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ANIMAL   AND    HUMAN    CONDUCT 


ANIMAL    AND 
HUMAN    CONDUCT 

By 

WILLIAM     E.    RITTER 

Professor  Emeritus  of  Zoology  &•  Director  Emeritus 

Scripps  Institution  of  Oceanography, 

University  of  California 


WITH      THE       COLLABORATION       OF 

EDNA    WATSON     BAILEY 


LONDON 

GEORGE  ALLEN   &   UNWIN  LTD. 

MUSEUM  STREET 


This  book  was  published  in  the  U.S.A.  under  the  title 
"  The  Natural  History  of  Our  Conduct  " 

First  published  in  Great  Britain  in  ig28 


COPYBIGHT,    1927, 
HARCOURT,    BRACE    AND   COMPANY,    INC. 

PRINTED    IN    THE    U.S.A. 


PREFACE 

This  book  and  one  to  come  are  intimately  connected  with 
my  long  and  close  association  with  that  remarkable  man, 
E.  W.  Scripps.  Realist,  student,  philosopher,  successful 
journalist  and  business  man,  and  above  all  humanist, 
Scripps  was  quick  to  see  important  implications  in  the 
biological  idea  of  "the  organism  as  a  whole"  for  humankind, 
once  that  idea  had  gained  secure  foothold  in  his  mind.  As 
a  consequence,  even  before  he  had  read  any  comprehensive 
biological  exposition  of  the  idea,  he  began  to  wonder  what 
a  thorough-going  study  of  human  beings  from  this  stand- 
point would  bring  to  light;  for  the  enigma  of  man  with  his 
infinite  capacity  for  noble  thoughts  and  deeds  and  his  equal 
capacity  for  ignoble  thoughts  and  deeds  harassed  Scripps 
beyond  measure. 

By  the  time  my  mind  and  hands  had  worked  themselves 
free  from  enthrallment  with  The  Unity  of  the  Organism,  his 
demands  to  know  what  this  "damned  human  animal  is,  any- 
way," became  so  insistent  that  I  could  hardly  escape  taking 
them  seriously,  even  though  they  were  not  usually  leveled  at 
me  personally. 

These  demands,  superimposed  upon  rather  strong  human- 
istic and  philosophic  tendencies  of  my  own,  must  be  put 
down  as  the  "effective  environmental  factor"  in  the  produc- 
tion of  this  book  and  a  companion  soon  to  follow. 

The  other  book  will  have  as  title  The  Natural  Philosophy 
of  Our  Conduct.  Despite  the  circumstance  that  the  product 
of  my  task  is  wrapped  up  in  two  packages,  the  task  itself 
was  a  unit  and  not  twofold.  This  follows  from  the  unitary 
point  of  view  implied  by  the  organismal  conception. 

Adequate  acknowledgment  of  all  to  whom  I  am  indebted. 


vi  PREFACE 

more  or  less  personally,  for  help  in  carrying  forward  the 
undertaking,  it  would  be  impossible  to  give  in  the  narrow 
bounds  of  a  foreword.  It  seems,  consequently,  that  my  only 
course  is  to  attempt  nothing  whatever  of  the  kind.  I  must 
trust  that  my  unmentioned  helpers  will  be  satisfied  with 
having  taken  the  chance  in  this  case  that  all  of  us  must  and 
do  take  constantly,  of  getting  reward  for  some  of  our  help- 
ful deeds  from  the  vast  stores  of  general  but  undefinable 
good  which  constitutes  so  large  a  part  of  human  culture. 
I  must  presume  that  some  at  least  of  the  readers  of  the 
books  would  be  made  uneasy  by  an  entire  absence  of  in- 
formation concerning  the  role  of  the  collaborator  in  the 
enterprise.  To  Dr.  Bailey's  own  contention  that  she  has  not 
contributed  a  single  fact  or  idea  or  argument,  at  least 
wholly,  I  can  assent  only  with  much  reservation.  But 
whatever  dubiousness  I  may  have  about  what  she  has  not 
done,  I  have  none  about  what  she  has  done.  Any  merits  the 
books  may  have  as  to  organization,  readableness,  and 
cogent  presentation  of  the  relevancy  to  human  welfare  of 
the  subjects  treated,  are  due  far  less  to  me  than  to  her. 

William  E.  Ritter. 


TABLE  OF  CONTENTS 


PACE 


CHAPTER 

1.  INTRODUCTION  3 

2.  THE  ABILITY  OF  LIVING  BEINGS  TO  EXIST  AND 

DEVELOP     DESPITE     ADVERSE     CONDITIONS: 

THE   PHENOMENON   OF   ADAPTATION  II 

3.  THE    PROBLEM    OF    MAN's    ORIGIN    AND    KIN- 

SHIP :  FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  AND  ITS  PROPER 
TREATMENT  I? 

HOW  WE  THINK  ABOUT  EVOLUTION,  1 7.  COM- 
MON SENSE  AND  THE  EVOLUTION  THEORY,  1 8. 
THE  PRINCIPLE  OF  IDENTITY  AND  THE  EVOLU- 
TION THEORY,  20.  THE  PROBLEM  OF  NAMING 
A  DEVELOPING  THING,  24.  ACTUALITY  AND 
POTENTIALITY  IN  EVOLUTION,  28.  THE  PRIN- 
CIPLE OF  RESEMBLANCE  AND  THE  EVOLUTION 
THEORY,  32. 

4.  THE    PROBLEM    OF    MAN's    ORIGIN    AND    KIN- 

SHIP  {con.)  :  CERTAINTY  AND  PROBABILITY 
AS   TO    man's    EVOLUTION  35 

THE  WORTH  AND  THE  LIMITATIONS  OF  PALE- 
ONTOLOGICAL  EVIDENCE,  44.  MAN's  MOST 
PROBABLE  DIRECT  ANCESTOR,  52.  MAN  AND 
THE  SOLIDARITY  OF  THE  ANIMAL  KINGDOM,  57. 
THE  INFLUENCE  OF  MAN's  BELIEF  IN  HIS  OWN 
EVOLUTIONARY  ORIGIN  ON  HIS  SELF-RESPECT 
AND  CONDUCT,   62. 

5.  SUCCESS  AND   FAILURE   IN   ANIMAL   ACTIVITY         64 

SOURCES,  TRUSTWORTHINESS,  AND  ORGANIZA- 
TION OF  DATA,  64.  THE  CRITERION  OF  SUCCESS 
IN  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY,  70.  ACTIVITIES  CLASSI- 
FIED AS  LIFE-OR-DEATH  AND  LIFE-FULFILLING, 
73.      CLASSES   OF   MALADAPTVE   ACTIVITY,    75. 

6.  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL   ACTIVITY  77 

AT  THE  LEVEL  OF  REFLEX  ACTION,  78.     AT  THE 
LEVEL    OF    INSTINCTIVE    ACTION,    79.       AT    THE 
vii 


viil  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

LEVEL  OF  INTELLIGENT  ACTION,  88.  OF  LOW 
TYPE,  88.  OF  HIGH  TYPE,  90.  SYSTEMATIC 
STUDY  OF  SUCCESSFUL  ACTIVITY  IN  SUB- 
HUMAN ANIMALS,  94.  PERSONALITY  AS  AN 
ELEMENT  IN    GROUP    SUCCESS,    112. 

7.  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  WASTE 

OF  TIME  AND  ENERGY  II 7 

8.  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  WASTE 

OF    USEFUL    MATERIALS  1 25 

AMONG  INSECTS,    1 25.      AMONG   BIRDS,    1 28. 

9.  WASTE       OF       USEFUL      MATERIALS        (con.)  : 

AMONG  NLAMMALS  1 46 

10.  MALADAPTIVE    ACTIVITY    RESULTING    IN    IN- 

JURY TO   KIND  159 

AMONG  ARTHROPODS,  1 59.  AMONG  LOWER  VER- 
TEBRATES, 165.  AMONG  BIRDS,  1 69.  AMONG 
MAMMALS,    174. 

11.  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  SELF- 

INJURY  182 

AMONG   INVERTEBRATES,    1 84. 

12.  SELF-INJURY    (con.)  :   AMONG  BIRDS  I98 

EXTINCTION  OF  SPECIES  PROMOTED  BY  MAL- 
ADAPTIVE ACTIVITY,  200.  SELF-INJURY  DUE 
TO   DEFECTIVE    FEAR,    211. 

13.  SELF-INJURY    (con.)  :   AMONG   MAMMALS  214 

UNDER-ACTIVITY    IN    THE    PRESENCE    OF    DAN- 
GER,   221.       OVER-ACTIVITY    IN    THE    PRESENCE  \.. 
OF  DANGER,    232.      DUE   TO   RAGE,    237. 

14.  MALADAPTIVE     ACTIVITY     IN    MONKEYS     AND 

APES  241 

EXTENT  OF  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  EXCESSIVE- 
NESS:  IN  FOOD-TAKING,  242;  IN  MATERNAL 
SOLICITUDE,  245.  MISDIRECTION  OF  ACTIVITIES 
RESULTING  IN  SELF-INJURY,  246;  IN  INJURY 
TO  KIND,  248.  SELF-INJURY  FROM  NORMAL 
TYPES   OF  ACTION,    25 1. 


CONTENTS  ix 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

15.  MALADAPTIVE     ACTIVITY     AMONG     LOW-CUL- 

TURED HUMAN  BEINGS  254 

FOOD-TAKING  AMONG  SAVAGES,  255.  SAVAGE 
FESTIVALS,  258.  MISDIRECTED  ACTIVITIES,  264; 
FOR  SECURING  FOOD,  265;  COMPARED  WITH 
BRUTE   ACTIVITY,    27O. 

16.  MALADAPTIVE     ACTIVITY    AMONG     HIGH-CUL- 

TURED  HUMAN   BEINGS  272 

OUR  VERDICT  ON  OUR  OWN  ACTIVITIES;  COM- 
MON KNOWLEDGE  OF  MALADAPTATION,  272. 
MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  AS  CORRECTED  BY  SCI- 
ENCE, 284.  MALADAPTIVE  REPRODUCTIVE  AND 
SEXUAL  ACTIVITIES  IN  THE  HUMAN  SPECIES, 
288.  REPRODUCTIVE  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY: 
OVER-POPULATION,  296.  DANGERS  TO  THE 
MOTHER  IN  CHILD-BEARING,  296.  DANGERS 
ARISING  FROM  RELATION  OF  OFFSPRING  TO  PAR- 
ENTS, 297.  MALADAPTIVE  SEXUAL  ACTIVITY, 
297. 

17.  THE    ELEMENTS   OF    MAN'S    PHYSICAL    STRUC- 

TURE WHICH  ENABLE  HIM  TO  BE  THE  MOST 
ACTIVELY  ADAPTIVE  OF  ALL  LIVING  BEINGS      3OI 

STRUCTURAL    AND    FUNCTIONAL    ASPECT,     3OI. 

EVOLUTIONAL   ASPECT,    3  1 5. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY  325 

INDEX  329 


CHAPTER  1 

INTRODUCTION 

The  best  part  of  my  life  has  been  devoted  to  the  study  of 
nature.  Nature,  for  me,  has  always  encompassed  man  in 
the  fullness  of  his  being.  This  largeness  and  inclusiveness 
of  nature  as  it  has  stood  in  my  conception  are  largely  due,  I 
think,  to  my  having  been  unwilling  to  suppress  the  emotional 
aspect  of  my  response  to  nature  to  any  such  extent  as  many 
scientists  seem  to  do.  The  emotional  part  of  man  has 
seemed  to  me  no  less  natural  than  the  coldly  rational  part. 
To  suppose  that  in  order  to  deal  adequately  with  nature 
all  emotion  must  be  suppressed  appears  to  presuppose  the 
superior  validity  of  a  partial  response  to  nature,  as  com- 
pared with  the  fullest  response  of  which  human  beings  are 
capable.  This  fallacious  view  concerning  the  influence  of 
emotion  on  reason  in  the  study  of  nature  probably  has 
arisen  through  failure  to  distinguish  between  the  suppression 
of  emotion  and  the  guidance  of  it. 

I  have  never  been  able  to  find  proof  that  man  is  apart 
from  nature,  is  over  against  and  above  nature  in  such  a 
sense  as  is  held  by  much  of  philosophy  and  especially  of 
theology.  Never  have  I  had  the  feeling  that  there  exists 
an  implacable  and  irreconcilable  hostility  between  man  and 
nature  such  as  sorely  harasses  many  persons  and  has 
strongly  influenced  many  religious  doctrines.  Neither  the 
terrible  calamities  which  befall  man  occasionally,  nor  the 
lesser  injuries  which  he  frequently  receives  at  the  hands  of 
nature,  nor  yet  the  misfortunes,  disasters,  and  miseries 
which  he  brings  upon  himself,  have  seemed  to  me  to  re- 

3 


4  INTRODUCTION 

quire  such  doctrines  or  to  be  explained  by  them.  The  ab- 
sence of  such  sentiments  from  my  general  consciousness  is 
justified  by  my  maturer,  more  critical  thoughts  about  the 
whole  scheme  of  the  world  and  man's  place  therein.  I 
find  no  way  of  conceiving  a  true  Universe,  a  state  of  things 
that  is  unified  through  and  through,  if  the  human  spirit  is 
not  inseparably  and  essentially  identified  with  it  all. 

The  theory  according  to  which  man  is  divine  in  a  sense 
that  nothing  else  in  the  world  is  divine  seems  to  have  arisen 
because  many  men  in  many  ages  have  sensed  the  unique- 
ness of  the  powers  accruing  to  them  through  their  posses- 
sion of  conscious  rational  minds,  but  have  failed  to  perceive 
the  way  in  which  these  powers  are  connected  with  the 
scheme  of  things  by  which  we  live  from  day  to  day.  There 
are  two  aspects  of  man's  relation  to  nature  revealed  by  scien- 
tific study  that  go  far  toward  explaining  the  origin  of  these 
separatist  doctrines.  One  of  these  aspects  pertains  to  man's 
physical  make-up;  the  other  to  his  mind.  In  these  two 
aspects  man  must  be  recognized  as  the  most  surprising  and 
marvelous  of  all  natural  productions.  The  most  surprising 
product  is  he,  because  of  certain  of  the  combinations  of 
his  bodily  parts;  the  most  marvelous,  because  of  his  being 
conscious,  rational,  and,  at  his  best,  highly  intelligent. 

The  bodily  parts  to  which  reference  is  particularly  made 
are  his  brain  and  his  hands.  That  forelimbs  terminating 
in  structures  called  hands  should  occur  in  man  is  not  sur- 
prising since  these  structures  are  almost  universally  present 
in  land  vertebrates.  That  both  hands  and  brain  in  so  high 
a  state  of  perfection  should  be  man's  possession  is  cause 
for  genuine  surprise. 

Head  and  hands,  which  represent  in  a  sense  the  develop- 
mental and  functional  climaxes  of  the  nervous  system  and 
the  muscular  system,  can  be  shown  to  hold  such  a  reciprocal 
relation  to  each  other  that  neither  could  have  come  into 
being,  nor  continue  to  be,  without  the  other.    The  powers 


INTRODUCTION  5 

of  knowing  which  characterize  man  could  never  have  been 
acquired,  nor  could  they  continue  to  exist  wholly  apart  from 
the  powers  of  doing  with  which  his  hands  endow  him.  It 
is  the  uniqueness  of  the  anatomical  combination  here  pre- 
sented that  is  surprising. 

While  this  physical  combination  of  brain  and  hands  is 
a  surprising  phenomenon,  the  consciously  knowing  and 
thinking  mind  is  a  marvelous  phenomenon.  The  fact  that 
a  natural  object  should  be  able  not  only  to  enter  into  such 
relations  with  other  natural  objects  as  that  called  by  us 
knowing,  but  should  be  able  also  to  establish  a  similar  rela- 
tion with  itself,  is  so  distinct  from  all  other  natural  facts 
with  which  we  are  acquainted  and  is  so  far  beyond  our 
present  powers  of  analytic  description  as  to  entitle  it  to  be 
characterized  as  marvelous.  Man's  supreme  glory  is  not 
only  that  he  can  know  the  world,  but  that  he  can  know 
himself  as  a  knower  of  the  world. 

During  recent  years  discoveries  and  speculation  concern- 
ing the  structure  of  the  stellar  universe  have  been  attracting 
much  attention.  The  facts,  certain  and  highly  probable, 
are  justly  characterized  as  wonderful,  marvelous.  Surely 
the  numbers  and  sizes  of  the  celestial  bodies  are  wonderful. 
Wonderful  too  are  the  radiations  from  them,  especially  in 
the  form  of  light,  by  which  knowledge  is  gained.  But  this 
wonder  comes  solely  from  the  augmentation  of  what  is  very 
familiar  to  us.  Sizes,  distances,  and  radiations  are  around 
us  on  every  side.  No  absolutely  new  kinds  of  phenomena 
enter  nature  by  these  newly  discovered  sizes  and  distances 
and  vast  journeys  of  light.  The  knowledge  obtained  by 
the  investigations  leading  to  these  discoveries  constitutes  a 
kind  of  relation  between  man  and  the  celestial  objects  con- 
cerned. A  purely  physical  relation  existed  before  as  well 
as  after  the  knowledge  was  gained.  Stellar  gravitation  and 
light  act  on  the  child  and  on  the  savage  just  as  certainly 
as  on  the  astronomer.    But  the  moment  the  physical  facts 


6  INTRODUCTION 

become  part  of  man's  knowledge,  another  sort  of  relation 
between  him  and  the  objects  is  established.  It  is  the  nature 
of  this  new  relation  and  of  man's  ability  to  establish  it 
that  seems  to  me  to  constitute  not  merely  the  central  won- 
der of  human  nature,  but  the  central  wonder  of  all  nature. 

The  doctrines  of  man's  apartness  from  nature  have  en- 
couraged an  easy-going  manner  of  knowledge-getting  which 
has  largely  destroyed  the  sense  of  the  wonderfulness  of 
the  ability  of  an  organism  to  think  and  reason.  By  con- 
ceiving mind  as  belonging  to  a  wholly  different  realm  from 
that  to  which  the  other  phenomena  of  nature  belong,  the 
realm  of  the  supernatural,  we  cut  ourselves  off  from  any 
basis  of  comparison,  any  standards  by  which  to  appraise 
the  powers  and  capacities  of  the  human  mind. 

The  recognition  of  man  as  a  part  of  nature  makes  it 
necessary  to  adopt  a  different  attitude  toward  his  knowl- 
edge-getting processes.  By  such  recognition  these  processes 
are  brought  down  from  the  realm  of  the  supernatural  into 
the  everyday  world  of  phenomena-which-can-be-known. 
Like  other  activities  of  living  things,  mental  processes  must 
be  scrutinized  as  to  their  stimuli,  their  courses,  and  their 
fruitfulness.  That  is  to  say,  they  become  proper  subject- 
matter  for  the  naturalist.  Certain  highly  respectable 
thinkers  have  recognized  the  possibility  and  the  desirability 
of  a  "natural  history  mode  of  philosophizing,"  contrasting 
such  a  way  of  thinking  about  the  universe  with  the  pro- 
fessedly subjective  mode  on  the  one  hand,  and  the  quanti- 
tatively exact  or  mathematical  mode,  on  the  other. 

The  naturalist's  way  of  working  is  a  different  way  from 
that  of  the  theologian,  or  the  metaphysician,  or  the  pure 
mathematician.  It  is  even  a  different  way  from  that  of 
many  modern  biologists  who  restrict  the  term  biology 
to  knowledge  gained  from  experimentation,  and  who  seek 
only  to  explain  all  organic  phenomena  in  terms  of  physics 
and  chemistry.    In  other  words  the  naturalist  whose  realm 


INTRODUCTION  7 

of  study  is  living  nature,  as  contrasted  with  the  biologist  in 
the  modern,  restricted  sense  of  biology,  seeks  all  the  knowl- 
edge and  understanding  he  can  possibly  get  of  organisms, 
regardless  of  whether  he  can  express  or  explain  all  he  ob- 
serves in  terms  used  in  other  realms  of  nature  or  not. 

The  naturalist  begins  his  career  when  he  begins  his  life, 
and  hence  has  no  presuppositions,  postulates,  and  axioms 
at  the  outset.  These  come  later.  They  grow  out  of  his 
experiences  and  are  not  basic  for  them.  His  work  and  his 
interest  date  from  a  time  when  he  has  very  little  else,  men- 
tally speaking,  than  ability  to  respond  to  stimuli. 

If  he  should  decide  to  make  a  professional  career  of 
studying  some  segment  of  the  universe  for  the  purpose  of 
understanding  it  and  helping  himself  and  others  to  live  in 
it  more  successfully  than  they  otherwise  could,  he  might 
find  that  career  taking  on  two  sharply  different  phases.  On 
the  one  hand  he  might  be  occupied  with  the  job  of  gathering 
and  interpreting  facts  about  the  universe  external  to  him- 
self, and  with  making  them  useful  to  himself  and  other 
people.  This  would  make  him  a  thoroughly  objective  nat- 
uralist. His  single-minded  devotion  to  his  career  might  be 
greatly  productive  of  good.  Because  of  its  sincerity  and 
simplicity  of  devotion  to  ideas  and  ideals  this  phase  of  his 
career  could  well  be  characterized  as  naive.  While  work- 
ing in  this  way  he  might  be  spoken  of  as  a  naive  naturalist, 
and  the  phase  itself  might  be  called  naive  naturalism.  Then, 
should  he  further  determine  to  study  minds  and  what  they 
accomplish  as  seriously  as  he  studies  the  phenomena  of 
the  Universe  external  to  himself,  he  would  find  himself 
launched  into  a  quite  different  undertaking.  But  since  he 
would  find  nothing  to  make  him  doubt  that  his  newly  as- 
sumed tasks  were  any  less  natural  than  all  he  had  been 
doing  as  a  naive  naturalist,  he  would  consider  himself  as 
passing  into  a  different  phase  of  his  career  as  a  naturalist. 
This  new  phase  he  might  well  characterize  as  philosophical. 


8  INTRODUCTION 

or  critical.  He  would  become  a  critical  naturalist  as  well 
as  a  naive  naturalist/ 

My  starting-point,  my  motive,  and  my  procedure  in  this 
book  have  been  strictly  that  of  the  naturalist  in  the  two- 
fold sense  just  defined.  Neither  as  psychologist  nor  phi- 
losopher in  the  specialized  sense  of  these  terms,  do  I  make 
any  claim  for  myself.  Recognizing  that  searching  and 
potent  understanding  of  mind  is  impossible  apart  from  such 
understanding  of  body,  I  have  attempted  to  describe  the 
working  of  mind-and-body  in  human  beings  and  in  other 
living  things;  to  examine  critically  the  mental  technique  in- 
volved in  such  descriptions;  and  to  reason  broadly  as  to 
the  bearings  of  the  facts  and  processes  on  human  life. 

A  disparaging  remark  frequently  made  about  certain 
persons  is  that  they  "do  not  know  their  own  minds."  The 
assumption  seems  to  be  that  all  really  normal  and  capable 
people  do  "know  their  own  minds."  As  a  matter  of  fact 
very  few  people  know  their  own  minds  even  moderately  well 
in  a  technical  sense,  and  none  know  their  minds  fully. 
Neither  do  people  know  their  own  bodies,  so  far  as  that  goes. 
Most  of  our  bodily  processes  run  on  quite  independently 
of  our  knowledge  of  them.  The  organs  of  digestion  do  their 
work  quite  as  well  in  the  new-born  babe  as  they  do  in  that 
same  person  after  he  has  become  a  full-fledged  physiologist 
with  digestion  as  his  specialty.  It  is  demonstrable  that 
many  of  the  processes  involved  in  acquiring  knowledge  and 
in  knowing,  which  are  certainly  dependent  upon  the  nervous 
system,  run  on  as  independently  of  our  knowledge  of  those 
processes  and  their  organs,  as  is  the  case  with  the  digestive 

^  The  terms  naturalist  and  naturalism  as  here  used  have  only  a  re- 
mote connection  with  those  terms  as  used  in  traditional  philosophy.  The 
naive  naturalist  never  seriously  doubts  either  the  reality  of  the  objects 
with  which  he  is  occupied  or  the  trustworthiness  of  his  knowledge  of 
those  objects,  once  this  has  been  fully  verified.  Every  astronomer, 
chemist,  botanist,  psychologist,  or  sociologist  whose  observational  knowl- 
edge does  not  permit  him  to  be  diverted  by  dogmatism  in  one  direction 
or  skepticism  in  the  other,  is  a  naturalist  in  this  sense. 


INTRODUCTION  9 

processes  and  their  organs.  The  mere  fact  that  we  have 
minds  and  can  use  them  is  no  evidence  that  we  understand 
them.  If  we  would  know  our  own  minds  we  must  acquire 
knowledge  of  them  in  much  the  same  ways  that  have  made 
us  know  our  own  digestive  or  circulatory  systems. 

No  one  who  has  considerable  acquaintance  with  any  of 
the  biological  sciences  can  have  failed  to  note  the  constancy 
with  which  the  comparative  method  is  resorted  to.  In 
any  good  modern  treatise  on  the  digestive  or  circulatory 
or  nervous  system  of  man,  the  discussions  are  based  upon 
observations  on  animals  of  very  diverse  rank  in  the  zo- 
ological scale,  with  as  little  question  about  the  trustworthi- 
ness of  the  facts  for  elucidating  the  human  problem  under 
treatment  as  those  based  on  observations  on  man  himself. 
Within  limits  which  the  investigator  should  know  well,  the 
structures  and  functions  of  the  lower  creatures  are  so  sim- 
ilar to  the  corresponding  human  structures  and  functions 
that  the  conclusions  drawn  from  them  can  be  applied  with- 
out hesitation  to  man  also. 

This  similarity  between  man  and  inferior  animals  in  so 
many  physical  particulars  makes  it  possible  for  man  to  know 
many  things  about  himself  and  to  do  to  himself  many  ad- 
vantageous things  that  he  could  never  know  and  do  but  for 
his  knowledge  concerning  these  less  complex  creatures. 
Such  a  measure  of  knowledge  of  the  human  circulatory  and 
nervous  systems  as  we  now  possess  could  not  have  been 
reached  but  for  the  opportunity  of  studying  them  in  their 
varied  and  much  simpler  expressions  in  the  lower  orders 
and  particularly  in  the  embryos  of  these  orders.  Our  en- 
terprise aims  to  utilize  the  activities  of  the  lower  animals 
as  effectually  for  enabling  us  to  know  our  own  activities 
and  to  control  our  own  conscious  acts,  as  we  now  utilize  the 
bodies  of  such  animals  for  enabling  us  to  know  our  own 
bodies  and  to  control  our  purely  vegetative  functions. 

It  has  long  been  recognized  on  the  basis  of  their  activities 


lo  INTRODUCTION 

that  many  animals  possess  minds,  and  that  these  are  similar 
in  a  considerable  number  of  respects  to  human  minds. 
Great  progress  has  recently  been  made  in  the  comparative 
study  of  these  two  orders  of  minds,  each  order  having  been 
made  to  contribute  much  to  an  interpretation  of  the  other; 
but  no  such  pronounced  success  has  attended  these  studies 
in  the  direction  of  closing  the  gap  between  the  minds  of 
brute  animals  and  the  minds  of  men,  as  has  attended  the 
comparative  morphological  and  physiological  studies.  In 
consequence  of  this,  although  men  are  well  aware  of  their 
supremacy  over  all  other  living  creatures,  we  do  not  yet 
possess  a  thoroughly  critical  presentation  of  exactly  in  what 
this  supremacy  consists.  Such  presentation  this  book  will,  I 
trust,  go  far  toward  furnishing. 


CHAPTER  2 

THE  ABILITY  OF  LIVING  BEINGS  TO  EXIST  AND  DEVELOP 
DESPITE  ADVERSE  CONDITIONS:  THE  PHENOMENON 
OF  ADAPTATION 

Among  the  myriads  of  bodies  in  the  world  there  is  one 
great  class  whose  individuals  are  able  to  perform  a  con- 
siderable number  of  acts  upon  which  their  continued  exist- 
ence depends.  All  such  bodies  we  call  living,  or  organic. 
There  is  another  great  class,  the  individuals  of  which  we 
call  non-living,  or  inorganic,  whose  continued  existence  does 
not  depend  on  any  such  actions  of  their  own.  One  great 
subclass  of  living  bodies  has  greater  ability  for  acting  than 
another  subclass.  The  more  active  subdivision  we  call 
animal,  the  less  active  vegetable.  This  way  of  classifying 
the  world  of  bodies  is  rough-and-ready  but  unquestionably 
true  as  far  as  it  goes,  and  useful  for  our  present  purposes. 

One  of  the  surest  tests  we  can  apply  toward  deciding 
whether  a  strange  body  is  an  animal  is  to  touch  it  and  see 
whether  it  moves  after  the  manner  famihar  to  us  as  animal 
movement:  movement  due  to  contraction  induced  by  stimu- 
lation. So  characteristic  of  animals  is  action  of  this  kind 
that  for  most  ordinary  purposes  positive  results  of  such  an 
experiment  satisfy  us.  We  conclude  it  is  an  animal  because 
of  our  wide  knowledge  that  no  other  bodies  than  animals 
move  in  that  fashion  and  under  such  circumstances.  This 
presents  in  terms  of  common  experience  the  familiar  gen- 
eralization as  to  what  essentially  characterizes  an  animal 
organism.  What  animal  organisms  essentially  are,  that 
plant  organisms  are  also  in  some  of  their  deepest  attributes. 
Living  beings  are  fundamentally  set  apart  from  non-living 
beings  by  their  activities  and  by  what  these  activities  ac- 
complish. Man's  way  of  doing  things,  especially  his  ra- 
il 


12  ABILITY  OF  LIVING  BEINGS 

tionally  conscious  activities,  distinguishes  him  within  living 
nature  as  a  distinct  kind  of  living  body,  and  the  very  thing 
that  separates  man  most  decisively  from  nature  in  general 
identifies  him  most  closely  with  living  nature. 

The  undertaking  upon  which  we  are  entering  is  grounded 
in  the  conviction  of  the  essential  correctness  of  the  evolu- 
tionary view  of  man's  origin,  and  his  kinship  with  the  whole 
living  world.  The  soundness  of  this  point  of  view  is  ex- 
amined in  Chapters  3  and  4,  "The  Problem  of  Man's  Origin 
and  Kinship."  Accepting  it  for  the  present  without  ques- 
tion, such  acceptance  implies  that  any  study  of  man  must 
proceed  as  a  two-fold  task:  first,  to  point  out  those  of  his 
characteristics  which  ally  him  with  the  living  world  gen- 
erally; and  second,  to  establish  with  equal  clearness  those 
characteristics  peculiar  or  specific  to  man.  This  involves 
special  emphasis  on  the  comparative  method  of  Louis  Agassiz 
and  the  older  naturalists;  but  since  it  is  in  man's  activities, 
rather  than  in  his  bodily  structure  that  we  find  his  most 
sharply  distinguishing  characteristics,  our  task  also  resembles 
that  of  the  student  of  animal  behavior. 

The  point  of  view  maintained  here  differs  from  that  of 
many  comparative  psychologists  in  requiring  us  to  consider, 
not  only  wherein  man's  activities  resemble  those  of  other 
animals,  but  wherein  these  activities  are  different.  The  net 
result  of  comparative  psychology  has  tended  to  dehumanize 
our  conception  of  man,  to  throw  us  back  on  his  possessions 
held  in  common  with  the  brutes.  The  treatment  in  this  book 
starts  with  the  common  heritage  of  man  and  brutes,  but 
carries  the  comparison  throughout  the  range  of  his  endow- 
ments and  activities,  to  examine  closely  wherein  he  differs 
from  the  brutes.  The  base  line  for  our  comparison  is  found 
in  the  unique  ability  of  living  things  as  compared  with  all 
other  things  to  fit  themselves  into  different  environments. 
This  ability  is  known  as  adaptation  and  is  widely  recognized 
in  the  treatment  of  man  and  all  other  organisms. 


TO  DEVELOP  DESPITE  ADVERSITY  13 

There  appears  to  1)6  no  human  activity  whatever  that 
does  not  have  to  submit  to  the  question:  How  well  is  it 
done?  It  is  in  the  very  nature  of  mankind's  knowledge  of 
its  own  activities  to  recognize  that  these  are  of  different 
degrees  of  excellence.  Some  carpenters,  some  lawyers, 
some  base-ball  players,  are  better  than  others.  The  good, 
better,  best  criterion  is  applied  down  to  the  smallest  ele- 
ments that  enter  into  the  various  activities.  Some  generally 
good  carpenters  are  specially  good  at  inside  finishing  or 
perhaps  at  shingling.  Some  lawyers  are  excellent  counselors 
but  indifferent  advocates.  A  star  out-fielder  may  be  rather 
poor  as  a  base  runner;  and  so  on  without  end.  This  per- 
ception of  difference  in  excellence  of  our  own  acts  seems  to 
be  as  deep  seated  as  our  knowledge  of  the  acts. 

May  the  activities  of  creatures  below  man  be  judged  in 
the  same  way?  As  to  all  domestic  animals,  we  surely  do 
judge  them  thus.  With  horses,  mules  and  oxen,  the  good, 
better,  best  criterion  is  applied  to  their  human-service  ac- 
tivities. Concerning  such  activities  as  egg-laying  by  hens, 
milk-giving  by  cows,  and  meat-production  by  hogs,  the 
regular  "performance"  records  kept  by  farmers  tell  the 
story. 

But  what  about  wuld  animals?  Any  one  who  has  lived 
by  the  seaside  where  he  could  watch  pelicans,  cormorants, 
and  other  fish-eaters  at  their  fishing,  will  not  hesitate  to 
pronounce  these  all  successful,  and  hence  good  fishers.  No- 
body's observations  in  this  connection  would  warrant  him 
in  supposing  the  excellence  of  their  fishing  to  be  entirely 
faultless.  Whether  the  members  of  any  one  of  the  species 
differ  from  one  another  as  individual  humans  differ  in 
fishing  ability  is  by  no  means  easy  to  decide,  so  difficult 
is  it  to  observe  in  detail,  and  thus  to  compare  the  perform- 
ances of  a  large  number  of  individuals.  But  as  to  wild 
animals  generally,  we  now  have  a  sufficient  mass  of  trust- 
worthy observations  to  make  it  clear  that  diversities  in 


14  ABILITY  OF  LIVING  BEINGS 

quality  of  performance  occur  here  also.  This  evidence  we 
hold  to  be  fundamental  to  our  imdertaking.  It  has  never 
been  brought  together  and  systematically  studied  to  get  at 
its  meaning  in  relation  to  human  activities. 

How  effective  are  those  activities  of  animals  by  which 
they  solve  their  problems  of  getting  food,  securing  mates, 
protecting  themselves  from  injurious  things  in  their  sur- 
roundings and  securing  their  welfare  generally?  This  ques- 
tion is  the  essence  of  the  problem  of  adaptation  as  applied 
to  the  activities  of  animals.  The  larger  part  of  all  that  has 
been  written  about  adaptation  has  referred  to  the  structure 
of  organisms  only.  When  one  speaks  of  birds  as  being 
adapted  for  locomotion  in  the  air,  what  he  thinks  of  is  the 
structure  of  the  forelimbs,  of  the  feathers,  of  the  shape  of 
the  body,  and  so  on.  The  acts  involved  in  flying  are  not 
often  thought  of  as  adaptive.  Birds  are  more  apt  to  be 
spoken  of  as  adapted  for  than  as  adapted  in  flight.  As  a 
matter  of  actual  observation,  organic  activity  is  far  and 
away  more  adaptive  than  is  organic  structure.  INIany  or- 
ganic parts,  particularly  of  the  higher  animals,  can  act  in 
a  variety  of  ways  with  little  effect  on  the  structures  con- 
cerned. No  one  would  suppose  that  the  magpie's  acquired 
habit  of  getting  its  food  from  the  flesh  of  live  sheep  would 
have  any  perceptible  effect  on  the  bird's  beak  during  an 
individual  life  time,  and  perhaps  never  for  the  species  as  a 
whole.  Yet  the  change  of  activity  might  be  very  important 
for  the  welfare  of  the  individuals  concerned.  The  fact 
that  a  mule  can  use  his  hind  limbs  to  good  effect  for  kick- 
ing does  not  prove  at  all  that  this  particular  form  of  action 
has  had  any  part  in  determining  the  form  of  the  hind  limbs. 
So  far  as  we  can  judge,  the  mule's  hind  legs  have  been  de- 
veloped for  one  kind  of  action  and  he  has  found  he  can 
use  them  for  an  additional  kind.  The  variety  of  acts  that 
every  normal  human  hand  performs  may  be  taken  as  rep- 
resenting the  highest  exemplification  of  the  general  principle 


TO  DEVELOP  DESPITE  ADVERSITY  15 

that  one  and  the  same  structure  may  be  used  by  its  possessor 
in  more  than  one  way. 

The  ordinary  knowledge  of  life  contains  the  idea  of  adap- 
tation in  both  structure  and  activity  as  essential  to  life. 
The  idea  is  inherent  in  the  facts  of  death  and  injury  as 
opposed  to  life  and  health.  Latterly  a  considerable  number 
of  biologists  have  expressed  the  view  that  ordinary  knowl- 
edge is  wrong  in  holding  this  idea.  It  ought  either  to  be 
applied  to  both  non-living  and  living  bodies  or  to  neither. 
Living  bodies  are  constituted,  just  as  non-living  ones  are, 
of  "matter"  and  "energy"  and  nothing  else.  If  the  idea 
of  adaptation  is  not  needed  for  lifeless  beings  (composed 
of  energy-yielding  matter)  no  more  is  it  needed  for  living 
ones  (also  composed  of  energy-yielding  matter),  according 
to  these  biologists. 

We  are  fundamentally  opposed  to  this  view  that  adapta- 
tion is  a  useless  conception  for  the  description  and  interpre- 
tation of  vital  activity.  It  is  impossible  to  describe  living 
beings  with  anything  approaching  fullness,  without  constant 
reference  to  attributes  of  them  the  very  existence  of  which 
is  inseparable  from  this  idea  of  adaptation.  All  living  be- 
ings must  have  constant  supplies  of  substances  called  foods; 
otherwise  they  die.  All  such  beings  must  reproduce  their 
kind,  or  they  become  extinct  as  a  kind.  There  is  always  the 
possibility  of  their  failing  to  get  food  or  to  propagate.  To 
a  very  great  extent  successes  and  failures  in  these  and  vari- 
ous other  ways  depend  on  particular  structural  features  of 
the  organisms,  and  upon  what  they  do  or  fail  to  do.  This 
being  constructed  in  such-and-such  ways,  and  acting  so-and- 
so  relative  to  success  or  failure  is  what  common  knowledge 
calls  adaptation.  The  proposal  to  eliminate  the  idea  from 
the  biological  sciences  is  tantamount  to  proposing  the  elim- 
ination from  these  sciences  of  the  ideas  of  food-taking,  of 
propagating,  of  dying,  and  of  all  the  other  ideas  best  es- 
tablished in  all  knowledge  of  organisms.    If  organisms  come 


i6        ABILITY  OF  LIVING  BEINGS  TO  DEVELOP 

into  living  existence  at  all  and  continue  to  live,  doing  these 
things  is  prima  facie  proof  that  they  are  at  least  partially 
adapted  to  do  them.  The  alternatives  would  be  that  the}' 
would  never  become  living,  or  would  not  continue  to  liva 
The  final  meaning  of  adaptation  is  the  continuance  of  in- 
dividual life  to  its  wonted  end.  The  final  meaning  of 
maladaptation  is  the  discontinuance  of  individual  life  before 
its  wonted  end.  Life-or-death  for  the  individual  is  the  final 
criterion  of  adaptation. 

While  adaptation  and  adaptability  in  the  human  species 
will  be  the  central  interest  in  this  book,  we  shall  be  obliged 
to  devote  much  time  to  adaptation  in  animals  generally. 
Their  successes  and  failures  in  solving  their  life  problems 
will  occupy  us  in  Chapters  5  to  14.  The  significance  of 
this  mass  of  material  for  the  interpretation  of  human  con- 
duct depends  on  the  assumption  that  human  animals  and 
brute  animals  belong  to  one  great  family  by  common  de- 
scent, and  that  brute  activity  lends  as  much  assistance  to 
the  understanding  of  human  activity  as  does  brute  structure 
to  the  understanding  of  human  structure.  While  the  kin- 
ship of  humans  and  brutes  in  bodily  structure  is  generally 
recognized,  their  equally  significant  kinship  in  mentality 
as  manifest  in  their  activities  is  not.  To  many  honest  and 
reverent  men,  such  kinship  is  open  to  serious  question. 

If  established,  there  is  no  doubt  whatever  that  our  con- 
ception of  Man,  and  of  Nature  conceived  as  including  Man, 
will  be  changed.  Therefore  our  next  undertaking,  in  Chap- 
ters 3  and  4,  will  be  a  careful  examination  of  the  evidence 
available  as  to  the  origin  and  kinships  of  human  beings,  giv- 
ing attention  both  to  the  factual  evidence  and  to  our  mental 
technique  in  dealing  with  it. 


CHAPTER  3 

THE  PROBLEM  OF  MAN's  ORIGIN  AND  KINSHIP:  FACTUAL 
EVIDENCE  AND  ITS  PROPER  TREATMENT 

Our  primary  interest  throughout  this  book  h'es  in  the  study 
of  the  way  in  which  man's  adaptive  activities  are  superior 
to  those  of  other  animals.  The  value  of  such  a  study  for 
human  affairs  lies  in  indicating  the  most  effective  lines  of 
development,  of  conscious  improvement,  of  conduct. 

Man  is,  in  general,  more  than  a  match  for  the  beasts. 
In  the  words  of  the  Hebrew  Scriptures,  the  Lord  has  given 
him  dominion  over  the  earth,  beasts  and  all.  In  just  what 
manner  is  this  "dominion"  made  secure?  The  answer  to 
this  question  is  not  to  be  found  in  his  structure  alone. 
Slow  of  foot,  naked,  shivering,  short-sighted,  dull  of  ear, 
on  the  basis  of  structure  alone  man  possesses  no  primacy. 
When  the  use  of  his  bodily  parts  is  considered,  we  find 
that  in  the  realm  ol  reflexive  and  instinctive  activities,  he 
is  still  far  from  establishing  superiority.  It  is  only  when 
we  come  to  deal  with  that  group  of  activities  consciously 
directed  toward  securing  his  own  well-being,  which  we  call 
intelligent,  that  we  find  man  the  unquestioned  superior  of  all 
other  living  things.  Our  study  therefore  becomes  psycho- 
biological;  and  concerned  primarily  with  the  development  of 
psychical  activities  as  adaptive  agencies. 

HOW  WE   THINK  ABOUT  EVOLUTION 

Our  mode  of  treatment,  which  may  be  characterized  as 
that  of  comparative  psychobiology,  involves  an  assumption 
of  the  kinship  of  man  with  the  rest  of  the  living  world,  and 
of  an  especially  close  kinship  with  the  upper  levels  of  the 

17 


i8  PROBLEM  OF  IVIAN'S  ORIGIN 

animal  world.  "Kinship"  as  used  here  is  not  figurative  but 
literal,  carrying  the  idea  of  "blood-kin,"  of  common  descent, 
or  genetic  relationship. 

This  is  too  large  an  assumption,  on  a  matter  vital  to 
human  -welfare,  to  be  taken  for  granted.  It  therefore  be- 
comes necessary  to  examine  the  basis  of  the  assumption  in 
facts  and  in  logic.  The  degree  of  probable  truth  revealed 
by  this  examination  is  a  measure  of  the  usefulness  of  the 
comparative  method  for  the  psychobiological  study  of  man 
and  of  the  trustworthiness  of  the  generalizations  which  may 
be  made  from  the  descriptive  material  to  be  presented 
later. 


COMMON    SENSE    AND    THE    EVOLUTION    THEORY 

Rational  human  beings  living  as  part  and  parcel  of 
animate  nature  have  always  known  a  great  deal  about  and 
have  accepted  evolution  quite  independently  of  any  formal 
theory  of  evolution.  If  any  one  doubts  this  let  him  turn 
to  The  Origin  of  Species.  "Variation  under  Domestica- 
tion" is  the  title  of  the  first  chapter.  "Under  domestica- 
tion"! what  a  body  of  ordinary  experience  this  connotes; 
and  how  skillfully  Darwin  made  use  of  it! 

The  main  classes  of  facts  and  principles  upon  which  rests 
the  evolution  theory  are  well-known  and  unquestioningly 
accepted.  Such  knowledge  while  positive  enough  and  im- 
plicitly trusted  does  not  reach  much  beyond  the  bounds  of 
immediate  observation  and  experience.  With  reference  to 
every  one  of  the  basic  principles  considered,  the  question 
arises  as  to  whether  or  not  they  do  hold  good  beyond  the 
scope  of  common  experience  and  knowledge.  A  serious  at- 
tempt to  answer  the  question  would,  if  the  answer  were 
affirmative,  result  in  a  general  hypothesis  and  theory,  or 
doctrine  of  evolution. 

As  is  well  known,  such  an  hypothesis  and  theory  were 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  19 

ushered  into  the  modern  world  by  the  publication  about 
sixty-five  years  ago  of  The  Origin  oj  Species  by  Means  of 
Natural  Selection.  This  epochal  book  dealt,  not  with  the 
all-embracing  problem  of  organic  development,  but  with 
one  specific  though  crucial  aspect  of  it,  namely  that  of  how 
new  species  originate;  and  it  proposed  and  defended  with 
great  ability  a  casual  explanation  of  such  origin.  This  is 
the  point  at  which  man's  understanding  of  the  phenomena 
of  development  in  living  nature  may  be  considered  to  have 
passed  from  the  realm  of  common  knowledge  to  that  of 
technical  knowledge,  and  marks  the  beginning,  in  modern 
times  at  least,  of  study  by  the  methods  and  for  the  purposes 
of  science  of  the  origin  of  those  species  or  kinds  which 
compose  the  vast  world  of  living  things. 

From  the  broad  outlook  to  which  we  have  been  led  by  the 
progress  of  knowledge  since  Darwin's  great  book  was  writ- 
ten, we  see  that  instead  of  defining  the  evolution  theory 
as  being  a  theory  of  the  "origin  of  species"  merely,  it  should 
be  defined  as  the  theory  that  the  well-known  principles  gov- 
erning the  origin  of  the  comparatively  few  organisms  with 
which  the  common  life  of  man  has  made  him  familiar, 
govern  also  the  origin  of  the  whole  living  world.  Common 
knowledge  now  accepts  evolution  as  the  mode  of  the  origin 
of  individual  men  and  all  other  organisms,  animal  and  plant. 
There  is  no  longer  any  question  that  men  and  animals  and 
plants  originate  from  parent  organisms.  The  idea  of  "spon- 
taneous generation,"  the  origin  of  organisms  without  parents, 
widely  prevalent  up  to  seventy-five  years  ago,  is  now  wholly 
discarded  in  common  teaching  and  experience  no  less  than 
in  technical  teaching  and  experience. 

Nor  does  the  common  acceptance  of  evolution  stop  with 
its  application  to  the  growth  of  individuals,  and  the  causa- 
tion of  individuals  by  other  individuals.  Such  acceptance 
has  now  gone  far  into  the  more  obscure  realm  of  the  origin 
of  kinds  of  individuals.    In  agriculture,  in  horticulture,  in 


20  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

floriculture,  in  animal  husbandry,  and  in  pet-animal  cul- 
ture, new  kinds  are  so  numerously  produced  that  they  are 
much  more  commonly  seen  than  are  the  original  or  parent 
kinds.  The  principles  upon  which  such  producing  depend 
are  widely  known  and  applied,  even  more  so  by  non-technical 
persons  than  by  professional  biologists.  New  varieties  of 
potatoes,  tomatoes,  corn,  and  wheat;  of  roses,  dahlias, 
daisies  and  irises;  of  chickens,  sheep,  pigs,  cats,  dogs,  and 
rabbits,  are  so  commonplace  as  to  attract  little  attention 
except  for  their  usefulness  or  beauty.  So  far  as  the  evolu- 
tion or  development  of  a  great  variety  of  kinds  of  organisms 
is  concerned,  common  sense  not  only  accepts  it  in  knowledge 
and  faith  but  goes  much  further  than  that.  It  actually 
lives  by  it,  thus  applying  to  it  the  supreme  test  of  all  knowl- 
edge and  faith  in  conduct. 

THE  PRINCIPLE  OF  IDENTITY  IN  THE  EVOLUTION  THEORY 

One  of  the  things  which  makes  the  problem  of  origin  of 
new  kinds  or  species  peculiarly  difficult,  no  matter  from 
what  angle  it  be  approached,  is  the  fact  that  it  inevitably 
involves  the  problem  of  the  origin  of  man  himself.  As  was 
fully  recognized  by  Darwin  and  practically  every  other  nat- 
uralist or  philosopher  or  theologian  who  has  tried  seriously 
to  understand  the  nature  of  man,  his  resemblance  to  other 
living  beings,  especially  the  higher  animals,  has  been  obvious 
enough  to  arouse  the  strong  conjecture  that  the  ultimate 
origin  of  man  was  involved  with  the  ultimate  origin  of  all 
the  rest  of  the  animate  world.  The  tremendous  hold  on 
men's  minds  and  the  influence  upon  their  lives  exerted  by 
The  Origin  of  Species  was  only  secondarily  due  to  the  purely 
scientific  problem  of  how  new  kinds  of  plants  and  inferior 
animals  originate.  The  power  of  the  book  lay  and  still 
lies  in  its  emotional  impingement  upon  man's  own  life  as 
dependent  upon  how  he  came  into  being.    This  vital  truth 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  21 

it  is  necessary  to  take  full  cognizance  of  in  such  an  under- 
taking as  we  are  engaged  upon. 

Why  is  it  that  men  have  so  generally  desired  a  mode  of 
racial  origin  wholly  different  from  and  presumably  superior 
to  the  well-known  mode  of  individual  origin?  Why  have 
men  felt  that  a  supernatural  or  divine  mode  of  racial  origin 
would  be  better  for  them  than  any  natural  mode  would  be, 
even  though  they  were  obliged  to  be  satisfied  with  a  natural 
mode  of  individual  origin? 

Broad  information  about  man  in  different  stages  of  his 
culture  shows  him  to  be  more  solicitous  about  the  character 
of  his  origin  in  advanced  than  in  lowly  states  of  his  develop- 
ment. Many  savage  peoples  are  apparently  well  satisfied 
with  the  idea  that  they  originated  from  animal  or  from  even 
more  lowly  subhuman  ancestors.  On  the  other  hand,  most 
of  the  highly  cultivated  peoples,  as  those  of  Christian  na- 
tions, have  been  and  still  are  sorely  disturbed  by  any  ques- 
tioning of  their  supposed  supernatural  origin.  Why  is 
this?  An  element  in  the  explanation  is  the  fact  that  men 
are  strongly  given  to  believing  their  own  present  natures 
depend  upon  the  source  from  which  they  came  in  a  sense 
close  examination  finds  not  to  be  correct. 

No  one  now  doubts  that  in  general  "like  produces  like" 
in  organic  propagation,  that  the  nature  of  organisms  is 
determined  in  some  sense  by  the  nature  of  their  parents 
and  other  ancestors.  From  the  standpoint  of  the  knowledge- 
processes  involved  in  our  knowing  anything  about  the  nature 
and  origin  of  natural  bodies,  we  recognize  that  in  another 
sense  the  nature  of  the  organism  is  quite  independent  of  its 
origin.  Neither  the  reality  of  any  object  nor  the  certainty 
of  our  knowledge  about  it  depend  upon  what  we  know  or  do 
not  know  about  the  origin  of  that  object.  The  sugar  with 
which  you  sweeten  your  breakfast  coffee  is  sugar  and  not 
salt  or  anything  else,  regardless  of  whether  it  originated 
from  sugar-cane  or  sugar-beets.    It  makes  not  the  slightest 


22  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

difference  in  your  certainty  that  you  have  put  sugar  and 
not  salt  into  your  coffee,  whether  you  have  any  information 
about  where  the  sugar  came  from  and  how  it  originated. 
Knowledge  of  form,  structure,  activities  of  any  object,  and 
knowledge  of  the  origin  of  that  object  are  wholly  distinct 
so  far  as  actual  knowledge  in  itself  is  concerned. 

According  to  the  principle  of  identity,  a  man  is  a  man 
regardless  not  merely  of  any  hypothesis  or  doctrine  which 
may  be  held  concerning  his  origin,  but  regardless  of  his 
actual  origin.  If  I  meet  A,  a  person  whom  I  have  never 
before  seen  or  heard  of,  and  if  upon  becoming  more 
or  less  personally  acquainted  with  him,  I  decide  to  call  him 
"a  man,"  it  would  be  a  violation  of  this  principle  for  me  to 
deny  later  that  he  is  a  man,  merely  on  the  strength  of 
something  I  might  have  learned  in  the  meanwhile  about  his 
origin. 

The  history  of  man  is  filled  with  violations  of  this  prin- 
ciple. Every  prophet,  taking  the  word  in  its  usual  meaning 
of  a  person  held  to  be  something  more  than  human,  illus- 
trates such  violation.  A  famous  instance  from  "profane" 
history  is  that  of  Alexander  the  Great  and  his  episode  with 
the  Egyptian  god  Zeus  Ammon.  We  take  in  substance  the 
story  as  told  by  Grote.  During  the  three  years  just  pre- 
ceding the  entrance  of  the  Conqueror  into  Egypt,  his 
achievements  "had  transcended  the  expectations  of  every 
one,  himself  included — the  gods  had  given  to  him  such  in- 
cessant good  fortune,  and  so  paralyzed  or  put  down  his 
enemies — that  the  hypothesis  of  a  superhuman  personality 
seemed  the  natural  explanation  of  such  a  superhuman  ca- 
reer. This  caused  him  to  recur  to  the  heroic  legends  which 
connected  his  own  ancestral  line  with  Perseus  and  Herakles. 
He  resolved  to  ascertain  the  fact  about  his  own  real  nature 
by  questioning  "the  infallible  oracle  of  Zeus  Ammon"  at  a 
temple  to  the  god  on  a  remote  oasis  in  the  desert.  After 
a  hard  journey  the  temple  was  reached  and  Alexander  was 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  23 

addressed  by  the  priest  ''as  being  the  son  of  the  god" 
(probably  quite  to  Alexander's  surprise!).  Grote  bases  his 
acceptance  of  the  genuineness  of  Alexander's  faith  in  his 
own  supernatural  origin  and  nature  partly  on  "that  exor- 
bitant vanity  which  from  the  beginning  reigned  so  largely 
in  his  bosom."  Today,  with  wider  knowledge  of  the  de- 
velopment of  the  human  mind,  we  can  accept  it  as  not  so 
much  a  display  of  excessive  vanity  as  a  fairly  typical  mani- 
festation of  human  nature  in  a  particular  developmental 
stage. 

Of  the  numerous  examples  which  could  easily  be  cited 
in  which  men  and  women  of  our  own  day  have  made  them- 
selves and  others  believe  they  possessed  supernatural  powers 
of  one  sort  or  another,  we  mention  only  Joseph  Smith,  the 
founder  of  Mormonism.  In  The  Book  of  Mormon  Smith 
"was  declared  to  be  God's  'prophet'  with  all  power  and  en- 
titled to  all  obedience."  According  to  the  system  of  the  doc- 
trine of  the  Mormon  church,  not  only  Joseph  Smith  but 
also  Brigham  Young  are  listed  with  Christ  and  Mahomet  as 
"partaking  of  divinity."  ^  The  history  and  present  state 
of  Mormonism  are  very  illuminating  as  to  what  is  possible 
today,  in  a  modern  civilization,  in  the  super-naturalization 
of  human  beings. 

Critical  attention  to  the  history  of  man's  understanding 
of  himself  shows  conclusively  that  in  the  systems  of  positive 
knowledge  and  theory  which  he  has  built  up  on  the  subject, 
he  has  tried  in  various  ways  to  make  himself  something 
different  from  what  he  actually  is  by  conceiving  a  mode  of 
origin  for  himself  specially  favorable  to  what  he  desired 
to  be. 

The  effort  in  all  such  cases  is  to  gain  some  advantage 
for  or  through  the  person  held  to  be  specially  endowed  by 
attributing  to  him  powers  over  and  above  any  thing  he 
could  be  supposed  to  possess  as  "mere  man."     Such  en- 

h  "Mormonism,"  Encyclopedia  Britannica. 


24  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

dowment  must  be  supposed  to  have  originated  somehow, 
sometime.  A  common  way  of  conceiving  this  origination 
has  been  to  impute  it  to  the  birth  of  the  person.  The  case 
of  Alexander  illustrates  this.  Another  way  of  conceiving 
the  origin  of  the  unique  endowments  has  been  that  of  sup- 
posing the  persons  to  have  been  the  recipients,  sometime 
after  birth  in  the  ordinary  manner,  of  special  Gifts  or  Visi- 
tations from  on  High.  The  Joseph  Smith  case  is  an  example 
of  this. 


THE  PROBLEM  OF  NAMING  A  DEVELOPING  THING 

Our  decision  to  attempt  to  answer  the  question  of  whether 
evolution  is  universally  as  well  as  narrowly  true  by  expand- 
ing into  technical  knowledge  our  already-possessed  common 
knowledge  of  organic  origin  and  development  gives  this 
effort  a  peculiar  character.  If  the  attempt  should  lead  us 
to  an  affirmative  answer  we  should  find  ourselves  in  the 
wholly  unique  position  of  an  organism  trying  to  discover, 
by  its  own  processes  of  getting  knowledge,  how  the  organism 
itself  came  into  existence.  We  should  be  involved  in  the 
curious  undertaking  of  directing  our  own  knowledge  proc- 
esses, which  can  be  such  only  while  they  are  going  on,  to 
finding  out  when  and  how  they  went  on  sometime  in  the 
past.  Does  the  effort  decided  upon  involve  such  absurdity? 
Undoubtedly  many  philosophers  have  thought  so.  Cer- 
tainly the  great  rank  and  file  of  ordinary  mortals  have  felt 
so,  though  they  have  not  raised  the  feeling  into  expressible 
thought.  That  is  the  reason  why  so  much  of  mankind  has 
believed  itself  in  need  of,  and  to  have  received.  Divine  Rev- 
elation touching  matters  which  concerned  it  most  vitally. 
Man  has  not  been  willing  to  trust  his  own  ordinary  knowl- 
edge-getting ability  to  furnish  him  with  all  he  has  desired 
to  know  about  himself:  his  ultimate  origin,  highest  earthly 
welfare,  and  final  end.    If  we  make  up  our  minds  to  trust 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  25 

our  own  knowledge-getting  powers  in  our  effort  to  answer 
the  question  of  our  own  origin,  we  ought  to  give  careful  at- 
tention to  the  character  of  those  powers  and  the  processes 
by  which  they  work.  Many  a  professed  evolutionist  has 
launched  boldly  upon  the  sea  of  evolutional  theory  as  applied 
to  man,  whose  fitness  for  the  task  so  far  as  concerns  knowl- 
edge of  the  working  of  his  own  mind  was  distinctly  ques- 
tionable. 

Our  enterprise  of  applying  technical  knowledge  to  the 
evolution  theory  must  therefore  begin  by  learning  something 
about  the  nature  of  that  knowledge  itself.  We  must  attend 
to  the  knowledge  processes  involved  in  acquiring,  arranging 
and  connecting  facts,  as  well  as  to  the  facts  themselves. 
Every  objective  fact  like  every  other  fact  is  just  itself  and 
nothing  else,  and  cannot  change  into  any  other  fact.  The 
moiety  of  an  objective  fact  that  inheres  in  the  object  or 
body  observed  can  disappear  and  be  replaced  by  the  cor- 
responding part  of  some  other  fact,  as  when  the  green  of 
summer  foliage  is  replaced  by  the  brown  or  red  of  autumn 
foliage.  Each  fact  has  another  moiety  belonging  to  the 
mind,  and  the  permanence  of  this  latter  does  not  depend  on 
the  single  objective  fact.  If  we  are  to  understand  and  trust 
facts,  we  must  consider  their  subjective  as  v/ell  as  their 
objective  moities. 

Let  us  notice,  therefore,  how  we  think  about  or  reason 
about  some  of  the  simplest,  most  common  cases  of  "organic 
evolution."  Take  the  case  of  the  evolution  of  the  adult  man 
or  woman  from  the  new-born  babe.  That  the  development 
up  to  adulthood  consists  not  merely  in  increase  in  size  but 
in  many  pronounced  changes,  structural  and  functional,  is 
obvious.  Reflect  on  how  we  think  and  talk  about  such 
evolutions.  To  be  very  specific  take  a  boy  baby  a  month 
old.  Let  us  "name"  him  Robert.  When  he  is  a  year  old  he 
is  still  Robert,  is  he  not?  And  when  he  is  ten,  or  fifteen,  or 
one-and-twenty,  Robert  he  still  is,  despite  all  that  he  was  not 


26  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

on  the  christening  day.  Is  the  Robert  of  Tam  O'Shanter 
really  the  same  as  the  month-old  Robert  of  the  rude  Scot- 
tish home?  And  the  Robert  of  victory  at  Chancellorsville, 
is  he  truly  the  same  as  the  just-christened  Virginian  Robert? 

One  is  tempted  to  answer  these  questions  negatively  by 
trying  to  think  out  too  fully  how  it  can  possibly  be  that  such 
frail  and  inconsiderable  bits  of  flesh  and  blood  as  were  these 
two  infant  Roberts  should  become  the  great  forces  in  the 
world  they  did  become.  In  reality,  the  name  Robert  E. 
Lee  was  never  intended  by  those  who  gave  it  to  the  infant 
Virginian  to  fit  the  infant  merely.  It  was  given  with  the 
full  intention  that  it  would  be  as  applicable  to  the  mature 
man  and  all  the  stages  intervening  between  infancy  and 
maturity  as  to  the  infant  stage.  Names,  as  proper  names 
of  individual  humans,  are  in  their  very  nature  expansive 
enough  to  cover  not  only  potentiality  and  actuality  but  also 
different  stages  and  kinds  of  actuality.  The  infant,  the  lad, 
the  youth,  are  all  actually  what  they  are  as  well  as  poten- 
tially what  they  are  to  become. 

Notice  what  we  do  in  thinking  and  talking  about  such 
cases,  for  the  purpose  of  conforming  ourselves  to  what 
actually  occurs  in  nature  and  in  history,  even  though  we  are 
greatly  perplexed  as  to  just  how  and  just  why  it  occurs. 
At  the  outset  we  designate  one  indubitably  observed  natural 
object  with  the  label  "Robert  Burns"  and  another  with 
"Robert  E.  Lee."  In  doing  this  we  commit  ourselves  to 
applying  these  designations  to  the  respective  objects  just 
as  long  as  we  can  observe  them  and  identify  them  as  con- 
tinuations of  what  we  have  observed  before,  no  matter  how 
little  or  how  much  they  may  change  from  the  one  time  of 
observation  to  another.  Robert  Burns  is  Robert  Burns  and 
Robert  E.  Lee  is  Robert  E.  Lee  exactly  as  sugar  is  sugar. 

How  can  this  be  so  in  view  of  the  fact  that  we  have  ac- 
cepted the  famous  Robert  as  an  observational  reality,  just 
as  unquestioningly  as  we  have  accepted  the  infant?     It 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  27 

"can  be"  so  by  our  making  it  so.  We  make  it  so  by  a  kind 
of  mental  sleight  of  hand  always  practiced  in  connection 
with  our  naming  such  objects.  That  sleight  of  hand  con- 
sists in  stretching  somewhat  the  mark  whenever  we  need  to 
in  order  to  make  it  cover  or  include  the  whole  of  the  object 
marked.  While  the  object  bearing  the  mark,  Robert  Burns, 
is  unquestionably  quite  different  in  the  Tarn  O'Shanter 
period  of  its  life  from  what  it  was  in  the  month-old-infant 
period,  the  mark  itself  remains  the  same.  Consequently  the 
capacity,  or  as  we  ordinarily  say  the  definition  of  the  mark 
must  be  enlarged.  It  will  be  useful  to  compare  the  names 
applied  to  persons  with  the  names  applied  to  clothes  worn 
by  them.  While  we  do  not  enlarge  a  man's  name  ^  with 
his  advancing  years  so  definitely  and  consciously  as  we 
do  his  clothes,  that  we  do  it  as  certainly  there  is  not  the 
least  doubt. 

In  common  practice  nobody  ever  thinks  of  the  name 
Robert  E.  Lee  as  having  exactly  the  same  scope  and  content 
when  applied  to  the  great  commander  as  when  applied  to 
the  infant;  just  as  nobody  ever  questions  that  Robert  E. 
Lee  is  Robert  E.  Lee  whether  in  the  infant,  school-boy.  West 
Point  Cadet,  or  Commanding-General  stage  of  his  life. 
Common  sense  never  goes  wrong  among  highly  civilized 
peoples  in  these  matters.  Proper  names  of  individuals  as 
ordinarily  used  are  really  general  names  the  scope  of  which 
is  over  the  series  of  developmental  stages  in  time  as  con- 
trasted with  general  names  the  scope  of  which  is  over 
groups  of  individuals;  that  is  in  space.^    So  far  as  any  name 

2  The  whole  matter  of  naming  objects  presents  great  complexity  among 
all  peoples,  especially  among  those  of  primitive  culture.  "No  more 
strange  and  fascinating  study  of  the  vagaries  of  the  human  mind  is 
supplied,"  writes  Edward  Ciodd,  "than  is  furnished  by  this  phenomenon 
of  the  written  and  spoken  name ;  and  in  the  early  stages  of  society  it 
played  no  small  part  in  the  identification  of  the  human  with  the  non- 
human"  ("Primitive  Man  on  His  Own  Origin,"  Quarterly  Revieiv,  July, 
1911,  p.  117). 

3  If  this  is  correct.  Mill's  statement,  "Proper  names  are  attached  to 
the  objects  themselves,  and  are  not  dependent  upon  the  continuance  of 


28  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

can  be  applied  to  an  individual  organism,  especially  to  a 
developing  organism,  it  must  be  general  or  "it  would  be 
useless  as  a  guide  to  action."  * 


ACTUALITY  AND  POTENTIALITY  IN  EVOLUTION 

Another  aspect  of  the  evolution  problem  which  adds  to 
its  complication  both  in  its  phenomenal  phase,  and  in  its 
psychological-logical  phase  is  the  difficulty  of  including  in 
our  conception  of  an  organism  the  potentiality  or  latent  ca- 
pacity which  every  organism  has  in  any  one  of  its  develop- 
mental stages  to  pass  into  the  next  stage.  The  evolution 
of  the  oak  from  the  acorn,  of  the  hen  from  the  egg,  and  of 
every  other  organism  from  its  germ,  are  illustrations.  Here 
again  common  knowledge,  because  of  the  commonness  of 
the  phenomenon  and  the  absolute  dependence  of  human 
existence  upon  it,  always  goes  right  so  long  as  it  is  contented 
to  operate  within  its  own  proper  sphere,  but  is  in  constant 
danger  of  getting  into  rational  difficulties  when  it  tries  to  go 
beyond  that  sphere. 

In  behalf  of  thinking  correctly  as  well  as  merely  noticing 
correctly  let  us  consider  a  particular  instance.  Take  the 
development  of  the  silkworm  moth.  Recall  the  sharply  set- 
off stages  into  which  the  individual  life  history  of  this  insect 
divides  itself — egg,  larva,  pupa,  imago.  These  stages  are 
so  different  from  one  another  that  were  each  studied  only 
by  itself  it  could  hardly  be  suspected  that  each  comes  from 
the  other  in  the  order  mentioned.  Since,  however,  a  great 
many  persons  have  raised  silkworms,  there  is  not  the  least 
question  that  the  various  stages  originate  thus,  and  that 
each  individual  moth  lives  for  a  time  in  these  distinct  forms. 

any  attribute  of  the  object"  (A  System  of  Logic),  would  not  be  true. 
By  what  means  could  the  parents  of  Robert  E.  Lee  recognize  their  son 
upon  his  return  after  months  of  absence  if  there  were  no  "continuance 
of  any  attribute"  of  the  son? 

•*  Carveth  Read,  The  Origin  of  Man  and  His  Superstitions,  p.  99. 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  29 

No  silkworm  raiser  has  any  more  doubt  about  the  sameness 
of  an  individual  from  egg  to  winged  adult  than  has  the 
human  mother  about  the  sameness  of  her  child  from  infancy 
to  middle  life. 

What  do  we  do  in  our  ordinary  thinking  and  talking  about 
such  evolutionary  phenomena  as  that  of  the  ability  of  the 
egg  to  transform  into  the  larva,  of  the  larva  into  the  en- 
cased pupa,  and  of  the  pupa  into  the  imago?  There  are 
two  things  in  particular  which  we  take  on  faith  every  time 
we  say  or  do  anything  involving  such  cases.  We  recognize 
the  latent  capacity  of  each  stage  to  undergo  just  the  trans- 
formation it  actually  does  undergo.  We  take  it  for  granted 
it  will  do  so,  and  our  faith  is  of  such  kind  and  degree  as  to 
cause  us  to  base  on  it  common  and  very  important  actions. 
Every  seed-planting  by  the  farmer,  every  egg-hatching  by 
the  poultry  man,  every  moth-imago  production  by  the  silk 
raiser  is  an  act  of  faith.  Farmer,  poultry-man,  and  silk- 
raiser  base  their  actions  to  only  a  slight  extent  on  what 
they  can  observe  in  the  particular  kernels  of  wheat,  hen- 
eggs,  and  cocoons  from  which  they  expect  to  get  wheat- 
plants,  chickens,  and  moth-imagoes.  Nor  yet  do  they  base 
them  upon  certain  knowledge  of  the  outcome.  They  rely 
on  hundreds  of  thousands  of  instances  in  their  own  and 
other  people's  past  experiences  that  such  kernels,  such  eggs, 
and  such  pupae  actually  do  give  rise  to  plants,  chickens, 
and  moths  of  the  desired  kind. 

When  the  farmer  or  poultryman  examines  his  seed  grain 
and  breed  eggs  he  does  this  merely  to  discover  whether  they 
are  "good,"  i.e.,  are  the  kind,  as  grain  and  as  eggs,  that  he 
wants.  The  farmer  has  no  expectation  of  discovering  any- 
thing in  the  kernel  of  wheat  that  will  of  itself  reveal  to  him 
what  kind  of  plant  it  will  produce  or  indeed  if  it  will  pro- 
duce a  plant  at  all.  Had  no  one  ever  before  seen  kernels 
of  wheat  and  wheat  plants,  no  amount  of  examination  of 
such  a  kernel  could  yield  the  slightest  hint  as  to  what  it 


30  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

would  transform  into.  It  is  a  striking  limitation  on  man's 
knowledge-acquiring  ability  that  he  has  no  sensory  equip- 
ment for  apprehending  directly  what  is  only  potential  in 
natural  bodies.  Observation  on  a  piece  of  ice  gives  us  no 
direct  information  about  water  as  fluid  and  steam. 

The  second  thing  taken  on  faith  is  our  belief  that  any  full- 
grown  plant  or  animal  with  which  we  have  to  do  was  pro- 
duced from  a  germ  and  passed  through  developmental  or 
evolutional  stages  of  some  sort  whether  any  one  has  ever 
actually  seen  these  germs  and  stages  or  not.  The  experi- 
ences of  other  persons  and  of  ourselves  that  plants  and 
animals  do  arise  in  this  way,  and  the  complete  absence  of 
experience  that  they  arise  in  any  other  way,  is  the  sole  basis 
of  this  faith.  The  literalness  and  force  of  the  truth  that 
faith  is  the  evidence  of  things  not  seen,  are  rarely  recog- 
nized. How  often  and  how  closely  do  any  of  us  examine  the 
grounds  of  our  belief  that  every  person  we  see  was  born 
of  a  woman?  As  a  matter  of  fact,  with  the  great  majority 
of  us  the  belief  rests  on  no  direct  experience  at  all.  Only 
a  small  portion  of  us  have  actually  observed  a  single  birth. 
How  much  direct  evidence  is  there  that  you  and  I  and  most 
other  people  came  into  existence  in  this  way?  It  is  not  sur- 
prising that  despite  the  overwhelming  probability  that  all 
human  beings  are  "born  of  woman,"  great  and  varied  con- 
fusion should  have  arisen  on  the  subject  in  early  ages  among 
lowly  people.^  In  dealing  with  any  organic  development 
we  always,  consciously  or  subconsciously,  recognize  poten- 
tialities of  some  familiar  pattern;  and  we  similarly  recognize 
that  whatever  structures  or  activities  are  observable  have 
sometime  been  merely  potential,  i.e.,  present  though  not  in 
the  form  or  activity  in  which  we  now  observe  them.    The 

5  Although  the  doubts  and  confusions  to  which  the  human  mind  has 
been  subject  in  connection  with  the  origin  of  individual  humans  have 
been  largely  removed  for  modern  men,  they  are  not  wholly  things  of 
the  past  by  considerable.  That  cases  like  those  of  Alexander  the  Great 
and  Joseph  Smith  (p.  23)  are  remnants  of  the  same  old  confusion 
there  seems  to  be  no  question. 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  31 

young  infant's  teeth  we  know  to  be  present  in  germ  long 
before  they  are  cut  and  brought  into  active  service. 

The  reasoning  involved  in  our  common  knowledge  of  the 
evolutional  origin  of  the  individual  man  leads  us  to  believe 
in  the  evolutional  origin  of  the  species  man.  As  an  individ- 
ual, he  probably  originated  from  some  other  individual;  as 
a  species  he  probably  originated  from  some  other  species. 
Even  in  the  case  of  individuals  concerning  the  origin  of 
whom  we  are  without  direct,  positive  knowledge,  our  con- 
clusions that  these  were  born  of  mothers  can  be  only  prob- 
ably true  even  though  the  probability  be  so  great  as  to 
leave  no  room  for  serious  question.  The  factual  and  logical 
conditions  involved  in  the  problem  of  the  origin  of  the 
species  man  are  such  as  to  make  the  probable  truth  of  the 
evolutional  origin  as  much  as  we  shall  ever  be  able  to 
attain.  We  are  able  to  conclude  that  the  evolutional  origin 
of  the  species  is  more  probably  true  than  is  its  origin  by  any 
other  mode  that  has  been  suggested. 

We  saw  the  indubitability  of  stages  in  individual  evolu- 
tion, every  one  of  which  presents  a  certain  amount  of  ac- 
tuality and  a  certain  amount  of  potentiality.  Every  stage 
is  being  something  and  doing  something  now,  and  also  is 
capable  of  becoming  something  somewhat  different,  and  do- 
ing something  else  later.  Metamorphosis,  or  change  of  form 
and  of  ability  to  act  despite  a  certain  degree  of  continuous- 
ness  and  sameness,  constitutes  the  very  fabric  of  our  lives. 
Not  the  obscurity  but  the  familiarity  of  all  this  blinds  us. 

Finally,  we  dwelt  upon  the  naturalness  with  which  our 
every-day  thought  and  speech  adapt  themselves  to  the  situa- 
tion so  far  as  our  own  practical  lives  are  concerned.  The 
word  Man,  as  it  is  used  in  all  ordinary  experience,  includes 
the  whole  developmental  series  from  babyhood  to  full  man- 
hood, not  only  of  some  one  or  a  few  human  beings  but  of  all 
human  beings.  With  equal  legitimacy,  it  is  applied  to  all 
the  innumerable  kinds  and  stages  and  ages  of  men  revealed 


32  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

by  history  and  anthropology.  The  term  "Man"  is  one  of 
our  most  common  and  useful  generic  terms,  "generic"  having 
its  logical  meaning,  a  term  applied  to  many  things  sufficiently 
alike  to  warrant  combining  them  into  one  group  but  at  the 
same  time  enough  unlike  to  warrant  dividing  the  groups 
into  subgroups,  these  subgroups  again  having  individuals 
of  still  other  likenesses. 

THE  PRINCIPLE  OF  RESEMBLANCE  AND  THE 
EVOLUTION   THEORY 

"The  evolution  problem"  conceived  as  applying  to  the 
origin  of  species  is  only  part  of  the  whole  problem.  For 
surely  individuals  orginate  and  develop  as  well  as  do  species. 
The  knowledge  processes  involved  in  the  two  parts  of  the 
problem  must  have  much  in  common.  Applying  the  same 
reasoning  to  the  part  of  the  problem  dealing  with  the  origin 
of  the  human  species  as  to  the  part  dealing  with  the  origin 
of  the  individual  led  us  to  conclude  that  the  species  must 
have  originated  from  some  other  species.  But  this  conclu- 
sion suggested  no  more  as  to  what  the  parent  species  may 
have  been  than  that  it  most  probably  resembled  rather 
closely  the  offspring  species. 

Nothing  is  more  crucial  for  sound  reasoning  on  the  prob- 
lem of  origins  in  living  nature,  including  the  origin  of 
species,  than  the  use  we  make  of,  and  the  reliance  we  place 
on,  resemblance.  If  I  see  in  a  zoological  garden  an  adult 
gorilla  recently  captured  in  an  African  forest,  how  do  I 
affirm  with  so  much  confidence  that  it  was  born  of  gorilla 
parents?  ^lany  elements  enter  into  the  how;  absolutely 
basic  and  indispensable  is  the  resemblance  of  the  creature 
before  me  to  other  creatures  which  in  common  practice  have 
been  called  gorillas.  No  amount  of  knowledge  of  the  laws 
of  animal  reproduction  and  heredity  would  of  itself  enable 


FACTUAL  EVIDENCE  33 

me  to  make  this  assertion  or  would  increase  my  confidence 
in  its  truth. 

The  first  man  who  cultivated  regularly  any  crop,  as  rice 
or  maize,  was  in  as  little  doubt  about  what  he  would  have  to 
do  at  every  seed  time  in  order  to  get  a  crop  as  any  scientific 
farmer  or  geneticist  can  be.  His  recognition  of  resemblance 
between  crop  after  crop  at  the  harvest  time  was  the  most 
fundamental  element  in  his  confidence.  Resemblance  plays 
an  indispensable  part  in  knowledge  of  any  developmental 
series.  If  I  have  before  me  a  developing  animal  embryo 
concerning  the  identification  of  which  I  am  doubtful,  I 
watch  the  changes  it  undergoes  from  day  to  day.  As  soon 
as  I  become  satisfied  that  the  upper  and  lower  jaw  regions 
of  its  head  are  being  drawn  out  and  encased  in  peculiar 
hard  epidermal  sheaths,  one  large  block  of  my  doubt  in- 
stantly vanishes.  Bird!  What  is  it  that  thus  drives  away 
my  doubts?  It  is  my  recognition  of  the  resemblance  of  the 
newly  arrived  part  to  what,  from  an  abundance  of  past  ob- 
servation by  myself  and  others,  I  know  as  "bird's  beak." 

That  the  principle  of  resemblance  plays  a  much  more  im- 
portant part  in  all  biological  reasoning,  especially  in  all 
reasoning  about  development,  than  is  ordinarily  appreciated, 
has  been  disclosing  itself  to  me  little  by  little  from  the  years 
when  I  taught  embryology  and  comparative  anatomy.  With 
this  gradual  disclosure  has  come  increasing  surprise  at  the 
inadequacy  of  treatment  the  subject  receives  in  such  text- 
books and  treatises  on  logic  as  I  have  been  able  to  consult. 
Being  a  naturalist,  I  have  been  occupied  primarily  with 
problems  of  the  living  world  and  only  secondarily  with  the 
problems  of  mind  as  the  chief  means  through  which  I  and 
my  fellow  naturalists  are  thus  occupied.  Such  excursions 
as  I  have  made  into  the  field  of  theory  of  knowledge  and 
of  logic  have  been  mainly  in  search  of  aid  to  my  efforts  at 
knowing  the  world.    These  excursions  brought  very  slight 


34  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

success  until  A  Treatise  on  Probability  by  J.  M.  Keynes 
came  into  my  hands  and  I  had  read  the  portion  dealing  with 
analogy  (which  the  author  seems  to  regard  as  essentially 
the  same  thing  as  resemblance).  I  had  supposed  that  the 
kind  of  aid  I  needed  was  available  somewhere,  and  that  my 
failure  to  secure  it  had  been  due  to  an  unfortunate  choice 
of  authorities.  In  this  book  we  read:  "Inductive  processes 
have  formed  of  course  at  all  times  a  vital,  habitual  part  of 
the  mind's  machinery.  Whenever  we  learn  by  experience, 
we  are  using  them.  But  in  the  logic  of  the  schools  they 
have  taken  their  proper  place  slowly.  No  clear  or  satis- 
factory account  of  them  is  to  be  found  anywhere.  Within 
and  yet  beyond  the  scope  of  formal  logic,  on  the  line,  ap- 
parently, between  mental  and  natural  philosophy,  Induction 
has  been  admitted  into  the  organon  of  scientific  proof,  with- 
out much  help  from  the  logicians,  no  one  quite  knows 
when."  ^  No  one  is  quite  so  well  able  as  the  thoughtful 
student  of  biological  development  to  appreciate  the  truth 
and  the  force  of  this  paragraph.  It  is  surprising  and  sig- 
nificant, both  for  the  attitude  of  logicians  toward  science  and 
for  the  attitude  of  scientists  toward  their  own  mental  proc- 
esses, that  nothing  adequate  for  the  present  state  of  advance- 
ment of  natural  knowledge  has  been  done,  especially  in  the 
domain  of  induction  and  analogy,  the  very  domain  in  which 
the  principle  of  resemblance  chiefly  operates. 
«  P.  217. 


CHAPTER  4 

THE   PROBLEM   OF   MAn's   ORIGIN  AND   KINSHIP    (coft.)  : 
CERTAINTY  AND   PROBABILITY  AS  TO  MAN's  EVOLUTION 

We  have  previously  recognized  that  there  is  not  the  least 
prospect  of  our  ever  knowing  absolutely  from  what  ancestral 
species  we  descended.  The  best  we  can  do  is  to  increase  as 
much  as  possible  the  probabilities  in  the  case.  We  have 
also  found  that  resemblance  plays  a  great  and  indispensable  ^ 
part  in  establishing  such  probabilities.  Let  us  now  turn  to 
this  specific  task:  Where  in  the  whole  subhuman  animal/ 
series  do  we  find  the  most  numerous  and  closest  resem- 
blances to  man? 

If  resemblance  has  played  as  large  a  part  in  man's  spec- 
ulations about  his  own  kinship  and  origin  as  we  have  as- 
sumed we  should  expect  modern  science  to  seek  with  special 
eagerness  among  the  primates  for  human  likenesses.  We 
should  also  expect  that  those  primitive  peoples  who  have 
inhabited  portions  of  the  earth  likewise  inhabited  by  pri- 
mates would  fix  upon  some  of  their  primate  neighbors  as 
being  their  own  closest  kindred.  There  are  numerous 
legends  involving  the  confusion  of  monkeys  and  men  in  all 
lands  occupied  by  both.  The  illustrations  selected  are  taken 
from  E.  B.  Tylor.  ''One  of  the  most  perfect  identifications 
of  the  savage  with  the  monkey  in  Hindustan,"  we  read,  "is 
the  following  description  of  the  bunmanus,  or  'Man  of  the 
woods'  (Sanskr.  vana=wood,  and  manuska=ma.n).  'The 
bunmanus  is  an  animal  of  the  monkey  kind.  His  face  has  a 
near  resemblance  to  the  human;  he  has  no  tail  and  walks 
erect.  The  skin  of  his  body  is  black  and  slightly  covered 
with  hair.'  That  this  description  really  applies  not  to  apes, 
but  to  the  dark-skinned  non-Aryan  aborigines  of  the  land, 

35 


36  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

appears  further  in  the  enumeration  of  the  local  dialects  of 
Hindustan,  to  which  it  is  said  'may  be  added  the  jargon  of 
the  bunmanus  or  wild  man  of  the  woods.'  "  ^ 

And  further:  "In  the  islands  of  the  Indian  Archipelago, 
whose  tropical  forests  swarm  both  with  high  apes  and  low 
savages,  the  confusion  between  the  two  in  the  minds  of  the 
half-civilized  inhabitants  becomes  almost  inextricable."  "  So 
much  for  the  recognition  of  resemblance  between  apes  and 
men  in  Asia. 

