Human evolution theory utilizing concepts of neoteny & female sexual selection
An etiology of neuropsychological disorders such as autism and dyslexia, and the origin of left handedness.

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Edward Drinker Cope

Edward Drinker Cope: bibliographical excerpts


"We have seen, in Haeckel's case, how easily recapitulation fits with a belief in the heritability of acquired characters. Since this belief was the foundation of America's first major evolutionary school--that of the self-proclaimed "Neo-Lamarckists"--it is not surprising tht the school's leaders, the paleontologists E.D. Cope and Alpheus Hyatt, exalted recapitulation to a higher status than it had enjoyed before or has achieved since. Edward Drinker Cope, though remembered more for the bombast of his feud with Marsh than for his substantial contributions to science, was America's first great evolutionary theoretician. Cope published his evolutionary views in the American Naturalist and other journals during the 1870's and 1980's. He collected these essays in The Origin of the Fittest (1887) and reworked others to write The Primary Factors ofOrganic Evolution (1896). ... [quoting Cope] 'The doctines of "selection" and "survival" plainly do not reach the kernel of evolution, which is, as I have long since pointed out, the question of "the origin of the fittest." The omission of this problem from the discussion of evolution, is to leave Hamlet out of the play to which he has given the name. The law by which structures originate is one thing; those by which they are restricted, directed, or destroyed , is another thing. ' {1880, in 1887, p. 226}" (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 85)

"It is not difficult to believe, in the case of the useful structures first cited, that the law of natural selection has had much, probably everything, to do with the preservation of the animals possessing them in the various localities to which they are adapted. But that it has had opportunity to direct the lines of progress in the second series is not likely. That it had nothing to do with the origin of either, is certain." (Cope, CD (1887) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 18 )

"The results attained are these: The smaller the number of structural characters which separate the two species when adult, the more nearly will the less complete of the series be indentical with an incomplete stage of the higher species......Parallelism is then reduced to this definition: that each separate character of every kind, which we find in a species, represents a more or less complete stage of the fullest growth of which the character appears to be capable. In proportion as those characters in one species are contrasted with those of another by reason of their number, by so much must we confine our comparison to the characters alone, and the divisions they represent; but when the contrast is reduced by reason of the fewness of differing characters, so much the more truly can we say that the one species is really a suppressed or incomplete form of the other." (Cope, CD (1897) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 8-9 )

Cope discusses the similarities of Haeckel's thesis in Anthropogenie when he uses terms palengenesis and coenogenesis as in exact and inexact parallelism.(Cope, CD (1887) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 126)

"Cope then renders Haeckel's "heterochrony" as a variety of parallelism by redefining the argument. Haeckel thought in terms of the whole organism: the condensation of ontogeny preceeds equally for all characters and brings the total configuration of the ancestral adult into earlier and earlier stages. Cope applied his concepts to individual organs and recognized that they may be accelerated (or retarded) at different rates." (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 89)

"One of the first paleontologists to defend Lamarckian concepts consistently was Cope. In his opinion, inheritable traits could arise as the result of mechanical influences caused by the movement (exercise) of organs (kinetogeneis), as well as under the influence of physical and chemical agents of the external environment (physiogenesis). The phenomena of kinetogenesis Cope attributed mostly to animals; those of physiogensis to plants. Cope's discussion remained mostly on the same scientific level as the corresponding "proof" offered by Lamarck." (Blacher, L. I. (1982) The Problem of the Inheritance of Acquired Characters. Amerind Publishing: New Delhi p. 71)

