By Stephen Walker
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Additional resources for Animal Thought
Pigeon breeding was something he was able to take up himself and he was ‘permitted to join two of the London Pigeon Clubs’. A skilful breeder could claim that ‘he would produce any given feather in three years, but it would take him six years to obtain head and beak’ (1968, p. 90). It was clear that all domestic breeds were descended from the same ancestor, the Indian rock-pigeon (Columba livia). But according to Darwin, the established varieties such as the English carrier, the short-faced tumbler, the pouter and the fan-tail, were ‘so different in form and habit that an ornithologist judging them as wild birds would probably not even put them in the same genus, and as wild birds the domestic varieties would certainly be counted as separate species.
932). However, ‘the extremely complex and regular construction of many barbarous languages, is no proof that they owe their origin to a special act of creation’ (p. 140) since there is a curious and interesting parallel between the gradual changes and blendings which may alter languages, and the evolution of species. Anecdotal evidence of animal thought—Darwin and Romanes (1848—94) Darwin’s theorising about human evolution seems sophisticated and modern. A. R. Wallace, given credit for anticipating the idea of natural selection, held, by comparison, rather old-fashioned views.
On the health and survival of individuals. But the successful negotiation of these trials, though necessary, is not a sufficient condition for Darwinian survival, since it is the inheritance of adaptations, and not their effects on individual longevity, which is crucial. The reproductive process is at the heart of natural selection, and in all but a handful of animal species this requires sexual interactions. The modern term ‘inclusive fitness’ emphasises the degree to which an individual’s genes are included in the next generation—from one point of view coping with the conditions of life is merely an incidental preliminary to genetic reduplication—but Darwin’s term ‘sexual selection’ is retained to cover aspects of structure and behaviour whose importance depends solely or mainly on their role in sexual reproduction.
Animal Thought by Stephen Walker