For  Africa  and  South  America  we  have:  "To  people  who 
at  once  believe  monkeys  a  kind  of  savages,  and  savages  a 
kind  of  monkeys,  men  with  tails  are  creatures  coming  under 
both  definitions.  Thus  the  Homo  caudatus,  or  satyr,  often 
appears  in  popular  belief  as  a  half-human  creature,  while 
even  in  old-fashioned  works  on  natural  history  he  may  be 
found  depicted  on  the  evident  model  of  an  anthropoid  ape. 
In  East  Africa,  the  imagined  tribe  of  long-tailed  men  are 
also  monkey-faced,  while  in  South  America  the  coata  tapuya, 
or  'monkey-men,'  are  as  naturaUy  described  as  men  with 
tails."  ^ 

Would  any  present-day  anthropologist  who  interprets 
Pithecanthropus  as  a  connecting  link  between  man  and  ape 
contend  that  he  has  at  his  command  some  principle  of  inter- 
pretation other  than  that  of  resemblance,  which  gives  his 
conclusions  a  probability  of  truth  entirely  different  from 
that  which  has  been  producing  imaginary  connecting  links 
through  the  ages  of  man's  observations  upon  himself  and  his 
anthropoid  contemporaries?  Who  is  so  bold  as  to  deny 
that  the  connecting  links  reconstructed  today  on  the  basis  of 
the  fragmentary  paleontological  information  \ve  possess  may 
at  some  future  time  be  characterized  as  "old-fashioned  works 
on  natural  history"?     This  reflection  is  not  designed  to 


1  Primitive  Culture,  Vol.  I,  p.  380. 
^Ibid.,  p.  381. 
^Ibid..  p.  383. 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  37 

imply  that  these  modern  efforts  at  dosing  up  evolutionary 
gaps  are  unjustifiable  and  useless,  but  to  emphasize  their 
hypothetical  and  tentative  nature;  to  focus  attention  on  the 
fact  that  resemblance  (structural  resemblance  alone  at  that) 
is  basic  in  them;  and  finally  to  remind  ourselves  that 
logically  similar  efforts  have  been  made  for  thousands  of 
years  and  by  numberless  observers. 

In  the  combined  light  of  our  present-day  factual  knowl- 
edge of  organic  beings  and  our  insight  into  the  operations 
of  our  minds  in  getting  and  using  this  knowledge,  what 
are  we  justified  in  believing  as  to  the  ancestry  of  the  human 
species?  Our  examination  has  revealed  that  neither  do  we 
know  absolutely,  nor  is  there  any  likelihood  that  we  ever 
shall  know  exactly,  from  what  other  species  we  originated. 
It  is  in  the  highest  degree  more  probable  that  we  originated 
in  such  a  way  than  that  we  originated  in  any  other  way 
that  has  ever  been  suggested.  The  probability  of  our  hav- 
ing originated  from  some  other  species  is  very  much  greater 
than  the  probability  that  we  originated  from  any  particular 
species  which  we  can  specify. 

There  are  only  two  kinds  of  evidence  upon  which  we  rely 
for  proof  of  the  origin  of  anything  whatever.  Most  funda- 
mental is  the  evidence  of  knowledge  through  direct  experi- 
ence. Beyond  this  is  probability  dependent  at  bottom  on 
resemblance.  Our  task  is  that  of  sifting  from  the  vast  body 
of  factual  knowledge  we  now  possess,  those  portions  which 
will  enable  us  to  decide  what  subhuman  species  the  human 
species  most  closely  resembles. 

Part  of  this  task  has  already  been  performed,  not  by  sci- 
ence in  the  strict  sense  of  today,  but  by  the  common  knowl- 
edge of  innumerable  peoples  and  ages.  That  man's  resem- 
blance to  the  animal  creatures  below  him,  especially  to  the 
''beasts  of  the  field"  is  closer  than  to  any  other  natural  ob- 
jects has  been  recognized  always  and  everywhere  in  human 
history.    Many  people  have  gone  much  further  in  the  task 


38  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

than  the  mere  recognition  of  these  resemblances.  They 
have  designated  particular  animal  kinds  as  being  originative 
of  man,  if  not  his  actual  ancestors.  Many  of  the  myths 
and  legends  of  primitive  peoples  which  implicate  animals  in 
the  origin  of  man  are,  from  the  standpoint  of  the  theory  of 
knowledge,  in  the  nature  of  hypotheses  involving  the  genetic 
kindred  of  many  of  the  animals  concerned.  Stories  of  direct 
origin  of  man  from  animals  are  extremely  common.  Stu- 
dents of  California  Indians  dwell  on  the  part  which  the 
coyote  plays  in  the  origin  and  lives  of  these  people.  We 
read:  "The  present  mode  of  life  is  determined  by  the  results 
of  the  activities  of  the  beneficent  Creator  and  the  tricky 
Coyote."  A  point  deserving  special  notice  here  is  the  con- 
ception of  cooperation  between  Creator  and  coyote  in  doing 
the  job.  Many  such  instances  might  be  cited  from  the 
mythology  of  human  origination. 

No  single  group  of  superstitions  is  more  striking  than  is 
totemism.  Certain  facts  suggest  the  warrantableness  of 
looking  upon  this  institution  as  a  sort  of  prescientific  stage 
of  the  evolution  theory.  The  word  totemism  "was  first 
applied  at  the  end  of  the  last  century  ...  to  the  Red  In- 
dian custom  which  acknowledges  human  kinship  with  an- 
imals." *  One  of  the  highest  developments  of  totemism, 
certainly  its  highest  expression  in  art  forms,  is  among  the 
Indians  of  Northwest  America,  familiar  in  the  totem  poles 
of  many  museums.  Apparently  all  authorities  agree  that 
the  idea  of  kindred  between  the  totemites  and  their  totems 
is  common,  if  not  universal,  and  that  the  most  common 
totems  are  animals.  From  Clodd's  endorsement  of  Lang's 
theory  of  the  origin  of  totemism  we  read:  "We  feel  bound 
to  say  that  ...  if  there  be  any  approach  to  a  solution  of 
the  origin  of  totemism,  Mr.  Lang's  theory  most  commends 
itself  as  having  valid  ground  in  certain  world-wide  savage 
conceptions  which  supply  sufficient  material  for  tracing  the 

*  Andrew  Lang,  Myth,  Ritual  and  Religion,  Vol.  I,  p,  59. 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  39 

development  of  that  institution.  These  are,  belief  in  kinship 
between  man  and  brute,  and  in  the  names  of  things  as  in- 
tegral parts  of  things."  * 

It  is  impossible  to  contend  that  all  the  varieties  of  totem- 
ism  known  to  exist  now  depend  directly  upon  resemblance 
and  kinship  between  the  totemists  and  their  totems,  but  a 
general  survey  of  totemism  shows  clearly  that  animals, 
especially  mammals  and  birds,  are  the  predominant  totems. 
Out  of  a  total  of  202  such  objects  enumerated  by  these 
authors,  164  are  animals,  22  are  plants,  and  16  are  inanimate 
things.^  "Animals,"  Read  says,  "lend  the  greatest  plausi- 
bihty  to  any  notion  of  blood-relationship.  .  .  ."  "To 
hunters  animals  must  have  been  of  all  things  the  most  in- 
teresting." ^  Why  should  animals  be  the  most  interesting 
of  all  things  to  hunters?  The  reply  which  comes  to  one's 
mind  first,  that  it  is  because  they  are  the  objects  of  the 
hunter's  pursuit  and  largely  his  sustenance,  does  not  tell 
the  whole  story.  The  evidences  are  innumerable  that  an- 
imals have  been  among  the  most  interesting  things  to  most 
people  whether  hunters  or  not.  This  interest  has  been  due 
largely  to  the  recognition  of  resemblance  of  the  animals  to 
men. 

Man  at  all  levels  of  his  culture  tends  to  respond  emo- 
tionally to  animals  somewhat  differently  in  both  quality  and 
intensity  from  what  he  does  to  any  other  natural  objects. 
Even  our  modern  interest  in  animals  is  by  no  means  cir- 
cumscribed by  the  economic  use  we  can  put  them  to  or  the 
fears  we  have  of  them.  Our  way  of  companioning  with  them 
and  making  pets  of  them  in  certain  cases,  and  of  standing  in 
mortal  fear  of  them  and  making  them  symbols  of  the  worst 
of  evils  in  other  cases,  is  quite  without  parallel  outside  the 
animal  kingdom.    The  zoology  of  toydom  is  an  unmistak- 

5  "Primitive  Man  on  His  Own  Origin,"  by  Edward  Clodd,  Quarterly 
Reviezi',  July,  191 1. 
^  Appendix  B,  Spencer  and  Gillen. 
'  The  Origin  of  Man  and  His  Superstitions,  p.  296. 


40  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

able  witness  to  mankind's  fundamental  relation  to  animal 
life.  The  great  vogue  in  modern  times  of  effort  against 
cruelty  to  animals,  manifesting  itself  at  times  in  the  highly- 
commendable  societies  having  this  designation,  and  at  other 
times  in  the  highly  condemnable  crusades  against  experimen- 
tation on  animals  for  the  furtherance  of  scientific  knowl- 
edge, may  be  interpreted  in  the  same  way. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  recognize  something  of  the  psycho- 
biology  of  this  peculiar  interest  of  man  in  animals.  The 
fact  that  so  many  of  the  most  common  of  them  have  two 
eyes  much  like  our  own  and  a  face  that  can  be  "looked  into," 
tells  a  large  part  of  the  story.  Man's  association  with  the 
dog  is  especially  significant.  Full  of  meaning  are  such 
familiar  remarks  about  this  animal  as  "he  looked  up  into 
my  face  with  an  almost  human  expression."  But  the  dog 
is  by  no  means  the  only  creature  the  face  and  eyes  of  which 
make  a  peculiar  appeal  to  man.  Indelibly  stamped  upon 
my  own  mind  are  the  faces,  with  their  strange  eyes,  of  the 
first  sheep  I  as  a  very  small  child  ever  saw  at  close  range. 

Writing  on  totemism,  A.  A.  Goldenweisser  ^  has  the  fol- 
lowing on  the  point  before  us.  "While  plants  and  inanimate 
things  have  long  since  been  relegated  to  the  realm  of  the 
matter-of-fact,  animals  still  inhabit  a  region  where  fact  and 
fancy  are  peacefully  wedded  together.  As  between  the 
animal  and  its  human  master,  verbal  usage  reveals  a  com- 
mon range  of  physical  and  psychic  qualities.  One  thinks 
of  the  eagle  eye,  the  leonine  heart,  the  dogged  perseverance, 
the  bull-neck.  Current  metaphor,  half  earnest  half  jest, 
has  introduced  the  fox  and  the  beaver,  the  bear  and  the 
rabbit,  the  cat  and  the  cow,  the  ape  and  the  shark,  as  char- 
acters of  the  human  scene."  Surely  this  is  not  due  to  pure 
fancy.  It  rests  on  a  basis  of  some  resemblance.  The  effect 
of  these  unescapably  recognizable  likenesses  between  hu- 
mans and  inferior  animals  upon  the  minds  of  people  very  low 

^  Early  Cii/ilization,  1922,  p.  289. 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  41 

in  the  cultural  scale  must  be  especially  intense  and  difficult 
for  us  of  higher  culture  to  appreciate. 

The  kinship  recognized  in  totemism  is  of  at  least  three 
quite  distinct  kinds.  The  most  important  of  these  from  the 
evolutionary  standpoint  is  that  which  assumes  descent  in  the 
strict  meaning  of  the  word.  This  is  found  in  many  parts  of 
the  world.  A  typical  example  is  furnished  by  the  creation 
story  of  some  of  the  natives  of  Australia.  "The  origin  of 
the  first-formed  human  beings  is  ascribed  to  two  individuals 
named  ungambikula  who  lived  in  the  western  sky,  and, 
seeing  far  away  to  the  east  a  mob  of  inapertwa,  creatures 
who  were  the  incomplete  transformations  of  animals  and 
plants,  came  down  to  earth,  and  with  their  knives  released 
their  half-formed  arms  and  legs,  cut  open  their  mouths, 
bored  holes  for  nostrils,  slit  the  eyelids  apart,  and  thus  out 
of  the  inapertwa  made  men  and  women.  .  .  .  The  totemic 
ancestors  who  originated  in  this  way  marched  in  groups 
across  the  country,  every  one  of  them  carrying  with  him,  or 
her,  not  only  a  personal  Churinga,  but  often  many  others 
also."  ° 

A  second  variety  of  kindred  recognized  in  totemism  is  what 
may  be  called  kindred  by  adoption.  Persons  of  one  totem 
may  upon  occasion  be  adopted  into  another  totem  otherwise 
than  through  the  regular  avenue  of  marriage  from  one  totem 
into  another.  This  involves  a  change  of  name,  the  name 
borne  by  a  totemic  group  being  usually  a  vital  matter.  A 
process  of  adoption,  of  bestowing  a  group  name  (in  logic  a 
generic  name)  with  an  appropriate  ceremony,  establishes  a 
kind  of  heredity  and  kindred  which  may  be  superior  in 
power  to  actual  genetic  heredity.  Nor  is  it  essential  that  this 
kindred  by  adoption  shall  be  based  on  any  known  blood  kin- 
dred. There  are  many  cases  in  which  adopted  children  of  no 
blood  relation  whatever  enjoy  all  the  bonds  in  affection, 

»  The  Northern  Tribes  of  Central  Australia,  by  Baldwin  Spencer  and 
F.  J.  Gillen,  1904,  p.  150. 


42  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

social  and  family  advantages  and  legal  benefits  enjoyed  by 
blood  kindred.  There  is  not  the  slighest  question  that 
resemblance  contributes  greatly  to  the  possibility  of  forming 
these  relations.  White  people  might  adopt  negro  or  Indian 
children  and  become  very  fond  of  them.  I  doubt  if  any  one 
would  contend  that  parental  feeling  could  ever  go  out  quite 
as  strongly  and  inclusively  to  such  children  as  to  adoptions 
within  the  same  race. 

A  third  form  of  kindred  resulting  from  the  custom  of 
totemism  might  be  called  animistic  kindred.  In  our  modern 
English  terminology,  this  is  an  affair  of  spirits  or  ghosts. 
The  kindred  assumed  in  totemism  may  sometimes  be 
through  the  mediumship  of  spirits,  and  have  little  or  no 
reference  to  lineage  in  the  sense  of  modern  genetics.  Ac- 
cording to  the  meaning  of  animism  which  rests  upon  the 
most  indubitable  observation,  any  object  whatever  may  have 
something  in  it  (a  spirit)  which  is  not  the  thing  itself  but 
is  the  real  cause  or  explanation  of  the  thing,  or  at  least 
of  some  of  its  attributes.  A  stream,  a  mountain,  a  stone, 
may  have  each  its  appropriate  spirit.  There  is  always  some 
sort  of  correspondence  or  resemblance  between  the  object 
and  its  spirit.  The  closer  the  resemblance  between  man 
himself  and  any  particular  object  the  closer  would  be  the 
resemblance  between  the  human  spirit  and  that  of  the 
object.  As  to  animals,  especially  the  higher  animals,  the 
resemblance  of  which  to  man  is  so  striking  in  many  respects, 
the  resemblance  between  these  spirits  and  man's  spirit  would 
naturally  be  correspondingly  close. 

A  main  attribute  of  spirits  is  their  ability  to  separate 
themselves  upon  occasion  from  the  objects  they  inhabit  and 
enter  into  other  objects;  thus,  the  stage  is  well  set  for  all 
manner  of  mix-ups  among  the  spirits  of  animals  and  men. 
Hardly  anything  plays  a  larger  part  in  the  lives  of  primitive 
peoples  than  this  very  matter  of  their  own  commingling, 
largely  via  their  spirits,  with  their  animal  neighbors.    One 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  43 

of  the  most  learned  of  all  writers  in  this  field  tells  us: 
"The  sense  of  an  absolute  psychical  distinction  between  man 
and  beast,  so  prevalent  in  the  civilized  world,  is  hardly  to 
be  found  among  the  lower  races.  Men  to  whom  the  cries  of 
beasts  and  birds  seem  like  human  language,  and  their  actions 
guided  as  it  were  by  human  thought,  logically  enough  allow 
the  existence  of  souls  to  beasts,  birds  and  reptiles,  as  to  men. 
The  lower  psychology  cannot  but  recognize  in  beasts  the 
very  characteristics  which  it  attributes  to  the  human  soul, 
namely,  the  phenomena  of  life  and  death,  will  and  judgment, 
and  the  phantom  seen  in  vision  or  in  dream.  As  for  be- 
lievers, savage  or  civilized,  in  the  great  doctrine  of  metem- 
psychosis, these  not  only  consider  that  an  animal  may  have 
a  soul,  but  that  this  soul  may  have  inhabited  a  human  being 
and  thus  the  creature  may  be  in  fact  their  own  ancestor  or 
once  familiar  friend."  ^** 

We  have,  I  hope,  now  gone  far  enough  in  our  study  of 
man's  world-wide  and  eons-old  efforts  to  satisfy  his  curi- 
osity about  his  own  origin  to  recognize  three  basic  things 
about  these  efforts:  The  great  majority  of  them  have  linked 
man  in  some  organic,  vital  way  with  the  rest  of  living  nature, 
especially  with  the  animals  assigned  by  zoological  science  to 
a  place  in  the  system  of  classification  not  far  below  man: 
what  we  moderns  call  the  logical  principle  of  analogy  (posi- 
tive and  negative)  or  of  resemblance  and  difference,  has 
played  a  very  great  part  in  these  efforts;  that  the  conception 
of  immaterial  entities  (shadows,  ghosts,  spirits,  souls)  sim- 
ilar to  but  independent  of  and  often  separable  from  man, 
other  animals  and  plants  and  natural  objects  generally,  have 
been  very  widely  invoked,  always  to  the  detriment  of  clear 
understanding  and  effective  treatment  of  the  objects  con- 
cerned. 

Our  modern  problem  of  the  origin  of  man  is  the  same  old 
problem  by  which  man  has  been  confronted  in  all  his  history. 

^'>  Primitive  Culture,  by  Edward  B.  Tylor,  sixth  ed.,  Vol.  I,  p.  469. 


44  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

All  peoples  have  had  some  sort  of  explanation  of  their  own 
origin,  embodied  for  the  most  part  in  religious  tradition  and 
cherished  as  a  precious  part  of  the  racial  heritage.  It  seems 
a  question  we  cannot  let  sleep,  this  matter  of  whence  and 
how  we  have  come.  We  moderns  are  able  to  state  it  more 
exactly  than  any  of  our  predecessors,  and  have  vastly  more 
information  upon  which  to  base  our  conclusions  than  they 
have  had. 


THE  WORTH  AND  THE  LIMITATIONS  OF  PALEONTOLOGICAL 

EVIDENCE 

Our  task  of  sifting  factual  evidence  which  will  enable  us 
to  decide  what  subhuman  species  the  human  species  most 
closely  resembles  has  now  completed  a  very  inadequate 
survey  of  the  contribution  made  by  the  common  knowledge 
of  common  folk  of  many  lands  and  times.  Our  next  task 
is  to  look  at  the  facts  which  science  presents  as  evidence 
for  the  truth  of  evolution,  and  examine  the  way  in  which  that 
evidence  is  used.  To  many  evolutionists  the  paleontological 
evidence  is  most  convincing.  It  furnishes  an  order  or  kind 
of  evidence  not  found  in  any  other  direction.  So  numerous 
and  well  worked-out  are  the  evolutionary  series  and  lines 
of  descent  in  many  animal  groups  possessing  fossilizable 
parts,  that  there  can  be  little  doubt  in  the  mind  of  any  per- 
son who  uses  his  observational  and  logical  powers  correctly, 
that  the  completest  of  these  are  phylogenetic  and  not  merely 
pieced-together  resemblance  series.  Our  concern  is  more 
with  the  observed  facts  as  evidence  than  with  them  as  facts. 
We  are  taking  for  granted  a  vast  mass  of  facts.  What  do 
they  prove? 

The  famous  horse  series  will  serve  well  as  a  basis  for  our 
examination.  There  are  few  educated  persons  to-day  who 
are  not  informed  as  to  the  evolutionary  history  of  this  one 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  45 

of  man's  closest,  most  useful  subhuman  companions.  De- 
spite the  fact  that  the  fossils  which  constitute  the  observa- 
tional evidence  in  the  case  have  been  well  known  for  a  full 
half  century,  and  have  been  accepted  as  conclusive  evidence 
in  favor  of  evolution  by  a  long  line  of  distinguished  scien- 
tists, there  have  been  from  the  outset  and  still  are  many 
educated,  rational  persons  to  whom  the  admitted  facts  do 
not  prove  evolution  at  all.  How  are  such  differences  of  con- 
clusion possible?  Is  it  really  true  that  the  minds  of  highly 
cultured  men  are  so  fundamentally  different  that  from  the 
same  body  of  unquestioned  objective  evidence  irreconcilably 
opposed  conclusions  can  be  drawn?  Until  a  satisfactory 
answer  to  this  question  is  found  there  can  be  no  prospect  of 
agreement  either  as  to  the  origin  and  nature  of  man  or  as 
to  what  his  conduct  should  be. 

Let  us  apply  to  the  fossils  so  widely  held  to  be  the  remains 
of  horses  the  common  principles  of  interpretation  which,  in 
the  earlier  portions  of  this  discussion,  we  found  to  lead  to 
universally  accepted  conclusions  relative  to  the  most  familiar 
cases  of  evolution. 

Everybody  knows  that  these  fossils  are  found  in  great 
variety  and  in  many  parts  of  the  earth,  the  western  portion 
of  North  America  abounding  in  them  especially.  It  is  well 
known,  too,  that  they  are  found  at  very  different  geological 
levels.  The  earliest  animals  of  which  they  are  the  remains 
are  estimated  on  the  basis  of  evidence  giving  considerable 
probability  of  truth,  to  have  lived  from  eight  hundred  thou- 
sand to  one  million  years  ago."  From  this  far-away  time 
and  deep  geological  level  (the  eocene  or  beginning  period  of 
the  tertiary  era)  the  fossils  are  scattered  in  America  through 
the  intervening  geological  levels  up  to  near  the  present  time 
(the  pleistocene);  above  which,  however,  none  have  been 
found.    Whereas  America  appears  to  have  been  extensively 

11  The  Horse  Past  and  Present,  by  H.  F.  Osborn. 


46  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

populated  with  horses  in  earlier  geological  times,  no  living 
ones  existed  on  the  continent  when  it  was  discovered  by 
Europeans. 

What  put  into  anybody's  head  the  idea  that  all  these  fos- 
sils are  racially  related  to  one  another  and  all  in  turn  are 
ancestral  to  the  familiar  animal  known  to  us  as  the  horse? 
The  only  answer  is  that  the  fossils  look  like  certain  of  the 
parts,  the  bones,  of  the  horse.    We  undoubtedly  violate  a 
fundamental  principle  of  inductive  knowledge  if  we  sup- 
pose ourselves  absolutely  certain  that  any  fossil  bones  what- 
ever are  the  remains  of  a  horse  or  any  other  animal  our 
original  knowledge  of  which  comes  from  observations  on 
living  representatives  of  the  species  in  question.    That  the 
fossils  upon  which  the  supposed  evolutionary  history  of  the 
horse  is  based  were  once  parts  of  horses  or  any  other  living 
animals  is  only  inferential  knowledge  and  hence  can  never 
emerge  from  the  class  of  probable  truth  into  that  of  certain 
truth.    If  any  one  questions  this  let  him  ask  himself  if  he 
can  possibly  be  as  certain  that  a  skull  or  other  bones  he  may 
chance  upon  in  some  pasture,  or  even  a  complete  mounted 
skeleton  he  may  see  in  a  museum,  were  once  part  of  a  horse, 
as  he  would  be  were  he  to  dissect  a  dead  horse  and  find  in 
in  it  the  corresponding  skeletal  parts. 

I  doubt  if  any  paleontologist  will  contend  that  he  is  quite 
as  certain  of  the  derivation  of  fossil  horse  remains  from 
horses  or  any  other  living  animals  as  he  is  of  the  derivation 
of  a  given  skeleton  he  has  himself  prepared  from  some  ani- 
mal body;  or  that  he  is  quite  as  certain  of  the  derivation  of 
any  one  of  the  fossil  species  from  some  other  species  of  the 
series  as  he  is  of  the  derivation  of  some  adult  frog  from  a 
tadpole  he  has  kept  under  constant  observation. 

If  this  be  granted,  the  whole  conception  of  an  evolutional 
horse  series  as  based  on  the  evidence  available  falls  inevi- 
tably into  the  category  of  probable  truth,  the  degree  of  prob- 
ability being  determined  by  the  valuation  placed  upon  the 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  47 

similarities  and  differences  brought  to  light  by  the  critical 
comparison  of  bone  with  bone  of  the  entire  mass  of  the  fossil 
material;  and  of  all  these 'with  the  corresponding  bones  of 
the  horse  actually  known  to  us.  Concerning  a  particularly 
complete  skeleton  of  Equus  scotti  found  in  a  pleistocene 
deposit  of  Texas,  we  read:  "It  is  of  an  animal  about  15 
hands  in  height,  having  somewhat  the  proportions  of  a 
western  broncho,  but  with  a  very  large  head  and  with  teeth 
greater  than  those  of  a  modern  dray  horse,  although  very 
similar  in  pattern."  ^^  The  mounted  skeleton  and  the  resto- 
ration of  this  species  show  the  animal  to  have  been  so  much 
like  the  modern  horse  that  the  skill  of  the  expert  is  more 
needed  for  recognizing  differences  than  similarities.  From 
Equus  to  Eohippus  and  Hyracotherium  this  basic  principle 
of  comparison  in  search  of  resemblances  and  differences  can 
be  recognized,  the  limbs,  feet  and  teeth  receiving  most  atten- 
tion. The  paleontologist,  Richard  Owen,  who  named  Hyra- 
cotherium did  not  recognize  anything  horse-like  about  it 
but  considered  it  to  have  been  a  coney-like  beast  (as  the 
name  implies).  Its  {Hyracotherium)  relation  to  the  horse 
was  not  at  that  time  suspected  by  Professor  Owen,  and  was 
recognized  by  scientific  men  only  when  several  of  the  in- 
termediate stages  between  it  and  its  modern  descendant  had 
been  discovered." 

Another  quotation  from  Lull  illustrates  the  point  as  it 
applies  at  the  bottom  of  the  series;  where  likeness  is  rela- 
tively slight  and  unlikeness  is  relatively  great.  This  has 
reference  to  the  comparison  between  Hyracotherium,  a 
European  fossil,  and  Eohippus  from  North  America.  "These 
two  genera  are  much  alike,  but  the  premolar  teeth  of  Hyra- 
cotherium, especially  the  second  one  of  the  upper  jaw,  are 
more  simple  than  in  Eohippus,  thus  stamping  the  Old  World 


"^^  Organic  Evolution,  by  R.  S.  Lull,  p.  619. 

"^^  Evolution  of  the  Horse,  by  W.  D.  Matthews,  Amer.  Mus.  of  Nat. 
History  Guide,  Leaflet  Series,  No.  36,  Sept.,  1913. 


48  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

type  as  the  most  primitive  horse-like  form  known."  "  The 
kernel  of  the  argument  here  is  that  the  two  genera  are  "much 
alike."  Hyracotheriiim  is  adjudged  to  be  the  most  "primi- 
tive" "horse-like"  form,  on  the  ground  of  being  "more  sim- 
ple" in  various  respects,  particularly  in  the  fact  that  the 
second  premolar  tooth  of  the  upper  jaw  bears  the  "stamp" 
of  relative  simplicity.  By  turning  to  a  fuller  description  of 
the  teeth  we  are  informed  wherein  consists  the  greater  sim- 
plicity of  the  Eyracotherium  in  contrast  with  the  Eohippian 
teeth.  The  molars  of  Eohippus  "foreshadow"  the  "future 
complication"  of  the  true  horse,  while  the  hinder  premolar 
is  becoming  "molariform." 

All  these  fossils  can  be  ranged  in  a  series  chiefly  on  the 
basis  of  a  succession  of  complications  in  the  molar  and  pre- 
molar teeth  (their  degree  of  "molariformity"  after  the  type 
of  the  modern  horse);  of  a  succession  of  changes  in  foot 
and  limb  structure  (reduction  in  the  number  of  toes,  and  so 
forth) ;  and  of  a  succession  of  sizes  of  the  animals  from  about 
that  of  a  fox  terrier  {Eohippus)  to  that  of  the  full-sized 
horse.  The  making  of  this  series  does  not  necessarily  imply 
any  conclusion  concerning  any  derivational  relation  between 
the  members  of  the  series.  This  is  quite  generally  admitted 
by  believers  as  well  as  by  disbelievers  in  the  evolutionary 
theory.  The  disagreement  over  such  cases  is  due  to  the  very 
inadequate  criteria  heretofore  applied  in  assessing  the  facts 
as  evidence  favorable  to  the  hypothesis  that  the  members  of 
the  series  are  derivationally  connected.  Writers  on  the 
subject  have  expressed  themselves  in  such  a  way  as  to  con- 
fuse their  readers  as  to  the  rational  difference  between  the 
series  as  thoroughly  legitimate  and  good  classificatory  ar- 
rangements, and  the  inference  of  derivative  connection  be- 
tween the  members  of  the  series. 

A  wording  from  Lull  may  be  used  to  illustrate  the  point. 
An  illustration  from  this  author  should  be  especially  instruc- 

i*Lull,  p.  6io. 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  49 

live  because  his  language  is  much  freer  from  unwarranted 
implications  than  is  that  of  many  another  writer.  "In 
Merychippus"  we  read,  "the  milk  teeth  are  short-crowned 
and  have  little  or  no  cement  and  are  thus  reminiscent  of 
its  ancestry."  "  Obviously,  the  short-crowned,  slightly-ce- 
mented milk  teeth  of  Merychippus  are  "reminiscent  of  its 
ancestry"  if  its  ancestry  had  teeth  thus  characterized.  But 
whether  or  not  the  ancestors  had  such  teeth  is  exactly  what 
we  do  not  know,  but  which  the  facts  in  the  case  justify  us  in 
regarding  as  exceedingly  probable.  The  short-crowned  ce- 
mentless  milk  teeth  of  Merychippus  are  suggestive  rather 
than  reminiscent  of  the  creature's  ancestry.  They  are  not 
reminiscent  in  the  sense  of  calling  up  memories  of  the  an- 
cestry, for  what  the  ancestry  was  is  the  very  thing  we  do 
not  know  but  are  trying  to  imagine  on  the  basis  of  facts 
observed  in  this  and  other  cases. 

No  matter  how  complete  this  or  any  other  fossil  series  is 
as  evidence  on  which  to  found  a  classification  and  arrange- 
ment, resemblance  and  difference  between  the  members  are 
the  most  basic  facts  we  possess.  Consequently,  whatever 
conclusions  may  be  drawn  as  to  the  origin  and  relation  of 
these  members  must  fall  short  of  full  demonstration.  How 
far  we  are  from  tracing  "every  step  in  the  evolution  of  the 
horse"  (or  of  any  other  animal  by  the  paleontological  evi- 
dence) becomes  obvious  the  moment  we  examine  this  word- 
ing critically.  No  naturalist  contends  that  we  are  as  certain 
of  "every  step  in  the  evolution"  of  the  teeth  and  feet  of  ex- 
tinct horses  as  we  are  of  the  evolution  of  these  structures 
in  the  individual  life  of  horses  now  living.  For  many  peo- 
ple, and  among  them  no  small  number  of  scientists,  the  case 
is  then  closed;  people,  that  is,  for  whom  the  origin  and 
development  of  species  must  be  demonstrated  with  the  same 
certainty  that  the  origin  and  development  of  individuals  is 
demonstrated,  if  the  hypothesis  of  evolutional  origin  is  to 

"  Ibid.,  p.  616. 


50  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

have  any  standing.  Undoubtedly  a  number  of  different  ele- 
ments go  to  the  making  of  this  attitude.  From  the  stand- 
point of  reason  and  logic  the  main  elements  are  the  failure 
to  inquire  seriously  what  the  observed  facts  do  signify  if  they 
do  not  signify  evolution;  and,  growing  immediately  out  of 
such  inquiry,  failure  to  appreciate  the  vast  importance  to 
the  whole  intellectual  life  of  man  of  weighing  observational 
evidence  for  determining  the  probable  as  contrasted  with  the 
certain  truth  which  can  be  found  therein. 

We  are  now  prepared  to  state  in  the  briefest  language 
possible  the  conclusions  as  to  relationship  and  origination, 
justified  by  such  facts  as  those  of  the  horse-like  fossils  we 
have  been  considering:  That  the  fossils  once  belonged  to 
animals  which  resembled  horses  known  to  us  by  actual  ob- 
servation is  probable,  the  degree  of  probability  being  very 
different  for  the  different  fossil  species.  As  to  the  geolog- 
ically more  recent  species,  in  which  the  resemblance  to  known 
horses  is  very  close,  the  probability  of  these  being  actual 
horse  remains  is  so  great  as  to  render  negligible  such  uncer- 
tainty as  necessarily  inheres  in  the  nature  of  the  evidence. 
In  the  light  of  the  evidence  furnished  by  the  fossils  them- 
selves and  from  many  collateral  sources,  and  in  the  further 
light  of  the  knowledge  processes  involved  in  innumerable 
cases  where  the  reasoning  is  similar,  it  is  extremely  probable 
that  the  animals  represented  by  the  fossils  were  related 
to  one  another  by  actual  genesis.  In  other  words,  it  is  ex- 
tremely probable  that  as  species  no  less  than  as  individuals 
they  originated  by  evolution. 

I  hasten  to  make  a  few  remarks  forestalling  two  kinds  of 
response  to  this  statement.  On  the  one  hand  I  anticipate 
vigorous  objection  from  paleontological  experts.  They  are 
likely  to  say  that  such  an  outcome  is  so  filled  with  qualifica- 
tion and  skepticism  as  to  rob  it  of  intellectual  satisfaction. 
Such  scientists  are  likely  to  feel  that  if  this  sort  of  thing  is 
the  best  that  can  be  done,  if  nothing  more  certain  can  ever 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  51 

be  attained  from  paleontological  research,  then  such  re- 
search has  little  allurement.  My  reply  to  this  is  that  the 
question  is  not  one  of  our  likes  and  dislikes,  but  of  what  the 
truth  is.  What  are  the  realities  of  nature  and  the  realities  of 
our  minds  as  interpreters  thereof?  Such,  as  I  see  it,  are 
the  problems  with  which  we  have  to  deal.  I  do  not  believe 
it  possible  for  any  scientist  or  for  that  matter  any  other  in- 
telligent, educated  person  to  examine  for  himself  the  facts, 
principles  and  conclusions  we  have  been  occupied  with  and 
come  to  a  result  as  to  the  paleontological  evidence  of  evolu- 
tion essentially  different  from  that  contained  in  our  state- 
ment. 

The  second  kind  of  response  to  our  statement  which  I 
would  forestall,  is  that  of  those  persons,  by  no  means  few 
in  number  nor  devoid  of  influence,  who  rejoice  at  the  least 
sign  of  discomfiture  of  evolutionists.  To  such  persons  I 
would  earnestly  commend  attention  to  the  first  part  of  my 
remark  to  the  other  group:  Not  primarily  our  likes  and  dis- 
likes but  the  realities  of  nature  and  man  are  what  confront 
us.  In  this,  the  scientific  expert  and  the  most  ordinary  per- 
son are  on  common  ground.  It  is  the  great  problem  of  life 
which  we  are  all  compelled  to  do  something  toward  solving 
for  our  individual  selves.  The  measure  of  our  success  in  this 
depends  very  largely  upon  whether  we  conceive  the  prob- 
lem as  it  actually  is  in  contrast  with  conceiving  it  as  we 
would  wish  it  to  be  or  may  erroneously  believe  it  to  be. 

This  whole  discussion  of  evolution  is  an  effort  to  resolve 
the  contradictory  theories  of  the  origin  of  man  and  other  liv- 
ing bemgs  by  examining  the  unquestioned  facts  bearing  on 
the  case  with  a  view  to  finding  which  of  the  various  theories 
have  the  greatest  probability  of  truth.  If  opponents  of  the 
evolution  theory  would  be  faithful  to  the  principles  of  their 
own  mental  life  they  cannot  avoid  explaining  what  the  mean- 
ing is  of  the  many  close  resemblances  between  the  fossil 
remains  which  have  been  woven  together  to  make  the  ad- 


52 


PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 


mittedly  hj-pothetical  horse  series,  if  they  do  not  mean  that 
the  members  of  the  series  are  genetically  related.  Our  re- 
sults have  led  us  to  see  the  necessity  of  concluding  that  the 
members  of  the  series  are  somehow  derivatively  related  to 
one  another  if  we  conclude  that  the  individual  members  of 
a  given  living  species  or  genus,  concerning  the  parentage  and 
birth  of  which  we  are  ignorant,  are  yet  somehow  derivatively 
related. 

man's  most  probable  direct  ancestor 

Our  critical  general  examination,  now  completed,  of  the 
nature  of  evidence  for  evolution  furnished  by  the  structure 
of  animals  living  and  extinct,  has  brought  us  to  the  place 
where  we  can  examine  the  facts  as  evidence  w^hich  have 
given  such  wide  currency  to  the  hypothesis  that  the  human 
species  originated  from  ancestors  whose  nearest  living 
kindred  are  the  anthropoid  apes. 

We  must  first  reiterate  what  has  been  said  several  times, 
making  the  point  more  specific  than  heretofore:  There  is 
not  the  least  likelihood  that  we  shall  ever  know  certainly 
from  what  particular  species  or  even  genus  of  prehuman 
animals  man  descended,  or  more  truly,  ascended.  Vague- 
ness on  this  point  is  constantly  having  imfortunate  results, 
with  the  esoteric  as  well  as  with  the  exoteric.  Such  common 
expressions  as  those  about  some  new  discovery  of  "the 
missing  link"  between  man  and  ape,  and  such  undertakings 
as  those  of  expeditions  in  search  of  "the  ancestor  of  man," 
arouse  interests  and  hopes,  the  unwarrantableness  of  which 
can  only  disappoint  the  credulous  and  encourage  the  in- 
credulity and  hostility  of  the  skeptical.  We  have  not  the 
least  chance  of  learning  by  direct  observation  from  what 
source,  when,  or  how,  man  originated,  simply  because  the 
thing  happened  ages  and  ages  ago.  Common  sense  readily 
enough  accepts  the  limitations  on  knowledge  of  many  past 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  53 

events.  It  is  well  aware  that  it  cannot  know  to-day  any 
event  which  happened  last  year  or  ten  years  ago  with  the 
same  directness  and  certainty  that  it  could  have  known  them 
by  direct  experience  at  the  time  they  happened.  Only  when 
we  become  sicklied  o'er  with  the  pale  cast  of  thought  do 
we  make  ourselves  believe  we  are  as  certain  of  things  sen- 
sorily  unexperienceable  as  we  are  of  things  which  are  thus 
experienceable.  Nor  have  we  any  appreciable  chance  of 
learning  second-hand,  on  the  testimony  of  witnesses  who  did 
observe  man's  origin.  Such  witnesses  left  no  record  of  what 
they  saw  even  if  they  knew  what  they  were  seeing. 

So  long  as  it  is  admittedly  impossible  for  any  one,  no 
matter  how  learned,  to  discover  with  certainty  the  parents  of 
a  given  human  individual  by  knowing  his  structure  alone, 
just  so  long  will  it  be  impossible  to  discover  with  certainty 
the  parent  of  the  human  species.  Discovery  of  the  prob- 
able ancestral  species  will  be  more  difficult  than  would  be 
discovery  of  an  individual's  parents  on  the  sole  basis  of 
knowledge  of  its  structure,  in  proportion  as  the  origin  of  a 
species  is  more  complex  than  the  origin  of  an  individual. 

Despite  this  excessively  skeptical  attitude  (as  it  is  likely 
to  appear  at  first  sight  to  many  evolutionists)  we  feel  that 
the  evidence  justifies  conclusions  of  the  utmost  importance, 
practical  as  well  as  theoretical,  even  though  there  is  con- 
siderable disagreement  among  those  most  highly  informed 
on  the  subject.  After  examination  of  what  is  written,  and  of 
my  own  first-hand  information  (very  limited  as  to  technicali- 
ties, though  considerable  as  to  generalities)  the  conclusion 
which  seems  to  me  most  satisfactory  on  the  whole  is  that 
reached  by  William  K.  Gregory.  As  to  the  evidence  derived 
from  the  resemblances  between  existing  man  and  existing 
anthropoids,  we  have:  "(i)  Comparative  anatomical  (in- 
cluding embryological)  evidence  alone  has  shown  that  man 
and  the  anthropoids  have  been  derived  from  a  primitive 
anthropoid  stock  and  that  man's  nearest  existing  relatives 


54  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

are  the  chimpanzee  and  gorilla.  (2)  The  chimpanzee  and 
gorilla  have  retained,  with  only  minor  changes,  the  ancestral 
habits  and  habitus  in  brain,  dentition,  skull  and  limbs, 
while  the  forerunners  of  the  Hominidae,  through  a  profound 
change  in  function,  lost  the  primitive  anthropoid  habitus, 
gave  up  arboreal  fnigivorous  adaptations  and  early  became 
terrestrial,  bipedal  and  predatory,  using  crude  flints  to  cut 
up  and  smash  the  varied  food."  " 

Rewording  the  first  of  these  paragraphs  in  conformity 
with  the  results  of  our  study  of  the  logical  processes  involved 
in  reaching  the  conclusions,  we  have  the  following:  Exami- 
nation of  the  comparative  anatomical  (including  embryo- 
logical)  evidence  alone  shows  that  the  hypotheses  that  man 
and  the  anthropoids  were  derived  from  a  primitive  anthro- 
poid stock  and  that  man's  nearest  existing  relatives  are  the 
chimpanzee  and  gorilla,  are  far  more  probably  true  than 
are  any  other  hypotheses  that  have  been  proposed  on  the 
matters  at  issue.  I  have  little  doubt  that  this  reworded 
sentence  expresses  more  exactly  what  was  really  in  the  au- 
thor's mind  than  does  his  own  language.  Nobody  knows 
better  than  Gregory  himself  that  the  evidence  referred  to 
does  not  show  for  a  certainty  (as  the  wording  implies)  that 
man  and  the  anthropoids  have  been  derived  from  a  primitive 
anthropoid  stock.^'^ 

While  it  is  highly  probable  that  the  chimpanzee-gorilla 
group  is  genuinely  blood  kindred  to  man,  the  evidence  makes 
probable  in  almost  equal  degree  that  neither  chimpanzee  nor 
gorilla  are  in  man's  direct  ancestral  line.  The  anthropoids 
have  reached  their  culmination  in  the  gibbon,  orang,  chim- 
panzee and  the  gorilla.     Discussing  this  topic,  John  M. 

1*  "Studies  on  the  Evolution  of  the  Primates,"  by  William  K.  Gregory, 
Bull.  Atner.  Mus.  of  Nat.  Hist.,  1910,  Vol.  XXV,  pp.  239-255. 

^''  It  appears  to  me  that  there  are  two  practical  advantages  in  guarding 
statements  of  this  sort  more  carefully  than  most  authors  are  wont  to  do. 
One  of  these  is  the  avoidance  of  the  charge  of  being  dogmatic  so  often 
made  against  men  of  science  by  those  who  arc  not  very  sympathetic  with 
science.    The  second  is  that  such  carefulness  promotes  attention  to  the 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  55 

Tyler  ^^  says:  "Every  one  of  them  approaches  or  resembles 
man  in  some  respect  more  closely  than  does  any  other  of 
them,  and  every  one  differs  from  him  in  certain  important 
characteristics." 

The  practical  question  then  becomes  that  of  what  con- 
clusion the  evidence  warrants  as  to  man's  general  as  con- 
trasted with  his  specific  ancestry.  This  is  in  conformity 
with  the  logic  of  the  situation  which  does  not  permit  us  to 
anticipate  that  we  shall  ever  know  from  what  particular 
anthropoid  species  man  sprang.  Turning  to  the  actual  evi- 
dence, we  come  back  to  our  familiar  realization  of  depend- 
ence on  resemblance.  Undoubtedly  paleontology  is  giving 
us  distinct  help  here.  Southern  Asia  has  yielded  fossils  de- 
rived from  several  species  of  primates  including  some  an- 
thropoids. These  have  been  discovered  particularly  by  the 
Geological  Survey  of  India  and  have  been  studied  with  great 
care  and  skill,  according  to  Gregory,  by  Dr.  Guy  E.  Pilgrim. 

Teeth  are  the  most  important  objects  among  these  fossils 
and  certain  resemblances  of  some  of  these  to  human  teeth 
are  striking  indeed.  Thus  Gregory  gives,  on  Pilgrim's  de- 
terminations, a  comparison  between  the  breadth  indices  of 
all  the  lower  cheek  teeth  of  man  and  those  of  one  of  these 
creatures  (Sivapithecus)  as  follows: 

Sivapithecus  Man 

Third  molar 93.7  91.6 

Second  molar 94.6  94.4 

differences  between  different  hypotheses  touching  the  same  matter,  which 
in  turn  promotes  appreciation  of  the  common  ground  there  is  almost  sure 
to  be  for  such  hypotheses.  Scientific  men  not  infrequently  dwell  upon 
their  differences  of  opinion  to  an  extent  and  with  a  vehemence  that  is 
entirely  out  of  proportion  to  the  importance  of  their  differences  as 
compared  with  the  importance  of  their  agreements.  This  is  detrimental 
from  the  standpoint  of  science's  role  as  a  torchbearer  for  general  public 
enlightenment.  Perhaps  at  no  time  and  on  no  question  has  there  been 
greater  need  that  all  there  is  of  solidarity  in  science  shall  be  openly 
manifest  than  just  now  and  on  this  very  question  of  man's  nature 
and  origin. 
.^8  The  Cotning  of  Man,  p.  38. 


56  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

Sivapithecus  Man 

First  molar 92.1  92. 

Fourth  premolar   116. 5  112. 7 

Third  premolar iio.i  11 1.6 

No  competent  anatomist  or  paleontologist  would  make  too 
much  of  such  a  resemblance  as  this,  especially  since  it  is 
merely  quantitative.  He  would  suspect  that  it  is  too  close 
to  be  allowed  face  value  as  indicating  ^general  resemblance 
and  real  kindred.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the  tooth  and  jaw 
characters  do  not  on  the  whole  bear  out  what  is  suggested 
by  these  measurements,  though  the  premolars  are  said  to 
approach  the  human  type  in  fundamental  pattern.  The 
canines,  however,  are  sharply  apelike  instead  of  manlike. 
Only  after  the  comparison  has  been  extended  to  all  the  parts 
and  features  available  for  examination  can  the  best  possible 
valuation  of  the  resemblances  and  differences  be  reached. 

Gregory's  summing  up  from  the  studies  by  both  Pilgrim 
and  himself  of  these  Indian  fossils,  may  be  taken  as  what  is 
justifiable  on  the  basis  of  the  few  parts  of  the  crea^tures  thus 
far  discovered.  He  writes:  "The  ancestral  chimpanzee- 
gorilla-man  stock  appears  to  be  represented  by  the  Upper 
Miocene  genera  Sivapithecus  and  Dryopithecus  the  former 
more  closely  allied  to,  or  directly  ancestral  to,  the  Homini- 
dse,  the  latter  to  the  chimpanzee  and  gorilla."  Then  fol- 
lows a  statement  whose  justification  and  significance  come 
far  more  from  the  evidence  as  a  whole  than  from  that  fur- 
nished by  these  Indian  fossils  alone.  "Many  of  the  differ- 
ences that  separate  man  from  anthropoids  of  the  Sivapithecus 
type  are  regressive  changes,  following  the  profound  change 
in  food  habits  above  noted.  Here  belong  the  retraction  of 
the  face  and  dental  arch,  the  reduction  in  size  of  the  canines, 
the  reduction  of  the  jaw  muscles,  the  loss  of  the  prehensile 
character  of  the  hallux.     Many  other  differences  are  sec- 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  57 

ondary  adjustments  in  relative  proportions  connected  with 
the  change  from  the  semi-gression  to  fully  terrestrial  bipedal 
progression." 

Concerning  the  relative  structural  resemblances  between 
man,  chimpanzee,  gorilla  and  other  primates,  the  labors  of 
Arthur  Keith  have  furnished  important  evidence.  He  tells 
us'^  that  between  1890  and  1900  he  made  complete  dissec- 
tions of  more  than  eighty  animals  extending  the  comparison 
to  more  than  a  thousand  characters.  This  comparison 
brought  out  the  fact  that  the  number  of  points  in  common 
(resemblances)  are  greatest  of  all  between  man,  gorilla, 
chimpanzee,  and  orang,  and  that  there  is  a  distinct  falling 
off  of  resemblance  on  passing  to  the  old  world  and  still 
more  to  the  new-world  monkeys,  especially  when  the  Lemurs 
are  reached.  Could  the  comparison  have  been  carried  to 
any  mammalian  genera  below  the  Lemurs,  the  falling  off 
would  be  still  more  striking,  bringing  out  the  genus  resem- 
blance between  Homo  and  the  anthropoid  genera  still  more 
sharply.^" 

MAN   AND   THE   SOLIDARITY   OF    THE   ANIMAL    KINGDOM 

As  a  purely  observational  matter  we  are  bound  to  recog- 
nize that  in  structure  man's  resemblances  to  the  higher 
primates,  and  especially  to  the  chimpanzee-gorilla  group,  are 
closer  than  to  any  other  living  beings.  Hence  the  conclusion, 
on  the  basis  of  resemblances  as  indicative  of  common  origin 
among  living  beings,  that  man's  genetic  kinship  to  the  chim- 
panzee-gorilla group  is  closer  than  to  any  other  group. 

19  "Klaatch's  Theory  of  the  Descent  of  Man,"  Nature,  Vol.  85,  Feb. 

16,  1911,  p.  508.  .  ,      .    •  , 

^0  For  the  benefit  of  readers  not  versed  in  the  practices  and  principles 
of  zoological  classification  it  should  be  said  that  the  "common"  char- 
acters entering  into  this  discussion  do  not  by  any  means  include  all 
the  resemblances  between  the  several  organisms  compared,  but  only 
such  as  are  common  in  characterizing  the  different  genera  to  which  the 
organisms  belong.  The  four-chambered  heart  is  common  to  many  other 
genera  of  mammals  as  well  as  to  those  here  compared. 


58  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

Does  the  fact  that  the  definitive  resemblances  (hence, 
supposedly  the  genetic  relation)  between  man  and  other 
creatures  diminish  as  we  go  down  the  scale,  mean  that  they 
disappear  entirely  if  we  go  down  far  enough?  Not  at  all. 
The  resemblances  diminish  only  with  respect  to  those  at- 
tributes made  use  of  in  the  comparison.  When  we  draw 
other  attributes  into  the  comparison  we  find  the  scope  of 
the  resemblances  broadening.  The  hordes  of  multicellular 
animals  have  nervous  and  muscular  systems  of  some  sort, 
as  man  has;  the  cellular  constituents  of  both  these  systems 
are  much  alike  every\N-here.  Even  unicellular  animals  are 
by  no  means  devoid  of  resemblance  to  man,  many  features 
in  the  structure  of  their  cells  resembling  the  cell  structure 
of  man.  Finally  all  plants  as  well  as  all  animals  have  certain 
likenesses  to  man,  being  composed  of  cells  which  have  many 
things  in  common  w^ith  the  cells  of  the  human  organism. 

The  different  emotional  effects  on  us  of  recognizing  re- 
semblances between  ourselves  and  all  other  living  beings, 
and  discovering  scientifically  that  these  resemblances  are 
probably  due  to  actual  physical  kinships,  is  great  and  im- 
portant. The  recognition  of  these  resemblances  is  easier 
than  is  the  discovery  of  their  meaning,  and  hence,  the  former 
makes  a  more  general  appeal  than  the  latter.  For  instance 
it  would  hardly  be  stretching  the  truth  to  say  that  poetry 
is  rooted  in  such  recognition.  Would  it  be  untrue  to  dis- 
tinguish poetry  from  science  by  saying  the  first  concerns 
itself  chiefly  with  the  likenesses  of  external  objects  and  that 
the  second  concerns  itself  chiefly  with  their  differences? 

The  distinguished  surgeon,  W.  W.  Keen,  has  presented 
his  personal  experiences  on  recognizing  certain  resemblances 
between  man  and  brutes.  "Not  from  the  controversial  side 
or  from  general  arguments,"  we  read,  "but  from  a  plain 
statement  of  a  series  of  facts,  many  of  them  drawn  from  my 
personal  experience  as  a  surgeon  and  anatomist,"  would  he 
exhibit  evidence  which  "to  my  mind  absolutely  demonstrates 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  59 

the  solidarity  of  animal  life,  more  especially  in  the  verte- 
brates, such  as  iish,  birds,  other  mammals  and  man,  the 
highest  mammal."  ^^ 

The  specific  instance  relates  to  brain  structure  and  in- 
volves the  phenomenon  of  localization  of  motor  centers  in 
the  cerebral  hemispheres.  The  incident  goes  back  to  a  time 
when  knowledge  in  this  field  was  meager  as  compared  with 
what  it  is  now.  He  says:  "In  1888,  I  reported  my  first 
three  cases  of  modern  surgery  of  the  brain.  Attending  the 
meeting  of  the  American  Surgical  Association  in  Washing- 
ton, when  I  read  this  paper,  was  Sir  David  Ferrier  of  Lon- 
don. He  had  contributed  very  largely  to  this  then  wholly 
new  mapping  of  the  brain  centers  which  control  motion.  In 
one  case,  I  described  how  I  had  stimulated  a  certain  small, 
definite  motor  area  in  the  brain  of  my  patient  by  a  battery, 
and  described  the  resulting  movements  of  the  arm  at  the 
shoulder.  Ferrier  afterwards  said  to  me,  'I  could  hardly 
restrain  myself  from  leaping  to  my  feet,  for  this  was  the 
very  first  demonstration  on  the  human  brain  of  the  exact 
identity  of  my  own  localization  of  this  very  center  in  an- 
imals.' "  After  giving  a  few  other  instances  of  his  own 
experience  in  this  same  field  Keen  writes:  "Do  not  such 
exact  localizations  of  the  brain  centers  in  animals,  as  directly 
applied  to  man,  in  hundreds,  if  not  thousands  of  operations 
by  now,  most  closely  ally  man  to  animals?" 

The  other  instance  we  will  take  from  Keen  hinges  upon 
the  fact  that  if  the  vagus  nerve  be  divided  in  a  cat,  several 
results  follow,  among  them  being:  (i)  The  pupil  of  the  eye 
on  the  same  side  diminishes  from  the  normal  large  sized 
pupil  of  the  cat  to  the  narrowness  of  a  thread.  (2)  The 
corresponding  ear  becomes  very  red  from  increased  flow  of 
blood.  The  blood  vessels  become  greatly  dilated.  (3)  On 
that  side  there  is  an  increased  sweating  due  to  increased 

21  "Surgical  and  Anatomical  Evidence  of  Evolution,"  by  W.  W.  Keen, 
Science,  June  9,  1922,  p.  603. 


6o  PROBLEM  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

activity  of  the  sweat  glands  which  in  turn  results,  partly  at 
least,  from  the  increased  blood  flow.  (4)  The  temperature 
of  the  affected  area  is  increased.  Keen's  incident  reached 
back  to  the  impression  made  upon  him  by  a  picture  of  a 
cat's  face  and  eyes  which  he  had  first  seen  as  a  medical 
student  in  Dalton's  textbook  of  physiology.  In  this  picture 
one  of  the  pupils  was  much  smaller  than  the  other  conse- 
quent upon  division  of  the  vagus  nerve  on  the  side  of  the 
reduced  pupil. 

The  narrative  follows:  "In  1863,  during  the  Civil  War, 
when  I  was  assistant  executive  officer  of  a  military  hospital, 
one  day  a  new  patient  approached  my  desk  just  as  I  was 
about  to  sign  a  letter.  The  moment  I  looked  up  at  him  I 
was  struck  with  his  appearance  and  instantly  said  to  my- 
self, 'Surely  you  are  Dalton's  cat.'  'WTiere  were  you 
wounded?'  I  quickly  said.  He  pointed  to  his  neck  and  I 
said  to  myself,  'His  sympathetic  nerve  must  have  been  cut.' 
Further  observation  showed  the  reddened  ear,  the  increased 
temperature,  the  sweating  and  the  greater  flow  of  saliva,  thus 
confirming  in  every  particular  the  results  of  Brown-Se- 
quard's  experiments  on  animals.  It  is  interesting  to  know 
that  this  was  the  very  first  case  in  surgical  history  in  which 
division  of  the  sympathetic  nerve  had  ever  been  observed  in 
man."  Usually  such  an  accident  means  severing  the  ca- 
rotid artery  and  immediate  death.  Further  experiments  on 
this  nerve  in  animals  have  "revealed  a  wholly  new  world  of 
most  important  phenomena,"  all  of  these  being  just  as  true 
for  man  as  for  the  other  animals. 

Keen  is  a  convinced  evolutionist,  and  his  convictions  rest 
largely  on  just  such  evidence  as  he  gives  here.  Is  his  rational 
acceptance  of  the  theory  as  potent  with  him  as  his  emotional 
attitude,  engendered  by  his  recognizing  the  resemblances  de- 
scribed? While  he  uses  the  term  evolution  in  the  title  of 
his  paper  when  he  summarizes  the  meaning  of  his  illustra- 
tions he  does  not  use  the  word  in  a  single  instance.     "Do 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  6i 

not  such  exact  localizations  of  the  brain  centers  in  animals 
as  directly  applied  to  man  .  .  .  most  closely  ally  man  to 
animals?'^  Further:  Here,  again,  you  perceive  the  solidarity 
of  the  animal  kingdom  in  such  identity  of  function  that  the 
thyroid  gland  of  animals  .  .  .  performs  precisely  the  same 
function  as  the  human  thyroid."  (Italics  are  the  present 
author's.) 

Keen  is  apparently  more  convinced  of  the  solidarity  of 
the  whole  animal  kingdom  than  he  is  of  the  relation  of  all 
animals  by  actual  genesis.  This  feeling  for  "solidarity,"  is 
more  to  him  than  is  his  logical  conviction  of  the  truth  of  the 
evolution  theory.  "Do  not  so  many  such  exact  parallels  be- 
tween the  human  and  the  animal  body  strongly  suggest  a 
close  interrelation  of  the  two?"  Undoubtedly  they  very 
strongly  suggest  such  relation.  But  do  they  prove  it?  It 
would  seem  from  Keen's  language  so  far  examined  that  he 
is  dubious  on  this  point.  However,  in  the  following  we  have 
his  own  answer:  "Man's  ascent  from  an  animal  of  low  in- 
telligence seems  to  me  to  be  absolutely  proved  by  the  many 
phenomena  which  reveal  identical  organs  and  physiological 
processes  in  the  animal  and  the  human  body." 

Keen's  deductions  from  the  evidence  would  be  entirely 
acceptable  to  most  present-day  evolutionists.  They  would 
accept,  as  we  do,  his  conclusion  about  the  solidarity  of  the 
whole  animal  kingdom,  man  with  the  rest,  but  they  would 
also  accept  his  conclusion  that  man's  ascent  from  a  lower 
animal  is  "absolutely  proved"  by  the  evidence.  Yet  our 
discussion  has  shown  conclusively  that  the  evidence  does 
not  "prove  absolutely"  man's  origin  in  this  way.  It  proves 
only  that  his  origin  thus  is  vastly  more  probable  than  is  his 
origin  in  any  other  way  that  has  ever  been  suggested. 


62  PROBLEIVI  OF  MAN'S  ORIGIN 

THE  INFLUENCE  OF  MAN'S  BELIEF  IN  HIS  OWN  EVOLUTIONARY 
ORIGIN  ON  HIS  SELF-RESPECT  AND  CONDUCT 

This  discussion  of  the  evolution  theory  in  its  application 
to  man  must  end  in  a  brief  examination  of  the  effect  the 
theory  tends  to  have  on  man's  view  of  himself.  How  does 
it  influence  him  rationally  and  emotionally?  Does  it  enable 
him  to  understand  his  o^\ti  life  more,  or  less,  truly,  and  to 
order  it  more,  or  less,  wisely  than  do  the  other  theories  which 
it  would  supplant?  If  man  should  become  entirely  con- 
vinced that  he  is  blood-kin  to  the  whole  living  world,  is 
part  and  parcel  of  nature,  will  this  make  him  think  better 
or  worse  of  himself  than  if  he  should  become  convinced,  as 
he  has  so  long  believed  more  or  less  positively  that  he  orig- 
inated in  a  different  way,  and  stands  in  a  different  relation 
to  the  natural  order?  Would  the  final  establishment  of  the 
hypothesis  that  he  originated  from  ancestors  which  were 
not  man  but  something  much  his  inferior,  make  his  self- 
respect  more  genuine  and  potent?  Or  would  it  commit  him 
for  all  time  to  the  spiritual  slough  of  cynicism  and  pessi- 
mism relative  to  mankind  generally,  which  has  been  such 
a  blight  on  the  neo-Darwinian  view  of  human  life? 

In  the  present  stage  of  our  enterprise  our  answer  to  this 
query  can  be  only  an  expression  of  personal  conviction. 
An  adequate  presentation  of  the  grounds  of  the  conviction 
must  be  reserved  for  future  presentation.  This  conviction 
may  be  summed  up  as  follows:  From  the  doctrine  of  or- 
ganic evolution  comes  to  us  the  fullest  revelation  attain- 
able of  man's  moral  nature,  no  less  than  of  his  physical 
nature.  Faith  in  kindred  by  descent,  that  is,  by  evolution, 
of  all  mankind,  known  directly  through  sense-experience  and 
indirectly  through  emotional  response  plus  rational  infer- 
ence, is  the  substance  out  of  which  has  been  woven  the  entire 
fabric  of  civilized  life.  The  conception  of  the  brotherhood 
of  the  human  species  will  become  potent  for  human  conduct 


CERTAINTY  AS  TO  EVOLUTION  63 

only  through  recognizing  that  such  unity  is  rooted  just  as 
truly  in  the  physical  as  in  the  spiritual  nature  of  man,  and 
is  validated  by  his  reason  no  less  certainly  than  by  his  affec- 
tion. The  culminating  human  usefulness  of  the  doctrine  of 
organic  evolution  lies  in  its  revelation  that  the  totality  of 
relations  among  all  the  members  of  the  human  species 
which  conditions  the  highest  good  of  them  all,  called  the 
moral  law,  is  natural  law,  and  must  be  so  understood  and 
practiced  to  accomplish  the  greatest  benefits  of  which  that 
law  is  capable. 

From  the  doctrine  of  universal  evolution  comes  the  full- 
est revelation  of  man's  religious  nature.  The  narrower, 
intenser  unity  of  man  is  but  a  segment  in  the  all-embracing 
unity  which  is  the  matrix  and  source  of  all  our  under- 
standing. From  such  gradually  verified  conceptions  as  the 
web  of  life,  solidarity  of  the  animal  kingdom,  and  the 
limitlessness  of  natural  bodies  dynamically  related  into  a 
true  universe,  arise  all  our  strength  and  faith  as  well  as 
our  understanding,  regardless  of  whether  our  reason  con- 
ceives and  our  language  names  that  unity  as  infinite  nature, 
or  as  the  living  God. 

From  these  combined  sources  come  the  perception  that 
science  is  not  religion,  and  religion  not  science,  but  that 
each  is  the  complement  and  fulfillment  of  the  other.  Re- 
ligion is  the  common  magma  of  all  emotional  life  as  science 
is  of  all  rational  life.  Religion  is  the  individual's  mighty 
reservoir  of  spiritual  impulse  and  energy  upon  which  all 
wisdom  for  personal  and  social  life  must  freely  draw  in 
order  that  it  may  attain  its  greatest  scope  and  efficacy  and 
richness. 

The  supreme  desideratum  for  man  in  this  era  is  that  he 
should  understand  the  evolution  theory  to  the  end  not  merely 
of  believing  it  but  of  living  it.  For  man  to  live  evolution 
means  that  so  long  as  he  is  truly  living  he  must  be  in 
some  measure  truly  developing. 


CHAPTER  5 

SUCCESS  AND  FAILURE  IN  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 
SOURCES,    TRUSTWORTHINESS,    AND    ORGANIZATION    OF    DATA 

The  task  of  getting  before  us  enough  data  on  activities  in 
the  animal  world  to  serve  as  a  basis  for  broad  conclusions 
relative  to  the  meaning  of  these  activities  for  human  life 
is  basic  for  the  standpoint  of  this  book.  It  is  therefore 
important  that  the  source  of  the  data  and  the  methods  of 
securing  them  should  be  placed  before  the  reader  at  the 
outset. 

The  material  appertains  largely  to  animals  living  their 
lives  in  their  own  way  under  natural  conditions.  Students 
of  animal  psychology  have  for  the  most  part  regarded  data 
of  this  kind  with  little  favor.  Recognizing  the  impossibility 
of  getting  evidence  for  analyzing  such  aspects  of  the  animal 
mind  as  they  were  interested  in  without  themselves  control- 
ling the  activities  of  the  animals,  these  investigators  have 
largely  restricted  their  efforts  to  laboratory  experimenta- 
tion. Furthermore,  so  fragmentary  and  lacking  in  critical 
spirit  is  much  of  what  is  told  by  out-of-door  naturalists  as 
to  the  doings  of  animals  that  it  has  appeared  little  of  value 
could  come  from  field  studies. 

Nevertheless,  if  one  is  more  interested  in  the  way  an- 
imals solve  their  own  problems  than  in  the  way  he  may 
solve  his  problems  of  their  psychology,  his  only  recourse 
is  to  do  the  best  he  can  toward  learning  what  the  creatures 
do  in  the  state  of  nature.  This  calls  for  study  of  them  in 
nature  by  any  means  possible,  whether  by  watching  them 
with  no  interference  whatever  on  the  watcher's  part;  by 
such  interference  to  a  limited  extent;  or  by  carefully  ex- 

64 


ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  65 

amining  their  "works"  when  they  are  not  around.  The  life- 
problems  of  animals  must  be  solved,  with  insignificant  ex- 
ceptions, as  nature  imposes  them;  otherwise  the  conclusions 
drawn  by  the  investigator  as  to  their  problem-solving  abili- 
ties and  methods  are  deductively  rather  than  inductively 
arrived  at,  and  subject  to  all  the  dangers  of  the  deductive 
procedure. 

The  question  of  the  trustworthiness  of  the  factual  data 
is  crucial.  Here  as  in  connection  with  the  raw  material  of 
all  scientific  research  two  questions  must  be  satisfactorily 
answered:  Were  the  observations  themselves  accurate  and 
adequate?  Are  the  facts  used  as  bases  for  generalizations 
thoroughly  typical?  With  these  touch-stones  of  the  trust- 
worthiness of  data  in  mind  the  reader  must  judge  for  himself 
whether  the  factual  underpinning  we  are  about  to  lay  is 
strong  enough  to  carry  the  superstructure  to  be  erected 
upon  it. 

The  question  of  who  made  and  reported  the  original 
observations  is  particularly  important.  A  respectable  frac- 
tion of  the  matters  of  fact  presented  is  of  my  own  gathering. 
Rather  extensive  personal  observations  have  been  made 
through  many  years  on  the  doings  in  nature  of  a  number 
of  widely  separated  animal  groups.  Beavers,  one  species 
of  woodpecker,  and  a  few  species  of  ants,  have  received 
especial  attention. 

But  such  a  wide  range  of  data  is  needed  that  great  de- 
pendence must  be  placed  on  the  work  of  other  observers. 
The  most  careful  discrimination  as  to  what  is  and  what 
is  not  trustworthy  is  essential.  The  interpretation  placed 
upon  animal  activities  is  liable  to  be  influenced  by  what 
the  reporter  knows  or  believes  concerning  human  ac- 
tivities. Observers  who  are  genuinely  fond  of  animals, 
who  are  strongly  sympathetic  with  them,  tend  to  overhu- 
manize  the  activities,  to  put  them  in  too  favorable  a  light. 
Observers  who  are  emotionally  negative  or  positively  hostile 


66  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

to  animals  tend  to  underestimate  such  man-likeness  as  their 
activities  have.  Observers  who  are  emotionally  neutral  to- 
ward animals  but  look  upon  them  from  an  extreme  mechanis- 
tic standpoint  tend  to  unduly  mechanize  their  activities, 
thus  making  too  little  of  the  organism's  share  in  its  own 
behavior. 

The  reported  material  in  this  field  is  fragmentary  and 
chaotic.  It  has  never  been  critically  gathered  nor  critically 
studied,  because  there  has  been  no  organizing  principle  to 
direct  observation  and  reflection.  Such  an  organizing  prin- 
ciple is  operative  when  we  study  the  activities  of  any  or- 
ganism with  regard  to  the  contribution  made  by  those  ac- 
tivities to  the  welfare  of  the  organism.  When  we  ask,  not 
only  how  does  the  organism  respond  to  a  given  stimulus  or 
set  of  stimuli,  but  how  does  this  response  affect  the  welfare 
of  the  organism,  we  are  making  more  adequate  and  fruitful 
application  of  the  experimental  method  than  when  its  use 
is  directed  wholly  to  the  discovery  and  not  at  all  to  the 
interpretation  of  facts. 

Much  laboratory  research  has  been  devoted  to  animal 
behavior  by  professional  psychologists.  The  purpose  of 
this  research  has  been  primarily  the  interpretation  of  "the 
animal  mind."  Such  research  might  be  expected  to  produce 
the  very  kind  of  knowledge  we  are  deficient  in.  But  however 
much  researches  of  this  kind  have  enlarged  our  information 
and  enriched  our  understanding  of  certain  aspects  of  animal 
mentality  they  are  able  to  do  but  little  toward  such  a  testing 
of  activity  as  we  are  calling  for. 

The  crucial  thing  about  such  activity  is  out  of  reach  of 
direct  laboratory  research.  Animal  activities  are  so  inti- 
mately tied  up  with  innumerable  other  processes  presented 
by  the  general  system  of  nature  that  it  is  impossible  to 
isolate  any  animal  from  its  natural  setting  (as  in  its  very 
essence  the  laboratory  method  aims  to  do)  without  breaking 
in  upon  the  original  system  to  such  an  extent  that  the  ac- 


ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  67 

tivities  under  the  new  and  simplified  conditions  cannot 
possibly  be  an  exact  duplication  of  what  they  would  be  under 
the  original  conditions.  Think  of  the  question  of  what  the 
individual  sparrows  or  mice  or  bears  of  any  given  area  might 
do  during  a  season  so  excessively  dry  as  to  seriously  reduce 
their  normal  food  supply.  Any  set  experiment  which  dupli- 
cated such  a  situation  would  lose  its  character  and  value  as 
an  experiment,  becoming  as  complicated  and  difficult  to  cope 
with  in  detail  as  the  original. 

To  have  any  value  for  interpreting  a  given  animal  activity 
formal  experimentation  must  be  planned  and  executed  with 
reference  to  questions  defined  on  the  basis  of  knowledge  as 
broad  and  accurate  as  the  natural  conditions  under  which 
it  occurs  will  admit.  Experimentation  can  have  no  other 
legitimate  aim,  so  far  as  concerns  the  general  problem  here 
before  us,  than  to  get  more  light  on  special  details  than 
studies  in  nature  can  obtain. 

In  so  far  as  the  acts  of  animals  fall  short  of  perfection, 
and  are  therefore  judged  to  be  maladapted,  this  judgment 
of  maladaptation  must  be  made  with  reference  to  animal 
lives  under  natural  conditions.  The  struggle  which  we  be- 
lieve to  have  contributed  so  largely  to  making  the  animal 
world  what  it  now  is  has  already  occurred,  and  in  nature, 
not  in  laboratories.  Animals  under  domestication,  or  in 
confinement  in  zoological  parks  and  experimental  labora- 
tories, cannot  exhibit  much  of  the  perfection  or  the  imper- 
fection of  their  abilities  to  act,  nor  can  they  teach  us  much 
about  how  they  came  by  these  abilities.  It  makes  a  crucial 
difference  to  an  animal  whether  it  is  running  wild  in  nature 
depending  on  itself  alone  for  water,  food,  mates,  and  avoid- 
ance of  enemies,  or  is  shut  up  in  a  safe  cage  with  no  respon- 
sibility whatever  for  its  necessities,  these  being  furnished  it 
by  a  bountiful  Providence.  Students  whose  experiences  with 
animals  are  limited  to  those  which  live  under  these  man- 
made  conditions  are  incapable  of  treating  either  their  mal- 


68  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

adaptive  or  their  well-adaptive  actions  with  full  adequacy. 
We  have  drawn  as  extensively  from  the  zoological  realm 
as  has  seemed  necessary  to  provide  a  background  for  an 
adequate  description  of  human  conduct.  This  man-cen- 
tered enterprise  is  approached  in  a  way  that  appears  strange 
and  hostile  to  man  as  contrasted  with  the  approaches  of 
generally  accredited  students  of  human  life.  The  human 
anatomist  and  embryologist  draws  freely  upon  any  portion 
of  the  animal  kingdom  that  will  facilitate  his  description  and 
understanding  of  such  an  infinitely  complex  part  of  adult 
man  as  his  brain.  Without  this  freedom  of  range  as  to 
material  for  research,  and  the  confident  acceptance  of  the 
evolutional  idea  of  true  homology  between  the  human  brain 
and  the  brains  of  all  other  vertebrates,  no  such  fullness  of 
knowledge  of  man's  brain  as  w^e  now  have  could  ever  have 
been  reached.  The  comparative  method  possesses  even 
wider  applicability  and  importance  for  gaining  knowledge 
of  man's  activities.  Whereas  no  human  neurologist  would 
pretend  to  see  a  strict  homology  between  the  parts  of  the 
human  brain  and  the  parts  of  the  brain  of  ants  or  wasps, 
no  human  psychologist  would  hesitate  to  regard  the  reflexive 
and  instinctive  activities  of  man  and  these  invertebrate 
animals  as  strictly  comparable  in  their  basic  natures.  An- 
imals are  more  broadly  and  in  a  sense  more  closely  akin  in 
their  activities  than  in  the  chief  structural  bases  of  these 
activities.  The  food  and  mate-getting  instinctive  activities 
of  insects  and  humans  are  more  alike  than  are  the  mech- 
anisms of  the  two  groups  by  which  the  activities  are  per- 
formed. We  are  no  less  dependent  on  comparative  psycho- 
biological  studies  on  brute  and  human  animals  in  nature 
for  sound  conclusions  relative  to  the  origin  and  nature  of 
these  activities,  than  on  comparative  morphological  studies 
for  sound  conclusions  relative  to  the  origin  and  nature  of 
structure. 


ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  69 

The  fact  that  on  the  activity  side  of  animal  life  we  have 
no  "record  of  the  rocks"  coming  to  us  from  the  past  is  a 
sore  deprivation  to  students  of  comparative  activity.  This 
makes  it  all  the  more  imperative  that  such  data  as  are 
available  should  be  assiduously  collected  and  critically 
treated.  The  extensive  deductive  studies  relative  to  the  prob- 
able size  of  the  brains  of  various  classes  of  extinct  verte- 
brates, based  on  actual  studies  of  the  cranial  capacities  of 
the  fossil  skulls,  are  genuinely  instructive.  But  they  can 
give  no  satisfactorily  detailed  pictures  of  the  lives  of  the 
individual  creatures.  How  defective  must  necessarily  be 
any  imaged  picture  we  can  make  of  the  performances  of 
a  Diplodocus  as  compared  with  what  the  real  performances 
must  have  been!  This  is  one  of  the  animals  in  which  much 
of  the  total  work  done  was  neurally  presided  over  by  an 
enlarged  lumbar  section  of  the  spinal  cord  instead  of  by 
the  brain,  to  judge  from  the  size  of  the  neural  canal  in  this 
region  as  compared  with  the  size  of  the  portion  of  that  canal 
represented  by  the  brain  case.  Researches  into  the  life 
activities  of  such  reptiles  as  those  modern  Australian  lizards 
which  depend  largely  on  the  hind  limbs  for  locomotion 
would  help  toward  picturing  the  activities  of  Diplodocus. 
Manifestly  we  are  forever  precluded  from  knowledge  of 
what  the  daily  lives  of  these  creatures  of  a  long  by-gone  age 
must  have  been. 

These  reflections  bring  forcefully  home  to  us  the  impor- 
tance of  any  trustworthy  bits  of  knowledge  that  can  be  se- 
cured relative  to  the  activities  of  extinct  animals  from  obser- 
vations on  objective  results  of  their  activities.  "Fossil 
tracks"  are  perhaps  the  most  common  sources  of  knowledge 
of  this  kind,  and  considerable  has  been  learned  from  this 
source  about  the  modes  of  life  of  some  animals.  Another 
source  of  raw  material  for  deductive  knowledge  of  the  activi- 
ties of  extinct  animals  is  the  remains  of  food  either  from  the 


70  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

digestive  canals  of  the  animals  or  from  their  excrements. 
These  enable  investigators  to  infer  something  as  to  the 
nutritional  activities  involved. 

]\Iaterial  remains  of  extinct  activities,  as  they  might  be 
called,  which  contribute  most  directly  to  psychobiological 
knowledge,  are  those  that  show  any  sort  of  constructional 
ability  on  the  part  of  the  animals  concerned.  Every  bit  of 
man's  handiwork  that  has  been  gathered  into  the  great  art 
and  science  collections  of  civilized  countries  which  is  unac- 
companied by  written  records  made  at  the  time  the  objects 
themselves  were  made,  must  be  recognized  as  evidence  of 
this  sort.  The  crude  stone  implements,  and  the  prehistoric 
wall-paintings  assigned  to  times  thousands  of  years  in  the 
past,  are  as  strictly  evidence  of  extinct  activity  as  is  a 
fossil-worm  tube  or  wasp's  nest. 

THE   CRITERION   OF   SUCCESS   IN  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

Since  Darwin's  time  all  students  of  living  nature  have 
recognized  the  enormous  mortality  that  occurs  over  and 
above  what  death  from  old  age  entails.  So  general  is  this 
phenomenon  that  some  zoologists  and  botanists  have  doubted 
whether  there  is  any  such  death.  It  rarely  happens  that 
an  organism  dies  from  an  inherent  lack  of  ability  to  live 
longer.  It  does  not  die;  it  is  killed.  Vast  numbers  of  in- 
dividuals of  nearly  all  species  fall  victim  to  external  destroy- 
ing agencies  before,  often  long  before,  old  age  comes  upon 
them.  Countless  millions  of  seeds  and  eggs  and  also  of 
the  very  young  of  both  plants  and  animals,  are  destroyed 
every  year  by  inimical  forces  of  inorganic  nature  and  by 
parasites  and  other  kinds  of  organic  depredators,  in  ways 
against  which  the  victims  have  not  the  slightest  recourse. 

This  great  victimized  world  is  immobile  and  helpless;  it 
is  a  static  world  so  far  as  its  fate  is  concerned.  Thus  do 
we  become  accustomed  to  look  upon  it.    A  large  part  of  the 


ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  71 

directly  observable  evidence  of  destruction  among  adult 
higher  animals,  and  of  our  information  about  defects  that 
contribute  to  the  destruction,  is  morphological.  This  aspect 
of  life,  no  matter  how  complicated  and  perfect  it  may  be, 
is  inert,  passive,  static.  From  all  this  we  have  been  habitu- 
ated to  associate  the  great  mortality  in  living  nature  chiefly 
with  the  static  aspects  of  organisms.  An  unexpressed,  semi- 
conscious contra-theory  appears  to  have  grown  up  to  the 
effect  that  if  an  organism  is  highly  active  there  is  no  room 
for  question  about  the  quality  of  the  action.  The  old  notion 
of  a  sort  of  divine  inerrancy  of  "instinct"  and  the  tendency 
in  animal  biology  to  think  of  animal  adaptation  in  morpho- 
logical terms  have  conspired  to  shield  all  those  activities 
of  animal  organisms  commonly  classed  as  instinctive,  from 
rigorously  scientific  study  as  to  their  significance  and  effec- 
tiveness for  the  organisms  performing  them.  Recent  physi- 
ology has  done  much  to  correct  the  staticism  of  morphology 
and  to  do  away  with  what  might  be  called  the  theological 
conception  of  instinct.  The  next  step  in  the  study  of  animal 
activities  is  to  subject  to  scientific  examination  the  question 
of  how  far  the  activities  attain  the  ends  at  which  they  are 
unmistakably  aimed. 

Every  naturalist  whose  attitude  toward  the  realm  he 
studies  is  permeated  with  feeling  as  well  as  guided  by  reason 
must  of  necessity  find  it  more  pleasant  to  dwell  on  the  suc- 
cesses than  on  the  failures  among  living  beings,  especially 
among  those  belonging  to  the  higher  orders.  We  are  better 
satisfied  with  the  sleek,  well-shaped,  vigorous  dog  or  horse, 
than  with  rough-haired,  scrawny,  or  mutilated  individuals. 
Nobody  really  likes  down-and-outers.  When  we  speak  of 
the  beauties,  the  wonders,  the  harmonies,  of  animate  nature 
we  mean  that  those  aspects  of  the  great  scheme  of  things 
which  impress  us  in  these  emotional  ways  are  the  successes 
of  nature. 

It  cannot  escape  the  notice  of  anybody  who  observes 


72  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

animals  that  some  individuals  of  any  species  or  variety  are 
much  finer,  much  more  pleasing  to  look  at  and  to  be  in- 
terested in,  than  others.    It  does  not  require  very  extensive 
zoological  knowledge  to  discover  that  much  of  this  kind  of 
difference  among  individuals  is  connected  with  different  de- 
grees of  success  in  the  activities  characteristic  of  the  organ- 
isms.   The  "lean  and  lank"  or  "scrawny"  condition  of  cer- 
tain individuals  is  seen  to  be  due  to  the  failure  of  the 
creatures'  food-procuring  or  food-using  activities.    We  are 
apt  to  attribute  conditions  of  the  sort  indicated  to  shortage 
of  food  and  let  the  case  go  at  that.    We  are  apt  to  charge  the 
whole  responsibility  to  the  environmental  side  of  life.    But  a 
moment's  reflection  will  convince  us  that  this  way  of  dis- 
posing of  the  matter  is  inadequate.    The  fact  that  an  or- 
ganism has  the  ability  at  all  to  seek  for  food  means  some 
ability  to  meet  special  conditions.    In  a  special  case  of  food 
scarcity  what  happens  to  a  creature  is  essentially  a  matter 
of  how  far  he  can  go  by  virtue  of  his  seeking  ability.    In 
this  very  matter  of  the  extension  of  the  food-procuring  and 
food-using  activities  is  found  one  of  the  most  important 
factors  in  the  development  of  the  higher  animals  from  the 
lower,  and  in  making  man  the  most  successful  of  all  crea- 
tures. 

The  term  "maladaptation"  is  convenient  as  a  name  for  all 
kinds  and  degrees  of  falling  short  of  completeness  in  any 
tjpe  of  structure  and  of  success  in  any  kind  of  action.  The 
nature  of  our  undertaking  will  require  us  to  examine  the 
maladaptive  side  of  activity  somewhat  more  extensively  and 
closely  than  the  well-adaptive  side.  Works  on  the  natural 
history  of  animals  are  very  inadequate  in  dealing  with  this 
general  subject,  and  especially  with  unsuccessful  activities. 


ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  73 

ACTIVITIES  CLASSIFIED  AS  LIFE-OR-DEATH  AND 
LIFE-FULFILLING 

After  all  is  made  that  possibly  can  be  made  of  the  lives 
of  creatures  long  since  dead  and  gone,  our  main  reliance  for 
the  task  in  hand  must  be  the  actually  observed  performances 
of  living  creatures.  The  task  before  us  is  to  examine  as 
critically  as  possible  typical  activities  of  animals,  from  the 
smallest,  simplest  creatures  known  to  us  up  to  and  including 
m.an  at  his  best,  with  a  view  to  learning  all  we  can  about  the 
effectiveness  of  such  activities  for  conserving  and  promoting 
the  lives  of  the  creatures. 

When  the  whole  round  of  animal  activities  is  viewed  with 
reference  to  the  welfare  of  the  animals  performing  them, 
three  groups,  or  categories  stand  out  with  boldness.  No 
animal  ever  fails  to  reveal  his  awareness  of  the  absolute 
necessity  for  food,  using  the  term  to  include  every  class  of 
materials  which  must  be  taken  from  external  nature  in 
order  that  the  organism  may  continue  to  live  in  health  and 
strength.  The  unqualified  self-centeredness  of  this  category 
of  needs  and  activities  is  almost  as  striking  as  are  the  needs 
and  activities  themselves.  That  no  living  thing  can  meet 
an  animal's  food  needs  as  long  as  it  is  living,  is  an  impres- 
sively ego-centric  fact.  Nothing  alive  is  useful  for  this  pur- 
pose to  any  of  us  until  it  is  dead. 

How  different  in  kind  is  another  group  of  needs  with  its 
corresponding  activities!  The  mate,  no  less  imperatively 
needed  than  food  by  all  highly  developed  animal  organisms, 
must  be  as  fully  alive  as  the  needy  individual  itself.  The 
activities  the  role  of  which  is  to  satisfy  these  needs  cannot 
possibly  be  ego-centric  in  the  sense  in  which  the  food-secur- 
ing activities  must  be.  In  mating  the  aim  is  as  positively 
other-conserving  as  it  is  other-destroying  in  food-getting. 

The  third  group  of  needs  and  corresponding  activities  is 
less  sharply  delimited  than  are  the  other  two,  but  no  less 


74  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

real  and  imperative.  The  fact  that  health,  and  life  itself, 
are  subject  to  countless  inimical  external  agencies  escapes 
the  attention  of  nobody,  even  members  of  the  most  assid- 
uously "safety  first"  communities.  When  it  comes  to  those 
ages  of  human  life  and  those  places  of  its  habitation  wherein 
not  much  has  yet  been  done  by  man  to  secure  himself 
against  these  agencies,  dangers  beset  him  so  thickly  on  every 
side  that  the  need  for  activities  in  behalf  of  safety,  and  so 
the  activities  themselves,  are  as  much  in  evidence  as  are 
those  of  the  other  two  groups. 

It  is  not  contended  that  all  the  needs  and  activities  of 
brute,  much  less  of  human,  animals  are  included  in  these 
three  groups.  Since  successful  life  at  any  level  is  condi- 
tioned on  the  fulfillment  of  these  three  groups  of  needs,  the 
degree  of  success  of  activities  relative  to  these  groups  will 
be  a  true  measure,  so  far,  of  the  efficiency  of  all  organic 
activity.  These  three  groups  of  activities  are,  from  the 
standpoints  of  the  species  and  of  the  individual,  life-sustain- 
ing activities.  Unless  they  are  successfully  performed,  na- 
ture puts  a  check,  abrupt  and  immistakable,  upon  the  life- 
adventure  of  individual  and  species. 

There  is  another  large  group  of  activities  which  may  be 
designated  as  life-fulfilling.  As  responses  to  stimulatory 
agencies  these  are  as  inevitable,  as  normal,  as  natural  as  are 
responses  to  agencies  which  answer  to  the  organism's  life- 
or-death  needs,  but  they  do  not  contribute  anything  to 
such  needs.  Light  reaching  my  eyes  from  a  wayside  stone 
is  as  stimulatory  as  is  light  coming  from  a  loaf  of  bread; 
and  the  light  from  neither  source  tells  me  anything  about 
the  nature  of  either  object.  In  order,  therefore,  to  fulfill  my 
responsive  nature  I  am  as  much  bound  to  respond  to  the 
useless  as  to  the  useful  agency. 

From  this  universal  but  undiscriminating  character  of 
responsiveness  it  comes  about  that  the  life-fulfilling  activities 


ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  75 

have  great  importance  in  organisms  in  which  they  are  as 
numerous  and  varied  as  they  are  in  man.  They  engage  us 
in  detail  in  the  companion  volume  of  this  general  enterprise; 
so  far  as  this  book  is  concerned  we  shall  consider  human 
activities  chosen  from  the  same  life-sustaining  groups  of 
activities  as  have  furnished  the  material  for  the  examination 
of  brute  activities,  and  shall  classify  them  under  the  same 
general  kinds  of  successful  and  unsuccessful  activities. 

CLASSES   OF   MALADAPTIVE   ACTIVITY 

The  character  of  the  maladaptive  activities  found  by  us  in 
this  study  only  confirms  and  extends  results  previously 
reached  by  other  investigators.^  Thoughtful  students  of 
animal  activities  sum  up  their  conclusions  in  some  such 
phrase  as,  "All  instinctive  activity  is  wasteful."  Although 
this  is  too  terse  to  be  unqualifiedly  true,  it  contains  unescap- 
able  truth.  The  wastefulness  and  otherwise  maladaptiveness 
of  instinctive  activities  result  in  part  from  the  ever-present 
liability  of  organisms  to  overdo,  i.e.,  to  perform  a  useful,  or 
at  least  a  harmless,  act  more  times  than  are  necessary  to  yield 
the  best  results  for  the  organism  itself.  This  may  be  desig- 
nated as  the  tendency  to  excessiveness.  This  excessiveness 
may  be  wasteful  of  the  animal's  energy  and  time,  and  may 
even  work  posi  tive  harm.    The  woodpecker,  equipped  to  store 

^  The  maladaptivity  of  animals  in  what  they  do  has  received  relatively 
little  special  attention  by  experimentalists.  We  are  acquainted  with  the 
work  of  no  one  who  has  approached  the  subject  from  the  side  of  the 
experimental  control  of  animal  activity  who  seems  to  have  come  so  near 
conceiving  the  problem  as  it  is  conceived  by  us  as  does  the  psycho- 
pathologist,  G.  V.  Hamilton.  His  important  book,  An  Introduction  to 
Objective  Psychopathology  (1925),  to  which  R.  M.  Yerkes  contributes 
a  significant  foreword,  escaped  us  until-  our  book  was  nearly  through 
the  press.  It  would  otherwise  have  received  more  attention.  This 
author's  thought  appears  to  run  parallel  with  ours  in  several  particulars, 
most  notably,  perhaps,  in  recognizing  the  large  part  played  by  imperfect 
adaptation  in  the  doings  of  animals,  brute  and  human,  and  in  perceiving 
the  transcendent  importance  of  reason,  especially  human  reason,  as  a 
corrective  of  the  imperfection. 


76  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

nuts  in  holes  which  he  has  pecked  in  trees,  pecks  far  more 
holes  than  he  ever  fills,  and  fills  far  more  than  he  or  his 
fellows  ever  empty.  If  a  woodpecker's  time  and  his  acorns 
are  worth  anything  to  him  (and  they  certainly  are  if  his  life 
is  worth  anything  to  him)  this  excessiveness  of  activity  is 
wasteful  and  may  be  positively  harmful. 

The  organism  tends  not  only  to  excessiveness  but  also  to 
misdirection  of  otherwise  advantageous  activities.  The 
woodpecker  who  stores  pebbles  instead  of  acorns  has  plainly 
chosen  the  wrong  objects  for  his  activity;  judged  as  a  food- 
storing  enterprise  this  undertaking  is  a  failure,  however 
neatly  the  pebbles  are  fitted  into  the  holes. 

So  vast  in  quantity  is  the  material  available  for  such  an 
undertaking  that  the  use  of  more  than  a  small  fraction  of 
it  is  out  of  the  question.  Practically  the  problem  is  one  of 
making  such  selections  from  the  data  as  will  be  most  widely 
illustrative  of  the  basic  phenomena  and  most  cogent  and  con- 
vincing as  to  the  general  conclusions  reached.  As  should  be 
expected  the  two  great  zoological  subdivisions  of  arthropods 
and  vertebrates  have  furnished  a  large  majority  of  the  in- 
stances used.  Even  from  these  subdivisions  selection  has 
had  to  be  restricted.  Entire  major  divisions,  as  for  instance 
that  of  fishes  among  vertebrates,  have  been  requisitioned 
but  little,  though  innumerable  data  are  here  available. 


CHAPTER  6 

SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

Our  central  requirement  in  the  criterion  of  success  will  be 
attainment  of  welfare — welfare  of  the  individual  creature 
performing  the  act,  and  welfare  of  the  group  of  which  the 
individual  is  a  member.  The  mere  bringing  to  a  successful 
conclusion  of  a  specific  set  of  activities,  as  those  involved 
in  a  piece  of  construction  or  in  the  accomplishment  of  a 
journey,  does  not  constitute  success  as  we  shall  use  the 
term.  The  final  test  of  successful  animal  action  is  not  found 
in  any  material  product  or  immediate  accomplishment  but 
in  the  administration  of  that  action  to  the  life  of  the  animal, 
individual  and  group.  Were  a  food-storing  rat  or  squirrel 
to  lay  up  enough  grain  or  nuts  to  make  an  ample  food 
supply  for  a  long  winter,  this  of  itself  could  not  be  accounted 
full  success.  Such  could  only  be  ascribed  to  the  accomplish- 
ment when  the  stores  had  actually  done  their  part  in  pre- 
serving the  animal  the  whole  winter  through.  Should  hard 
rains  or  some  marauding  enemy  destroy  the  stores  before 
they  had  been  eaten  by  their  owner,  the  storage  work  would 
fall  short  of  real  success.  It  would  have  to  be  regarded  as 
defective  in  not  providing  adequately  against  such  destroy- 
ing agencies.  No  matter  what  else  may  be  included  in  wel- 
fare, the  continuance  of  existence  in  the  individual  and  in 
the  species,  and  the  continuance  of  some  measure  of  func- 
tional efficiency,  is  basal.  When  life  terminates  in  an  or- 
ganism, or  comes  so  near  it  as  to  render  the  organism  utterly 
helpless,  the  term  welfare  can  hardly  be  said  to  have  any 
meaning  as  applied  to  that  organism. 

There  are  many  activities  which,  though  typically  pro- 
motive of  welfare,  become  positively  subversive  under  some 
conditions,  as  when  carried  beyond  a  certain  quantitative 

77 


78  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

optimum.  Eating,  no  matter  how  good  the  food  or  how 
much  needed,  may  be  carried  to  excess  by  any  organism. 

Many  kinds  of  activity  other  than  those  indispensable  to 
the  mere  continuance  of  physical  existence  in  health,  effi- 
ciency and  comfort  are  highly  promotive  of  welfare  in  man 
and  in  many  animals  below  man.  We  have  to  recognize 
spiritual  welfare,  welfare  that  is  psychical  in  the  broadest 
sense,  as  well  as  physical  welfare.  The  idea  of  welfare  can 
be  extended  without  ambiguity  to  a  great  range  of  activities, 
covering  some  of  life  that  is  physical  and  some  that  is 
spiritual  or  psychical,  by  defining  welfare  as  being  nearly 
synonymous  with  the  common  expression:  "fullness  of  life." 

In  examining  the  activities  of  animals  for  the  purpose 
of  ascertaining  their  successfulness  it  will  be  convenient  and 
sufficiently  accurate  to  recognize  these  activities  as  occurring 
at  three  levels  of  complexity. 

AT  THE  LEVEL  OF  REFLEX  ACTION 

At  this  level  the  action  is  an  immediate  and  often  direct 
response  to  a  stimulus.  It  is  relatively  much  more  impor- 
tant in  the  lowly  animal  orders,  as  in  the  coelenterates  and 
molluscs.  The  direct  though  slow  contraction  of  the  ten- 
tacles of  sea-anemones  and  hydroids  has  been  seen  by  most 
persons  who  have  had  experience  at  the  seaside.  The 
prompt  closure  of  the  open  shells  of  the  living  clam  when 
the  mantle  edge  is  touched  is  also  familiar.  The  closure 
of  the  clam's  shell  is  a  less  direct  response  than  is  the  con- 
traction of  the  anemone's  tentacles,  for  the  stimulus  must 
be  transmitted  from  the  mantle  to  the  muscle  of  the  shell 
hinge.  The  stimulus  is  applied  to  one  organ  and  the  response 
is  in  another  some  distance  away,  whereas  in  the  case  of 
contraction  of  the  tentacle,  response  and  stimulation  per- 
tain to  the  same  organ.  The  lightning  speed  with  which  the 
tube-dwelling  annelid   worms   disappear   into   their   tubes 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  79 

upon  the  slightest  contact  of  their  tentacles  with  foreign 
bodies,  is  well  known  to  frequenters  of  the  seashore.  In 
these  animals  the  action,  always  regarded  as  reflex,  is 
executed  by  the  body  muscles  as  well  as  by  the  tentacles, 
though  the  stimulus  is  applied  to  the  tentacles  -^nly. 

In  all  these  cases  there  is  no  ground  for  doubting  the 
general  usefulness  of  the  actions  to  the  creatures,  nor  can 
there  be  any  doubt  about  the  success  fulness  of  each  specific 
act  in  most  instances.  If  the  mussel's  shell  and  the  annelid's 
tube  are  real  protections  of  the  creatures  against  enemies, 
or  against  desiccation  when  the  animals  are  left  high  and 
dry  every  day  by  the  outgoing  tide;  and  if  the  closures  are 
perfect,  as  they  usually  are,  there  seems  nothing  to  be  said 
against  the  completeness  of  the  success  of  the  actions  which 
accomplish  them.  On  the  whole  it  is  beyond  question  that 
a  great  range  of  reflex  activities  in  animals  are  successful 
even  as  judged  by  our  rather  exacting  test  of  success.  The 
importance  of  such  success  is  particularly  striking  in  those 
animals  in  which  this  type  of  action  constitutes  the  whole 
repertoire  of  activities  upon  which  their  lives  depend. 

While  it  is  true  that  in  all  higher  creatures  other  types 
of  action  play  a  far  more  dominating  part,  the  reflexes  are 
still  indispensable.  Except  for  the  constantly  successful 
performance  of  a  great  number  of  reflex  actions  there  could 
be  no  successful  life;  in  the  entire  absence  of  such  reflexes 
there  could  be  no  life  in  us  at  all.  The  major  portion  of 
the  digestive,  respiratory,  circulatory  and  reproductive  func- 
tions, upon  which  continuance  of  life  in  the  individual  and 
the  species  is  absolutely  dependent,  is  accomplished  by  ac- 
tivities of  this  sort. 

AT  THE  LEVEL  OF  INSTINCTIVE  ACTION 

The  second  type  of  activity  which  our  examination  will 
recognize  we  shall  call  instinctive.    For  the  purpose  of  this 


8o  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

discussion,  we  need  not  be  concerned  with  the  question  de- 
bated by  modern  psychologists  as  to  what  instinct  is,  or 
whether  there  is  any  such  thing.  We  are  in  need  of  a  de- 
scriptive term  for  a  kind  of  activity  of  animal  organisms 
which  is  unmistakable  throughout  a  great  part  of  its  range. 
Those  actions  which  are  common  to  all  the  individual  or- 
ganisms of  the  same  natural  kind  or  sex  of  that  kind,  the 
performance  of  which  implicates  many  parts  or  the  whole  of 
the  individual,  and  which  do  not  have  to  be  learned,  we 
shall  characterize  as  instinctive. 

In  no  other  classes  of  animals  does  instinctive  action  come 
to  quite  as  clear  expression  as  in  the  insects  and  spiders. 
As  a  first  illustration  we  will  describe  the  nest-building 
operations  of  the  trap-door  spider.  Since  I  have  watched 
this  operation  being  performed  by  very  young  individuals 
it  is  worth  while  to  describe  it  somewhat  fully.  These 
spiders,  representative  of  several  species  inhabiting  a  large 
area  of  southwestern  United  States  and  adjacent  Mexico, 
make  their  nest  by  digging  a  cylindrical  hole  in  the  ground, 
lining  it  with  a  thin  layer  of  web-material,  and  closing  the 
entrance  with  a  lid  attached  by  a  hinge  to  the  edge  of  the 
orifice.  The  nicety  of  fit  and  ease  and  efficiency  of  action  of 
this  "trap-door"  elicit  the  admiration  of  all  who  examine  the 
structure.  The  lid,  which  is  composed  chiefly  of  hard  sun- 
dried  dirt  reenforced  by  web-material  and  especially  by  an 
inside  covering  of  this  material,  is  beveled  at  its  margin  all 
around,  and  fits  so  perfectly  a  corresponding  bevel  inside 
the  rim  of  the  hole  as  to  make  the  closure  almost  water- 
tight. At  least,  the  closure  excludes  absolutely  any  wasps 
or  other  small  creatures  that  might  try  to  enter  the  nest 
through  the  doorway.  The  bore  of  the  full-sized  nest  of  the 
California  species  with  which  I  am  familiar  is  an  inch  or 
more  in  diameter,  and  the  depth  is  four  to  seven  inches. 

The  young  spiders,  though  essentially  the  same  in  struc- 
ture as  the  adults,  are  very  small,  not  more  than  two  or 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  8i 

three  millimeters  in  length.  Yet  these  young,  relatively  mi- 
nute spiders  construct  a  miniature  nest  exactly  on  the  pat- 
tern of,  and  almost  as  perfect  as,  the  adults'  nest,  though 
they  have  never  seen  the  adults  perform  the  task  nor  had 
an  opportunity  to  examine  a  completed  nest. 

Enough  details  will  be  given  to  enable  the  reader  to  ap- 
preciate something  of  the  elaborateness,  orderliness,  and 
exactness  of  the  activities  involved.  The  baby  spider  begins 
by  making  a  hole  in  the  moist  clayey  ground,  the  mouth  of 
which  is  sharp  edged  and  almost  a  perfect  circle.  The 
diameter  is  just  enough  to  permit  the  animal  to  go  freely 
in  and  out,  about  three  millimeters.  The  depth  of  the  hole 
at  this  stage  is  sufficient  to  permit  the  animal  to  enter  and 
hide  himself  completely  in  it.  So  far  the  hole  seems  to  be 
made  more  by  pushing  the  body  into  the  ground  than  by 
excavating.  Lid-making  soon  begins  and  is  prosecuted  in 
the  following  way:  A  minute  projection  is  made  at  some 
point  on  the  edge  of  the  hole's  mouth,  by  the  combined  use 
of  the  two  front  pairs  of  the  spider's  appendages.  To  this 
projection  additions  are  made  by  particles  or  pellets  brought 
from  within  the  hole,  probably  from  the  bottom,  deepening 
of  the  hole  being  thus  combined  with  constructing  the  lid. 
Following  every  deposition  and  fixation  of  a  load  of  earth 
by  the  anterior  appendages,  which  implies  that  the  animal 
comes  to  the  place  of  deposit  head-end  up,  a  descent  into 
the  tunnel  and  a  reversal  of  ends  are  made.  Then  follows  a 
backing-up  to  the  mouth  of  the  tunnel,  a  placing  of  the  tip 
of  the  abdomen  against  the  edge  of  the  lid-to-be,  and  a 
moving  of  the  tip  over  the  surface.  This  performance  is 
undoubtedly  accompanied  by  a  discharge  of  web-material 
from  the  web-secreting  gland  which  is  located  in  this  part 
of  the  body. 

The  two  acts  of  bringing  earth  from  the  depths,  the  animal 
being  head-end  uppermost,  and  depositing  it  on  the  expand- 
ing lid;  and  of  discharging  web-material  on  the  earth,  al- 


82  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

ternate  with  perfect  regularity  until  the  lid  mass  has  become 
broad  enough  to  completely  close  the  orifice  of  the  tunnel. 
But  a  mere  cumulation  of  materials,  clay  and  web-substance, 
would  not  make  the  lid.  Obviously  there  must  be  some  gen- 
uine fashioning  of  materials.  This  modeling  of  raw  materials 
into  the  nicely  fitting,  freely  working  trap-door  is  the  really 
astonishing  part  of  the  whole  operation.  Each  deposition 
of  clay  is  immediately  followed  by  a  shaping  operation,  this 
being  done  chiefly  by  the  same  body  members  by  which  the 
earth  was  brought  to  the  lid  and  put  in  place.  By  this 
means  the  lid  is  given  its  proper  circular  outline  and  thick- 
ness. After  the  lid  has  become  broad  enough  to  reach  nearly 
across  the  orifice  it  is  pulled  down  from  time  to  time  with 
sufficient  force  to  do  considerable  toward  beveling  its  own 
and  the  mouth's  edges  for  producing  that  nice  fit  which  is 
so  conspicuous  a  feature  of  the  completed  product.  Fol- 
lowing each  trial  closure  the  lid  is  pushed  open  again  for 
further  construction  work. 

Two  of  my  most  vivid  memory  pictures  of  the  operation, 
the  whole  of  which  I  watched  with  such  thrills  of  expectancy 
and  surprise  as  to  make  me  almost  dubious  at  times  about 
the  trustworthiness  of  my  eyes,  must  be  specially  mentioned. 
One  of  these  pictures  is  of  the  little  animal's  abdominal  tip 
being  rubbed  back  and  forth  around  the  circumference  of 
the  nearly  completed  lid.  A  house-painter's  brush  or  a 
plasterer's  trowel  could  hardly  work  with  more  efficacy. 
The  other  special  performance,  even  more  startling  than  the 
first  because  less  regularly  done,  consisted  in  pulling  down 
the  nearly  finished  lid,  finding  where  the  closure  crack  was 
widest,  and  then  promptly  pushing  up  the  lid  and  refashion- 
ing it  at  the  defective  spot.  It  seems  almost  incredible  that 
this  last-mentioned  act  could  be  instinctive,  yet  such  it  must 
have  been  if  judged  by  the  characteristics  of  such  actions  as 
given  above.  It  is  certain  that  these  spiders  had  no  chance 
to  learn  the  process  they  went  through  or  even  to  do  it  by 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  83 

heer  imitation,  for  immediately  upon  hatching  they  had 
een  taken  from  the  parental  nest  into  the  laboratory  and 
laced  by  themselves  in  a  large  dish  containing  moist  earth. 
This  illustration  of  instinctive  action  presents  evidence 
that  the  process  was  not  learned  but  that  the  ability  for  it 
must  have  been  obtained  by  inheritance  from  the  creatures' 
ancestors,  and  that  the  ability  is  probably  a  common  pos- 
session of  all  normal  individuals  of  this  species  of  spider. 
This  particular  observation  was  limited  to  members  of  only 
one  brood.  But  since  there  were  some  dozens  of  these;  since 
most  of  them  were  at  work  in  the  same  way;  and  since 
observations  on  activities  of  other  species  have  shown  this 
commonness  of  ability,  we  are  safe  in  presuming  that  all 
normal  trap-door  spiders,  whether  j^oung  or  old,  can  con- 
struct the  same  kind  of  nests  about  equally  well,  and  with- 
out having  to  be  taught  to  do  it.  That  nest  construction 
by  these  spiders  is  a  success  in  a  majority  of  cases  is  certain. 
Were  this  not  so  the  species  would  presumably  have  become 
extinct  long  ago. 

There  are  innumerable  other  activities  in  the  insect  world 
and  in  many  other  animal  classes,  which  are  as  unmistakably 
instinctive  as  is  the  nest-building  by  the  trap-door  spider, 
and  as  unmistakably  successful.  One  other  very  striking 
form  of  such  activity  among  bees  and  wasps  is  found  in  the 
wide  range  of  cases  in  which  the  mother  makes  a  nest  solely 
for  the  young,  deposits  in  it  not  only  her  egg  or  eggs  but 
also  food  for  the  young,  then  leaves  the  whole  accomplish- 
ment to  its  fate,  either  completely  abandoning  it  or,  in  some 
cases,  dying.  In  such  a  scheme  there  can  be  no  possibility 
of  the  young  mother's  acquiring  the  building  art  from  her 
parent  either  by  direct  imitation  or  by  formal  learning,  since 
she  never  sees  her  mother;  just  as,  in  turn,  her  offspring  will 
never  see  her. 

It  is  difficult  if  not  impossible  to  find  such  elaborate  and 
clear-cut  instances  of  purely  instinctive  activity  among  any 


84  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

of  the  vertebrate  classes  as  these  noticed  among  the  higher 
arthropods.  Especially  among  the  higher  vertebrates,  the 
activities  are  modified  from  the  hard-and-fast  hereditary  and 
mechanical  type,  in  the  direction  of  what  we  call  intelligent 
action.  That  the  ancient  type  of  action  still  predominates 
even  among  the  highest  vertebrates  below  man  there  can  be 
no  doubt.  Among  the  lower  vertebrates,  fishes,  amphibians 
and  reptiles,  activity  is  almost  wholly  instinctive,  but  it 
rarely  attains  to  such  elaboration  and  nicety  of  detail  as  it 
does  among  the  best  of  the  arthropods.  The  lower  verte- 
brates, notably  the  great  piscine  tribe,  must  be  looked  upon 
as  less  well  off  from  the  standpoint  of  mentality  than  the 
higher  arthropods,  being  the  inferiors  of  their  arthropodian 
kindred  in  perfection  of  instinctive  activity  but  not  yet  hav- 
ing attained  more  than  the  earliest  stages  of  modification  in 
the  direction  of  intelligent  activity.  The  real  significance 
of  the  lower  vertebrates,  more  particularly  the  amphibians, 
may  be  said  to  lie  in  the  developmental  possibilities,  both 
physical  and  mental,  which  their  type  of  organization  gives 
them. 

Two  unmistakable  examples  of  instinctive  activity  among 
vertebrates  which  are  almost  as  "pure"  as  any  to  be  found 
among  arthropods  are  furnished,  one  by  fishes  and  one  by 
birds. 

The  fish  example  is  furnished  by  the  Grunion  (Leuresthes 
tenuis)  from  the  coast  of  California.  It  has  been  long 
known  that  at  its  breeding  time  in  March  and  April  this 
species  comes  in  vast  numbers  onto  sandy  shores  at  high 
tide.  Only  recently  has  the  full  meaning  of  this  performance 
been  worked  out.  Thanks  to  the  investigations  of  Mr.  Will 
F.  Thompson  we  now  have  a  fairly  complete  picture  of  what 
happens  during  the  exciting  night  runs  of  these  fishes.^    Fer- 

^  The  Spawning  of  the  Grunion  {Lcuresthcs  tenuis),  California  Fish 
and  Game  Commission,  Fish  Bull.  No.  5,  1919,  pp.  1-29. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  85 

tilization  of  the  eggs  is  accomplished  as  the  commingled 
females  and  males  are  thrown  upon  the  beach  by  the  waves. 
The  females  become  partly  buried,  tail  downward  in  the 
sand,  where  the  eggs  are  "planted"  with  a  shallow  cover  of 
sand  over  them.  The  planting  ground  being  near  the  upper 
limit  of  wave  action  at  the  full-moon  high  tide  of  a  given 
month,  remains  undisturbed  by  further  wave  action  until 
the  next  run  of  high  tides,  approximately  two  weeks  later. 
During  this  period  the  embryos  develop  to  the  hatching 
stage  within  the  tough  egg  membranes.  When  the  next 
high  tide  comes  the  encased  embryos  are  washed  cut  of 
the  sand,  and  the  wetted  membranes  so  softened  that  the 
little  fishes  are  enabled  to  escape  into  the  water  and  be 
carried  by  the  retreating  waves  into  the  sea. 

Certain  points  of  similarity  between  this  and  such  re- 
productive procedure  among  bees  and  wasps  as  was  re- 
ferred to  above  are  obvious.  Perhaps  the  most  notable  of 
these  is  that  the  mother  J5sh,  like  the  mother  wasp,  goes 
through  a  definite  and  rather  complex  set  of  activities  in 
depositing  her  eggs,  the  chief  significance  of  which  has  ref- 
erence to  the  welfare  of  the  young  yet  to  be,  she  herself 
taking  no  further  part  in  the  business,  even  to  the  extent 
of  being  present  to  see  what  goes  on.  As  a  consequence, 
with  the  fish  as  with  the  wasps,  there  is  no  chance  for  the 
young  to  learn  from  their  mothers  what  to  do  when  they  in 
turn  are  to  become  mothers.  In  the  one  species  as  in  the 
other  the  ability  to  perform  the  acts  essential  to  the  next 
generation  is  inborn,  instinctive.  With  the  fish  as  with  the 
insects  there  is  no  evidence  that  any  of  the  new-born  fe- 
males are  devoid  of  this  peculiar  ability.  All  alike  inherit 
it,  thus  furnishing  another  evidence  that  it  is  instinctive 
within  the  limits  of  our  definition  of  that  term. 

The  single  illustration  of  what  appears  to  be  purely  in- 
stinctive activity  among  birds  is  taken  from  an  observation 


86  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

of  my  own  on  the  crowing  of  roosters.  Having  moved  several 
years  ago  to  a  home  isolated  by  some  two  miles  from  the 
nearest  human  habitation,  it  was  decided  to  raise  a  few 
chickens  for  the  family  larder.  To  this  end  a  dozen  or  more 
recently  hatched  incubator  chicks  were  secured  from  a 
dealer  some  ten  miles  away.  As  these  youngsters  developed, 
healthy  and  strong,  to  the  stage  in  which  the  sex  differences 
gradually  came  to  view,  I  was  on  the  lookout  to  learn 
what  would  happen  as  to  the  crowing  ability  of  the  young 
cocks,  the  assumption  being  that  they  had  not,  since  the  first 
few  days  of  their  lives  outside  the  eggshells,  had  a  chance 
to  hear,  much  less  to  see,  a  rooster  crow.  One  day  while  I 
happened  to  be  near  the  cage  in  which  the  flock  were  con- 
fined, I  saw  one  of  the  most  developmentally  advanced 
roosters  stretch  himself  up  in  true  rooster  fashion  and  deliver 
a  clarion  blast  as  typical  and  well  rounded  as  ever  issued 
from  the  most  learned  and  best  experienced  of  his  kind.- 

While  it  is  impossible  to  assert  that  this  rooster's  crow- 
ing mechanism  had  not  been  influenced  to  some  extent 
through  eyes  and  ears  during  the  few  days  of  its  extra-ovate 
life  while  it  was  still  in  its  original  chicken-yard  environ- 
ment, this  much  seems  certain:  Immature  as  that  mechanism 
certainly  was  at  that  early  p)eriod  it  is  impossible  to  con- 
ceive that  the  series  of  acts  constituting  a  completed  crow 
was  learned  and  remembered  in  any  such  meaning  as  we 
ordinarily  attach  to  those  words.  The  mechanism  must 
have  been  potentially  and  not  actually  capable  of  perform- 

2  It  is  certain  that  young  roosters  do  not  all  begin  their  crowing  with 
any  such  perfection  of  the  act  as  that  here  described.  In  the  ordinary 
chicken-yard  conditions,  the  youngsters  often  begin  with  quite  remark- 
able noises  and  only  become  real  crowers  by  a  course  of  practicing. 
The  discrepancy  between  this  and  the  performance  in  the  instance  de- 
scribed may  be  due  to  the  fact  that  when  a  young  rooster  is  constantly 
surrounded  by  crowing  adults  his  crowing  ability  is  stimulated  into 
action  earlier,  bj'  imitation,  and  so  begins  before  the  mechanism  is  ma- 
ture enough  to  enable  the  first  effort  to  be  as  perfect  as  it  might  be  if 
it  were  brought  into  action  only  at  a  later  time,  as  might  have  been  the 
case  in  the  instance  described.  It  is  barely  possible  that  my  individual 
practiced  a  few  times  before  I  heard  him ;  but  I  do  not  think  so,  as  I 
was  near,  and  on  the  look-out,  pretty  constantly. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  87 

ing  the  acts.  The  tiny  cock-chick  was  no  more  able  to  im- 
itate his  grown-up  companions  or  to  act  on  the  basis  of 
learning  from  them  in  the  matter  of  crowing  than  in  the 
matter  of  doing  or  being  anything  else  that  makes  the  full- 
grown  rooster  different  from  the  rooster  just  out  of  the 
shell.  Even  granting  all  that  might  possibly  be  attributed 
to  external  crow-inducing  influence  upon  the  just-hatched 
rooster,  by  far  the  major  part  of  the  performance  actually 
witnessed  must  be  attributed  to  heredity,  that  is,  specifically, 
to  instinct. 

The  act  of  crowing  involves  much  more  than  uttering  a 
particular  form  of  vocal  sound.  There  is  the  characteristic 
up-stretching  of  legs  and  body  and  the  characteristic  for- 
ward movement  of  the  head  and  crooking  of  the  neck,  to 
say  nothing  of  the  movements  of  the  beak  and  other  parts 
more  directly  concerned  in  producing  and  emitting  the  sound. 
The  activity  viewed  as  a  unitary  whole  belongs  so  unmis- 
takably to  the  physical  organization  of  the  creature  that  at 
best  there  is  little  room  in  the  small  mental  part  of  it  for 
anything  else  than  what  is  instinctive.  How  far  the  notes 
and  modulations  of  the  crow  were  exact  reproductions  of 
those  of  his  ancestors,  it  is  impossible  to  say.  Quite  likely 
they  were  different  in  these  respects,  for  it  is  known  con- 
cerning various  birds  that  whereas  they  possess  large  in- 
stinctive ability  to  produce  vocal  sounds,  the  particular  form 
which  these  sounds  take  on,  the  particular  notes  and  songs 
they  actually  produce,  is  dependent  on  what  sounds,  as  songs 
of  other  birds,  they  hear.  The  song  of  the  noisy  mocking 
bird  for  example  is  made  very  largely  of  imitations  of  noises 
occurring  around  him. 

There  is  no  room  for  doubt  that  much  of  the  ac- 
tivity of  the  higher  vertebrates  is  instinctive  even  though 
considerable  modification  occurs  in  the  direction  of  activity 
which  we  call  intelligent.  Nor  is  there  any  doubt  that  to  a 
considerable  extent  these  modifications  are  due  to  imitation 


88  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

of  the  old  by  the  young,  and  to  the  actual  teaching  of  the 
young  by  the  parents  and  other  grown-ups  of  the  species. 


AT  THE  LEVEL  OF  INTELLIGENT  ACTION 

The  third  level  or  type  of  action  we  shall  call  intelligent 
action.  Here,  as  in  the  discussion  of  instinctive  action,  we 
are  much  more  concerned  with  a  particular  type  of  action 
performed  by  some  but  not  all  organisms,  than  with  a  defi- 
nition of  an  abstract  principle  called  intelligence  or  intellect 
which  some  organisms  are  supposed  to  possess.  Whenever 
an  organism  receives  a  stimulus  and  has  an  impulse  to  act, 
but  withholds  the  act  pending  a  decision  as  to  whether  the 
act  would  be  likely  to  procure  the  welfare  oj  the  organism, 
and  finally  acts  accordifig  to  the  decision  reached,  we  shall 
call  such  an  act  intelligent. 

OF  LOV^  TYPE 

A  familiar  illustration  is  seen  in  the  method  by  which  the 
house  cat  catches  its  prey.  This  can  be  observed  to  par- 
ticular advantage  when  a  cat  is  laying  for  a  ground-burrow- 
ing rodent  which  ventures  to  emerge  from  its  burrow.  In 
order  to  succeed  the  cat  must  select  a  position  not  so  near 
the  hole  as  to  scare  the  occupant  when  it  comes  to  the  hole's 
mouth,  but  also  not  so  far  away  as  to  be  beyond  the  cat's 
ability  for  an  effective  spring.  A  rather  nice  measuring  of 
distance  is  here  required.  The  cat  holds  a  crouching  posi- 
tion during  the  period  of  "watchful  waiting."  The  tension 
under  which  a  number  of  muscles  are  held  while  the  belly 
side  of  the  body  is  lowered  nearly  to  the  ground,  and  the 
position  taken  by  all  four  limbs  in  maintaining  this  body 
posture  while  preparing  for  the  impending  jump,  involve  a 
series  of  significant  psychobiological  adjustments.  The  cat 
usually  has  to  execute  repeated  starts  and  stops,  according 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  89 

to  the  behavior  of  the  victim.  The  instant  eyes  or  ears  of 
the  watcher  detect  the  slightest  evidence  that  the  prey  is 
about  to  emerge,  the  readiness  to  spring  is  redoubled; 
but  despite  this  renewed  preparation  to  spring,  the  actual 
spring  is  withheld  long  enough  to  enable  the  cat  to  make 
sure  whether  or  not  the  prey  has  emerged  far  enough  to 
give  the  greatest  chance  for  a  successful  trial.  Stimulus  and 
impulsion  to  action  and  organismal  readiness  therefor,  but 
also  a  withholding  of  the  full  act  till  the  greatest  prob- 
ability of  its  success  is  assured,  are  all  well  exemplified;  as 
is  both  success  and  failure  of  action.  Any  one  who  has 
observed  hunting  cats  must  have  seen  them  triumphantly 
running  away  with  the  dead  victim  dangling  from  their 
mouths.  The  observer  must  also  have  seen  the  well-calcu- 
lated spring  miss  its  goal,  and  the  cat  go  more  leisurely  away 
with  a  certain  manner  that  may  easily  be  imagined  to  have 
in  it  something  of  disappointment  or  disgust. 

The  question  of  when  a  particular  act  can  be  counted  a 
success  arises  here.  If  the  would-be  victim  of  the  cat  is 
actually  captured  and  killed,  is  the  operation  entitled  to  be 
declared  successful?  Not  necessarily,  according  to  our  cri- 
terion of  success.  Suppose  that  some  hostile  dog  chances 
along  just  in  time  to  be  attracted  by  the  cat's  spring  or  the 
victim's  cry,  and  plunges  for  the  cat  with  as  deadly  intent 
as  the  cat  sprang  for  the  gopher,  with  the  result  that  neither 
the  cat  herself  nor  her  kittens  beneiit  in  the  least  degree  by 
her  "kill."  Or  suppose  that  serious  injury  or  even  death 
comes  to  the  cat  from  this  canine  raid.  The  cat's  charac- 
teristic hunting  activity  has  no  other  meaning  than  the  se- 
curing of  food  for  herself  or  her  young.  That  activity  is 
composed  of  a  whole  series  of  acts  in  a  sense  distinct,  yet 
all  so  related  to  the  whole  as  to  admit  of  being  accounted 
successful  only  if  the  whole  series  succeeds. 

Although  the  type  of  activity  presented  by  the  cat's  hunt- 
ing operations  meets  our  test  of  intelligence,  the  level  of  the 


90  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

type  is  too  low  to  serve  as  a  basis  for  such  examination  of 
successful  activity  as  we  wish  to  make.  The  intelligence  il- 
lustrated is  of  a  decidedly  simple  order.  The  welfare  sought, 
satisfaction  of  the  need  for  food,  is  positive  and  imperative. 
The  kind  of  food  (fresh  meat)  is  strictly  accordant  with  all 
of  cat  experience.  The  benefit  sought  is  for  the  immediate 
future,  the  consumption  of  the  prey  to  be  at  once  and  com- 
plete. No  recognizable  question  of  psychical  welfare  ob- 
trudes itself  into  the  case.  The  only  point  in  the  whole 
activity  at  which  appears  guidance  of  action  involving  inhi- 
bition of  impulse  anticipatory  of  a  more  favorable  chance 
of  attaining  the  ends  sought  is  in  the  delay  of  the  leap 
until  the  prospective  victim  is  sufficiently  advanced  in  com- 
ing out  of  its  hole. 


OF   HIGH  TYPE 

Just  as  it  is  impossible  to  understand  the  animal  brain 
without  including  in  the  study  of  it  examples  from  the 
whole  range  of  the  type,  the  human  brain  at  its  highest 
development  not  excluded,  so  is  it  impossible  to  understand 
animal  intelligence  without  including  in  the  study  of  it 
examples  from  the  whole  range  of  the  type,  human  intelli- 
gence not  excluded.  Where  shall  we  go  among  mankind 
for  such  illustrations  except  to  such  as  not  only  bear  all 
the  marks  we  have  indicated  of  such  activity,  but  which 
were  performed  sufficiently  long  ago  to  enable  us  to  see 
unmistakably  that  they  contributed  to  human  welfare  in 
exceptional  measure?  High-level  intelligent  activity  is  illus- 
trated by  the  discovery  of  America  by  Christopher  Colum- 
bus, Copernicus'  achievement  in  astronomy,  Galileo's  in 
physics,  Harvey's  in  physiology,  and  Lavoisier's  in  chem- 
istry. But  on  the  whole  some  one  of  the  achievements  of 
Louis  Pasteur  will  perhaps  serve  us  best  as  an  illustration 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  91 

to  be  closely  examined.  Let  us  take  his  work  on  the  diseases 
of  silkworms. 

The  life  and  labors  of  this  great  Frenchman  are  now  so 
fully  told  that  a  general  knowledge  of  what  he  did  for  the 
silk  industry  can  be  assumed.  During  the  first  half  of  the 
nineteenth  century  sericulture  was  one  of  the  most  important 
industries  of  southern  France.  By  the  middle  of  the  century 
a  disease  of  the  silkworm  had  grown  to  such  an  extent, 
despite  efforts  to  check  it  by  some  of  the  ablest  statesmen 
and  scientists  of  the  time,  as  to  almost  ruin  the  industry  not 
only  in  France  but  in  other  parts  of  the  world.  This  caused 
great  loss  and  suffering  among  those  dependent  on  sericul- 
ture for  a  livelihood.  Finally  in  1865  when  Pasteur  was 
bringing  to  a  triumphant  conclusion  his  researches  on  spon- 
taneous generation,  on  the  diseases  of  wine,  and  on  vinegar, 
an  appeal  was  made  to  him  to  undertake  an  exhaustive  re- 
search for  the  cause  and  a  cure  of  the  blight  on  the  silk 
industry.  To  this  appeal  Pasteur  yielded  after  much  hesi- 
tation, due  to  the  fact  that  he  knew  very  little  about  insects 
or  any  other  branch  of  zoology  and  had,  as  he  said,  "never 
touched  a  silkworm."  The  researches  occupied  much  of 
his  time  and  those  of  several  assistants  for  about  six  years. 
The  whole  story  is  told  by  Pasteur  himself  in  his  Etudes  sur 
les  maladies  des  vers  a  sole. 

We  will  restrict  our  examination  to  so  much  of  the  case 
as  illustrates  intelligent  activity,  centering  the  examination 
around  the  elements  which  constitute  the  chief  marks  of 
such  activity.  These  marks  are:  the  fact  that  the  activities 
are  in  an  essential  part  muscular;  that  activities  of  the  par- 
ticular class  are  known  to  promote  welfare;  and  that  de- 
cision as  to  performance  of  the  specific  acts  is  made  on  the 
basis  of  their  probable  welfare-production.  In  this  case  the 
welfare  sought  was  the  relief  from  distress  of  the  people 
suffering  from  loss  of  the  silk  industry,  by  learning  enough 


92  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

about  the  disease  to  make  its  control  possible.  That  this 
rather  than  a  desire  to  carry  out  a  purely  scientific  research 
was  the  ruling  motive  with  Pasteur  we  may  definitely  learn 
from  his  own  words.  In  the  preface  to  his  Studies  on  Silk- 
worm Diseases  he  wTote,  "Nothing  is  more  agreeable  to  a 
man  who  has  made  science  his  career  than  to  increase  the 
number  of  discoveries,  but  his  cup  of  joy  is  full  when  the 
result  of  his  observations  is  put  to  immediate  practical 
use." '  Many  other  statements  of  like  purport  might  be 
quoted  from  his  writings. 

The  mark  of  intelligence  which  we  have  listed  as  second, 
that  of  muscular  activities  of  certain  kinds  inseparably  con- 
nected with  brain  activities,  is  obvious  in  this  case.  All 
research  in  natural  science  is  a  sort  of  sublimated  manual 
labor.  No  scientist  ever  advanced  real  knowledge  of  nature 
without  using  his  hands  or  other  body  members  along  with 
his  brain  and  sense  organs.  The  most  cursory  glance  at 
the  descriptions  of  these  silkworm  studies  shows  that  the 
truth  of  this  general  statement  is  exemplified  in  the  special 
case  before  us.  Sorting  over  grubs  and  chrysalids  and  adults 
as  part  of  the  work  of  observing  which  were  diseased  and 
which  were  not;  dissecting  many  individuals  preparatory  to 
searching  with  the  microscope  for  the  "corpuscles"  which 
were  the  particular  telltales  of  the  disease;  grinding  an- 
imals in  a  mortar  with  a  bit  of  water  to  get  pulp  for  exami- 
nation; arranging  eggs  to  protect  them  from  contagion — the 
"intense  work"  during  this  period  frequently  mentioned  in 
biographies  of  Pasteur  was  by  no  means  a  figure  of  speech, 
even  from  the  purely  physical  standpoint. 

The  third  attribute  of  intelligence,  the  making  of  decisions 
and  choices  as  to  what  particular  actions  shall  be  performed 
under  particular  conditions,  is  clearly  displayed  in  this  illus- 
tration. The  whole  matter  is  involved  in  the  most  distinctive 
thing  about  the  methods  of  natural  science,  namely,  experi- 

3  Vallery-Radot,  The  Life  of  Pasteur,  p.  150. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  93 

mentation.  In  a  letter  which  Dumas  wrote  to  Pasteur  in 
connection  with  the  work  of  Lavoisier,  we  read: "The  art 
of  experimentation  leads  from  the  first  to  the  last  link  of  the 
chain,  without  hesitation  and  without  a  blank,  making  suc- 
cessive use  of  Reason  which  suggests  an  alternative,  and  of 
Experience,  which  decides  on  it,  until,  starting  from  a  faint 
glimmer,  the  full  blaze  of  light  is  reached."  *  Choosing  be- 
tween two  or  more  alternative  possibilities,  then  acting  in 
accordance  with  the  choice — these  two  things  lie  very  close 
to  the  heart,  not  only  of  scientific  research,  but  of  all  intelli- 
gent living.  The  making  of  decisions  as  to  how  and  when 
to  act  is  cardinal  in  all  scientific  research.  Consider  as  a 
typical  instance  of  such  decision-making  the  observation 
made  early  in  the  studies  that  eggs  from  healthy  worms  and 
moths  might  develop  into  diseased  worms,  while  on  the 
other  hand,  eggs  from  diseased  worms  and  moths  might  pro- 
duce healthy  worms.  "Is  it,"  we  find  Pasteur  asking,  "that 
among  the  eggs  of  a  very  much  diseased  male  and  female 
there  may  be  some  sound  ones?  or  are  some  eggs  less  in- 
fected and  able  to  produce  grubs  which  will  return  to  health 
during  culture?"  "I  do  not  know,"  is  his  answer  at  the 
outset,  "which  of  these  two  explanations  is  the  better,  and 
there  may  be  reason  in  both."  Three  alternatives,  you  see, 
necessarily  indicating  as  many  variations  in  the  course  of 
action  to  be  pursued  for  ascertaining  in  which  direction  the 
truth  lay.  When  it  was  finally  discovered  that  a  second 
disease,  named  by  Pasteur  "flacherie,"  was  involved,  as 
well  as  pebrine,  the  researches  had  revealed  enough  of  the 
truth  to  make  control  of  the  disease  possible. 

Concerning  the  welfare  attained  by  this  six-year  period 
of  activity  we  will  let  Stephen  Paget  tell.^  In  his  brief 
enumeration  of  the  achievements  of  Pasteur  we  read  with 
reference  to  this  one:  "He  had  been  the  very  saving  of  the 

*  Find.,  p.  122. 

^Pasteur  and  after  Pasteur,  p.  54. 


94  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

silk  trade.  It  is  only  a  few  weeks  ago,  at  Le  Nuy,  near  St. 
Raphael,  that  I  went  over  a  silkworm  nursery,  and  found 
his  methods  in  use,  as  in  1870,  so  in  19 14.  Flacherie,  I  was 
told,  has  disappeared:  pebrine  is  detected  in  good  time.  Of 
late  years,  in  the  south  of  France,  horticulture  has  become  a 
far  more  important  industry  than  sericulture.  .  .  .  But  the 
exportation  of  seed  (silkworm  eggs)  goes  on:  and  that  seed 
is  tested  by  Pasteur's  methods." 

Although  it  would  be  impossible  to  locate  the  welfare  ele- 
ment in  every  scientific  discovery  as  positively  as  it  is  located 
in  this  particular  case  of  Pasteur's,  we  are  of  opinion  that 
any  genuine  discovery  in  natural  science  examined  closely 
enough  and  after  the  lapse  of  sufficient  time  will  be  found 
to  be  definitely  promotive  of  human  welfare  in  some  of  its 
forms  and  hence  can  be  shown  to  possess  this  as  well  as  the 
other  marks  of  intelligent  activity.  Unless  a  reputed  dis- 
covery can  be  shown  sooner  or  later  to  have  this  mark  it 
does  not  properly  belong  to  the  category  of  intelligent  activ- 
ity. Final  judgments  concerning  the  lives  of  nations  are 
pretty  sure  to  rest  upon  their  kind  and  grade  of  culture  and 
this  is  found  upon  analysis  to  depend  more  upon  the  achieve- 
ments in  literature,  art,  science,  philosophy  and  religion 
than  on  purely  physical  developments  and  the  accumulation 
of  material  wealth. 

SYSTEMATIC  STUDY  OF  SUCCESSFUL  ACTIVITY  IN  SUBHUMAN 

ANIMALS 

Having  presented  illustrations  of  intelligent  action  at  low 
and  high  levels  we  shall  now  bring  forward  evidence  that 
the  success  of  the  lives  of  various  animals  below  man  re- 
sults to  some  extent  from  activities  of  the  grade  we  are 
characterizing  as  intelligent.  The  ability  to  act  with  some 
degree  of  intelligence  is  very  wide-spread  in  the  animal 
world.     There  are  numberless  instances  reported  by  hun- 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  95 

dreds  of  observers  wherein  it  is  contended  that  creatures  of 
diverse  rank  in  the  zoological  scale  have  shown  intelligence. 
Although  these  descriptions  of  intelligence  are  rarely  based 
on  so  clear-cut  a  criterion  of  what  constitutes  intelligence  as 
we  have  adopted,  close  examination  of  specific  instances 
finds  recognizable  actions  of  the  kind  we  are  regarding  as 
intelligent  among  lower  animals.  The  widely  reputed  in- 
telligent action  of  certain  species  of  ants  affords  instances 
of  true  intelligence  and  also  of  overestimating  the  degree 
of  intelligence  manifested  in  them. 

Even  naturalists  of  excellent  reputation  have  interpreted 
so  erroneously  and  written  in  such  humanized  language 
concerning  what  they  have  seen  some  of  these  animals  do 
as  to  give  wide  currency  to  the  notion  that  ants  in  general 
are  far  more  intelligent  than  they  really  are.  Here  is  an 
example:  "Observe  the  little  ants  of  our  fields  and  paths,  and 
see  how  they  work.  Watch  how  they  dig  their  tunnels  and 
cover  them  in,  Hke  so  many  railway  engineers.  .  .  .  See  how 
they  stop  every  now  and  then  to  study  out  their  plans;  how 
they  consider  all  obstacles  and  avoid  them;  how  they  use 
every  leaf  and  stick  and  straw  to  make  a  wall  or  a  roof  for 
their  galleries.  .  .  .  Then  they  watch  the  state  of  the 
weather  very  carefully.  If  the  sun  is  warm,  and  it  will  do 
the  eggs  good  to  be  in  the  upper  galleries,  every  little  ant 
begins  tugging  them  along  to  put  them  in  a  warm  place." 

Something  of  the  way  human  sentiment  is  imported  into 
such  narration  as  this  is  illustrated  by  a  passage  in  Thoreau's 
account  of  the  battle  he  witnessed  between  two  races  of 
ants.  Concerning  the  effect  upon  him  of  what  he  saw,  he 
says:  "I  was  myself  excited  somewhat  as  if  they  had  been 
men.  The  more  you  think  of  it,  the  less  the  difference.  .  .  . 
I  felt  for  the  rest  of  the  day  as  if  I  had  had  my  feelings 
excited  and  harrowed  by  witnessing  the  struggle,  the  ferocity, 
and  carnage  of  a  human  battle  before  my  door." 

We  now  know  for  a  certainty  that  such  interpretations  of 


96  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

the  doings  of  ants  is  largely  erroneous.  So  little  similarity 
is  there  between  the  fighting  of  ants  and  the  "ferocity  and 
carnage  of  a  human  battle"  that  there  is  no  occasion  for 
being  thrown  into  such  a  state  of  mind  as  Thoreau  exper- 
ienced from  being  an  eye-witness  of  fighting  of  this  sort. 
It  may  be  true  that  the  ''more  you  think  about  it"  in  Tho- 
reau's  sense  of  thinking,  "the  less  the  difference"  between 
ants  and  men;  but  it  certainly  is  not  true  that  the  more  you 
know  about  it  the  less  the  difference.  No  critical  present-day 
student  of  animal  behavior  believes  for  a  moment  that  any 
species  of  ants  "stop  every  now  and  then  to  study  their 
plans."  Nor  do  they  "watch  the  state  of  the  weather"  very 
carefully,  or  even  very  carelessly  in  any  human  sense. 

That  a  residuum  of  true  intelligent  activity  among  ants  is 
left  after  the  dross  of  humanization  is  completely  driven  off 
seems  almost  certain  in  some  cases.  We  will  take  a  case 
reported  by  Thomas  Belt  in  his  Naturalist  in  Nicaragua. 
The  species  concerned  was  one  of  the  leaf-cutting  ants, 
genus  Occodoma,  though  Atta  is,  I  believe,  the  name  now 
used.  The  observation  w^as  on  colonies  which  raided  Belt's 
own  garden  so  it  had  a  double  reason  for  being  thorough: 
it  was  made  by  an  able  naturalist  bent  on  getting  scientific 
knowledge  and  saving  his  own  property. 

Having  discovered  the  nest  a  short  distance  outside  the 
garden,  and  having  tried  unsuccessfully  several  methods  of 
heading  off  the  raiders,  he  finally  routed  them  by  pouring 
carbolic  acid  mixed  with  water  down  their  burrows.  "The 
effect  was  all  that  I  could  have  wished,  the  marauding  parties 
were  at  once  all  drawn  off  my  garden  to  meet  the  new  danger 
at  home.  .  .  .  Next  day  I  found  them  busily  employed 
bringing  up  the  ant-food  from  the  old  burrows,  and  carry- 
ing it  to  a  new  one  a  few  yards  distant."  It  was  in  connec- 
tion with  their  moving  that  Belt  says:  "I  first  noticed  a 
wonderful  instance  of  their  reasoning  powers."  Between 
the  old  burrows  and  the  new  one  was  a  steep  slope.    Instead 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  97 

of  descending  this  with  their  burdens,  they  cast  them  down 
on  the  top  of  the  slope,  whence  they  rolled  down  to  the 
bottom,  where  another  relay  of  laborers  picked  them  up 
and  carried  them  to  the  new  burrow.  It  was  amusing  to 
watch  the  ants  hurrying  out  with  bundles  of  food,  dropping 
them  over  the  slope,  and  rushing  back  immediately  for  more. 
They  also  brought  out  great  numbers  of  dead  ants  which 
the  fumes  of  carbolic  acid  had  killed."  Even  this  much  of 
the  operation  justified,  I  should  say.  Belt's  conclusion  that 
the  ants  acted  rationally:  they  met  an  unusual  situation 
promptly  and  in  a  genuinely  advantageous  manner.  It 
seems  as  though  they  must  have  decided  between  the  al- 
ternative possibilities  of  action,  and  then  carried  out  the 
decision  effectively.  The  rest  of  the  story  confirms  this 
view. 

"A  few  days  afterward,"  the  narrative  continues,  "when 
I  visited  the  locality  again,  I  found  both  the  old  burrows 
and  the  new  one  entirely  deserted,  and  I  thought  they  had 
died  off;  but  subsequent  events  convinced  me  that  the  sur- 
vivors had  only  moved  to  a  greater  distance.  It  was  fully 
twelve  months  before  my  garden  was  again  invaded.  .  .  . 
I  followed  them  to  their  nest,  and  found  it  about  two  hun- 
dred yards  from  the  one  of  the  year  before.  I  poured  down 
the  burrows,  as  before,  several  buckets  of  water  and  car- 
bolic acid.  .  .  .  The  ants,  as  before,  were  at  once  with- 
drawn from  my  garden;  and  two  days  afterwards,  on  visit- 
ing the  place,  I  found  all  the  survivors  at  work  on  one  track 
that  led  directly  to  the  old  nest  of  the  year  before,  where 
they  were  busily  employed  making  fresh  excavations.  .  .  . 
It  was  a  wholesale  and  entire  migration."  Then,  after  a 
few  sentences  giving  further  details,  comes  the  concluding 
statement:  "I  do  not  doubt  that  some  of  the  leading  minds 
in  this  formicarium  recollected  the  nest  of  the  year  before, 
and  directed  the  migration  to  it."  ^ 

«  The  Natttralist  in  Nicaragua,  2nd  ed.,  pp.  75-78. 


98  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

Despite  ijiany  gaps  in  this,  we  do  not  believe  any  interpre- 
tation of  the  case  can  be  given  that  will  accord  as  well  with 
the  facts  presented  as  the  one  taken  for  granted  by  the 
author  himself,  that  it  was  a  "display  of  reasoning  powers." 
Expressed  in  closer  conformity  with  our  conception,  it  was 
a  manifestation  of  genuine  intelligence  even  though  of  low 
order  and  mingled  with  much  purely  reflex  and  instinc- 
tive activity. 

This  view  is  made  the  more  justifiable  by  other  observa- 
tions on  ants  of  this  same  species  and  of  different  species. 
One  other  observation  on  the  same  species  made  by  the 
same  observer  is  worth  noticing.  A  certain  nest  was  so 
situated  that  the  ants  had  to  cross  a  tramway  to  reach  the 
trees  which  they  particularly  liked.  For  a  while  they  trailed 
over  the  rails  and  many  were  crushed  to  death  by  the  wheels 
of  the  passing  trams.  Finally  they  set  to  work  and  tun- 
neled under  the  rails,  thus  making  the  crossing  safe.  One 
day  when  the  trams  were  not  running,  Belt  stopped  up  the 
tunnels  with  rocks.  "But  although  great  numbers  carrying 
leaves  were  thus  cut  off  from  the  nest,  they  would  not  cross 
the  rails,  but  set  to  work  making  tunnels  underneath  them." 

We  might  go  on  indefinitely  winnowing  chaff  from  writ- 
ings which  attribute  all  sorts  of  mental  excellence  to  many 
kinds  of  animals,  finding  considerable  wheat  in  the  form 
of  evidence  of  genuine  intelligence.  We  will  take  time  for 
a  few  other  studies  in  order  to  secure  to  the  higher  animals 
the  proportionally  greater  attention  to  which  their  suprem- 
acy in  this  matter  undoubtedly  entitles  them.  The  first  of 
these  will  pertain  to  bears,  the  second  to  beavers.  These 
two  animals  are  chosen  not  because  they  are  entirely  unique 
in  the  amount  of  "fact  and  fancy"  woven  about  them  in  the 
literature  of  animal  life,  but  because  they  stand  near  the 
top  of  the  list  in  this  respect  and  each  presents  in  a  rather 
striking  way  certain  traits  of  mentality  that  are  especially 
important  for  us. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  99 

It  is  the  opinion  of  some  naturalists  of  wide  experience 
with  wild  mammals  that  bears  are  among  the  most  intelli- 
gent of  all  animals.  Of  all  bears  the  North  American  Griz- 
zly appears  to  be  allowed  first  place  in  this  regard;  accord- 
ing to  Hornaday's  intelligence  tests,  this  species  is  "the 
most  keen-minded  species  of  all  bears."  ^  The  single  bear 
case  chosen  as  our  illustration  is  one  described  by  Wright.^ 
Wright  and  his  hunter  companions  tried  to  capture  this  bear 
in  the  Bitter  Root  mountains.  The  specimen  being  a  par- 
ticularly large  one,  they  first  tried  to  take  it  alive  by  means 
of  a  log  pen  and  a  steel  trap  so  devised  as  to  hold  the  animal 
without  seriously  injuring  it.  The  bear  eluded  these  efforts. 
The  next  plan  was  to  kill  him  with  two  spring  guns.  The 
hunters  were  particularly  confident  of  success  by  this  means 
in  that  the  cache  of  elk-meat  which  the  grizzly  was  nightly 
visiting  was  so  situated  as  to  restrict  his  possible  approaches 
to  the  meat.  "The  next  morning  when  we  went  out  to  ex- 
amine our  trap  we  found  written  in  footprints  on  the  dirt 
as  wonderful  a  record  of  animal  sagacity  as  I  have  ever 
seen.  The  bear  had  come  as  usual  for  his  evening  meal.  He 
had  come  down  from  his  covert,  circled  the  two  cedars  where 
our  steel  trap  still  waited  for  him,  crossed  the  creek,  and 
climbed  to  where  the  lower  string  (of  the  spring  gun)  was 
stretched  across  his  path.  But  though  he  had  come  up  to  it 
he  had  not  touched  it.  On  the  contrary  his  track  showed 
that  he  had  turned  to  his  left,  followed  the  string  to  the 
barrier  of  fallen  trees,  had  found  himself  unable  to  get 
around  it  there,  had  turned  and  followed  it  to  the  rocks,  had 
found  himself  blocked  there  also,  and  retraced  his  steps  to 
the  creek.  He  had  then  circled  the  rocky  point,  had  climbed 
to  the  flat  above,  and  had  tried  to  reach  the  cache  from  the 
other  side.  But  here  he  had  again  encountered  the  sus- 
picious string.    Once  more  he  followed  it  down  to  the  timber, 

"  The  Minds  and  Manners  of  Wild  Animals,  p.  128. 
^  The  Grizzly  Bear,  by  H.  M.  Wright,  1909. 


loo  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

turned  and  made  his  way  along  the  rocks,  and  then  the  wily 
old  fellow  had  climbed  out  on  the  rock  point,  and  making 
his  way  from  ledge  to  ledge,  had  arrived  safely  between  the 
two  strings,  eaten  his  meal  in  comfort,  and  gone  out  the  way 
he  came.    We  never  got  that  bear."  ^ 

We  see  no  reason  for  questioning  the  essential  accuracy 
of  the  narrative  here  given.  Nor  do  we  see  that  any  causal 
explanation  fits  the  facts  as  well  as  the  one  assigned  by  the 
author,  that  of  intelligence;  and,  we  may  add,  intelligence 
in  the  sense  in  which  we  are  using  the  term.  There  were 
surely  two  phases  of  the  welfare  of  the  bear  himself  in  view. 
He  needed  food  and  he  needed  to  avoid  danger  to  himself 
while  in  pursuit  of  it.  He  went  through  a  rather  extensive 
set  of  actions  to  accomplish  his  twofold  needs,  and  he 
several  times  found  himself  in  situations  where  he  chose 
between  alternative  possibilities  of  action. 

Of  all  the  lower  animals  there  is  no  other  species  known  to 
us  whose  industrial  activities  so  much  resemble  those  of  the 
human  species  as  do  those  of  the  beaver.  The  kinds  of 
work  done  by  beavers  may  be  treated  under  four  heads, 
namely,  the  construction  of  dwellings,  the  building  of  dams, 
the  felling  and  disposing  of  timber,  and  the  digging  of  canals. 

Our  immediate  aim  is  to  ascertain  how  well  the  operations 
actually  serve  the  ends  to  which  they  appertain.  The  work 
done  possesses  a  very  high  degree  of  general  usefulness,  of 
adaptiveness.  Due  attention  to  the  most  highly  elaborated 
beaver  creation  taken  each  by  itself  and  in  its  completed 
form,  finds  these  to  be  truly  wonderful  in  their  exhibition  of 
what,  were  they  the  handiwork  of  man,  we  should  not  hesi- 
tate to  ascribe  to  conscious  foresight  in  planning,  and  manual 
skill  in  executing.  Subhuman  animal  accomplishment  seems 
here  to  reach  its  climax.  Consider  first  the  general  useful- 
ness of  each  of  the  four  categories  of  accomplishment  in- 
dicated above. 
9  P.  141. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  loi 

The  house  proper  of  the  beaver  is  the  family  residence 
almost  exactly  as  the  human  house  is  the  family  residence. 
It  is  where  the  children  are  born  and  reared  and  where 
parents  and  youngsters  sleep,  eat,  and  pass  much  of  their 
time.  In  the  typical  beaver  habitat  the  winter  season  is 
long  and  severe.  As  a  result  the  dwelling  is  very  important 
as  a  protection  against  snow  and  ice.  This  aspect  of  the 
protectiveness  of  the  beaver  house  we  humans  can  appreci- 
ate quite  readily.  Its  protection  against  enemies  we  modern 
men  can  not  so  readily  appreciate,  since  it  is  not  ourselves 
but  our  remote  ancestors  whose  experiences  corresponded  to 
those  of  the  beaver  in  this  respect.  Bears,  wolves,  mountain 
lions,  and  coyotes  are  mortal  enemies  of  beavers.  The  house 
proper  and  other  structures  often  associated  with  it  play  as 
large  a  part  in  saving  the  family  from  destruction  by  these 
enemies  as  from  killing  temperatures. 

The  dams  are  used  for  impounding  the  waters  of  streams, 
to  secure  a  depth  of  water  into  which  the  beavers  can  dive 
beyond  the  reach  of  their  chief  enemies,  and  in  which  they 
can  move  about  freely.  Of  these  aquatic  activities  the  most 
characteristic  is  that  of  towing  portions  of  trees  and  shrubs, 
for  food  and  for  the  construction  of  dams  and  houses.  By 
storing  green  timber  with  the  bark  on  at  the  bottom  of  the 
reservoirs  in  autumn,  a  winter  supply  of  food  is  assured, 
which  is  security  against  the  two  deadliest  natural  foes  of 
the  beaver,  frost  and  marauding  carnivores.  The  value  of 
the  artificially  produced  ponds  as  water  supplies  in  times  of 
drought  is  undoubtedly  considerable.  The  similarity  to 
man's  water  supplies  in  arid  and  semiarid  countries  is 
obvious. 

The  canals  are  transportation  waterways,  and  as  such 
are  of  high  usefulness  in  the  general  economic  and  social 
life  of  the  animals.  They  enable  the  animals  to  swim  from 
one  place  to  another  where  this  mode  of  travel  would  be 
otherwise  impossible.    Usually  they  lead  from  the  body  of 


102  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

water  where  the  dwelling  is  located  toward  the  trees  and 
shrubs  which  are  the  beavers'  source  of  raw  material  for 
food  and  timber.  In  other  words,  the  canals  greatly  facili- 
tate the  transportation  of  these  materials  from  the  place 
w^here  they  grow  to  that  where  they  are  used.  Some  good 
observers  have  regarded  these  structures  as  the  highest  ex- 
pression of  beaver  engineering. 

Lumbering  is  the  chief  source  of  food  supplies  and  of 
material  for  houses  and  dams.  Although  beavers  feed  on 
grass  and  other  succulent  vegetation,  and  on  roots,  still  the 
great  staple  is  bark,  the  bark  of  trees  and  shrubs,  fresh  and 
green  or  as  nearly  so  as  possible.  This  being  the  case  there 
is  no  way  of  getting  a  sufficient  quantity  except  by  felling  the 
timber.  The  bark  of  a  tree  of  moderate  size  once  prostrate 
on  the  ground  or  in  a  pond  is  available  for  beaver  use.  But 
actually  to  consume  all  the  bark  by  gnawing  it  off  where  the 
tree  fell  would  be  greatly  to  expose  the  animals,  old  and 
young,  to  their  deadly  carnivorous  enemies.  The  places  of 
greatest  safety  for  the  beaver  are  the  depths  of  its  home 
body  of  water,  its  dwelling  house,  or  the  burrow  or  passage- 
way leading  to  it.  The  creature  is  a  submarine  under  condi- 
tions of  perpetual  war  so  far  as  safety  is  concerned.  The 
material  must  be  transported  as  soon  as  possible  to  some  safe 
base,  the  bark  there  to  be  gnawed  off  from  the  sticks,  the 
sticks  later  to  be  used  in  construction  and  repair.  Even 
trees  of  small  size  are  too  large  and  awkward  to  be  trans- 
ported and  dealt  with  whole.  They  must  be  cut  up  into 
manageable  pieces.  The  branches  must  be  trimmed  and 
the  body  and  all  limbs  of  considerable  length  must  be  re- 
duced to  pieces  that  can  be  readily  dragged  along  the  ground 
or  floated  in  the  water  and,  frequently,  carried  into  the 
houses. 

Given  beavers  living  under  present  conditions,  lumbering 
of  such  character  as  we  actually  see  among  them  is  indis- 
pensable to  their  existence.    The  activity  as  a  whole  is  use- 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  103 

ful,  is  adaptive,  in  a  vital  sense.  To  assess  the  value  of  this 
adaptiveness  accurately  we  must  examine  some  of  the  opera- 
tions and  their  fruits.  For  this  we  will  take  the  dwelling  and 
the  dam,  and  the  relation  between  the  two. 

It  is  probable  that  the  primordial  element  in  this  com- 
bination of  things  was  the  burrow  in  the  bank  of  a  stream 
or  pond  of  considerable  depth  of  water.    The  animal  was 
a  bank  burrower  before  it  was  a  house  builder;  various  facts 
indicate  that  both  burrowing  and  house  building  are  more 
ancient  habits  than  dam  building.    The  habit  of  damming 
up  streams  probably  came  into  being  for  the  purpose  of 
producing  depth  of  water  sufficient  to  make  the  house  proper, 
plus  the  underground,  underwater  passageway  by  which 
it  is  reached,  practicable  and  safe.    House,  passageway  and 
dam  are  normally  intimately  and  remarkably  related.    The 
house  is  typically  so  placed  at  the  water's  edge  on  an  island 
or  on  a  mainland  bank  that  its  floor  is  only  a  few  inches 
above  the  water  level.    One  end  of  the  passageway  is  in 
the  pond  at  considerable  depth;  the  other  end  is  in  the  floor 
of  the  house.    As  a  consequence  the  passage  must  slope  up 
to  the  house,  and  the  water  level  of  the  pond  cannot  change 
much  without  seriously  interfering  with  the  household  life 
of  the  beaver  family.    An  important  element  in  the  beaver's 
problem  of  dam  construction  and  maintenance  is  therefore 
that  of  keeping  the  water  level  of  the  pond  as  nearly  con- 
stant as  possible.    On  this  point  Morgan  writes:  "From  the 
uniform  relation  found  to  subsist  between  the  level  of  the 
floor  and  of  the  pond,  it  is  evident  that  the  beavers  regulate 
the  discharge  of  the  surplus  water  through  their  dams  with 
a  view  to  the  maintenance,  as  near  as  possible,  of  a  uniform 
level  of  the  pond.    Any  great  variation  in  this  respect  would 
either  flood  their  habitations  or  expose  their  entrances;  and 
therefore  the  maintenance  of  their  dam  becomes  a  matter  of 
constant  supervision  and  perpetual  labor."  ^°    This  constant 

^°  L.  H.  Morgan,  The  American  Beaver  and  His  Work,  p.  146. 


I04  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

supervision  and  labor  consist  in  repairing  leaks  in  the  dams 
to  keep  the  water  up  to  the  proper  level,  and  making  open- 
ings in  the  dam  at  times  of  high  water  to  keep  the  water 
down  to  the  proper  level. 

The  remarkable  adaptiveness  displayed  in  connection  with 
dwellings  does  not  end  with  this  production  and  maintenance 
of  a  proper  relation  between  house  and  dam.  The  construc- 
tion of  the  entrance  passages  themselves,  is,  according  to 
Morgan's  account,  quite  as  notable.  He  writes:  "The  en- 
trances to  a  beaver  lodge,  of  which  there  are  usually  two, 
and  sometimes  more,  are  the  most  remarkable  parts  of  the 
structure.  They  are  made  with  great  skill,  and  in  the  most 
artistic  manner."  "  After  stating  that  the  difference  between 
the  two  passages  is  such  as  to  indicate  that  one  is  a  mere 
entrance  for  the  animals  while  the  other  is  the  "wood  en- 
trance," by  which  the  wood  cuttings  used  for  food  are 
brought  into  the  house,  Morgan  gives  a  detailed  description 
of  the  passageway.  "Both  entrances  were  rudely  arched 
over  with  a  roof  of  interlocked  sticks  filled  in  with  mud 
intermixed  with  vegetable  fiber,  and  were  extended  to  the 
bottom  of  the  pond  and  trench.  ...  At  the  places  where 
they  were  constructed  through  the  floor  they  were  finished 
with  neatness  and  precision;  the  upper  parts  and  sides  form- 
ing an  arch  more  or  less  regular,  while  the  bottom  and  floor 
edges  were  formed  with  firm  and  compact  earth,  in  which 
small  sticks  were  embedded.  It  is  difficult  to  realize  the 
artistic  appearance  of  some  of  these  entrances  without  actual 
inspection."  ^- 

This  account  should  be  coupled  with  the  statements  by 
Morgan  and  others  that  the  earthen  floor  of  a  well-made 
house  is  so  hard  and  resistant  to  water  that  it  remains  dry 
and  solid  although  it  stands  typically  only  a  few  inches  above 
the  water  level.    Obviously  a  prime  object,  if  object  they 

"P  144. 
12  Ibid. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  105 

consciously  have,  in  the  construction  of  floor  and  passage- 
ways is  to  make  the  walls  and  surfaces  both  strong  and  as 
nearly  as  possible  impervious  to  water. 

The  wall  of  the  house  presents  some  features  of  special 
interest  in  connection  with  the  problem  of  adaptation.  Sticks 
and  poles  of  wood  are  the  main  materials  entering  into  the 
composition  of  full-sized  beaver  houses.  Mud  containing 
great  quantities  of  vegetable  fiber  plays  a  large  part  in  many 
houses.  Morgan  and  other  observers  affirm  that  in  some 
localities  the  exterior  surface  of  the  walls  is  given  a  coat  of 
mud  by  the  beavers  at  the  approach  of  winter.  This  in- 
creases not  only  the  warmth  of  the  dwelling  but,  through 
the  freezing  of  the  mud,  the  strength  of  the  walls  against  the 
depredations  of  carnivorous  animals  which,  under  the  hunger 
stress  of  winter,  often  try  to  reach  the  beaver  families  by 
house-breaking. 

Although  a  few  authors  deny  that  the  animals  avail  them- 
selves of  this  means  of  protection,  the  earlier  affirmations  of 
it  were  verified  by  so  many  recent  observers  that  there  no 
longer  seems  any  doubt  about  it.  Thus  both  Enos  A.  Mills  " 
and  A.  R.  Dugmore  ^*  give  accounts  of  such  procedure  with 
so  much  particularity  in  both  description  and  illustration, 
that  the  statements  of  Morgan  and  others  must  be  accepted. 

Because  of  the  remarkable  resemblance  of  the  construc- 
tions by  beavers  to  some  of  those  by  men  all  sorts  of  ex- 
travagant estimates  of  the  intelligence  of  the  creatures  have 
been  made.  Thus  we  have  from  Samuel  Hearne,  writing  in 
1785:  "There  cannot  be  a  greater  imposition,  or  indeed  a 
grosser  insult  on  common  understanding,  than  the  wish  to 
make  us  believe  the  stories  of  some  of  the  works  ascribed  to 
the  beaver."  But:  "To  deny  that  the  beaver  is  possessed 
of  a  very  considerable  degree  of  sagacity  would  be  as  ab- 
surd in  me  as  it  is  in  these  authors  who  think  they  cannot 

^^  In  Beaver  World,  1923. 

^*  The  Romance  of  the  Beaver,  1914. 


io6  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

allow  them  too  much.  I  shall  willingly  grant  them  their 
full  share."  As  an  example  of  the  sort  of  thing  Hearne  was 
aiming  his  irony  at,  he  mentions  the  yarn  that  beavers  "drive 
stakes  as  thick  as  a  man's  leg  into  the  ground  three  or  four 
feet  deep"  and  then  "wattle  these  stakes  with  twigs."  Such 
stories  are  not  necessarily,  indeed  not  usually,  deliberate 
falsifications,  nor  are  they  pure  fiction;  they  usually  result 
from  bad  observation  coupled  with  bad  general  information 
and  bad  use  of  the  imagination.  They  do  not  appertain  to 
any  particular  people  or  cultural  state,  though  unquestion- 
ably they  become  less  general  and  less  glaring  with  the  ad- 
vance of  culture. 

My  own  observations  on  the  work  of  beavers  lead  me  to 
conclude,  as  numerous  other  observers  have  concluded,  that 
as  a  matter  of  fact  the  creature's  activities  are  no  more  in- 
telligent than  are  those  of  numerous  other  mammalian 
species.  Various  members  of  the  wolf  and  bear  families,  for 
instance,  are  probably  somewhat  superior  to  beavers  in  this 
respect;  and  beyond  question  any  of  the  monkeys,  to  say 
nothing  of  the  anthropoids,  are  greatly  their  superiors. 

The  most  significant  thing  about  beaver  work  is  the  illus- 
tration it  affords  of  the  extent  to  which  instinctive  activity 
can  come  to  resemble  rational  and  even  intelligent  activity. 

It  is  now  beyond  question  that  the  creatures  which  come 
nearest  to  man  in  ability  to  act  intelligently  are  the  an- 
thropoid apes,  the  same  creatures  which,  as  everybody 
knows,  most  resemble  man  in  structure.  Any  doubt  con- 
cerning the  degree  of  intelligence  of  these  creatures  is  due 
to  the  meagerness  of  our  knowledge  of  them  in  the  most 
crucial  situations  of  their  wonted  careers  in  their  native 
wilds.  Such  situations  are  the  final  test  of  intelligent  action. 
So  difficultly  accessible  to  civilized  man  are  the  regions  in- 
habited by  the  anthropoids  that  the  observations  on  their 
habits  in  nature  are  very  few  and  fragmentary  as  compared 
with  those  on  many  other  groups  of  animals.    We  are  de- 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  107 

pendent  for  what  is  known  about  the  activities  of  man's 
closest  of  kin  among  the  lower  orders  on  studies  of  indi- 
viduals taken  by  force  from  their  natural  environments  and 
held  in  captivity. 

But  thanks  to  the  efforts  of  several  people  who  have  lately 
interested  themselves  in  the  activities  of  these  creatures 
considerable  has  already  been  done  to  improve  our  knowl- 
edge of  them.  The  investigations  of  Kohler  and  Yerkes  are 
outstanding  for  the  chimpanzees  and  orangs;  as  are  the 
am.ateur,  but  none  the  less  important,  experiences  of  Miss 
Cunningham  with  the  gorillas. 

So  abundant,  varied,  and  convincing  is  the  evidence  of 
manlike  psychical  attributes  of  chimpanzees  presented  in 
The  Mentality  of  Apes,  by  Wolfgang  Kohler,  and  so  simply 
and  entertainingly  is  the  story  told,  that  we  will  assume  all 
readers  particularly  interested  in  this  aspect  of  our  general 
subject  will  acquaint  themselves  with  this  book.  We  will 
restrict  our  presentation  to  one  of  the  most  telling  instances 
of  human-like  activity.  We  take  the  widely  quoted  instance 
of  stick-splicing  for  a  purpose  by  the  chimpanzee,  Sultan," 
The  ape  had  acquired  facility  in  using  a  stick  to  get  food 
which  was  beyond  the  reach  of  his  hand  thrust  through  the 
bars  of  his  cage.  The  situation  created  for  Sultan  by  the 
experimenter  was  this:  Food  (a  banana)  was  placed  outside 
the  ape's  cage,  too  far  away  to  be  reached  with  one  stick  but 
not  too  far  to  be  reached  with  two  sticks  spliced  together. 
Two  separate  pieces  of  bamboo,  which  thus  spliced  would 
be  long  enough  to  reach  the  fruit,  were  placed  in  his  cage. 
Such  pieces,  one  sufficiently  smaller  than  the  next  to  let 
its  end  be  slipped  a  little  way  into  the  bore  of  the  other, 
were  placed  within  easy  reach  of  the  ape.  Question:  Would 
Sultan's  intelligence  be  sufficient  to  enable  him  so  to  com- 
bine the  several  detached  elements  in  the  situation  as  to 
secure  the  coveted  food? 

15  Op.  cit.,  pp.  130  ff. 


io8  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

The  situation  and  the  problem  stated  in  this  way  seem 
to  have  been  too  much  for  the  ape.  He  made  no  real  prog- 
ress toward  getting  the  food.  But  a  little  later  two  other 
elements  came  into  the  situation  through  which  the  problem 
was  solved.  These  elements  were  the  animal's  playfulness 
after  experimenter  and  animal  had  wearied  of  the  formal 
experiment,  and  mere  fortunate  accident.  From  this  point 
the  story  can  best  be  told  in  the  words  of  the  keeper  and  the 
experimenter:  "Sultan  first  of  all  squats  indifferently  on  the 
box,  which  has  been  left  a  little  back  from  the  railings;  then 
he  gets  up,  picks  up  the  two  sticks,  sits  down  again  on  the 
box  and  plays  carelessly  with  them.  While  doing  this,  it 
happens  that  he  finds  himself  holding  one  rod  in  either  hand 
in  such  a  way  that  they  lie  in  a  straight  line;  he  pushes  the 
thinner  one  a  little  way  into  the  opening  of  the  thicker, 
jumps  up  and  is  already  on  the  run  towards  the  railings,  to 
which  he  has  up  to  now  half  turned  his  back,  and  begins  to 
draw  a  banana  toward  him  with  the  double  stick.  I  call  the 
master:  meanwhile,  one  of  the  animal's  rods  has  fallen  out 
of  the  other,  as  he  has  pushed  one  of  them  only  a  little  way 
into  the  other;  whereupon  he  connects  them  again." 

The  key  to  the  problem  once  in  Sultan's  hands,  by  these 
partly  playful,  partly  accidental  and  partly  intelligent  activ- 
ities, was  used  regularly  and  varied  in  several  advantageous 
ways.  A  noteworthy  thing  about  the  ape's  success  in  solv- 
ing this  problem  was  the  evidence  of  satisfaction  shown  by 
him,  not  merely  in  getting  the  food  but  in  the  achievement 
itself:  "The  proceeding  seems  to  please  him  immensely;  he 
is  very  lively,  pulls  all  the  fruit,  one  after  the  other,  towards 
the  railings  without  taking  time  to  eat  it,  and  when  I  dis- 
connect the  double  stick,  he  puts  it  together  again  at  once 
and  draws  any  distant  objects  whatever  to  the  bars."  A 
modification  of  this  experiment  in  which  intelligence  shows 
distinctly,  consisted  in  putting  three  instead  of  two  sticks  at 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  109 

the  ape's  disposal,  two  of  them  being  nearly  the  same  size, 
and  larger  than  the  third.  Kohler  emphasizes  the  statement 
that  Sultan  never  tried  to  join  the  two  larger  sticks.  Good 
observation  coupled  with  judgment  seem  unmistakable  here. 

Concerning  the  manipulative  difficulties  encountered  in 
using  the  double-length  stick,  we  are  told:  "The  long  tool 
sometimes  gets  into  his  way  ...  by  its  farther  end  getting 
caught  between  the  railings,  when  being  moved  obliquely,  so 
the  animal  quickly  separates  it  into  its  parts,  and  finishes 
the  task  with  one  tube  only." 

