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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Appendixes


     

Part I: The Intrusion of Death

Chapter 8

 

Death For Animals: Programmed Limitation

Thou takest away their breath,
they die,
and return to the dust.
(Psalm 104:29)

Who knoweth the spirit of man
that goeth upward,
and the spirit of the beast
that goeth downward to the earth?
(Ecclesiastes 3:21)

 

     It is 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

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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:

Colossians 1:15
     [Jesus] who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (pases ktiseos).
Colossians 1:23
     . . . 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. . . ,
Mark 16:15
     And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature (pase te ktisei).

     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.
     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

     pg 2 of 12      

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.

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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.

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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 special sense.

     pg.5 of 12     

the former and less effective one.
     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 one way.
     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. (p.11)
126. Muller, H. J., "Life," Science, vol.121, 1955, p.8.
127. Edney, E. B. and R. W. Gill, "Evolution of Senescence and Specific Longevity," Nature, vol.220, 1968, p.282.

     pg.6 of 12     


     Alternatively, 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 (p.11)
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, p.18

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NOTES

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 viability indefinitely.
     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:

     pg.8 of 12     


     "Restudy 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 as created.
     Paul T. Libassi notes that if Hayflick's experiments reflect aging in the whole organism, "man's biological clock is wound for about 110115 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

     pg.9 of 12     


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

     pg.10 of 12     


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, p.11581163].

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.400413. 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, p.245]. 

     pg.11 of 12     


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.12031207].

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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