"Lamarck had made a primary distinction between two types of evolutionary events: progressive changes mediated by "the force that tends incessantly to complicate organization" and specific adaptations to definite environments (eyeless moles, long-necked giraffes--side branches on what would otherwise be a ladder to perfection, or at least to man.) Cope makes an analogous separation. New species represent the modification of existing structures; they produce the deflections or side-branches of evolution. New genera arise by addition to or subtraction from the sequence of ontogenetic changes; they alone are responsible for progressive evolution. Species and genera--horizontal branches and verticle steps on the tree of life--are not only distinguished by their physical position on a botanical metaphor; they are also produced by different causes. In early works, Cope argues that most new species (within a genus) may arise by the Darwinian process of fortuitous variation and natural selection (1870, in 1887, p. 144). How, then, do new genera evolve? Cope argues that generic characters originate as additions to the end of ancestral ontogeny (although genera can also evolve retrogressively, by the loss of stages). They originate, moreover, as acquired characters in Lamarck's sense. Although the body's tissues (soma) are most easily modified during adolescence, the reproductive cells are most affected by constant repetition of an act during adulthood. Thus, new characters are impressed as additions to the adult stage: "Habits formed during adolescence are now practiced with special energy and frequency. The influence on the constantly renewed germ-plasma is correspondingly greater, and transmission is of course more certain" (1896, p. 447). The steps of progressive evolution--the generic changes--are stages added as acquired characters to the end of ontogeny: "Every change by complication of structure is by addition; every simplification is by subtraction: (1872, in 1887, p. 18). (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 86)

"In 1871 the spring flood broke down the barriers separating the two different lakes of the salt works near Odessa, diluting the water in the lower portion to 8 degrees Beaume, and also introducing into it a large number of the brine shrimp, Artemia salina. After the restoration of the embankment, the water rapidly increased in density, until in September, 1874, it reached 25 degrees Beaume's scale, and began to deposit salt. With this increase in density, a gradual change was noticed in the characters of the Artemiae, until late in the summer of 1874 forms were produced which had all the characters of a supposed distinct species, A. muelhausenii. The reverse experiment was then tried. A small quantity of the water was then gradually diluted, by M. Vladimir Schmankewitsch, who conducted the experiments, and though continued for only a few weeks, a change in the direction of A. salina was very apparent. Led by these experiements, he tried still others. Taking Artemia salina, which lives in brine of moderate strength, he gradually diluted the water, and obtained as a result a form which is known as Branchinecta schoefferii, the last segment of the abdomen having become divided into two. Nor is this change produced by artificial means alone. The salt pools near Odessa, after a number of years of continued washing, became converted into fresh-water pools, and with the gradual change in character, Artemia salina produced first a species known as Branchinecta spinosa, and at a still lower density Branchinecta ferox, and another species described as B. media. Here not only new species were produced, but a new genus." (Cope, CD (1896) Organic Evolution. Open Court Publishing: London pp. 229-230)

"During the last century, and early part of this, many graziers had a maxim that in the profitable production of animals for slaughter, 'feed is more than breed,' but now both breeders and graziers know that heredity or 'breed,' is the more important. ... Yet the belief is universal that the acquired characters due to food during the growing period has some force, and that this force is cumulative in successive generations. All the observed facts in the experience with herds and flocks point in this direction. It is the same whether the observations relate to the increase in the size of breeds, which has been brought about by systematic selection and feeding directed withthis special aim, or to the local development of breeds under the combined influence of the food supply and unsystematic selection. Where both large and small breeds have been in process of improvement in the same region at the same time and with the same kinds of food, liberal feeding along with systematic selection is always practiced where an increase of size is aimed at, and underfeeding during growth is practised when it is desired to reduce the size. We have examples of these going on together contemporaneously." (Cope, CD (1896) Organic Evolution. Open Court Publishing: London pp. 424-425)

"...since the embryo, whether in utero or in ovo, has little opportunity of experiencing the external influences which are only possible at later periods of life. It is during adolescence that the normal activities of maturity, except reproduction, are first practiced, whether inherited or learned for the first time. The superior capacity of the adolescent stage for acquisition in all directions is well known, and it is reasonable to suppose that since growth is not completed, changes in its details can be most readily introduced. It is to this period of life then that we must look for the effective influence of the factors of evolution in the acquisition of new characters of the soma." (Cope, CD (1896) Organic Evolution. Open Court Publishing: London p. 446)