When  the  fruit  was  placed  beyond  the  reach  of  the  double- 
length  stick,  but  not  beyond  a  triple-length  one,  and  the 
three  pieces  were  at  hand,  the  solution  of  the  problem  pro- 
ceeded as  follows:  'Tie  puts  them  (the  two  larger  pieces) 
opposite  to  each  other  for  a  moment,  not  touching,  and  looks 
at  the  two  openings,  but  puts  one  aside  directly  (without 
trying  it)  and  picks  up  the  third  thinner  one;  the  two  wide 
tubes  having  openings  of  the  same  size.  The  solution  fol- 
lows suddenly:  Sultan  fishes  with  a  double-stick,  consisting 
of  the  thinner  one  and  one  of  the  bigger  ones,  holding,  as 
usual,  the  end  of  the  smaller  one  in  his  hand.  All  of  a 
sudden  he  pulls  the  double-stick  in,  turns  it  round,  so  that 
the  thin  end  is  before  his  eyes  and  the  other  towering  up  in 
the  air  behind  him,  seizes  the  third  tube  with  his  left  hand, 
and  introduces  the  tip  of  the  double-stick  into  its  opening. 
With  the  triple  pole  he  reaches  the  objective  easily;  and 
when  the  long  implement  proves  a  hindrance  in  pulling  the 
objective  to  him,  it  is  disconnected  as  before." 

But  even  with  this  convincing  evidence  of  intelligence  of 
the  chimpanzee  before  us  it  yet  seems  that  the  gorilla  at  its 
best  may  rank  next  to  man  in  mental  ability.  The  ground 
for  hesitancy  in  accepting  this  statement  is  in  part  the 
limited  number  of  cases  which  the  evidence  contains,  there 
being  as  a  matter  of  fact  only  one  such,  that  of  the  young 


no  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

"John  Gorilla,"  kept  and  trained  by  IMajor  Rupert  Penny 
and  his  relative,  IMiss  Alyse  Cunningham,  of  London.^° 

The  statements  concerning  this  animal  most  important 
for  us  are  those  detailing  the  activities  involved  in  food-tak- 
ing. After  mentioning  the  surprising  fact  "that  the  only 
thing  he  stuck  to  was  milk,"  Miss  Cunningham  says:  "T 
found  that  he  preferred  to  choose  his  own  food,  so  I  used  to 
prepare  for  him  several  kinds,  such  as  bananas,  oranges, 
apples,  grapes,  raisins,  currants,  dates,  and  any  small  fruits 
in  season,  such  as  raspberries  or  strawberries,  all  of  which 
he  liked  to  have  warmed. 

"These  displays  I  placed  on  a  high  shelf  in  the  kitchen, 
where  he  could  get  them  with  difficulty.  I  think  that  he 
thought  himself  very  clever  when  he  stole  anything.  He 
never  would  eat  anything  stale.  He  never  cared  much  for 
nuts  of  any  other  kind  than  baked  peanuts,  save  walnuts. 
I  found  that  nuts  gave  him  dreadful  spells  of  indigestion. 
With  cocoanuts  he  was  very  funny.  He  knew  that  they  had 
to  be  broken,  and  he  would  try  to  break  them  on  the  floor. 
\Mien  he  found  he  couldn't  manage  that,  he  would  bring  the 
nut  to  one  of  us  and  try  to  make  us  understand  what  he 
wished.  If  we  gave  him  a  hammer  he  would  try  to  use  it 
on  the  nut,  and  on  not  being  able  to  manage  that,  he  would 
give  back  to  us  both  the  hammer  and  the  cocoanut.  .  .  . 
He  always  liked  nibbling  twigs,  and  to  eat  green  buds  of 
trees.  He  did  not  care  to  eat  a  great  deal,  but  he  especially 
liked  to  drink  water  out  of  a  tumbler.  He  was  the  least 
greedy  of  all  the  animals  I  have  ever  seen.  He  never  would 
snatch  anything  and  always  ate  very  slowly.  He  always 
drank  a  lot  of  water,  which  he  would  get  for  himself  when- 
ever he  wanted  it  by  turning  on  a  tap.  Strange  to  say,  he 
always  turned  off  the  water  when  he  had  finished  drinking." 


i**  The  data  concerning  this  gorilla  are  taken  from  the  account  given 
by  Miss  Cunningham  to  Dr.  Hornaday  and  published  by  him  in  The 
Minds  and  Manners  of  Wild  Animals,  pp.  95-99. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  iii 

>  Despite  the  brevity  and  defectiveness  of  this  narrative, 
it  seems  to  us  there  is  evidence  here  of  real  choosing  and 
other  forms  of  guidance  of  the  food-taking  activity  in  ac- 
cordance with  the  nutritional  interests  of  the  organism. 
Some  of  these  interests  were  peculiar  to  the  conditions  of 
life  under  which  John  found  himself  as  contrasted  with  those 
he  would  have  lived  under  had  it  been  his  lot  to  live  in  the 
same  environment  and  in  the  same  way  that  all  his  ancestors 
before  him  had  lived.  Surely  his  taste  for  baked  peanuts 
could  not  have  been  part  of  his  hereditary  equipment.  His 
desire  to  "choose  his  own  food"  seems  significant  in  this 
direction.  His  mental  make-up  appears  to  have  enabled 
him  so  to  modify  his  instinctive  food-taking  activities  that 
he  was  able  to  live  in  health,  comfort,  and  efficiency  under 
conditions  very  different  from  those  to  which  nature  and 
heredity  would  have  consigned  him. 

The  justification  and  full  significance  of  this  conclusion 
depend  partly  on  facts  not  yet  presented.  When  John  came 
into  Major  Penny's  possession  he  was  seriously  ill,  and  was 
in  a  "rickety"  condition,  weighing  only  82  pounds.  He  was 
bought  in  a  London  department  store  where  the  atmospheric 
temperature  was  85  °F.  and  where  his  nights  were  spent  in 
"solitude  and  terror."  December,  191 8,  was  the  date  of  his 
transfer  from  this  state  of  wretchedness  to  his  healthy  and 
comfortable  new  home,  which  seems  to  have  been  entirely 
agreeable  to  him.  One  of  the  consequences  of  this  transfer 
was  that  by  March,  192 1,  he  weighed  112  pounds,  and  was 
in  "robust  health  and  buoyant  spirits."  In  view  of  the  great 
improvement  thus  indicated  in  John's  physical  and  mental 
life,  it  seems  to  us  justifiable  to  make  the  hypothesis  (though 
a  simpler  one  would  be  possible)  that  the  changes  which  he 
adopted  in  certain  of  his  feeding  activities  were  due  to  some 
extent  to  his  memory  of  the  distressful  consequences  of  his 
earlier  mode  of  life,  and  to  some  extent  to  prerecognition  of 
how  such  consequences  might  be  avoided.    Should  later  in- 


112  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

vestigations  of  gorilla  life  prove  this  hypothesis  correct,  it 
would  place  this  species  considerably  higher  in  the  scale 
of  psychical  development,  so  far  as  nutritional  matters  are 
concerned,  than,  as  the  evidence  now  stands,  either  the 
orang  or  the  chimpanzee  has  reached.  As  to  the  chim- 
panzee particularly,  Kohler  has  presented  evidence  of  very 
limited  ability  to  act  at  a  given  time  with  reference  to  its 
welfare  at  a  future  time.  "As  a  matter  of  fact,"  we  read, 
"one  never  saw  them  deliberately  settle  on  the  successful 
manner  of  choice  with  an  eye  to  the  future;  on  the  contrary, 
the  animals  were  carried  away  by  their  immediate  interest 
in  the  goal  before  them  (food),  and  if  now  and  then  a  glance 
settled  for  a  moment  on  the  objects  they  had  to  choose  from, 
this  seemed  to  occur  only  because  something  chanced  to 
strike  them;  not  intentionally  in  order  to  turn  the  lucky 
method  of  choice  to  future  use."  " 

With  such  evidence  as  these  cases  furnish  of  ability  on 
the  part  of  subhuman  beings  to  do  things  as  human  beings 
do  them,  it  would  seem  there  is  no  longer  any  more  reason 
for  doubting  the  mental  and  spiritual  unity  of  brute  and 
human  animals  than  there  is  for  doubting  their  morpho- 
logical and  physiological  unity.  Some  of  the  most  urgent 
needs  of  psychobiology  at  the  present  moment  are  com- 
parative researches  on  anthropoids  and  very  young  human 
children.  It  is  gratifying  to  note  such  well-supported  and 
well-directed  effort  as  that  now  being  instituted  at  Yale 
University  for  anthropoid  studies  and  that  in  progress  at 
several  places  for  studies  on  young  children. 

PERSONALITY  AS  AN  ELEMENT  IN  GROUP   SUCCESS 

Our  examination  of  the  animal  world  has  shown  us  that 
activity  on  the  plane  of  intelligence  is  broadly  and  securely 
established  in  large  portions  of  that  world.    Our  knowledge 

"  P.  284. 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  113 

of  the  biological  fact  of  individual  variation  indicates  that 
any  evidence  of  tendencies  toward  improvement  in  intelli- 
gent action  would  be  found  as  a  variant  in  personalities. 
No  two  individual  plants  or  animals  in  all  the  world  are 
quite  alike.  This  fact  of  difference  between  individuals  is  a 
securely  founded  biological  principle,  well  recognized  as 
basic  to  all  true  organic  development.  Man's  knowledge  of 
himself  convinces  him  that  all  human  beings  differ  from  one 
another  more  or  less,  not  only  in  body  but  in  mind  even 
more  than  in  body. 

This  fact  of  spiritual  difference  among  individuals  is  an 
absolutely  indispensable  factor  in  man's  cultural  develop- 
ment. All  forward  movements  in  human  culture  are  in- 
itiated by  individuals  who  differ  in  their  capacity  for  activity 
at  all  levels  from  other  individuals.  The  most  essential 
factor  in  any  forward  movement  in  human  culture  is  some 
attribute  or  group  of  attributes  which  make  the  individual 
possessing  them  to  some  extent  unlike  all  other  individuals. 
This  is  only  a  way  of  giving  greater  definiteness  and  pre- 
cision to  the  common  pronouncement  that  all  progress  in 
civilization  is  due  initially  to  personalities  of  outstanding 
spiritual  attributes. 

The  question  now  arises :  Are  there  among  the  higher  sub- 
human animals  a  few  personalities  which  by  reason  of  en- 
dowments distinctly  superior  to  those  of  the  rank  and  file 
are  able  to  come  to  the  front  at  times  of  stress  and  danger 
as  savers  of  their  individual  lives  and  of  the  lives  of  their 
kindred?  Are  we  to  suppose  the  "safety-first"  ability  shown 
by  the  grizzly  bear  reported  by  Mr.  Wright  was  a  common 
possession  of  all  grizzlies?  Or  was  the  particular  individual 
especially  endowed?  Are  we  to  suppose  that  the  labor- 
saving  device  resorted  to  by  Belt's  ant  colony,  or  the  life- 
saving  device  of  those  that  tunneled  under  the  tram  rails, 
were  manifestations  of  abilities  possessed  in  equal  degree 
by  all  the  individual  ants?    Or  is  it  more  probable  that  some, 


114  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

perhaps  a  very  few,  individuals  were  responsible  in  the  first 
instance  for  the  new  and  better  ways  of  acting?  Were  the 
rank  and  file  of  ants  saved  by  outstanding  personalities  of 
their  groups? 

If  these  questions  are  answered  in  the  affirmative,  we  must 
recognize  here  one  of  the  prime  means  of  success  in  animal 
activities.  This  means  is  twofold,  involving  on  the  one 
hand  the  possession  by  certain  individuals  of  exceptional 
powers;  and  on  the  other  hand  the  ability  of  the  rank  and 
file  of  the  species  to  profit  by  these  unusual  abilities  of  the 
outstanding  individuals.  It  is  easy  to  see  that  observations 
on  which  to  base  positive  answers  to  such  questions  might  be 
somewhat  rare.  They  require  more  continuous  studies  on 
animals  in  their  native  wilds  than  can  be  made  without 
special  training  and  effort. 

As  to  domestic  animals  there  is  no  difficulty  in  recognizing 
the  mere  fact  of  more  or  less  unique  personality.  This  is 
especially  so  with  reference  to  the  dog  and  the  horse.  Such 
personality  is  too  obvious  here  to  escape  notice  of  any  one 
except  those  so  unfortunate  as  to  be  deprived  of  all  com- 
panionship with  them.  Most  of  the  domesticated  species 
have  been  so  long  subject  to  the  shielding  and  modifying 
influence  of  man  that  one  can  never  feel  quite  certain  about 
the  natural  developmental  significance  of  the  attributes  ex- 
hibited. We  want  evidence  from  species  unmodified  by  man, 
and  undoubtedly  a  good  deal  of  such  evidence  exists.  One 
source  of  it  is  the  behavior  of  wild  animals  held  captive  for 
experimental  studies.  The  records  of  such  behavior  contain 
many  references  to  individual  differences  in  response,  tem- 
perament and  ability  to  learn.  These  are  all  symptomatic 
of  a  measure  of  special  personal  "gifts." 

Perhaps  the  most  important  source  of  evidence  under  this 
head  are  the  experiences  of  trainers  of  wild  animals  for 
exhibition  and  similar  purposes.  From  conversation  with  Mr. 
W.  E.  Winston,  who  has  had  great  experience  in  training  Cal- 


SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY  115 

ifornia  sea  lions  for  exhibition,  we  learn  that  the  first  thing 
to  be  done  when  young  animals  come  fresh  to  the  training 
school,  is  to  get  a  general  acquaintance  with  them  to  deter- 
mine what  chance  there  is  of  their  being  made  into  good 
performers.  Some  individuals,  according  to  this  trainer, 
soon  show  themselves  to  be  hopeless  and  are  discarded,  while 
others  can  be  trained  to  varying  degrees  of  excellence  and 
with  varying  amounts  of  effort  and  patience  on  the  trainer's 
part.  A  variety  of  elements  such  as  shyness,  irritability, 
degree  of  activity,  enter  into  the  final  determination. 

Hornaday  ^®  has  some  apposite  remarks  on  this  subject. 
The  species  which  have  some  zoological  park  training  are 
named  in  the  order  of  importance:  "Elephants,  bears,  apes, 
hippopotomi,  rhinoceroses,  giraffes,  bison,  musk-ox,  wild 
sheep,  goats  and  deer,  African  antelopes,  wild  swine,  and 
wild  horses,  asses,  and  zebras.  Of  large  birds  the  most  con- 
spicuous candidates  for  training  in  park  life  are  the  os- 
triches, emus,  cassowaries,  cranes,  pelicans,  swans,  egrets, 
and  herons,  geese,  ducks,  pheasants,  macaws  and  cockatoos, 
curassows,  eagles  and  vultures.  Among  the  reptiles  the  best 
trained  are  the  giant  tortoises,  the  pythons,  boas,  alligators, 
crocodiles,  iguanas,  and  gopher  snakes." 

All  these  animals,  rather  common  in  zoological  gardens, 
undergo  some  education  toward  becoming  peaceful,  toward 
not  attacking  or  fearing  their  keepers,  toward  doing  as  they 
are  told  about  going  here  or  there,  toward  accepting  the 
food  that  is  provided  for  them,  and  finally,  as  to  some  of 
the  species,  toward  "showing  off"  a  little  when  commanded 
for  the  benefit  of  visitors.  "Every  wild  animal  species," 
says  Hornaday,  "contains  the  same  range  of  bright  and  dull 
individuals  that  are  found  in  the  various  races  of  men. 
Naturally  the  animal  trainer  selects  for  training  only  those 
animals  that  are  of  amiable  disposition,  that  mentally  are 
alert,  responsive,  and  possessed  of  good  memories.     The 

^8  The  Minds  and  Manners  of  Wild  Animals,  p.  206  et  seq. 


ii6  SUCCESSFUL  ANIMAL  ACTIVITY 

worst  mistakes  they  make  are  in  taking  on  and  forcing  ill- 
natured  and  irritable  animals  that  hate  training  and  per- 
forming. .  .  .  While  nearly  every  wild  animal  can  be  taught 
a  few  simple  tricks,  the  dull  mind  soon  reaches  its  constitu- 
tional limit.  Even  among  the  great  apes  the  conditions  are 
quite  the  same."  Some  of  the  attributes  mentioned  by  Mr. 
Winston  and  by  Mr.  Hornaday  come  under  the  head  of  tem- 
perament, rather  than  of  reason,  in  the  nomenclature  of 
human  mentality;  it  is  quite  conceivable  that  some  tempera- 
mental elements,  which  would  be  inimical  to  the  training 
aimed  at,  might  be  combined  with  specially  high  ability  to 
reason.  It  may  be  that  the  "amiable  disposition"  spoken 
of  by  Hornaday  for  doing  such  "stunts"  and  other  acts  as 
would  please  keepers  and  visitors  of  zoological  parks  might 
mark  a  rather  inferior  grade  of  reasoning  ability  of  the 
animals. 

Much  more  could  be  drawn  from  other  sources  which 
would  tend  to  show  that  the  whole  animal  world,  but  es- 
pecially the  higher  levels  of  it,  presents  the  phenomenon  of 
personality  much  as  does  the  human  world.  Animals  with 
the  same  instinctive  and  reflex  equipment  differ  in  ability 
to  use  that  equipment  for  successful  adaptive  activity. 
Animals,  like  humans,  differ  greatly  in  their  ability  to  meet 
the  problems  of  life.  It  is  justifiable  to  suppose  on  such 
evidence  as  we  have  that,  as  with  the  human  world,  so  with 
the  animal,  security  of  existence  and  assurance  of  progress 
of  the  individuals  of  the  whole  group  are  largely  dependent 
upon  the  ability  of  these  individuals  to  profit  by  the  achieve- 
ments of  certain  personalities  of  very  special  and  hence  very 
rare  adaptive  departures  from  the  average  of  their  kind. 


CHAPTER  7 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  WASTE   OF  TIME 
AND  ENERGY 

In  the  activities  of  every  species  as  it  exists  in  nature  there 
is  sufficient  measure  of  success  to  enable  it  to  exist.  While 
life  and  activity  are  not  S3nionomous  terms,  an  organism  as 
well  as  its  activity  being  essential  to  life,  the  organism  is 
dead  and  not  alive  as  soon  as  its  activities  cease  wholly. 
This  proof  of  a  degree  of  success  in  activity  is  by  no  means 
proof  that  the  degree  of  success  is  the  highest  possible  de- 
gree. This  is  particularly  clear  as  to  individuals.  The  life 
processes  may  run  on  for  several  years  so  smoothly  as  to 
constitute  what  is  regarded  as  success  for  that  individual. 
Then  some  critical  situation  may  arise,  some  havoc-working 
occurrence  in  external  nature,  some  miscalculated  under- 
taking of  the  individual  himself,  which  tests  the  adaptive 
capacity  of  the  organism  to  the  limit.  Though  the  test  may 
be  withstood  in  the  sense  that  the  organism  does  not  succumb 
utterly,  the  degree  of  success  which  might  have  been 
achieved  without  the  impairment  may  be  seriously  lessened. 

The  elements  which  enter  into  the  life  of  any  creature, 
especially  of  a  human  being  living  under  a  high  state  of 
culture,  are  too  diverse  to  make  possible  a  mathematically 
exact  estimate  of  the  degree  of  success  of  an  individual  life 
as  dependent  on  the  activities  of  that  life.  But  there  is  a 
great  range  within  which  such  success  is  measurable;  ele- 
ments which  tend  to  interfere  with  it  are  recognizable  and 
controllable,  and  therefore  within  the  scope  of  activities 
which  are  determinative  of  success. 

If  a  bird  builds  its  nest  where  snakes  or  cats  may  get  at 
and  destroy  its  young,  when  by  the  exercise  of  foresight  it 

"7 


ii8  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

might  have  built  it  out  of  reach  of  such  dangers;  if  a  human 
mother  feeds  her  infant  milk  that  endangers  its  health  from 
being  defective  as  food,  when  by  the  exercise  of  foresight 
she  might  have  avoided  this  danger,  both  bird  and  human 
are  acting  unsuccessfully  or  maladaptively. 

Our  present  task  is  the  presentation  of  facts  showing,  as 
far  as  possible  in  a  comparatively  brief  space,  the  extent  to 
which  maladaptive  activity  does  occur  in  both  the  brute  and 
the  human  animal  worlds. 

Viewing  these  activities  with  reference  to  the  ways  in 
which  they  are  disadvantageous  to  the  organisms  concerned, 
we  find  they  fall  into  four  subdivisions.  Activities  which 
result  in  waste  of  time  or  energy  or  both;  activities  which 
result  in  waste  of  materials  needed  by  the  creatures;  activi- 
ties which  result  in  injury  to  the  close-of-kin  of  the  in- 
dividuals performing  the  acts;  finally,  activities  which  result 
in  injury  to  the  acting  individuals  themselves.  Although 
this  classification  rests  on  indubitably  observable  facts,  and 
hence  is  far  from  arbitrary,  it  is  used  here  merely  to  facilitate 
our  discussion.  We  may  therefore  take  more  liberties  with 
it  than  we  could  were  our  purpose  to  give  it  the  greatest 
possible  measure  of  scientific  accuracy  and  logical  con- 
sistency. The  subdivisions  may  cross  one  another  in  the 
actual  application  of  the  system.  Waste  of  materials,  in 
the  second  subdivision,  may  be  injurious  to  close-of-kin  and 
to  the  individuals  themselves.  In  the  course  of  our  presen- 
tation we  turn  this  plasticity  of  the  scheme  to  our  advantage 
without  impairing  its  scientific  integrity. 

There  is  little  doubt  that  maladaptive  activity  of  the  first 
mentioned  kind  occurs  in  all  the  animal  groups,  but  there  is 
less  detailed  information  here  than  in  any  of  the  other  of  our 
four  classes  of  such  activities.  Precise  data  as  to  when  ex- 
penditure of  energy  and  time  passes  the  limit  of  usefulness 
are  wanting,  especially  for  the  animal  groups  below  man. 
This  class  would  be  omitted  from  the  present  treatment  were 


WASTE  OF  TIME  AND  ENERGY  119 

it  not  for  the  need  of  a  class  in  which  to  place  those  activities 
often  characterized  as  lost  motion  in  lower  animals  and  in 
children.  Loosely  as  this  phrase  is  ordinarily  used,  it  is  some- 
what discriminating,  for  it  distinguishes  between  movements 
lost  through  error  of  judgment  or  inadequate  knowledge,  and 
those  lost  by  mere  error-upon-trial.  Examples  of  this  latter 
may  be  seen  by  anybody  anywhere  among  brute  animals. 
Mark  Twain's  account  of  the  performances  of  ants  is  good 
natural  history  even  though  it  sacrifices  scrupulous  truth 
here  and  there  to  the  requirements  of  spicy  writing.  We 
read:  ^  "During  many  summers,  now,  I  have  watched  him 
when  I  ought  to  have  been  in  better  business,  and  I  have 
not  yet  come  across  a  living  ant  that  seemed  to  have  any 
more  sense  than  a  dead  one.  ...  I  admit  his  industry  of 
course;  he  is  the  hardest  working  creature  in  the  world  .  .  . 
but  his  leatherheadedness  is  the  point  I  make  against  him. 
He  goes  out  foraging,  he  makes  a  capture,  and  then  what 
does  he  do?  Go  home?  No, — he  goes  anywhere  but  home. 
He  doesn't  know  where  home  is.  His  home  may  be  only 
three  feet  away, — no  matter,  he  can't  find  it.  He  makes 
his  capture,  as  I  have  said;  it  is  generally  something  which 
can  be  of  no  use  to  himself  or  anybody  else;  it  is  usually 
seven  times  bigger  than  it  ought  to  be;  he  hunts  out  the 
awkwardest  place  to  take  hold  of  it;  he  lifts  it  bodily  into 
the  air  by  main  force,  and  starts;  not  toward  home,  but  in 
the  opposite  direction;  not  calmly  and  wisely,  but  with  a 
frantic  haste  which  is  wasteful  of  his  strength;  he  fetches 
up  against  a  pebble,  and  instead  of  going  around  it,  he  climbs 
over  it  backwards  dragging  his  booty  after  him,  tumbles 
down  on  the  other  side,  jumps  up  in  a  passion,  kicks  the 
dust  off  his  clothes,  moistens  his  hands,  grabs  his  property 
viciously,  yanks  it  this  way,  then  that,  shoves  it  ahead  of 
him  a  moment,  turns  tail  and  lugs  it  after  him  a  moment,  gets 
madder,  then  presently  hoists  it  into  the  air  and  goes  tearing 

1  Tramp  "Abroad,  Chap.  XXII,  and  quoted  by  L.  O.  Howard  in  The 
Insect  Book,  p.  41. 


120  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

away  in  an  entirely  new  direction;  comes  to  a  weed;  it  never 
occurs  to  him  to  go  around  it,  he  must  climb  it  .  .  .  which 
is  as  bright  a  thing  to  do  as  it  would  be  for  me  to  carry  a 
sack  of  flour  from  Heidelberg  to  Paris  by  way  of  Strasburg 
steeple." 

This  is  only  a  literary  man's  way  of  saying  what  a  scien- 
tist makes  shorter  work  of,  at  least  as  a  summary  of  his 
conclusions.  Thus  we  have  from  Albrecht  Bethe  as  a  final 
conclusion  to  his  extensive  researches  on  the  mentality  of 
ants  and  bees:  -  "They  learn  nothing,  but  act  mechani- 
cally in  whatever  they  do,  their  complicated  reflexes  being 
set  off  by  simple  physical  stimuli."  Bethe  finds  no  evidence 
of  any  "psychical  quality";  but  with  this  conclusion  we  are 
not  here  concerned. 

]\Iy  own  notes  on  the  work  of  the  black  harvester  ant 
(Messor  andrei?)  of  southern  California  add  some  quantita- 
tive definiteness  to  Twain's  story.  The  loads  being  carried 
by  thirty-nine  individuals  of  this  species  headed  for  home 
on  the  same  path  were  examined  in  the  early  morning  of 
July  13, 1920.  Of  these  loads  thirteen  were  grass  seeds  con- 
taining meats,  six  were  filaree  seeds  containing  meats,  and 
twenty  were  classed  in  my  notes  as  rubbish,  most  of  them 
being  unidentifiable  fragments  of  vegetation,  though  four 
were  empty  shells  of  the  seed  of  the  ice  plant,  and  of  an 
atroplex.  Of  these  thirty-nine  loads  at  least  one-half  were 
useless.  They  contained  no  food,  so  far  as  I  could  see;  and 
as  this  species  harvests  for  no  other  purpose,  all  the  effort 
bestowed  upon  these  good-for-nothing  items  was  lost  mo- 
tion. The  regular  course  of  things  would  be  for  the  objects 
to  be  carried  into  the  colony  burrows,  allowed  to  remain 
there  for  a  time,  as  are  seeds  while  being  shelled,  then 
brought  out  and  thrown  on  the  dump  as  are  the  empty  seed- 
shells. 

2  Albrecht  Bethe,  Arch.  f.  d.  Ges.  Phys.,  Vol.  LXX,  No.  15,  p.  100, 
Jan.,  1899.    Also  a  review  of  same  by  Caswell  Grave,  Amer.  Nat.,  Vol. 

XXXII,  pp.  437-439. 


WASTE  OF  TIME  AND  ENERGY  121 

It  might  be  unjustifiable  to  conclude  from  one  instance 
like  this  that  a  half  of  all  the  work  of  harvesting  done  by 
these  ants  is  lost  motion.  My  guess  is,  however,  that  when 
all  activities  performed  in  connection  with  the  business  are 
taken  into  the  account  the  figure  is  under  rather  than  over 
the  truth.  I  am  of  opinion  that  fuller  quantitative  studies  of 
ant  harvesting  would  discover  that  the  per  cent  of  useless 
material  gathered  is  correlated  with  the  per  cent  of  such 
material  there  is  in  the  area  over  which  the  harvesting 
extends. 

Another  type  of  lost  motion  in  ant  harvesting  is  illustrated 
by  the  following:  On  September  27,  1919,  a  black  harvester 
belonging  to  a  colony  on  the  grounds  of  the  Scripps  Institu- 
tion at  La  Jolla,  California,  was  seen  carrying  an  atroplex 
seed  toward  the  colony  nest.  When  first  noticed  the  ant  was 
about  forty  feet  from  its  destination.  Several  serious  ob- 
structions in  the  path  had  to  be  overcome  before  the  nest 
was  reached,  and  a  full  quarter  of  an  hour  was  consumed  in 
accomplishing  the  distance.  Of  the  obstacles  in  the  path, 
two  were  the  spreading  branches  of  the  plant,  Atroplex, 
which  produced  the  kind  of  seed  the  ant  was  carrying.  Both 
these  plants  along  the  path  and  another  at  the  very  mouth 
of  the  nest  holes  were  laden  with  seeds,  many  of  which  had 
already  fallen  to  the  ground.  The  ant  had  carried  a  seed 
more  than  forty  feet,  at  two  points  along  the  way  laboring 
through  the  branches  of  plants  which  had  strewn  the  ground 
with  seeds  of  the  same  kind  as  the  one  it  was  carrying,  while 
a  third  plant  had  dropped  an  abundance  of  the  same  seeds 
at  the  very  door  of  its  home.  Enough  energy  had  been  ex- 
pended to  transport  a  load  of  food  forty  feet  at  least;  es- 
sentially the  same  load  of  entirely  similar  food  could  have 
been  secured  by  the  expenditure  of  only  a  minute  fraction 
01  the  energy.  Any  open-minded  watcher  of  the  activities  of 
these  ants  can  see  just  as  much  of  this  sort  of  thing  as  he 
cares  to  take  time  for. 


122  IMALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

This  class  of  maladaptive  activities  affords  a  convenient 
pigeon-hole  for  the  reception  of  activities  -which,  though  in 
themselves  unavailing,  cannot  be  adjudged  entirely  use- 
less. They  are  due  to  inadequate  knowledge  or  erroneous 
judgment,  but  they  contribute  to  the  rectification  of  thi? 
inadequacy  or  error.  They  may  constitute  a  quantitative 
offset  to  qualitative  defectiveness  in  action. 

A  man  following  an  obscure  trail  comes  to  some  point  at 
which  he  is  uncertain  which  way  to  go.  Several  trials  may 
be  necessary  before  he  is  sure  he  is  on  the  right  course. 
Considerable  time  and  strength  may  be  consumed  in  this 
way;  such  loss  is  apt  to  be  charged  to  the  lost  motion  ac- 
count. In  a  sense,  both  the  effort  and  the  time  are  lost. 
But  the  circumstances  were  such  as  to  make  the  trials  in- 
dispensable, and  their  outcome  was  success,  the  right  course 
having  been  found  at  last.  Although  excessive  activity  in 
such  a  case  may  be  in  itself  injurious,  its  final  usefulness  is 
undoubted.  The  chance  of  some  measure  of  loss  or  injury 
is  deliberately  risked  for  the  advantage  of  final  success. 

The  assessment  of  human  activities  on  this  basis  is  ob- 
viously a  very  difficult,  delicate  and  important  matter  which 
cannot  be  attempted  here.  The  proneness  of  children  to 
spend  too  much  energy  and  time  in  play  is  generally  recog- 
nized among  experts  in  child  health.  This  recognition  is  not 
in  essential  conflict  with  the  universal  recognition  that  play 
is  highly  useful  in  a  variety  of  ways.  The  only  question 
is  as  to  when  and  where  it  ceases  to  be  useful  and  becomes 
neutral  or  harmful.  This  problem  needs  more  study  than 
it  has  had. 

Many  primitive  people  care  so  much  for  their  games  and 
ceremonies,  and  spend  so  much  time  and  substance  on  them, 
as  to  impair  seriously  their  economic  welfare.  One  of  the 
main  objections  made  by  agents  and  teachers  responsible  for 
Indians  on  the  reservations  controlled  by  the  United  States 
Government  to  the  keeping  up  of  the  native  dances  and  other 


WASTE  OF  TIME  AND  ENERGY  123 

ceremonials  is  economic.  The  performances  are  recognized 
as  serious  obstacles  to  that  measure  of  industry  essential  to 
the  economic  and  social  well-being  of  the  people  concerned. 
This  matter  is  discussed  at  some  length  in  the  section  on 
maladaptive  activities  among  low-cultured  peoples.  An  il- 
lustrative example  may  be  given  here  from  my  own  expe- 
riences among  the  Navajo  Indians  in  the  fall  of  1920.  The 
annual  Indian  fair  at  the  San  Juan  Agency  was  held  while  I 
was  on  the  reservation.  A  trip  of  120  miles  through  the 
heart  of  the  Navajo  country  impressed  me  with  the  Indians' 
interest  in  the  event.  The  entire  population,  men,  women, 
and  children,  were  en  route  for  San  Juan. 

Hardly  ever  have  I  seen  a  more  novel  and  significant  ex- 
hibition. Rugs,  as  any  one  acquainted  with  Navajo  industry 
would  expect,  were  the  outstanding  feature  of  the  fair,  but 
raw  wool  from  the  flocks,  and  corn,  squashes,  melons  from 
the  land,  entered  considerably  into  the  exhibition.  On  the 
basis  of  the  evidence  assembled,  the  Navajo  appeared  to  be 
one  group  of  American  Indians  well  on  the  road  to  industrial 
development  and  economic  independence.  While  on  the 
whole  a  conclusion  to  this  effect  is  probably  justifiable,  the 
testimony  of  one  of  the  traders,  confirmed  by  that  of  Govern- 
ment agents,  teachers,  and  physicians,  was  rather  shocking 
from  this  standpoint.  "This  is  called  an  'Indian  fair,'  "  said 
the  trader,  ''but  really  it  is  nothing  of  the  sort  so  far  as 

getting  it  up  is  concerned.    The  Indians  don't  care  a  d 

about  these  exhibits.  The  whites  have  all  sorts  of  trouble 
to  get  the  Indians  to  bring  their  rugs,  corn,  squashes,  etc. 
The  only  way  we  can  induce  them  to  come  is  to  promise 
them  a  good  hibushai  [medicine  men's  ceremonial  with  much 
dancing]  and  races.  It  is  the  big  ceremonial  hogan  and  the 
race  track  out  on  the  mesa  and  not  the  fair  here  in  town 
that  brings  the  Indians." 

There  is  abundant  evidence  that  the  American  Indians, 
like  all  other  backward  peoples,  are  far  more  responsive  to 


124  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

various  stimuli  which  bring  immediate  satisfaction  than  they 
are  to  any  considerations  of  future  advantages.  Improvi- 
dence, either  from  overindulgence  in  immediately  gratifying 
activities  or  from  inactivity,  is  put  down  as  a  universal  char- 
acteristic of  primitive  people. 


CHAPTER  8 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  V^ASTE  OF  USEFUL 

MATERIALS 

AMONG  INSECTS 

Lost  motion  is  not  necessarily  harmful.  Our  other  three 
classes  of  excessive  activity  all  result  in  harm  to  the  animals. 
The  kind  of  harm  to  be  examined  next  we  have  spoken  of  as 
waste  of  useful  material.  The  studies  of  the  Peckhams  ^  on 
the  habits  of  solitary  wasps  furnish  the  first  illustrations. 
The  authors  tell  of  watching  a  wasp  of  the  genus  Cerceris, 
hunting  bees.  "Of  two  victims  which  were  procured  with 
great  trouble  one  was  abandoned  on  the  threshold,  and  the 
other  was  dropped  half  way  in — neither  served  as  food  for 
larvae."  Since  the  wasps  themselves  are  nectar  and  honey 
feeders  and  never  eat  the  prey  they  capture,  if  the  bees  were 
not  used  by  the  larvae  they  were  not  used  at  all.  In  another 
case,  the  female  has  the  habit  of  storing  her  nest  with  spiders 
(Epeira)  which  have  been  killed  or  paralyzed  by  stinging, 
preparatory  to  depositing  her  eggs  on  the  prey.  The  nest 
is  then  closed  and  left  to  its  fate.  The  wasp  pays  no  more 
attention  to  it.  The  little  ones  when  hatched  have  to  look 
out  for  themselves  except  as  to  such  provision  as  the  parent 
has  made  for  them  before  the  eggs  are  laid.  When  a  store 
of  spiders  is  laid  up,  but  no  eggs  deposited  in  connection  with 
them,  the  work  done  and  the  material  stored  is  a  dead  loss. 
"A  second  nest  gave  us  fourteen  specimens  of  Epeira  juriperi, 
including  many  varieties  of  this  variable  species.  There 
was  no  egg,  although  the  nest  had  been  closed.    This  was 

^  The  Instincts  and  Habits  of  Solitary  Wasps,  by  George  W.  Peckham 
and  Elizabeth  G.  Peckham,  Wisconsin  Geological  and  Natural  History 
Survey,  Bull.  No.  2,  Science  Series  No.  i,  1898,  p.  245. 

125 


126  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

the  finest  looking  and  best  conditioned  lot  of  spiders  that 
we  had  seen." 

This  wastefulness  of  the  solitary  wasps  has  been  amply 
verified  by  other  naturalists.  One  of  those  who  has  given 
particular  attention  to  the  point  is  Phil  Rau.  From  his  ob- 
servations ^  we  have  the  following:  "In  191 2  we  were  watch- 
ing a  Pelopeous  mother  industriously  filling  her  cell  with 
spiders.  While  she  was  out  foraging  we  borrowed  four  fine 
fresh  spiders  from  another  new  nest  near  by  and  with  the 
forceps  carefully  inserted  them  into  her  cell.  Upon  her 
return  she  was  at  once  aware  of  the  intrusion  and  set  about 
carrying  out  the  foreign  spiders  with  much  indignant  buzz- 
ing. Nor  did  she  stop  at  this,  but  carried  out  and  threw 
away  three  of  her  own  hard-earned  prey  as  well,  before  her 
indignation  had  cooled  sufficiently  to  permit  her  to  continue 
her  work."  A  majority  of  his  experiments  produced  similar 
results,  the  placing  of  spiders  in  the  nest  by  the  experimenter 
resulting  in  most  instances  in  the  throwing  away  by  the 
wasps  not  only  of  the  donated  specimens,  but  of  those  of  her 
own  collecting  as  well.  Rau's  general  conclusions  from  these 
experiments  are  significant.  "The  detailed  examination  of 
many  hundreds  of  completed  nests  shows  that  in  normal, 
free  life  these  wasps  commit  blunders  or  follow  disastrous 
whims  in  a  large  proportion  of  their  cells;  sealing  them  stark 
empty  or  with  only  a  fraction  of  the  food  necessary  for  the 
young  one,  or  providing  abundant  supplies  and  omitting  the 
egg,  or  other  blunders  which  would  defeat  the  whole  pur- 
pose of  the  wonderful  instinct  of  nest-building."  That  seal- 
ing nests  "stark  empty"  and  "providing  abundant  supplies 
and  omitting  the  egg"  result  in  waste  of  material  is  obvious. 

Many  illustrations  of  waste  of  material  could  be  drawn 
from  every  group  of  insects;  we  will  restrict  ourselves  to  the 
ants,  selecting  examples  which  illustrate  forms  of  wasteful- 

2  "The    Ability    of    the    Mud-datiber    to    Recognize    her    own    Prey 
(Hymen)."    The  Journal  of  Animal  Behavior,  Vol.  V,  1915,  pp.  240-249. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  127 

ness  differing  from  those  already  shown.  The  harvester  ant 
of  Texas  {Pogonomyrmex  molefaciens)  was  reported  many 
years  ago  to  practice  agriculture  in  a  small  way.  It  was 
stated  that  the  ants  sow  the  seeds  of  "ant-rice,"  plants  of 
the  genus  Aristeda,  around  their  dwellings,  cultivate  the 
crop,  harvest  it  when  ripe,  and  garner  it  into  their  granaries. 
This  story  which  has  long  passed  muster  as  evidence  of  ant 
intelligence,  Wheeler  ^  tells  us,  "even  the  Texan  schoolboy 
has  come  to  regard  as  a  joke."  Four  years  of  nearly  con- 
tinuous observation  on  this  species  enabled  Wheeler  to  dis- 
cover the  truth  about  their  habits  which  probably  gave  rise 
to  the  fiction.  Examining  the  nests  during  the  cold  winter 
months  (while  the  fiery  sting  of  the  ants  is  subdued  by  the 
low  temperature) :  "The  seeds,  which  the  ants  have  garnered 
in  many  of  their  chambers  will  often  be  found  to  have 
sprouted.  Sometimes  the  chambers  are  literally  stuffed  with 
dense  wads  of  seedling  grasses  and  other  plants.  On  sunny 
days  the  ant  may  often  be  seen  removing  these  seeds  when 
they  have  sprouted  too  far  to  be  fit  for  food  and  carrying 
them  to  the  refuse  heap,  which  is  always  at  the  periphery 
of  the  crater  of  cleared  earthern  disk.  Here  the  seeds,  thus 
rejected  as  inedible,  often  take  root  and  in  the  spring  form 
an  arc  or  a  complete  circle  of  growing  plants  around  the 
nest." 

Since  the  seeds  of  "ant-rice"  are  one  of  the  favorite  ar- 
ticles of  food  of  the  ants  it  happens  that  sometimes  the 
plants  of  these  circular  growth  areas  near  the  dwellings  are 
composed  largely  of  this  species.  The  "ant-rice"  plants 
growing  around  the  colonies  therefore  are  not  to  be  taken 
as  evidence  of  the  intelligence  of  the  ants,  but  on  the  con- 
trary of  their  unintelligence,  of  their  doing  work  which 
though  generally  useful  turns  out  in  particular  applications 
to  be  harmful.  Storing  food  in  such  a  manner  that  it  spoils 
fails  into  the  class  of  maladaptive  activities  upon  the  ma- 

^  Ants,  p.  286. 


128  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

terials  requisite  to  life  which  fail  in  one  way  or  another  to 
make  these  materials  serve  their  ends.  These  ants  store 
food  for  their  future  use,  and  some  of  these  stores  are  lost 
by  spoiling.  The  storing  activity  fails  of  its  purpose,  more 
or  less:  the  stored  material  is  a  loss,  to  a  considerable  extent. 

AMONG  BIRDS 

Further  examples  of  waste  of  materials  through  activities 
that  are  imperfectly  adapted  are  found  among  birds.  The 
most  conspicuous  examples  are  connected  with  food  habits. 
The  habit  of  the  California  Woodpeckers  (Melanerpes  jor- 
micivorus  bairdi)  of  pecking  great  numbers  of  small  pits  in 
oak,  pine  and  other  trees,  and  placing  acorns  in  these,  usually 
one  in  each  pit,  has  been  often  described.  For  a  long  time 
there  was  some  uncertainty  as  to  whether  the  acorns  were 
stored  in  order  that  the  birds  might  feed  on  the  "worms" 
contained  in  the  nuts,  or  on  the  acorn  meats  themselves,  or 
whether  any  use  at  all  was  made  of  the  nuts  by  the  birds 
which  garnered  them.  Studies  on  the  crop  contents  of  the 
birds  show  that  the  meats  of  acorns  are  used  as  food  by 
the  woodpeckers,  thus  making  it  almost  certain  that  the 
stored  acorns  are  so  used. 

Studies  of  my  own  *  confirmed  the  view  previously  held 
as  to  the  usefulness  as  food  of  both  grubs  and  acorn  meats 
of  the  stored  nuts.  Although  I  was  unable  to  catch  the 
birds  in  the  act  of  feeding  off  the  stores,  the  circumstantial 
evidence  that  both  grubs  and  meats  are  extensively  eaten 
left  no  doubt  of  the  importance  of  the  harvesting  and  storing 
activity  in  the  economic  life  of  the  species.  In  carrying  on 
the  study  the  question,  "How  effectively  is  the  work  done?" 
was  as  constantly  before  me  as  was  the  query,  "Is  the  work 
useful  at  all?"    Positive  proof  has  been  furnished  by  other 

*  "Acorn-storing  by  the  California  Woodpeckers,"  The  Condor,  Vol. 
XXIII,  Jan.,  1921,  pp.  3-14. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  129 

observers,  that  at  times  pebbles  instead  of  acorns  are  placed 
in  the  holes,  and  that  on  quite  an  extensive  scale.  Consid- 
eration of  all  the  facts  convinced  me  that  the  birds  simply 
fail  to  discriminate  between  pebbles  and  acorns  and  con- 
sequently store  up  quantities  of  material  for  food  which 
has  not  the  slightest  value  as  food. 

Admittedly  some  forcing  is  required  to  bring  such  a  case 
under  the  heading  "waste  of  material."  "Waste  of  energy" 
might  seem  a  more  appropriate  class  for  it.  Yet  the  situation 
can  easily  be  viewed  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  "waste  of 
material"  appear  a  not  inappropriate  term.  Imagine  the 
stores  of  a  particular  group  of  the  woodpeckers  composed 
half  of  acorns  and  half  of  stones.  The  proportions  are  ap- 
proximately this  in  the  specimen  illustrating  the  error  con- 
tained in  the  Museum  of  Vertebrate  Zoology  at  the  Uni- 
versity of  California.  Imagine  further  the  winter  in  prep- 
aration for  which  the  storing  was  done  to  be  an  uncommonly 
severe  one  as  to  food  demands  by  the  birds.  In  such  a  sit- 
uation the  entire  store  might  not  be  any  too  much  to  meet 
the  needs,  even  if  the  whole  were  available  for  food.  What, 
in  such  a  case,  might  be  the  consequences  were  the  birds  to 
find  upon  going  to  their  granaries  for  food  that  half  of  the 
bins  were  filled  with  pebbles  instead  of  the  acorns?  An 
appeal  for  bread  responded  to  with  stones,  sure  enough! 
And  the  irony  of  it,  were  woodpeckers  only  endowed  with 
the  sense  of  irony,  would  be  that  the  hungry  birds  them- 
selves had  provided  the  stones. 

Evidence  of  the  inefficiency  of  the  work  of  the  wood- 
peckers is  not  limited  to  such  gross  mistakes  as  that  of 
storing  pebbles  in  place  of  acorns.  Concerning  the  use  of 
the  holes  drilled  and  the  acorns  stored,  the  evidence  secured 
led  me  to  formulate  conclusions  thus:  "As  to  hole  drilling: 
While  the  holes  are  made  expressly  for  the  reception  of 
acorns,  many  holes  are  probably  made  which  are  never  used, 
holes  are  made  at  seasons  of  the  year  when  there  are  no 


130  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

acorns  to  store,  and  large  numbers  of  perfectly  serviceable 
holes  seem  to  be  abandoned  even  in  localities  where  both 
birds  and  acorns  are  abundant,  and  new  holes  are  being 
made.  As  to  the  storing  business  itself:  "While  this  is  of 
distinct  service  to  the  food  necessities  of  the  wood- 
peckers .  .  .  large  quantities  are  sometimes  stored,  the  use 
of  which  is  so  long  delayed  that  the  acorns  become  wholly 
or  largely  unfit  for  food,  and  this  in  places  where  the  bird 
population  seems  normal.  Finally,  acorns  are  sometimes 
stored  in  such  fashion  as  to  make  them  easy  prey  for  ma- 
rauding rodents,  when  with  some  definite  foresight  and  a 
little  more  work  such  exposure  could  easily  be  avoided."  ^ 

Observations  made  since  the  article  quoted  from  was  writ- 
ten have  confirmed  the  loss  of  acorns  through  spoiling  and 
through  being  placed  where  the  birds  could  not  get  them. 

Morton  E.  Peck  ^  writes  of  the  habits  of  another  sub- 
species of  the  same  woodpecker,  {M.  /.  albeolus)  observed 
by  him  in  British  Honduras.  "These  extremely  industrious 
birds  not  only  store  acorns  in  the  same  manner  as  the  Cali- 
fornia woodpecker,  but  also  deposit  them  in  great  quanti- 
ties in  hollow  trees  and  similar  places.  I  have  seen  a  hollow 
pine  tree  with  a  cavity  six  to  eight  inches  in  diameter  filled 
for  a  distance  of  nearly  twenty  feet  with  acorns  dropped 
into  a  good-sized  hole  at  that  distance  above  the  ground. 
Acorn-filled  trees  of  this  sort  I  found  not  uncommon.  Some- 
times an  opening  at  the  bottom  showed  the  earlier  acorns 
deposited,  completely  decayed  and  crumbling  to  dust.  They 
must  have  been  there  for  several  years,  and  probably  were 
not  brought  by  the  same  birds  that  completed  the  accumula- 
tion, ...  In  these  cases,  it  would  be  utterly  impossible  for 
the  birds  ever  to  make  use  of  the  acorns  in  any  way,  yet 
they  go  on  generation  after  generation  laboriously  gathering 


=  P.  14. 

6  "On  the  Acorn-storing  Habit  of  Certain  Woodpeckers,"  The  Condor, 
Vol.  XXIII,  July,  1921,  p.  131 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  131 

them.  Furthermore,  in  an  even,  tropical  climate  like  that 
of  British  Honduras,  where  there  can  be  but  little  variation 
in  food  supply  from  season  to  season,  it  is  difficult  to  see 
how,  under  any  circumstances,  such  a  habit  could  be  of  any 
great  advantage;  but  even  granting  that  it  is  so  in  some 
cases  where  the  accumulation  is  accessible,  these  instances 
show  how  an  overdeveloped  instinct  may  lead  to  actions  not 
only  useless  but  highly  absurd." 

This  case  illustrates  "waste  of  material,"  since  portions  of 
the  acorns  stored  in  hollow  trees  were  "completely  decayed 
and  crumbling  to  dust,"  and  many  of  those  in  the  house 
timbers  were  out  of  reach  of  the  birds.  If  the  climatic  and 
productive  conditions  of  Honduras  are  such  as  to  make  un- 
necessary food  storage  to  tide  over  periods  of  scarcity,  the 
whole  quantity  of  stored-up  acorns  would  be  useless  so  far 
as  the  food  supply  of  the  particular  birds  was  concerned, 
and  the  performance  would  be  nothing  worse  than  absurd. 
But  the  supposition  that  the  birds'  welfare  is  wholly  inde- 
pendent of  what  they  do  with  acorns  or  any  other  article 
on  which  they  depend  for  food  involves  all  sorts  of  diffi- 
culties. Absence  of  winter  snows,  enabling  the  birds  to  get 
the  nuts  where  they  fall  from  the  trees  all  the  year  round, 
might  be  supposed  to  make  collection  and  storage  unneces- 
sary, but  this  involves  the  further  supposition  that  the  quan- 
tity of  acorns  is  so  much  in  excess  of  the  demands  that  the 
collections  made  and  rendered  useless  would  be  no  drain  on 
the  supply  left  on  the  ground.  The  knowledge  we  have  of 
acorn  production  does  not  warrant  the  supposition  that  in 
any  particular  locality  where  acorns  are  known  to  be  pro- 
duced, the  crop  is  always  at  its  maximum.  We  know  for  a 
certamty  as  to  many  acorn-producing  regions  that  the  crop 
varies  greatly  from  year  to  year  and  from  locality  to  locality. 
I  am  of  the  opinion  that  full  knowledge  of  acorn  production, 
and  of  acorn  consumption  by  any  animal  in  any  part  of  the 
world,  would  forbid  the  assumption  that  the  animals  could, 


132  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

without  endangering  their  own  welfare,  destroy  or  render 
useless  large  quantities  of  the  nuts,  even  though  a  stationary 
bird  population  were  assumed.  Such  a  supposition  about 
population  is  not  permissible  in  the  light  of  facts.  Few 
biological  principles  are  better  established  than  that  increase 
of  population  tends  to  keep  up  with  food  supply  where  food 
and  feeders  are  of  as  high  grade  as  are  oak  trees  and  wood- 
peckers, other  conditions  remaining  the  same.  If  acorns 
are  a  dietetically  adequate  food  for  Honduras  woodpeckers, 
or  for  any  other  animal,  acorn  production  will  never  be  so 
in  excess  of  the  needs  of  the  animals  that  acorn  waste  could 
be  devoid  of  injurious  possibilities  to  the  animal  species  re- 
sponsible for  the  waste.  Acorn  excess  would  promptly  be 
taken  up  by  woodpecker  excess,  or  excess  of  such  other 
animals  as  may  depend  wholly  or  in  part  upon  acorns  for 
food.  So  close  woven  is  the  "web  of  nature"  that  complete 
independence  of  any  one  element  for  a  given  locality  can 
never  be  assumed  without  considerable  positive  evidence. 

Various  explanations  of  the  origin  of  maladaptation  in 
food-storing  by  woodpeckers  have  been  offered.  Peck  sug- 
gests that  the  Honduras  subspecies  of  woodpecker  is  derived 
from  a  more  northern  form,  and  that  its  storing  habit  is  due 
to  the  survival  of  an  ancestral  instinct,  useful  in  the  higher 
latitudes  but  useless  in  the  tropics.  Whether  this  suggestion 
is  justifiable  in  this  particular  case  does  not  particularly  con- 
cern us,  for  it  is  certain  that  there  are  thousands  of  animal 
activities  which  can  be  better  explained  on  the  hypothesis 
of  such  survival  than  on  any  other.  The  question  raised 
here  of  the  probable  injuriousness  to  animals  resulting  from 
the  persistence  of  activities  long  after  the  conditions  have 
passed  away  which  made  these  activities  useful  to  their 
ancestors  is  a  general  and  important  one. 

This  explanation  of  woodpecker  maladaptation  by  Peck 
may  be  compared  with  Henshaw's  explanation  of  a  similar 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  133 

situation  in  the  activities  of  the  California  woodpecker/  "In 
searching  for  the  motives  underlying  the  storing  habit  of  the 
California  woodpecker  we  should  not  lose  sight  of  the  fact 
that  the  several  acts  in  the  process,  the  boring  of  the  holes, 
the  search  for  the  acorns,  the  carrying  them  to  the  holes  and 
the  filling  them  in,  bear  no  resemblance  to  work  in  the  or- 
dinary sense  of  the  term,  but  is  play.  I  have  seen  the  birds 
storing  acorns  many  times,  and  always  when  thus  engaged 
they  fill  the  air  with  their  joyous  cries  and  constantly  play 
tag  with  each  other  as  they  fly  back  and  forth.  When  thus 
engaged  they  might  not  inaptly  be  likened  to  a  group  of 
children  at  play. 

"In  further  illustration  of  the  play  habit  of  this  wood- 
pecker it  is  to  be  noted  that  its  bill,  as  in  the  case  of  others 
of  its  tribe,  is  wonderfully  well  adapted  to  digging  into  wood, 
and  it  is  as  natural  for  the  bird  in  its  idle  moments  to  dig 
just  for  the  fun  of  it  as  it  is  for  a  boy  to  whistle  or  the 
proverbial  Yankee  to  whittle  a  stick.® 

Interesting  and  suggestive  as  these  explanations  are,  they 
have  no  bearing  on  the  question  of  the  establishment  of  the 
fact  of  maladaptiveness  in  the  complicated  activity  of  acorn- 
storing  by  woodpeckers.  If  a  given  activity  of  an  animal 
species  is  really  harmful  to  the  animals  obviously  the  bald 
fact  is  not  palliated  by  its  mode  of  origin.  It  is  maladaptive 
however  it  came  into  being,  and  consequently  is  subject  to 
that  general  remedial  process  which  is  the  very  essence  of 
organic  evolution.  Henshaw  remarks:  "While  I  do  not 
doubt  that  the  acorn-storing  habit  is  based  on  more  or  less 
definite  interest  to  provide  food  for  future  use,  the  faulty 
methods  employed  and  the  imperfect  results  obtained  show 
that  as  yet  the  birds  have  only  imperfectly  learned  their 

■^  "The  Storage  of  Acorns  by  the  California  Woodpecker,"  by  H.  W. 
Henshaw,  The  Condor,  Vol.  XXIII,  July-August,  1921,  pp.  109-118. 
8  P.  HI. 


134  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

lesson."  *  One  of  the  most  crucial  of  all  questions  for  the 
improvement  of  animal  activity  might  be  stated  thus:  What 
is  the  evolutionary  way  by  which  the  birds  "learn  their 
lesson"  more  perfectly? 

Assuming  that  a  measure  of  wastefulness,  of  maladaptive- 
ness,  in  food  habits,  is  proved  for  woodpeckers  of  this  group, 
we  should  not  be  justified  in  supposing  without  more  evi- 
dence that  something  of  the  sort  is  universal  or  even  wide- 
spread among  birds.  This  instance  makes  one  curious  to 
know  whether  it  stands  entirely  alone.  Have  all  other  birds 
"learned  their  lesson"  so  well  that  food  gathering  and  using 
are  carried  on  entirely  without  waste  or  loss?  Are  these 
woodpeckers  the  only  birds  thus  imperfectly  adapted  in 
their  economic  affairs? 

Henshaw  calls  attention  to  the  fact  that  the  food  storing 
custom  prevails  among  birds  to  a  very  slight  extent.  There 
is  ground  for  surprise  at  this,  in  view  of  the  manifest  ad- 
vantage of  the  practice  and  the  fact  that  it  is  so  highly  de- 
veloped among  insects,  animals  which  are  usually  regarded 
as  ranking  far  below  birds  in  the  evolutional  scale.  How- 
ever, there  are  a  few  other  birds  which  practice  the  art,  and 
the  question  of  the  effectiveness  with  which  it  is  done  by 
these  is  important  for  us.  At  least  one  other  woodpecker, 
the  Red-head  {Melanerpes  erythrocephdus),  has  acquired 
the  storing  habit  in  some  localities  but  not  in  others.  That 
the  individuals  of  a  species  living  in  some  places  perform  so 
complex  an  activity  as  collecting  and  storing  nuts,  while  in- 
dividuals of  the  same  species  living  elsewhere  do  not,  raises 
a  question  as  to  the  hereditariness  of  the  habit.  That  the 
stored  nuts  are  used  as  food  by  the  Red-heads  is  definitely 
known,  according  to  the  account.  The  activity  is  adaptive 
with  these  as  with  the  California  woodpecker.  The  im- 
perfection of  the  adaptation  in  the  one  case  as  in  the  other 
is  indicated  by  the  following  observation  quoted  by  Hen- 

»P.  III. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  135 

shaw:  "Miss  Pellow  further  states  that  she  noticed  the  board 
along  the  ridgepole  of  her  house  was  curling  up,  and  on 
investigation  it  was  found  that  under  this  board  for  a  dis- 
tance of  from  8  to  10  feet  from  the  eaves  were  decayed  and 
half-decayed  acorns  to  a  depth  of  at  least  i  inch,  and  a 
friend  of  hers  had  the  same  experience."  ^^  Such  observa- 
tions indicate  that  the  Red-headed  woodpecker  has  not 
"learned  its  lesson"  any  better  than  its  far-western  relative. 

Among  North  American  birds,  the  only  species  besides 
these  woodpeckers  that  practice  anything  like  food  storing 
for  their  own  future  use,  are  the  Blue  Jay  (Cyanocitta  cris- 
tata)  and  some  of  the  Shrikes.  The  jay  gathers  and 
stores  nuts  of  various  kinds.  All  observers  of  the  bird 
from  Alexander  Wilson  to  the  present  day  testify  to  this. 
]My  own  early  life  in  the  "oak  openings"  country  of  Wis- 
consin, made  me  familiar  with  the  fall  activities  of  the  bird 
in  collecting  acorns  and  inserting  them  into  all  sorts  of 
crannies  in  trees,  fence  posts,  fence  rails,  deserted  buildings, 
etc. 

That  the  habit  is  adaptive  in  its  fundamental  nature  ap- 
pears to  be  taken  for  granted  by  many  ornithologists.  "The 
Blue  Jay  .  .  .  lays  up  large  stores  of  acorns  and  beech 
mast  for  food  in  winter,  when  insects  cannot  be  procured  in 
sufficient  abundance."  ^^  Nevertheless  the  question  of  how 
far  the  stores  are  utilized  is  raised  by  many  persons,  laymen 
as  well  as  ornithologists.  The  opinion  expressed  by  a  farmer 
neighbor  of  mine  in  Wisconsin  was:  "The  fools  never  go 
near  the  acorns  they  hide  away."  While  so  sweeping  an 
ascription  of  foolishness  to  the  birds  is  probably  unwar- 
ranted, there  appears  to  be  some  ground  for  it.  Mark 
Twain's  famous  "Baker's  Blue  Jay  Story"  in  Tramps 
Abroad,  is  endorsed  by  at  least  one  competent  student  of 


10  P.  113. 

1^  Baird,  Brewer,  and  Ridgway,  A  History  of  North  American  Birds, 
Vol.  II,  p.  275. 


136  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

birds  as  "good  ornithology  in  so  far  as  it  reports  the  way 
a  jay  acts."  ^- 

While  such  nut-storing  as  is  done  by  blue  jays  must  be 
accounted  as  wasteful  and  hence  imperfectly  adapted,  there 
are  certain  indirect  results  from  this  activity  which  might 
be  considered  to  contribute  to  the  general  welfare  of  the 
species,  though  hardly  of  the  individual  birds  concerned. 
From  W.  B.  Barrows  we  have  this:  "Undoubtedly  the  Blue- 
jay  is  an  important  factor  in  reforesting  burnt  or  cut-over 
lands,  since  it  is  continually  planting  acorns,  nuts  and  seeds 
of  various  kinds."  This  results  from  the  fact  that  "it  gets 
a  large  part  of  its  food  from  the  ground  and  also  buries  or 
hides  there  any  surplus  that  it  may  have."  ^^  The  same  idea 
is  expressed  by  other  ornithologists. 

An  interesting  question  is  raised  by  animal  activities  of 
this  sort.  Imagine  a  seed-eating  animal,  a  blue  jay,  for 
example,  that  does  not  limit  itself  merely  to  satisfying  its 
needs  by  eating  what  it  finds  in  situ,  but  moves  the  materials 
about  for  any  purpose  whatever.  There  can  be  no  doubt 
about  such  activities.  Seeds  thus  moved  and  left  perma- 
nently, sprout  and  grow  into  plants  which  produce  more 
seeds,  these  in  turn  serving  as  food  for  other  animals  of 
the  same  and  different  species.  How  are  we  to  estimate  the 
usefulness  of  activities  when  the  use  is  of  this  general  sort? 
Obviously  this  question  faces  us  directly  toward  that  endless 
maze  of  phenomena  aptly  called  the  web  of  nature:  the 
maze  so  baffling  to  everybody  but  so  fascinating  to  the  phil- 
osophical naturalist. 

It  seems  clear  enough  that  if  the  blue  jays  collect  more 
acorns  than  they  can  eat,  and  store  or  hide  them  away  and 
never  return  to  them,  those  acorns  are  a  dead  loss  to  those 
birds,  it  matters  not  at  all  whether  the  nuts  are  put  where 
the  birds  could  not  get  them  if  they  tried  to;  or  where  they 

12  E.  H.  Forbush  in  Nature  Lovers'  Library,  Vol.  II,  p.  218. 
^^  Michigan  Bird  Life,  p.  414. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  137 

would  be  stolen  by  rats,  squirrels,  or  other  thieves;  or  where 
they  would  soon  rot;  or  again  where  they  would,  in  the 
course  of  years,  grow  into  acorn-producing  trees.  Such 
nut-storing  as  is  done  by  blue  jays  must  be  accounted  as 
wasteful  and  hence  imperfectly  adapted,  even  though  some 
of  it  may  be  immediately  useful  in  supplying  food  for  the 
birds  themselves,  and  some  of  it  remotely  useful  in  supplying 
food  for  their  descendants. 

The  only  other  North  American  birds  known  to  store 
food  are  the  shrikes.  Several  species  and  subspecies  of  the 
genus  (Lanius)  to  which  these  belong  occur  in  different 
parts  of  the  continent.  All  are  primarily  carnivorous,  and 
their  practice  of  impaling  prey  on  thorns,  sharp  sticks  and 
barbs  of  fence  wires  is  widely  known.  The  significance  of 
the  practice  has  been  much  speculated  upon.  A  few  writers 
have  contended  that  the  birds  get  pleasure  from  seeing  the 
death  struggles  of  their  victims.  But  in  addition  to  the  im- 
probability of  this  explanation,  deducible  from  our  general 
knowledge  of  bird  psychology,  there  are  trustworthy  obser- 
vations showing  that  the  habit  is  useful.  While  the  shrike 
has  become  a  carnivore  so  far  as  the  structure  of  its  beak 
is  concerned,  the  structure  of  the  foot  is  less  like  that  of 
typical  birds  of  prey.  Both  capturing  and  holding  prey 
must  be  done  chiefly  with  the  beak.  As  the  prey  is  often 
too  large  to  be  swallowed  whole,  it  must  be  torn  to  pieces 
before  being  eaten.  The  thorns  and  barbs  upon  which  vic- 
tims are  impaled  are  a  substitute  for  claws  at  meal  time. 

This  is  best  shown  by  experiments  tried  by  Dr.  Sylvester 
D.  Judd  with  a  captive  loggerhead  shrike.  When  a  dead 
mouse  was  offered  the  bird,  which  was  in  a  cage  containing 
no  impaling  place,  it  was  seized  and  dragged  about  for  sev- 
eral minutes,  the  effort  being  made  "to  wedge  it  into  first 
one  and  then  another  corner  of  the  cage."  Finding  these 
efforts  unavailing  the  bird  then  tried  to  impale  the  mouse 
on  the  blunt  broken  end  of  a  branch  that  had  been  placed  in 


138  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

the  cage  for  a  perch.  This  too  proved  unsuccessful.  Next 
the  bird  tried  to  hold  the  mouse  with  its  feet  and  tear  it  to 
pieces,  but  the  feet  were  too  weak.  At  this  juncture  the 
experimenter  himself  took  a  hand  by  driving  a  nail  in  such 
a  way  that  the  projecting  point  was  in  plain  sight  and  easy 
reach  of  the  bird.  "Immediately  the  Shrike  impaled  the 
prey,  fixing  it  firmly,  and  then  fell  to  tearing  and  eating 
ravenously."  ^*  This  experiment  was  varied  in  several  ways, 
always  with  much  the  same  result. 

These  experimental  observations,  corroborating  field  ob- 
servations by  several  ornithologists,  show  conclusively  that 
the  prey-impaling  habit  of  the  shrike  has  a  basis  of  direct 
utility.  Accepting  it  as  proved  that  the  impaling  practice 
is  useful  and  hence  adaptive,  is  there  evidence  of  imperfec- 
tion in  the  adaptation  such  that  loss  of  material  results? 
Most  writers  agree  that  prey  is  hung  up  in  excess  of  the 
bird's  immediate  needs.  However  the  view  that  the  storing 
bird  itself  or  other  individuals  may  later  be  the  beneficiary 
of  the  surplus  seems  to  be  rather  prevalent  among  ornitholo- 
gists. A  statement  by  Dr.  Judd  in  another  publication  " 
is  quite  typical.  "It  is  well  known  that  the  shrike  kills  and 
hangs  up  in  his  shambles  more  than  he  can  utilize.  But 
this  apparently  wanton  slaughter  may  often  be  the  salvation 
of  many  a  shrike  whose  hunt  over  snow-covered  fields 
has  yielded  no  returns."  On  the  other  hand,  some 
of  the  most  specific  evidence  we  have  is  opposed  to  this 
interpretation.  Mr.  E.  A.  Schwarz  of  the  U.  S.  Department 
of  Agriculture  made  observations  on  the  loggerhead  shrike 
in  Duval  County,  Texas.  Schwarz  records  that  during  an 
excessively  dry  period  in  the  spring  no  insects  were  im- 
paled as  far  as  he  could  discover.  In  late  May  a  copious 
rain  brought  myriads  of  tumble  bugs   (scarabids  of  the 

^*  Birds  of  a  Maryland  Farm,  quoted  from  Nature  Lovers'  Library, 
Vol.  Ill,  p.  100. 

1°  The  Food  of  Shrikes,  Bull,  g,  Division  Biological  Survey,  U.  S. 
Dept.  of  Agriculture,  1898. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  139 

genus  Catlion).  These  were  greatly  relished  by  the  shrikes, 
and  '^large  numbers  of  specimens  could  now  be  seen  im- 
paled every  day."  Why  this  excess  impaling  when  the  in- 
sects impaled  were  so  abundant  as  to  make  a  fresh  supply 
available  all  the  time,  while  there  was  little  or  no  impaling 
when  the  supply  of  insects  was  short,  if  the  future  needs  of 
the  birds  were  the  purpose  of  the  excessiveness? 

If  the  stored  insects  had  been  preserved  in  some  way,  as 
are  those  stored  by  solitary  wasps,  so  that  a  supply  would 
be  on  hand  after  the  present  abundance  had  become  a  thing 
of  the  past,  the  purpose  of  the  oversupply  would  seem 
fairly  clear.  But  insects  hung  up  in  such  ways  with  no 
provision  against  decomposition  or  desiccation  could  last 
for  a  short  time  only.  In  view  of  the  facts  presented,  the 
conclusion  reached  by  Schwarz  appears  unescapable.  He 
says: — "Most  of  the  impaled  specimens  are  never  eaten  by 
the  birds,  and  remain  for  many  weeks  on  the  thorns.  It 
would  seem  that  the  bird  has  acquired  the  habit  of  im- 
paling insects  without  having  the  intention  of  eating  them." 
This  conclusion  is  in  harmony  with  much  evidence  from 
other  sources  although  I  have  found  no  record  of  other  ob- 
servations quite  so  specific  and  detailed.  Henshaw  ^®  speak- 
ing of  the  storing  method  of  the  shrike  says  the  habit  is 
"more  often  than  not  unavailing,  since  the  bird  more  often 
than  not  fails  to  profit  by  its  foresight  in  any  way,  either 
forgetting  all  about  its  stores,  or  perhaps,  wandering  too 
far  away  to  make  it  worth  while  to  return  to  them."  But 
this  author  does  not  believe  the  habit  is  very  frequently 
practiced. 

Another  interpretation  of  the  excessiveness  of  the  shrike's 
impaling  habit  is  well  expressed  by  F.  E.  L,  Beal."  Re- 
ferring to  the  habit  of  the  California  shrike  particularly, 


^°  Condor,  p.  112. 

^^  Birds   of   Calif orma  in  Relation   to   the   Fruit  Industry,   Bull.  30, 
Biological  Survey,  U.  S.  Dept.  of  Agriculture,  1907. 


I40  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

Beal  writes:  "Various  more  or  less  plausible  explanations  of 
this  habit  have  been  offered,  but  the  simplest  and  most 
natural  seems  to  be  that  much  of  the  time  the  bird  hunts 
simply  for  the  pleasure  and  excitement  of  the  chase,  and  as 
prey  is  often  captured  when  hunger  has  already  been  satis- 
fied it  is  stored  for  future  use.  It  is  the  same  instinct  and 
lust  for  slaughter  that  prompts  man  to  kill  game  that  he 
cannot  use."  Though  Beal  speaks  of  the  storage  being  for 
future  use,  he  says  in  another  sentence  "nine-tenths  of  this 
stored  food  is  wasted  so  far  as  the  shrike  is  concerned." 
This  view  connects  the  storing  habit  of  the  shrike  with  play 
or  instinct,  and  agrees  with  Henshaw's  conclusions  concern- 
ing acorn-storing  by  the  California  woodpecker. 

Critical  examination  of  the  impaling  and  storing  activi- 
ties of  shrikes  from  the  standpoint  of  adaptation  shows 
that,  while  the  activities  are  useful  and  so  adaptive,  the 
adaptation  is  far  from  perfect,  the  activities  often  resulting 
in  waste  if  not  in  actual  loss  of  the  food  materials  depended 
upon  by  the  birds. 

We  have  now  examined  the  food  habits  of  the  three 
groups  of  North  American  birds  which  are  known  to  store 
their  food  to  some  extent,  this  examination  having  in  view 
the  question  of  the  adaptiveness  of  the  storing  methods  used. 
The  conclusion  reached  for  each  group  is  that  the  storing  is 
unquestionably  useful  in  its  fundamental  nature,  but  that 
the  adaptation  is  distinctly  imperfect  as  judged  by  the 
effectiveness  with  which  the  end  served  by  the  habit  is 
actually  attained.  This  imperfection  consists  in  a  measure 
of  waste  and  loss  of  the  food  materials  for  the  procuring 
and  handling  of  which  the  activities  are  fundamentally  per- 
formed. These  three  groups  of  birds  include  only  a  small 
fraction  of  all  the  species  of  birds  which  inhabit  North 
America.  To  have  proved  a  degree  of  maladaptation  in  the 
food  activities  of  these  groups  is  very  far  from  proving  any- 
thing of  the  sort  for  North  American  birds  generally;  we 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  141 

must  extend  our  examination  to  other  groups  which  practice 
other  methods  in  securing  their  sustenance. 

It  is  generally  recognized  that  the  vast  majority  of  birds 
make  no  material  provision  for  their  own  future  needs  either 
of  food  or  of  protection  against  the  exigencies  of  weather. 
They  live  from  hand  to  mouth.  That  this  is  connected  with 
their  great  power  of  movement  is  obvious.  The  freedom 
of  bird  activity,  freedom  through  its  swiftness,  ease,  and 
grace,  has  attracted  the  attention  and  aroused  the  imagina- 
tion of  many  people  in  many  lands.  There  are  numerous 
aspects  to  the  question  of  how  the  unique  power  of  locomo- 
tion with  which  birds  are  favored  has  affected  the  means  by 
which  the  creatures  solve,  and  through  their  evolutional 
history  have  solved,  their  food  problem.  Our  purpose  now 
restricts  us  to  that  aspect  which  includes  the  question  of 
whether  the  great  facility  of  bird  activity  manifests  itself 
with  the  least  possible  waste  of  food  materials,  in  so  far  as 
the  activity  is  concerned  with  securing  food. 

As  one  observes  the  common  land  birds,  finches,  warblers, 
vireos,  flj^catchers,  thrushes,  wrens,  larks,  hawks;  also  the 
water  and  shore  birds,  gulls,  terns,  cormorants,  pelicans, 
ducks,  sandpipers,  willets,  and  curlews,  he  must  be  impressed 
with  the  amount  of  time  they  devote  to  searching  for  food. 
Many  of  these  birds  appear  busy  in  this  way  almost  without 
respite.  I  do  not  know  of  any  serious  efforts  to  ascertain 
how  many  hours  of  the  twenty-four  any  bird  under  typical 
conditions  spends  in  hunting  something  to  eat,  though  knowl- 
edge of  this  sort  would  be  essential  to  a  real  science  of  bird 
economics. 

Some  ornithologists  go  so  far  as  to  believe  that  practically 
all  bird  activity,  except  that  connected  with  sex,  is  deter- 
mined by  the  compelling  requirement  of  food.  Grinnell 
brings  out  with  clearness  and  force  the  idea  that  the  food 
requirements  of  birds  really  drive  the  creatures  to  the 
limits  of  their  powers  in  this  direction.    "The  more  I  reflect 


142  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

upon  the  observed  actions  of  birds,  and  of  animals  generally, 
the  more  I  am  confirmed  in  the  conviction  that  there  is  no 
such  thing  as  wasted  effort."  Grinnell's  contention  here  is 
that,  given  bird  activity  guided  as  it  actually  is  guided,  none 
of  it  performed  in  procuring  food  can  be  spared.  To  such 
an  extent  are  most  birds  driven  by  necessity  in  securing 
enough  food  by  the  hand-to-mouth  fashion  of  their  wonted 
lives  that  there  appears  little  chance  for  waste  or  even  for 
laying  up  anything  for  future  use. 

If  we  consider  that  it  is  impossible  for  birds  to  supply 
their  food  needs  in  any  other  way  than  by  the  wasteful 
methods  they  actually  use,  we  must  admit  that  all  their 
food-getting  activity  is  indispensable  to  their  welfare.  But 
if  the  problem  of  animal  need  and  possible  natural  supply 
for  such  need  be  viewed  more  broadly,  so  as  to  include  a 
better  guidance  of  activity  on  the  part  of  the  animals  con- 
cerned, it  appears  that  both  effort  and  material  are  wasted, 
if  compared  with  the  effort  and  material  which  would  be 
necessary  to  meet  these  same  needs  if  more  effectively  di- 
rected. 

It  would  seem  that  food  necessities  drive  birds  so  hard 
that  those  who  waste  food,  or  waste  energy  in  collecting 
food,  would  be  rigidly  eliminated.  That  great  wastefulness 
occurs  is  plainly  established  by  many  competent  observers, 
with  regard  to  many  different  groups  of  birds.  Barrows 
makes  the  statement  that  the  shrike  often  follows  flocks  of 
tree-sparrows  or  juncos  and  kills  many  more  than  it  needs 
for  food,  more  or  less  independently  of  its  impaling  habit. 
The  same  author^®  says  the  blue  jay  ''frequently  attacks 
ripening  apples  and  pears,  pecking  holes  in  the  sides  of  the 
largest  and  ripest  fruits  and  injuring  a  much  greater  number 
than  it  can  possibly  use." 

For  the  first  illustration  of  this  wastefulness  of  food  take 

^^  Michigan  Bird  Life,  p.  414. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  143 

the  case  of  the  Carolina  Parrakeet  {Conurus  CaroUnensis) 
a  bird  formerly  very  abundant  in  the  southern  United  States, 
but  now  nearly  if  not  quite  extinct.  In  an  article  by  E.  M. 
Hasbrouck,^''  the  author  quotes  Audubon  as  seeing  an  im- 
mense flock  enter  the  orchard  of  a  fruit  grower  and  in  a 
few  hours  strip  it  completely  of  its  fruit:  "The  birds  working 
in  regular  manner  from  tree  to  tree,  and  failing  so  far  as 
he  could  observe  to  make  use  of  any  of  the  spoils  as  food." 
Butler  says  -'^  "Often  they  seemed  to  destroy  in  a  spirit  of 
mischief.  They  would  tear  off  apples  and  other  fruits,  and 
after  taking  a  bite  throw  them  to  the  ground,  and  so  con- 
tinue. They  tore  off  the  heads  from  wheat  stalks,  and 
seemed  to  delight  in  throwing  them  away."  '^  Several  other 
writers  give  similar  testimony  as  to  the  destructiveness  of 
these  birds. 

This  case  of  the  parrakeet  by  no  means  stands  alone. 
Crows  and  blackbirds  attack  growing  corn  and  spoil  many 
ears  by  tearing  open  the  husks  and  eating  only  a  portion 
of  the  milky  kernels;  house  sparrows  in  Europe  are  said  to 
beat  much  more  grain  out  of  the  ripe  unharvested  ears  than 
they  eat;  wild  geese  invade  the  grain  fields  of  the  interior 
valleys  of  California  in  early  spring,  and  do  much  more 
damage  by  tramping  down  the  tender  shoots  than  they  do 
by  feeding  on  them;  rose  starlings  in  Europe  injure  apples 
on  the  trees  by  pecking  into  more  of  them  than  they  fully 
consume.  The  information  we  possess  on  the  subject  seems 
sufficient  to  serve  as  a  basis  for  a  generalization  concerning 

19  "The  Carolina  Paroquet  (Conurus  CaroUnensis),"  The  Auk,  1891, 
Vol.  VIII,  p.  369. 

20  "Notes  on  the  Range  and  Habits  of  the  Carolina  Parrakeet,"  The 
Auk,  1892,  Vol.  IX,  p.  49. 

21-  There  is  one  point  of  difference  between  the  observations  of 
Audubon  and  Butler.  While  Audubon  could  not  see  that  the  fruit 
destroyed  was  used  for  food  at  all,  Butler  notes  that  to  the  extent  of  "a 
bite"  apples,  etc.,  were  utilized;  the  depredations  of  the  birds  were  never 
just  pure  wantonness.  It  was  only  that  what  they  ate  was  but  a  small 
fraction  of  what  they  destroyed. 


144  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

the  adaptiveness  of  birds'  activities  related  to  food,  which 
may  be  stated  thus:  All  birds,  being  physically  and  menially 
constructed  as  they  are,  must  tend  to  excess  in  their  various 
nutrimental  activities  whenever  they  find  themselves  in  the 
presence  of  food  materials  in  excess  of  their  immediate  needs 
and  ability  to  consume. 

In  most  of  the  instances  of  wastefulness  just  mentioned, 
the  phenomenon  is  connected  with  crops  cultivated  by  man 
for  his  own  use.  Orchards  and  fields  of  ripening  wheat  and 
Indian  corn  and  of  fresh-bladed  grain  are  quantity  produc- 
tions of  human  industry.  The  birds  concerned  find  them- 
selves, thanks  to  human  skill  and  energy,  in  the  midst  of 
an  abundance  of  food  material  the  like  of  which  neither 
they  nor  their  ancestors  have  heretofore  known.  This  super- 
abundance means  food  material  in  excess  of  the  birds'  needs, 
which  provides  stimuli  to  collecting  and  feeding  in  excess 
of  these  needs.  In  the  absence  of  any  well-developed  mode 
of  inhibiting  or  directing  the  responses  corresponding  to 
these  stimuli,  the  excessive  activities  observed  take  place. 
The  quantity  of  nutrimental  activity  of  the  avian  tj^e  is  de- 
pendent not  alone  upon  the  quantity  of  need  and  of  power 
to  act,  but  also  upon  the  quantity  of  stimuli,  upon  which 
food  taking  depends.  Manifestations  of  the  tendency  in 
cases  where  the  excess  of  food  material  is  due  to  human 
agency  would  be  special  cases  of  this  general  tendency.  We 
should  expect  that  similar  excessiveness  of  food  production 
in  nature,  if  such  ever  occurs,  would  be  attended  by  similar 
excessiveness  in  nutrimental  activities  by  the  birds  affected. 
That  this  expectation  is  realized  there  can  be  no  question,  I 
think.  The  woodpecker,  the  blue  jays,  and  the  shrikes 
illustrate  the  principle  for  birds  that  have  the  storing  habit. 
The  tendency  to  excessiveness  is  more  obvious  in  the  few 
birds  that  store  than  in  those  that  consume  their  food  di- 
rectly, only  because  the  evidence  is  more  easily  obtained. 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  145 

There  is  a  Turkish  proverb,  we  are  told  by  Herman  and 
Owen,"  which  says  that  the  "Rose  Starling  kills  ninety- 
nine  grasshoppers  before  it  eats  one."  Grasshoppers  are  a 
kind  of  food  material  for  many  birds  which,  by  their  enor- 
mous fertility,  produce  a  condition  in  nature  quite  compar- 
able so  far  as  abundance  is  concerned  to  that  produced  under 
human  culture  by  fruit  orchards  and  grain  fields.  Stating 
the  proverb  in  conformity  with  our  knowledge  of  the  psychic 
life  of  birds  it  would  read:  at  times  of  excessive  abundance 
of  grasshoppers,  for  every  hopper  that  the  Rose  Starling  eats 
it  kills  ninety-nine  which  it  does  not  eat. 

22  Birds  Useful  and  Birds  Harmful,  by  Otto  Herman  and  J.  A.  Owen, 
p.  99. 


CHAPTER  9 

WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  {con.)  :  AMONG  MAMMALS 

This  wastefulness  of  food  materials  under  conditions  of 
over-abundant  supply  is  not  limited  to  Birds.  Every  one 
familiar  with  domestic  animals  will  recall  the  way  such 
animals  go  about  the  utilization  of  their  food  when  they 
come  suddenly  into  a  situation  where  it  is  abundant.  In- 
delibly stamped  into  my  memory  are  the  experiences  of  my 
youth  on  a  Wisconsin  farm  in  "watching  cattle."  My  task 
was  to  ward  off  cattle  raids  upon  unfenced  or  poorly  fenced 
fields  of  grain.  If  a  herd  of  cattle  gained  access  to  a  field 
of  grown-up  corn,  the  damage  would  often  be  very  great  in 
a  short  time,  not  so  much  from  what  was  actually  eaten,  as 
from  what  was  broken  down,  trampled  into  the  ground, 
and  half-eaten. 

Were  a  herd  of  cattle  turned  into  a  field  of  half-grown 
corn  and  deprived  of  any  source  of  food  except  the  corn  they 
would  eat  it  up  clean  before  they  would  starve  to  death. 
But  this  they  would  do  in  a  highly  wasteful  fashion,  judged 
by  human  standards.  Not  the  slightest  effort  would  be  made 
to  restrict  feeding  at  the  outset  to  a  portion  of  the  field  in 
order  to  allow  the  plants  of  the  remaining  portion  to  grow 
larger  and  thus  produce  more  food.  Under  such  conditions, 
animals  often  waste  food  through  what  is  characterized  as 
"sheer  wantonness."  What  farmer  has  not  been  made  furi- 
ous by  seeing  some  cow  or  ox  get  loose  in  a  well-tended 
growing  crop  of  some  kind,  plunge  into  it  with  head  and 
horns,  go  jumping  and  kicking  through  it,  hardly  stopping 
to  eat  a  mouthful?  The  presence  of  a  specially  rich  supply 
of  a  favorite  food  seems  to  act  as  a  stimulant  of  the  play 

146 


WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS  147 

impulse  of  animals.  While  this  need  not  necessarily  result 
in  wastefulness  to  the  animals  themselves  it  is  ever  liable 
to  do  so. 

