed. But such adaptive responses
occurring in any new generation have a much better chance of
succeeding in future generations if the older generation dies
off and thus clears the way for the new to take over entirely.
The older generation would otherwise constantly be tending to
return the divergent form to the old and less viable one, or
the better adapted behaviour pattern to
122. There is some evidence now that the sperm
which do not actually fertilize the ovum nevertheless contribute
by their disintegration to the total environment in which the
fertilized ovum will survive and develop in its earliest stages
by forming some essential part of its nourishment [B. Baccetti
and B. A. Afzelius, The Biology of the Sperm Cell, Monographs
in Developmental Biology, #10, Basel, Karger, 1976, p.78].
123. See in Notes at the end of this chapter. (p.8)
124. Gershon, Drs. Harriet and David, Technion-Israel Institute
of Technology, Department of Biology, Haifa: "Inactive Enzyme
Molecules in Aging Mice: Liver Aldolase," Proceedings
of National Academy of Science, vol.70, 1973, p.909. Dr.
Clive Wood of Oxford has suggested that the appearance of "errors"
in cell reproduction is under direct genetic control. "The
cell carries its own aging program which ultimately results in
programmed death" ["Longevity ‹ Catalyst of Social
Revolution," New Scientist, 24 May, 1973, p.470].
The word "error" must, therefore, be used in a rather
the former and less effective
This can be illustrated very widely
in nature (125) :
the potential for variability which is resident in the genes
does have definite limits but it enjoys sufficient flexibility
that members of a single species can migrate and settle down
in remarkably divergent habitats as variant forms of the original.
Death thus becomes a benefit to the species.
H. J. Muller, while certainly not
sharing my views in relation to the purposes of God, underscores
this fact when he observes: (126)
. . . death is an advantage
to life. Its advantage lies chiefly in its giving ampler opportunity
for the genes of the newer generation to have their merits tested
out. That is, by clearing the way for fresh starts and new combinations,
it prevents the clogging of genetic progress by the older individuals.
So, then, we have
death programmed in the animal world for at least two good reasons:
to prevent over-population and to open the way for adaptation
to altered conditions.
Having said in the first chapter that
functioning protoplasm is not subject to death, it may seem contradictory
now to speak of built-in or programmed limitations. The point
is that such limitations are not inherent in functioning
protoplasm, even as brakes are not inherent in a car engine.
If such limitations did not exist, living things would continue
on indefinitely and multiply accordingly. Because numbers would
soon be excessive and because the older generation would swamp
any newer generations better equipped to fill some particular
niche in the economy of nature (assuming both the economy and
the animals have changed in some way), some means of limitation
must be programmed for the system. This may be done in more than
It may be done externally by the
appointment of predators for the reduction of numbers. As we
have seen previously, the life span of members of any particular
species of animal may be externally limited by the circumstances
of their existence. The members of most, if not all, animal species
are constantly threatened and the longer they live, the greater
are the probabilities of their being killed. If the individual
lives "long enough" its death is "certain."
The "how long" for any species is in some sense species
specific, and this then effectively constitutes the average life
span for the members of that species. Professor E. B. Edney and
R. W. Gill of the University of California, in an article dealing
with specific longevity, speak of this "hazard factor"
which "thus sets a limit to longevity even in a population
of potentially immortal individuals." They conclude: "If
the hazard factor hypothesis is valid, differences in specific
longevity in different species are seen primarily as phenomena
with ecological aetiology. . ." (127)
125. See in Notes at the end of this chapter.
126. Muller, H. J., "Life," Science, vol.121,
127. Edney, E. B. and R. W. Gill, "Evolution of Senescence
and Specific Longevity," Nature, vol.220, 1968, p.282.
death may simply be the consequence of structural limitations.
The insect, lacking a circulatory system, must obtain oxygen
for its tissues by transpiration through its "skin."
This severely limits the depth at which viable cells can exist
below the surface and therefore the overall size of the animal.
Any further enlargement starves these cells and the animal dies.
No land animal can grow beyond a certain size, for the physical
strength of bone and tendon limits the mass which can be successfully
maneuvered. So again, the animal reaches its limiting size and
further growth increasingly endangers its existence. (128)
There is another kind of limitation
which we have already noted in the case of salmon. The reproductive
mechanism is so constituted that once it is set into operation,
degenerative changes are initiated in the animal's life support
system which bring about its collapse.
In the first case, the animal starves
itself for oxygen; in the second, cripples itself by size; and
in the third, commits suicide in its determination to reproduce.
There are many such limitations placed upon life span in Nature,
none of which are inherent in the principle of living tissue
itself, only in the particular life style of the individual.
The scientific account of the phenomenon
of death in the animal kingdom, to my mind, is not at all unreasonable.