"But this principle of addition is not complete evolutionary mechanism. If progressive evolution proceeds by addition, then descendant ontogenies will eventually become impossibly long (while, in retrogressive evolution by deletion, they will become disadvantageously short). Cope therefore provides a motor to reset the timing of ancestral ontogeny in order to permit the addition and subraction of new stages. In progressive evolution, the speed of individual development is increased. The stages of ancestral ontogenies are repeated in successively shorter intervals, leaving time for the addition of newly acquired characters. this is the law of "acceleration", it is responsible for all progressive evolution. ... These principles of terminal addition and acceleration are the preconditions of recapitulation. In progressive evolution, the adult stages of ancestors are crowded back or "accelerated" into the juvenile stages of descendants. Recapitulation is the necessary result of progressive evolution. In retrogressive evolution, on the other hand, individual development slows down. The later stages on ontogeny are not reached in the time alloted, and these are deleted. This is the law of "retardation." ... Thus, is Cope's scheme, recapitulation is one result of the process propelling the more important of evolution's two modes: the production of new genera through movement up or down the main branch of a lineage. The movement proceeds by the law of acceleration and retardation, the speeding up or slowing down of development relative to age. As a consequence, the stages of ontogeny and phylogeny are related. this relationship -- which Cope calls the "law of parallelism" -- has two aspects: retrogressive evolution by subtraction of terminal stages and progressive evolution by recapitulation. The law of acceleration and retardation plays a much more vital role in Cope's earlier beliefs than in his subsequent modifications. In later works, he attributes the acquisition of new characters to the activity of animals themselves -- a favorite Lamarckian argument." (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 86-87)

"In the important characters of the possession of branchiae, of maxillary bones, and of ossified vertebrae, the tailed Batrachia presents a series of a rising scale, measured by their successively earlier assumption. Thus Salamandra atra produces living young, which have already lost the branchiae; S. maculosa living young with branchiae; Plethodon produces young form eggs which bear branchiae but a short time, and do not use them functionally; Desmoganthus nigra uses them during a very short aquatic life; D. fusca and other Salamanders maintain them longer; while Spelerpes preserves them till full length is nearly reached. Finally, species of Amblystoma reproduce while carrying branchiae, thus transmitting this feature to their young as an adult character." (Cope, CD (1887) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 87)

"In one respect, however, Hyatt's views differ markedly from those of Cope. Whereas Cope invoked acceleration and retardation as the agents of progressive and regressive evolution, Hyatt managed to render both progress and decline as the result of acceleration alone. In his first definition of acceleration, Hyatt identifies its role in progressive evolution:...When Cope detected juvenile features of ancestors in adult stages of descendants, he invoked retardation and admitted an effect opposite to recapitulation. To Hyatt, however, these seemingly "youthful" features of adult descendants are not youthful at all: they are the senile characters of second childhood, introduced at the end of previous ontogenies late in the phyletic life cycle....Moreover, they can be added only because ontogeny has been condensed by acceleration. The law of acceleration is universal; it regulates the sequence of stages in all lineages." (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 92-93)

"The term mnemogenesis is employed by Professor Hyatt [Proceeds. Boston Soc. Nat. History, 1893, p. 73] to characterize the manner in which kinetogenesis is supposed to produce results in inheritance. I have suggested that the phenomena of recapitulation, characteristic of ontogeny (American Naturalist, Dec., 1889), are due to the presence of a record in the germ cells, having a molecular basis similar to that of memory. This view is adopted by Professor Hyatt. I have already referred to it in the proceding pages. A general statement of this doctrine was made by Mr. Sedgwick in The British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review for July 1863 in the following language: 'For atavism in disease appears to be but an instance of memory in reproduction, as imitation is expressed in direct descent; and in the same way that memory never, as it were, dies out, but in some state always exists, so the previous existence of some peculiarity in organizaton may likewise be regarded as never absolutely lost in suceeding generations, except by extinction of race.' " (Cope, CD (1896) Organic Evolution. Open Court Publishing: London p 492)

Haeckel, Cope, and Hyatt all used the memory theory to attack Darwin's pangenesis as an explanation for Lamarckian inheritance. They did this by declaring a preference for the transmission of energy, rather than physical particles, from modified soma to the germ. Thus, Cope writes: 'It appears to me that we can readily conceive of the transmission of a resultant form of energy of this kind to the germ-plasma than of material particles or gemmules....We may compare the building of the embryo to the unfolding of a record of memory, which is stored in the central nervous organism of the parent, and impressed in greater or less part on the germ-plasma during its construction in the order in which it was stored.' (1896, p. 451, but an almost verbatim restatement of Cope, 1889)" (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 98-99)