Wastefulness  of  material  occurs  in  a  type  of  activity  in 
which  carnivorous  animals,  who  ordinarily  kill  only  for  food, 
kill  without  regard  to  their  needs  and  to  the  great  detriment 
of  their  natural  food  supply.  It  is  well  known  that  once  a 
dog  gets  the  "sheep-killing  habit"  it  is  almost  impossible  to 
break  him  of  it,  and  that  his  killing  may  have  little  or  noth- 
ing to  do  with  his  need  for  food.^  The  loss  of  sheep  in  the 
United  States  from  this  cause  in  1913  was  107,760  head. 

Concerning  the  operations  of  these  dogs  Wilson  tells  us: 
"Sheep-killing  dogs  work  both  singly  and  in  groups,  but 
usually  in  twos  or  threes.  They  do  not  limit  their  attacks 
to  the  flocks  of  the  immediate  vicinity  in  which  they  are 
kept,  but  travel  for  miles  in  all  directions,  spreading  de- 
struction in  the  flocks  with  which  they  come  in  contact. 
.  .  .  Some  dogs  simply  kill  one  or  two  in  a  flock  while 
others  continue  the  attack  until  all  the  sheep  are  either 
destroyed  or  crippled.  In  many  cases  in  which  large  num- 
bers are  killed,  they  are  neither  bitten  nor  wounded  but 
simply  chased  until  they  die  from  exhaustion."  This  last 
statement  shows  clearly  that  something  more  than  need  for 
food  or  even  "taste  for  blood"  is  involved.  "After  a  dog 
has  once  formed  the  habit  of  killing  sheep  it  seemingly  be- 
comes a  mania  with  him  and  he  is  seldom  if  ever  broken  of 
it.  He  not  only  destroys  sheep  himself  but  he  leads  other 
dogs  to  the  work.  No  consideration  should  be  given  such 
dogs.  They  should  be  killed  as  soon  as  their  habits  are 
known." 

That  this  sort  of  thing  is  not  restricted  to  domesticated 
carnivores  is  proved  by  experiences  of  cattle  raisers  with 
wolves  on  the  great  ranges  of  the  Rocky  Mountain  states. 

1  Farmer's  Bulletin  935,  U.  S.  Department  of  Agriculture,  The  Sheep- 
Killing  Dog,  by  J.  F.  Wilson. 


148  WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS 

A  dramatic  story  is  that  of  the  Custer  Wolf  of  South 
Dakota.  It  is  told  in  the  Weekly  News  Letter  of  the  United 
States  Department  of  Agriculture  for  January  26,  1921, 
under  the  title,  "Widely  Famous  Custer  Wolf  Hits  the  Long, 
Long  Trail."  ''When  he  killed  for  food,  he  took  only  the 
choicest  animals,  but  sometimes  he  killed  for  the  mere  sake 
of  killing.  Often  he  wounded  cattle,  breaking  their  legs, 
biting  off  their  tails,  mutilating  them  in  unspeakable  ways." 

Attention  may  be  called  at  this  point  to  the  fact  that 
dogs  and  wolves  cache  their  food  to  some  extent  and  return 
to  it  for  later  meals;  that  is,  they  make  some  provision  for 
future  needs.  It  may  be  said  that  such  instances  of  exces- 
sive killing  are  really  provision  for  the  future.  This  expla- 
nation and  implied  justification  of  wastefulness  involves  a 
fallacy.  If  a  dog  kills  a  dozen  sheep  or  a  wolf  eight  steers 
in  one  night,  and  if  neither  this  dog  and  this  wolf  nor  any 
of  their  kind  are  able  ever  to  use  more  than  a  minute  frac- 
tion of  the  kills,  all  that  is  fit  for  use  but  is  not  used  is 
waste,  and  the  activities  which  produced  it  are  imperfectly 
adapted.  In  so  far  as  the  killings  really  met  the  needs  of 
the  animals  or  of  their  kind,  the  acts  were  adaptive;  but  in 
so  far  as  they  exceeded  those  needs  they  fell  short  of  being 
perfectly  adaptive. 

In  the  case  of  the  California  lion  {Felts  hippolestes 
olympus  Meniam)  we  have  unquestionable  information  of 
wastefulness  in  sheep  killing  from  which  even  the  possible 
excuse  of  providing  for  the  future  through  caching  or  any 
other  means  is  excluded.  These  animals  are  so  destructive 
to  sheep,  especially  while  the  flocks  are  in  the  mountains 
during  the  summer,  that  the  State  Fish  and  Game  Commis- 
sioners have  for  several  years  employed  a  state  lion  hunter 
to  kill  them. 

The  facts  to  be  presented  are  taken  from  an  article,^  the 

2  The  black  bear  in  relation  to  stock,  by  Jay  Bruce,  California  Fish 
and  Game  Com.  Bull.,  Vol.  IX,  Jan.,  1923,  p.  16. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  149 

purpose  of  whicE  is  to  exonerate  the  bear  from  the  common 
charge  of  sheep-killing,  and  show  that  the  real  culprit  is 
the  lion.^ 

Practically  no  sheep-killing  is  done  by  the  bears  in  this 
region,  the  lion  being  the  offender  in  almost  all  cases.  "The 
^ion  seeks  out  the  bedding  grounds  of  the  sheep  during  the 
iight  and  slays  several  sheep  in  a  few  minutes,  or  he  lies 
in  the  brush  on  the  range  and  kills  sheep  during  the  day, 
in  either  case  eating  only  the  liver  and  part  of  the  hams, 
leaving  the  balance  to  decay."  Then  the  bear  gets  his 
chance  as  a  scavenger.  As  evidence  that  the  lion  makes  no 
use  of  his  "kills"  after  the  first  meal,  we  have  this:  "A  lion 
travels  a  definite  beat  over  about  one  hundred  square  miles, 
usually  making  his  rounds  every  four  or  five  days;  when 
the  summer  sheep  range  in  its  beat  at  any  place,  the  lion 
may  kill  several  sheep  within  a  few  minutes  some  time  during 
the  night,  take  one  feed  and  then  continue  on  around  his 
beat,  make  a  kill  or  two  at  some  other  point  and  not  return 
to  the  range  for  several  days."  It  appears  that  the  lion  feels 
he  must  have  perfectly  warm,  fresh  meat  at  every  meal. 
That  possibly  ought  not  to  be  held  against  him  as  altogether 
discreditable.  But  it  is  hard  to  see  any  justification  what- 
ever in  his  notion  that  he  must  have  tastes  out  of  several 
sheep  carcasses  at  one  and  the  same  meal. 

Our  examination  of  the  question:  "How  far  do  those  ac- 
tivities of  animals  below  man,  which  are  concerned  with  the 
utilization  of  materials  essential  to  the  lives  of  those  animals, 
solve  the  problem  in  which  such  utilization  is  involved?" 
has  brought  to  light  three  things :  Such  activities  do  unques- 
tionably meet  the  needs  of  the  animals  sufficiently  to  insure 

2  By  way  of  evidence  that  ^Ir.  Bruce  knows  whereof  he  speaks  in 
the  story  he  tells,  he  informs  us  that  he  has  traveled  afoot  as  a  hunter 
more  than  30,000  miles  over  the  mountains  of  California,  and  has  killed 
42  bears,  155  mountain  lions,  and  200  bobcats. 

Instances  of  how  he  has  followed  up  clews  in  particular  cases  to  prove 
or  disprove  his  surmises  (hypotheses  they  would  be  with  scientific  in- 
vestigators) are  sufficient  proof  of  his  trustworthiness. 


I50  WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS 

the  completed  life  period  of  a  considerable  number  of  in- 
dividuals of  the  species,  and  hence  of  the  species  itself. 

The  activities  are  performed  in  such  fashion  that  extensive 
wastefulness  often  actually  results  and  is  always  liable  to 
result,  this  wastefulness  being  a  large  factor  in  preventing 
more  than  a  small  fraction  of  the  potential  number  of 
individuals  from  living  out  the  life  period  typical  of  the 
species. 

This  imperfection  in  the  utilization  of  material  results  in 
making  more  severe  the  struggle  of  life. 

Under  our  general  discussion  of  successful  animal  activity 
an  attempt  was  made  to  give  enough  of  beaver  activity  to 
convince  the  most  skeptical  of  its  great  usefulness  to  the 
animals.  In  regard  to  our  general  inquiry  as  to  how  suc- 
cessful animals  are  in  utilizing  the  materials  upon  which 
their  lives  depend,  in  avoiding  wastefulness  of  food  and 
other  material  necessities,  we  are  bound  to  ask  whether 
even  this  wonderfully  adaptive  animal  activity  is  perfect. 
Are  the  various  things  which  beavers  do  so  completely  in 
accordance  with  every  need  to  which  they  correspond  that 
there  is  nothing  more  to  be  desired?  Do  the  animals  realize 
from  their  every  performance  as  full  satisfaction  as  the 
parent  beavers  do  actually  realize  from  a  full  meal  off  the 
bark  of  a  fine  poplar  sapling  brought  into  the  house  for  the 
repast  of  themselves  and  their  half-grown  youngsters? 

The  facts  I  present  first  are  taken  from  my  own  observa- 
tions. The  literature  presents  no  observations  made  with 
the  point  in  view  of  determining  the  degree  of  success  or 
failure  of  beaver  activity.  My  first  opportunity  for  personal 
study  of  beaver  activities  was  at  Old  Forge  and  Fulton 
Giain  in  the  Adirondacks.  It  is  an  interesting  question 
whether  the  Adirondacks  do  not  now  contain  a  larger  beaver 
population  than  they  ever  contained  before  the  white  man 
injected  himself  into  the  situation.  Rehabilitation  of  the 
beaver  of  New  York  was  begun  by  rigid  State  protective 


AMONG  MAMMALS  151 

legislation  in  1895,  the  original  population  of  the  Adiron- 
dacks  at  that  time  having  been  estimated  at  five  to  ten  indi- 
viduals. In  19 1 9  the  Commission  made  an  effort  at  a 
census  of  the  Adirondack  beaver  population  with  the  result 
that  from  15.000  to  20,000  beavers  were  estimated  to  be 
then  living  in  the  area.  It  was  estimated  by  the  Forest 
Rangers  of  the  Commission  that  there  were  587  beaver 
dams,  these  resulting  in  the  flooding  of  8,63 1  acres  of  land 
by  which  $5 1,42  5  worth  of  merchantable  timber  had  been 
killed.*  So  far  as  the  present  beaver  population  of  the 
Adirondack  Mountains  is  concerned,  the  region  is  virgin 
country.  The  streams,  ponds  and  lakes  are  now  everj-where 
clothed  to  their  margins  with  vegetation  consisting  largely 
of  ttees  and  underbrush.  Various  authors  writing  of  beavers 
and  beaver  countries  as  these  originally  existed  in  the  Great 
Lakes  and  other  portions  of  Xorth  America,  tell  of  consider- 
able areas  at  certain  places  along  the  stream  courses  which 
were  devoid  of  timber  and  shrubberj^  owing  to  the  cutting 
and  flooding  operations  of  the  beavers.  Whenever  the 
beavers  have  been  exterminated  or  greatly  reduced  in  num- 
bers, and  the  countrj-  has  remained  largely  unoccupied  by 
man,  these  treeless,  shrubless  areas  have  been  reclothed 
with  vegetation  similar  to  that  which  was  destroyed  by  the 
beavers.  The  Adirondack  region  has  been  a  sharer  in  the 
widespread  influence  of  varjing  beaver  fortune.  Conse- 
quently, in  this  very  latest  time  when  this  region  is  rein- 
habited  by  beavers  through  the  agency  of  man,  the  new 
population  finds  the  country  virgin,  so  far  as  the  waterways 
and  vegetation  are  concerned.  This  situation  therefore  pre- 
sents an  opportunity  to  judge  beavers  as  to  the  intelligence 
shown  in  their  use  of  their  natural  resources:  whether  their 
activities  tend  to  the  conservation  of  these  or  to  their  de- 
struction. 

*  State  of  iV^ti'  York  Conservation  Commussion,  report  for  1919;  also 
Beavers  and  the  Adirondacks,  by  Giarles  H.  Willoughby,  The  C^ott- 
servaiionist.  Vol.  Ill,  No.  5,  May,  1920. 


152  WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS 

On  approaching  the  dam  and  pond  on  Hatchery  Creek, 
I  was  struck  by  the  narrow  fringe  of  dead  trees  around  the 
whole  margin  of  the  pond.  The  contrast  of  its  gaunt  brown 
death  with  the  soft  billowy  green  life  everywhere  else  was 
striking  indeed.  The  pictures  of  expanses  of  forests  dead 
from  fires  or  from  smelter  fumes,  familiar  to  me  in  the  far 
West,  at  once  came  before  my  mind.  The  first  piece  of 
beaver  gnawing  that  we  came  upon  was  a  great  gash  in  the 
butt  of  a  yellow  birch  tree  which  was  growing  very  near  the 
water  and  was  leaning  strongly  toward  it.  The  tree  was 
fully  twelve  inches  in  diameter  at  the  center  of  the  cut, 
which  extended  more  than  halfway  through.  The  surface 
of  the  cut  was  weather-stained,  showing  that  the  work  had 
been  done  months  ago.  "What  about  this?"  I  asked  my 
companion,  a  warm  and  decidedly  apologetic  friend  of  the 
beavers.  "Why,"  I  asked,  "did  the  workers  not  finish  their 
job  after  having  done  so  much  upon  it?"  Since  this  species 
of  tree  is  their  first  choice  for  food  and  other  uses,  and  since 
this  particular  tree  would  certainly  have  fallen  all  the  way 
to  the  ground  and  partly  into  the  pond,  where  it  could  easily 
be  got  at,  there  would  seem  to  be  every  reason  why  the 
beavers  should  have  carried  the  work  to  conclusion.  The 
reply  to  my  question  was  that  once  in  a  while  beavers  make 
mistakes  or  do  foolish  things  "just  as  men  do."  Had  my 
companion  been  as  resourceful  an  apologist  for  beavers  as 
some  writers  are,  he  might  have  suggested  that  an  enemy 
frightened  the  workers  away  when  the  cut  had  reached  this 
depth.  But  his  knowledge  of  the  fact  that  the  modern 
Adirondack  beavers  have  no  enemies,  either  human  or  ani- 
mal, of  the  frightening  kind,  might  have  restrained  him  from 
making  this  suggestion.  Again,  he  might  have  guessed  that 
this  gash  was  made  not  with  the  intention  of  felling  the  tree, 
but  for  getting  wood  chips  for  food.  But  too  many  of  the 
chips  could  be  seen  scattered  about  on  the  ground  to  permit 
much  plausibility  to  this  theory.    Furthermore,  the  beaver's 


AMONG  MAMMALS  153 

perference  for  bark  rather  than  wood,  and  the  abundant 
supply  of  the  preferred  article  hereabout,  were  so  well  known 
to  my  friend  as  to  deter  him  from  offering  this  as  an  explana- 
tion for  what  the  beavers  had  done,  or  rather  failed  to  do. 

My  best  opportunity  to  give  special  attention  to  the  en- 
gineering skill  displayed  by  the  beavers  was  found  at  Bald 
Mountain  Pond.  The  beaver  colony  here  had  been  longer 
established  and  had  done  correspondingly  more  work.  The 
dam  was  longer  and  higher,  and  many  more  trees  had  been 
felled.  I  went  entirely  around  this  pond,  a  mile  and  a  half 
or  two  miles,  and  examined  as  carefully  as  possible  in  the 
hours  at  my  disposal  the  beaver  work  of  the  entire  circuit. 
Of  the  tree-felling  operations  observed,  I  will  describe  in 
detail  one  only.  The  essential  features  in  this  case  were  two 
yellow  birch  trees  felled,  the  cutting  on  each  having  been 
partly  done  from  the  same  old  log  and  partly  from  the 
ground.  The  felled  trees  were  about  twelve  inches  and  eight 
inches  in  diameter  at  the  cut.  The  work  done  and  its  re- 
sults were  as  follows.  The  gash  in  one  tree  made  from  the 
log  had  been  carried  about  half  through  the  trunk;  that 
made  from  the  ground,  about  a  foot  and  a  half  lower  down, 
reached  about  half  through  on  the  opposite  side  from  the 
log-made  gash.  This  disposition  of  the  cuts  would  clearly 
tend  to  make  the  tree  fall  away  from  the  log,  as  it  actually 
did.  The  felled  tree  went  flat  to  the  ground,  but  directed  at 
a  wide  angle  away  from  the  water  and  up  the  hill.  Very 
few  of  the  branches  had  been  cut  from  this  tree,  and  only 
a  little  bark  had  been  gnawed  from  it,  either  from  trunk  or 
branches. 

As  to  the  smaller  tree,  the  cut  made  from  the  log  had 
been  carried  almost  completely  through  the  trunk,  so  as 
to  result  in  the  fall  of  the  tree  from  this  gash  alone.  A 
small  cut  had  been  made  from  the  ground,  on  the  side 
opposite  the  log-made  gash  made  from  the  log,  but  it  was 
not  deep  enough  to  figure  in  the  downfall  of  the  tree.    This 


154  WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS 

tree  had  likewise  fallen  away  from  the  log,  but  a  standing 
tree  had  intercepted  the  fall,  and  held  the  tree  above  the 
ground  far  out  of  reach  of  the  beavers.  They  could  not 
possibly  make  any  use  of  its  branches  or  its  bark.  All  this 
work  showed  indubitable  signs  of  age.  Going  on  the  usual 
supposition  that  timber  cutting  is  mostly  done  in  autumn, 
the  inference  would  be  that  this  was  done  some  nine  months 
before. 

From  the  standpoint  of  effectiveness  in  activity  relative 
to  raw  material  wrought  upon,  consider  what  is  before  us 
in  this  case.  Both  the  cut  trees  were  yellow  birch,  the  most 
useful  species  to  the  beavers  in  this  locality.  Examination 
of  the  trees  and  shrubs  around  Bald  Mountain  Pond  dis- 
covered this  species  to  be  by  no  means  abundant.  Epecially 
was  there  a  dearth  of  smaller  birches,  which  are  naturally 
most  available  for  beaver  use.  Yet  these  two  trees  were 
wasted.  The  smaller  one  had  lodged  against  a  standing 
tree,  and  was  so  situated  that  it  would  be  impossible  for 
the  beavers  to  bring  it  down  by  any  other  means  than  that 
of  felling  the  tree  which  was  holding  it.  This  of  course 
might  sometime  be  done,  but  there  was  nothing  whatever 
to  suggest  that  it  would  be.  Account  must  be  taken  of  the 
fact  that  live  bark  is  what  the  animals  want,  while  this  tree 
had  already  been  felled  some  months  at  least.  The  chance 
that  any  use  would  be  made  of  it  was  practically  nil. 

As  to  the  tree  that  lay  full  length  flat  on  the  ground, 
almost  no  use  had  been  made  of  it  though  it  had  lain  there 
some  months,  within  a  few  hundred  feet  at  most  of  the 
single  beaver  house  on  this  pond.  Possibly  it  might  still  be 
utilized,  as  the  bark  and  wood  were  not  yet  fully  dead  and 
dry.  If  we  accept  their  customary  food  habits  as  evidence 
of  their  food  preferences,  we  must  conclude  that  beavers 
prefer  fresh  green  bark  to  that  which  is  well  on  the  way 
to  death  and  dryness.    Putting  the  felling  of  this  tree  in  the 


AMONG  MAMMALS  155 

most  favorable  light,  we  still  seem  bound  to  decide  tHat 
they  made  a  bad  job  of  it. 

I  do  not  by  any  means  imply  that  this  case  is  truly  typical 
of  the  effectiveness  of  tree  felling  by  beavers.  Both  from 
my  reading  and  from  observations,  I  do  not  question  that 
probably  much  the  larger  proportion  of  all  the  wood-cutting 
done  by  them  subserves  the  ends  for  which  the  cutting  habit 
was  evolved.  What  I  would  assert  is  that  this  instance  is 
sufficiently  illustrative  of  the  kind  of  defectiveness  to  which 
this  activity  is  subject,  to  prove  conclusively  that  it  has 
almost  no  hkeness  at  all  to  engineering  in  the  proper  sense. 
The  kind  of  human  activity  which  it  most  resembles  is  that 
characteristic  of  the  least  intellectually  developed  men,  of 
those  who  have  made  only  the  smallest  beginning  in  scien- 
tific planning  and  guidance  of  their  activity.  Such  activity 
as  that  of  engineering  by  modern  men  represents  the  highest 
stage  yet  reached  in  the  process  of  organic  evolution  toward 
improving  the  adaptiveness  of  such  activities  as  that  of 
beavers. 

These  two  instances  of  beaver  cutting  drawn  from  my 
own  observations,  taken  in  connection  with  others  which 
might  be  cited,  convinced  me  that  so  far  at  least  as  concerns 
these  modern  Adirondack  beavers,  their  work  is  wasteful, 
though  its  general  importance  to  the  animals  is  great  and 
obvious.  From  a  critical  consideration  of  the  accounts  of 
other  observers,  I  am  sure  this  wastefulness  is  by  no  means 
limited  to  Adirondack  beavers.  Take  for  instance  loss  due 
to  felled  trees  lodging  against  standing  trees  and  thus  made 
unavailable.  This  source  of  loss  appears  to  be  very  con- 
siderable, and  avoidance  of  it  is  a  mere  matter  of  chance  so 
far  as  tree  cutting  in  itself  is  concerned.  Grinnell  and 
Dixon  °  have  pointed  out  one  of  the  main  "chances"  which 
save  the  beavers  from  still  greater  loss  from  this  source  than 

^Fur-hearing  Mammals  of  California.     (In  preparation.) 


156  WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS 

actually  does  befall  them.  These  authors  call  attention  to 
the  fairly  obvious  fact  that  the  forest  trees  growing  on  the 
margin  of  a  pond  tend  to  be  heavier  branched  on  the  side 
toward  the  pond  for  the  simple  reason  that  this  side  has 
more  open  space,  more  room  for  expansion  and  freedom  to 
light,  and  consequently,  when  felled  will  be  more  hkely  to 
fall  toward  than  away  from  the  pond  merely  as  a  gravita- 
tional matter.  From  this  "chance"  alone  seemingly  all 
trees  felled  could  be  brought  not  only  flat  to  the  earth,  but 
directed  toward  the  water,  were  the  beavers  to  restrict  their 
cutting  to  marginal  trees  all  the  time.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
however,  this  is  just  what  they  do  not  do.  They  are  much 
given  to  penetrating  more  or  less  into  the  woods  after  their 
material.  Lack  of  systematic  procedure,  so  characteristic 
of  animal  work  generally,  is  very  manifest  here. 

The  most  striking  form  of  wastefulness  which  came  to 
my  attention  was  in  connection  with  land-flooding  conse- 
quent upon  dam-building.  The  main  charge  against  the 
beavers  of  the  Adirondacks  is  that  much  timber  is  killed  in 
this  way.  A  considerable  portion  of  the  timber  destroyed 
is  a  loss  not  only  to  human  beings,  but  to  the  beavers  them- 
selves. The  only  locality  in  which  I  was  able  to  look  into 
this  carefully  was  at  Bald  Mountain  Pond.  Of  the  dead 
trees  standing  in  the  water,  something  like  a  third  were 
yellow  birch,  very  few  of  which  were  too  large  for  the 
beavers  to  cut.  These  had  all  been  dead  so  long  that  some 
of  them  were  well  on  the  road  to  decay.  They  were  wholly 
useless  to  the  animals,  even  for  dam  construction.  Since 
this  species  of  tree  is  most  favored  by  the  beavers,  and 
since  it  was  by  no  means  very  abundant  near  the  water, 
the  loss  to  the  beavers  would  be  great. 

From  cursory  observations  at  one  other  pond,  and  from 
photographs  of,  and  statements  about,  dead  timber  in  vari- 
ous other  parts  of  the  area  there  is  little  doubt  that  such 
loss  to  the  beavers  themselves  is  widespread.    We  have  here 


AMONG  MAMMALS  157 

exhibited  a  type  of  wastefulness  in  beaver  work  that  can 
hardly  be  conspicuously  operative  in  a  region  long  occupied 
by  the  animals.  In  a  region  inhabited  by  beavers  for  cen- 
turies something  like  an  equilibrium  would  be  reached  and 
maintained  between  the  natural  growth  of  timber  and  the 
destruction  of  it  by  the  animals.  A  region  of  virgin  forests 
for  beavers,  like  that  presented  by  the  Adirondacks  in  this 
era  of  repeopling  by  them,  would  be  a  forest  untouched  in 
its  resources  of  raw  materials  for  beavers.  The  ability  of 
the  animals  to  conserve  these  resources  judiciously  would 
be  severely  tested.  The  yellow  birches,  dead  and  decaying, 
killed  by  the  water  raised  by  the  beavers  themselves,  stood 
there  in  Bald  Mountain  Pond,  somberly  impressive  testimony 
to  the  way  in  which  animal  activity,  guided  only  by  a  lowly- 
developed  intellect,  can  work  to  its  own  detriment,  even  to 
its  own  destruction. 

It  may  be  said  that  though  the  beavers  work  against  their 
own  interests  in  situations  like  this,  the  case  is  exceptional 
and  can  hardly  have  much  significance  for  beavers  in  nature 
generally.  There  is  evidence  that  something  of  the  sort 
occurs  in  regions  where  man  has  never  interfered.  Thus 
Enos  Mills  told  me  in  conversation  that  he  had  seen  locali- 
ties in  Colorado  where  beavers  had  established  themselves 
on  streams  or  parts  of  streams  not  hitherto  occupied  by 
them;  and  that  in  such  places  dam-building  has  resulted  in 
flooding  and  killing  timber  much  as  in  the  Adirondack 
region.^ 

From  the  standpoint  of  Adirondack  beavers'  own  interests 
the  loss  of  part  of  their  food  supply  through  their  own 


*  Statements  occur  in  the  writings  of  various  observers  which  strongly 
imply  similar  consequences.  Thus  Alexander  Agassiz  (N'otcs  on  Beaver 
Dams,  Proc.  Boston  Soc.  Nat.  Hist.,  Vol.  XIII,  for  1869-1871,  p.  104) 
tells  us :  "From  talking  with  intelligent  trappers  who  have  hunted  in 
the  lands  of  the  Hudson  Bay  Company,  I  learn  that  the  works  of  the 
beavers  are  so  extensive  there  in  some  localities,  that  the\'  have  played 
a  not  unimportant  part  in  changing  the  whole  aspect  of  large  tracts  of 
the  country,  and  covering  with  water  a  great  extent  of  country  which 


158  WASTE  OF  USEFUL  MATERIALS 

activities  is  insignificant  as  compared  with  the  greater  dis- 
aster they  are  bringing  upon  themselves.  Their  timber- 
kilHng  is  injurious  to  their  human  neighbors  as  well  as  to 
themselves;  these  neighbors,  more  appreciative  of  the  mean- 
ing of  such  destructiveness  than  the  beavers,  will  see  to  it 
that  the  destruction  is  reduced  to  a  minimum.  The  State 
of  New  York  will  adopt  some  method  of  controlling  this  and 
other  destructive  activities  of  the  beavers,  despite  the  fact 
of  its  friendliness  to  the  beavers  as  shown  by  the  reintroduc- 
tion  and  protection  of  the  animals  in  this  locality.  Since 
there  is  no  likelihood  that  the  beavers  will  learn  to  control 
their  destructive  activities  themselves,  the  only  way  open  to 
the  humans  will  be  to  limit  the  number  of  beavers,  by  killing 
off  a  certain  number  each  year.  This  is  only  one  instance  of 
the  deadly  conflict  that  is  absolutely  unescapable  for  the 
whole  animal  world,  when  increase  in  numbers  runs  on 
unrestricted,  side  by  side  with  insufficiently  guided  animal 
activity. 

was  once  thickly  wooded."  Agassiz  relates  that  in  the  country  examined 
by  him,  on  the  south  side  of  Lake  Superior,  dams  were  usually  built 
where  the  elevation  was  not  great  so  that  the  "flowage"  produced  shallow 
water  over  large  areas  relatively  far  back  from  the  dam,  covering  the 
"bases  of  stumps  of  trees  cut  as  well  as  of  the  bushes."  That  many  of 
the  trees  and  bushes  thus  flooded  and  killed  would  be  of  species  useful 
to  the  beavers  is  almost  certain. 


CHAPTER  10 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  INJURY  TO  KIND 

According  to  our  general  plan  we  take  up  next  the  question 
of  how  far  animal  activity  is  effective  in  those  aspects  of  it 
upon  which  the  welfare  of  kind  is  dependent. 

Our  treatment  will  assume  on  the  basis  of  evidence  pre- 
viously presented  that  what  all  animals  of  the  same  species 
do  relative  to  one  another  is  on  the  whole  contributory  to 
the  well-being  of  the  animals.  Our  task  is  to  consider  what 
exceptions  to  this  contribution  to  well-being  are  implied  by 
the  restrictive  phrase  "on  the  whole."  Do  animals  of  the 
same  kind  ever  treat  one  another  badly?  Do  they  ever 
injure  one  another?  There  is  abundant  information  on  this 
point  to  be  had  relative  to  animals  representative  of  the 
whole  range  of  phyla.  Injury  due  to  waste  of  materials 
involves  injury  to  kindred  as  well  as  injury  to  self.  Even 
more  widespread  is  injury  to  kind  through  the  universal 
tendency  to  excessive  reproduction. 

AMONG  ARTHROPODS 

More  direct  and  hence  more  easily  recognizable  forms  of 
injury  to  kind  are  found  in  various  cannibalistic  activities. 
Beginning  with  arthropods,  we  find  the  following  descrip- 
tion of  unmistakable  death-dealing  injury  to  kindred  among 
spiders.  "The  infant  mortality  among  these  creatures 
(spiders)  must  be  appalling.  There  is  first  their  canni- 
balistic propensity  to  be  reckoned  with.  Newly  hatched 
spiders  while  still  in  the  cocoon  seldom  attack  each  other, 
but  as  soon  as  ever  each  sets  up  for  itself,  no  quarter  is  given. 
It  often  happens  that  numbers  of  a  brood  of  sedentary 

159 


i6o  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

spiders  spin  their  first  snares  in  dose  contiguity,  and  if  food 
is  scarce  they  eat  one  another  without  compunction.  It  is 
said  that  a  few  individuals  of  a  brood  may  be  reared  to 
maturity  on  no  other  food  than  their  sisters  and  brothers."  ^ 

Such  cannibahsm  as  that  exhibited  by  young  spiders 
raises  a  very  nice  question:  Is  it  in  reality  a  case  of  injury 
to  kind?  The  answer  to  the  question  can  be  given  only  on 
the  basis  of  more  detailed  information.  An  illuminating  case 
in  point  is  furnished  by  B.  G.  Wilder."  ".  .  .  The  young 
of  Epeira  rlparia  live  together  for  many  weeks  in  a  confined 
space,  and  with  no  jood  excepting  one  another.  That  they 
do  eat  each  other  is  certain;  first,  because  in  cocoons  opened 
later  in  the  season,  the  spiders  were  found  to  be  fewer  in 
number,  but  larger  in  size;  and  second,  because  they  were 
seen  to  do  it,  even  when  out  of  the  cocoon  and  supplied 
with  other  food  (as  blood)  which  they  seemed  to  rehsh." 
"There  never  was  any  fighting,  however;  the  smaller  and 
weaker  seemed  to  understand  that  for  the  good  of  the  species 
{pro  bono  publico)  they  must  be  devoured  by  the  larger 
and  stronger,  who  performed  their  part  'doucement  et  sans 
cholera.'  "  ^  This  absence  of  resistance  on  the  part  of  the 
eaten  and  of  pugnacity  on  the  part  of  the  eaters  means,  in 
all  probability  that  the  performance  ran  on  after  the  young 
had  escaped  from  the  cocoons  and  had  come  into  the  pres- 
ence of  other  sources  of  food,  essentially  as  it  had  been 
running  before  the  escape. 

If  a  group  (a  family  of  brothers  and  sisters  for  example) 
of  young  animals,  all  essentially  on  an  equal  footing  and  all 
devoid  of  food,  determine  among  themselves  which  ones  shall 
serve  as  food  for  the  others,  can  it  be  said  that  those  which 
get  the  wrong  side  of  the  decision  are  injured  by  their  mates? 

1  Spiders,  by  Cecil  Warbiirton,  1912. 

2  The  Habits  and  Parasites  of  Epeira  riparia,  with  a  note  on  the 
Moulting  of  Nephila  plumipcs,  Proc.  Amer.  Assoc.  Adv.  Science,  for 
1873,  Vol.  XXII,  p.  257. 

3  p.   260. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  i6i 

Can  the  question  of  wastefulness  of  kind  properly  apply  in 
such  a  case?  The  supposed  situation  presents  an  emergency 
which  has  unquestionably  occurred  over  and  over  again 
among  the  animals  of  many  kinds,  even  among  men  at  all 
levels  of  development.  So  long  as  the  foodless  condition 
prevails,  and  there  is  mutual  agreement  to  this  way  of  meet- 
ing the  emergency,  ascription  of  injury  or  of  waste  would 
be  irrelevant.  From  the  standpoint  of  the  good  of  the  group, 
injury  and  waste  would  result  from  failure  to  deal  with  the 
emergency  thus.  The  cannibalistic  mode  of  solving  the 
dilemma  might  delay  the  death  of  the  whole  group,  thereby 
increasing  the  chances  that  relief  would  come  for  a  surviving 
fraction  of  the  original  number.  The  young  spiders  were 
seen  to  eat  one  another  "even  when  out  of  the  cocoon  and 
supplied  with  other  food  (as  blood)  which  they  seemed  to 
relish"  (italics  mine).  So  the  charge  of  injury  and  waste 
holds  good.  Were  a  group  of  civilized  men,  who  had  found 
themselves  in  a  like  dilemma,  to  continue  to  eat  one  another 
even  after  having  been  supplied  with  other  food,  the  judg- 
ment of  mankind  upon  those  who  continued  to  nourish 
themselves  thus  would  be  quick  and  terrible. 

This  may  be  taken  as  an  example  of  many  statements 
occurring  in  writings  on  spiders.  Their  custom  of  dining 
upon  one  another  is  not,  however,  restricted  to  the  young. 
Adults  often  prey  upon  weaker  members  of  their  own 
species.*  "It  is  a  common  occurrence  for  the  female  to 
destroy  the  male  of  its  own  species,  which  is  smaller  and 
weaker."  ^  However,  we  are  told  by  Warburton  ^  that  the 
frequent  mention  of  this  habit  as  universal  among  spiders  is 
not  correct,  it  being  restricted  principally  to  one  family, 
the  Epeiridae. 


*  The  Spider  Book,  by  J.  H.  Comstock. 

=  P.  185. 

^  Cambridge  Natural  History,  Vol.  IV,  p.  380. 


i62  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

Nor  is  cannibalism  the  only  form  of  fatal  injury  that  in- 
sects inflict  upon  their  own  kind,  in  such  a  way  as  to  pre- 
clude the  ascriptions  to  it  of  usefulness  to  either  individual 
or  species.  Lindsay  "^  expresses  the  view  that  in  such  cases 
as  those  of  the  periodical  massacre  of  neuters  by  wasps  and 
of  drones  by  bees  we  are  unable  "to  explain  the  object  or 
cause  of  such  dire  waste  of  life."  ^ 

We  are  unable  to  give  a  full  causal  explanation  of  such 
facts.  We  can  see  in  them  another  of  nature's  ways  of 
controlling  the  numbers  of  organic  beings.  This,  falling 
short  of  a  complete  explanation,  yet  makes  the  situation  as 
a  whole  more  intelligible.  But  dire  waste  of  life  still  has  to 
be  recognized,  for  if  numbers  of  neuter  wasps  and  drone  bees 
are  produced  beyond  what  is  needed  and  can  be  supported, 
and  so  must  be  killed  off,  the  whole  business  is  more  than 
merely  futile.  It  constitutes  a  real  falling  short  of  perfect 
adaptation. 

A  very  different  sort  of  "injury  to  kind"  among  insects  is 
that  of  inadequate  provision  of  parents  for  their  young. 
Blowflies  are  known  to  mistake  flowers  which  smell  like 
carrion  for  the  real  thing,  deposit  their  eggs  thereon,  and 
so  cause  the  death  of  their  young  by  failing  to  provide  them 
with  food.^ 

Mud-daubing  and  other  wasps  not  infrequently  fail  to 
provision  the  cells  in  which  their  eggs  are  deposited  with 
adequate  food  for  the  prospective  larvse.  Thus:  "The  de- 
tailed examination  of  many  hundreds  of  completed  nests 
(of  Pelopeus  ccementarium)  shows  that  in  normal,  free  life 
these  wasps  commit  blunders  or  follow  disastrous  whim  in 
a  large  proportion  of  cells;  sealing  them  stark  empty  or 
with  only  a  fraction  of  the  food  necessary  for  the  young 
one,  or  providing  abundant  supplies  and  omitting  the  ^gg, 

7  Mind  in  the  Lower  Animals,  by  W.  Lauder  Lindsay. 

8  Vol.  I,  p.  150. 

9  Romanes,    Mental   Evolution   in   Animals,   p.    167;    Schneider,   Der 
tMerische  Wille,  p.  268. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  163 

or  other  blunders  which  would  defeat  the  whole  purpose  of 
the  wonderful  instinct  of  nest-building."  ^'^ 

Truly  wonderful  and  effective  as  are  the  many  ways  in 
which  insects  provide  automatically  for  the  welfare  of  their 
young,  miscarriages  like  those  just  mentioned  could  be  given 
almost  indefinitely.  All  such  complex  types  of  instinctive 
activity  as  that  before  us  involve  many  reflexes  and  instinct- 
impulses  concatenated  with  one  another  to  make  what  have 
been  called  instinct  cycles.  The  constituents  of  these  cycles 
are  related  to  one  another  in  regular  order,  and  the  tendency 
is  strong  for  the  whole  series  to  be  run  through  once  a  start 
is  made,  regardless  of  whether  each  step  or  link  is  really 
needed  or  not  for  a  given  situation.  Because  of  the  stereo- 
typed character  of  these  cycles  they  might  be  called  instinct 
routines.  An  example  from  the  solitary  wasps  studied  by 
Fabre  illustrates  one  of  these  cycles.  One  of  the  ground 
diggers  of  the  genus  Sphex  had  completed  its  hole,  placed  in 
it  a  large  locus tid  (an  ephippiger)  upon  which  she  had  laid 
her  egg  in  the  usual  way,  and  gone  through  all  the  prelim- 
inaries to  sealing  up  the  hole.  At  this  point  Fabre  interfered 
by  putting  the  wasp  to  one  side,  carefully  withdrawing  the 
ephippiger  from  the  hole  and  taking  it  away.  He  then 
released  the  wasp  which  had  been  watching  him  rob  her 
nest.  She  returned  to  the  hole  at  once,  entered  and  explored 
it  as  usual,  came  out  and  resumed  her  work  at  the  point 
where  it  had  been  interrupted,  and  continued  until  the  hole 
was  sealed  with  the  ordinary  elaboration.  The  fact  that  the 
nest  contained  neither  egg  nor  prey,  and  that  she  knew  it 
so  far  as  by  her  means  of  acquiring  knowledge  she  knew 
anything,  was  no  deterrent  to  her  going  through  the  regular 
routine  of  sealing  up  and  concealing  her  nest. 

The  relevancy  of  this  case  as  illustrating  the  complicated 
instinctive  routine  referred  to  above  is  manifest.     Fabre's 

^°  Phil  Rau,  "The  Abih'ty  of  the  Mud-dauber  to  Recognize  Her  Own 
Prey  (Hymen),"  Journ.  of  Animal  Behavior,  Vol.  V,  191S,  pp.  240-249. 


1 64  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

statement  of  the  matter  is  worth  quoting:  "The  various 
instinctive  actions  of  insects  are  then  necessarily  connected; 
since  one  thing  has  been  done,  such  another  must  inevitably 
follow  to  complete  the  first,  or  prepare  the  way  for  the  next, 
and  the  two  acts  are  so  necessarily  linked  that  the  first  must 
cause  the  second,  even  when  by  some  chance  this  last  has 
become  not  only  superfluous  but  sometimes  contrary  to  the 
creature's  interest.  ...  In  the  normal  state  of  things  the 
Sphex  hunts  her  prey,  lays  an  egg,  and  closes  the  hole. 
The  prey  has  been  caught,  the  egg  laid,  and  now  comes  the 
closing  of  the  burrow,  and  the  insect  closes  it  without  re- 
flecting at  all  or  guessing  the  fruitlessness  of  her  labor."  ^^ 

This  section  on  injuries  which  insects  do  to  their  own  kind 
we  conclude  with  a  description  of  a  form  of  injury  which, 
though  not  direct  and  positive,  yet  involves  such  palpable 
failure  to  do  a  good  turn,  as  to  amount  to  real  injury.  I 
refer  to  the  failure  to  impart  information  under  circum- 
stances which  make  the  lack  of  it  actually  or  potentially 
harmful.  WTiile  watching  some  harvester  ants  at  work  one 
late  autumn  day  in  New  Mexico,  I  noticed  a  single  individual 
exploring  the  exhausted  flower  head  of  some  plant  of  the 
composite  order,  the  name  of  which  I  did  not  know.  From 
the  fact  that  the  ants  were  "harvesting"  both  ray  petals  and 
seeds  of  the  plant,  it  seemed  clear  that  the  ant  had  chmbed 
to  the  summit  of  the  plant  and  was  exploring  the  head  for 
such  things  as  it  was  accustomed  to  get  from  this  source. 
Having  failed  to  find  either  petals  or  seeds  (the  single  head 
on  the  plant  was  absolutely  empty),  the  ant  started  down 
the  plant  stem.  At  about  the  same  time  that  she  began  her 
downward  journey,  I  noticed  another  ant,  almost  certainly 
of  the  same  colony,  starting  to  climb  the  same  plant.  Would 
the  ant  descending  empty-handed  inform  the  ascending  indi- 
vidual of  the  state  of  affairs  at  the  top  of  the  plant?  As  the 
two  were  traveling  on  the  same  side  of  the  plant  stalk  and 

11  Quoted  in  Kellogg,  American  Insects,  pp.  645-647. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  165 

consequently  must  pass  each  other  within  easy  touching 
distance,  my  human  feeling  welled  up  and  I  thought  to  my- 
self of  course  the  down-going  individual  will  inform  the  up- 
going  one  of  the  uselessness  of  her  continuing.  What  hap- 
pened was  exactly  what  our  knowledge  of  the  ways  of  ants 
would  lead  us  to  expect.  The  two  passed  without  taking  the 
slightest  notice  of  each  other,  so  far  as  I  could  see.  At  any 
rate  ant  number  two  went  on  to  the  flower  head  and  dis- 
covered for  herself  the  fruitlessness  of  her  journey. 

Here  we  have  an  example  of  injury  that  is  exceedingly 
widespread  not  only  among  insects  but  among  all  animals. 
It  amounts  to  the  negative  of  most  of  the  benefits  which 
come  to  animals  from  their  ability  to  communicate  with  one 
another.  This  ability  in  arthopods  does  not  go  much  be- 
yond the  mere  recognition  of  one  another,  especially  as  be- 
tween individuals  of  opposite  sex.  The  odor-olf active  mode 
of  communication  among  the  hymenopters  and  the  sound- 
auditive  mode  among  many  orthoptera  are  well  known.  The 
highly  socialized  insects,  the  honey  bees  especially,  perform 
acts  which  can  hardly  be  interpreted  without  supposing  they 
respond  to  sounds  produced  by  their  companions.^"  Com- 
munication on  this  level  is  very  different  from  that  which 
gives  information  about  some  object  or  event  which  is  wholly 
distinct  from  the  communicating  organisms.  To  be  able  to 
respond  to  a  stimulus  and  to  be  able  to  know  something 
about  the  source  of  the  stimulus,  are  very  different  matters, 
as  the  most  elementary  psychology  teaches  us. 

AMONG  LOWER  VERTEBRATES 

Passing  now  to  injury  to  kind  among  vertebrates,  we 
notice  a  few  instances  among  the  lower  orders,  the  wholly 
aquatic  fishes  and  the  semiaquatic  amphibians.    For  fishes 

^2  "Sind  die  Bienen  Reflcxmachinen?"  H.  von  Buttel-Reepen,  Biolog. 
Centralb.,  V.  XX,  Feb.,  1900,  pp.  97-109. 


i66  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

none  will  serve  our  purpose  better  than  the  well-known 
sticklebacks.  These  remarkably  prolific,  voracious,  and 
active  little  fishes  have  been  much  studied.  What  is  known 
about  their  mode  of  life  contains  much  of  interest  for  our 
general  thesis  that  an  animal's  activities  may  be  highly 
adaptive  on  the  whole,  but  may  fall  far  short  of  perfect 
adaptation  at  particular  points.  The  shortcomings  in  this 
way  which  result  in  harm  to  kindred  are  numerous.  The 
habit  of  the  males,  of  selecting  each  his  small  territory  and 
defending  it  with  great  ardor  and  efficiency  against  all  in- 
truders is  clearly  adaptive.  "I  have  occasionally  known 
three  or  four  parts  of  the  tub  taken  possession  of  by  as  many 
little  tyrants,  who  guard  their  territories  with  the  strictest 
vigilance,  the  slightest  invasion  bringing  on  invariable  battle. 
As  may  be  expected  they  usually  fight  best  on  their  own 
ground,  and  the  invader  is  generally  repelled;  but  when  the 
contrary  occurs  the  victor  adds  the  defeated  party's  pos- 
session to  his  own."  ^^  So  far  the  charge  of  injury  could 
hardly  be  made  with  justice.  It  certainly  could  not  were 
the  offending  fish  poacher  aiming  to  gain  possession  of  the 
area  held  by  his  antagonist.  But  according  to  the  same 
observer  the  fighting  methods  of  these  fishes  are  far  from 
harmless.  "I  have  seen  one  of  them,"  he  writes,  "during 
a  battle  absolutely  rip  his  opponent  quite  open,  so  that  he 
sank  to  the  bottom  and  died."  " 

The  pugnacity  of  these  fishes  is  not  restricted  to  defense 
of  home  and  family.  Couch  relates  of  another  species,  the 
ten-spined  stickleback,  that  "it  is  a  fearless  and  ferocious 
little  fish,  instantly  reconciled  to  captivity,  and  attacking 
with  fury  any  prior  inhabitant  of  the  vessel  in  which  it  is 
placed.  It  will  frequently  seize  a  fellow  prisoner  by  the  gill, 
the  tail  or  a  fin,  and  retain  its  grig  with  the  firmness  of  a 


13  A  History  of  the  Fishes  of  the  British  Islands,  by  Jonathan  Couch, 
Vol.  I,  p.  172,  1877. 
^*Ibid.,  p.  173. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  167 

bull-dog."  ^^  Another  observer  is  quoted  by  Couch  to  the 
effect  that  under  some  conditions  this  same  species  devours 
its  own  eggs  "with  the  greatest  voracity,"  this  despite  the 
fact  that  one  of  the  notable  habit  characteristics  of  the 
species  is  the  great  care  over  its  eggs  and  young,  exercised 
typically  by  the  male. 

Nor  does  the  pugnacity  of  the  male  stickleback  spend  it- 
self on  the  rivals  of  its  own  sex.  Different  observers  tell 
how,  under  some  circumstances,  they  are  severe  with  fe- 
males as  with  males.  Thus  Romanes  ^^  speaking  of  nest- 
building  and  courting  by  the  ten-spined  species  kept  in 
captivity  by  Ransom,  writes:  "When  he  first  courts  the 
female,  if  she,  not  being  ready,  does  not  soon  respond,  he 
seems  quickly  to  lose  his  temper,  and,  attacking  her  with 
great  apparent  fury,  drives  her  to  seek  shelter  in  some 
crevice  or  dark  corner." 

Many  more  examples  could  be  drawn  from  fishes  of  injury 
to  kind  due  to  excessive  or  ill-guided  activities  of  the  sexual 
and  nutritional  instincts.  But  our  purpose  will  be  better 
served  by  taking  the  next  example  from  the  amphibians,  the 
vertebrate  class  next  above  the  fishes. 

Several  very  instructive  studies  on  the  mating  activities 
of  frogs  and  toads  have  lately  been  published,  which  contain 
matter  bearing  on  the  subject  now  occupying  us.  The  in- 
stance selected  is  from  Banta.^^  This  study  was  made  on 
the  frog  population  of  a  single  pond  in  the  breeding  season, 
the  number  of  individuals  involved  being  from  150  to  250 
during  the  three  years  over  which  the  observations  extended. 

The  male's  way  of  recognizing  the  female  is  so  imperfect 
that  the  efforts  to  find  her  fail  very  frequently  until  the  test 
of  actual  contact  is  made,  and  even  then  it  is  uncertain 

"  p.  178. 

^^  Animal  Intelligence,  1883,  p.  243. 

^^"Sex  Recognition  and  the  Mating  Behavior  of  the  Wood  Frog, 
Rana  Sylvatica,"  by  Arthur  M.  Banta,  Biological  Bulletin,  1914,  Vol. 
XXVI,  pp.  171-183. 


1 68  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

whether  the  act  performed  shall  be  successful,  when  tested 
by  the  criterion  of  fructifying  the  female.  Spent  and  much 
weakened  females  and  even  dead  females  are  shown  by 
Banta  to  be  readily  seized  by  the  males.  This  uncertain 
recognition  of  the  females  is  compensated  for  by  a  much 
greater  amount  of  moving  about  on  the  part  of  the  males 
in  search  of  the  females  than  would  be  otherwise  necessary. 
"At  the  height  of  the  chorus  the  frogs  present  a  picture  of 
remarkable  activity  for  amphibians,  the  males  swimming 
about  and  each  attempting  to  mate  with  any  frog  or  small 
moving  object  it  encounters.  Any  individual  which  moves 
within  a  radius  of  several  feet  of  another  male  is  likely  to 
be  tested  by  him."  ^^ 

The  indeterminateness  and  great  vigor  of  the  efforts  put 
forth  by  the  males  result  at  times  in  serious  injury  to  the 
females.  "In  the  height  of  the  pairing  season  there  is 
usually  to  be  seen  one  or  more  cases  of  more  than  one  male 
clasping  a  female.  Such  multiple  copulation  is  fraught  with 
danger  to  the  female  as  well  as  to  the  more  successful  males. 
There  is  a  constantly  recurring  struggle  on  the  part  of  the 
rival  males  for  possession  of  the  female.  Unless  the  female 
is  able  to  leave  and  remain  beneath  the  surface  these 
struggles  are  certain  to  attract  other  males  which  also  at- 
tempt to  get  possession  of  the  female.  The  result  is  a 
struggling,  writhing  mass  of  males  holding  on  to  the  female 
and  to  the  males  already  clasping  the  female.  Each  male 
strives  to  get  into  a  more  favorable  position  and  (inci- 
dentally) to  push  off  the  other  males.  In  one  mass  the  fe- 
male was  lying  on  one  side  with  the  head  under  water  and 
was  apparently  dead,  while  five  males  were  holding  to  her 
and  to  one  another  in  various  positions  and  several  other 
males  were  making  occasional  efforts  to  fasten  hold  on  the 
bunch."  ^' 

That  some  salamanders  as  well  as  some  frogs  eat  their 

"  p.  173.  19  Pp.  176-177. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  169 

own  eggs  and  young  is  certain.  The  following  is  from  a 
study  by  myself.*'*  "During  the  breeding  period  their  own 
eggs  and  young  form  an  important  food  staple,  particularly, 
as  it  seems,  for  the  old  males.  One  often  sees  one  of  these 
fellows  taxing  his  ingenuity  and  mouth  capacity  to  the 
uttermost  in  an  effort  to  get  a  large  egg  mass  whole  into  his 
stomach;  and  his  efforts  are  frequently  successful.  I  have 
also  seen  such  males  pulling  to  pieces  the  jelly  of  bunches 
in  which  the  embryos  were  well  developed,  apparently  for 
the  purpose  of  extracting  the  little  ones.  I  must,  however, 
admit  that  I  have  never  found  young  larvae  freed  from  the 
jelly  in  the  stomach  of  an  adult."  -^ 

I  will  give  but  a  single  example  of  injury  to  kind  among 
reptiles,  selecting  this  because  it  illustrates  the  tendency  for 
the  food-taking  impulse  to  go  wrong  as  judged  by  its  legiti- 
mate use.  It  is  from  R.  L.  Ditmars.^^  We  read:  "A  cage 
containing  a  number  of  water  snakes  can  be  set  in  a  turmoil 
by  simply  rubbing  a  frog  or  a  fish  across  the  bottom.  The 
hungry  reptiles,  catching  the  scent  of  the  prey,  dart  wildly 
about  in  every  direction,  biting  at  each  other's  bodies  in 
their  excited  search  for  the  food." 


AMONG  BrRDS 

Passing  now  to  instances  among  birds,  the  often  cited  case 
of  swallows  and  house-martins  deserting  their  young  may 
be  noticed  first.  Darwin's  footnote  on  this  subject  ^^  is 
worth  quoting.  "This  latter  careful  observer  (Mr.  Black- 
wall)  examined,  late  in  the  autumn,  during  two  years,  thirty- 
six  nests;  he  found  that  twenty  contained  young  dead  birds, 

20  "The  Life-history  and  Habits  of  the  Pacific  Coast  Newt  (D'lcmyc- 
fylus  torosus  Esch.),"  by  William  E.  Ritter,  Proc,  Calif.  Acad.  Science, 
Jan.  18,  1897,  Vol.  I,  No.  2,  pp.  73-114. 

21  P.  84. 

"  The  Reptile  Book,  p.  253. 

23  The  Descent  of  Man,  Vol.  I,  p.  80. 


I70  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

five  contained  eggs  on  the  point  of  being  hatched,  and  three 
eggs  not  nearly  hatched.  Many  birds  not  yet  old  enough 
for  a  prolonged  flight  are  likewise  deserted  and  left  be- 
hind. .  .  ." 

Other  instances  are  well  known  in  which  the  eggs  and 
young  of  birds  are  destroyed  through  the  habits  of  the 
birds  themselves,^*  the  course  of  things  being  different  in 
different  species.  The  so-called  parasitic  birds  furnish 
instructive  examples.  The  best  known  of  these  are  the  cow- 
birds  (genus  Molothrus)  and  the  cuckoos  (genus  Coccy- 
gus).  The  "parasitism"  consists  in  the  fact  that  the  breed- 
ing birds  place  their  eggs  in  the  nest  of  other  species.  By 
this  means  the  tasks  of  incubating  the  eggs  and  rearing  the 
young  are  imposed  upon  the  "host"  bird.  The  instance 
most  instructive  for  the  present  discussion  is  that  of  the 
Argentine  cow-bird,  Molothrus  bonariensis,  studied  by  W. 
H.  Hudson.'^  Summing  up  his  results  under  the  heading 
"Mistakes  and  Imperfections  of  the  Procreant  Instinct," 
Hudson  says:  "The  Cow-birds  .  .  .  frequently  waste  their 
eggs  by  dropping  them  on  the  ground.  They  also  occasion- 
ally lay  in  old  forsaken  nests.  This  I  have  often  observed 
and  to  make  sure,  I  took  several  old  nests  and  placed  them 
in  trees  and  bushes,  and  found  that  eggs  were  laid  in  them. 
They  also  lay  in  nests  where  incubation  has  actually  begun. 
When  this  happens  the  Cow-bird's  egg  is  lost  if  incubation 
is  far  advanced.  .  .  .  Several  females  often  lay  in  one 
nest  so  that  the  number  of  eggs  in  it  frequently  makes  in- 
cubation impossible.  .  .  .  Cow-birds,  male  and  female,  des- 
troy many  of  the  eggs  in  the  nests  they  visit,  by  pecking 
holes  in  the  shells,  breaking,  devouring,  and  stealing  them 
...  In  some  nests  found  full  of  parasitical  eggs  every  egg 
has  holes  pecked  in  the  shell,  for  the  bird  destroys  indis- 
criminately eggs  of  its  own  and  of  other  species."  ^' 

^*  Mind  in  the  Lower  Anitnals,  by  W.  Lauder  Lindsay,  Vol.  II,  p.  64. 
25  Birds  of  La  Plata,  ed.  of  1920,  Vol.  I. 
2«  Pp.  74-76. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  171 

Of  all  the  instances  of  parasitism  in  the  cuckoo  tribe, 
that  displayed  by  the  European  species  seems  to  have 
reached  the  highest  state  of  development.  Some  of  the  per- 
formances connected  with  it  are  certainly  remarkable  from 
the  standpoint  of  adaptation.  An  important  fact  is  that 
parasitism  proper  is  restricted  to  the  eggs  and  young.  The 
adult  birds  are  not  themselves  parasitic.  The  high  degree 
of  effectiveness  of  the  egg-and-young  parasitism  is  accom- 
panied by  a  correspondingly  high  degree  of  effectiveness  in 
the  activities  of  the  adults  in  selecting  their  hosts  and  plac- 
ing their  eggs.  The  birds  usually  place  one  egg  only  in  each 
foster  nest.  The  reason  for  this  is  that  the  relatively  small 
size  of  the  nests  chosen  makes  it  impossible  for  the  young  of 
both  host  and  parasite  to  grow  up  in  it.  Almost  as  soon  as 
the  egg  is  hatched,  the  young  cuckoo  proceeds  to  empty  the 
nest  of  whatever  happens  to  be  in  it  other  than  itself.  Al- 
though usually  only  one  cuckoo  egg  is  placed  in  the  same 
foster  nest,  occasionally  two  are,  either  inadvertently  by  the 
same  individual,  or  by  different  individuals.  When  this 
occurs,  after  the  rightful  young  occupants  have  been  ejected 
by  the  two  foreigners,  these  proceed  to  test  their  ejecting 
ability  upon  each  other,  and  the  less  able  goes  the  way  of 
the  unfortunate  natives. 

Another  aspect  of  the  fatality  to  nestlings  resulting  from 
cuckoo  parasitism  is  mentioned  by  Frank  Finn."^  Loss  of 
the  young  of  the  foster  species  is  due  not  alone  to  the 
cuckoo,  but  to  the  "duped"  (using  Hudson's  term)  parents 
themselves.  Finn  writes:  "The  foster-parents  do  not  con- 
cern themselves  about  this  fratricidal  behaviour  in  their 
nursery,  but  assiduously  feed  their  changeling  and  leave  the 
rightful  heirs  to  die."  This  apparently  results  from  the  in- 
ability of  the  foster  parents  to  distinguish  their  own  young 
from  the  cuckoos. 

Still  another  phase  of  nestling  birds  which  involves  the 

27  Bird  Behavior,  p.  188. 


172  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

problem  of  adjustment  is  that  of  the  age  and  hence  the 
state  of  development  of  the  different  individuals  of  the  same 
cradle.  Since  all  the  eggs  of  a  clutch  are  usually  the  product 
of  one  and  the  same  female,  and  since  they  are  never  all 
laid  at  one  time,  but  at  considerable  intervals,  the  chance  is 
obviously  present  for  the  young  to  be  hatched  at  different 
times,  and  so  to  be  of  different  stages  of  development.  The 
common  way  of  meeting  this  is  for  the  parents  to  put  off 
beginning  to  sit  until  the  fall  number  of  eggs  is  produced. 
By  this  means,  and  then  by  sticking  to  the  job  until  the 
slower  hatching  young  are  out,  the  discrepancies  of  age  and 
size  are  overcome  as  a  rule.  But,  says  Finn,  "birds  may 
make  a  mistake  or  get  impatient,  and  go  off  with  a  partial 
brood,  leaving  tardy  or  insufficiently  incubated  hatchlings 
to  perish  in  the  shell."  "  In  the  event  that  a  nest  full  of 
young  is  kept  together,  some  members  of  which  are  much 
more  developed  than  the  others,  the  smaller,  weaker  ones 
are  apt  to  fare  badly  at  the  hands  of  their  nest  fellows. 
Finn  mentions  an  experience  of  his  own  with  a  brood  of 
canaries  in  which  the  last  member  hatched  was  fatally 
crushed  by  the  other  three  older  and  larger  ones.  The  same 
author  refers  to  a  brood  of  young  barn-owls,  of  unequal 
age  and  size,  which  when  shut  up  in  a  room  together,  though 
furnished  with  plenty  of  meat,  yet  killed  and  ate  the  smallest 
member  of  the  family.  Owls  are  carnivorous  animals,  and 
this  fact  would  make  intrafamily  cannibalism  more  likely 
among  these  than  among  purely  fruit-eating  birds. 

Despite  the  innumerable  ways  in  which  the  propagative 
operations  of  birds  exhibit  safety  devices  for  eggs  and  young, 
these  measures  fall  far  short  of  perfection.  The  shortcom- 
ings are  so  obvious  in  many  cases  that,  seen  through  human 
eyes,  they  are  characterized  as  senseless  or  silly.  Illustra- 
tions of  this  are  easily  recognized  by  anybody  who  has  a 
chance  to  study  breeding  birds.     Safety  measures  carried 

28  p.  152. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  173 

so  far  that  they  do  more  harm  than  good  are  one  form  of 
miscarriage  in  this  direction.  The  display  of  "uncalled-for 
ferocity,"  as  Lindsay  characterizes  it,  for  the  protection  of 
young,  is  in  point.  Lindsay  says:  ^^  "I  have  been  assailed 
in  spring  by  fresh-  and  sea-water  birds  on  unwittingly  near- 
ing  their  nests  or  themselves — the  supposed  intruder  or 
threatener  of  danger  did  not  dream  of  the  existence  of  a  nest 
till  his  attention  was  called  to  it  by  the  mistaken  behaviour 
of  the  ruffled  and  angry  mother,  whose  own  best  policy  would 
obviously  have  been  to  have  maintained  a  discreet  silence  in 
hiding  her  young." 

I  have  had  a  similar  experience  with  the  ruffed  grouse 
(Bonasa  umbellus).  While  studying  beaver  work  at  Bald 
Mountain  Pond  on  June  2,  192 1, 1  was  suddenly  startled  by 
a  great  puff  and  flutter  and  rustle  coming  from  the  hillside 
behind  me.  Looking  in  that  direction  I  recognized  a  bird, 
probably  a  female,  about  thirty  feet  away,  crouching  close 
to  the  ground  with  wings  partly  spread  and  feathers  much 
ruffled.  I  naturally  stopped  and  faced  the  would-be  terrible 
creature.  She  came  on  some  distance,  but  before  getting 
very  near,  assumed  her  normal  attitude,  sheered  off  some- 
what, and  ran  on  through  the  brush  and  rocks  in  the  general 
direction  I  was  traveling.  There  is  hardly  a  doubt  that  she 
had  either  a  nest  or  a  brood  of  young  near  by.  Except  for 
all  this  fuss  I  should  not  have  had  the  slightest  notion  that 
I  was  intruding  upon  the  precincts  of  grouse  of  any  kind. 
Her  performance  was  the  more  stupid  in  that  I  was  oblivious 
of  grouse  until  she  thrust  herself  upon  my  notice,  and  was 
going  in  the  opposite  direction  from  that  whence  she  came. 
Had  she  kept  still,  in  a  very  few  moments  I  should  have  been 
beyond  possible  danger  to  either  her  or  any  of  her  family. 
This  misfunctioning  of  the  protective  instinct  of  birds  is 
common,  however  efficacious  it  may  be  generally. 

The  vast  amount  of  fighting  that  goes  on  among  birds  in 

^^  Mind  in  the  Lower  Animals,  1879,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  204. 


174  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

connection  with  reproduction  often  results  in  useless  injury 
to  both  sexes.  "The  contentious  pigeon,"  says  Craig,^**  "as 
every  fancier  can  testify,  brings  disaster  not  only  to  his 
neighbors  but  also  to  his  own  cherished  home  and  family." 
There  is  no  question  that  the  sex  act  proper  at  times  runs 
wild  among  birds  and  results  in  deeds  that  from  the  human 
standpoint  are  horrible.  An  instance  in  point  is  that  of 
several  male  mallard  ducks  taking  turns  at  "treading"  one 
and  the  same  female  until  she  was  so  exhausted  that  she 
could  no  longer  hold  her  head  above  water  and  died  of 
drowning. 

AMONG  MAMMALS 

Passing  now  to  injury  to  kind  among  mammals,  we  glance 
first  at  the  hard  treatment  which  the  young  frequently  get 
at  the  hands  of  their  parents.  Cannibalism  practiced  by 
mammalian  mothers  and  fathers  upon  their  own  offspring 
is  familiar  for  many  species.  We  may  safely  say,  however, 
that  no  mammalian  mother  eats  her  own  young  habitually 
and  under  perfectly  normal  conditions.  "WTien  the  female 
domestic  hog  or  cat  or  dog  or  rat  or  mouse  or  rabbit  or 
guinea  pig  devours  her  little  ones  the  assumption  is  com- 
monly made  that  the  act  results  from  some  unusual  condi- 
tion. Hunger  rarely  plays  a  part  in  the  practice  so  far  as 
domesticated  animals  are  concerned,  for  it  operates  in  the 
presence  of  abundant  food.  As  to  its  occurrence  among  wild 
animals,  we  have  not  been  able  to  find  much  information. 
When  carnivorous  species  are  sorely  driven  by  hunger,  they 
in  all  probability  do  eat  their  young  and  one  another  at 
times.  It  is  well  known  that  when  impairment  of  strength, 
as  by  injury  or  disease,  has  befallen  a  wolf  or  wild  dog,  its 
companions  are  likely  to  devour  it  if  short  of  food. 

30  "Why  Do  Animals  Fight?"  by  Wallace  Craig,  International  fount, 
of  Ethics,  Vol.  XXXI,  April,  1921. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  175 

The  tendency  of  mothers  to  eat  their  young  because  of 
some  disturbance,  as  through  confinement,  needs  further 
attention.  "Any  disturbance  of  whatever  kind,"  writes 
Lindsay,^^  "of  the  female  or  her  surroundings,  while  she  is 
in  the  highly  excitable,  morbid  condition  that  succeeds  par- 
turition for  a  time,  may  precipitate  or  produce  destruction 
and  cannibalism  of  the  young."  This  author,  an  experienced 
medical  man,  calls  attention  repeatedly  to  the  morbid  appe- 
tites and  impulses  attending  the  puerperal  state.  The  mak- 
ing stronger  in  a  mother  of  the  impulse  to  destroy  her  young 
than  is  her  impulse  to  preserve  them,  by  "any  disturbance 
of  whatever  kind,"  involves  the  question  of  adequacy  of 
adaptation.  If  a  mother  hog  or  rabbit  eats  her  young  when 
there  is  not  the  slightest  need  for  doing  it  so  far  as  food 
is  concerned,  but  does  it  because  of  some  not  very  funda- 
mental change  in  her  surroundings  or  in  her  physiological 
state,  her  adaptation  is  sorely  defective  as  judged  by  the 
criterion  of  success  in  perpetuating  her  kind. 

Another  form  of  mammalian  cannibalism  is  illustrated  by 
a  case  reported  by  E.  A.  Goldman,^"  who  was  in  charge  of 
rodent  control  for  the  American  Expeditionary  Forces  in 
France  during  the  war.  In  a  lecture  before  the  Biological 
Society  of  Washington  entitled  "Rats  in  the  War  Zone,"  he 
stated  that  rats  caught  in  traps  were  frequently  eaten  by 
their  companions.  This  was  not  done  from  lack  of  other 
sources  of  food  since  a  superabundance  was  always  available 
from  the  supplies  of  the  troops. 

Akin  to  the  injuries  inflicted  by  members  of  mammalian 
species  upon  one  another,  already  noticed,  is  the  well  known 
treatment  dealt  out  to  weak  or  injured  members  of  a  herd 
of  cattle  by  the  able  members.  "If  an  individual  in  a  herd 
happens  to  be  sick  or  wounded  the  others,  instead  of  show- 
ing S3mipathy,  attack  it  and  either  drive  it  away  into  solitude 

31  Mind  in  the  Lozcer  Animals,  Vol.  II,  p.  63. 

32  Biological  Survey,  United  States  Department  of  Agriculture. 


176  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

or  gore  it  to  death."  ^^  This  sort  of  thing  is  characterized 
by  Darwin  as  the  blackest  spot  on  the  moral  character  of 
the  animal  world. 

Robertson  thinks  the  case  ought  to  be  considered  "in 
the  cold  light  of  science"  and  without  mixing  ''human  senti- 
ments with  bovine  codes  of  morals."  Various  authors  have 
surmised  that  this  practice  may  after  all  be  an  adaptation. 
If  so,  it  would  not  belong  to  the  category  of  activities  which 
is  occupying  us.  Since,  however,  individual  animals  ob- 
viously do  suffer  harm  at  the  hands  of  their  own  kind  as  a 
result  of  this  practice  we  must  examine  the  case  to  ascer- 
tain whether  the  usefulness  assumed  is  valid  and  is  unattain- 
able by  any  less  injurious  method. 

This  habit  might  be  explained  on  the  basis  of  its  hypothet- 
ical usefulness  in  minimizing  the  danger  to  the  herd  of 
attacks  from  carnivorous  beasts.  The  supposition  is  that  a 
sick  or  wounded  member  of  the  herd  would  be  more  Hable 
to  attack  by  such  enemies,  and  that  such  attack  would  in 
turn  expose  the  well  members.  This  is  logically  sound,  but 
no  specific  facts  in  support  of  it  have  been  presented  so 
far  as  I  know. 

Another  form  of  the  hypothesis  is  that  eliminating  diseased 
members  from  the  herd  might  lessen  the  danger  of  spreading 
the  malady  in  the  herd  generally.  This  is  also  good  log- 
ically. Whether  it  is  supported  by  facts  is,  so  far  as  I  am 
aware,  unknown.  But  if  a  member  of  a  herd,  stricken  down 
by  an  injury,  is  set  upon  and  gored  by  its  companions,  merely 
through  the  operation  of  an  instinct  that  was  once  useful 
but  has  none  of  its  usefulness  now,  the  act  by  which  the 
harm  was  done  falls  under  the  head  of  maladaptation.  The 
persistence  of  activities  as  instincts,  long  after  their  original 
usefulness  is  ended,  is  a  common  form  of  imperfection  in 
adaptation,  and  is  specially  needful  of  correction  if  the  per- 
sisting activity  results  in  useless  injury  and  waste. 

33  Wild  Traits  of  Tame  Animals,  by  Louis  Robertson,  p.  157. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  177 

The  activity  among  mammals  which  probably  results  in 
more  far-reaching  injury  to  kind  than  any  other  is  the  sexual 
activity.  The  "law  of  battle,"  as  Charles  Darwin  and  others 
have  called  the  pugnacious  operations  of  the  males,  seems 
to  reach  its  culmination  in  this  class.  Almost  everybody  has 
seen  more  or  less  of  it  in  some  species,  wild  or  tame.  One 
would  expect  that  an  impulse  so  pervasive  and  intense  as 
this  is  would  run  to  excess  and  perversion  and  would  often 
do  harm  in  various  ways.  This  expectation  is  realized.  Un- 
doubtedly much  more  fighting  is  done,  and  more  injury  is 
inflicted  upon  one  another,  by  the  males  of  many  species 
than  is  necessary  for  the  legitimate  ends  of  offense  and  de- 
fense. In  a  vivid  account  of  the  fighting  of  wapiti  or  round- 
horned  elk  (Cervus  canadensis)  Theodore  Roosevelt  writes, 
"The  only  danger  comes  when  the  beaten  party  turns  to  flee. 
The  victor  pursues  at  full  speed.  Usually  the  beaten  one 
gets  off;  but  if  by  any  accident  he  is  caught  where  he  cannot 
escape  he  is  very  apt  to  be  gored  in  the  flank  and  killed."  "* 

Relative  to  the  protection  of  mother  and  young  by  the 
father,  in  the  case  of  the  mule-deer  (Odocoileus  hemionus), 
Roosevelt  says:  "While  the  fawn  is  so  young  as  to  be  wholly 
dependent  upon  the  doe,  the  buck  never  comes  near  either. 
Moreover,  during  the  period  when  the  buck  and  the  doe  are 
together,  the  buck's  attitude  is  merely  that  of  a  brutal, 
greedy,  and  selfish  tyrant.  He  will  unhesitatingly  rob  the 
doe  of  any  choice  bit  of  food,  and  although  he  will  fight  to 
keep  her  if  another  buck  approaches,  the  moment  that  a 
dangerous  foe  appears  his  one  thought  is  for  his  own  pres- 
ervation. He  will  not  only  desert  the  doe,  but  if  he  is  an 
old  and  cunning  buck,  he  will  try  his  best  to  sacrifice  her  by 
diverting  the  attention  of  the  pursuer  to  her  and  away  from 
him."  ^^    Nor  is  the  male  wapiti  any  better,  according  to 


34  The  Deer  Family,  by  Theodore  Roosevelt,  T.  S.  Van  Dyke,  D.  G. 
Elliot,  and  A.  J.  Stone,  p.  142. 
^^Ibid.,  p.  51. 


178  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

Roosevelt.  "The  mother  of  this  species  will  fight  desperately 
for  her  calf,  but  the  bull  leaves  his  family  to  their  fate  the 
minute  he  thinks  there  is  any  real  danger."  ^^ 

The  male  of  the  most  common  American  deer,  the  white- 
tailed,  or  Virginia  deer  (Odocoileus  virginiaitus)  is  said  by 
some  writers  to  defend  its  doe  and  fawn  at  times.  If  this  is 
true  (some  of  the  most  competent  naturalists  do  not  con- 
firm it)  we  should  have  to  rate  the  species  distinctly  above 
the  mule-deer  and  the  wapiti.  This  would  accord  with 
the  estimate  placed  upon  the  intelligence  of  the  white-tail 
by  several  writers.  There  seems  to  be  no  trace  of  generosity 
in  deer  nature.  At  the  fighting  time  if  the  "deer  is  the  con- 
queror, he  never  ceases  to  batter,  spear,  and  trample  his 
victim  as  long  as  any  sign  of  life  remains."  "  The  most 
experienced  observers  of  this  deer  testify  to  its  exceptional 
viciousness.  By  November,  Seton  says,  the  bucks  are  "blind 
and  mad  with  desire,  as  well  as  ready  and  eager  to  fight  any 
of  their  own  or  other  kind  that  seems  likely  to  hinder  their 
search  for  a  mate."  ^*  W.  T.  Hornaday  ^®  issues  this  practical 
warning:  "The  strength  and  fury  of  a  buck  of  insignificant 
size  are  often  beyond  belief.  The  loving  pet  of  May  readily 
becomes  the  dangerous,  fury-filled  murderer  of  October. 
.  .  .  Do  not  make  a  pet  of  any  male  member  of  the  Deer 
family  after  it  is  two  years  old." 

The  Alaskan  Fur-Seal  {CaUorhinus  alascanus)  presents 
another  instance  of  the  treatment  which  the  females  among 
mammals  are  subject  to  from  the  males.  This  seal  is  highly 
polygamous,  the  "bulls"  while  on  the  breeding-grounds  each 
collecting  around  him  and  keeping  near  him  a  group  of  about 
three  dozen  cows,  the  groups  being  known  as  the  harems. 
The  male  is  much  larger  and  stronger  than  the  female,  so 

*«  Op.  cit.,  p.  142. 

27  Ernest  Thompson  Setx)n,  Life  Histories  of  Northern  Animals,  Vol. 
I.  p.  197- 
^«P.  106. 
^^  American  Natural  History,  p.  121. 


INJURY  TO  KIND  179 

much  so  that  he  readily  picks  any  rebellious  or  disobedient 
spouse  up  in  his  mouth  and  puts  her  where  she  belongs. 
Owing  to  the  extensive  monopolization  of  the  cows  by  the 
bulls,  many  males  in  a  rookery  (the  name  given  to  the  whole 
breeding  colony)  are  always  left  out  in  the  cold,  so  to  speak. 
As  a  portion  of  these  are  full-growTi  and  have  the  common 
sexual  desire,  they  naturally  strive  to  get  a  share  of  the 
females.  This  of  course  makes  trouble.  While  the  fighting 
is,  according  to  Jordan's  report,  somewhat  less  extensive  and 
destructive  than  has  sometimes  been  reported,  it  is  liable  to 
have  consequences  particularly  for  the  females  that  are 
significant  from  the  standpoint  of  maladaptive  actions.  We 
read:  "WTien  an  idle  bull  steals  a  cow,  he  is  usually  attacked 
by  her  master.  Sometimes  he  drops  the  cow,  which  returns 
to  the  harem  while  the  bulls  settle  the  account.  It  some- 
times happens,  however,  that  the  master  or  perhaps  a  third 
bull  seizes  the  cow  and  she  is  pulled  about  until  one  or  the 
other  hold  loosens.  Doubtless  a  certain  number  of  cows 
are  literally  torn  to  pieces  in  this  way.  One  was  seen  on 
Kitori  rookery  to  lie  limp  and  insensible  for  five  minutes 
after  being  thus  treated.  She  afterward  crawled  away, 
evidently  seriously  hurt.  That  the  number  of  cows  killed 
by  the  bulls  in  their  struggles  or  by  the  rough  treatment  of 
the  harem  masters  is  considerable  is  shown  by  the  fact  that 
no  less  than  42  dead  cows  were  found  in  the  one  season  of 
1897  on  Reef  rookery,  the  majority  of  which  were  so  torn 
and  mangled  as  to  point  to  the  harsh  treatment  of  the  bulls 
as  the  probable  cause."  ^^  Most  of  the  steps  in  one  murder 
of  this  sort  were  observed  by  the  naturalists  of  the  Jordan 
commission. 

"Living  cows,  cut  and  slashed  and  torn,  are  everywhere 
visible,"  we  are  told.  Apparently  the  ugly  work  is  all  done 
by  the  bulls.    Nothing  indicates  that  the  cows  "fight  back" 

■">  The  Fur  Seals  and  the  Fur-Seal  Islands  of  the  North  Pacific  Ocean, 
by  David  Starr  Jordan  et  al.,  Vol.  I,  p.  62. 


i8o  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

with  their  masters,  or  fight  one  another.  Credit  is  given  the 
bulls  for  doing  what  they  do  accidentally  rather  than  in- 
tentionally. The  wounds  inflicted  upon  one  another  by  the 
seals  seem  to  have  little  effect  on  the  health  and  strength  or 
even  comfort  of  the  animals,  even  though  the  lacerations  are 
extensive. 

Before  leaving  the  subject  of  injury  to  kind  during  the 
breeding-time  activities  of  male  mammals  notice  should  be 
taken  of  the  periodicity  of  the  activity  in  the  larger  species 
and  of  the  profound  mental  as  well  as  physical  change  which 
characterizes  it.  Hornaday's  statement  is  illuminating  for 
the  deer  family.  "During  the  season  immediately  following 
the  perfect  development  of  the  new  antlers — say  September, 
October,  November — male  Deer,  Elk,  Caribou,  and  Moose 
sometimes  become  as  savage  as  whelp-robbed  tigers.  The 
neck  swells  far  beyond  its  natural  size,  the  eye-pits  distend, 
and  the  buck  goes  stalking  about  with  ears  laid  back  and 
nostrils  expanded,  fairly  spoiling  for  a  fight.  I  have  seen 
stags  that  were  mild  and  gentle  during  nine  months  of  the 
year  suddenly  transformed  into  murderous  demons,  ready 
and  anxious  to  stab  to  death  any  unarmed  man  who  ventured 
near."  An  overpowering  desire  for  a  particular  gratifica- 
tion on  the  one  hand,  and  on  the  other  "fairly  spoiling  for 
a  fight"  with  anything  that  might,  even  possibly,  thwart 
that  gratification,  is  the  substance  of  what  is  here  before  us. 

Our  presentation  has  taken  cognizance  of  only  two  mam- 
malian groups  in  relation  to  the  injuriousness  of  secondary 
sexual  behavior,  as  the  animal  activities  connected  with  but 
incidental  to  reproduction  might  be  called.  Something  sim- 
ilar to  what  we  see  in  deer  and  seals  is  found  in  every  group 
of  mammals.  Especially  would  this  be  the  case  with  all 
groups  in  which  there  is  a  sharp  physical  difference  between 
the  males  and  the  females. 

This  section  on  injury  to  kind  among  mammals,  resulting 
from  activities  which  must  be  recognized  as  imperfectly 


INJURY  TO  KIND 


i»i 


adapted  because  of  such  injuries,  will  be  concluded  with  the 
case  of  injury  and  death  inflicted  upon  the  young  by  their 
parents  through  what,  from  the  human  point  of  view,  would 
be  called  heedlessness  and  stupidity.  Any  farmer  who  has 
raised  hogs  knows  how  liable  young  pigs  of  a  litter  are  to 
be  badly  hurt,  even  crushed  to  death  by  their  mother  and 
other  adults  if  several  are  shut  up  together.  If  a  mother 
with  a  large  family  of  very  young  pigs  is  confined  in  quarters 
that  are  somewhat  close,  either  as  to  total  space  or  as  to 
eating  and  sleeping  quarters,  she  is  very  apt  to  trample  on 
or  lie  down  on  some  of  the  youngsters.  This  is  particularly 
so  if  she  happens  to  get  a  bit  excited.  There  is  of  course 
no  intent  or  no  purpose  in  such  injuries.  They  happen 
wholly  incidentally  to  certain  normal  activities  which  in 
themselves  have  no  relation  to  the  rearing  of  young. 

No  matter  how  extensive  or  heinous  or  revolting,  as 
humanly  viewed,  the  injury  or  destruction  wrought,  there 
are  the  barest  traces  of  regret,  sorrow,  remorse  or  sympathy 
connected  with  the  deeds.  The  indifference  of  other  near-by 
frogs  or  ducks  or  deer  or  seals  to  such  doings  as  we  have 
mentioned  is  very  striking.  We  are  not  raising  the  much 
discussed  question  of  whether  any  animals  below  man 
possess  the  germs  of  moral  consciousness.  To  insure  our- 
selves against  misunderstandings,  we  unhesitatingly  express 
our  belief  that  many  mammals  and  birds  do  possess  not 
merely  the  germ  but  considerable  sprouts  of  such  conscious- 
ness. But  even  in  its  very  highest  development  it  is  still  so 
very  young  and  small  and  tender  as  to  be  scarcely  recogniz- 
able in  comparison  with  what  it  is  in  the  highest  human  de- 
velopment. 


CHAPTER  11 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  SELF-INJURY 

Of  the  four  classes  into  which  we  have  divided  maladaptive 
activity  among  animals,  this  class  is  the  most  important. 
Since  any  individual's  activities  are  performed  by  itself 
and  by  no  other  individual,  they  necessarily  concern  the  in- 
dividual itself  more  closely  than  any  other  individual.  In- 
numerable acts  of  any  individual  may  be  entirely  without 
significance  for  any  other  individual.  Every  single  act  in 
the  life  of  an  organism,  no  matter  how  trivial,  whether  of 
the  organism  as  a  whole  or  of  any  part  of  it,  must  have  some 
significance  for  the  organism  itself,  because  it  is  part  and 
parcel  of  the  life  itself.  Every  act  in  an  organism's  life  has 
some  significance  for  that  life.  If  it  is  demonstrable  that 
some  portion  of  the  acts  of  organisms  make  not  for  the  pres- 
ervation but  for  the  injury  or  even  destruction  of  the  or- 
ganisms performing  the  acts,  this  fact  is  of  prime  signifi- 
cance. That  such  injurious  or  destructive  activities  do  occur 
among  animals  on  an  extensive  scale,  it  is  now  our  task  to 
show. 

