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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: September 2014

3 - MUTATIONS

Summary

Und was in schwankender Erscheinung schwebt,

Befestiget mit dauernden Gedanken.

goethe

“JUMP-LIKE” MUTATIONS – THE WORKING-GROUND OF NATURAL SELECTION

The general facts which we have just put forward in evidence of the durability claimed for the gene structure, are perhaps too familiar to us to be striking or to be regarded as convincing. Here, for once, the common saying that exceptions prove the rule is actually true. If there were no exceptions to the likeness between children and parents, we should have been deprived not only of all those beautiful experiments which have revealed to us the detailed mechanism of heredity, but also of that grand, million-fold experiment of Nature, which forges the species by natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Let me take this last important subject as the starting-point for presenting the relevant facts – again with an apology and a reminder that I am not a biologist:

We know definitely, today, that Darwin was mistaken in regarding the small, continuous, accidental variations, that are bound to occur even in the most homogeneous population, as the material on which natural selection works. For it has been proved that they are not inherited. The fact is important enough to be illustrated briefly.

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