I crossed some Labrador and Penguin ducks, and recrossed the mongrels with Penguins; afterwards most of the ducks reared during three generations were nearly uniform in character, being brown with a white crescentic mark on the lower part of the breast, and with some white spots at the base of the beak; so that by the aid of a little selection a new breed might easily have been formed. With regard to crossed varieties of plants, Mr. Beaton (15/33. 'Cottage Gardener' 1856 page 110.) remarks that "Melville's extraordinary cross between the Scotch kale and an early cabbage is as true and genuine as any on record;" but in this case no doubt selection was practised. Gartner (15/34. 'Bastarderzeugung' s. 553.) has given five cases of hybrids, in which the progeny kept constant; and hybrids between Dianthus armeria and deltoides remained true and uniform to the tenth generation. Dr. Herbert likewise showed me a hybrid from two species of Loasa which from its first production had kept constant during several generations.

We have seen in the first chapter, that the several kinds of dogs are almost certainly descended from more than one species, and so it is with cattle, pigs and some other domesticated animals. Hence the crossing of aboriginally distinct species probably came into play at an early period in the formation of our present races. From Rutimeyer's observations there can be little doubt that this occurred with cattle; but in most cases one form will probably have absorbed and obliterated the other, for it is not likely that semi-civilised men would have taken the necessary pains to modify by selection their commingled, crossed, and fluctuating stock. Nevertheless, those animals which were best adapted to their conditions of life would have survived through natural selection; and by this means crossing will often have indirectly aided in the formation of primeval domesticated breeds. Within recent times, as far as animals are concerned, the crossing of distinct species has done little or nothing towards the formation or modification of our races. It is not yet known whether the several species of silk-moth which have been recently crossed in France will yield permanent races. With plants which can be multiplied by buds and cuttings, hybridisation has done wonders, as with many kinds of Roses, Rhododendrons, Pelargoniums, Calceolarias, and Petunias. Nearly all these plants can be propagated by seed, most of them freely; but extremely few or none come true by seed.

Some authors believe that crossing is the chief cause of variability,--that is, of the appearance of absolutely new characters. Some have gone so far as to look at it as the sole cause; but this conclusion is disproved by the facts given in the chapter on Bud-variation. The belief that characters not present in either parent or in their ancestors frequently originate from crossing is doubtful; that they occasionally do so is probable; but this subject will be more conveniently discussed in a future chapter on the causes of Variability.

A condensed summary of this and of the three following chapters, together with some remarks on Hybridism, will be given in the nineteenth chapter.

CHAPTER 2.XVI.

CAUSES WHICH INTERFERE WITH THE FREE CROSSING OF VARIETIES--INFLUENCE OF DOMESTICATION ON FERTILITY.

DIFFICULTIES IN JUDGING OF THE FERTILITY OF VARIETIES WHEN CROSSED. VARIOUS CAUSES WHICH KEEP VARIETIES DISTINCT, AS THE PERIOD OF BREEDING AND SEXUAL PREFERENCE. VARIETIES OF WHEAT SAID TO BE STERILE WHEN CROSSED. VARIETIES OF MAIZE, VERBASCUM, HOLLYHOCK, GOURDS, MELONS, AND TOBACCO, RENDERED IN SOME DEGREE MUTUALLY STERILE. DOMESTICATION ELIMINATES THE TENDENCY TO STERILITY NATURAL TO SPECIES WHEN CROSSED. ON THE INCREASED FERTILITY OF UNCROSSED ANIMALS AND PLANTS FROM DOMESTICATION AND CULTIVATION.

The domesticated races of both animals and plants, when crossed, are, with extremely few exceptions, quite prolific,--in some cases even more so than the purely-bred parent-races. The offspring, also, raised from such crosses are likewise, as we shall see in the following chapter, generally more vigorous and fertile than their parents.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 51

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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