This  mass  of  raw  data  is  especially  abundant  and  varied; 
the  material  to  be  presented  has  been  selected  largely  from 
that  group  of  animal  activities  by  which  brute  animals  meet 
the  changed  conditions  of  life  forced  upon  them  by  the  com- 
ing of  civilized  man  into  their  environments.  A  man  is  as 
definitely  a  factor  in  the  environment  of  a  mosquito  as  is 
a  mosquito  in  the  environment  of  a  man.  Civilized  man, 
armed  with  window-screens,  drainage  systems  and  kerosene 
from  the  bowels  of  the  earth,  is  an  even  more  considerable 
factor  than  savage  man. 

182 


SELF-INJURY  183 

The  coming  of  man  into  the  environment  of  a  brute  animal 
creates  sharply  changed  conditions.  Most  changes  in  en- 
vironment are  slow.  The  span  of  human  life  is  not  long 
enough  to  trace  any  modification  of  the  activities  of  the 
living  things  affected  by  them.  Such  sudden  and  far-reach- 
ing changes  as  the  coming  of  man  may  precipitate,  furnish 
the  most  searching  of  all  tests  under  field  conditions  of 
psychobiological  adaptability. 

In  very  many  cases,  especially  among  the  highest  sub- 
human animals,  the  new  conditions  imposed  upon  the  crea- 
tures by  the  presence  of  man  and  his  works  result  in  a  com- 
petition between  them  and  man  for  the  necessities  of  life. 
This  competition  may  become  so  keen  that  its  outcome  is 
life  or  death  for  one  or  the  other  of  the  contestants.  Such 
a  situation  gives  us  opportunity  to  study  the  matching  of 
human  wits  against  brute  wits,  where  one  or  both  are  sub- 
jected to  the  strongest  possible  spur  to  use  all  the  wits  of 
which  they  are  possessed  to  the  best  possible  advantage. 
For  our  more  general  purpose  of  comparing  man's  adaptive 
abilities  with  those  of  other  living  things,  both  as  to  common 
traits  and  those  peculiar  to  him,  these  cases  are  of  special 
value. 

Finally,  the  material  to  be  presented  has  been  chosen  with 
a  view  to  making  obvious  the  truth,  not  very  clear  to 
cursory  observation,  that  animal  activities  are  imperfectly 
adaptive  when  performed  in  response  to  nature  untouched 
by  man,  in  essentially  similar  manner  and  degree  as  when 
performed  in  response  to  changed  environic  conditions  which 
manifestly  result  from  the  presence  of  man.  These  principles 
of  maladaptive  action  are  seen  to  be  factors  in  animal  evolu- 
tion, regardless  of  whether  man  is  or  is  not  involved  as  one 
of  the  environmental  factors. 


i84  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

AMONG  INVERTEBRATES 

Our  marshalling  of  data  will  begin  with  a  lowly  creature, 
the  common  earthworm,  and  with  an  instance  coming  under 
my  own  observation.  The  case  is  one  with  which  many 
people  are  more  or  less  familiar.  It  is  that  of  the  slaughter 
of  these  animals  which  frequently  occurs  when  they  live 
where  much-traveled  human  roads  pass  through  their  terri- 
tory. During  a  rain  the  worms  appear  on  the  walks  and 
roads  and  are  trampled  upon  and  killed  in  great  numbers. 
The  cement  walk  on  a  certain  piece  of  New  Jersey  Avenue, 
City  of  Washington,  is  flanked  on  the  inner  side  by  a  coping, 
also  of  cement,  which  rises  above  the  walk  from  a  few  inches 
at  one  end  to  a  few  feet  at  the  other.  The  area  beyond  the 
coping  is  filled  to  the  top  of  the  wall  with  earth  of  the  sort 
these  worms  frequent.  A  slight  crack,  large  enough  for  a 
worm  to  crawl  through,  intervenes  where  the  sidewalk  abuts 
against  the  coping.  During  several  days  of  rain  early  in 
May,  1 92 1,  this  sidewalk  became  strewn  with  angleworms  in 
all  stages  of  demolition,  from  small  pieces  of  skin  to  flat- 
tened sections  of  bodies,  on  up  to  worms  still  having  life 
enough  in  their  mangled  forms  to  enable  them  to  move  a 
little.  Since  the  walk  was  laid  off  into  squares  of  equal  area, 
it  was  easy  to  estimate  the  number  of  worms  which  had  died 
in  this  way  on  the  one  piece  of  sidewalk,  the  length  of  a 
double  city  block.  On  the  series  of  88  squares  adjacent  to 
the  coping  there  was  an  average  of  about  eight  worm  car- 
casses per  square.  This  would  give  704  for  this  series  of 
squares.  The  second  tier  of  squares  had  about  half  as  many 
remains.  On  this  basis  these  two  tiers  or  rows  of  squares 
had  1056  dead  worms.  Beyond  the  second  series  of  squares 
the  number  of  corpses  fell  away  sharply.  A  very  conserva- 
tive estimate  of  the  number  to  be  added  from  the  rest  of  the 
broad  walk  would  bring  the  total  to  iioo,  representing  the 
earthworm  mortality  on  one  short  piece  of  sidewalk  during 


SELF-INJURY  185 

one  rain  storm.  W^at  it  would  be  in  an  entire  city  during 
an  entire  season,  the  reader  may  speculate  for  himself. 

Another  observation  on  this  same  piece  of  sidewalk  de- 
serves recording.  Rain  occurred  again  on  the  seventh  to 
the  ninth  of  May  and  again  on  the  nth.  But  this  time 
not  a  single  worm  did  I  find  on  the  walk.  Had  the  slaughter 
accompanying  the  rain  of  a  few  days  previous  wiped  out 
to  such  an  extent  the  worm  population  of  the  earth  next  to 
the  sidewalk  that  there  were  no  worms  left  to  come  forth 
and  die  during  the  next  rain?  This  seems  hardly  likely. 
Nevertheless  the  fact  surely  presents  itself  as  a  possible  ex- 
planation of  the  absence  of  worms  at  the  second  rain;  for 
the  drain  upon  the  population  by  the  first  slaughter  was 
certainly  considerable. 

Whatever  the  cause  that  brought  all  these  earthworms  on 
to  this  piece  of  sidewalk,  there  to  be  trampled  to  death,  the 
loss  of  life  must  be  accounted  so  much  needless  destruction 
wrought  upon  the  creatures  by  themselves.  There  is  no 
evidence  that  anything  in  earthworm  economy  makes  it  nec- 
essary for  them  to  crawl  out  when  it  rains  upon  hard  sur- 
faces where  people  walk.  Some  persons  speak  of  these  oc- 
currences of  worms  on  the  surface  during  rains  as  due  to 
their  being  washed  out  of  the  ground.  This  explanation  is 
wholly  out  of  the  question  for  the  case  here  cited,  where 
the  conditions  of  sidewalk,  coping,  level  ground  firmly  turfed, 
made  such  a  thing  impossible.  Darwin  ^  believed  that  some 
of  these  striking  appearances  of  worms  upon  the  surface  are 
due  to  sickness  of  the  worms.  The  death  of  the  sick  worms 
is,  he  thought,  "merely  hastened  by  the  ground  being 
flooded." '  Darwin  gives  little  reason  for  his  belief,  and 
other  observers  have  not,  so  far  as  I  am  aware,  confirmed 
his  view.^ 

^  The  Formation  of  Vegetable  Mould    through  the  Action  of  Worms. 

2  P.  14. 

3  See  a  considerable  correspondence  on  this  and  related  points  of 
earthworm  habit  in  Nature,  Vol.  CVII,  1921. 


1 86  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

All  who  have  given  attention  to  worm  mentality  would 
now  agree,  I  presume,  that  the  reactions  of  the  poor  crea- 
tures which  I  have  described  were  simple  tropisms,  and  that 
their  death  w^as  a  mere  incident  to  the  activities.  The  rain- 
and-the-sidewalk  presented  the  conditions  for  a  particular 
set  of  responses  of  the  "forced"  type.  Accordingly  the 
movements  were  certain  to  occur  regardless  of  what  the 
results  might  be.  This  furnishes  another  illustration  of  the 
contention  that  the  persistence  of  an  ancient  type  of  action, 
formerly  useful,  after  that  activity  becomes  useless  or  des- 
tructive, is  exactly  one  of  the  chief  things  that  makes  activity 
imperfectly  adapted. 

Our  treatment  of  self-inflicted  harm  among  insects  will  be 
facilitated  by  recognizing  three  major  forms  of  misdirected 
action,  resulting  from:  (i)  Failure  to  discriminate  between 
objects  or  conditions  that  are  the  aim  of  the  action,  and 
others  that  resemble  these  more  or  less  but  cannot  be  substi- 
tuted for  them.  Under  this  class  are  easily  recognizable  sev- 
eral sub-classes,  dependent  Upon  the  different  purposes 
served  by  the  objects  sought  as  food,  means  of  conveyance 
and  sex.  (2)  Failure  to  adjust  after  interruption  of  the 
stereotyped  activities  of  the  instinctive  routine  type  men- 
tioned on  page  184.  (3)  Action  in  excess  of  what  is  essen- 
tial to  attain  the  ends  sought.  Several  sub-classes  arise  here 
dependent  upon  the  character  of  the  end  sought.  Of  these 
ends  the  most  important  are  those  connected  with  nourish- 
ment and  propagation. 

In  the  first  class  under  the  head  of  nourishment  come  such 
mistakes  as  that  of  butterflies  attempting  to  feed  on  artificial 
flowers  made  to  imitate  real  flowers  of  the  kind  the  insects 
are  accustomed  to.  This  sort  of  thing  is  far  from  rare.  A 
case  was  reported  by  E.  E.  Barnard  *  of  an  effort  of  a  but- 
terfly to  feed  on  a  peacock  feather  stuck  in  a  man's  hat. 
Blunders  as  gross  as  this  are  probably  not  very  common 

*"A  Mistaken  Butterfly,"  Nature,  1915,  Vol.  XCV,  p.  174- 


SELF-INJURY  187 

under  natural  conditions  and  do  not  lead  to  great  injury. 
But  identification  failures  of  a  more  subtle  kind  become  a 
serious  matter  in  many  cases.  Such  a  case  is  that  presented 
by  a  member  of  the  blister  beetle  family  {Sitaris  humeralis). 
The  quite  remarkable  career  of  this  animal  during  its  larval 
life  was  followed  through  by  Fabre,  The  larval  life  of  the 
beetle  is  dependent  upon  a  solitary  bee  of  the  genus  An- 
thophora,  the  bee's  egg  constituting  the  food  of  the  larva 
during  one  of  the  larval  stages  of  the  beetle,  and  the  bee's 
honey  serving  the  purpose  during  another  larval  stage.  The 
bee  nests  in  the  ground,  the  nest  being  constituted  of  several 
cells  in  each  of  which  honey  is  stored  and  an  egg  is  placed. 
The  kernel  of  this  part  of  the  story  is  that  relating  to 
the  way  the  recently  hatched  larva  of  the  beetle  reaches  the 
egg  of  the  bee.  "The  eggs  of  the  Sitaris  are  deposited  in  the 
earth  in  close  proximity  to  the  entrance  to  the  bees'  nests, 
about  August.  They  are  very  numerous,  a  single  female 
producing,  it  is  believed,  upwards  of  2000  eggs.  In  about 
a  month  .  .  .  they  hatch ;  ...  the  larvae  do  not,  however, 
move  away,  but,  without  taking  food,  hibernate  in  a  heap, 
remaining  in  this  state  till  the  following  April  or  May,  when 
they  become  active.  Although  they  are  close  to  the  abodes 
of  the  bees  they  do  not  enter  them,  but  seek  to  attach  them- 
selves to  any  hairy  object  that  may  come  near  them,  and 
thus  a  certain  number  of  them  get  on  to  the  bodies  of  the 
Anthophora  and  are  carried  to  its  nest.  .  .  .  They  attach 
themselves  with  equal  readiness  to  any  other  hairy  insect, 
and  it  is  probable  that  very  large  numbers  perish  in  con- 
sequence of  attaching  themselves  to  the  wrong  insects."  ° 
One  obviously  large  chance  of  getting  on  the  wrong  insect 
is  the  fact  that  the  male  instead  of  the  female  bees  appear 
to  be  the  ones  commonly  used  as  carrier  by  the  larval 
beetles.    This  makes  the  larva's  chance  of  success  contingent 

°  Fabre,  retold  by  David   Sharp,  "Insects,"   The  Cambridge  Natural 
History,  Vol.  VI,  p.  273. 


i88  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

upon  its  passing  later  from  the  male  to  a  female  which  has         i 
not  yet  deposited  her  eggs,  for  it  seems  necessary  to  con- 
clude from  Fabre's  experiments  that  the  larvae  reach  the 
eggs  by  actually  slipping  from  the  body  of  the  bee  to  the  | 

egg  at  the  moment  the  egg  is  deposited.  The  reason  why 
the  larvae  first  attach  themselves  to  a  male  bee  in  the  species 
studied  by  Fabre,  is  that  the  males  hatch  about  a  month 
earlier  than  the  females.  Since  the  youngsters  are  emerg- 
ing from  several  months  of  hibernation  when  the  bees  begin 
to  come  out,  the  impulse  to  seize  the  first  objects  that  give 
them  a  chance  may  be  very  strong. 

This  life  career  of  Sitaris  is  manifestly  adjusted  for  a 
great  amount  of  waste  by  self-destruction,  due  to  an  in- 
stinctive activity  which  fails  regularly  in  a  large  number 
of  instances  to  accomplish  its  purpose.  This  failure  may  be 
traced  to  the  existence  within  one  complex  of  activities  of 
certain  acts  which  are  wonderfully  well-fitted  to  meet  the 
needs  of  the  species  and  certain  others  which  are  very  ill- 
fitted  to  meet  these  needs.  There  are  not  many  perform- 
ances among  animals  below  man  known  to  us  that  look  more 
like  thoughtful  planning  and  skillful  executing  than  those  of 
the  passage  of  the  Sitaris  larva  from  the  male  to  the  female 
bee  and  again  from  the  body  of  the  female  to  the  egg. 

But  why  is  the  male  bee  included  in  the  plan  at  all?  If 
the  larvae  were  not  in  so  much  of  a  hurry  in  the  spring  to 
attach  themselves  to  something  but  waited  until  the  female 
bees  hatched,  they  might  avoid  entirely  the  large  chance  of 
failure  involved  in  attaching  to  the  male  first  and  after- 
ward transferring  to  the  female.  This  attainment  of  the 
egg  by  the  beetle  larva  through  starting  out  on  a  male  bee 
and  then  making  a  skillful  transfer  to  a  female  that  is  going 
to  lay  the  egg  seems  quite  comparable  to  the  attainment  of 
his  dinner  by  an  aviator  through  starting  out  on  one  plane 
and  skillfully  transferring  himself  to  another  en  route  which 
should  be  carrying  his  meal.     Such  an  aviation  feat  might 


SELF-INJURY  189 

be  all  right  as  a  "stunt";  but  to  make  the  life  not  only  of 
the  aviator  himself  but  of  the  whole  race  of  aviators  de- 
pendent on  the  performance  would  hardly  be  counted  a  wise 
general  aviation  policy. 

Another  example  of  self-produced  mortality  from  lack  of 
knowledge  of  the  factors  involved  in  the  means  of  convey- 
ance regularly  used  is  furnished  by  the  "ballooning"  of 
spiders.  The  habit  especially  of  the  young  of  various  fam- 
ilies of  climbing  to  some  elevated  place  on  quiet  days,  elevat- 
ing the  abdomen  to  a  nearly  perpendicular  position,  spinning 
out  several  threads  to  be  carried  up  and  off  by  air  currents, 
and  then  letting  themselves  go  when  the  pull  is  felt,  is  de- 
scribed in  all  general  works  on  spiders.  The  breeze-borne 
aeronauts  are  known  to  be  carried  long  distances  in  this 
way  and  the  mode  of  travel  is  counted  an  efficient  means  of 
distribution  for  the  animals.  It  at  least  appears  to  be  an 
efficient  means  of  preventing  the  crowded  condition  that 
would  result  if  all  the  young  were  to  remain  at  the  old  home- 
stead. It  seems  inevitable  that  so  random  a  kind  of  travel 
would  be  full  of  hazards.  That  it  is  so  is  proved  by  such 
observations  as  one  recorded  by  Darwin.^  On  November  i, 
1832,  when  the  Beagle  was  sixty  miles  from  land  on  the 
coast  of  Patagonia,  "The  weather  had  been  fine  and  clear, 
and  in  the  morning  the  air  was  full  of  patches  of  the  floc- 
culent  web,  as  on  an  autumnal  day  in  England.  Vast  num- 
bers of  small  spiders,  about  one  tenth  of  an  inch  in  length, 
and  of  a  dusky  color,  were  attached  to  the  webs.  There 
must  have  been,  I  should  suppose,  some  thousands  on  the 
ship.  .  .  .  The  spiders  were  all  of  one  species,  but  of  both 
sexes,  together  with  young  ones." 

As  a  "steady  but  light  breeze"  was  blowing  from  the  land, 
there  could  be  no  doubt  where  the  spiders  came  from.  But 
where  were  they  going?  Just  with  the  wind.  That  seem- 
ingly is  the  whole  answer  so  far  as  their  active  part  in  the 

®  Journal  of  Researches,  by  Charles  Darwin,  Appleton  edition,  p.  159. 


190  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

performance  13  concerned.  Possibly  a  few  of  the  several 
thousands  that  happened  to  be  caught  by  the  Beagle  may 
have  survived  the  journey.  But  what  about  the  thousands 
upon  thousands  that  did  not  happen  to  be  caught  thus  or 
by  any  other  ship?  "They  put  to  sea  and  were  never  heard 
of  again,"  would  have  to  be  the  record  of  their  kindred  on 
shore  if  a  record  were  kept  by  them.  This  is  by  no  means 
an  isolated  case,  as  is  indicated  by  Darwin  in  his  comments 
on  the  one  observed  by  him. 

Nor  is  it  among  spiders  alone  that  self-destruction  occurs 
by  being  blown  to  sea.  Many  species  of  flying  insects  have 
been  reported  in  large  numbers  at  distances  from  land  that 
make  any  chance  of  their  being  saved  out  of  the  question. 
The  interesting  problem  of  wingless  insects  and  birds  on 
islands  is  closely  connected  with  this. 

An  example  of  self-injury  through  failure  to  readjust  after 
interruption  of  activities  of  the  instinctive  routine  type  re- 
lates to  one  of  the  wolf  spiders  (Lycosidae)  and  is  taken 
from  Warburton."  The  large  species  of  southern  Europe, 
the  true  tarantulas,  live  for  years.  Until  the  fall  of  the  first 
year,  the  youngsters  are  wanderers  over  the  earth.  WTien 
fall  comes  and  they  have  attained  maturity  they  burrow  into 
the  ground  and  establish  their  permanent  homes.  "Curi- 
ously enough,"  Warburton  writes,  "if  disturbed,  they  en- 
tirely decline  to  burrow  unless  it  be  the  proper  season  for 
that  operation,  but  remain  inert  and  helpless  on  the  surface 
till  they  die.  If,  however,  a  tunnel  is  provided  for  them, 
they  enter  it  at  once  and  adapt  it  to  their  needs." '  The 
apparent  explanation  for  the  spider's  behavior  in  "entirely 
declining  to  burrow  unless  it  be  the  proper  season  for  the 
operation,"  is  that  burrowing  for  the  particular  species  is  an 
activity  which  has  a  place  in  a  whole  series  of  activities;  in 
that  place  it  must  come  or  not  come  at  all.    Burrowing,  for 

''Spiders,  by  Cecil  Warburton. 
•  P.  73. 


SELF-INJURY  191 

this  spider,  belongs  to  a  routined  set  of  activities,  a  set  for 
which  a  route  exists  and  has  existed  for  countless  generations 
of  the  animals. 

Our  presentation  of  self-injury  among  insects  due  to  ex- 
cessive activity  will  have  to  limit  itself  to  one  example  of 
excess  in  pursuit  of  food,  and  to  one  example  of  excess  in 
connection  with  mating.  The  domestic  honey-bee  will  fur- 
nish the  example  of  the  first.  The  observations  are  re- 
ported by  an  English  bee-keeper,  Herbert  Mace.^  Bee-keep- 
ing being  a  business  with  Mr.  Mace,  he  determined  to  get 
more  information  than  the  works  on  bee  culture  contain, 
about  the  conditions  under  which  his  colonies  produced  the 
most  and  the  least  honey.  To  this  end  he  weighed  each  of 
two  hives  daily  through  a  honey-producing  season,  selecting 
for  the  purpose  one  of  his  strongest  and  one  of  his  weakest 
colonies.  He  then  studied  the  weight  records  in  connection 
with  the  weather  records  for  the  same  period.  "The  average 
results  when  the  wind  was  light  or  moderate  in  force  were 
in  both  cases  more  than  four  times  better  than  when  the  wind 
was  blowing  freshly."  ^*^  This  does  not  mean  that  the  bees 
stayed  at  home  on  windy  days.  There  is  nothing  in  Mr. 
Mace's  account  that  indicates  that  fewer  workers  leave  the 
hive  when  the  wind  is  blowing  hard  than  when  it  is  not.  The 
chief  cause  of  the  difference  in  weight  noted  was  the  differ- 
ence not  in  the  number  of  bees  leaving  the  hive,  but  in  the 
number  returning  to  it  honey-laden.  "High  winds  cause 
great  loss  among  the  colonies,  and  it  would  be  advisable 
when  such  prevail  to  keep  the  bees  confined  in  the  hives, 
unless  there  are  sources  for  honey-gathering  in  the  immediate 
vicinity."  Mace  concludes  that  the  stronger  colonies  suffer 
more  than  the  weaker  ones  from  this  source  of  loss.  The 
chief  reason  for  this  conclusion  was  the  fact  that  the  only 

'"The  Influence  of  Weatker  on  Bees,"  Nature,  March  21,  1912,  Vol. 
LXXXIX,  pp.  62-65. 
"  P.  64. 


192  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

time  when  the  weak  colony  showed  better  than  the  strong 
one  as  judged  by  the  weighings  was  when  the  winds  were 
high.  The  explanation  of  this,  Mace  thinks,  is  that  the 
"strong  stock,  being  able  to  send  out  a  larger  proportion  of 
foragers,  suffered  proportionally  heavier  losses  of  bees." 

Another  interesting  fact  noted  by  Mace  in  regard  to  the 
meteorological  influences  upon  bees  is  their  sensitiveness  to 
sunshine  and  shadow.  When  they  are  working  in  the  open 
field  on  a  bright  sunny  day,  they  "hurry  home  as  soon  as  a 
cloud  comes  up.  Sometimes,  in  the  height  of  the  honey  flow, 
a  cloud  passing  over  the  sun  will  bring  them  home  at  such 
a  rate  that  on  one  or  two  occasions  I  have  gone  out,  thinking 
they  were  swarming."  Perhaps  it  is  not  justifiable  to  sup- 
pose serious  injury  results  from  such  home-rushing.  So  far 
as  it  occurs  as  a  response  to  passing  clouds  which  bring 
neither  rain  nor  much  lowering  of  temperature,  it  must  be 
done  with  considerable  useless  expenditure  of  energy,  and 
wear  and  tear  of  wings. 

This  study  of  Mace's  is  impressive  as  revealing  how  little 
we  know,  compared  with  what  we  do  not  know,  about  the 
way  animals  below  man,  and  especially  those  well  endowed 
with  locomotive  and  mental  powers,  solve  their  problems  of 
existence  in  nature.  Probably  not  one  among  the  innumer- 
able host  of  insect  species  has  been  studied  more  than  the 
honey-bee,  and  certain  aspects  of  its  life  as  independent, 
isolate  individuals  are  known  in  great  detail.  They  have 
been  studied  vastly  more  as  objects  in  themselves  than  they 
have  been  as  objects  in  relation  to  all  other  natural  objects 
upon  which  their  existence  is  absolutely  dependent.  Exten- 
sive observational  and  experimental  investigations  have  been 
made  on  what  senses  they  possess  and  how  these  may  and 
do  operate  under  humanly  imposed  conditions.  But  when 
it  comes  to  questions  of  how  the  bees  use  these  senses  and 
for  countless  ages  have  used  them,  in  their  efforts  to  live 
and  flourish  under  conditions  imposed  by  nature,  a  bee  man 


SELF-INJURY  193 

like  Mr.  Mace  finds  no  answer  to  such  practical  matters,  as 
that  of  how  effectively  the  bees  are  able  to  cope  with  the 
difficulties  and  dangers  from  the  vicissitudes  of  weather 
which  beset  them  in  their  food  gathering.  One  of  the  things 
of  most  importance  to  the  bees  themselves  and  to  the  bee 
keeper,  the  experimentalist  is  likely  to  exclude  from  his 
program.  To  get  the  information  which  specially  interests 
the  experimenter  it  is  necessary  for  him  to  guard  against 
some  of  the  very  conditions  which  would  give  information 
specially  important  for  the  bee  man  and  specially  interesting 
to  the  naturalist.  A  situation  like  this,  which  reveals  the 
meagerness  of  our  knowledge  of  the  working  life  of  so 
familiar  a  creature  as  the  honey-bee,  makes  us  feel  the  truth 
of  Forel's  words:  "Comparative  Psychology  is  an  as  yet 
almost  unexplored  territory  and  but  little  understood,  for 
want  of  approaching  it  by  the  best  side,  that  is  to  say,  by 
carefully  made  observations."  " 

For  our  example  of  self-injury  from  excessive  activity  in 
connection  with  mating,  we  go  to  the  May-flies  (Ephemer- 
idae).  The  facts  are  furnished  by  Vernon  Kellogg.  ^^  They 
pertain  to  an  incident  witnessed  by  Kellogg  at  Lucerne, 
Switzerland,  in  August,  1897,  and  involved  one  of  those 
familiar  gatherings  of  May-flies  around  electric  and  other 
bright  lights.  For  the  benefit  of  those  of  my  readers  who 
are  not  entomologists,  a  brief  interpretation  of  this  phe- 
nomenon may  be  useful.  The  only  object  of  the  May-flies' 
few  hours  of  adult  life  is  reproduction,  this  being  dependent 
upon  fertilization  of  the  egg  by  mating  of  male  and  female 
and  the  laying  of  the  impregnated  eggs  in  some  body  of 
water.  The  act  of  mating  is  accomplished  by  the  females 
and  males  coming  together  in  flight  through  their  common 
sensitiveness  to  light,  both  sexes  being  positively  phototropic 

^1  The  Senses  of  Insects,  Auguste  Forel ;  Eng.  trans,  by  MacLeod 
Yearsley,  p.  269. 

^'^  American  Insects,  p.  63;  Insect  Stories,  pp.  191-210. 


194  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

in  a  high  degree  during  the  first  part  of  their  adult  life. 
The  electric  lights  introduced  into  the  May-fly  environment 
by  man  being  specially  bright  and  specially  localized,  the 
creatures  are  irresistibly  "drawn"  to  them.  Since  these 
lights  are  usually,  as  in  the  case  of  this  Lucerne  arc  lamp 
described  by  Kellogg,  over  the  land  and  not  over  the  water, 
the  tropism  in  the  absence  of  any  adequate  inhibiting  or 
guiding  counterforce,  proves  fatal  to  the  insects. 

Beginning  with  a  remark  about  his  attention  being  called 
to  a  crowd  of  people  around  a  brilliant  arc  light  near  the 
Schweizerhof  Hotel,  Kellogg  goes  on:  "The  light  seemed  to 
me  curiously  hazy,  and  even  before  I  got  near  the  crowd  I 
had  made  a  guess  at  what  was  going  on.  i\Iy  guess  that  it  was 
a  iMay-fly  dance  of  death  was  quite  right.  Perhaps  it  would 
be  better  to  call  it  a  'dance  of  life,'  for  it  really  was  a  sort 
of  a  great  wedding  dance.  But  it  was  a  dance  of  death,  too, 
for  the  dancers  were  falling  dead  or  dying  out  of  the  dizzy- 
ing whirly  circles  by  thousands.  How  many  hundreds  or 
thousands  or  millions  of  May-flies  there  were  in  the  dense 
circling  cloud  about  the  light,  I  have  no  idea.  But  the  air 
for  twenty  feet  every  way  from  the  hght  was  full  of  them, 
and  the  ground  for  a  circle  of  thirty  or  forty  feet  under- 
neath was  not  merely  covered  with  the  delicate  dead  crea- 
tures, but  was  covered  for  from  one  to  two  inches  deep."  ^^ 

The  number  of  dead  flies  on  the  ground  is  the  measure  of 
useless  destruction  the  creatures  had  brought  upon  them- 
selves by  this  dance.  The  justification  for  calling  the  de- 
struction useless  is  that  by  dying  as  they  did  the  females 
were  prevented  from  leaving  any  progeny.  In  other  words, 
they  were  prevented  from  accomplishing  the  chief  end  to- 
ward which  the  whole  dance  business  was  directed.  It  was 
as  though  a  pair  of  birds  were  to  court  so  strenuously  and 
work  so  hard  at  nest-building  that  they  should  kill  them- 

13  p.  201. 


SELF-INJURY  195 

selves  before  the  eggs  were  laid.  Another  sentence  of  Kel- 
logg's  brings  this  fact  out  positively:  "In  the  first  place, 
after  the  dance  of  death,  the  few  that  don't  die  fly  out  over 
the  lake  or  river  or  pond,  and  drop  a  lot  of  little  eggs  into  it. 
Then  they  die  happy — if  May-flies  can  be  happy.  Mind 
you,  I  don't  say  they  can.  We  are  the  only  animals  that  we 
know  can  be  happy.    And  we  mostly  aren't." 

It  was  Kellogg's  knowledge  of  the  extremely  stereotyped, 
mechanical  character  of  the  performance  that  enabled  him 
to  make  the  remarks  quoted  about  happiness  in  May-flies 
and  in  men.  Being  both  scientific  and  poetic,  it  was  pos- 
sible for  him  to  say  something  wiser  than  either  a  scientist 
with  no  poetry  in  his  soul  or  a  poet  with  no  science  in  his 
soul  could  say. 

The  remarkable  scheme  by  which  propagation  is  ac- 
complished in  the  May-fly  family  involves  remarkable  mod- 
ifications in  structural  and  functional  aspects  of  the  life  of 
the  creatures.  Consider  what  is  implied  by  the  very  brief 
life  of  the  adult,  the  winged  stage  of  their  existence.  While 
some  of  the  species  are  said  to  live  several  days,  others  live 
only  a  few  hours.  They  emerge  at  sunset  and  their  career 
is  ended  before  the  next  morning.  They  never  see  full  day- 
light. As  light  is  a  factor  essential  for  the  completion  of  the 
life-cycle,  their  sensitiveness  to  it,  so  much  of  it  as  occurs 
in  their  career  of  darkness,  is  excessive.  This  naturally 
implies  an  unusual  development  of  eyes.  Accordingly  we 
find  in  the  males  of  some  of  the  species  the  most  remarkable 
ocular  equipment  for  perceiving  light  and  objects  in  motion 
possessed  by  any  animal  whatever.  Not  only  is  each  of  the 
paired  eyes  highly  compounded  according  to  the  regular 
insect  scheme,  but  each  of  the  pair  is  divided  into  two  parts, 
one  on  top  of  a  thick  post  and  the  other  level  with  the  sur- 
face of  the  head  at  the  base  of  the  post.  There  are  in  addi- 
tion three  smaller,  simple  eyes,  called  ocelli.    Exactly  how 


196  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

such  eyes  work,  especially  in  seeing  objects,  nobody  knows. 
That  they  play  an  important  part  in  such  intense  responses 
to  light  as  these  animals  show  is  a  safe  inference. 

Reflecting  again  on  the  brevity  of  the  winged  period  of 
May-fly  life,  we  naturally  infer  that  the  nutrimental  appar- 
atus would  either  be  adjusted  for  the  taking  of  nutriment 
fast  and  furiously  or  it  would  be  adjusted  for  taking  no 
nutrition  at  all.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the  latter  alternative 
is  the  one  realized.  The  mouth  parts,  highly  elaborate  in 
t3qDical  insects,  are  so  changed  retrogressively  that  scarcely 
a  trace  of  such  parts  can  be  recognized.  The  intestinal 
tract,  wholly  unused  and  useless  for  its  original  function, 
has  become  transformed  into  a  thin,  distensible-walled  sac 
inflatable  with  air,  the  inflation  being  accomplished  by  the 
muscular  action  of  the  body,  and  a  set  of  valves  so  arranged 
that  the  air  can  enter  the  sac  from  the  mouth,  but  cannot 
escape.  The  creature  is  converted  into  a  sort  of  balloon 
fitted  out  with  wings  and  a  neuro-muscular  system  to  guide 
its  movements  enough  to  bring  the  reproductive  cells,  male 
and  female,  which  are  likewise  carried  about  by  the  balloon, 
into  contact  with  each  other.  The  reproductive  apparatus 
is  likewise  greatly  simplified  as  contrasted  with  its  structure 
in  insects  generally. 

In  other  words,  the  entire  make-up  of  the  adult  May-fly 
consists  of  organ-systems  coordinately  modified  in  a  wonder- 
ful way  to  correspond  with  the  one  function  of  this  phase 
of  its  life.  The  "dance"  is  in  reality  a  highly  mechanical 
waggle  of  a  body  constructed  as  above  described,  in  an  un- 
stable equilibrium,  and  having  the  end  function  indicated. 
That  a  mechanism  of  such  inflexible  type  should  miss  its 
end  in  a  large  percentage  of  trials  is  certain  on  probability 
principles  alone. 

The  enormous  destruction  we  have  been  looking  at  re- 
sulted from  an  electric  light,  an  entirely  new  and  strange 
factor  brought  into  May-fly  existence.     It  might  be  said 


SELF-INJURY  197 

that  such  havoc  as  that  wrought  by  it  upon  the  insects  can 
not  be  supposed  to  be  of  much  significance  for  the  evolution 
of  this  insect  tribe.  In  reply  to  this  I  would  say  that  ability 
to  meet  successfully  new  and  advanced  conditions  is  exactly 
the  test  of  intelligent  life;  and  that  beyond  question  the  prop- 
agative  operation  of  May-flies  misses  its  end  to  a  consider- 
able extent  under  natural  conditions  in  much  the  same  fash- 
ion as  under  the  artificial  conditions.  Undoubtedly  the 
destruction  is  rarely  as  great  in  the  state  of  nature.  And  cer- 
tainly, too,  it  succeeds  far  enough  in  nature  to  insure  the  per- 
petuity of  the  May-fly  stock.  But  its  success  has  been  at 
enormous  cost  in  individual  adult  lives.  Indeed  the  cost 
may  have  been  and  may  now  be  too  great  to  be  kept  up,  for 
the  May-flies  of  the  present  geological  era  form  an  unim- 
portant part  of  the  insect  tribe  as  compared  with  the  num- 
ber of  their  allies  in  the  far  distant  past.  Scudder,  the 
eminent  student  of  fossil  insects,  regards  the  May-fly  tribe 
as  the  "lingering  fragments  of  an  expiring  group."  If  this 
pronouncement  of  Scudder's  is  correct  what  causal  explana- 
tion of  the  slow-impending  doom  of  May-fiies  is  closer  at 
hand  than  that  of  the  very  maladjustment  in  activity  here 
noticed?  In  all  likelihood  other  causes  have  been  involved, 
but  the  existence  of  other  causes  would  not  render  the  causal 
factor  suggested  above  any  less  probable. 


CHAPTER  12 

SELF-INJURY   (con.)  I  AMONG  BIRDS 

Our  further  raw  data  as  to  self-injurious  animal  activity  will 
be  drawn  from  two  vertebrate  classes  only,  birds  and  mam- 
mals. The  riches  at  our  command  are  so  great  as  to  be  quite 
embarrassing. 

The  behavior  of  wild  yet  semidomestic  birds,  as  sparrows, 
linnets  and  swallows,  which  by  chance  fly  into  man-occupied 
buildings  through  open  windows  and  doors  has  forced  itself 
on  the  attention  of  many  persons.  Nobody  who  has  seen 
one  of  these  accidents  can  have  failed  to  notice  the  "stu- 
pidity" with  which  the  creatures  miss  the  windows  and  doors 
opened  by  the  human  occupants  of  the  temporary  bird 
prison,  as  ways  of  escape  for  the  prisoners.  Their  eyes  ap- 
pear to  be  useless  so  far  as  seeing  the  openings  is  concerned. 

A  common  remark  by  those  who  would  help  the  entrapped 
birds  out  of  their  trouble  is  that  the  "poor  creatures  are  so 
frightened"  as  to  be  unable  to  take  advantage  of  their 
chances  for  freedom.  The  eyesight  of  the  birds  is  abun- 
dantly capable,  so  far  as  the  mechanical  structure  of  the 
optical  apparatus  is  concerned,  of  seeing  an  open  window. 
It  is  a  question  not  of  the  competency  of  the  eyes  in  them- 
selves, but  of  how  these  are  used.  Without  doubt,  strange- 
ness of  the  situation  and  fright  contribute  largely  to  the  in- 
ability of  the  birds  to  make  good  use  of  their  eyes.  But 
another  element  is  involved.  The  birds  tend  to  stay  in  the 
upper  parts  of  the  room,  going  above  the  openings.  The 
usual  interpretation  of  this  is  as  an  effort  on  the  bird's  part 
to  avoid  being  captured.  In  all  probability  this  plays  a  part 
in  the  total  activity  of  the  unfortunates.    But  any  one  who 

198 


AMONG  BIRDS  199 

has  watched  birds  under  these  conditions  knows  that  their 
tendency  to  keep  in  the  upper  part  of  the  room  is  quite  in- 
dependent of  any  effort  to  capture  them,  or  even  of  human 
activity  of  any  kind.  A  much  more  potent  factor  is  the  fact 
that  bird  flight,  especially  as  it  starts  from  the  resting  state 
of  the  bird,  is  instinctively  upward.  For  a  bird  to  ''take 
flight"  means  for  it  to  move  upward  as  well  as  merely  off 
into  the  open  air.  This  flight  impulse  is  normally  one  of 
the  strongest  of  all  bird  impulsions.  Being  further  intens- 
ified by  fear,  this  impulse  becomes  so  much  stronger  than  is 
the  bird's  ability  to  direct  flight  by  sight,  that  the  "senseless" 
dashings  about  take  place.  The  birds  may  batter  themselves 
to  death  by  violent  contact  with  solid  objects  of  the  room. 
Thus  a  type  of  action  which  in  general  is  of  the  highest 
usefulness  to  birds  may  under  special  environic  conditions, 
result  not  in  the  creature's  good  but  in  its  harm,  even  in  its 
destruction. 

Another  form  of  self-injurious  activity  resulting  from  de- 
fective employment  of  the  sense  of  sight,  is  the  fighting  of 
a  bird's  own  image  reflected  in  the  glass  of  windows,  on  the 
supposition  that  the  image  is  another  bird.  This  is  a  form 
of  misdirected  activity  to  which  birds  are  quite  liable.  From 
the  accounts  I  have  come  upon  it  seems  that  blackbirds  are 
especially  given  to  such  performances.  Moffatt  ^  describes  a 
case  of  this  sort.  Having  been  told  that  a  blackbird  was 
carrying  on  a  contest  with  itself  at  a  neighbor's  house  the 
author  went  to  see  it  and  "found  that  its  action  was  exactly 
that  which  the  cock  birds  adopt  in  fighting.  In  fact,  it  was 
obviously  doing  battle  with  its  own  reflection  in  the  glass. 
For  this  purpose  it  repaired  to  the  same  window  every 
morning  during  the  whole  of  March  and  a  greater  part  of 
April." 

The  almost  universal  tendency  for  such  "blind"  activity 

^  "The  Spring  Rivalry  of  Birds,"  The  Irish  Naturalist,  1903,  Vol. 
XII,  pp.  152-166. 


200  SELF-INJURY 

to  repeat  itself  almost  exactly  and  well-nigh  endlessly  is 
illustrated  by  this  instance.  Moffat  continues:  "It  never, 
so  far  as  we  could  make  out,  noticed  itself,  or  looked  for 
itself  in  any  other  window — but  used  all  its  energies  against 
this  particular  one."  The  following  year  the  same  bird  re- 
turned and  waged  the  same  foolish  feud  in  the  same  place 
and  the  same  way.  This  year  remarkably  enough  a  cock 
chaffinch  carried  on  a  similar  performance  at  another  window 
of  the  same  house.  "So  all  through  the  spring  of  1899  we 
had  two  daily  battles  going  on.  And  in  the  third  spring, 
1900,  it  was  exactly  the  same,  the  'crazy  Blackbird' — as  he 
was  called — fighting  himself  at  one  side  of  the  house,  and 
an  equally  infatuated  chaffinch  doing  the  same  thing  at  the 
other." 

In  addition  to  other  records  of  blackbirds  waging  such 
contests,  robins,  cardinals,  and  brown  towhees  have  been 
observed  to  do  essentially  the  same  thing.  While  I  know  of 
no  observations  showing  that  anything  quite  comparable 
to  this  particular  form  of  maladaptive  action  among  birds 
occurs  where  man  has  not  intruded  any  of  his  handiwork 
into  their  environment;  and  while  proof  seems  wanting  of 
serious  injury  to  the  birds,  it  appears  to  me  likely  that  fuller 
knowledge  of  bird  life  in  nature  would  produce  positive 
evidence  that  similar  things  occur  in  nature  and  to  the  posi- 
tive injury  of  the  birds. 

EXTINCTION  OF  SPECIES  PROMOTED  BY  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

Instances  of  birds  becoming  extinct  "at  the  hand  of  man" 
are  only  too  well  known.  A  fact  which  has  been  largely 
neglected  by  writers  is  that  the  birds  themselves  have  con- 
tributed to  their  own  destruction. 

We  will  first  notice  two  cases  in  which  the  men  responsible 
for  the  fatality  to  the  birds  belong  to  primitive  races.  Take 
the   extinction,   or   near-extinction,   of   several   species   of 


AMONG  BIRDS  201 

Hawaiian  birds.  Almost  everybody  knows  something  about 
the  famous  feather  robes  worn  by  the  kings  and  warriors 
of  the  native  Hawaiian  people.  So  many  and  so  elaborate 
were  these  garments  that  the  drain  on  the  birds  which 
yielded  the  most  highly  prized  feathers  was  very  great.  The 
birds  were  therefore  protected  by  royal  edict  and  by  taboo. 
With  the  downfall  of  the  monarchy  and  the  dying  out  of  the 
taboo  the  native  hunters  were  left  with  a  free  hand  to 
slaughter  the  beautiful  birds.  The  0-0  (Moho  nobilis)  was 
one  of  the  species  most  sought,  and  the  part  it  played  in  its 
own  destruction  is  told  by  H.  W.  Henshaw."  ''When  feeding 
in  the  morning,"  Henshaw  says,  "and  particularly  when  with 
the  young,  the  calls  of  the  0-0  are  almost  incessant,  and  it 
is  this  loud  and  constantly  repeated  call-note  which  has  led 
to  the  easy  destruction  of  the  species.  The  poor  bird  has 
yet  to  learn  that  its  appreciation  of  the  joyousness  of  exist- 
ence and  its  love  for  its  mate  and  young  can  be  expressed 
only  at  the  cost  of  its  very  life."  ^ 

Hawaiian  natives,  birds  and  men,  furnish  another  and 
somewhat  different  illustration.  The  Hawaiian  goose 
{Bernicla  sandvicensis)  which  has  undergone  the  remark- 
able change  of  habit  of  becoming  entirely  a  land  goose  has 
at  the  same  time  adopted  certain  habits  which  make  it  an 
easy  prey  to  the  native  hunters.  It  attaches  itself  so  rigidly 
to  certain  localities  for  breeding-places  that  it  returns  to 
them  year  after  year.  This  the  hunters  learn  and  take  ad- 
vantage of  for  making  prey  of  the  geese,  old  and  young. 
The  rigidity  of  habit  is  the  more  destructive  to  the  birds  in 
that  when  the  young  are  being  led  around  by  the  parents, 
neither  old  nor  young  being  able  to  fly,  the  old  because 
moulting  and  the  young  because  not  mature  enough,  the 
hunters  are  able  to  run  the  birds  down  and  kill  them  with 
clubs  and  stones. 

-  Birds  of  the  Hawaiian  Islands,  1902. 
3  P.  72. 


202  SELF-INJURY 

Certain  species  of  small  Australian  Parrots  (Lorikeets) 
have  become  nearly  extinct,  partly  from  exposing  themselves 
to  the  depredations  of  hunters  by  habits  some  of  which  are 
very  similar  to  those  of  the  unfortunate  species  of  Hawaiian 
song  birds.  The  facts  as  here  presented  are  taken  from  G. 
M.  Mathews.*  Concerning  the  Musk  Lorikeet,  Mathews 
quotes  F.  P.  Godfrey  of  Victoria,  as  follows:  "The  birds 
quickly  betray  their  nest  by  harsh  screeching,  and  only  have 
to  be  watched  for  a  few  minutes  in  order  to  detect  the  nest." 

Of  another  species,  the  Purple-crowned  Lorikeet,  we  have 
the  following,  quoted  from  E.  B.  Nicholls:  "If  you  fire  a  gun 
or  shout  out  loudly  the  whole  flock  dart  toward  the  ground 
like  a  flash,  and  fly  with  amazing  speed  only  a  few  feet 
above  the  grass.  The  aborigines,  taking  advantage  of  that 
peculiarity,  used  to  build  a  sort  of  brush  fence,  white-wash- 
ing it  with  the  pipeclay  mixture  they  used  in  their  corro- 
borees.  When  the  birds  passed  overhead,  the  blacks  raised 
a  great  clamor,  and  the  panic-stricken  parrots,  dropping  to 
earth,  flew  into  the  brush  and  were  caught  in  hundreds." 

The  Musk  Lorikeet  furnishes  another  example  of  the 
fatality  there  is  likely  to  be  in  this  place-habit.  After  de- 
scribing a  snaring  device  used  by  the  native  hunters  for 
capturing  the  birds,  Mathews  writes:  "It  seems  strange  that 
these  birds,  when  once  they  alight  on  one  of  these  poles, 
repeatedly  come  back  until  they  are  eventually  entangled 
in  one  of  the  many  horse-hair  nooses  with  which  the  forked 
extremity  of  the  snare  pole  is  covered."  At  this  point  the 
author  mentions  a  fact  which  is  doubly  significant  for  our 
general  discussion.  The  hunters,  he  says,  keep  on  catching 
the  birds  by  this  snare  method,  "even  though  they  can  get 
little  or  nothing  for  them."  Man,  though  able  to  outwit 
the  senselessly  repetitious  birds,  is  not  yet  able  to  correct 
his  own  senselessness  in  the  same  direction! 

The  excessive  gregariousness  of  these  parrots  and  their 

*  Birds  of  Australia^  Vol.  VI. 


AMONG  BIRDS  203 

dullness  of  perception  as  to  where  danger  lies  have  contrib- 
uted to  their  undoing.  "I  have  seen  as  many  as  fifty-six  shot 
off  one  large  tree,"  Mathews  quotes  G.  A.  Kearlland  as  say- 
ing, "without  the  rest  of  the  flock  taking  alarm."  Take  the 
following  concerning  the  Dowitcher  {Macrorhamphus  gris- 
eus),  one  of  the  shore  birds  likely  to  be  regarded  by  hunters 
as  a  "kind  of  snipe."  "This  gregarious  instinct  combined 
with  its  gentleness,  is  a  fatal  trait,  and  enables  gunners  to 
slaughter  them  unmercifully  and  sometimes  to  exterminate 
every  individual  in  a  'bunch.'  "  ^  Something  similar  to  this, 
so  far  as  gregariousness  is  concerned,  could  be  said  of  at 
least  a  great  majority  of  flocking  birds  which  for  any  reason 
are  hunted  by  man. 

No  more  striking  example  of  this  could  be  cited  than  that 
of  the  passenger  pigeon  (Ecto pistes  migratorius) .  The  story 
of  this  bird  from  the  coming  of  white  men  to  North  America 
to  the  extinction  of  the  species  within  the  last  few  decades, 
is  one  of  the  most  dramatic  in  bird  life.  The  phase  of  it 
with  which  we  are  specially  concerned  is  the  way  the  habits 
of  the  birds  contributed  to  their  own  destruction.  In  the 
first  place  the  prodigious  numbers  of  individuals  in  the  hey- 
day of  the  species  must  be  clearly  before  our  minds.  On 
this  as  upon  other  points  connected  with  the  habits  of  this 
pigeon,  the  two  famous  American  ornithologists  of  the  early 
nineteenth  century,  J.  J.  Audubon  and  Alexander  Wilson,  are 
our  main  sources  of  information.  What  Audubon  thought 
the  largest  flight  of  the  wild  pigeon  he  had  ever  seen  oc- 
curred during  the  autumn  of  18 13  in  the  vicinity  of  Louis- 
ville, Kentucky.  As  he  traveled  one  day  from  Hardens- 
burgh  on  the  Ohio  river  to  Louisville,  a  distance  of  fifty-five 
miles,  the  pigeon  myriads  filled  the  air  during  the  entire  day, 
so  that  the  "light  of  noonday  was  obscured  as  by  an  eclipse." 
For  three  days  this  kept  up.  The  air  during  the  time  was 
filled  with  the  odor  of  pigeons.    An  attempt  to  estimate  the 

^  Birds  of  North  America,  by  Robert  Ridgway,  Vol.  I,  p.  230. 


204  SELF-INJURY 

number  of  birds  in  such  a  mass  as  this  would  seem  useless. 
Both  Audubon  and  Wilson  did  make  such  attempts  on  flocks 
that  were  somewhat  more  restricted.  Thus  Wilson  esti- 
mated a  flock  which  passed  over  him  in  the  region  of  Frank- 
fort, Kentucky,  to  be  two  hundred  and  forty  miles  long  and 
at  least  a  mile  wide,  and  to  contain  over  two  billion  two 
hundred  million  individuals.  The  testimony  of  many  ob- 
servers for  many  parts  of  the  United  States  makes  it  im- 
possible to  regard  these  as  fabulous  stories.  My  own  recol- 
lection of  the  spring  visitations  of  the  birds  to  Wisconsin 
during  the  sixties  and  seventies  of  the  nineteenth  century 
makes  my  mind  easily  receptive  of  the  Audubon-Wilson 
statements. 

What  can  we  recognize  in  the  career  of  this  species  that 
seems  to  have  contributed  most  to  its  great  numerical  suc- 
cess? The  bird  was  wonderfully  fitted  in  structure  and 
mode  of  life  for  utilizing  the  almost  boundless  materials  on 
which  it  fed.  That  appears  to  tell  the  story.  "Mast"  (nuts 
of  all  sorts,  but  particularly  of  the  beech  and  oak)  seems  to 
have  been  the  great  staple  originally,  though  many  kinds  of 
berries  and  seeds  were  eagerly  consumed.  Nor  was  the 
vegetable  world  alone  capable  of  ministering  to  their  food 
requirements.  Insects,  especially  grasshoppers  and  cater- 
pillars, earthworms,  snails,  are  said  to  have  been  extensively 
utilized  at  times.  When  agricultural  grains  were  introduced 
into  their  ranges,  these  were  pounced  upon  with  great  avid- 
ity. From  this  brief  inventory  of  food  sources,  something 
of  the  extensiveness  of  the  raw  materials  upon  which  the 
birds  could  draw  will  be  readily  understood  by  those  ac- 
quainted with  the  vastness  of  the  forests  which  originally 
overspread  so  much  of  North  America  east  of  the  Rocky 
Mountains,  and  with  the  great  areas  covered  with  vegetation 
of  less  size  than  forest  trees,  but  greatly  prolific  in  seed 
production. 

The  food-seeking  habits  of  the  species  were  of  exactly  the 


AMONG  BIRDS  205 

right  kind  for  making  the  most  of  these  bounties  of  nature. 
The  birds  migrated  northward  and  southward  with  the 
change  of  season,  going  wherever  food  was  abundant  with 
the  greatest  facility.  A  mile  a  minute  was  the  rate  of  flight 
attributed  to  them  by  Audubon  and  other  observers. 
Whether  this  figure  is  exact  or  not,  certain  it  is  that  they 
flew  with  astonishing  speed  and  endurance.  On  this  aspect 
of  their  habits  we  read:  "The  Wild  Pigeon  appears  to  be 
almost  entirely  influenced  in  its  migrations  by  the  abundance 
of  its  food,  except  in  those  parts  of  the  country  in  which  it 
had  not  been  known  to  remain  during  the  winter.  Even 
in  these  movements  it  is  largely  influenced  by  instinctive 
considerations  of  food.  Evidently  the  temperature  has  but 
little  to  do  with  their  migrations,  as  they  not  infrequently 
move  northward  in  large  columns  as  early  as  the  seventh  of 
March,  with  the  thermometer  twenty  degrees  below  the 
freezing-point.® 

The  vast  quantities  of  food  material  available  for  the  birds 
and  the  facility  with  which  they  utilized  it  enabled  them  so 
to  adjust  their  breeding  habits  as  to  become  enormously 
prolific  even  though  each  pair  normally  produced  but  one 
young  at  a  sitting.  The  smallness  of  the  brood  was  offset 
by  the  fact  that  a  pair  produced  several  broods  a  year  (one 
every  month,  some  authors  say)  as  long  as  the  food  supply 
was  abundant.  There  is  evidence  that  the  birds  were  rather 
long-lived  and  enjoyed  a  considerable  period  of  fertility. 
The  mode  of  dealing  with  the  nestlings  increased  the  net 
productiveness.  The  single  young  was  subjected  to  a  nu- 
tritional forcing  that  reduced  the  parental  period  of  respon- 
sibility for  its  welfare  to  a  minimum.  Both  mother  and 
father  produced  the  well-known  pigeon  milk  which,  mixed 
with  the  contents  of  their  own  crops,  they  fed  the  one  nest- 
ling.   This  rich  early  diet  followed  by  the  mast  with  which 

®  Baird,  Brewer  and  Ridgway,  A  History  of  North  American  Birds, 
1874,  Vol.  Ill,  p.  370. 


2o6  SELF-INJURY 

the  young  is  said  to  have  been  "stuffed"  brought  the  bird  to 
the  squab  stage  in  a  condition  that  caused  it  to  be  spoken  of 
as  a  mass  of  fat.  It  was  then  pushed  out  of  the  nest  by  the 
parents  and  for  a  few  days  while  scarcely  able  to  fly  was  an 
easy  victim  to  hungry  or  greedy  creatures  (including  man) 
which  preyed  upon  the  birds.  The  young  are  said  to  have 
been  ready  to  begin  reproducing  at  the  age  of  six  months. 

This  presents  with  extreme  brevity  our  information  on  the 
question  of  how  it  came  to  pass  that  this  species  of  pigeon 
flourished  probably  for  thousands  upon  thousands  of  years 
in  such  almost  incredible  numbers. 

Now  something  on  the  equally  interesting  question  of  how 
it  came  to  pass  that  the  species  disappeared  from  the  earth 
as  in  a  single  night,  one  may  say  without  exaggeration,  if 
the  period  of  their  going  be  compared  with  that  of  their  en- 
tire existence.  "The  belief  that  the  Passenger  Pigeon  was 
a  bird  of  remarkable  vitality,  endurance,  and  powers  of 
flight  undoubtedly  has  a  good  foundation,  but  all  these 
powers  combined  might  prove  useless  against  that  dominat- 
ing fear  which  compelled  the  bird  to  turn  from  the  known 
dangers  of  civilization — the  ax,  the  gun,  and  the  forest  fire, 
toward  the  inhospitable  and  semi-arctic  regions  of  the  north. 
We  may  hope  that  a  remnant  of  the  great  hordes  which  once 
swept  over  our  state  still  exists  somewhere  and  may  even- 
tually restock  our  forests,  but  it  must  be  confessed  that  this 
is  far  more  a  hope  than  an  expectation,  and  with  each  suc- 
ceeding year  this  hope  grows  fainter."  ^  Today  (July, 
1926)  there  no  longer  remains  a  trace  of  such  hope  in  the 
minds  of  most  ornithologists. 

A  variety  of  explanations  have  been  suggested  to  account 
for  the  phenomenon.  None  of  them  are  weighty  except  that 
which  recognizes  the  hand  of  the  white  man  as  the  chief 
agent  in  the  deadly  work.  Destruction  of  the  forests  and 
other  sources  of  food  and  of  the  nesting  and  roosting  places 

''W.  B,  Barrows,  Michigan  Bird  Life,  p.  251. 


AMONG  BIRDS  207 

contributed  much  to  the  end  finally  reached,  but  the  enor- 
mous slaughter  of  the  birds  throughout  their  wide  area  was 
the  greatest  factor  in  their  final  annihilation.  The  story  of 
this  is  as  tragically  impressive  as  anything  of  the  kind  that 
has  ever  had  to  be  told.  The  accounts  of  how  the  pigeons 
were  attacked  in  their  roosting  places  at  night  by  "guns, 
clubs,  long  poles,  pots  of  sulphur,  and  various  other  engines 
of  destruction,"  of  how  farmers  for  miles  around  drove  their 
hogs  to  these  places  to  fatten  them  on  the  carcasses  which 
the  people  themselves  could  not  use;  and  of  how  the  great 
flocks  were  warred  upon  as  pests  because  of  their  destruc- 
tiveness  to  grain  and  other  agricultural  crops,  are  revelations 
of  the  destructiveness  to  which  the  species  was  subjected  in 
the  earlier  periods.  In  the  later  period,  after  the  netting  and 
other  specially  effective  methods  of  capture  were  fully  de- 
veloped and  the  fruits  of  the  pigeon  industry  had  found  an 
almost  unlimited  market  in  the  great  cities,  destructiveness 
reached  its  climax. 

What,  if  anything,  was  there  in  the  activities  of  the  birds 
that  contributed  to  their  own  undoing? 

For  one  thing  the  prodigious  numbers  of  individuals  in- 
volved combined  with  certain  aspects  of  their  gregariousness 
greatly  facilitated  human  depredations  upon  the  birds.  In 
addition  to  the  great  massing  of  individuals  in  the  flights, 
there  were  two  distinct  forms  of  herding  when  the  birds 
were  not  on  the  wing.  One  of  these  constituted  the  "roost- 
ings";  the  other  the  "breedings."  The  former  were  the 
great  assemblages  for  purposes  other  than  reproduction;  the 
other  chiefly  for  reproduction. 

At  the  roosting  places  the  birds  assembled  only  at  night 
for  the  most  part,  the  day  being  spent  in  excursions  after 
food.  Something  of  the  character  of  these  is  portrayed  by 
x^udubon  in  his  Ornithological  Biography,  the  example  being 
a  roost  which  he  saw  on  Green  River,  Kentucky.  This  was 
forty  miles  long  and  three  miles  wide.    At  evening  the  birds 


2o8  SELF-INJURY 

came  to  spend  the  night,  settling  on  the  trees  in  such  great 
numbers  that  ''Many  trees  two  feet  in  diameter,  I  observed, 
were  broken  off  at  no  great  distance  from  the  ground;  and 
the  branches  of  many  of  the  largest  and  tallest  had  to  give 
way,  as  if  the  forest  had  been  swept  by  a  tornado."  As  a 
result  of  this  overcrowding  and  the  activities  of  hunters  and 
farmers,  many  of  the  birds  were  killed  and  injured.  With 
the  break  of  day  the  able-bodied  birds  were  all  off  again  for 
the  feeding  ground.  The  quantity  of  food  consumed  by 
such  hordes  of  voracious  creatures  must  have  been  enormous. 
Consideration  of  this  aspect  of  the  matter  enables  one  to 
see  why  the  birds  were  treated  as  pests.  "They  often  de- 
scended upon  all  the  fall-sown  wheat  and  rye  fields  in  such 
numbers  that  the  farmers  had  to  watch  their  fields  or  lose 
their  crops."  ^ 

The  havoc-production  of  the  breeding  assemblages  was 
even  greater  than  that  of  the  roosts.  One  of  the  last  of 
these,  that  in  Emmet  County,  Michigan,  in  1878,  has  been 
often  described.  This  is  said  to  have  covered  an  area  of 
from  twenty-eight  to  forty  miles  long,  and  from  three  to  ten 
miles  wide.  One  hundred  and  ten  nests  are  reported  to  have 
been  counted  in  a  single  tree,  and  almost  every  tree  had  some 
nests.  How  the  birds  fared  at  the  hands  of  pigeoners  in 
this  instance  is  indicated  by  the  following:  "For  many  weeks 
the  railroad  shipments  averaged  fifty  barrels  of  dead  birds 
per  day,  averaging  for  the  season  about  12,500  dead  birds 
daily,  or  1,500,000  for  the  summer.  Of  live  birds  there  were 
shipped  1,116  crates,  six  dozen  per  crate,  or  80,352  birds." 
Besides  these  railroad  shipments  great  numbers  were 
shipped  by  steamer  from  various  ports.  The  squabs  found 
an  eager  market;  they  were  taken  in  vast  numbers  by  shak- 
ing them,  like  fruit,  from  the  smaller  trees,  and  by  cutting 
down  the  larger  trees.     Great  numbers  were  taken,  some 

8  E.  H.  Forbush,  "Birds  of  North  America,"  p.  46,  Nature  Lovers' 
Library,  Vol.  II. 


AMONG  BIRDS  209 

for  immediate  consumption  and  some  for  preservation  and 
storage  as  winter  supplies  by  the  residents  of  the  surround- 
ing country.  Many  of  the  live  birds  shipped  to  the  cities 
were  used  in  trap  shooting:  a  form  of  sport  that  is  highly 
significant  from  the  standpoint  of  animal  and  human  in- 
stinct. 

The  great  ease  with  which  the  birds  were  taken  was  a 
very  important  factor  in  this  wholesale  slaughter.  "A  most 
remarkable  attribute  of  the  Pigeon  was  its  disregard  of  the 
presence  of  human  beings  in  its  roosting  and  nesting  places. 
Any  one  who  entered  quietly  one  of  these  spots  when  the 
birds  were  there  would  be  surrounded  by  the  unsuspicious 
creatures  in  a  few  minutes.  The  nests  formerly  were  placed 
in  trees  of  great  height  .  .  .  but  after  the  primaeval  forests 
were  cut  off  the  Pigeons  nested  sometimes  in  low  trees.  This 
contributed  to  their  doom."  ^ 

This  lack  of  caution  combined  with  excessive  gregari- 
ousness  promoted  the  success  of  the  netting  method  of 
capture  which  seems  to  have  been  the  chief  reliance  of  the 
market  pigeoners.  It  is  of  record  that  by  making  "grain 
beds"  and  allowing  the  greedy  birds  to  collect  on  these  for 
feeding,  as  many  as  two  hundred  and  fifty  dozen  were  some- 
times taken  at  a  single  haul  of  the  net.  Another  effective  kind 
of  bait  was  salted  mud.  It  having  been  discovered  that  the 
birds  had  a  great  liking  for  this,  especially  at  the  breeding 
time,  extensive  "mud  beds"  were  made  in  the  neighborhood 
of  the  breeding  assemblages.  Upon  these  the  birds  would 
gather  in  multitudes  and  so  fall  easy  victims  to  the  previ- 
ously prepared  nets.  Still  another  device  utilized  by  the 
hunters  was  the  decoy  or  "stool  pigeons."  These  were 
captive  live  birds  blinded  in  some  way,  placed  where  they 
could  be  easily  seen  by  the  great  migratory  flocks,  and  made 
to  flap  their  wings  by  manipulating  a  string  attached  to  them. 
The  "foolish"  birds  were  drawn  to  their  unfortunate  fellow 

^Ibid.,-g.  45. 


210  SELF-INJURY 

creatures,  and  so  to  their  destruction,  in  great  numbers. 
These  habits  of  the  birds  unquestionably  aided  man  in  his 
terrible  onslaughts  upon  them. 

Under  some  circumstances,  the  birds'  activities  were 
highly  self-destructive  in  the  state  of  nature.  Audubon  re- 
fers to  the  considerable  mortality  which  at  times  they 
brought  upon  themselves  by  overloading  the  trees  on  the 
roosting  and  breeding  places.  Another  source  of  natural 
destruction  was  through  drowning  and  unfavorable  meteoro- 
logical conditions.  Forbush  writes:  "Undoubtedly  thou- 
sands of  Pigeons  were  destroyed  occasionally,  during  their 
flights,  by  storms  or  fogs  at  sea  or  on  the  Great  Lakes."  He 
cites  Schoolcraft  as  stating  that  in  182 1  he  saw  on  the  shore 
of  Lake  Michigan  great  numbers  of  skeletons  and  half-con- 
sumed bodies  of  Pigeons  which  had  been  drowned  in  the 
lake  while  attempting  to  cross  it.  This  early  observer  is 
quoted  as  saying  the  birds  were  often  overtaken  by  tempests 
while  crossing  the  lake  and  were  "drowned  in  whole  flocks." 

Another  way  in  which  they  fell  victim  to  the  storm  king 
was  by  nesting  too  early  in  the  spring.  Thus  Barrows 
relates  that  one  of  the  last  nestings  in  Michigan  "was  broken 
up  by  a  heavy  fall  of  snow  after  the  nests  had  eggs.  All 
the  old  birds  left  in  a  body  and  never  came  back."  Such 
instances  of  the  destruction  of  birds  and  other  forms  of 
animal  life  by  occasional  and  unusual  climatic  changes  (and 
they  are  known  to  be  by  no  means  infrequent)  tend  wholly 
to  disprove  any  half-mysterious  weather-forecasting  power 
widely  supposed  to  be  possessed  by  animals,  and  to  prove 
that  they  are  peculiarly  liable  to  fatal  disaster  from  adverse 
weather  because  of  a  lack  of  good  sense,  as  humanly  viewed, 
relative  to  such  conditions. 

Although  this  review  of  the  dramatic  life  and  death  of 
the  passenger  pigeon  as  an  animal  species  is  very  brief,  it 
is  adequate  to  substantiate  the  charge  that  while  upon  civ- 
ilized man  rests  primarily  the  responsibility  for  this  zoo- 


AMONG  BIRDS  211 

logical  tragedy,  the  birds  themselves  must  be  recognized  as 
having  been  closely  accessory  in  this  responsibility. 


SELF-INJURY  DUE  TO  DEFECTIVE  FEAR 

An  important  type  of  maladaptive  activity  among  birds 
is  that  involving  the  impulse  to  run  away  from  danger.  The 
role  of  this  impulse  is  of  vital  importance  in  nearly  all  birds 
and  mammals.  The  maladaptiveness  of  the  bird  activity  due 
to  this  impulse  may  be  traced  in  certain  cases  to  its  under- 
functioning,  and  in  others  to  overfunctioning. 

One  of  the  most  striking  instances  of  the  complete  absence 
or  very  poor  development  of  this  impulse  known  to  me 
among  birds  is  presented  by  the  Franklin  Grouse  {Canach- 
ites  jrankUnii)  of  Oregon,  Washington,  and  British  Colum- 
Dia.  So  disregardful  of  danger,  at  least  from  human  beings,  is 
this  bird  that  its  common  local  name  is  ''fool  hen."  "Though 
almost  any  of  the  grouse  on  occasion  may  be  foolishly  bold, 
none  approaches  the  present  species  in  fatuous  absence  of 
fear.  Not  infrequently  one  will  espy  the  birds  sitting  com- 
posedly watching  the  observer  from  a  distance  of  10  or  20 
feet.  Snyder  .  .  .  says,  'One  sat  sedately  on  a  limb  while  a 
revolver  was  emptied  at  her.  The  shots  having  missed,  roots 
and  stones  were  thrown,  which  she  avoided  by  stiff  bows 
or  occasional  steps.'  It  would  often  be  easily  possible  ap- 
parently, to  kill  the  bird  with  a  stick.  .  .  .  Considering  the 
foolish  boldness,  or  lack  of  fear,  of  this  species  it  is  small 
wonder  that  it  has  suffered  an  alarming  decrease  practically 
throughout  its  range.  .  .  .  In  1920  practically  everybody 
in  the  woods,  sheepmen,  hunters  .  .  .  were  freely  taking 
toll  of  the  gentle  birds,  even  though  the  State  law  prohibits 
their  being  shot  at  any  season  of  the  year."  ^^ 

Seemingly  every  writer  who  has  had  opportunity  to  observe 

10  Kenneth   Racey,   The  Murrclct,   Bull.   Pacific   Northwest   Bird   and 
Mammal  Club,  Sept.,  1921,  Vol.  II,  p.  6. 


212  SELF-INJURY 

this  grouse  has  testimony  of  similar  character  to  give.  There 
is  evidence  that  hunting  dogs  give  the  bird  as  little  concern 
as  do  men.  How  it  is  that  so  fearless  a  species  should  have 
survived  as  long  as  it  has  in  the  struggle  for  existence  is 
not  clear.  Red  men  surely  inhabited  its  native  country 
ages  before  white  men  came,  and  it  would  seem  inevitable 
that  these  aboriginal  hunters  should  have  preyed  upon  it  as 
well  as  do  their  white  successors.  How,  furthermore,  has  it 
escaped  the  depredations  of  the  coyotes,  lynxes,  martens, 
and  other  animals  which  are  supposed  to  prey  upon  any 
birds  which  occupy  the  same  territory  with  them,  and  which 
are  certainly  abundant  in  the  Pacific  Northwest?  Prob- 
ably fuller  knowledge  of  the  life  habits  of  the  species  will 
furnish  at  least  a  partial  answer  to  this  question. 

On  the  whole  the  evidence  does  not  warrant  the  belief 
that  lack  of  fear  has  contributed  very  largely  to  the  de- 
struction of  birds.  Such  cases  as  those  mentioned  appear 
not  to  be  common,  at  least  among  modern  birds.  There  are 
instances  in  which  birds  have  been  nearly  devoid  of  fear  of 
man  at  their  first  meeting  with  him,  but  if  the  meeting  has 
proved  destructive,  the  species  has  soon  become  sufficiently 
wary. 

We  have  next  to  notice  fear  that  overfunctions,  that  is 
to  say,  fear  that  is  so  strong  and  violent  as  to  make  it  a 
danger  rather  than  a  safeguard  under  some  circumstances. 
Cases  of  bewilderment  and  paralysis  from  fear  may  be  re- 
garded as  coming  under  this  head.  A  naturalist-hunter  re- 
lates that  a  dove  just  after  having  been  shot  at  and  missed 
by  each  of  three  hunters,  "flew  down  the  canyon  and  passed 
me  at  about  forty  yards'  distance.  I  fired  once  and  missed. 
Instead  of  flying  on  out  of  danger  the  dove  flanked  sharply 
and  landed  right  in  front  of  me  and  began  to  eat."  "  The 
sight,  hearing,  and  past  experiences  of  the  dove  (Zenaidura 

'^^  E.  K.  Lipking,  "Is  the  Dove  Bag  Limit  too  Large  ?"  California  Fish 
and  Game,  January,  1922,  Vol.  VIII,  p.  48. 


AMONG  BIRDS  213 

macroura)  are  adequate  to  enable  it  to  behave  more  pre- 
servatively  than  this  in  such  a  situation.  Its  defect  was 
mental.  Its  landing  close  to  one  of  its  sources  of  deadly 
peril,  and  especially  its  beginning  to  eat,  indicate  mental 
confusion.  It  is  very  improbable  that  the  eating  was  done 
because  the  bird  was  really  in  need  of  food.  The  more 
likely  explanation  of  the  act  is  that  food  material  of  some 
sort  happened  to  be  present  where  the  dove  landed,  and  that 
this  as  a  stimulant  to  the  naturally  strong  food-taking  im- 
pulse, brought  out  the  appropriate  response,  quite  regardless 
of  the  immediate  food  needs  of  the  bird. 

Another  example  of  disaster-producing  fear  of  a  different 
type  is  described  as  follows:  "On  the  pampas  the  gauchos 
frequently  take  the  black-necked  swan  by  frightening  it. 
When  the  birds  are  feeding  or  resting  on  the  grass,  two  or 
three  men  or  boys  on  horseback  go  quietly  to  leeward  of 
the  flock,  and  when  opposite  to  it  suddenly  wheel  and 
charge  it  at  full  speed,  uttering  loud  shouts,  by  which  the 
birds  are  thrown  into  such  terror  that  they  are  incapable 
of  flying  and  are  quickly  dispatched."  ^^  In  the  same  con- 
nection Hudson  tells  of  frequently  seeing  the  native  boys 
catch  another  bird,  the  Silver-bill  (Lichenops  perspicillata) 
by  hurling  something  at  it  and  then  rushing  upon  it,  "when 
it  sits  perfectly  still,  disabled  by  fear,  and  allows  itself  to  be 
taken." 

In  these  cases  it  is  man  in  his  primitive  state  who  fatally 
outwits  the  birds.  In  any  complete  history  of  bird  destruc- 
tion by  man,  the  part  played  by  the  hunter's  taking  advan- 
tage of  the  bewildering  or  paralyzing  effect  of  fear  upon  the 
bird  would  loom  large. 

12  W.  H.  Hudson,  The  Naturalist  in  La  Plata,  p.  202. 


CHAPTER  13 

SELF-INJURY    {c07i.)  :  AMONG  MAMMALS 

In  mammals  we  reach  the  zoological  class  to  which  the 
human  animal  belongs,  in  which  our  own  basic  instincts  and 
activities  find  their  most  immediate  forerunners.  In  man  as 
in  all  the  members  of  the  class,  the  new-born  young  are 
nourished  by  a  milk  produced  by  the  mother.  For  a  con- 
siderable period  before  birth  the  young  are  borne  within 
and  nourished  by  the  uterus  of  the  mother.  The  sexual 
activities  involved  in  propagation  are  fundamentally  the 
same  in  all  the  class. 

We  will  study  self-injurious  maladaptive  actions  in  mam- 
mals under  the  following  heads:  sucking  by  the  new-born 
young;  food-getting  by  adults;  avoidance  of  danger. 

The  sucking  activity.  This  rests  upon  a  reflex,  called 
forth  by  the  stimulus  of  contact  with  almost  any  object. 
Ancestral  habit  as  a  causal  explanation  of  the  phenomenon 
has  been  resorted  to  in  connection  with  miscarriages  of  this 
as  of  so  many  other  instinctive  actions.  This  explanation 
tends  to  divert  attention  from  the  most  significant  part  of 
the  phenomenon,  the  injuriousness  of  it.  It  is  well  known 
that  tufts  of  the  mother's  wool  will  bring  out  the  sucking 
response  in  new-born  lambs  quite  as  readily  as  will  the 
mother's  nipple,  and  that  the  "foolish"  little  creatures  will 
suck  away  on  these  so  energetically  and  persistently  that 
starvation  might  result  did  not  the  mother  sheep  or  the 
shepherd  intervene. 

If  the  sucking  mechanism  and  impulse  of  lambs  is  of 
such  character  that  the  act  of  sucking  is  apt  to  be  so  per- 
formed as  to  yield  no  milk  to  the  lambs,  the  question  which 

214 


AMONG  MAMMALS  215 

concerns  us  is  how  far  this  useless  action  may  be  carried. 
It  may  be  carried  to  the  extent  of  death  by  starvation  of  the 
creature.  This  inference  rests  on  a  large  body  of  observa- 
tion. As  far  down  the  mammalian  scale  as  the  marsupials, 
we  know  that  the  movement  of  the  very  immature  young 
toward  the  teat  is  essentially  tropistic,  the  direction  being 
upward;  and  that  this  direction  will  be  maintained  even  if 
it  takes  the  creature  away  from  instead  of  toward  its  source 
of  food.  Normally  the  direction  of  movement  is  against 
gravity,  and  brings  the  young  to  the  teat  only  in  case  this 
happens  to  be  in  that  direction,  which  it  is  ordinarily. 

Going  through  the  whole  scale  of  mammalian  life  to  man, 
we  should  find  the  human  infant  at  birth  only  slightly  better 
off,  so  far  as  the  sucking  instinct  is  concerned,  than  is  the 
new-born  marsupial.  The  finger  or  almost  any  other  object 
brought  into  contact  with  the  infant's  lips  will  evoke  the 
sucking  reflex.  If  the  object  is  one  that  can  be  taken  into 
the  mouth,  and  at  all  resembles  the  nipple,  the  sucking  ac- 
tivity will  occur  and  would  go  on  to  complete  exhaustion 
were  the  infant  wholly  dependent  upon  its  own  resources 
and  upon  this  one  instinct. 

Summarizing  the  results  of  his  examination  of  the  evi- 
dence on  the  general  question  of  the  nursing  ability  of  infant 
mammals,  C.  Lloyd  Morgan  gives  us  the  following:  ''In 
the  absence  of  further  evidence,  we  may  perhaps  accept  the 
view  that  the  young  are  drawn  to  the  mother  by  the  sense 
of  warmth,  and  come  in  contact  with  the  teats  either  as 
the  result  of  random  movements  and  vague  attempts  to 
suck  something  (other  parts  being  often  sucked  as  well  as 
the  teats),  or  in  response  to  stimuli  affecting  the  sense  of 
smell  or  through  some  external  guidance."  ^ 

Probably  in  no  mammal  whatever  is  the  sucking  activity 
sufficient  of  itself  to  insure  the  wholly  unpracticed  young 
from  death  by  starvation.    Given  the  new-born  mammal  en- 

1  Habit  and  Instmct,  1896,  p.  1 16. 


2i6  SELF-IN7URY 

dowed  with  this  food-securing  ability  and  given  a  food 
supply  furnished  by  the  mother  such  as  that  which  actually 
is  furnished,  it  seems  necessary  to  recognize  that  without  the 
interposition  of  a  third  agency  of  some  sort  every  new-born 
mammal  would  starve  to  death  without  ever  tasting  its 
mother's  milk.  The  sucking  activity  of  the  new-born  mam- 
mal is  an  extremely  capable  and  important  element  in  meet- 
ing the  nutritional  necessities  of  the  creature;  but  it  is  not 
sufficient  of  itself  to  accomplish  this,  as  it  is  incapable  of 
making  sure  of  a  source  of  nourishment.  The  infant  mam- 
mal's ability  to  suck  is  abundantly  adequate  for  its  needs; 
but  its  ability  to  get  at  the  right  object  to  suck  is  not 
adequate. 

Food-getting  by  adults.  Every  experienced  raiser  of  any 
of  the  domestic  mammals  has  had  many  chances  to  observe 
the  occasional  "senselessness"  of  these  animals  in  relation 
to  their  food.  On  small,  well-regulated  farms  where  the  num- 
ber of  animals  involved  is  not  large,  this  is  less  likely  to 
show  itself  than  on  the  great  ranges  where  natural  condi- 
tions are  much  more  varied,  where  regulation  by  man  is  far 
less  complete,  and  where  the  number  of  animals  involved  is 
much  greater. 

When  "range"  cattle  have  to  be  fed  for  a  portion  of  the 
year  because  of  shortage  of  pasturage  from  drought  or  other 
cause,  it  is  important  not  to  feed  them  long  and  constantly 
on  a  single  small  area  lest  they  become  so  attached  to  it 
that  when  the  range  grass  is  again  ready  for  them  they  will 
not  recognize  the  fact  and  turn  to  the  pastures,  but  will 
keep  on  hovering  around  the  feed  place  even  though  nothing 
is  found  there.  Mr.  W.  C.  Barnes,  Chief  of  the  Grazing 
Division  of  the  United  States  Forest  Service,  and  ]\Ir.  J.  E. 
Nelson  of  the  same  division,  both  practical  stockmen  and 
competent  observers,  confirm  and  extend  such  statements  as 
to  the  tendency  of  cattle,  sheep,  and  horses  to  return  to  the 
places  where  they  have  been  fed,  watered,  or  salted,  so  per- 


AMONG  MAMMALS  217 

sistently  after  there  is  no  longer  anything  to  be  got  from  so 
doing,  that  serious  harm  may  result  to  them  therefrom. 
ISIr,  Barnes  says  that  cattle  will  continue  to  visit  their  ac- 
customed water  hole  after  it  is  completely  dry,  until  they 
die  of  thirst,  even  though  there  may  be  other  holes  near  by 
which  contain  water,  but  which  the  animals  have  not  been 
in  the  habit  of  visiting.  Such  a  thing  as  going  definitely  in 
search  of  a  new  supply  of  water  or  food  when  the  old  supply 
is  gone  appears  to  be  beyond  the  mental  capacity  of  any  of 
the  domestic  mammals.  Such  an  effort  for  finding  food  is 
very  different  from  a  general  wandering  about  under  the 
stress  of  thirst  or  hunger. 

Nor  is  danger  of  death  from  thirst  or  starvation  the  only 
one  to  which  these  animals  may  subject  themselves  by  their 
tendency  to  repeat  the  same  acts.  Mr.  Barnes  once  helped 
the  same  cow  out  of  the  mud  three  times,  where  she  had 
mired  down  while  after  water.  Despite  this  experience,  into 
the  same  mudhole  she  went  again,  this  time  to  her  death 
before  anybody  could  help  extricate  her.  All  this  while 
water  could  have  been  safely  reached  not  far  away.  When 
their  accustomed  water  ponds  are  covered  with  a  thin  film  of 
ice,  cattle  will  suffer  from  thirst  although  water  could  be 
readily  secured  by  breaking  the  ice.  Horses  will  paw  and 
break  the  ice  under  such  conditions,  Mr.  Barnes  says;  and 
cattle  will  follow  the  horses  if  they  have  a  chance,  to  take 
advantage  of  what  their  more  resourceful  neighbors  have 
done. 

So  far  as  this  particular  matter  is  concerned  horses  would 
seem  to  be  possessed  of  considerable  "sense."  However, 
when  they  are  brought  to  the  test  in  other  ways,  they  do  not 
make  so  good  a  showing.  Mr.  Nelson  tells  of  an  experience 
of  his  own  in  which  he  had  great  difficulty  in  getting  a  horse 
to  put  down  its  head  to  drink  from  a  pond  because  it  had 
been  long  accustomed  to  drinking  from  a  bucket  held  up 
to  its  head.    I  have  known  of  the  actual  death  from  thirst 


2i8  SELF-INJURY 

of  a  horse  from  failure  to  make  this  same  adjustment  in  its 
mode  of  taking  water. 

On  the  question  of  how  far  this  sort  of  thing  is  applicable 
to  mammals  in  the  state  of  nature  there  does  not  seem  to  be 
much  direct  information.  However,  there  is  little  or  nothing 
to  justify  the  supposition  that  wild  brutes  have  more  ability 
for  adjusting  themselves  to  new  situations  than  have  their 
domesticated  relatives.  Ability  to  meet  new  conditions  is 
the  crucial  thing.  A  search  of  writings  on  the  habits  of  the 
larger  wild  mammals,  giving  special  attention  to  the  question 
of  how  these  habits  have  operated  in  the  face  of  the  great 
changes  wrought  upon  the  environments  of  the  animals  by 
the  coming  of  man,  particularly  of  civilized  man,  indicates 
extremely  little  of  such  ability.  We  read:  "Of  the  larger 
wild  game  about  the  Painted  Woods  (North  Dakota)  and 
vicinity,  after  the  buffalo  and  bear,  the  elk  were  the  next  to 
disappear,  which  owing  to  a  kind  of  domestication  or  at- 
tachment to  the  points  where  they  were  born  and  raised, 
they  usually  remained  in  the  one  neighborhood  until  exter- 
minated by  the  great  influx  of  hunters  that  came  in  with 
or  followed  the  building  of  the  Northern  Pacific  railroad."  ^ 

Of  like  import  is  the  testimony  of  Mr.  Barnes  and  of  the 
members  of  the  U.  S.  Biological  Survey,  Doctors  E.  W. 
Nelson,  T.  S.  Palmer,  and  others,  who  have  had  much  to 
do  with  the  elk  herds  of  the  West,  particularly  with  the 
government-protected  herd  of  the  Yellowstone  National 
Park  and  Jackson's  Hole.  The  narrow  restriction  of  the  elk 
"runs,"  and  the  rigidity  with  which  the  animals  cling  to 
these  greatly  increased  the  difficulty  of  preserving  the  rem- 
nants of  the  great  herds  that  existed  in  these  regions  before 
the  white  settlers  and  hunters  came.  The  elk  show  little 
ability  for  hunting  out  new  grazing  grounds  under  the  stress 
of  immediate  need.  What  is  here  said  of  the  elk  would  be 
more  or  less  true  of  many  species  of  the  large  herbivores 

2  J,  H.  Taylor,  Beavers  and  Their  Way's,  p.  135. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  219 

which  have  suffered  extinction  in  several  parts  of  the  world 
at  the  on-coming  of  civilized  man. 