It serves to allow for the establishment of new lines of development,
and it prevents over-population. Seen in this light, we find
no conflict with the fundamental fact that living things are
not doomed to death merely as a consequence of being in possession
of life. Life and death are, of course, related in the sense
that one must be alive in order to be able to die. But life and
death are not causally related, for billions of living
things never do die: they merely divide and go on living ‹
leaving no corpses unless they are "executed."
God has, it seems, programmed the
life processes of all creatures which, in the absence of adequate
external checks, would otherwise proliferate uncontrollably.
But this is in no sense a judgment upon them and is not connected,
as I see it, with man's Fall. It is a built-in check,
introduced to ensure that the web of life will be a harmony of
interacting individuals, each of which makes its due contribution
to the well-being of the whole, (129) except where man disrupts it. And here is the real
problem for Science, because man, who is seen as the climax of
a long progression of evolutionary improvements, seems almost
from the very moment of his appearance to have been a disaster
from nature's point of view, (130) the great disturber, 'the arch-destroyer'
of the natural order, as Wood Jones called him. (131) He is the only creature
in which something has evidently gone fundamentally wrong and
for whom death appears indeed to be some kind of penalty. How
this has come about, Science is not competent to say.
128. See in Notes at the end of this chapter
129. Good, Ronald, in a review of Lee R. Dice, Natural Communities,
[Ann Arbor, 1952], in Nature, 11 July, 1953, p.46.
A very refreshing volume.
130.See in Notes at the end of this chapter (p.12)
131. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, London, Arnold, 1953,
123. (See p.5) In recent years
the concept of the inherent immortality of excised tissue in
vitro has been challenged by the findings of Leonard Hayflick
who reported that cells derived from human foetal lung tissue
cultured under rigidly controlled conditions would survive only
50 + 10 doublings [Experimental Cell Research, vol.25,
1961, p.585]. These findings were reported in great detail and
were confirmed by others later. (See also L. Hayflick, "The
Limited in Vitro Lifetime of Human Diploid Cell Strains,"
Experimental Cell Research, vol.37, 1965, p.614-636.)
In 1974 Hayflick contributed a paper
under the title "Cytogerontology" in Theoretical
Aspects of Aging in which he again summed up his findings
to that date. In this same volume S. Gelfant and C. L. Grove
wrote, with reference to Hayflick's findings: "These studies
originally reported by Hayflick and Moorehead in 1961 showed
that normal animal cells cannot be maintained in vitro indefinitely,
but rather have a limited life span. The life span is expressed
in the proliferative capacity of the cells in culture and it
is also directly related to the age of the donor from which the
cultured cells were taken. The maximum life span of human diploid
cells in vitro is about ten months. This life span represents
approximately 50 cell population doublings, and it applies to
cells taken from the youngest possible tissue, that is, from
foetal tissue. By comparison, shorter life spans and progressively
fewer cell population doublings are observed in cultures originating
from adult and old human tissue." [Theoretical Aspects
of Aging, edited by M. Rockstein, New York, Academic Press.
1974, p.107, 108].
David E. Harrison, on the basis
of Hayflick's reported results, confidently asserted that "his
work refuted the fifty-year-old dogma that normal cells could
be immortal in tissue culture" [Letter to the Editor, Science,
vol.192, 1976, p.614 under a heading "Hayflick's Achievements"].
Harrison clearly had in mind such experiments as those conducted
by Alexis Carrel [Journal of Expimental Medicine, vol.15,
1912, p.516] and A. H. Ebeling [ibid., vol.17, 1913, p.273]
in which chicken tissue cells were maintained for years until
the experiment was terminated by failure of the equipment.
It is important to note that Hayflick's
experiments involved normal diploid cells. Under certain conditions
of cell culture abnormal (heteroploid) cells may suddenly appear
for some reason, and these cells are capable of maintaining their
Hayflick is careful to note in
his paper "Cytogerontology" that "the in vitro
end point measured by us as loss of capacity for division is
simply a very convenient and reproducible system, but may have
little to do with the actual cause of in vivo aging" [in
Theoretical Aspects of Aging, p 94].
It should also be noted that Hayflick
himself, in 1968. had reported:
of the experiments in culturing mouse cells has brought to light
a highly interesting fact. It has been found that when normal
cells from a laboratory mouse are cultured in a glass vessel,
they frequently undergo a spontaneous transformation that enables
them to divide and multiply indefinitely. This type of transformation
takes place regularly in cultures of the fibroblasts (i.e. cells
of connective tissue) of man and other animals. These transformed
cell populations have several abnormal properties but they are
truly immortal: many of the mouse derived cultures have survived
for decades" ["Human Cells and Aging," Scientific
American, Mar., 1968, p.32].
