Charles Darwin Sketches | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin Sketches

Charles Darwin's unpublished tree sketches

The text on pages 25-26 is reported to be:
[p.25 bottom] The tree of life should perhaps be called the coral of life, base of branches dead; so that passages cannot be seen. — this again offers [p.26 top] contradiction to constant succession of germs in progress
[note at very top] no only makes it excessively complicated
[between the sketches] Is it thus fish can be traced right down to simple organization. — birds — not.
The text on pages 36-37 is reported to be:
[top] I think
[first note] Case must be that one generation then should be as many living as now
[second note] To do this & to have many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction
[below figure] Thus between A & B immense gap of relation. C & B. the finest gradation, B & D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. — bearing relation [p.37] to ancient types. — with several extinct forms for if each species an ancient (1) is capable of making 13 recent forms. [there are 13 lines in the sketch that have a perpendicular line at the end] Twelve of the contemporarys must have left no offspring at all, [there are 12 lines that are without a perpendicular line at the end] so as to keep number of species constant.

The next four sketches are from the Collection of notes on "Principle of divergence, transitional organs/instincts" (dated 1839-1872). The sketches are pages torn out of the earlier notebooks and collated into the portfolio. The first sketch is on the back of a page numbered 127, which is dated December 1848.


The text appears to be:
Genera species in same family are united into little groups - so through animal Kingdom - so children even in same family - this is universal law.

The next sketch is on a page numbered 183. It and the next two sketches are undated but are considered to be "early 1850s". This one considers a general concept of mammal history but without naming most of the groups.


The text appears to be:
[top] Let dots represent Genera ???
[note at far left] If then had all given descendants then their w.[would] have been a great series.
[note at tree base] Parents of Marsupials and Placentals
[note within tree] Rodents
[notes at right] no form intermediate
Rodents
Marsupials

The next sketch is on a page numbered 184 ("early 1850s"). It considers the relationship between genealogical trees and geological history.


The text appears to be:
[top] Dot means new form - eg. ancestors
[within figure] Palaeoz. Iocene Tertiary

The next sketch is on the back of the page numbered 184. It looks somewhat like a draft or a repeat of Figure 4.


The text is the same as for the earlier figure:
Parents of Placentals and Marsupials

This sketch is one that will look vaguely familiar to anyone who has read The Origin of Species. It appears between pages 26R & 26S of Darwin's draft book on Natural Selection (sometimes referred to as his Big Species Book). This was the book originally intended to introduce Darwin's ideas to the world (written from 1856-1858), but which he had to abandon once he realized that Alfred Wallace had independently deveoped the same general ideas.


This picture is thus the draft version of the tree that appears in The Origin, as Chapter 6 of Natural Selection was summarized as Chapter 4 of The Origin. Interestingly, the initial draft of the chapter (called "On Natural Selection") was completed by the end of March 1857, but a year later (mostly between April and June 1858) Darwin revised and expanded it, particularly by interpolating a new discussion of the "Principle of Divergence" that was 40 pages long (Stauffer 1975). The figure appears as a prominent part of this later addition. Apparently, it took Darwin some time to realize the importance of divergence for his book — important enough to warrant the only illustration.

Note that the tree is upside down as compared to the final version in The Origin, presaging modern uncertainty about which way to draw a "tree". Perhaps this was a switch from the usual top-down way of drawing human pedigrees to one that more closely matched his discussion of the fossil record, which is conventionally drawn bottom upwards. Since Darwin does not call the diagram a tree, the usual orientation of botanical trees presumably played no part.

Also, in many ways this draft is more complicated than the published one, with much more in the way of annotations. The subsequent simplification is typical of the relationship between Natural Selection and The Origin, as the latter was intended to be an "abstract" of the former.




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