This  statement  must  not  be  understood  to  imply  that  such 
animals  have  no  adaptability  whatever  relative  to  changing 
conditions  in  their  food  supply  and  other  life  necessities. 
Extensions  and  changes  of  habitat  are  definitely  known  for 
some  species.  Dr.  Nelson  tells  us:  "During  recent  years,  the 
moose  has  been  extending  its  range  in  various  parts  of 
northern  Canada,  having  even  descended  to  the  delta  of  the 
Mackenzie  River."  The  evidence  for  this  presented  by 
Nelson  seems  conclusive.^  Undoubtedly  many  other  in- 
stances of  this  sort  might  be  cited,  but  this  one  will  suffice 
to  illustrate  the  point  that  while  the  large  gregarious  her- 
bivores have  considerable  facility  for  meeting  changes  in 
their  food  and  other  life  necessities,  this  appears  to  be  gen- 
eral rather  than  specific.  No  one  would  doubt  that  the 
moose's  extension  of  habitat  as  indicated  might  be,  in  fact 
probably  would  be,  advantageous  to  the  species.  But  that 
it  was  deliberately  done  to  meet  some  particular  require- 
ment or  emergency  no  one  well  acquainted  with  the  ways 
of  animals  would  be  likely  to  contend.  A  herd  of  elk  who 
have  become  hungry  from  shortage  of  forage  at  a  particular 
spot,  in  moving  away  would  likely  be  guided  by  some  condi- 
tion of  momentary  betterment,  quite  regardless  of  whether 
the  direction  was  right  or  wrong  for  permanent  betterment. 
To  choose  to  endure  still  greater  deprivation  of  food  for 
today  in  order  to  cross  a  barren  ridge  to  reach  a  valley  on 
the  other  side  where  much  better  grazing  would  probably 
be  found,  would  be  quite  beyond  the  mental  capacity  of 
any  elk  or  other  mammalian  species  below  man. 

Another  form  of  animal  improvidence  which  brings  special 
disaster  upon  the  creatures  themselves  when  they  become 
competitors  of  civilized  man,  is  illustrated  by  stock-killing 

3  The  Big  Game  of  Alaska,  by  E.  W.  Nelson,  Bull,  of  the  American 
Game  Association,  April,  1921. 


220  SELF-INJURY 

dogs  and  wolves.  The  waste  touches  the  welfare  of  man 
as  well  as  that  of  the  improvident  animals,  to  such  an  extent 
as  to  cause  him  to  wage  war  of  self-defense  upon  the  ma- 
rauders. This  is  especially  evident  in  the  case  of  sheep- 
killing  dogs.  Those  who  know  most  of  this  matter  insist 
that  the  only  real  safety  against  these  dogs  is  in  the  prompt 
killing  of  them.  This  fate  is  pronounced  upon  the  dogs  as 
the  result  of  actions  which  are  "senseless"  so  far  as  meeting 
any  real  food  need  of  the  dogs,  such  need  being  otherwise 
provided  for.  With  the  wolves  the  case  is  different,  their 
food  supply  being  derived  more  or  less  from  their  killings 
of  stock  animals.  Nevertheless,  the  wantonness  and  waste- 
fulness of  their  depredations  often  impel  the  stockmen  and 
hunters  to  redoubled  efforts  against  the  offenders. 

Much  the  same  reasoning  holds  for  such  cases  as  that  of 
the  wasteful  Adirondack  beavers.*  The  destruction  of  tim- 
ber by  flooding  is  injurious  to  man  as  well  as  to  the  beavers. 
]\Ian,  unlike  the  beaver,  has  wit  enough  to  see  this.  And 
in  addition  he  sees  how  to  remedy  the  evil,  by  destroying 
some  of  the  beavers  in  order  to  protect  them  and  himself 
against  their  wholesale  destructiveness.  This  beaver  case 
illustrates  a  very  widely  operative  principle  in  man's  rela- 
tion with  many  animals.  His  preservation  of  them  ("con- 
servation" is  the  current  word)  largely  for  his  own  benefit, 
consists  in  part  in  destroying  some  of  them  in  order  to  pre- 
vent them  from  inflicting  injury  upon  all  of  themselves,  such 
injury  resulting  from  their  lack  of  wit  in  using  their  food 
and  other  natural  resources,  and  from  their  great  and  im- 
perfectly regulated  capacity  for  propagation. 

Another  aspect  of  food  habit  among  mammals  which  may 
subject  them  to  danger  is  the  tendency  for  the  food-taking 
impulse  to  be  so  dominant  under  some  conditions  as  to 
inhibit  the  sense  of  outside  danger.  Describing  some  of 
the  habits  of  the  short-tailed  shrew  of  Ontario,  a  recent 

*See  pp.   157-158. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  221 

author  says,  speaking  of  the  greed  of  the  animals:  "Their 
particular  delight  was  to  get  into  the  frying-pan  and  feed 
on  the  cold  fat  which  it  contained.  So  engrossed  did  they 
become  in  their  gormandizing  on  this  fat  that  they  paid 
no  heed  to  my  presence  and  several  times  I  took  up  the 
pan  and  walked  about  with  it  while  they  were  thus 
engaged."  ^ 

The  perils  of  the  feeding  time,  to  which  so  many  animals 
are  subject  on  account  of  watchful  enemies,  are  largely  pro- 
vided against  by  the  keenness  of  sense  with  which  many 
mammals  are  equipped.  Their  mental  alertness  while  eating, 
and  the  prevalence  among  them  of  such  devices  as  lookout 
individuals  for  the  feeding  groups  in  the  case  of  gregarious 
herbivores,  are  familiar  and  conclusive  proof  that  adaptive- 
ness  with  reference  to  danger  of  this  kind  has  reached  a  high 
development  among  them.  When  this  adaptiveness  comes 
to  involve  the  adjustment  among  instincts  which  are  rather 
sharply  antagonistic  to  one  another,  as  in  the  case  noticed, 
its  defectiveness  comes  to  view.  Most  of  the  imperfectly 
adapted  activities  we  have  been  looking  at,  involve  antago- 
nisms among  instincts  of  one  kind  or  another.  In  the  re- 
lation between  the  sexes  in  mammals  this  fact  becomes  even 
more  plainly  evident. 

UNDER- ACTIVITY  IN    THE   PRESENCE   OF   DANGER 

Among  mammals  activities  arising  from  the  impulse  to 
escape  from  death  or  injury  threatened  by  some  external 
agent  present  an  important  type  of  maladaptation.  The 
failure  in  adaptiveness  in  these  activities  can  be  traced  to 
the  two  sources  of  underdevelopment  of  the  sense  of  danger, 
or  insufficiency  of  fear,  and  of  overdevelopment  of  this 
sense,  or  excess  of  fear. 

5  "Notes  on  the  Habits  of  Blarina  hreincaitda  in  Ontario,"  by  A. 
Brooker  Klugh,  Journ.  of  Mammalogy,  Feb.,  192 1,  Vol.  II,  p.  35. 


222  SELF-INJURY 

Instances  of  underdevelopment  of  the  danger  sense  in  the 
relation  of  wild  animals  with  men  are  so  plentiful  that  it  is 
hard  to  select  the  few  to  which  space  can  be  given.  Per- 
haps no  case  of  animal  destruction  could  be  mentioned  that 
would  appeal  more  strongly  to  American  readers  than  that 
of  the  great  bison  (Bison  bison  Linn.)  which  originally  in- 
habited the  whole  territory  of  the  United  States  between  the 
Alleghany  and  Rocky  Mountains,  and  much  of  Canada. 
This  species  exists  no  longer  as  a  wild  animal  except  in  one 
small  herd  in  the  Yellowstone  National  Park  where  it  has 
the  benefit  of  rigid  government  protection.  So  far  as  its 
own  self-preservative  ability  is  concerned  the  Buffalo  would 
surely  have  gone  the  way  of  the  Dodo  and  the  Passenger 
Pigeon  before  now.  Its  existence  in  small  numbers  toda}'' 
is  wholly  dependent  upon  the  fact  that  man  has  seen  fit 
to  stay  his  own  hand  before  his  work  of  destruction  was 
quite  complete. 

The  belief  seems  to  be  widely  held  that  for  this  great 
zoological  tragedy  the  ruthlessness  and  greed  of  man  are 
solely  responsible.  That  upon  the  animal  itself  rests  any 
of  the  responsibility  appears  to  occur  to  very  few  persons. 
Yet  Dr.  Hornaday,  one  of  the  most  earnest,  active  and 
efficient  of  those  who  have  espoused  the  cause  of  the  buffalo, 
does  recognize  such  responsibility.  This  zoologist  enu- 
merates five  causes  that  have  operated  in  bringing  about 
the  virtual  extermination  of  the  buffalo  as  a  wild  species. 
Of  these,  four  are  in  man  himself,  but  the  remaining  one  is 
'"the  phenomenal  stupidity  of  the  animals  themselves,  and 
their  indifference  to  man."  ^ 

''Still-hunting"  is  generally  recognized  as  one  of  the  most 
disastrous  of  all  the  methods  of  buffalo  slaughter.  The 
still-hunt  was  based  on  the  fact  that  if  the  hunter  could 
manage  to  hide  himself  completely  from  sight  and  smell  of 

®  The  Extermination  of   the  American   Bison,  etc.,   by   William   T. 
Hornaday,  1887,  p.  465. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  223 

the  animals,  he  could  shoot  them  down  one  after  another 
without  their  recognizing  danger  in  the  fact  that  their  com- 
panions were  dropping  dead  all  about  them. 

In  the  following  paragraph  Hornaday  gives  particulars 
of  this  mode  of  killing:  "Having  secured  a  position  within 
from  100  to  250  yards  of  his  game,  .  .  .  the  hunter  secures 
a  comfortable  rest  for  his  huge  rifle,  all  the  time  keeping 
his  own  person  thoroughly  hidden  from  view,  estimates  the 
distance,  carefully  adjusts  his  sights,  and  begins  business. 
If  the  herd  is  moving,  the  animal  in  the  lead  is  the  first  one 
shot.  ...  If  the  herd  is  at  rest,  the  oldest  cow  is  always 
supposed  to  be  the  leader,  and  she  is  the  one  to  kill  first. 
The  noise  startles  the  buffaloes,  they  stare  at  the  little  cloud 
of  white  smoke  and  feel  inclined  to  run,  but  seeing  their 
leader  hesitate  they  wait  for  her.  She,  when  struck,  gives  a 
violent  start  forward,  but  soon  stops,  and  the  blood  begins 
to  run  from  her  nostrils  in  two  bright  crimson  streams.  In 
a  couple  of  minutes  her  body  sways  unsteadily,  she  staggers, 
tries  hard  to  keep  her  feet,  but  soon  gives  a  lurch  sidewise 
and  falls.  Some  of  the  other  members  of  the  herd  come 
around  her  and  stare  and  sniff  in  wide-eyed  wonder,  and  one 
of  the  more  wary  starts  to  lead  the  herd  away.  But  before 
she  takes  half  a  dozen  steps  'bang!'  goes  the  hidden  rifle 
again,  and  her  leadership  is  ended  forever.  Her  fall  only 
increases  the  bewilderment  of  the  survivors  over  a  proceed- 
ing which  to  them  is  strange  and  unaccountable,  because  the 
danger  is  not  visible.  They  cluster  around  the  fallen  ones, 
sniff  at  the  warm  blood,  bawl  aloud  in  wonderment,  and 
do  everything  but  run  away."  ^ 

Concerning  the  effectiveness  of  this  method,  Hornaday 
says:  "The  highest  number  Mr.  McNancy  ever  knew  of 
being  killed  in  one  stand  was  ninety-one  head,  but  Colonel 
Dodge  once  counted  one  hundred  and  twelve  carcasses  of 
buffalo  inside  of  a  semicircle  of  200  yards  radius,  all  of 
^  P.  469. 


224  SELF-INJURY 

which  were  killed  by  one  man  from  the  same  spot,  and  in 
less  than  three-quarters  of  an  hour."  This  description  seems 
to  justify  Hornaday  when  he  says:  "The  buffalo  owes  his 
extermination  very  largely  to  his  own  unparalleled  stupidity; 
for  nothing  else  could  by  any  possibility  have  enabled  the 
still-hunters  to  accomplish  what  they  did  in  such  an  in- 
credibly short  time.  ...  A  single  still-hunter,  with  a  long 
range  breech-loader,  who  knew  how  to  make  a  'sneak*  and 
get  'a  stand  on  a  bunch,'  often  succeeded  in  killing  from  one 
to  three  thousand  in  one  season  by  his  own  unaided  efforts. 
Capt.  Jack  Bridges,  of  Kansas,  who  was  one  of  the  first 
to  begin  the  final  slaughter  of  the  southern  herd,  killed  by 
contract,  one  thousand  one  hundred  and  forty-two  buffaloes 
in  six  weeks."  ^ 

Without  stopping  to  analyze  the  mental  processes  of 
animals  thus  permitting  their  lives  to  be  snuffed  out,  this 
much  seems  obvious:  Failure  to  recognize  danger  from  the 
several  sensory  impressions  received,  sight  of  the  smoke, 
direction  of  the  sound  of  the  shot,  and  the  behavior  of  the 
wounded  companions,  must  be  interpreted  as  indicative 
of  a  very  low  order  of  intelligence  and  a  very  poorly 
developed  sense  of  fear.  The  whole  story  of  how  stupid 
fearlessness  of  these  animals  contributes  to  their  destruction 
could  hardly  be  told  without  telling  the  whole  story  of  the 
destruction  itself.  Another  aspect  of  it  is  found  in  the  evi- 
dence of  great  destruction  coming  upon  the  animals  from  the 
same  defects,  wholly  independently  of  man's  depredations. 
Fearlessness  owing  to  lack  of  sense  wrought  great  havoc 
upon  the  herds  in  several  ways  but  particularly  from  their 
sinking  inextricably  into  quicksand  or  other  soft  earth,  and 
from  drowning  through  venturing  upon  ice  not  strong 
enough  to  hold  them. 

As  an  illustration  of  the  first  mentioned  we  take  the  fol- 
lowing: "In  this  manner,  in  the  summer  of  1867,  over  two 

8  Ibid.,  p.  465- 


AMONG  MAMMALS  225 

thousand  buffaloes,  out  of  a  herd  of  about  four  thousand, 
lost  their  lives  in  the  quicksands  of  the  Platte  river,  near 
Plum  Creek,  while  attempting  to  cross."  ^  And  to  the  same 
effect  this  from  the  Journal  of  John  McDonnell:  "Observ- 
ing a  good  many  carcasses  of  Buffalo  in  the  river  and  along 
the  banks,  I  was  taken  up  the  whole  day  in  counting  them, 
and  to  my  surprise,  found  I  had  numbered  when  we  put  up 
at  night  7360  drowned  and  mired  along  the  river  and  in 
it."  ^°  In  the  same  volume  we  find  the  following  concerning 
the  icy  road  to  buffalo  destruction:  "Treacherous  ice  on  the 
rivers  took  greater  toll  of  Buffalo  life  than  any  other  natural 
enemy  of  the  animal.  Under  date  of  May  2,  1807,  Alex- 
ander Henry  records:  'The  number  of  Buffalo  lying  along 
the  beach  and  on  the  banks  passes  all  imagination.  They 
form  one  continuous  line  and  emit  a  horrible  stench.  I 
am  informed  that  every  spring  it  is  about  the  same.'  "  " 

It  would  probably  be  wrong  to  suppose  that  all  destruction 
in  these  ways  was  attributable  to  stupid  fearlessness;  or 
rather  to  suppose  that  all  such  destruction  might  have  been 
avoided  had  the  creatures  been  more  liberally  endowed  with 
intelligence  and  a  sense  of  danger.  Even  the  wisest,  most 
cautious  of  men  may  be  caught  at  times  by  death-dealing 
instrumentalities  such  as  those  here  mentioned,  but  there 
can  be  no  question  that  the  buffalo  lack  of  "sense,"  espe- 
cially sense  of  danger  in  many  situations,  contributed  enor- 
mously to  its  death  rate.  This  appears  to  have  been  par- 
ticularly so  when  the  herding  and  migratory  instincts  were 
in  full  swing.  Seton,  speaking  particularly  of  the  destruc- 
tiveness  due  to  ice  too  weak  to  bear  up  the  load  which  the 
great  herds  often  put  upon  it,  writes:  "All  winter  the  buffalo 
herds  of  the  colder  range  were  accustomed  fearlessly  to 
cross  and  recross  the  ice-bound  rivers.     Springtime  comes 

^  Hornaday,  The  Extermination  of  the  American  Bison,  p.  420. 
10  "Mammals  of   North   America,"  in  Nature  Lovers'  Library,  Vol. 
IV,  p.  43. 
"  P.  43. 


226  SELF-INJURY 

with  the  impulse  to  wander  farther  north;  the  herds  are 
more  compacted  now;  they  slowly  travel  on  their  route; 
river  after  river  is  crossed  at  first.  But  a  change  sets  in; 
the  ice  grows  rotten;  to  all  appearances  it  is  the  same,  but 
it  will  no  longer  bear  the  widely  extended  herd;  the  van 
goes  crushing  through  to  death,  and  thousands  more  are 
pushed  in  by  the  oncoming  herd  behind."  ^^ 

On  a  later  page  this  author  touches  the  subject  of  the 
powerful  and  blind  on-pushing  of  the  migratory  instinct. 
"Cold  weather  and  more  snow  may  follow,  but  the  impulse 
to  travel  possesses  them  now.  Once  it  is  given  command, 
it  changes  not  in  force  or  direction  till  the  remembered 
pastures  are  reached.  Rivers  may  cross  their  path.  These, 
if  frozen,  are  unnoticed;  if  open,  they  are  swum;  if  cov- 
ered with  rotten  ice,  the  ice  is  broken  eventually  by  the 
weight  of  the  herd,  and  many  are  drowned,  but  the  rest 
swim  through  and  continue  their  march."  ^^ 

Perhaps  even  so  scant  a  review  as  this  of  the  causes  which 
brought  to  an  end  the  natural  life  of  this  mighty  species, 
is  sufficient  to  convince  the  reader  of  the  justice  of  Horna- 
day's  including  among  these  causes  "the  phenomenal  stu- 
pidity of  the  animals  themselves,  and  their  indifference 
to  man." 

The  migratory  or  travel  instinct  may  go  to  remarkable 
extremes  in  mammals.  A  case  in  point  is  the  often-cited 
one  of  the  occasional  mass  movements  of  the  Scandinavian 
Lemming  {Lemmm  lemmus).  The  typical  habitat  of  this 
rodent  is  the  high  tablelands  of  the  Scandinavian  peninsula 
where  it  occurs  in  great  abundance.  At  irregular  intervals, 
once  in  from  five  to  twenty  years,  it  increases  enormously 
in  numbers  and,  descending  to  the  lower  country,  overruns 
even  the  cultivated  lands.  The  hordes  "steadily  and  slowly 
advance,  always  in  the  same  direction  and  regardless  of  all 

"^^Life-Histories  of  Northern  Animals,  1909,  Vol.  I,  p.  271. 
"  P.  274. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  227 

obstacles,  swimming  streams  and  even  lakes  of  several  miles 
in  breadth,  and  committing  considerable  devastation  on  their 
line  of  march."  In  turn  "they  are  pursued  and  harassed 
by  crowds  of  beasts  and  birds  of  prey,  as  bears,  wolves, 
foxes,  dogs,  wild  cats,  stoats,  weasels,  eagles,  hawks  and  owls, 
and  never  spared  by  man."  The  onward  march  may  con- 
tinue two  or  three  years,  till  those  which  survive  the  depre- 
dations of  enemies  reach  the  seacoast.  But  even  this  does 
not  stop  them,  for  into  the  water  they  plunge  and  swim 
straight  off  from  shore  as  far  as  their  strength  will  carry 
them.  "Those  that  finally  perish  in  the  sea,  committing 
what  appears  to  be  a  voluntary  suicide,  are  only  acting  under 
the  same  blind  impulse  which  has  led  them  to  cross  shal- 
lower pieces  of  water  with  safety."  ^*  It  is  said  that  none  of 
the  migrants  ever  return  to  the  original  home. 

A  much-quoted  causal  explanation  of  this  remarkable 
performance  is  that  the  westward  drive  of  the  animals  is 
inherited  from  ancestors  which  used  to  migrate  to  the  west 
when,  in  geological  times,  the  European  continent  extended 
much  farther  to  the  west  and  north  than  it  does  today.  The 
species  seems  to  have  inhabited  the  British  Islands  in  Pleis- 
tocene times.  If  the  creatures  have  been  going  through 
such  self-destroying  experiences  as  this  every  twenty  years 
or  oftener  since  the  Pleistocene  age  and  have  learned  nothing 
therefrom,  the  fact  is  certainly  disparaging  evidence  as  to 
their  grade  of  mental  development. 

An  example  of  a  type  of  dangerous  fearlessness  dependent, 
not  upon  mental  dullness,  but  upon  alert  curiosity  is  fur- 
nished by  the  American  or  pronghorn  antelope  {Antilo- 
capra  americana).  Observers  of  this  animal  in  its  wild  state 
refer  to  its  curiosity  and  the  fatal  costliness  of  this  to  the 
animals  themselves.  The  combination  of  this  attribute  with 
the  keenness  of  sight  and  fleetness  of  foot  of  the  creatures 
is  widely  commented  on.    One  of  the  early  records  to  this 

^*W.  H.  Flower  and  R.  Lydekker,  Encyclopadia  Britannica. 


228  SELF-INJURY 

effect  occurs  in  the  Journal  of  the  Lewis  and  Clarke  Expe- 
dition. In  the  entry  of  April  29,  1804,  we  read  concerning 
the  antelope:  "These  fleet  and  quicksighted  animals  are 
generally  the  victims  of  their  curiosity.  When  they  first  see 
the  hunter,  they  run  with  great  velocity;  if  he  lies  down 
on  the  ground  and  lifts  up  his  arm,  his  hat,  or  his  foot,  they 
return  with  a  light  trot  to  look  at  the  object,  and  sometimes 
go  and  return  two  or  three  times,  until  they  approach  within 
reach  of  the  rifle.  So,  too,  they  sometimes  leave  their  flock 
to  go  and  look  at  the  wolves,  which  crouch  down,  and,  if 
the  antelope  is  frightened  at  first,  repeat  the  same  maneuver, 
and  sometimes  relieve  each  other,  till  they  decoy  it  from 
the  party,  when  they  seize  it.  But  generally  the  wolves 
take  them  as  they  are  crossing  the  rivers;  for,  although  swift 
of  foot,  they  are  not  good  swimmers." 

Many  observers  of  more  recent  times  give  evidence  to 
the  peculiar  mentality  of  these  animals  as  to  their  sense  of 
danger.  "It  is  a  queer  animal,"  says  Roosevelt,  "with  its 
keen  senses,  but  with  streaks  of  utter  folly  in  its  character. 
Time  and  again  I  have  known  bands  to  rush  right  by  me, 
when  I  happened  to  surprise  them  feeding  near  timber  or 
hills,  and  got  between  them  and  the  open  plains.  The  ani- 
mals could  have  escaped  without  the  least  difficulty  if  they 
had  been  willing  to  go  into  the  broken  country,  or  through 
even  a  few  rods  of  trees  and  brush  and  yet  they  preferred 
to  rush  madly  by  me  at  close  range,  in  order  to  get  out  to 
their  favorite  haunts."  ^^ 

It  seems  to  be  generally  agreed  that  these  "streaks  of 
utter  folly"  in  the  character  of  these  animals  have  con- 
tributed not  a  little  to  the  near-extermination  which  has 
befallen  the  species.^^    Nor  do  such  streaks  appear  to  be 

15  The  Deer  Family,  p.  105. 

1*  Several  good  observers  of  recent  times  are  certain  that  not  only 
the  pronghorn  but  also  the  buffalo  and  several  species  of  big  game 
animals  whose  complete  extinction  seems  avertible  only  by  man's  ef- 
fectively pitting  his  own  left  hand  of  preservation  against  his  right 


AMONG  MAMMALS  229 

limited  to  this  single  American  representative  of  the  Antelope 
family.  Observations  could  be  cited  tending  to  show  that 
some  at  least  of  the  species  of  African  and  Asiatic  antelopes, 
which  are  quite  different  from  the  American  species  suffer 
from  similar  maladaptations.  When  the  curiosity  of  the 
animals  takes  the  form  of  gazing  at  its  object,  it  may  exhibit 
distinct  resemblances  to  hypnosis  in  humans.  Thus  narrat- 
ing how  a  solitary  buck  once  stood  gazing  at  him  till  he 
came  well  within  100  yards  of  it,  Nelson  writes:  "It  actually 
closed  its  eyes  and  appeared  to  be  dozing,  as  its  head  nodded 
slightly  up  and  down,  apparently  in  complete  indifference."  " 

Another  form  which  the  fearlessly  curious  activity  of  this 
animal  takes  is  especially  well  illustrated  by  Nelson  in  the 
same  article.  This  consists  in  its  racing  for  a  considerable 
distance  parallel  with,  and  not  far  from,  its  potential  enemy. 
We  read:  "When  traveling  on  horseback  and  happening 
upon  antelope  in  such  places  the  writer  often  amused  himself 
by  spurring  his  horse  to  a  gallop  and  continuing  his  course 
in  a  direction  which  would  take  him  by  and  away  from  the 
animal.  .  .  .  This  procedure  almost  invariably  brought  the 
expected  response,  and  the  animals  began  racing  him  until 
they  had  gained  a  slight  leadership,  when  they  would  dash 
by  in  front  across  the  road  or  trail." 

Another  example  of  dangerous  fearlessness  in  a  mam- 
malian species  is  selected  because  of  the  absence  in  crucial 
circumstances  of  instinctive  fear  and  of  the  seeming  inde- 
pendence of  this  absence.  By  independent  absence  of  fear, 
I  mican  the  complete  absence  of  fear,  in  contrast  to  seeming 
absence,  where  fear  is  present  but  overcome  by  some  stronger 

hand  of  destruction,  have  gained  wisdom,  as  we  may  call  it,  from  the 
deadly  follies  of  their  progenitors.  It  is  said  that  today  successful 
hunting  of  the  few  individuals  that  remain  is  a  very  different  matter 
from  what  it  was  in  the  early  period  when  the  numbers  were  almost 
limitless.  Both  the  evidence  for  this  and  the  significance  of  it,  if  it  is 
really  true,  will  have  to  be  considered  later. 

1^  E.  W.  Nelson,  Status  of  the  Pronghorned  Antelope,  ig22-ig24, 
U    S.  Dept.  of  Agriculture  Bull.  No.  1546,  Aug.,   1925,  p.  6. 


23b  SELF-INJURY 

and  partially  antagonistic  instinct.  The  case  in  mind  is 
furnished  by  the  Elephant  Seal  {Mirounga  angustirostris). 
This  giant  seal  was  formerly  very  abundant  on  the  west 
coast  of  North  America  from  central  California  to  near  the 
southern  extremity  of  Lower  California.  It  is  a  valuable 
oil-producing  animal  and  has  been  so  persistently  and  ruth- 
lessly hunted  that  it  is  now  reduced  to  a  small  herd  which 
has  its  headquarters  on  Guadalupe  Island  off  the  coast  of 
Lower  California.  The  evidence  of  independent  absence  of 
fear  in  these  animals  comes  from  the  observations  of  a  party 
of  naturalists  who  visited  Guadalupe  Island  in  July,  192 1. 
A  herd  of  more  than  two  hundred  was  found  hauled  out  on 
one  of  the  beaches.  It  was  composed  almost  entirely  of  full- 
grown  males.  This  shows  that  the  creatures  were  not  under 
the  domination  of  either  the  mating  or  the  parental  instincts. 
Since  they  were  all  resting  more  or  less  quietly  on  a  barren 
beach,  the  nutrimental  set  of  instincts  was  not  in  evidence. 
Nothing  was  seen  by  the  party  either  at  this  point  or  else- 
where of  the  great  majority  of  the  females  or  any  of  the 
young  of  the  year  that  must  be  supposed  to  be  constituents 
of  this  herd. 

The  party's  approach  to  the  closely  crowded  herd  was  from 
the  sea  in  a  boat.  As  the  main  purpose  of  the  visit  was  to 
study  the  animals  and  get  pictures  of  them,  the  approach 
was  made  unobtrusively,  but  there  was  no  attempt  at  con- 
cealment. Photographs  were  taken  of  them  from  as  many 
points  of  view  and  degrees  of  nearness  as  was  desired  with- 
out in  the  least  disturbing  them.  The  men  went  among  the 
creatures  without  let  or  hindrance,  slapping  them,  putting 
their  feet  on  them,  and  even,  in  one  case,  sitting  down  on 
one.  This  last  seems  to  have  been  carrying  the  familiarity 
a  little  too  far,  for  the  individual  sat  upon  vigorously  and 
menacingly  protested.  Nor  was  the  herd  much  perturbed 
by  the  shooting,  killing,  and  skinning  of  two  of  their  mem- 
bers, this  having  been  done  to  secure  museum  specimens. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  231 

The  experience  here  narrated  with  this  remnant  of  the 
elephant  seals  is  confirmed  by  other  visitors  to  their  island 
home.  It  is  agreed  that  the  life  customs  of  the  animals  de- 
pendent upon  their  bodily  structure  and  ways  of  behaving 
are  such  as  to  make  their  complete  extermination  at  the 
hands  of  men  easy  and  certain  unless  man  interposes  against 
himself  and  stays  his  own  exterminative  propensities.^^ 

We  are  obliged  to  conclude  that  the  nearly  complete  ex- 
tinction which  has  befallen  the  once  widespread,  abundant, 
and  valuable  species  of  elephant  seals,  is  due  in  no  small 
degree  to  the  stupidity  of  the  creatures  themselves.  The 
attribution  to  them  of  self-preservative  foresight  enough  to 
make  them  post  sentinels  around  the  sleeping  herds  ^^  must 
rest  on  defective  observation  or  interpretation  or  both.  No 
one  else  who  has  observed  the  animals  has  reported  anything 
of  the  sort  so  far  as  I  can  discover. 


18  Is  it  really  true  that  the  animals  do  nothing  toward  their  own 
preservation?  Have  the  disastrous  experiences  they  have  undergone  in 
their  contact  with  man  for  three  quarters  of  a  century  taught  them 
nothing  whatever  as  to  how  they  can  thwart  this  deadly  enemy?  There 
is  some  evidence  that  the  case  is  not  quite  so  discreditable  to  their  men- 
tality. 

It  was  mentioned  in  the  above  narrative  that  the  party  had  no  dif- 
ficulty in  approaching  the  herd  from  the  sea  by  boat.  A  careful 
observer  told  me  that  on  several  visits  to  the  Guadalupe  herd,  he  had 
noticed  that  whereas  the  animals  were  almost  entirely  heedless  of  men 
if  approached  from  any  direction  on  land,  they  exhibit  considerable 
shjmess  when  approached  from  the  water  in  boats.  This  he  assumes 
is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  usual  way  of  attack  upon  them  by  hunters 
is  from  this  direction  and  by  this  means.  The  same  observation  and 
interpretation  are  expressed  by  H.  N.  Moseley  concerning  the  "Sea- 
elephants"  of  Kerguelen  Land.  This  author  tells  us  (Xotes  by  a 
Naturalist  on  the  "Challenger,"  p.  201)  that  he  went  close  to  a  large 
male  and  excited  him  with  the  hope  of  seeing  him  do  something  with 
his  peculiar  proboscis,  but  that  his  efforts  had  had  no  effect  in  making 
the  beast  "move  from  his  ground  or  frightening  him  at  all."  When, 
however,  the  ship's  cutter  containing  several  men  came  toward  the 
beach,  the  "Elephants  became  immediately  alarmed  as  if  accustomed 
only  to  expect  danger  from  boat  parties." 

19  See  Anson's  Voyage  Around  the  World  in  1740,  etc. 


232  SELF-INJURY 

OVERACTIVITY  IN  THE  PRESENCE  OF  DANGER 

Manifestation  of  fear  so  excessive  as  to  interfere  with 
activities  necessary  to  escape  from  danger  is  familiar  to  all 
in  cases  of  panic.  These  same  elephant  seals,  whose  fears 
were  so  slow-stirring,  when  once  aroused  suffer  equally  from 
the  destructive  effect  of  their  panic. 

This  story  is  told  in  Captain  C.  M.  Scammon's  account 
of  the  mode  of  capturing  the  animals  in  the  palmy  days  of 
the  oil  industry  of  which  they  were  the  basis,  on  the  coast 
of  the  Cahfornias.  He  writes:  ^°  "The  sailors  get  between 
the  herd  and  the  water;  then,  raising  all  possible  noise  by 
shouting,  and  at  the  same  time  flourishing  clubs,  guns,  and 
lances,  the  party  advance  slowly  toward  the  rookery,  when 
the  animals  will  retreat,  appearing  in  a  state  of  great  alarm. 
Occasionally  an  overgrown  male  will  give  battle,  or  attempt 
to  escape;  but  a  musket-ball  through  the  brain  dispatches  it; 
or  some  one  checks  its  progress  by  thrusting  a  lance  into 
the  roof  of  the  mouth,  which  causes  it  to  settle  on  its 
haunches,  when  two  men  with  heavy  oaken  clubs  give  the 
creature  repeated  blows  about  the  head,  until  it  is  stunned 
or  killed.  After  securing  those  that  are  disposed  to  resist- 
ance, the  party  rush  on  the  main  body.  The  onslaught 
creates  such  a  panic  among  these  peculiar  creatures,  that, 
losing  all  control  of  their  actions,  they  climb,  roll,  and  tumble 
over  each  other,  when  prevented  from  farther  retreat  by  the 
projecting  cliffs."  On  one  occasion  when  sixty-five  seals 
were  taken  several  of  the  dead  bodies  showed  no  signs  of 
having  been  clubbed,  lanced,  or  otherwise  mutilated.  The 
assumption  was  that  these  had  been  "smothered  by  numbers 
of  their  kind  heaped  upon  them."  This  is  panic  pure  and 
simple. 

20  The  Marine  Mammals  of  the  North-Western  Coast  of  North  Amer- 
ica, p.  1 1 8,  1874. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  233 

The  story  recalls  the  behavior  of  a  terror-stricken  human 
crowd;  for  example  in  connection  with  theater  fires.  Such 
panics,  whether  among  seals,  buffaloes,  men  or  any  other 
creatures,  are  incontestable  proof  of  a  rather  high  degree  of 
mentality.  Sea  anemones  and  starfishes  are  never  panic 
stricken  in  the  face  of  danger.  What  part  "pure"  instinct 
and  what  part  "pure"  reason  takes  in  the  panics  of  different 
species  is  an  extremely  interesting  and  complex  problem,  but 
one  not  to  be  dealt  with  here. 

Striking  examples  of  the  deadly  possibilities  there  are 
in  panic  from  fear  are  abundantly  supplied  by  the  horse. 
"A  horse  will  dash  himself  to  death  getting  out  of  the  way 
of  a  swaying  shadow  or  whirling  leaf."  ^^  G.  J.  Romanes 
says:  "I  think  I  am  right  in  saying  that  the  horse  is  the 
only  animal  which,  under  the  influence  of  fear,  loses  the 
possession  of  every  other  sense  in  one  mad  and  mastering 
desire  to  run.  .  .  .  The  wholly  demented  animal  may  run 
headlong  and  at  terrific  speed  against  a  stone  wall."  " 
Everybody  who  has  had  large  acquaintance  with  these  an- 
imals can  recall  instances  enough  in  which  he  has  seen  this 
defect  of  character  more  or  less  distinctly  manifested.  In- 
delibly stamped  upon  my  own  mind  are  my  experiences  as 
a  farmer  lad  with  a  mare  which  it  fell  to  my  lot  to  handle 
almost  daily  for  many  years.  Her  excessive  fright  at  any- 
thing and  everything  unusual  made  getting  on  with  her  try- 
ing indeed.  This  animal  would  go  into  spasms  of  fear  at 
the  sight  and  sound  of  a  railroad  train  running  through  the 
fields  many  rods  from  the  road  on  which  she  was,  while  her 
harness  mate  would  scarcely  look  toward  it  or  prick  up  ears 
at  its  noise. 

Panic-stricken  horses  may  also  meet  their  doom  through 
their  tendency  to  return  to  their  places  in  a  burning  barn 
after  they  have  been  led  away  by  human  rescuers.     An 

21  Wild  Beasts,  by  J.  H.  Porter,  p.  17. 
~-  Aniinal  Intelligence,  p.  323. 


234  SELF-INJURY 

instance  of  this  kind  occurred  a  few  years  ago  in  my  neigh- 
borhood; I  am  reasonably  certain  as  to  the  essential  correct- 
ness of  the  report,  especially  as  to  one  horse  in  particular. 
This  individual  was  a  high-bred  and  valuable  saddle  horse 
of  whom  the  owner  and  the  keeper  were  very  fond.  Special 
effort  was  consequently  made  to  rescue  her.  She  had  been 
kept  untied  in  a  box  stall.  The  rescuers  succeeded  in  run- 
ning her  out  before  the  fire  reached  her  part  of  the  barn. 
But  they  were  unable  to  prevent  her  from  returning  and 
she  was  burned  to  death  in  her  accustomed  place."  Ro- 
manes' belief  that  the  horse  is  the  only  animal  in  which  de- 
sire to  run  results  from  its  losing  "possession  of  every  other 
sense"  under  the  influence  of  fear,  may  be  right,  though 
this  is  questionable.  It  is  certain  that  there  are  animals 
not  a  few  in  which  fear  and  its  allied  emotions  may  upset 
their  mental  equilibrium  quite  as  disastrously,  though  in 
other  ways.  Almost  complete  paralysis  at  the  critical  mo- 
ment may  be  quite  as  seriously  maladaptive  as  the  horse's 
blind  running  away.  The  horse  itself  furnishes  a  striking 
example  of  how,  under  some  circumstances,  fear  may  have 
the  opposite  effect  from  inducing  flight.  Inability  to  make 
any  effective  movements  at  all  sometimes  results.  Thus 
Angelo  Mosso  tells  us  -*  that  at  the  sight  of  a  tiger  a  horse 
may  tremble  to  such  an  extent  as  to  be  no  longer  able  to 

23  The  unquestioned  bewilderment  or  panic-producing  influence  of 
fire  on  horses  raises  the  interesting  question  as  to  how  far  this  same 
influence  may  have  been  operative  with  the  ancestors  of  the  modern 
horse,  and  also  with  other  animals  than  the  horse.  We  have  convincing 
evidence  that  prairie  fires  destroyed  great  numbers  of  the  American 
buffalo.  There  is  no  evidence  that  panic  and  confusion  of  mind  on 
the  part  of  the  animals  played  a  part  in  this  destruction,  neither  is  there 
evidence  that  the  bufl'alo  showed  any  special  wit  for  escaping  from  the 
great  fires  that  occasionally  swept  over  the  western  plains.  From  the 
knowledge  we  have  of  their  mentality  we  should  seriously  doubt  their 
having  any  ability  in  this  direction.  From  what  we  know  about  the 
eflfects  of  intense  fright  in  many  animals,  it  seems  probable  that  the 
deadly  havoc  known  to  have  been  wrought-  upon  various  forest-dwelling 
animals  by  forest  fires  has  been  partly  due  to  the  panic  or  other  forms 
of  mental  confusion  produced  in  them. 

2«  Fear. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  235 

run.  The  rabbit  is  another  animal  in  which  this  sort  of 
thing  is  known  to  occur.  Thus  we  read:  "  ''The  terrifying 
effect  of  a  stoat  on  a  rabbit  is  perfectly  extraordinary  and 
unaccountable.  I  have  picked  up  hunted  rabbits  so  petri- 
fied by  fear  that  they  have  made  no  attempt  to  get  away." 

Lindsay  ^^  says:  ''But  on  the  other  hand  fear,  alarm, 
terror,  horror,  in  their  major  degrees  at  least,  frequently 
paralyze  all  power  of  self-protective  action,  creating  a  dan- 
gerous immobility  of  body,  with  an  accompanying  fixity  of 
stare.  This  condition  is  often  described  as  a  kind  of  jas- 
cination  of  which  the  main  features  are  the  powerlessness  of 
mind  and  body,  with  the  gaze  helplessly  fixed  on  some 
dreaded  object — generally  some  powerful  enemy,  such  as  a 
serpent.  The  spell-bound  animal  is  otherwise  said  to  'lose 
its  head'  or  'wits'  in  some  serious,  sudden,  unexpected  emer- 
gency in  which  presence  of  mind  and  readiness  of  action  are 
all-important.  To  terror  in  the  victim  is  due  the  power  of 
the  rattlesnake  to  'charm'  the  said  victim,  to  hold  it  as  if 
spell-bound,  fixed  in  its  position  and  gaze,  insusceptible  of 
flight  or  motion.  .  .  .  Such  is  the  dread  of  armed  men,  or 
even  of  man's  firearms,  in  certain  baboons,  that  the  mere 
sight  of  a  gun,  or  of  the  act  of  aiming  one — though  the 
weapon  be  unloaded — begets  sometimes  paralysis  of  thought 
and  action  with  its  consequences." 

The  reference  to  the  power  of  the  rattlesnake  to  "charm" 
its  victims  may  be  looked  upon  by  some  critical  readers  as 
weakening  this  whole  idea  of  mental  upset  in  animals  by 
fear,  since  at  least  one  good  authority  on  reptiles  brushes 
aside  as  pure  myth  the  reputation  which  snakes  have  in  this 
way.  Undoubtedly  much  that  is  fictitious  and  highly  fanci- 
ful has  gathered  around  this  subject.  Nevertheless  that 
many  animals  are  subject  to  some  kind  of  almost  complete, 

25  "The  Stoat,"  by  Frances  Pitt,  The  National  Review,  Vol.  LXXV, 
1920.  p.  263. 
-"  Mind  in  the  Lower  Animals,  Vol,  II,  p.  235. 


236  SELF-INJURY 

though  temporary,  overthrow  of  their  ordinary  mental  proc- 
esses under  the  fear  of  enemies,  especially  serpents,  seems 
beyond  question. 

An  illuminating  general  treatment  of  the  snake's  power 
in  this  way  is  given  by  W.  H.  Hudson  in  "The  Serpent's 
Tongue."  "  Hudson  maintains  that  whatever  be  the  power 
of  the  serpent  to  "fascinate  its  prey"  (the  term  jascinate  he 
retains  out  of  deference  to  custom,  but  he  does  not  like  it), 
its  tongue  is  one  element,  though  only  one,  in  that  power. 
He  introduces  his  argument  with  the  well-known  fact  that 
a  frog  will  be  thrown  into  a  helplessly  paroxysmal  state  by 
the  approach  to  it  of  anything,  even  a  stick,  if  the  move- 
ments are  "snake-like."  Something  of  this  is  known  by 
experience  to  every  schoolboy  who  has  had  the  joy  of  teasing 
either  frogs  or  toads. 

It  is  less  easy  to  observe  such  defective  self-control  in 
birds  and  mammals  than  in  frogs  and  toads.  With  reference 
to  this  Hudson  writes:  "We  are  now  in  possession  of  a  very 
large  number  of  well-authenticated  cases  of  undoubted  fas- 
cination in  which  the  victims  are  seen  to  act  in  a  variety 
of  ways,  but  all  alike  exhibit  very  keen  distress.  The  animal 
that  falls  under  the  spell  appears  to  be  conscious  of  his 
loss  of  power,  as  in  the  case  of  the  frog  pursued  by  the 
ring-snake.  He  is  thrown  into  violent  convulsions,  or 
trembles,  or  screams,  or  struggles  to  escape,  and  sometimes 
rushes  in  terror  away  only  to  return  again,  perhaps  in  the 
end  to  jump  into  the  serpent's  jaws."  -^ 

These  few  examples  of  the  mind-dethroning  power  which 
fear  may  exert  upon  animals  constitute  the  merest  glance 
at  a  vast  and  important  subject  which  is  now  in  a  fair  way 
to  receive  the  attention  from  physiologists  and  psychologists 
which  it  deserves. 

27  The  Book  of  a  Naturalist,  p.  134. 

28  P.  149. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  237 

DUE   TO  RAGE 

The  "senselessness"  of  activities  inspired  by  excessive 
rage  is  even  more  familiar  than  the  menace  of  panic.  It 
is  interesting  that  colloquially  we  use  the  same  word  "mad" 
for  the  human  being  who  is  insane  and  for  the  one  who  is 
overwrought  with  anger.  Whatever  we  may  think  about  the 
successful  adaptiveness  of  human  actions  inspired  by  anger, 
there  can  be  no  doubt  that  among  animals  such  actions  can 
be  highly  destructive  of  the  welfare  of  the  enraged  individ- 
ual himself.    Only  one  illustration  will  be  given. 

The  instance  concerns  the  California  Elk  (Cervus  nan- 
nodes)  and  is  reported  by  C.  Hart  Merriam.^^  An  effort 
was  made  several  years  ago  to  remove  a  herd  of  wild  elk 
from  one  locality  to  another.  The  reason  for  this  effort  lay 
in  the  fact  that,  owing  to  protection  from  hunters,  the  elk 
had  so  increased  in  numbers  as  to  become  more  destructive 
to  crops  than  the  ranch  owners  chiefly  affected  were  willing 
to  stand  for.  The  plan  was  to  transfer  them  to  a  particular 
place  in  the  Sequoia  National  Park,  where  they  would  be 
under  government  protection,  but  could  find  no  farm  crops 
to  ravage. 

The  story  is  a  thrilling  one,  but  only  a  small  portion  of  it 
is  relevant  to  the  present  discussion.  That  portion  concerns 
the  performances  of  a  large  bull  which  was  captured,  tied, 
placed  in  a  corral  with  a  few  of  his  companions,  from  whence 
he  was  forced  into  a  heavily  crated  flat  car,  transported  by 
railroad  to  the  station  nearest  the  Park  (35  miles  away), 
and  thence  taken  to  the  destination  in  a  heavy  wagon  drawn 
by  a  six-mule  team.  As  to  fear,  Merriam  says:  "From  first 
to  last  he  had  shown  no  fear  and  had  fought  every  living 

29  "A  California  Elk  Drive,"  The  Scientific  Monthly,  1921,  Vol.  XIII, 
pp.  465-475. 


238  SELF-INJURY 

thing  within  his  reach."  It  would  be  necessary  to  go  back 
to  the  beginning  of  the  efforts  made  by  the  vaqueros  to 
''round  up"  the  animals  while  they  were  yet  free  in  the 
open,  in  order  to  prove  the  absence  of  fear,  and  this  Mer- 
riam's  reference  does  not  do.  "\A^en  in  the  corral,  no 
sooner  were  the  ropes  cut  than  the  bull  charged  with  such 
earnestness — ^in  spite  of  the  fact  that  he  was  unable  to 
stand  still  on  his  feet — that  the  men  were  obliged  to  escape 
over  the  fence  with  the  utmost  promptness."  ^°  The  crea- 
ture's inability  to  "stand  still  on  his  feet"  was  due  to  the 
hard  treatment  he  had  received  while  being  brought  "hog- 
tied"  to  the  corral.  Special  notice  should  be  taken  of  the 
"charging"  despite  the  animal's  weakened  condition. 

In  illustration  of  the  statement  that  the  bull  "fought 
every  living  thing  within  his  reach,"  the  author  says:  "Dis- 
covering the  spike-horn  bull,  whose  fetters  had  been  loosed 
simultaneously  with  his  own,  leaning  against  the  corral  fence 
near  by,  he  instantly  lowered  his  head  and  charged,  driving 
his  strongly  curved  brow-tines  into  the  side  of  the  younger 
animal,  which  soon  began  to  bleed  at  the  mouth  and  the 
nose,  and  later  died."  ^^  This  incident  belongs  by  right,  it 
will  be  noticed,  to  the  class  of  maladaptive  actions  desig- 
nated as  "injury  to  kind." 

Now  for  the  way  it  fared  with  the  creature  himself  from 
his  own  activities.  "While  in  transit  he  had  fought  and 
butted  and  kicked  imtil  he  had  splintered  several  of  the  side 
boards  of  the  car.  A  half  barrel  of  water  that  had  been  put 
into  the  car  stood  in  the  doorway.  By  means  of  a  pole  it 
was  upset  and  pushed  to  one  side.  No  sooner  had  this  been 
done  than  the  elk,  seeing  it  in  a  new  position,  charged  and 
dealt  it  a  resounding  blow  that  sent  it  rolling  over  the  floor. 
This  evidently  pleased  him,  for  arching  his  neck  and  leaping 

30  P.  468. 

31  Ibid. 


AMONG  MAMMALS  239 

forward  he  struck  it  again  and  again,  making  a  great  noise, 
and  following  it  around  the  car,  butting  it  furiously  as  if  it 
were  the  cause  of  all  his  trouble."  ^^  At  another  juncture  he 
became  specially  enraged,  "butting  furiously  in  one  spot 
until  the  boards  began  to  give  way."  Finally,  having  been 
so  closely  confined  in  the  crate  that  he  could  not  butt,  he 
began  to  kick,  first  with  one  foot  and  then  with  the  other. 
"The  force  and  rapidity  of  the  blows  were  astonishing;  it 
seemed  incredible  that  his  strength  could  hold  out."  This 
was  kept  up  almost  incessantly  for  the  entire  way  and  so 
effectively  that  it  was  found  necessary  to  stop  several  times 
on  the  wagon  part  of  the  journey  and  repair  the  damage  the 
bull  was  doing  to  his  prison  bars.  The  place  in  the  park 
where  the  animals  were  to  be  released  was  finally  reached, 
only  the  old  bull  and  one  calf  having  survived  the  ordeal 
to  this  point.  By  this  time  the  old  fellow  had  finished  his 
fight:  finished  it  because  he  had  finished  himself.  The  hind 
wheels  of  the  wagon  were  sunken  into  the  earth  so  as  to 
bring  the  floor  of  the  crate  down  to  the  level  of  the  ground, 
the  crate  was  opened  and  the  old  bull,  now  utterly  subdued, 
was  given  his  freedom  once  more.  "With  his  head  bent  to 
one  side  and  back  curved,  with  one  ear  up  and  the  other 
down,  and  with  a  dejected  helpless  expression  on  his  face, 
he  hobbled  wearily  away,  barely  able  to  step  without  falling. 
Slowly  he  made  his  way  to  the  river,  waded  in,  drank, 
crossed  to  the  far  side,  staggered  laboriously  up  the  low 
bank,  and  lay  down.  The  next  day  he  was  found  in  the 
same  spot — dead." 

The  sequel  of  the  story  is  quickly  told.  Profiting  by  this 
first  experience  at  attempting  to  move  the  elk,  those  having 
the  matter  in  charge  soon  found  a  somewhat  different  method 
of  capturing  and  transporting  them  so  that  later  a  goodly 
herd  was  established  in  their  new  Jiome^  where  they  them- 

32  P.  473- 


240  SELF-INJURY 

selves  are  safer  from  harm  than  in  the  old  home,  and  are 
unable  to  harm  anybody  else.  Had  that  bull  elk  possessed 
sufficient  control  over  his  own  emotions  to  prevent  him  from 
killing  himself  to  no  purpose  he  mJght  have  been  one  of 
the  fortunate  colonizers  in  the  new  and  better  country  of 
which  his  kindred  soon  became  the  possessors. 


CHAPTER  14 
MALADAPTIVE   ACTIVITY   IN   MONKEYS   AND   APES 

The  whole  monkey  tribe  are  so  much  more  like  men  in  all 
structural  attributes  than  are  any  other  animals  that  the 
question  of  how  far  they  are  manlike  in  their  mental  lives 
is  always  recognized  as  one  of  peculiar  interest. 

How  far  does  the  round  of  activities  of  an  individual 
monkey  or  great  ape  during  its  whole  lifetime  run  parallel 
with  that  of  a  human  being?  That  the  life  activities  of  in- 
dividual monkeys  or  apes  in  their  natural  surroundings  can 
ever  be  studied  as  fully  as  the  life  activities  of  individual 
humans  already  have  been  studied,  is  probably  beyond  the 
range  of  possibility.  The  habitats  and  modes  of  life  of 
nearly  all  the  primates,  especially  of  the  great  apes,  place 
special  obstacles  in  the  way  of  such  studies.  Opportunities 
of  study  on  the  activities  of  these  creatures  are  at  present 
restricted  almost  entirely  to  individuals  held  captive.  There 
is  unavoidable  and  incalculable  difference  between  the  best 
man-made  surroundings  of  captive  animals  and  the  natural 
surroundings  of  them.  Try  to  imagine  what  scientific  knowl- 
edge of  the  mental  life  of  man  would  be  had  it  been  built 
up  exclusively  on  studies  of  individuals,  mostly  adults,  and 
with  little  reference  to  sex,  held  in  close  confinement  and 
carefully  observed  only  in  connection  with  set  experiments! 
All  the  historic  background,  paleontological  and  archaeo- 
logical, and  most  of  the  comparative  background,  would  be 
excluded  from  such  studies.  The  radical  shift  of  viewpoint 
now  taking  place  in  this  matter  has  given  us  broadened 
and  liberalized  studies  on  anthropoids  which  have  greatly 
increased  our  knowledge  of  their  mentality.  These  studies, 
though  necessarily  restricted  to  captive  animals,  give  them 

241 


242  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

the  largest  possible  measure  of  chance  to  act  in  their  own 
way,  these  activities  being  watched  continuously  and  with 
the  greatest  possible  care,  and  interfered  with  for  experi- 
mental control  only  with  a  view  to  getting  information  about 
the  activities  beyond  that  which  the  mere  watching  is  able  to 
elicit. 


EXTENT  OF  ACTIVITY  RESULTING  IN  EXCESSIVENESS I  IN 
FOOD-TAKING 

Despite  the  dearth  of  knowledge  of  the  life  activities  of 
monkeys  and  apes  in  nature  and  of  the  necessary  defective- 
ness of  knowledge  gained  from  the  study  of  captives,  we 
have  unmistakable  evidence  concerning  some  of  the  char- 
acteristics of  their  activities.  One  of  these  characteristics 
is  the  generally  active  life  they  lead,  the  activity  implicat- 
ing especially  the  arms,  hands,  and  fingers.  Any  reader  who 
has  access  to  a  zoological  park  may  test  the  truth  of  this 
statement  for  himself.  Let  him  visit  in  turn  one  animal 
house  after  another  with  the  question  in  mind,  "In  which 
are  there  the  most  things  going  on?"  After  testing  the 
matter  repeatedly  and  for  different  hours  of  the  day  he  will 
hardly  be  in  doubt  as  to  what  answer  must  be  forthcoming. 
The  bird  house  and  the  monkey  house  are  preeminently  the 
ones  in  which  activity  is  greatest  both  as  to  quantity  and 
variety.  Great  in  quantity  and  variety  as  are  the  activities 
in  the  bird  house  and  significant  as  these  are  from  the  general 
zoological  standpoint,  they  are  obviously  out  of  line  with 
human  activities. 

Comparing  what  goes  on  in  the  monkey  house  with  what 
happens  in  any  of  the  places  in  which  terrestrial  mammals 
are  confined,  two  contrasts  are  striking:  The  greater  total 
amount  of  activity,  individual  for  individual,  in  the  monkey 
cages  as  contrasted  with  that  in  the  cages  of  any  other 
mammals;  and  the  greater  variety  of  activities,  especially 


IN  MONKEYS  AND  APES  243 

those  involving  arms  and  hands,  in  monkey dom.  Any  one 
who  has  had  opportunity  to  observe  members  of  the  monkey 
tribe  has  noticed  the  busy  fingers  presented  by  the  creatures. 
The  amount  of  poking  and  pulling  at  wisps  of  straw,  or 
fur,  tails  and  legs  of  companions ;  of  picking  up  and  eyeing 
or  smelling  or  biting  sticks,  straws  or  other  small  objects 
from  floor  or  shelf  or  food  receptacle;  and  of  fingering  ir- 
regularities on  surfaces  of  cage  sides,  is  remarkable  when 
viewed  in  comparison  with  what  can  be  seen  among  animals 
of  any  other  group.  How  far  are  these  activities  subject  to 
the  defects  as  well  as  to  the  merits  which  we  have  seen 
among  animals  generally?  That  the  tendency  to  excessive- 
ness  of  action  is  manifest  in  many  kinds  of  monkeys  and 
apes  there  appears  no  room  for  doubt.  A  little  experi- 
mental observation  of  my  own  on  a  half-grown  female 
mandrill  in  the  zoological  park  at  Cincinnati  is  illustrative 
of  one  phase  of  excessive  activity.  The  rule  against  promis- 
cuous feeding  of  the  animals  by  visitors  not  being  here  en- 
forced, by  mid-afternoon  on  days  when  visitors  were  nu- 
merous the  monkeys  would  be  so  "fed  up"  on  peanuts  and 
other  things  that  their  need  for  food  would  be  wholly  gone, 
and  their  desire  for  it  and  tendency  to  respond  positively 
toward  it  almost  gone.  When  a  peanut  was  offered  to  the 
individual  in  question  she  would  slowly  and  as  it  seemed 
absent-mindedly  reach  through  the  bars  for  it,  take  it  in 
her  hand  and  put  it  into  her  mouth,  crack  it  and  perhaps 
eat  a  portion  of  the  meat,  casting  aside  the  rest,  or  perhaps 
not  eat  any  of  it.  Such  was  her  procedure  when  no  resist- 
ance whatever  was  put  in  the  way  of  her  taking  the  nut 
offered  to  her.  But  when  I  held  the  nut  where  she  could 
not  quite  reach  it  or  so  tightly  that  considerable  effort  on 
her  part  was  necessary  to  get  it  away  from  me,  the  whole 
proceeding  took  on  quite  a  different  character.  Anger  was 
manifest  in  all  her  mien  and  effort,  eyes  flashing,  teeth 
showing,  and  all  arm  and  body  movements  greatly  quickened 


244  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

and  intensified.  The  most  significant  thing  done  under  the 
altered  state  was  to  the  nut,  once  it  was  secured.  With 
steel-trap-like  speed  it  was  carried  to  the  mouth,  with  equal 
force  and  speed  smashed  to  bits  by  a  single  snap  of  the  jaws 
and  teeth,  and  the  whole  mass  of  fragments,  meat  and  shell 
commingled,  thrown  away  with  a  speed  and  force  in  keeping 
with  all  the  rest  of  the  performance.  Not  the  slightest  move 
to  eat  the  nut  was  made  in  any  of  the  many  instances  in 
which  I  balked  her  taking  it. 

Two  points  here  illustrate  the  principle  of  excessive  ac- 
tivity. First  there  was  the  obvious  fact  of  going  through 
the  w^hole  food-taking  operation  when  there  was  no  need 
or  real  desire  for  food,  just  because  there  was  food  in  sight 
and  in  reach.  The  other  point  was  the  apparent  necessity 
for  the  performance  to  run  its  course  once  it  was  started. 
This  was  especially  conspicuous  when  the  action-cycle  was 
done  in  anger  from  the  creature's  being  somewhat  thwarted 
in  the  initial  stage  of  the  cycle.  Clearly  the  wrath  was  ex- 
cited by  my  interfering  with  the  monkey's  getting  the  nut 
into  her  hand.  Why  then  should  not  the  performance  have 
stopped  with  the  accomplishment  of  that?  The  nut  grasped 
by  the  hand  must  be  carried  to  the  mouth  and  put  into  it, 
the  mouth  must  be  opened  and  closed  upon  the  nut  for 
smashing  it,  and  the  rubbish  must  be  spat  out,  because  it  had 
to  be  got  rid  of  in  some  other  way  than  that  for  which  nut- 
cracking  was  originally  and  legitimately  performed.  Here 
was  a  series  of  acts  unmistakably  performed  originally  and 
basically  in  behalf  of  the  creature's  food  necessities,  but  in 
a  particular  situation  gone  through  repeatedly  not  only  with- 
out answering  in  the  least  to  the  original  purpose,  but  being 
actually  contrary  to  that  purpose.  Instances  like  this 
furnish  conclusive  evidence  against  the  generalization 
reached  by  some  psychologists  that  the  food-taking  response 
occurs  only  when  the  stimulus  thereto  is  accompanied  by 
hunger. 


IN  MONKEYS  AND  APES  245 

I  had  no  chance  to  test  monkeys  of  other  species  in  this 
collection  to  determine  how  interference  with  taking  prof- 
fered nuts  would  affect  them.  However,  so  extensively  were 
visitors  amusing  themselves  by  offering  nuts  to  sated  mon- 
keys that  there  was  ample  opportunity  to  observe  individuals 
of  several  other  species  going  languidly  through  the  opera- 
tion of  reaching  for  nuts,  taking  them,  and  then  making  little 
or  no  use  of  them. 


IN    MATERNAL    SOLICITUDE 

One  other  illustration  of  excessiveness  of  activity  in  the 
monkey  tribe  is  in  connection  with  the  mother's  solicitude 
for  and  care  of  her  young.  The  particular  phase  of  this 
to  be  noticed  is  what  mothers  may  do  with  the  corpses  of 
their  dead  babies.  The  most  fully  described  instance  known 
to  us  is  furnished  by  Yerkes.^ 

In  this  case  the  bereaved  mother,  a  Rhesus  monkey,  clung 
to  the  remains  of  her  child  for  five  weeks,  at  the  end  of 
which  time  all  that  was  left  of  the  thing  was  a  small  mass 
of  skin  with  the  hair  still  on,  the  whole  having  no  resem- 
blance whatever  to  the  original.  The  pertinacity  and  frame 
of  mind  of  the  mother  during  the  period  were  shown  by 
the  fact  that  she  carried  the  grewsome  object  with  her  most 
of  the  time  and  never  went  far  from  it  or  relinquished  her 
watch  over  it  when  she  laid  it  down.  So  vehement  was  her 
protection  of  it  that  "it  was  utterly  impossible  to  take  it 
from  her  except  by  force."  Evidence  is  now  available  in- 
dicating that  this  sort  of  thing  is  rather  general  in  the  mon- 
key-ape tribe.  Several  similar  instances  have  occurred 
among  the  monkeys  of  the  National  Zoological  Park  at 
Washington,  the  Javan  macaques,  which  breed  readily  in 
captivity,  being  specially  mentioned  in  this  connection.    The 

1  "Maternal  Instinct  in  a  Monkey,"  by  R.  M.  Yerkes,  Journal  of  Animal 
behavior,  1915,  Vol.  V,  p.  403. 


246  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

case  of  a  female  chimpanzee  which  gave  birth  to  an  infant 
that  died  in  a  few  days  -  shows  something  of  the  same  kind 
at  this  level  of  the  primate  scale. 

MISDIRECTION    OF    ACTIVITIES    REStTLTING    IN    SELF-INJURY 

Are  monkey  activities  liable  to  go  in  the  wrong  direction 
as  well  as  too  jar  in  the  right  direction,  after  the  fashion  we 
have  seen  the  activities  of  other  animal  groups  doing?  Less 
evidence  is  available  in  this  than  in  the  other  case.  The 
most  striking  example  we  have  come  upon  is  the  persistence 
of  Kohler's  chimpanzees  in  eating  their  own  excrement. 
The  author  relates '  that  his  vigilance  against  this  habit, 
even  his  sharply  administered  punishment  for  it,  was  hardly 
successful  in  breaking  it  up.  It  may  be  that  the  idea  of 
activity  "going  in  the  wrong  direction"  is  too  simple  a  state- 
ment for  such  a  performance  as  this.  Quite  conceivably 
elements  in  the  food  and  feeding  or  in  the  strange  surround- 
ing objects  incidental  to  captivity  play  a  part.  But  even 
so,  that  an  activity  (that  of  food-taking)  essential  to  life 
is  here  persistently  performed  in  a  way  not  contributory 
to  the  original  purpose  of  it,  is  certain.  The  ability  of  even 
the  highest  apes  to  discriminate  between  objects  that  are 
good  for  them  and  those  that  are  useless  or  harmful  is  not 
high.  Several  other  illustrations  are  given  by  Kohler  for 
chimpanzees,  only  one  more  of  which  will  be  mentioned. 
Kohler  found  that  his  animals  seemed  to  be  quite  as  much 
afraid  of  roughly  made  images  of  different  kinds  of  animals 
as  of  the  animals  themselves.  "On  one  occasion,  in  the 
morning,  I  placed  one  of  the  stuffed  donkeys  in  the  ape's 
stockade  and  laid  the  banana  bunch  under  him. — The  apes 
crept  together  into  a  corner  and  only  occasionally  did  one  of 


2  "Notes  on  the  Birth  of  a  Chimpanzee,"  by  W.  Reid  Blair,  Bull,  of 
Zoological  Society  of  Loudon,  September,  1920,  Vol.  XXIII,  p.  105. 

3  The  Mentality  of  Apes,  p.  309. 


IN  MONKEYS  AND  APES  247 

them  venture  a  terrified  glance  at  the  dreadful  being."  *  In 
this  particular  matter  it  would  seem,  as  Kohler  points  out, 
that  chimpanzees  are  not  much  if  at  all  superior  mentally 
to  dogs,  horses,  or  various  other  brute  creatures. 

A.  R.  Wallace  ^  gives  two  significant  instances  of  mis- 
directed activity.  One  of  these  is  the  behavior  of  the  little 
ape  toward  a  false  mother  which  he  made  for  the  creature 
out  of  a  bearskin.  That  the  infant  went  through  the  regular 
performances  of  snuggling  up,  nosing  around  for  a  nipple, 
and  filling  its  mouth  with  hair  and  wool  as  an  incidence  to 
the  sucking  response  are  what  would  be  expected  on  the 
basis  of  what  is  well  known  about  infant  mammals  gener- 
ally, human  infants  not  excepted.  Apparently  the  creature 
was  ready  to  repeat  the  blunder  as  many  times  as  it  had  a 
chance;  for,  says  Wallace,  after  trying  several  times  to  give 
his  charge  satisfaction  by  this  substitute  for  a  mother,  he 
had  to  give  up  the  plan  to  save  the  infant  from  choking 
itself  to  death  with  wool.  How  much  farther  would  a  young 
orang  go  than  would  a  young  human  in  this  particular  wrong 
course  of  action?  How  much  better  would  the  human  do 
both  as  to  benefiting  by  experience  and  as  to  gaining  ability 
with  age  so  to  benefit? 

The  other  case  given  by  Wallace  in  connection  with  the 
same  specimen  concerns  the  animal's  liability  to  go  wrong 
from  not  distinguishing  parts  of  its  own  body  from  foreign 
bodies.  "It  would  hang  for  some  time  by  two  hands  only," 
we  are  told,  "and  then  suddenly  leaving  go  with  one  would 
cross  it  to  the  opposite  shoulder  to  catch  hold  of  its  own 
hair,  and  thinking  no  doubt  that  that  would  support  it  much 
better  than  the  stick,  would  leave  hold  with  the  other  hand 
and  come  tumbling  down  on  the  floor."  A  performance  like 
this,  involving  the  problem  of  an  animal's  getting  objective 


4  P.  334. 

'^  "Some  Account  of  an  Infant  Orang-Utan,"  Annals  and  Magazine  of 
Natural  History,  1856,  Vol.  XVII,  p.  3S6. 


248  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

knowledge  of  its  own  body,  suggests  that  the  striking  way 
various  monkeys  will  grasp  and  other  wise  manipulate  their 
own  body  members,  notably  their  feet,  with  their  hands,  is 
contributory  to  gaining  such  knowledge. 

As  a  last  example  of  monkey  mistakes,  a.  simple  but  lu- 
dicrous one  recently  noticed  by  myself  in  the  zoological  park 
at  Washington  may  be  mentioned.  Following  a  sharp  rain 
which  left  puddles  of  water  in  the  out-of-door  cage  of  a 
group  of  Bengal  macaques,  a  female  entertained  herself 
for  some  time  by  sitting  beside  one  of  them,  stroking  the 
water  with  her  hand  quickly  enough  to  make  bubbles  on  the 
surface,  then  trying  to  pick  the  bubbles  up  in  her  hand 
and  examine  them;  they  had  burst  before  she  could  get  her 
hand  into  the  range  of  her  eyes.  I  could  see  no  indication 
that  she  was  surprised  at  her  failure  or  that  she  really 
learned  anything  about  the  nature  of  bubbles  by  what  she 
had  done.  My  impression  was  that  if  she  happened  to  start 
to  amuse  herself  in  this  way  again,  her  curiosity  about  bub- 
bles would  be  as  devoid  of  results  for  her  knowledge  of  them 
the  second  time  as  it  was  the  first  time. 

MISDIRECTION  OF  ACTIVITIES  RESULTING  IN  INJURY  TO  KIND 

Kohler's  investigations  on  chimpanzees  furnish  the  most 
important  testimony,  the  most  striking  instance  falling  under 
the  head  of  injury  to  kind.  The  case  concerns  the  violent 
treatment  accorded  a  small,  weak,  innocent  individual  of 
the  species  by  other  stronger,  more  robust  members.  The 
story  is  a  special  version  of  the  old  one,  familiar  from  its 
exemplification  among  human  as  well  as  brute  animals,  of 
wholly  unwarrantable  fear  of  strangers.  It  concerns  the 
addition  to  the  group  of  a  new  member  in  the  person  of  a 
"poor,  weak  creature,  who  at  no  time  showed  the  slightest 
wish  for  a  fight,"  and  who  exhibited  nothing  whatever  to 
arouse  the  anger  of  the  others  "except  that  she  was  a 


IN  MONKEYS  AND  APES  249 

stranger."  The  unsavory  tale  is  best  told  in  the  investiga- 
tor's own  language:  "She  at  once  aroused  the  greatest  in- 
terest on  the  part  of  the  older  animals,  who  tried  their  best 
with  sticks  and  stalks  put  through  the  bars  to  indicate  at 
least  a  not  too  friendly  connexion  with  her.  .  .  .  When  the 
newcomer,  after  some  weeks,  was  allowed  into  the  larger  ani- 
mals' ground  in  the  presence  of  the  older  animals,  they  stood 
for  a  second  in  stony  silence.  But  hardly  had  they  followed 
her  few  uncertain  steps  with  staring  eyes,  when  Rana,  a 
foolish  but  otherwise  harmless  animal,  uttered  a  cry  of 
indignant  fury,  which  was  at  once  taken  up  by  all  the  others 
in  frenzied  excitement.  The  next  moment  the  newcomer 
had  disappeared  under  a  raging  crowd  of  assailants  who 
dug  their  teeth  into  her  skin  and  who  were  only  kept  off 
by  our  most  determined  interference  while  we  remained. 
Even  after  several  days  the  eldest  and  most  dangerous  of 
the  creatures  tried  over  and  over  again  to  steal  up  to  the 
stranger  while  we  were  present,  and  ill-treated  her  cruelly 
when  we  did  not  notice  in  time."  ^ 

The  similarity  of  a  performance  like  this  to  what  takes 
place  among  many  animals  and  even  among  humans,  espe- 
cially of  low  culture,  can  hardly  fail  to  strike  one.  Kohler 
has  given  considerable  attention  to  the  question  of  how 
apes  are  likely  to  fare  at  the  hands  of  their  own  kind.  He 
points  out  that  so  closely  and  constantly  are  the  activities 
and  attitudes  of  chimpanzees  dependent  on  the  relations 
of  the  individuals  with  one  another  that  "it  is  hardly  an 
exaggeration  to  say  that  a  chimpanzee  kept  in  solitude  is  not 
a  real  chimpanzee  at  all."  "That  certain  special  character- 
istic qualities  of  this  species  of  animal,"  we  are  told,  "only 
appear  when  they  are  in  a  group,"  is  simply  because  the 
behavior  of  his  comrades  constitutes  for  each  separate  animal 
the  incentive  which  will  bring  about  a  variety  of  behavior, 
and  observation  of  many  peculiarities  of  the  chimpanzee 

6  The  Mentality  of  Apes,  pp.  300-301. 


250  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

will  only  be  clearly  intelligible  when  the  behavior  and 
counter-behavior  of  the  individuals  and  the  group  are  con- 
sidered as  a  whole.  In  this,  the  part  played  by  one  animal 
may  have  definite  significance  for  the  observer,  which  it 
would  not  have  if  a  human  being  were  the  partner.  But, 
apart  from  this,  the  group  connection  of  chimpanzees  is  a 
very  real  force,  of  sometimes  astonishing  degree.^ 

What  does  this  group-forming  tendency  mean  for  the  wel- 
fare of  the  individuals?  Does  it  mean  that  the  individuals 
are  greatly  concerned  for  one  another's  good?  Because  the 
members  of  a  group  are  profoundly  influenced  by  one  an- 
other, does  this  imply  a  high  regard  for  one  another? 
Kohler's  studies  point  to  the  conclusion  that  a  high  degree 
of  group-forming  influence  among  animals  is  not  incom- 
patible with  a  high  degree  of  egoism  and  a  low  degree  of 
altruism.  For  chimpanzees  at  least,  it  is  first  and  foremost 
a  question  of  actual  sensory  presence.  The  familiar  adage, 
"Out  of  sight  out  of  mind,"  applies  with  tragic  (as  humane 
humans  would  say)  literalness  among  these  creatures.  "Un- 
questionably, their  interest  today  in  some  fruit  which  they 
saw  buried  yesterday  is  greater  than  that  taken  in  one  mem- 
ber of  the  group  who  was  there  yesterday  and  who  today 
does  not  come  out  of  his  room  any  more."  ^  Kohler  tells  us: 
"More  than  once  I  established  that  the  temporary  (or  per- 
manent) disappearance  of  a  sick  (or  dying)  animal  has  little 
effect  on  the  rest,  so  long  as  he  is  taken  out  of  sight  and  does 
not  show  his  distress  in  loud  groans  of  pain,  as  chimpan- 
zees so  rarely  do.  This  corresponds  to  the  lack  of  concern 
of  the  group  in  the  healthy  ape  that  is  segregated,  as  long 
as  he  does  not  whine  too  miserably;  and  if  a  sick  animal 
dies  in  its  own  room,  it  is  no  use  expecting  any  sign  of  sad- 
ness or  of  missing  him,  as  there  is  no  direct  incitement  to 

'  P.  293. 

8  P.   295. 


IN  MONKEYS  AND  APES  251 

mourning  or  excitement,  and  every  animal  in  the  group  at 
the  moment  feels  the  group  around  him." 

In  appraising  the  results  of  the  activities  of  individual 
chimpanzees  in  relation  to  the  welfare  of  other  chimpan- 
zees, we  have  seen  how  unjustifiably  individuals  may  suffer 
at  the  hands  of  other  individuals,  and  how  indifferent  in- 
dividuals may  be  to  the  welfare  of  others.  We  have  also 
seen  a  measure  of  group-forming  tendencies  among  individ- 
uals which  in  general  would  be  supposed  to  have  large  pos- 
sibilities of  mutual  advantage.  Is  there  evidence  of  such 
advantage?  Kohler  shows  that  individuals  having  ample 
food  which  they  like  will  definitely  share  it  with  other  in- 
dividuals which  have  no  food  and  beg  for  some.  He  shows 
also  that  well  and  strong  individuals  will  definitely  assist 
ailing  and  weak  ones.  All  this  is  contingent  on  the  imme- 
diate presence  of  helper  and  helped. 

Although  the  evidence  thus  presented  of  "injury  to  kind" 
as  a  maladaptive  activity  among  anthropoids  is  admittedly 
very  limited  in  quantity,  its  character  is  such  that  we  seem 
justified  in  presuming  further  information  will  prove  conse- 
quences of  this  nature  to  be  nearly,  though  not  altogether, 
as  characteristic  of  these  as  of  other  higher  mammalian 
species.  Knowledge  of  the  gorilla  concerning  this  matter 
is  awaited  with  special  interest,  for  there  are  signs  in  what 
we  already  know  of  this  species  that  the  conclusion  just 
stated  may  have  to  be  modified. 

SELF-INJURY  FROM  NORMAL  TYPES  OF  ACTION 

The  question  of  whether  monkeys  and  apes  are  liable  to 
self-injury  from  their  own  normal  types  of  action  may  next 
receive  attention.  In  discussing  the  intense  stimulatory  ef- 
fect on  individual  chimpanzees  of  one  another's  sensible 
presence  Kohler  writes:  "Bigger  animals,  who  do  not  show 


252  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

signs  of  actual  fear,  cry  and  scream  and  rage  against  the 
walls  of  their  stockade,  and,  if  they  see  anything  like  a  way 
back,  they  will  risk  their  very  lives  to  get  back  to  the 
group."  ^  This  refers  to  the  experimental  isolation  of  an 
individual  from  the  group  for  the  purpose  of  testing  its 
efforts  to  reestablish  connection  with  its  comrades,  the  iso- 
lated animal  being  in  plain  sight  of  the  others.  Unfortu- 
nately the  author  does  not  tell  us  very  definitely  about  the 
risks  the  animals  would  take  in  such  situations,  this  appar- 
ently not  having  been  a  phase  of  the  phenomenon  that 
interested  him  much.  He  mentions  that  an  isolated  animal 
will  refuse  food  altogether  for  a  while  at  the  beginning  of  the 
isolation,  so  preoccupied  is  it  with  its  desire  and  efforts  to 
regain  its  lost  associations.  Information  is  very  desirable 
as  to  just  how  far  under  such  conditions  interference  with 
the  nutritional  activities  would  go  and  with  what  conse- 
quences. 

The  main  source  of  risk  to  which  Kohler  seems  to  refer  is 
the  emotional  and  activational  violence  incited  by  isolation 
from  companions,  or  by  the  dissatisfaction  due  to  the 
stimulus  of  the  visible  but  untouchable  presence  of  compan- 
ions. It  is  a  question  whether  the  incitements  due  to  isola- 
tion may  be  injurious  to  the  incited  individuals  themselves. 
Kohler  speaks  repeatedly  of  glottal  cramps  and  spasms  in 
his  animals  resulting  from  emotional  excitement  though  we 
are  not  informed  as  to  exactly  how  this  may  affect  the  crea- 
ture's physical  welfare.  Might  an  animal  choke  to  death 
in  this  way? 

Something  of  the  astonishingly  violent  performances 
chimpanzees  may  go  through  at  times  are  referred  to  by 
various  writers  and  may  be  observed  by  any  frequenter  of 
primate  collections  which  contain  one  or  more  of  these 
animals.  One  I  saw  by  a  huge  male  having  a  large  cage  all 
to  himself  in  the  zoological  park  at  Sydney,  Australia,  made 
a  great  impression  on  my  mind.  It  seemed  to  me  there  was 
» P.  293. 


IN  MONKEYS  AND  APES  253 

plenty  of  chance  for  such  a  performance  to  have  harmful 
consequences  not  only  to  any  thing  or  any  body  who  might 
be  in  the  creature's  immediate  vicinity,  but  even  to  itself. 

Kohler  has  considerable  to  say  about  the  "spells  of  'pure 
excitement'  "  apparently  rather  characteristic  of  this  species, 
without  being  very  explicit  as  to  the  effects  on  the  excited 
individuals  themselves.  In  one  passage  we  read:  "The 
Chimpanzee's  register  of  emotional  expression  is  so  much 
greater  than  that  of  average  human  beings,  because  his 
whole  body  is  agitated  and  not  merely  his  facial  muscles. 
He  jumps  up  and  down  both  in  joyful  anticipation  and  in 
impatient  annoyance  and  anger;  and  in  extreme  despair — 
which  develops  under  very  slight  provocation — flings  himself 
on  his  back  and  rolls  wildly  to  and  fro."  ^'^  Again,  "They 
sometimes  tear  along  (as  if  possessed)  by  the  walls  of  their 
sleeping-dens,  and  kick  them  till  the  excitement  subsides."  " 
Whether  these  "explosive"  performances  are  connected  with 
sexual  impulses  or  are  of  some  other  source  Kohler  is  un- 
certain, though  he  favors  a  different  explanation,  for  some 
of  them  at  least.  But  he  frankly  admits  them  to  be  very 
much  of  a  psychological  puzzle. 

We  have  here  seen  obvious  possibilities  of  self-injurious 
activity.  We  should  like  more  knowledge  about  the  animals' 
risking  their  lives  in  their  own  performances.  We  would 
be  glad  to  know  what  might  happen  to  individuals  from 
failure  to  take  food,  from  throwing  themselves  to  the  ground, 
from  kicking  the  walls  of  the  dens,  during  easily  induced 
"tantrums,"  "fits,"  and  the  like,  whether  of  joy,  fear  or  rage. 

10  P.  31&  11  P.  326. 


CHAPTER  15 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  AMONG  LOW-CULTURED 
HUMAN  BEINGS 

Rarely  have  I  told  people  of  the  futility  or  worse  of  what 
I  have  found  ants,  woodpeckers,  beavers,  and  other  animals 
doing,  without  getting  the  reply:  "Why,  human  beings  do 
just  that  way!"  The  reply  is  made  as  a  justification  of  the 
creatures,  on  the  ground  that  their  doings  are  inevitable  and 
irremediable  if  thus  manlike,  since  human  misdoings  of  this 
general  kind  are  but  part  and  parcel  of  man's  fate,  and  so 
have  to  be  made  the  best  of,  even  though  they  are  often 
useless  or  foolish  and  not  infrequently  lead  to  disaster.  The 
reply  gives  me  the  impression  that  the  persons  making  it 
get  considerable  half-conscious  satisfaction  from  what  seems 
to  them  evidence  that  the  fatefulness  of  human  folly  is  shar- 
able  with  animal  life  generally.  My  stock  rejoinder  is  sub- 
stantially the  following:  "I  am  well  aware  that  men  act  in 
much  the  same  way.  But  exactly  what  most  distinguishes 
human  animals  from  even  the  best-favored  brute  animals  is 
the  ability  men  have,  if  they  will  only  use  it,  to  avoid  acting 
in  this  way." 

The  internal  evidence  of  the  whole  animal  world  is  un- 
mistakably to  the  effect  that  the  gradation  there  presented 
from  minute,  simple,  and  almost  infinitely  numerous  crea- 
tures, up  to  large  and  complex  creatures  sharply  limited  in 
numbers,  is  a  manifestation  of  nature's  way  of  enabling 
living  beings  to  act  ever  more  effectively  for  their  own  wel- 
fare. Acting  more  effectively  to  this  end  consists  largely 
in  avoiding  wrong  tendencies  of  exactly  the  kind  we  have 
been  examining  in  this  section  on  maladaptation.  We  need 
now  to  examine  human  activities  to  see  how  much  truth 
there  is  in  the  statement  that  "people  act  just  that  way." 

254 


MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  255 

Perhaps  the  most  convenient  basis  for  such  an  examination 
is  the  two  main  ways  we  have  seen  animal  activities  to  be 
maladaptive,  namely  through  excessiveness  and  through  mis- 
direction. The  nutritional  needs  and  activities  of  humans 
will  first  receive  attention. 

The  saying  is  well  known  that  the  lives  of  savages  are 
either  "a  feast  or  a  famine";  along  with  this  goes  another 
that  most  savages  "live  from  hand  to  mouth."  These  say- 
ings are  likely  to  be  understood  to  refer  more  to  the  environ- 
mental conditions  under  which  savages  live  than  to  activities 
of  the  people  themselves.  As  a  matter  of  fact  it  is  usually 
more  a  question  of  what  people  do  to  and  with  their  sur- 
roundings than  what  those  surroundings  are.  The  environ- 
ment of  the  people  now  living  in  Winnebago  County,  Wis- 
consin, is  the  same  as  that  of  the  Winnebago  Indians  who 
lived  there  in  pre-Columbian  times,  except  for  what  the  white 
people  themselves  have  done  to  make  it  different.  If  the 
original  Winnebagos  lived  more  "from  hand  to  mouth"  or 
more  on  the  basis  of  "a  feast  or  a  famine"  than  do  the 
present-day  pale-face  Winnebagoites,  the  sole  difference  is 
in  the  different  activities  of  the  two  groups  and  kinds  of 
people  concerned. 

