Wednesday, April 3, 2013
On the Origin of Species; 56% Complete
I'm still plugging through. Despite my initial cockiness, I have to admit I'm understanding less and less of this book as I work through it. But I do understand some and those parts at least are still interesting. I put a hold on the first volume of Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples at the Seattle Public Library (it's not available for Kindle), so I want to wrap this book up so I can start reading that when it comes in.
The word of the day is "fecundate" which means to fertilize.
I have another interesting story for you that Darwin tells:
"One of the strongest instances of an animal apparently performing an action for the sole good of another, with which I am acquainted, is that of aphides voluntarily yielding their sweet excretion to ants: that they do so voluntarily, the following facts show. I removed all the ants from a group of about a dozen aphids on a dock-plant, and prevented their attendance during several hours. After this interval, I felt sure that the aphides would want to excrete. I watched them for some time through a lens, but not one excreted; I then tickled and stroked them with a hair in the same manner, as well as I could, as the ants do with their antennae; but not one excreted. Afterwards I allowed an ant to visit them, and it immediately seemed, by its eager way of running about, to be well aware what a rich flock it had discovered; it them began to play with its antennae on the abdomen first of one aphis and then of another; and each aphis, as soon as it felt the antennae, immediately lifted up its abdomen and excreted a limpid drop of sweet juice, which was eagerly devoured by the ant. Even the quite young aphides behaved in this manner, showing that the action was instinctive, and not the result of experience. But as the excretion is extremely viscid, it is probably a convenience to the aphides to have it removed; and therefore probably the aphides do not instinctively excrete for the sole good of the ants."