There are therefore at least
two possible explanations for Alexis Carrel's findings and for
the findings of a number of others since: the culture medium
may have contributed something to the extended survival of the
cells which was lacking in Hayflick's experiments, or the cells
themselves may have spontaneously transformed to an abnormal
condition. It was for this reason that Hayflick later underscored
that his cells were normal. He specifically states that they
are not the same as the HeLa cells from cervical tissue which
George O. Gey of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
had started with in 1952 and which were still growing and multiplying
in glass cultures in 1968, and may even yet be flourishing. These
exceptional cells did not have the usual 46 chromosomes of a
normal human cell but anywhere from 50 to 350 per cell. They
were cells that sometimes behaved like cancer cells and would
form tumors when implanted in live animal tissue.
Rona Cherry and Lawrence Cherry,
under the heading "Uncovering the Secrets of a Longer Life,"
noted that while cells from fetuses died around the fiftieth
division, cells from young adults divided about fifty times before
dying, and those from mature adults only about twenty times [The
New York Times Magazine, 12 May, 1974]. This circumstance
seems a clear validation of Hayflick's findings that cells so
cultured in vitro do have a limited life span.
Accordingly, Hayflick considers
that normal animal cells are programmed with a limited life.
This may be true of animals by divine design, to prevent over-population.
It may be true of human beings now because of the penalty
imposed on man for his sin. It need not have been true of Adam
Paul T. Libassi notes that if Hayflick's
experiments reflect aging in the whole organism, "man's
biological clock is wound for about 110‹115 years" [The
Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, vol.14, no.9, 1974,
p.7]. This seems remarkably close to a statement made in Genesis
6:3 that after the Flood man's life span should not be allowed
to exceed 120 years. To take the words to mean that God would
grant the old world only 120 years of grace before the Flood
would destroy it, is ‹ in Kalisch's view ‹ "utterly
at variance with the context." Kalisch has a long note on
this passage that pretty well covers (and invites rejection of)
all the then current alternative interpretations [Historical
and Critical Commentary on the Old Testament: Genesis, M.
M. Kalisch, London, Longmans, 1858, p.175ff.].
August Weismann, with extraordinary
foresight, addressed the same question of whether there is really
a limit placed upon
cell multiplication many years ago when
he wrote: "The hypothesis upon the origin and necessity
of death leads me to believe that the organism did not finally
cease to renew the worn-out cell-material because the nature
of the cells did not permit them to multiply indefinitely, but
because the power of multiplying indefinitely was lost when it
ceased to be of use" [Essays Upon Heredity and Kindred
Biological Problems, translated by E. B. Poulton, S. Schonland
and A. E. Shipley, Oxford University Press, 1889, vol.1, p.25].
Unicellular forms seem to have no such limitations imposed upon
them, so that the base of the food chain is virtually guaranteed
so long as conditions that will support life are maintained.
One criticism of Hayflick's experiment
may have to do with the nature of the culture medium. In a special
report under the title "Cellular Theorics of Senescence"
[Science, vol.186,1975, p.1105, 1106], Jean L. Marx noted
that "Lester Packer of the University of California, Berkeley,
and James R. Smith of the Veterans Administration Hospital in
Martinez, California, added vitamin E to cultured Wl-38 cells.
These cells which they obtained from Hayflick are the same human
embryonic cells that normally have an in vitro life span encompassing
only about 50 divisions. But in the presence of vitamin E, an
antioxidant that can interfere with reactions mediated by free
radicals, the cells continued to divide and to have youthful
characters for about 120 population doublings: after that they,
too, became senescent and died out. Packer and Smith estimate
that the concentration of the vitamin in the enriched culture
medium is approximately the same as that in serum in vivo. Packer
said that these results do not necessarily conflict with Hayflick's
hypothesis that the cells have a built-in 'biological clock'
that determines the number of population doublings. He thinks
that they may have such a programmed potential but that it is
not always attained. Addition of antioxidants to the (cell) environment
may allow the cells to reach their full potential for dividing
and thus achieving an apparently lengthened life span."
Here, then, we have the same cells
treated with a culture medium that more nearly approaches the
medium in which cells would be bathed in a healthy body with
a proper diet, living not for 50 doublings but for 120. If modern
man has a life potential of, say 70 years, the new potential
for cell population doublings should ideally give him a theoretical
life span of approximately 170 years ‹ which comes close
to the Vilcabamba, Azerbaijan, etc. people. Moreover, it should
be remembered that these cells are taken from human tissue of
man as he now is, not as he once was in pre-Flood time ‹
and certainly not as he was before he fell.