"Weismann has, however, subsequently modified his views to a considerable extent. He has always admitted the doctrine of Lamarck to be applicable to the evolution of the types of unicellular organisms. His experiments on the effect of temperature on the production of changes of color in butterflies, showed that such changes were not only effected, but were sometimes inherited. This he endeavors to explain as follows. [from The Germ Plasm, Comtemporary Science Series, 1893, p. 406] 'Many climatic variations may be due wholly or in part, to the simultaneous variation of corresponding determinants in some parts of the soma and in the germ-plasm of the reproductive cells.'" (Cope, CD (1896) Organic Evolution. Open Court Publishing: London p 12)

"Butler developed analogous views in still greater detail, although with no better support from the scientific point of view, first in his book Life and Habit [1878] and later in an outline of the history of evolutionary scientists [1879]. As with Hering, Butler considered inheritance identical to memory and thought memory was the bridge between successive generations. According to Butler, the egg contained the consolidated memory, the accumulated experience of predecessors, which was reproduced in the developing embryo serially in the order in which each experience was acquired. Compelled by necessity, the individual repeated the same actions which thereby became habits. In consequence of the use of organs and the influence of the environment existing organs of the embryo developed more intensely, and previously absent structures may even appear." (Blacher, L. I. (1982) The Problem of the Inheritance of Acquired Characters. Amerind Publishing: New Delhi p. 60)

"Bolk's theory of fetalization (1926c) was not, as many suppose, the first invocation of paedomorphosis as an agent for human evolution (Moreover, Bolk -- a strong supporter of recapitulation {1926b} -- introduced it as an exception, not a threat, to Haeckel's theory.) Cope, America's foremost recapitulationist, ascribed many human physical traits to the retention of ancestral, embryonic features through retardation." (1883, in 1887, p. 286). (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontegeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge: Belknap Press. p. 179)

"Now, in the light of various cases observed, where members of the same species or brood are found at adult age to differ in the number of immature characters they possess, we may conclude that man originated in the following way: that is, by a delay of retardation in growth of the body and fore limbs as compared with the head; retardation of the jaws as compared with the brain case, and retardation in the protrusion of the canine teeth. The precise process as regards the hinder thumb remains obscure, but it is probably a very simple matter. The proportions of the young Cebus appella enable it to walk on the hind limbs with great facility, and it does so much more frequently than an adult capucinus with which it is contined. The "retardation" in the growth of the jaws still progresses. Some of our dentists have observed that the last (3rd) molar teeth (wisdom teeth) are in natives of the United States very liable to imperfect growth or suppression, and to a degree entirely unknown among savage or even many civilized races. The same suppresion has been observed in the outer pair of superior incisors. This is not only owing to a reduction in the size of the arches of the jaws, but to successively prolonged delay in the appearance of the teeth." (Cope, CD (1887) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 12)

"The miserably developed calves of many of the savages of Australia, Africa, and America, are well known.The fine swelling gastrocnemius and soleus muscles characterize the highest races, and are most remote from the slender shanks of the monkeys. The gluteus muscles developed in the lower races as well as in the higher, distingish them well from the monkeys with their flat posterior outline." (Cope, CD (1887) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 293)

"We all admit the existence of higher and lower races, the latter being those which we now find to present greater or less approximations to the apes. The peculiar structural characters that belong to the negro in his most typical form are of that kind, however great may be the distance of his remove therefrom. The flattening of the nose and prolongation of the jaws constitute such a resemblance; so are the deficiency of the calf of the leg, and the obliquity of the pelvis, which approaches more the horizontal position than it does in the Caucasian. ...And here let it be particularly observed that two of the most prominent characters of the negro are those of immature stages of the Indo-European race in its characteristic types. The deficient calf is the character of infants at a very early stage; but, what is more important, the flattened bridge of the nose and shortened nasal cartilages are universally immature conditions of the same parts in the Indo-Europeans." (Cope, CD (1887) The Origin of the Fittest. Arno Press: New York p. 147-148)

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