So that we have two opposed latent tendencies in the same plants. Now, with the crossed Antirrhinums the tendency to produce normal or irregular flowers, like those of the common Snapdragon, prevailed in the first generation; whilst the tendency to pelorism, appearing to gain strength by the intermission of a generation, prevailed to a large extent in the second set of seedlings. How it is possible for a character to gain strength by the intermission of a generation, will be considered in the chapter on pangenesis.

On the whole, the subject of prepotency is extremely intricate,--from its varying so much in strength, even in regard to the same character, in different animals,--from its running either equally in both sexes, or, as frequently is the case with animals, but not with plants, much stronger in one sex than the other,--from the existence of secondary sexual characters,--from the transmission of certain characters being limited, as we shall immediately see, by sex,--from certain characters not blending together,--and, perhaps, occasionally from the effects of a previous fertilisation on the mother. It is therefore not surprising that no one has hitherto succeeded in drawing up general rules on the subject of prepotency.


New characters often appear in one sex, and are afterwards transmitted to the same sex, either exclusively or in a much greater degree than to the other. This subject is important, because with animals of many kinds in a state of nature, both high and low in the scale, secondary sexual characters, not directly connected with the organs of reproduction, are conspicuously present. With our domesticated animals, characters of this kind often differ widely from those distinguishing the two sexes of the parent species; and the principle of inheritance, as limited by sex, explains how this is possible.

[Dr. P. Lucas has shown (14/25. 'L'Hered. Nat.' tome 2 pages 137-165. See also Mr. Sedgwick's four memoirs, immediately to be referred to.) that when a peculiarity, in no manner connected with the reproductive organs, appears in either parent, it is often transmitted exclusively to the offspring of the same sex, or to a much greater number of them than of the opposite sex. Thus, in the family of Lambert, the horn-like projections on the skin were transmitted from the father to his sons and grandsons alone; so it has been with other cases of ichthyosis, with supernumerary digits, with a deficiency of digits and phalanges, and in a lesser degree with various diseases, especially with colour-blindness and the haemorrhagic diathesis, that is, an extreme liability to profuse and uncontrollable bleeding from trifling wounds. On the other hand, mothers have transmitted, during several generations, to their daughters alone, supernumerary and deficient digits, colour-blindness and other peculiarities. So that the very same peculiarity may become attached to either sex, and be long inherited by that sex alone; but the attachment in certain cases is much more frequent to one than the other sex. The same peculiarities also may be promiscuously transmitted to either sex. Dr. Lucas gives other cases, showing that the male occasionally transmits his peculiarities to his daughters alone, and the mother to her sons alone; but even in this case we see that inheritance is to a certain extent, though inversely, regulated by sex. Dr. Lucas, after weighing the whole evidence, comes to the conclusion that every peculiarity tends to be transmitted in a greater or lesser degree to that sex in which it first appears. But a more definite rule, as I have elsewhere shown (14/26. 'Descent of Man' 2nd edition page 32.) generally holds good, namely, that variations which first appear in either sex at a late period of life, when the reproductive functions are active, tend to be developed in that sex alone; whilst variations which first appear early in life in either sex are commonly transmitted to both sexes. I am, however, far from supposing that this is the sole determining cause.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 34

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Charles Darwin

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