Indeed, it now appears that the
so-called "Hayflick limit" may, in a sense, be an artifact,
that is to say, "the inevitable consequence of normal culturing
procedures." It should in fact be quite possible to produce
"an immortal steady state culture." Such a population
"might be propagated indefinitely." [See R. Holliday,
et al., "Testing the Commitment Theory of Cellular
Aging," Science, vol.198, 1977, p.366f.]
Even more recently, E. Bell and
co-workers have questioned whether the Hayflick phenomenon is
a sign of aging or whether it is not rather evidence of cell
differentiation. They observe: "The notion that diploid
cells age in vitro is based on the observation that they undergo
only a limited number of population doublings. . . . In
this article we examine these assumptions and provide evidence
for an alternative interpretation ‹ namely, that cessation
of proliferation of diploid cells . . . represents a step of
differentiation and not one of senescence.
Hayflick's technique of subculturing
is seen to be an "upsetting" factor in cell culture
which "forces" the cells
to "exchange immortality for specialization."
They conclude that "cells of organisms need not be programmed
intrinsically to die." ["Loss of Division Potential
in Vitro: Aging or Differentiation?", Science, vol.202,1979,
125. (See p.6) Many years ago Sir William
Dawson remarked upon this both for plants and animals. From a
study of post-Pliocene mollusks and other fossils he concluded
that "new species tend rapidly to vary to the utmost extent
of their possible limits and then to remain stationary for an
indefinite time." [The Story of the Earth and Man,
London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1903, p.360]. It has been found
true for birds, according to Ernst Mayr [Mathematical Challenges
to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, Philadelphia,
Wistar Institute Symposium Monograph, No.5, 1967, p.47]. Charles
Brues reports the same for insects ["Contributions of Entomology
to Theoretical Biology," Scientific Monthly, Feb.,
1947, p.130]. Adolph Schultz has confirmed it for primate populations
[The Origin and Evolution of Man, Cold Springs Harbor
Symposium on Quantitative Biology, vol.15,1950, p.50]. And it
has been remarked upon for man by Ralph Linton [The Study
of Man, New York, Appleton-Century, 1936, p.26ff.]; LeGros
Clark ["Bones of Contention," Huxley Memorial
Lecture, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol.88,
no.2, 1958, p.136-138]; and Ralph Goldschmidt ["Evolution
as Viewed by One Geneticist," American Scientist,
vol.40, 1952, p.97]. This built-in variability is an advantage
to man, for it allows him to breed lines of domestic animals
selectively to suit his own special needs.
128. (See p.7) Size: see an excellent
discussion of this point by J. B. S. Haldane, "On Being
the Right Size" in The World of Mathematics, edited
by J. R. Newman, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1956, vol.II,
p.952ff. In this connection with man, see a valuable paper by
F. W. Went, "The Size of Man," American Scientist,
vol.56, no.4, 1968, p.400‹413. See also T. McMahon, "Size
and Shape in Biology," Science, vol.179, 1973, p.1201ff.
I have a copy of a diary kept by a Parson for forty years in
the latter half of the eighteenth century. He tells how he went
to see, in Norwich (England), a giant pig which was nine feet
long and four feet high! He observes as a bye-the-bye that it
had to be supported on its legs and when it fell over was unable
to raise itself [Woodforde, James, Diary of a Country Parson,
edited by John Beresford, Oxford, 1926, in 5 vols., vol.1,
130. (See p.7) In
1967 The National Academy of Sciences sponsored a special congress
to deal with the problem of the cause of the extinction of a
great number of species in Pleistocene times. Some sixty-two
pages of animals that were extinct are listed, some of these
pages covering as many as forty different species, and the total
involving at least two hundred genera. The conclusion of the
Congress as a whole was that "this global extinction pattern"
was the result of over-kill by early man. Other possible causes,
such as climatic change, are not considered to be of primary
importance. It was concluded, however, that man's over-kill of
many species of interest to himself had the effect of depriving
other species of their natural source of food so that they, too,
suffered extinction indirectly. It appears that man has always
been the great disturber indeed and still is. As late as 1627
he killed probably the last of the European aurochs. During the
last 2000 years about 200 species of mammals and birds have become
extinct, 70 of them within the last 50 years ‹ and the rate
is increasing. About 350 species of vertebrates, nearly a third
of them mammals, are currently endangered [The Living World
of Animals, London, Reader's Digest Association, 1970, p.370;
Pleistocene Extinctions: The Search For a Cause, edited
by Paul S. Martin and H. E. Wright, New Haven, Yale University
Press, vol.VI of the Proceedings of the VII Congress of the International
Association for Quaternary Research, 433 pages; also Lynn White
Jr., "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,"
Science, vol.155, 1967, p.1203‹1207].
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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