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Book Three---The Incontrovertible Fact of Evolution
"Various Selections" - Previous Chapter / Next Chapter
The Continuity of Evolution as Shown by Sea-urchins
In The Science of Life (1931) , pp. 346-347
    by H.G. Wells, Julian Huxley, and G.P. Wells

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346 THE SCIENCE OF LIFE
to some thirty-five species. It is interesting as retaining the two outer
toes, though not touching the ground, long after the main-line had
reduced them to splints; while, on the other hand, some of its species
improved their teeth beyond anything known even in present-day
horses, the grinding pattern being more complex in some, the height
of the teeth greater in others. It is likely that this increased specialization
of teeth was an adaptation to a desert life, where the hard, dry
vegetation needs more grinding. It may be that these horses fell out
of the battle for life because of this too exclusive dependence on the
special virtues of their teeth and were caught by a change of circumstances
that made speed of greater importance.
That is a condensed summary of the story of the horse and its
ancestors and vanished cousins as we know it to-day. It is a tale of
adventure and arduous conquest, of steady and successful adaptation
of a race to new surroundings. But it is more interesting as a part of
a vaster drama. It displays one streak of the process of Evolution very
completely and convincingly. Step by step, variety by variety, the
progressive changes can be traced. One can hardly say where one
species ends and another begins. Doubtless our knowledge of fossil
horses will be further filled in and rounded off in the future, as new
specimens turn up; but new discoveries can do no more now than fill
in a little gap here, correct a minor error there. The essential facts are
already before us in their fullness. In one long gallery one might assemble
all these stages. We have here in a crushing multitude of
steadily progressing specimens just that complete, continuous exhibition
of Evolution in action the Creationist has demanded. He is
answered.
ยง 4. The Continuity of Evolution as Shown by Sea-urchins.
ONE great merit of the horse's evolutionary record is that the animal
is familiar and that we can readity understand the biological meaning
of the main trends in its long, ancestral development. Its only defect
as a demonstration is that the record is nowhere continuous in one
single locality.
If we could find a considerable thickness of rock, all deposited
under approximately the same conditions, we should expect to find
an absolutely unbroken sequence, a still more unbreakable evolutionary
chain, in the fossils which it contains. Such large thicknesses of
one kind of deposit are naturally, though unfortunately, rare; for
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