FOOD-TAKING  AMONG  SAVAGES 

Evidence  on  this  point  is  furnished  by  the  way  savages 
conduct  themselves  with  reference  to  their  food-taking,  using 
food  in  the  broadest  sense.  Evidence  of  this  sort  is  available 
from  many  peoples.  As  one  example  take  the  Fijians.  The 
islands  are  prolific  in  many  kinds  of  raw^  food  materials,  and 
the  people  know  "just  where  to  go  for  what  they  need. 
There  is  little  time  or  labor  wasted  in  the  search  for  food."  ^ 
What  prevents  Fijian  well-being  from  reaching  its  acme  so 
far  as  sustentation  is  concerned?    Feasting,  this  writer  says, 

1  W.  Deane,  Fijian  Society,  p.  207. 


256  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

is  "inextricably  interwoven  with  his  [the  Fijian]  etiquette 
and  social  organization."  Numerous  inevitable  occurrences 
of  the  community,  births,  marriages,  deaths,  are  taken  as 
opportunities  for  feasts.  "Unfortunately,  at  times,  the  prep- 
aration for  them  becomes  a  burden  on  the  people,  especially 
when  the  spirit  of  emulation  enters  into  them.  During  such 
a  season  of  rejoicing,  lasting  only  a  week,  hundreds  of  pounds 
have  been  wasted  in  riotous  living,  leaving  the  clansmen  a 
load  of  debt  which  takes  months  to  remove.  The  local 
Chinese  storekeeper,  who  has  an  eye  to  business  always,  has 
often,  to  my  knowledge,  established  a  lien  on  the  following 
year's  crop,  by  advancing  provisions  to  the  enthusiastic  cus- 
tomers who  crowd  his  small  shop."  ^ 

One  of  the  wasteful  practices  connected  with  the  feasts  is 
in  the  etiquette  of  giving  to  feted  visitors.  Deane  says:  "On 
my  first  visit  to  a  certain  town  in  Kandavu,  I  was  presented 
with  twenty-two  fowls  for  my  Sunday  dinner.  Those  I 
could  not  eat,  my  boys  carried  away.  .  .  .  The  visitor  is 
often  thus  considerably  hampered,  and  good  food  has  not 
seldom  been  thrown  away  when  the  outskirts  of  the  settle- 
ment have  been  reached."  ^ 

Nor  can  the  question  of  the  effect  of  the  gorging  on  the 
health  and  general  character  of  the  gorgers  themselves  be 
ignored.  Were  it  possible  to  apply  the  rigorous  methods  of 
scientific  dietetics  to  answering  the  question  it  seems  prob- 
able that  bad  nutritional  customs  would  be  found  to  be 
potent  causes  of  the  cultural  backwardness  of  savages.  The 
customs  of  savages  in  this  and  other  matters  are  not  so- 
and-so  because  the  people  are  savages,  but  the  people  are 
savages  because  their  customs  are  so-and-so. 

Consider  a  performance  like  the  following  occurring  among 
a  group  of  Shoshone  Indians  and  reported  in  the  journal  of 
the  Lewis  and  Clark  expedition.  The  Indians  came  upon 
one  of  the  hunters  of  the  expedition  just  as  he  had  killed  and 

2  p.  208.  3  P.  210. 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  257 

dressed  a  deer.  "They  dismounted  in  confusion  and  ran 
tumbling  over  each  other  like  famished  dogs.  Each  tore 
away  whatever  part  he  could,  and,  in  short,  no  part  on  which 
we  are  accustomed  to  look  with  disgust  escaped  them.  One 
of  them  who  had  seized  about  nine  feet  of  the  entrails,  was 
chewing  at  one  end,  while  with  his  hand  he  was  .  .  .  dis- 
charging the  contents  at  the  other."  The  narrator  philoso- 
phizes: "It  was,  indeed,  impossible  to  see  these  wretches 
ravenously  feeding  on  the  filth  of  the  animals,  and  the  blood 
streaming  from  their  mouths,  without  deploring  how  nearly 
the  condition  of  savages  approaches  that  of  the  brute  crea- 
tion." Performances  more  or  less  like  this  seem  to  be  rather 
characteristic  of  savages  under  the  stress  of  hunger;  numer- 
ous queries  arise  concerning  them.  Is  the  feeling  of  disgust 
with  which  we  are  accustomed  to  regard  certain  parts  of  a 
dead  animal  and  to  which  the  writer  refers,  really  a  mark 
of  superiority  of  civilized  as  compared  with  primitive  peoples 
or  the  reverse?  Does  our  fastidiousness  as  to  what  parts  of 
a  carcass  are  and  what  are  not  edible  rest  on  anything  else 
than  a  sentiment  that  counts  for  nothing  when  our  food 
necessities  come  down  to  a  physiological  basis  pure  and 
simple?  This  question  is  particularly  pertinent  now  that 
we  have  scientific  grounds  for  believing  that  some  civilized 
peoples  have  gone  too  far  in  excluding  the  viscera  and  blood 
of  animals  from  their  meat  diets.^  But  aside  from  the  nicer 
questions  of  nutrition  thus  raised,  it  is  fair  to  ask  whether, 
if  these  savages  were  able  to  escape  death  or  serious  ex- 
haustion by  eating  such  food  as  came  in  their  way,  it  would 
not  be  to  the  advantage  of  cultivated  people  to  retain  at 
least  the  ability  to  be  equally  unsqueamish  in  case  of  food 
crises,  for  crises  are  sure  to  occur  now  and  then  among  the 
civilized  as  well  as  among  the  uncivilized? 

Beyond  a  doubt  civilized  men  taken  as  a  class  far  excel 

■*E.    V.    McCollum,    The   Newer   Knowledge   of   Nutrition,   p.    393 
especially. 


258  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

their  savage  kindred  taken  as  a  class,  in  ability  to  forestall 
situations  in  which  they  must  eat  whatever  comes  in  their 
way  or  suffer  the  consequences.  When  a  single  instance  like 
this  is  viewed  as  one  element  in  the  general  conduct  of  the 
people  concerned,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  maladaptive 
activity  is  involved.  The  trouble  is  partly  covered  by  the 
charge  that  savages  are  given  to  living  "from  hand  to 
mouth." 

Then  there  was  in  this  instance  the  "confusion  and  tum- 
bling over  one  another,"  by  the  Indians,  "Hke  famished 
dogs,"  According  to  the  ordinary  standards  of  conduct 
among  civilized  people,  such  behavior  would  be  unseemly. 
On  its  face  it  has  the  marks  of  both  excessiveness  and  ill- 
direction  of  action.  \\Tiether  it  would  come  under  the  head 
of  maladaptiveness  in  the  strict  sense  in  which  we  are  using 
the  term  would  require  closer  examination  to  decide  than 
we  are  at  present  ready  to  make. 

SAVAGE   FESTIVALS 

The  most  immediately  and  obviously  self-injurious  prac- 
tices of  savages  occur  when  eating  and  drinking  are  combined 
with  festival  performances  involving  sexual  and  religious 
activities.  It  is  this  sort  of  combination  that  makes  conduct 
orgiastic  in  the  strictest  and  fullest  sense.  A  great  majority 
of  all  people,  no  matter  what  their  cultural  level,  manage  to 
provide  themselves  with  something  liquid  or  solid  to  "get 
drunk  on."  This  exceedingly  wide  appetite  for  intoxicants, 
with  the  endless  forms  of  expression  in  word  and  phrase  and 
song  connected  wnth  it,  is  only  one  manifestation  of  the 
tendency  of  all  animal  activity  to  excessiveness.  Substances 
having  intoxicating  effects  have  played  such  an  outstanding 
role  in  human  life  that  the  terms  "stimulus"  and  "stimulant" 
often  have  no  other  meaning  than  this,  even  though  all  or- 
ganic activity  whatever  is  dependent  on  stimulus  in  one  way 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  259 

or  another  and  on  stimulants  of  one  kind  or  another.  In  a 
strict  psychobiological  sense  the  smell  of  savory,  wholesome 
food  is  just  as  truly  a  stimulant  to  a  hungry  boy  or  girl  as 
a  drink  of  whisky  is  to  a  red  Indian  or  a  white  American. 
Drunkenness  from  strong  coffee,  alcohol,  morphine,  or  any 
other  intoxicant  is  only  one  expression  of  the  general  tend- 
ency to  excess  in  seeking  stimulation. 

The  records  of  primitive  people  afford  numberless  exam- 
ples, concerning  eating,  drinking,  dancing,  religious  rites  of 
some  sort,  and  sexual  indulgence.  The  Guiana  Indians  fur- 
nish examples  of  this  sort.^  Eating  appears  to  play  a  rela- 
tively minor  part  in  the  festivals  of  these  people,  but  the 
minor  role  of  eating  is  amply  offset  by  the  major  role  of 
drinking.  "Every  Indian  party,  from  a  private  'social'  to  a 
public  ceremonial,  is  practically  a  drinking  bout,  interspersed 
with  more  or  less  music,  and  its  necessary  corollary,  a 
dance."  One  of  the  favored  beverages  is  "black  drink"  made 
from  the  cassava  by  a  fermentation  process.  An  Indian 
"is  never  satisfied,"  Roth  writes,  with  drinking  this  stuff. 
He  quotes  another  observer:  "I  saw  men  emptying  at  one 
draught  calabashes  that  certainly  contained  two  or  three 
quarts,  hurry  off  to  a  tree  where  they  will  squeeze  in  their 
stomachs  so  as  to  vomit  their  contents,  and  directly  after- 
wards accept  from  the  hand  of  the  woman  waiting  for  them 
the  newly  filled  calabash,  the  contents  of  which  they  will 
again  guzzle  at  one  pull."  ^ 

Roth's  general  account  of  a  "festival"  is  brief  and  pointed. 
"In  general  terms  .  .  .  without  drink  there  is  never  any 
dancing,  which  will  continue  so  long  as  the  former  lasts,  and 
thus  a  dance  may  often  continue  a  couple  of  nights,  includ- 
ing the  intervening  day.    The  entertainment  .  .  .  generally 

s  W.  E.  Roth,  An  Introductory  Study  of  the  Arts,  Crafts,  and  Customs 
of  the  Guiana  Indians,  Thirty-Eighth  Annual  Report  of  the  American 
Bureau  of  Ethnology,  1916-1917,  Government  Printing  Office,  1924, 
pp.  27-745. 

6  P.  470. 


26o  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

begins  and  ends  with  a  deafening  yell;  in  the  former  case 
it  may  be  done  to  exorcise  the  evil  spirit  and  so  prevent  him 
spoiling  the  merrymaking."  From  this  account  this  yell 
seems  to  be  the  only  touch  of  the  religious  factor,  the  people 
apparently  being  much  more  taken  up  with  other  elements. 
The  story  continues:  "The  whole  affair,  furthermore,  usually 
ends  up  with  a  sexual  orgy,  or,  as  Barrere  naively  puts  it, 
'to  wind  up,  they  all  intermix.'  Sad  to  relate,  however,  this 
intermixing  really  occurred,  as  it  still  does,  throughout  the 
whole  performance,  so  soon  as  the  effects  of  the  liquor  are 
felt." 

The  only  other  example  of  the  fully  rounded  type  of  orgy 
to  which  we  will  give  space  is  from  New  Guinea.  The  cere- 
mony described  was  connected  with  the  presentation  of 
skulls  to  the  visitor.  "Though  our  hosts  began  the  party  in 
our  honor,  now  all  are  joining  in  for  the  sheer  pleasure  it 
gives  them,  with  no  thought  of  us.  .  .  .  As  the  excitement 
heightens  the  affair  becomes  a  wild  orgy  in  which  all  par- 
ticipate. .  .  .  Long  into  the  night  the  mad  festival  continues 
until  one  by  one  the  participants  drop  out  from  utter  ex- 
haustion. .  .  .  Unaccustomed  to  violent  exercise  such  as 
that  of  the  night  before,  some  of  them  wearily  drag  them- 
selves to  the  shade  of  the  groves  with  the  air  of  persons  try- 
ing to  show  signs  of  animation  merely  to  save  their  friends 
the  trouble  of  a  funeral.  The  women  seem  to  be  utterly 
fagged  out,  and  their  feet  drag  as  they  prepare  food  for 
the  men."  ^ 

The  drink  called  wady  used  by  these  people  is  made  from 
cocoanut,  certain  roots  and  leaves,  mixed  with  saliva  and 
sugar  enough  to  make  it  ferment.  To  its  efficacy  the  author 
testifies  as  follows:  "After  a  wady  party  of  this  kind  the 
men  do  not  fully  recover  for  days,  for  the  stuff  is  almost 
paralyzing  in  its  effect."  ^ 

^W.  F.  Alder,  The  Isle  of  Vanishing  Men,  p.  140  et  seq. 
8  P.  147. 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  261 

It  would  be  quite  unfair  to  give  the  impression  that  all 
primitive  peoples  are  orgiastic  to  the  extent  that  these  two 
groups  are.  With  some  peoples,  many  of  the  tribes  of 
North  American  Indians  for  example,  one  of  the  chief  or- 
giastic elements,  the  sexual,  does  not  appear  in  some  of 
the  most  important  performances.  The  significance  of  this 
may  be  that  the  possibilities  of  harm  from  this  source  are 
recognized  and  guarded  against  by  the  people  themselves. 
Just  how  far  the  rigid  exclusion  of  women  from  many  of  the 
ceremonies  of  North  American  Indians  and  of  savages  of 
other  parts  of  the  world  is  on  account  of  this  would  be  an 
interesting  thing  to  know.  Drunkenness  is  not  universal 
in  the  festivities  and  ceremonies  of  savages.  There  appears 
not  to  have  been  much  of  this  originally  among  the  North 
American  aboriginals.  Their  bad  reputation  in  this  regard 
does  not  come  from  practices  in  their  original  state  but  from 
their  slight  ability  to  withstand  the  white  man's  influence 
as  a  guzzler  himself  and  a  trafficker  in  grog.  Nor  is  there 
lacking  evidence  of  moderation  in  drink  among  primitive 
peoples  of  other  parts  of  the  world,  as  for  instance,  with 
some  of  the  Dyacks  of  Borneo,  according  to  Lumholtz. 

It  must  be  recognized  that  while  a  given  group  of  people 
may  exercise  a  large  measure  of  control  over  some  of  their 
activities  their  excesses  in  other  activities  may  be  great.  As 
experienced  and  friendly  a  student  of  Indians  as  Moorehead 
can  say  that  although  he  has  seen  thirty  or  forty  Indian 
dances,  he  has  "never  seen  a  really  immoral  dance."  ^  But 
at  the  same  time,  the  author  gives  the  following  concerning 
the  Ghost  Dance  by  Sioux  on  Pine  Ridge,  South  Dakota: 
"During  the  height  of  excitement,  those  worshipers  most 
deeply  affected  cut  small  particles  of  flesh  from  their  arms, 
and  thrust  these,  also,  between  the  rushes  of  the  holy  tree. 
Henry  Hunter  (the  Weasel  'Itonkasan')  informed  me  that 
after  the  dance  had  been  running  some  days,  the  rushes 

^  W.  K.  Moorehead,  The  North  American  Indian,  p.  223. 


262  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

covering  the  base  of  the  tree  were  literally  besmeared  with 
human  blood."  ^^ 

]\Ioorehead  continues :  "One  by  one  the  dancers  fall  out  of 
the  ranks.  Some  staggering  like  drunken  men,  others  wildly 
rushing  here  and  there  almost  bereft  of  reason.  Many  fall 
upon  the  earth  to  writhe  about  as  if  possessed  of  demons, 
while  blinded  women  throw  their  clothes  over  their  heads 
and  run  through  brush  or  against  trees."  This  sort  of  thing 
may  not  be  properly  called  immoral.  It  may  properly  be 
labeled  fanatical  or  epileptiform,  or  with  some  other  sup- 
posedly explanatory  adjective.  All  this  does  not  alter  the 
fact  that  it  is  a  form  of  human  activity,  and  that  judged 
by  any  criterion  that  can  reasonably  be  applied  it  is  largely 
excessive,  useless,  and  injurious.    In  short,  it  is  maladaptive. 

j\Iuch  of  what  peoples  of  low  culture  do  in  the  use  of  their 
food  and  other  external  necessities  of  life  and  of  their  own 
bodies  is  excessive  and  improvident.  What  a  well-known 
anthropologist  has  said  of  a  group  of  Indian  tribes  on  whose 
ways  of  life  he  made  extensive  studies  would  be  applicable 
equally  well  to  all  primitive  people  (to  say  nothing  about 
many  people  not  generally  supposed  to  be  primitive).  We 
read:  "The  most  striking  and  far-reaching  characteristic 
of  all  the  Indians  visited,  even  from  the  medical  standpoint, 
is  their  improvidence  and  seemingly  a  decided  inability  to 
take  advantage  of  some  of  the  lessons  of  experience.  This 
keeps  them  disarmed  against  all  accidents  and  diseases."  " 
The  author  says  that  abundant  harvests  are  pretty  sure  to 
be  accompanied  by  frequent  feasts  in  which  much  of  the 
food  supply  is  consumed.  As  a  consequence  before  the 
next  harvest  comes,  suffering  from  shortage  of  food  or  from 
the  use  of  poor  food  is  often  severe. 

10  P.   112. 

11  Ales  Hrdlicka,  Physiological  and  Medical  Observations  among  the 
Indians  of  Southwestern  United  States  and  Northern  Mexico,  Bull.  8, 
Bureau  of  American  Ethnology,  1907,  p.  31- 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  263 

Such  instances  of  improvidence  should  be  regarded  in  the 
light  of  what  we  learned  about  the  intense  preoccupation 
of  Kohler's  chimpanzees,  and  also  of  other  creatures,  not 
so  much  with  their  eating  (though  this  may  be  great)  as 
with  the  presence  of  bodies  useful  for  food  and  for  other 
purposes.  The  conclusion  seems  unescapable  from  such 
facts  as  we  have  presented  under  various  heads,  that  the 
activities  of  animals  toward  external  bodies  are  by  no  means 
limited  to  the  utilization  of  the  bodies  in  satisfying  neces- 
sities, but  are  largely  determined  by  the  sensory  presence 
of  the  bodies.  Beavers  do  not  limit  their  tree-felling  opera- 
tions strictly  to  their  food  and  other  needs,  but  extend  them 
to  many  other  things  as  dead  trees,  fence  posts  or  railroad 
ties,  quite  useless  to  the  creatures,  doing  this  because  gnaw- 
able  bodies  are  near  by.  Monkeys  do  not  reach  for  peanuts 
when  they  are  hungry  merely  but  because  nuts  are  extended 
toward  them.  Chimpanzees  are  greatly  influenced  by  their 
companions  not  so  much  by  their  affection  for  and  real  need 
of  one  another,  as  by  the  mere  sensory  presence  of  one  an- 
other. On  the  same  principle  people  make  feasts  at  which 
they  are  wont  to  eat  and  drink  more  than  they  need,  and 
frequently  to  destroy  or  otherwise  dispose  of  valuable  food 
substances  largely  because  such  bodies  are  within  sense- 
experienceable  distance.  People  who  act  thus  on  a  large 
scale  and  habitually  are  characterized,  in  the  language  of 
advanced  industrial  and  social  life,  as  improvident,  and  are 
familiarly  known  as  backward  or  primitive,  or  savage,  or 
barbarous  peoples.  That  much  of  what  is  comprehended 
under  these  common  terms  falls  within  the  scope  of  maladap- 
tive activities  of  the  variety  we  have  called  excessive,  we 
may  assume  to  have  been  established  by  the  foregoing  pres- 
entation. 


264  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

MISDIRECTED   ACTIVITIES 

Misdirected  activities,  the  other  form  of  maladaptive  ac- 
tivities recognized  by  us,  play  a  specially  large  part  in  the 
lives  of  savages. 

By  misdirected  activities  are  meant  chiefly  those  which  in 
their  original  form  may  have  been  thoroughly  contributory 
to  welfare,  but  as  now  practiced  are  not  thus  contributory,  if 
indeed  they  are  not  the  very  opposite.  The  activities  under 
this  head  are  not  necessarily  wholly  distinct  from  those  under 
the  head  of  excessiveness  previously  discussed.  When  food- 
storing  animals  like  ants,  wasps,  woodpeckers,  wood-rats, 
gather  and  stow  away  objects  they  cannot  possibly  use  as 
food  or  for  any  other  purpose,  the  uselessness  of  the  per- 
formance may  be  partly  attributable  to  the  tendency  to  over- 
activity and  partly  to  the  wrong  direction  of  the  activity. 

Some  of  the  most  striking  examples  of  misdirected  activi- 
ties among  savages  are  connected  with  the  food  problem.  In 
this  case  the  maladaptiveness  is  involved  in  food-getting 
more  than  in  food-using.  A  few  minutes'  reflection  on  the 
difficulties  which  have  to  be  overcome  in  fishing  and  hunt- 
ing, in  searching  for  wild  plants  suitable  for  food  or  other 
human  needs,  in  searching  for  water  under  conditions  of 
scarcity,  and  in  bringing  to  maturity  agricultural  crops, 
makes  patent  the  chances  of  doing  the  wrong  things. 

The  passage  quoted  from  Hrdlicka  relative  to  the  im- 
providence of  Indians  speaks  of  their  "seemingly  decided 
inability  to  take  advantage  of  some  of  the  lessons  of  ex- 
perience." While  there  can  be  no  doubt  of  limited  ability 
in  this  regard  of  Indians  and  of  other  primitive  people  as 
compared  with  cultivated  people,  neither  can  there  be  any 
doubt  of  their  great  ability  as  compared  with  the  most  ad- 
vanced brute  animals.  Even  the  most  primitive  peoples 
have  a  very  considerable  number  of  discoveries  and  in- 
ventions to  their  credit.     We  have  but  to  contrast  the 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  265 

stick-splicing  and  using  performance  of  chimpanzees  for 
getting  food  (probably  the  climax  of  invention  among  brute 
animals)  with  the  innumerable  implements  and  devices  for 
the  same  purpose  found  among  savages,  to  be  reminded  of 
the  immense  advantage  even  the  lowest  savages  have  over 
the  highest  brutes  in  this  matter.  Beyond  question  a  great 
majority  of  the  inventions  made  by  savages  represent  bene- 
fiting by  experience  sometime  by  somebody.  Undoubtedly 
chance  and  accident  played  considerable  parts  in  some  of 
them.  But  were  these  the  main  factors  there  would  seem 
to  be  no  reason  why  the  higher  anthropoids  should  not  do 
about  as  well  as  the  lowest  men.  The  many  weapons,  tools, 
utensils,  fabrics,  dwellings,  processes,  produced  by  primitive 
people  the  world  over  are  the  results  of  efforts  to  find  better, 
more  effective  ways  of  doing  things,  better  ways  of  living. 
They  are  expressions  of  improved  goals  reached  by  im- 
proved activities. 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITIES  DIRECTED  TOWAED  SECURING  FOOD 

Though  savages  have  won  great  advantages  for  themselves 
over  their  brute  ancestors,  so  enormous  and  subtle  are  the 
difficulties  in  the  way  of  securing  creature  necessities  and 
comforts  that  the  problem  is  only  approximately  solved. 
This  is  true  even  for  peoples  the  most  advanced  in  culture. 
We  should  be  prepared  to  find  our  low-cultured  kindred 
carrying  on  some  of  their  most  seriously  misdirected  activi- 
ties, and  making  some  of  their  worst  mistakes,  in  their  ef- 
forts to  get  possession  of  the  indispensable  sustentatives  of 
life.  We  will  look  first  at  some  of  the  absurd  practices  (as 
present-day  knowledge  enables  us  to  see  them)  of  savages, 
designed  to  make  their  hunting  and  other  necessity-securing 
activities  more  successful. 

"With  the  object  of  winning  success  in  the  chase,  the 
hunter  will  submit  to  various  purposely  inflicted  inconven- 


266  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

iences  and  sufferings  (i.e.,  he  voluntarily  undergoes  certain 
ordeals)."^"  Several  of  these  are  described  by  the  author. 
One  is  the  use  of  the  "nose-string."  This,  briefly  stated,  con- 
sists of  a  string  passed  through  the  nostril  into  the  back  of 
the  mouth  via  the  posterior  nares  and  pulled  forward  until 
this  end  projects  from  the  mouth,  the  other  end  still  pro- 
jecting from  the  nose.  In  order  to  make  this  performance 
more  efficacious  the  string  (called  "bina"  by  the  people)  is 
treated  in  various  ways.  One  of  these  we  will  learn  from 
Roth's  own  words.  "Robert,  at  the  Makusi  village  of  Mari- 
pai,  uses  a  certain  bright  green  arboreal  frog,  known  as  kope, 
for  a  bina.  When  fresh,  he  rubs  the  slimy  material  from 
off  the  animal's  back  onto  his  chest,  which  he  has  especially 
incised  for  the  purpose.  When  smoke-dried,  he  soaks  it  in 
water  contained  in  a  little  gourbi  (calabash  cup),  and  after 
moistening  the  bina  string  with  the  same  water,  pulls  it 
through  his  nose."  ^^ 

Performances  quite  as  little  relevant  as  this  for  securing 
food  or  other  necessities,  for  protection  against  disease  and 
the  violent  forces  of  earth  and  atmosphere  and  for  assuring 
success  in  childbirth,  are  so  common  among  savages  that 
it  is  hardly  possible  to  read  a  chapter  on  the  customs  of  any 
group  of  them  without  coming  upon  some  such  instances. 
For  example,  during  pregnancy  of  a  Kasungan  wife  (of 
Borneo),  both  she  and  her  husband  must  desist  from  split- 
ting firewood  in  order  to  protect  the  anticipated  child  from 
being  harelipped  or  double-thumbed. 

The  most  astonishing  and,  as  judged  by  civilized  stand- 
ards, the  most  reprehensible  of  savage  activities  for  bringing 
good  luck  is  head-hunting,  widely  practiced  among  peoples 
of  the  Pacific  Islands.  Probably  this  custom  is  not  regarded 
as  a  good-luck  bringer  for  getting  food  and  other  physical 
necessaries  among  all  the  peoples  who  practice  it,  for  it 
seems  to  be  considered  useful  in  a  great  variety  of  ways. 

^-  Roth,  An  Introductory  Study  of  the  Arts,  Crafts,  and  Customs  of 
the  Guiana  Indians,  p.   178. 
"P.  114. 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  267 

But  that  it  is  supposed  to  help  in  this  way  among  some  peo- 
ple appears  certain.  Thus  from  Lumholtz  we  have  concern- 
ing the  Penihings  of  Borneo:  ''If  no  heads  are  brought  in 
there  will  be  much  illness,  poor  harvest,  little  fruit,  fish  will 
not  come  up  the  river  as  far  as  our  Kampong,  and  the  dogs 
will  not  care  to  pursue  pigs."  "  Similar  conduct,  whether 
occurring  among  savages  or  among  their  superiors,  has  been 
much  discussed  under  such  labels  as  fetishism,  animism, 
superstition  and  magic. 

Foolish,  ineffectual,  and  often  harmful  as  this  class  of 
maladaptive  activities  is  its  ability  to  work  positive  injury 
is  small  as  compared  with  that  of  activities  aimed  at  getting 
possession  of  things  needed  or  desired  which  are  already 
possessed  or  claimed  by  other  people.  Since  the  food  and 
other  necessities  of  one  person  or  group  of  persons  are 
basically  the  same  as  those  of  another  person  or  group,  if 
one  of  these  is  already  in  rightful  possession  of  the  where- 
withal to  meet  these  necessities  while  the  other  is  not,  for 
the  second  to  take  the  articles  from  the  first  to  the  latter's 
injury  is  clearly  not  contributory  to  the  equal  welfare  of 
both  parties,  and  hence  is  maladaptive  in  the  strict  sense  in 
which  we  use  the  term.  So  here  we  are  in  the  presence  of 
the  great  problem  of  rightful  possession,  which  includes  the 
endlessly  discussed  question  of  property  rights.  Thieving, 
robbing,  marauding  and  wars  of  conquest  are  the  outstand- 
ing forms  of  maladaptive  possession  among  savages  and 
half-civilized  peoples.  So  well  do  we  know  the  general  mean- 
ing of  these  terms  that  specific  instances  can  give  place  to 
certain  elements  in  the  activities  which  will  help  to  an  under- 
standing of  the  point  of  view  of  savages  relative  to  this 
matter. 

The  most  fundamental  element  is  the  absolute  necessity 
of  all  human  beings,  like  all  other  living  beings,  for  food. 
We  shall  later  have  much  to  say  under  the  captions  life-or- 

i*  Through  Central  Borneo,  Vol.  II,  p.  258. 


268  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

death  needs,  life-or-death  utilities,  and  life-or-death  activi- 
ties. Since  these  categories  are  universal  for  the  living  world 
they  are  not  less  real,  ever-present,  and  potent  with  the  most 
primitive  of  primitive  men  than  with  the  most  culturally 
advanced  men.  There  is  probably  no  better  starting-point 
for  gaining  the  deepest  possible  insight  into  the  nature  of 
human  conduct  than  is  afforded  by  the  difference  between 
the  attitude  of  brute  and  human  creatures  toward  objects 
of  life-or-death  utility.  This  difference  lies  in  the  entirely 
unmindful,  unhesitating,  way  any  brute  creature  whatever 
(so  far  as  we  yet  know)  will  take  and  consume  whatever 
it  needs  wherever  it  finds  it,  regardless  of  the  welfare  of  any 
other  creature.  Probably  no  brute  animal  ever  hesitated  a 
moment  to  eat  food  that  might  be  before  it  if  it  felt  the  least 
impulse  to  do  so,  though  the  doing  it  would  be  a  fatal  dep- 
rivation of  companions,  even  mates  and  offsprings.  This 
is  not  to  say  that  brute  animals  never  share  with  others  food 
which  they  themselves  might  eat  to  their  advantage.  That 
parent  birds  will  hunt  food  and  feed  it  to  their  young  so 
assiduously  as  to  reduce  their  own  bodies  almost  to  the  con- 
dition of  skin  and  bones  is  too  familiar  a  fact  to  leave  room 
for  any  such  idea  as  that  individual  animals  never  share  food 
with  other  individuals.  The  crux  of  the  matter  is  the  ques- 
tion of  one's  sharing  food  with  another  when  that  one  has 
the  chance,  the  impulse,  and  the  ability  to  eat  it  himself. 
Almost  certainly  the  feeding  activities  of  parent  birds  and 
of  some  carnivorous  mammals  are  as  purely  a  physiological 
adaptation  as  is  the  mammary  glandular  mode  of  nourishing 
the  young.  The  vigorous  defensive  actions  shown  by  a 
dog  or  cat  at  the  least  sign  of  being  interfered  with  while 
eating  are  an  index  to  the  part  theft  and  robbery  (as  viewed 
from  the  human  standpoint)  have  played  in  the  brute  part 
of  the  animal  world.  The  tendency  among  humans  to  take 
what  they  need  or  want  wherever  they  find  it,  regardless  of 
any  injury  to  others  that  may  result  from  doing  so;  and  the 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  269 

counter  tendency  to  protect  and  defend  possessions,  is  al- 
most as  manifest  among  low-cultured  peoples  as  among 
brute  animals.  The  chief  difference  is  in  the  greater  re- 
sourcefulness shown  by  humans  in  both  the  aggressive  and 
the  protective  devices  and  operations.  An  especially  im- 
portant aspect  of  the  matter  is  the  methods  of  protecting 
possessions  devised  by  various  peoples.  Robbery  was  taken 
for  granted  to  such  an  extent  among  some  of  the  Maoris 
that  in  case  a  community's  agricultural  efforts  resulted  in 
a  good  crop,  the  fact  was  concealed  as  carefully  as  possible 
from  neighboring  communities  to  safeguard  the  garnered 
stores  from  attack  and  plunder.  The  harvesting  was  done 
at  night,  as  quickly  as  possible,  and  the  food  stored  in  in- 
conspicuous places.  Furthermore,  producers  might  try  to 
deceive  their  neighbors  as  to  the  extent  of  their  possessions 
by  misleading  statements." 

All  this  clearly  implies  a  measure  of  foresight  as  to  life- 
or-death  necessities;  of  knowledge  as  to  ways-and-means  of 
providing  these;  and  of  the  character  of  neighbors,  entirely 
without  counterpart  among  brute  animals.  But  perhaps 
the  most  significant  way  of  protecting  possessions  among 
savages  from  the  thieving  and  other  appropriating  tenden- 
cies of  neighbors  is  the  placing  of  prohibitory  commands 
or  declarations  upon  the  articles  which  the  would-be  appro- 
priators  do  not  dare  to  trespass  upon.  This  sort  of  thing, 
now  known  as  taboo  in  the  language  which  civilized  people 
use  for  describing  the  customs  of  other  people  regarded  by 
them  as  uncivilized,  appears  to  be  in  principle  a  universal 
means  employed  by  human  beings  for  controlhng  the  actions 
of  other  human  beings.  We  shall  give  this  matter  more 
attention  in  a  companion  volume,  in  which  many  subjects 
merely  touched  on  in  this  volume  will  be  treated  more  fully 
and  critically. 

15  Old  New  Zealand,  by  a  Pakea  Maori. 


270  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

ACTIVITY  OF  SAVAGES  COMPARED  WITH  BRUTE  ACTIVITY 
MORE   GENERALLY 

As  to  humans  of  this  cultural  grade  at  least,  the  remark 
"men  act  as  animals  do,"  obviously  contains  very  much 
truth.  In  every  one  of  the  life-or-death  activities;  in  secur- 
ing and  using  food;  in  reproducing  kind;  in  escaping  death 
or  serious  injury  from  disease  and  the  violent  forces  of  in- 
animate nature;  and  in  guarding  against  would-be  human 
despoilers,  all  men  are  on  common  ground  with  all  animals. 
For  uncultured  men,  at  least,  all  are  on  common  ground  with 
animals  in  the  tendency  to  excessiveness  of  action  and  in 
the  likelihood  of  misdirectedness  of  action.  The  whole  dif- 
ference, great  as  it  is,  between  the  activities  of  men  of  low 
culture  and  of  animals  seems  to  resolve  itself  into  the  greater 
skill  with  which  men  work  toward  their  welfare;  the  greater 
ability  of  men  in  restraining  themselves  from  going  too  far 
in  the  right  direction;  and  their  greater  ability  to  go  in  the 
right  direction;  or,  what  is  nearly  the  same  thing,  their 
greater  ability  to  avoid  going  in  the  wrong  direction. 

While  primitive  people  undoubtedly  "act  as  animals  do" 
even  to  all  the  forms  of  maladaptive  activity,  they  have  gone 
far  ahead  of  the  very  foremost  of  their  brute  kindred  in 
correcting  this  maladaptiveness.  The  facts  which  constitute 
the  most  convincing  evidence  of  the  superiority  of  the  con- 
duct of  human  animals  as  compared  with  that  of  brute  ani- 
mals are  those  which  show  that  many  primitive  peoples  are 
in  some  measure  aware  of  the  deleteriousness  of  their  tend- 
ency to  excessiveness  in  activities,  and  of  the  likelihood  of 
their  doing  the  wrong  things,  this  awareness  being  accom- 
panied by  corrective  measures  in  both  directions.  An  illus- 
tration of  measures  to  guard  against  excessiveness  of  action 
is  furnished  by  the  Fijians,  as  given  by  Thomas  Williams.'^ 

"Few  things  go  more  against  a  native's  nature  than  to  be 

^^Fiji  and  the  Fijians,  Vol.  I,  p.  122. 


AMONG  LOW-CULTURED  HUMANS  271 

betrayed  into  a  manifestation  of  anger.  On  this  restraint 
and  concealment  of  passion  he  greatly  prides  himself,  and 
forms  his  judgment  of  strangers  by  their  self-control  in  this 
particular.  When  the  hidden  flame  bursts  forth,  the  transi- 
tion is  sudden  from  mirth  to  demon-like  anger.  Sometimes 
they  are  surprised  into  wrath,  or  vexed  beyond  endurance; 
when  they  throw  off  all  restraint  and  give  themselves  up  to 
passion.  The  rage  of  a  civilized  man,  in  comparison  with 
what  then  follows,  is  like  the  tossings  of  a  restless  babe.  A 
savage  fully  developed — physically  and  morally — is  exhib- 
ited. The  forehead  is  suddenly  filled  with  wrinkles;  the 
large  nostrils  distend  and  smoke;  the  staring  eyeballs  grow 
red,  and  gleam  with  terrible  flashings;  the  mouth  is  stretched 
into  a  murderous  and  disdainful  grin;  the  whole  body  quivers 
with  excitement;  every  muscle  is  strained,  and  the  clenched 
fist  seems  eager  to  bathe  itself  in  the  blood  of  him  who  has 
roused  this  demon  of  fury.  When  anger  is  kept  continually 
under  curb,  it  frequently  results  in  sullenness.  Pride  and 
anger  combined  often  lead  to  self-destruction." 

Additional  evidence  of  the  store  placed  by  savages  on 
self-control  is  the  belief  held  by  some  good  observers  that 
at  least  a  portion  of  the  self-imposed  torture  which  occurs 
widely  among  primitive  peoples  is  to  the  end  of  proving  their 
ability  to  endure  pain  without  performing  the  bodily  acts 
characteristically  connected  with  it.  Not  all  such  torture  is 
for  this  purpose.  Some  of  it  has  a  self-purifying  motive; 
and  this  suggests  at  once  a  sense  of  sin,  of  wrong,  as  by  a 
"penitent"  or  one  who  sorrows  for  bad  deeds  he  has  com- 
mitted. In  some  cases,  self-torture  is  without  doubt  pro- 
pitiatory, that  is,  it  aims  to  gain  the  favor  and  help,  or 
escape  the  vengeance  of  the  gods.  This  clearly  involves 
a  consciousness  of  needs  and  also  of  difficulties  and  dangers 
in  the  way  of  getting  them.  If  anything  at  all  of  this  kind 
occurs  among  even  the  highest  brute  animals  it  is  only  in 
the  merest  traces. 


CHAPTER  16 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED 
HUMAN  BEINGS 

OUR  VERDICT  ON  OUR  OWN  ACTIVITIES ;  COMMON  KNOWLEDGE 
OF  MALADAPTATION 

The  remark,  "human  beings  do  just  that  way,"  made  in 
response  to  my  stories  about  the  maladaptive  performances 
of  animals,  always  has  reference  to  humans  like  our  very 
selves,  not  to  savages.  Another  familiar  expression  is  that 
so-and-so  is  given  to  "running  a  good  thing  into  the  ground." 
Defectiveness  of  character  is  so  clearly  implied  here  that  the 
statement  is  not  likely  to  be  so  worded  as  to  implicate  the 
speaker  himself,  as  do  the  "human  beings"  or  "men"  of  the 
other  phrase.  For  some  purposes  and  as  to  certain  activities 
all  high-cultured  people  see  the  necessity  for  self-restraint 
at  least  as  clearly  and  prize  it  at  least  as  highly  as  the  native 
Fijians,  regardless  of  what  theoretical  views  they  may  hold 
concerning  the  good  there  may  be  in  "self-expression"  and 
the  bad  that  may  result  from  "repression." 

A  more  personal  form  of  the  idea  of  running  a  good  thing 
into  the  ground  is  seen  in  the  statement  that  so-and-so  "never 
knows  when  to  stop."  This  form  of  the  expression  shows 
that  the  more  personal  the  recognition  of  the  tendency  to 
excessiveness  becomes,  the  greater  the  inclination  to  attribute 
it  to  some  other  person  than  one's  self.  One  rarely  admits 
that  he  himself  "never  knows  when  to  stop."  Thus  it  is 
indirectly  recognized  that  there  is  virtue  in  "knowing  when 
to  stop." 

How  much  truth  is  there  in  these  folk  expressions  imply- 
ing popular  recognition  of  maladaptive  activity?    Is  common 

272 


MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  273 

knowledge  confirmed  and  extended  by  scientific  knowledge 
in  this  as  in  so  many  other  cases?  Our  quest  will  be  for 
evidences  of  excessiveness  or  the  reverse,  and  misdirected- 
ness  of  action  under  these  four  heads:  Lost  motion  and 
waste  of  energy  and  time;  waste  of  useful  material;  injury 
to  kind;  self-injury. 

One  of  the  commonest  of  human  "frailties"  is  undue  haste, 
especially  in  situations  that  are  a  bit  out  of  the  ordinary. 
"Don't  be  in  a  hurry;  take  your  time,"  is  a  familiar  admoni- 
tion of  the  street-car  conductor,  gatekeeper,  or  other  person 
whose  function  it  is  to  control  crowds  of  people  passing 
through  narrow  or  otherwise  difficult  places.  The  panics 
of  audiences  in  burning  buildings  or  other  imminent  dangers 
resolve  to  a  large  extent  into  action  by  those  individuals  in- 
volved who  are  too  hurried  and  precipitate.  Speeding  is  the 
particular  bane  of  automobile  driving.  Eating  too  fast  as 
well  as  too  much  is  undoubtedly  a  prolific  contributor  to 
indigestion.  That  children  and  young  persons  are  given  to 
playing  too  much  and  too  hard  is  now  recognized  as  one  of 
the  very  real  and  very  difficult  problems  with  which  training 
of  the  young  must  cope. 

To  no  small  extent  skill  in  doing  anything  consists  in  doing 
it  just  fast  enough  but  not  too  fast.  Who  that  has  ever 
watched  a  game  of  base-ball  by  the  most  expert  of  players 
has  not  found  himself  on  nettles  at  the  seeming  slowness 
with  which  a  fielder  throws  to  a  baseman  to  head  off  a 
runner?  Most  hand-fumbling  turns  out  to  be  more  acts 
than  are  necessary  to  accomplish  the  ends  sought.  A  cer- 
tain amount  of  unavailing  action  may  be  a  useful  prepar- 
atory step  for  the  real  act;  this  is  a  very  different  thing 
from  unmitigated  fumbling.  The  good  base-ball  pitcher  or 
golf  player  goes  through  his  getting-ready  movements  quite 
as  deliberately  as  he  performs  the  culminating  act.  On  the 
contrary,  many  of  the  preliminary  hand-and-arm  motions 
of  the  half-skilled  automobile  driver  or  typist  are  entirely 


274  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

useless.  Any  one  who  will  watch  his  own  movements  for  a 
single  day  of  his  ordinary  life  will  hardly  fail  to  catch  him- 
self fumbling  once  at  least.  All  this  and  much  more  of 
similar  import  in  our  everyday  speech  and  action  is  expres- 
sive of  our  verdict  upon  ourselves  as  resembling  the  rest  of 
animal  creation  in  the  matter  of  maladaptivity  of  our  actions. 

Waste  of  useful  materials.  Is  there  real  similarity  be- 
tween "waste"  in  the  rather  technical  sense  in  which  we 
are  using  it,  and  "waste"  as  economists  and  industrialists 
use  it?  The  similarities  between  some  of  the  work  of 
beavers  and  some  of  the  work  of  men  is  widely  known.  But 
always,  so  far  as  I  have  noticed,  the  similarities  recognized 
relate  to  constructive  activities  of  the  two  kinds  of  or- 
ganisms. Are  there  similarities  between  their  destructive 
activities?  Since  both  are  builders  and  hence  users  of  raw 
materials,  they  must  both  be  destroyers  to  some  extent. 
When  a  tree  is  cut  down  by  a  man's  ax  or  a  beaver's  chisel- 
teeth,  that  tree  is  destroyed.  As  a  tree  it  no  longer  exists; 
and  whether  it  is  built  into  a  beaver's  hut,  into  a  man's 
palace,  or  rots  where  it  fell,  makes  not  the  slightest  differ- 
ence so  far  as  its  treehood  is  concerned.  If  both  beaver 
and  man  perform  their  acts  of  destruction  to  the  end  of 
promoting  their  own  well-being,  and  if  they  actually  make 
the  trees  contribute  to  that  end,  in  neither  case  is  the  de- 
stroyed tree  wasted.  If  either  beaver  or  man  fails  to  make 
the  destroyed  tree  contribute  to  beaver  or  human  well-being, 
the  tree  is  wasted. 

I  do  not  believe  any  one  who  has  had  opportunity  to 
study  on  the  ground  the  operations  of  a  live  lumber  camp, 
and  also  opportunity  to  study  on  the  ground  the  operations 
of  a  live  beaver  colony,  can  have  failed  to  recognize  re- 
semblance between  the  destructive  work  in  the  two  cases 
no  less  striking  than  that  of  the  constructive  work:  tell-tale 
stumps,  more  or  less  fresh,  all  about;  prostrate  trees  here 
and  there  pointing  in  various  directions,  and  in  various 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  275 

stages  of  being  worked  up;  litter  of  chips  and  other  frag- 
ments of  wood  in  abundance;  roadways  worn  on  the  ground 
here  and  there  where  the  workers  have  traveled  and  hauled 
their  loads.  The  differences  between  the  two  cases  is  more 
quantitative  than  anything  else.  The  results  at  the  human 
camp  are  usually  on  a  much  larger  scale  than  are  those  at 
the  beaver  colony;  and  the  skill  and  effectiveness  of  the 
activities,  both  destructive  and  constructive,  are  much 
greater  in  the  former  than  in  the  latter. 

As  to  usefulness  and  wastefulness  of  the  operations  in  the 
tw^o  cases;  that  a  large  measure  of  useful  results  are 
attained  in  both  is  beyond  question.  These  useful  re- 
sults are  accompanied  by  a  large  measure  of  wasteful  re- 
sults so  far  as  beavers  are  concerned.  How  about  waste 
in  the  case  of  human  lumbering?  Not  merely  the  destruc- 
tiveness  but  the  wasteful  destructiveness  of  the  lumberiilg 
activities  are  now  recognized  to  be  enormous,  "appalling" 
in  the  view  of  some  of  the  students  of  the  subject,  when 
the  well-being  of  the  country,  in  the  present  and  for  the 
future,  are  taken  into  the  reckoning.  The  conclusion  to 
which  we  seem  driven  by  comparing  beaver  activities  and 
human  activities  in  the  one  industry  of  lumbering,  is  that 
both  groups  of  operations,  as  actually  carried  on  contain 
certain  elements  of  disastrous  wastefulness  for  the  organisms 
themselves  when  their  well-being  is  considered  relative  to 
all  the  members  of  the  organic  groups  involved,  existing  at 
the  present  time  and  to  exist  in  the  future. 

Judging  from  statements  made  by  competent  students, 
much  the  same  wastefulness  is  going  on  in  oil  and  other  in- 
dustries engaged  in  the  utilization  of  mineral  resources;  in 
the  use  of  agricultural  soils;  in  the  use  of  food  resources,  and 
in  various  other  domains.  The  pronouncement  of  one  recent 
writer  ^  may  be  overdone.  We  read:  "Half  and  more  of  the 
yearly  output  of  natural  resources  heedlessly  scattered  and 
destroyed  ...  a  billion  slaves  of  energy  turning  useless 

1  Stuart  Chase,  The  Tragedy  of  Waste. 


276  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

wheels,  dragging  unneeded  loads.  Motion,  speed,  mo- 
mentum unbounded — to  an  end  never  clearly  defined,  to  a 
goal  unknown  and  unseen."  Even  if  this  is  no  more  than 
half  true,  taking  it  with  much  evidence  to  the  same  general 
effect  we  seem  justified  in  concluding  that  waste  among  high- 
cultured  humans  is  an  almost  tragic  reality  and  that  it  is 
essentially  the  same  psychobiologically  as  waste  in  the  ani- 
mal world  generally. 

Injury  to  kind.  No  one  would  contend  that  human  cul- 
ture has  ever  reached  a  level  at  which  those  who  are  con- 
sidered as  living  at  that  level  never  injure  any  other  in  any 
way.  May  the  various  forms  of  injury  which  high-cultured 
humans  receive  at  one  another's  hands  and  the  ways  these 
come  about  be  described  and  interpreted  as  we  have  the  ac- 
tivities of  the  brute  animal  world  and  the  low-cultured  part 
of  the  human  world?  Most  of  the  injuries  to  life  and  limb 
which  cultured  peoples  suffer  in  travel,  in  industrial  em- 
ployment, in  homicide,  in  personal  fights,  and  in  war,  are 
the  results  of  human  activities.  A  man  who  is  knocked  down 
by  a  fist  blow  from  a  fellow  man  or  the  kick  of  a  mule  is 
hurt  by  the  activity  of  an  organic  being  just  as  truly  in  the 
one  case  as  in  the  other.  There  seems  no  room  for  ques- 
tioning the  legitimacy  of  bringing  injury-dealing  human 
conduct  into  the  same  class  with  injury-dealing  brute  animal 
conduct,  regarding  both  as  maladaptation  and  resolvable 
into  excessiveness  or  misdirectedness  of  action. 

Murder  is  the  climax  of  destructive  injury  inflicted  by 
civilized  man  on  his  fellow  man:  if  a  person  kills  another 
by  deliberate  intention,  he  achieves  the  end  he  sought,  his 
act  appears  to  be  a  success,  and  hence  should  pass  as  adap- 
tive rather  than  maladaptive.  How  is  it,  then,  that  such  an 
act  is  held  everywhere  among  high-cultured  peoples  as  a 
major  crime?  We  have  here  a  more  sharply  defined  con- 
flict between  welfare  of  the  individual  (as  he  supposes)  and 
welfare  of  kind,  of  community,  than  we  have  found  else- 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS         277 

where.  What  is  a  crime  but  an  act  the  consequences  of 
which,  however  much  the  one  performing  it  may  consider  it 
to  have  contributed  to  his  personal  good,  are  considered  by 
the  community  at  large  contrary  to  its  good?  The  evidence 
of  extremely  slight  consciousness  of  such  opposition  among 
brute  animals  and  scant  perception  of  it  among  low-cultured 
peoples  is  one  of  the  striking  results  of  our  comparative 
study  of  injury  to  kind.  Recall  the  utter  indifference  of 
some  animals  toward  their  disabled  companions,  and  the 
actual  hostility  toward  such  in  other  instances.  The  vigor- 
ous defense  of  the  very  young  by  the  mothers  among  birds 
and  mammals  generally,  and  the  apparent  dawn  of  real 
fellow-feeling  among  chimpanzees,  mark  the  extent  of  this 
recognition  of  welfare  of  kind  in  the  brute  creation.  But 
the  readiness  with  which  mothers  become  cannibalistic  to 
their  own  young  even  among  high-grade  mammals;  and  the 
out-of-sight-out-of-mind  sort  of  regard  of  chimpanzees  for 
one  another,  indicate  how  weak  and  fitful  is  the  perception 
of  community  well-being  as  contrasted  with  that  of  individual 
well-being  among  any  of  the  brutes.  As  to  primitive  man- 
kind, the  low  value  placed  on  human  life,  shown  by  the 
commonness  of  such  practices  as  head-hunting  among  some 
tribes,  of  murder,  and  of  human  sacrifice  among  many 
others  of  relatively  advanced  culture,  should  impress  us  with 
the  slow  and  faltering  way  this  latent  attribute  of  living 
nature  has  come  to  actuality. 

The  history  of  criminal  law  might  well  be  taken  as  a 
marker  of  the  cultural  advance  of  mankind  from  its  lowest 
to  its  highest  level.  Such  law  seems  to  show  that  human 
individuals  recognize  the  lives  of  other  individuals  as  having 
worth  and  right  in  and  for  themselves,  just  as  their  own 
have.  The  history  of  law  against  theft  and  other  violations 
of  property  rights  and  against  all  other  ways  in  which  the 
acts  of  individuals  injure  other  individuals  reveals  upon 
analysis  conformity  to  the  principles  of  maladaptive  activity 


278  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

recognized  in  our  studies.  He  who  takes  what,  according  to 
generally  accepted  rules,  belongs  to  another,  performs  an 
act  which  from  his  own  point  of  view  contributes  to  his 
welfare.  Yet  by  his  disregard  of  the  welfare  of  the  one  from 
whom  he  stole,  he  aligns  against  him,  so  far  as  this  act  is 
concerned,  the  community  at  large  on  the  ground  that  any 
other  member  of  it  may  suffer  like  injury  from  the  same 
source.  While  from  the  thief's  own  standpoint  his  act  is 
successful,  is  adaptive,  from  the  broader  standpoint  it  is 
not  successful,  since  it  not  only  loses  the  advantage  tem- 
porarily gained,  but  lands  the  actor  in  prison.  Being  both 
a  failure  as  to  the  actor  himself,  and  an  injury  to  another 
person,  it  answers  fully  to  our  criterion  of  maladaptivity, 
falling  under  the  head  of  misdirected  activity. 

Self-injury.  As  under  "injury  to  kind"  homicide  stood 
out  sharply  as  the  climax  of  harm  one  person  can  do  to 
another,  so  in  this  discussion  of  injury  to  self  suicide  holds 
first  place.  The  statements  by  suicides  explaining  that  their 
acts  were  done  because  the  actors  were  "tired  of  life"  make 
it  necessary  to  recognize  these  as  successful  acts  so  far  as 
the  immediate  purpose  was  concerned.  The  terms  "success" 
and  "failure"  are  often  used  with  just  these  applications  in 
cases  of  attempted  suicide.  The  suicidal  act  may  result  in 
death  outright,  in  which  case  it  is  a  complete  success;  or  it 
may  accomplish  only  a  serious  injury  from  which  the  would- 
be  self-destroyer  finally  recovers.  In  this  case  the  act  was 
only  partially  successful.  Finally,  the  act  may  produce  only 
the  slightest  injury  or  none  at  all;  in  which  case  the  act 
was  a  total  failure.  All  this  reasoning  carries  on  its  face 
ample  evidence  of  the  pitiful  inadequacy  of  such  meanings 
of  success  and  failure  when  it  comes  to  high-level  human 
affairs. 

The  suicide's  announcement  of  weariness  of  life  as  the 
motive  of  his  act  says  that  his  life  is  not,  so  far  as  he  him- 
self is  concerned,  worth  carrying  through  to  its  natural  end. 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS         279 

It  is  a  failure.  The  successful  act  of  self-destruction  is,  as 
a  matter  of  fact,  the  culmination  of  a  series  of  life  activities 
which  in  the  judgment  of  the  destroyer  himself  contain  more 
of  failure  than  success.  Suicide  may  be  looked  upon  as  a 
self-acknowledgment  of  self-maladaptation.- 

Dueling.  Dueling  is  a  form  of  human  activity  which  is 
designedly  injury-inflicting  and  is  peculiar  to  high-cultured 
peoples.  It  might  seem  that  treatment  of  this  topic  would 
fall  more  properly  under  the  head  of  injury  to  kind.  If 
two  men  fight  a  duel  and  one  kills  the  other,  the  dead  man 
has  received  a  fatal  injury  at  the  hands  of  a  fellow  man,  and 
that,  it  might  seem,  is  all  there  is  to  it.  Apparently  such  is 
the  legal  view  sometimes  taken  of  the  matter,  for  we  learn 
that  in  England  as  the  law  has  looked  upon  the  killing  of 
man  in  a  duel,  the  deed  "differs  nothing  from  ordinary 
murder." 

This  is  a  very  inadequate  view.  Essential  to  the  technical 
idea  of  a  duel  is  a  definite  agreement  of  the  antagonists  not 
only  to  fight  each  other,  but  as  to  place  where,  time  when, 
kind  of  weapons,  and  mode  of  procedure.  It  is  a  well- 
thought-out  plan  by  which  each  agrees  to  try  to  injure  the 
other  even  to  the  death.  Each  agrees  to  take  the  chance  of 
being  himself  the  victim,  with  considerable  chance  that 
neither  will  be  seriously  hurt,  or  that  both  will  be.  Dueling 
is  a  form  of  human  activity  which  in  its  results  is  something 
of  a  combination  of  murder  and  suicide.  There  is  present 
in  it  an  important  element  that  is  not  present  in  either  of 
the  other  forms  of  activity,  the  element  of  regulation  by 
collective  agreement.  In  neither  murder  nor  suicide  are 
there  fixed  "rules  of  the  game."  Dueling  proper  is  always 
conducted  in  accordance  with  definite  and  elaborate  rules 
and  in  the  presence  of  other  persons  whose  function  it  is 

2  This  analysis  of  suicidal  conduct  has  reference  to  normal-minded 
persons  only.  Maniacal  self-destruction  involves  factors  not  involved 
in  such  cases  as  those  here  contemplated. 


28o  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

to  see  that  the  rules  are  lived  up  to.  Dueling  may  perhaps 
better  be  compared  to  a  combination  of  capital  punishment 
with  such  self-destruction  as  that  practiced  by  the  Japanese 
under  the  name  hari-kiri. 

If  one  is  himself  killed  while  deliberately  taking  his  chance 
of  killing  another,  his  act  is  surely  a  failure.  His  primary 
goal  was  not  the  injury  of  his  antagonist  but  the  attainment 
of  something  (his  "honor"  or  some  object,  perhaps  a  woman) 
supposedly  attainable  only  by  this  means.  Since  he  attained 
neither  his  primary  nor  his  secondary  goal  but  suffered 
grievously  himself,  his  failure  was  double.  The  maladap- 
tivity  of  his  performance  is  increased  as  compared  with  self- 
injury-producing  activities  among  brute  animals.  Brutes 
probably  never  deliberately  expose  themselves  to  self-de- 
struction. 

What  we  have  learned  about  the  tendency  to  excessiveness 
in  the  instinctive  and  emotional  forms  of  activity  prepares 
us  to  learn  without  surprise  what  the  history  of  dueling  ac- 
tually shows  as  to  the  extremes  to  which  the  custom  has 
sometimes  gone.  Thus  a  French  writer  is  cited  as  authority 
for  the  statement  that  during  the  eight  years,  1601  to  1609, 
two  thousand  men  of  noble  birth  fell  in  duels  in  France. 
The  duelists,  we  are  told,  "fought  by  night  and  day,  by 
moonlight  and  torchlight,  in  the  public  streets  and  squares. 
A  hasty  word,  a  misconceived  gesture  .  .  .  such  were  the 
commonest  pretexts  for  a  duel.  .  .  .  Often,  hke  gladiators 
or  prize-fighters,  they  fought  for  the  pure  love  of  fighting.^ 
The  victor  in  an  English  duel  during  the  reign  of  Queen 
Anne  is  quoted:  "I  come  to  relate  my  sorrow,  a  sorrow  too 
great  for  human  life  to  support.  Know  that  this  morning  I 
have  killed  in  a  duel  the  man  whom  of  all  men  living  I  love 
best." 

Though  dueling  exhibits  maladaptation  which  is  in  a 
sense    greater    than    any    shown    by    brutes    or    low- 

s  Francis  Storr,  Encychpcedia  Britannica. 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS         281 

cultured  humans,  when  regarded  from  the  standpoint 
of  community  welfare  it  is  seen  to  contain  elements 
of  better  adaptation.  As  pointed  out  long  ago  by 
Francis  Bacon,  it  is  a  "sort  of  wild  justice."  It  is  a  check 
on  the  impulse  felt  by  one  person  to  inflict  injury  or  death  on 
another  in  retaliation  for  real  or  imagined  injury.  Such 
an  impulse  is  quite  customary  among  children  and  low- 
cultured  adults.  The  young  Fijian  killed  by  his  father-in- 
law  for  the  affront  of  having  accidentally  broken  off  a  cooked 
lizard's  tail  which  he  was  serving  as  the  older  man's  meal 
would  at  least  have  had  a  chance  of  a  fair  fight  for  his 
life  under  a  dueling  sj^stem.  The  elaborate  systems  of 
etiquette  and  other  forms  of  regulation  of  social,  political, 
and  industrial  intercourse  among  the  members  of  a  commu- 
nity that  have  grown  up  at  almost  all  cultural  levels,  observ- 
ance of  which  must  be  secured  at  whatever  cost  of  fine  or 
bodily  punishment,  is  a  sufficient  reminder  of  the  stake 
which  the  community  at  large  has  in  regulating,  if  not 
wholly  preventing,  the  slaughter  of  its  members  on  purely 
personal  grounds.  Assuming  that  George  Canning  and  Lord 
Castlereagh,  Alexander  Hamilton  and  Aaron  Burr,  really 
were  valuable  men  to  their  respective  countries,  it  would 
surely  be  wise  public  policy  to  try  to  prevent  them  from 
killing  each  other  in  personal  quarrel.  Assuming  that  the 
two  thousand  French  noblemen  duelists  killed  in  eight  years 
really  were  noble  (on  the  whole  a  community  appraisal),  it 
is  natural  and  reasonable  that  the  community  should  take 
measures  to  prevent  such  destruction.  Governments  and 
enlightened  social  conscience  have  made  strenuous  eftorts 
to  suppress  dueling  despite  the  modicum  of  justification  and 
usefulness  it  undoubtedly  has.  Regarding  human  conduct 
as  presenting  different  degrees  of  effectiveness  in  the  effort 
to  attain  welfare,  the  prevention  of  dueling  could  be  ac- 
complished only  by  recognizing  both  its  advantages  and  dis- 
advantages.    It  would  have  to  be  retained  until  a  less 


282  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

injurious  and  more  effective  way  could  be  found  of  accom- 
plishing the  desirable  ends  aimed  at  by  the  custom. 

War.  Certain  resemblances  between  dueling  and  war  as 
conceived  by  civilized  nations  are  obvious.  In  both  there 
is  the  setting  up  and  striving  after  a  goal  which  neither  of 
the  parties  is  willing  to  grant  the  other;  in  both  this  en- 
counter is  conducted  professedly  and  in  some  measure  ac- 
cording to  certain  rules  previously  agreed  on  by  the  larger 
community;  and  in  both  there  is  the  avowed  effort  of  each 
side  to  injure  the  other  side  at  the  same  time  that  each 
takes  the  chance  of  injury  to  itself. 

The  chief  difference  between  the  two  is  that,  whereas  the 
injury  to  the  community  caused  by  dueling  is  in  the  destruc- 
tion of  human  lives  alone,  in  war  the  injury  is  from  the 
destruction  of  objects  and  materials  of  many  kinds  essen- 
tial to  the  general  welfare.  The  magnitude  and  complexity 
of  the  operations  in  such  a  war  as  that  which  civilized  man- 
kind has  lately  passed  through  tend  to  obscure  the  basic 
principles  of  human  conduct  involved. 

If  doubt  be  expressed  as  to  the  justification  of  consider- 
ing war  as  "self-injury"  we  think  the  doubt  is  fully  met  by 
referring  to  the  considerations  in  favor  of  ranging  dueling 
under  this  head;  by  calling  attention  to  the  fact  that  the 
subject  could  not  have  been  adequately  treated  under  the 
previous  head  of  "injury  to  kind";  and  to  the  overwhelming 
evidence  furnished  by  the  history  of  all  wars  that  victors  as 
well  as  vanquished  are  sufferers,  frequently  to  such  an  ex- 
tent that  there  is  doubt  as  to  which  suffered  most. 

Fighting  is  a  type  of  animal  activity  in  which  the  emo- 
tional phase  of  psychic  life  gains  undisputed  ascendancy 
over  the  rational  phase.  It  matters  not  whether  the  par- 
ticular performance  is  a  cock-fight,  a  dog-fight,  a  clench- 
and-bite  encounter  between  two  men,  a  formal,  well-seconded 
duel,  or  a  military  battle  on  land  or  sea.  The  ear-marks 
of  the  type,  tendency  to  excessiveness  and  to  misdirect- 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  283 

edness,  with  the  resulting  waste  and  destruction,  are 
everywhere  unmistakable.  So  recent  are  our  experiences  of 
the  World  War  that  no  one  can  have  forgotten  that  the 
most  distinctive  characteristic  of  "war  psychology"  was  the 
extreme  sensitiveness  of  almost  everybody  in  almost  every 
relation  whether  for  good  or  bad,  and  the  exaggerated  way 
in  which  almost  everything,  public  or  private,  good  or  bad, 
was  done  and  overdone. 

As  for  misdirected  action,  the  liability  to  mistakes  stands 
out  boldly  and  tragically  in  the  history  of  wars.  Think,  for 
instance,  of  Napoleon's  Russian  campaign;  of  the  British 
Gallipoli  debacle;  of  the  German  U-boat  effort  in  the  late 
war. 

The  devastated  areas  of  the  main  European  battle  fronts, 
the  western  and  eastern,  supposedly  the  climax  of  wastage 
of  the  war,  the  reader  may  have  had  no  opportunity  to 
observe.  Even  so,  impressive  object  lessons  as  to  the  waste 
of  useful  material  may  have  been  received  elsewhere.  Per- 
haps he  has  sailed  down  the  James  River  of  Virginia  and 
seen  the  five  hundred  ships  built  and  owned  by  the  United 
States  Government  rotting  and  rusting  there  without  ever 
having  been  used  to  transport  a  pound  of  cargo  or  a  single 
passenger.  Any  one  who  has  seen  such  unused  products  of 
human  activity  as  these  ships  and  such  unused  products  of 
animal  activity  as  the  trees  felled  by  beavers  *  can  hardly 
avoid  saying,  "Yes,  men  act  just  that  way." 

The  similarity  of  war  to  dueling  extends  to  the  problem 
of  ridding  the  world  as  far  as  may  be  of  this  form  of  inter- 
necine conflict.  We  found  on  analysis  of  the  effort  against 
dueling  that  the  community  at  large  made  the  effort  to  secure 
its  own  good  by  finding  a  less  destructive  way  of  attaining 
the  worthy  ends  at  which  the  custom  aimed.  It  was  an 
effort  to  make  a  form  of  human  conduct  that  was  highly 
maladaptive  into  a  form  that  is  highly  adaptive. 

*  Described  on  p,  153  et  seq. 


284  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

Modern  war  is  the  climax  of  maladaptive  human  conduct. 
The  proposals  for  an  international  court  and  the  "outlawing 
of  war"  resemble  closely  the  efforts  to  suppress,  to  outlaw, 
dueling.  The  effort  to  do  away  with  war  merely  because 
many  of  its  consequences  are  terrible  will  probably  never 
succeed.  It  does  not  accord  with  the  basic  principles  of 
psychobiological  activity.  Brave  and  rational  men  do  not 
give  up  long-established  ways  of  seeking  their  ends  pri- 
marily because  these  ways  may  bring  immediate  injury  and 
pain  and  suffering  upon  them,  but  because  they  discover  less 
destructive,  more  effective  ways  of  attaining  the  ends  than 
those  originally  used.  Only  by  the  most  searching  study  of 
the  way  human  welfare  is  involved  in  the  causes  of  war  and 
also  the  most  searching  study  of  peaceful  means  by  which 
such  welfare  may  be  attained  will  high-cultured  mankind 
succeed  in  freeing  itself  from  war. 

MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY  AS   CORRECTED  BY  SCIENCE 

Our  discussion  of  maladaptive  activity  among  high-cul- 
tured peoples  has  taken  no  account  of  the  fact  that  whereas 
human  conduct  among  such  peoples  is  always  assumed  to 
be  consciously  aimed  at  the  attainment  of  welfare,  in  the 
majority  of  instances  there  is  uncertainty  both  as  to  what 
welfare  is  and  to  what  course  of  action  will  attain  it. 

Cultured  man  has,  by  the  very  fact  of  being  cultured, 
many  more  things  to  do  than  his  brute  or  even  savage  human 
ancestors  have,  and  this  gives  him  just  so  many  more  ways 
for  overdoing,  and  so  many  more  chances  of  doing  the  wrong 
things.  For  the  nutritional  group  of  activities,  one  of  the 
marks  of  high  culture  is  increased  dependence  of  the  in- 
dividuals on  knowledge,  common  and  technical,  to  protect 
them  from  increased  danger  due  to  increased  complexity  of 
food   materials   and   general   nutritional   conditions,   such 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS         285 

knowledge  being  made  essential  by  the  absence  of  improve- 
ment in  the  inherent  defectiveness  of  the  instinctive  basis  of 
the  nutritional  activity. 

Proof  of  the  untrustworthiness  of  appetite,  taste,  "in- 
stinct," comes  from  the  scientific  study  of  nutrition.  De- 
pending on  taste  alone,  anybody  is  liable  to  eat  foods  which, 
though  ample  as  to  quantity,  are  so  deficient  in  some  ingredi- 
ents essential  to  complete  nutrition  that  illness  and  death 
may  result.  Beri-beri,  a  disease  common  among  those  Ori- 
entals a  large  element  of  whose  diet  is  rice,  is  a  case  in  point. 
Polishing  the  rice  to  suit  the  taste  of  consumers  deprives 
it  of  essential  nutrient  constituents.  Something  comparable 
to  this  occurs  among  all  sorts  of  peoples.  The  robbing  of 
wheat  flour  of  some  of  its  most  important  food  elements  by 
milling  is  a  notable  instance  of  the  same  sort  of  thing.  The 
''new  knowledge  of  nutrition"  consists  largely  in  discovering 
how  far  we  civilized  people  are  led  by  our  tastes  and  appe- 
tites, worked  upon  by  custom  and  advertising,  into  eating 
foods  seriously  deficient  or  positively  injurious  as  to  certain 
of  their  elements. 

The  human,  like  any  other  mammalian  infant,  would 
starve  to  death  sucking  a  nipple  that  would  not  yield  a  drop 
of  milk  or  anything  else,  so  far  as  the  sucking  response  it- 
self is  concerned.  There  is  now  abundant  evidence  that 
bottle-fed  babies  are  liable  to  serious  malnutrition,  even  to 
starvation,  from  lack  of  some  essential  ingredient  of  the 
food  given.  Every  element  of  the  nutritional  activity,  tak- 
ing the  nipple,  sucking,  swallowing,  goes  on  quite  normally. 
A  sufficient  quantity  of  what  seems  to  be  the  proper  food 
is  taken.  Yet  the  performance  fails  partly  or  wholly. 
Much  more  is  involved  in  this  maladaptive  activity  than 
would  be  involved  in  the  case  in  which  the  child  suffers  from 
sucking  a  nipple  that  would  yield  nothing.  In  the  defective 
food  case  there  would  be  implicated  not  only  the  infant's 


286  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

defectiveness  in  taking  defective  food,  but  the  parent's  or 
nurse's  or  doctor's  or  manufacturer's  or  somebody  else's 
defectiveness  in  preparing  or  administering  the  food.  So 
far  as  the  food-taking  instinct  itself  is  concerned,  the  indi- 
vidual parent,  nurse,  or  doctor  (whoever  is  responsible  for 
the  defective  feeding)  is  no  better  off  than  the  infant;  the 
only  effective  way  of  forestalling  failure  is  through  experi- 
ence accumulated  by  each  individual  during  his  own  life 
and  by  that  of  the  lives  of  many  other  individuals. 

As  an  instance  of  the  general  liability  to  misdirection  of 
activity  among  civilized  people,  let  the  reader  reflect  on  his 
ability  to  find  his  way  in  a  complicated  locality  that  is 
entirely  new  to  him.  To  be  rather  exasperatingly  concrete, 
let  him  examine  himself  as  to  his  ability  to  go  into  the  New 
York  subway  at  Times  Square  for  the  first  time,  and  catch 
the  right  train  to  take  him  to  the  Brooklyn  Polytechnic 
Institute.  If  he  has  an  hereditary  tendency,  an  original  en- 
dowment toward  the  Brooklyn  goal,  he  need  not,  of  course, 
be  troubled  by  the  maze  of  lettered  signs;  green  or  red 
lines  painted  on  the  walls  to  be  followed  for  reaching  par- 
ticular trains  for  particular  places;  big  black  arrows  every- 
where, but  each  pointing  the  way  to  some  special  place; 
and  so  on.  In  fact  it  will  be  best  for  him  to  just  shut  his 
eyes  and  follow  his  inner  leadings,  so  confusing,  so  be- 
wildering are  all  these  aids  to  the  unfortunate  travelers  who 
have  to  depend  (or  suppose  they  have  to)  on  what  they  and 
others  have  learned  from  experience  of  some  sort. 

The  safety  devices  and  measures  connected  with  railroad 
trains,  steamships,  and  automobiles;  with  hotels,  school 
buildings,  theaters  and  dwellings;  with  water  works,  electric 
systems,  factories,  are  so  many  efforts  to  forestall  liabilities 
to  injury  which  civilized  man  has  brought  upon  himself  by 
the  very  activities  which  make  him  civilized,  by  making 
physical  improvements  and  thereby  multiplying  dangers  to 
be  guarded  against.    The  most  highly  cultured  adult  person 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  287 

among  the  most  high-cultured  people  is  not  a  whit  better 
off  so  far  as  concerns  the  ability  of  his  instinctive  activities 
to  reach  the  goals  requisite  to  his  welfare,  than  is  any  savage 
or  new-born  child.  Such  activities  are  always  liable  to  go 
wrong  and  result  in  injury.  Safety  and  effectiveness  of  ac- 
tion at  all  levels  of  human  culture  are  dependent  almost  en- 
tirely on  knowledge,  to  which  objective  experience  by  some- 
body, somewhere,  at  some  time,  is  essential. 

Many  natural  phenomena  are  altogether  too  subtle,  too 
obscure,  for  ordinary  experience  to  recognize,  either  as  to 
their  natures  or  as  to  their  possibilities  for  human  good. 
Bacteria  are  too  minute  in  size,  too  elusive  and  pervasive  in 
their  modes  of  life,  for  common  knowledge  to  encompass  as 
to  their  beneficent  or  malevolent  roles  in  human  life.  The 
innate  curiosity  and  love  of  truths  concerning  nature  which 
so  sharply  differentiate  the  human  from  all  other  organic 
species  contribute  enormously  to  the  guidance  of  human 
actions  toward  the  attainment  of  the  fullest  measure  of  wel- 
fare. Research,  preeminently  in  science,  is  the  culmination 
of  all  forms  of  activity  directed  to  the  securing  of  new 
knowledge  and  making  it  available  for  human  welfare,  in 
fields  where  sources  of  positive  good  and  of  danger  are 
obscure. 

Human  society  in  all  grades  and  patterns  is  a  necessary 
counterpart  of  human  individuals.  Whatever  is  done  in 
such  a  group  in  terms  of  government,  education,  art,  science, 
and  religion,  has  as  motive  the  guidance  of  the  activities 
of  individuals  in  the  interest  of  welfare  more  effectively  than 
the  impulses  to  act  would  themselves  guide  it.  Whatever 
else  high  human  culture  may  be,  it  must  contain  high  ability 
and  high  practice  in  individual  self-guidance  and  social  guid- 
ance of  the  instinctive  and  emotional  types  of  action  for  the 
purpose  of  individual  and  collective  well-being. 


288  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

MALADAPTIVE  REPRODUCTIVE  AND  SEXUAL  ACTIVITY  IN  THE 
HUMAN    SPECIES 

Were  any  one  compelled  to  express  an  opinion  as  to 
which  of  all  the  sectors  of  human  conduct  get  the  largest 
number  of  persons  into  serious  trouble  he  would  be  pretty 
sure  to  give  the  palm  to  the  sector  of  reproduction  and  sex. 
There  is  a  peculiar  irony  in  the  fact  that  while  all  organic 
beings  bring  trouble  upon  themselves  by  these  activities, 
man  appears  to  suffer  more  from  this  source  than  does  any 
other  kind  of  organism. 

For  one  thing  the  "geometrical  ratio  of  increase,"  espe- 
cially dwelt  upon  by  Darwin,  presents  excessive  reproduc- 
tive activity  as  a  form  of  maladaptive  activity  resulting  in 
injury  both  to  self  and  to  kind.  That  this  interpretation 
of  the  phenomenon  is  justified  has  the  confirmation  of  Dar- 
win's own  statement.  "Every  being,"  we  read,  "which  dur- 
ing its  natural  lifetime  produces  several  eggs  or  seeds,  must 
suffer  destruction  during  some  period  of  life,  and  during 
some  season  or  occasional  year;  otherwise,  on  the  principle 
of  geometrical  increase,  its  numbers  would  quickly  become 
so  inordinately  great  that  no  country  could  support  the 
product."  ^  An  activity  wholly  indispensable  to  the  welfare 
of  the  species,  yet  ever  tending  to  bring  destruction  upon 
the  reproducing  organisms,  is  the  paradoxical  situation  here 
before  us.  The  general  facts  are  so  familiar  that  surely 
they  do  not  need  to  be  further  illustrated,  to  serve  as  a  basis 
for  our  examination  of  human  maladaptivity  in  this  realm. 

While  the  principle  of  geometrical  ratio  of  increase  as 
stated  by  Darwin  has  reference  to  organisms  which  repro- 
duce sexually,  as  a  matter  of  fact  it  is  in  reproduction  with- 
out sex  that  the  principle  reaches  its  extreme  exemplification. 
No  plant  crowds  itself  to  degradation  or  death  by  seed-and- 
pollen  reproduction  with  such  rapidity  and  certainty  as  does 

5  The,  Origin  of  Species,  Chap.  III. 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  289 

almost  any  plant  which  propagates  by  shoots  or  buds  or 
runners  or  any  of  the  numerous  forms  of  asexual  reproduc- 
tion. Biological  research  having  not  only  confirmed  com- 
mon knowledge  in  recognizing  that  reproduction  is  not 
dependent  on  sex,  but  having  made  it  highly  probable  that 
the  sexual  mode  of  reproduction  was  grafted  onto  the  sex- 
less as  a  sort  of  afterthought,  much  theorizing  has  been 
resorted  to  in  the  effort  to  explain  how  and  particularly  why 
such  a  complication  of  the  business  should  have  been  re- 
sorted to  at  all.  If  a  single  orange  tree  can  (with  a  little 
help  by  man)  give  rise  to  millions  of  perfectly  good  trees, 
as  was  the  case  with  a  navel  orange  tree  of  Southern  Cali- 
fornia; and  if  a  single  insect  like  an  aphid  can  multiply 
a  thousandfold  in  a  summer;  if  such  things  can  be  done  quite 
independently  of  any  sexual  intervention,  why  should  not 
the  propagative  business  of  the  whole  living  world  have  been 
arranged  for  without  complicating  it  in  such  a  way  as  the 
sexual  relation  does  complicate  it?  It  is  obvious  that  sexual 
reproduction  operates  as  one  means  of  curtailing  the  effects 
of  reproductive  activity.  Reflect  on  what  would  happen 
were  all  the  germ  cells,  male  and  female  alike,  produced  by 
every  individual  of  every  sexually  propagating  species,  plant 
and  animal,  capable  of  developing  into  an  adult  by  itself 
alone;  that  is,  without  having  to  fuse  with  some  other  indi- 
vidual. What  if  every  pollen  grain  of  an  oak  or  pine, 
which  are  hardly  less  in  number  than  the  grains  of  dust 
picked  up  from  a  dry  road  on  a  windy  day,  were  capable  of 
becoming,  all  by  itself,  a  full-fledged  tree!  Nor  would  the 
imagined  possibilities  in  these  species  be  much  greater  than 
for  the  male  sex  elements  in  almost  all  other  species,  plant 
and  animal  ahke. 

If  in  order  to  relieve  our  imaginations  from  such  crushing 
reproductive  possibilities  as  these,  we  limit  ourselves  to  the 
possibilities  that  would  be  presented  by  female  germ  cells 
capable  of  development  without  fertilization,  the  relief  is 


290  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

great,  though  the  load  to  be  carried  is  staggering.  Few  in- 
deed are  either  the  plant  or  animal  species  in  which  even 
the  female  germinal  elements  of  each  individual  do  not  rise 
into  the  thousands.  Terrible  as  are  the  implications  of  the 
"geometrical  ratio  of  increase,"  even  when  the  mode  of 
reproduction  is  sexual,  incomparably  more  terrible  would 
that  ratio  be  were  each  and  every  germinal  element  able  to 
go  on  by  itself  and  become  an  adult. 

The  two-individual  mode  of  reproduction,  the  sexual 
mode,  is  in  its  very  nature  a  check  on  the  extent  of  reproduc- 
tion. Glancing  over  living  nature  as  a  whole,  we  see  several 
ways  in  which  this  checking  comes  about.  For  one  thing 
the  way  the  germ  cells,  both  male  and  female,  are  thrown 
away  by  many  organisms  leaves  so  much  to  chance  as  to 
whether  individual  elements  of  the  two  sorts  shall  meet  and 
fuse,  that  great  numbers  fail  to  make  connections  and  so 
perish  without  issue.  Many  kinds  of  aquatic  animals  and 
plants  dispose  of  their  germinal  elements  in  this  manner; 
and  since  water  currents  are  peculiarly  indifferent  as  to 
what  they  do  to  objects  which  happen  to  be  subjected  to 
them,  the  losses  here  must  be  very  great.  Any  one  who  has 
watched  the  stream  of  sex  products  being  ejected  into  the 
surrounding  water  by  a  starfish  or  mollusc  or  worm  cannot 
avoid  being  impressed  by  the  phenomenon  if  he  is  bio- 
logically thoughtful.  As  far  as  the  creature  itself  is  con- 
cerned, the  performance  appears  to  be  merely  a  getting  rid 
of  something  no  longer  useful,  for  which  it  has  no  room  in 
its  body.  Its  sex  products  seem  to  be  to  it  much  what  its 
excrementitious  products  are.  In  the  one  case  as  in  the 
other,  the  organism  appears  to  be  relieving  itself  of  an  in- 
cumbrance, and  to  be  wholly  unconcerned  as  to  what  be- 
comes of  the  cast-off  materials. 

As  to  what  proportion  of  all  the  sex  cells  that  mature  and 
are  cast  away  in  the  indiscriminate  fashion  above  referred 
to  fail  to  find  mates,  I  do  not  know  that  biologists  have  ever 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  291 

tried  to  estimate.  That  the  proportion  must  be  very  great 
appears  certain. 

Then  there  are  the  mediating  schemes,  almost  numberless 
in  kind  throughout  the  whole  sexually  propagating  world, 
through  which  the  male  and  female  elements  have  to  pass 
in  order  to  get  together.  All  these  involve  much  chance 
of  failure.  Reflect  on  the  chances  there  must  be  in  all  cases 
among  flowering  plants  where  the  only  way  the  male  ele- 
ments have  of  reaching  the  female  elements  is  by  being 
carried  from  one  flower,  or  even  one  plant,  to  another  by 
some  insect.  Such  passivity  and  dependence  for  reaching 
a  goal  involving  the  very  continuance  of  existence  is  im- 
pressive, viewed  from  our  human  standards  of  effectiveness. 
The  wastage  is  appalling.  However,  this  very  wastage,  so 
far  as  the  sex  elements  themselves  are  concerned,  is  a  great 
means  of  rescue  from  the  potential  disaster  there  is  in  the 
geometrical  ratio  of  increase. 

Another  check  on  reproductivity  through  schemes  by 
which  alone  sex  elements  can  get  together  is  that  of  the 
periodicity  of  the  sex  instinct  in  many  species  of  animals. 
The  most  familar  and  striking  illustrations  are  afforded  by 
the  common  birds  and  mammals,  where  it  is  largely  a  sea- 
sonal affair.  A  little  reflection  enables  us  to  see  that  there 
must  be  something  more  to  the  phenomenon  than  season 
in  the  sense  of  temperature  and  other  wholly  external  con- 
ditions. Since  the  body  temperature  of  birds,  and  especially 
of  the  higher  mammals,  is  influenced  hardly  at  all  by  sur- 
rounding temperatures,  there  seems  to  be  little  or  no  reason 
from  this  direction  why  sex  elements  should  not  be  produced 
and  discharged  at  one  season  as  well  as  at  any  other  season. 
Nor  do  we  know  any  other  wholly  external  factor  that  should 
render  the  production  of  sex  elements  dormant  for  much  of 
the  year.  So  far  as  the  male  and  female  sex  cells  them- 
selves are  concerned,  those  of  cattle  and  horses,  let  us  say, 
would  almost  certainly  be  as  competent  to  mature  and  fuse 


292  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

together  in  mid-winter  or  at  any  other  season  as  in  the 
spring.  They  have  no  chance  to  mature  and  mate  at  any 
other  time  than  the  rutting  period  of  the  organisms  which 
produce  them.^ 

Nobody  questions  that  the  dormancy  of  the  sexual  impulse 
during  much  of  the  year  in  many  animals  is  a  great  check 
on  the  rate  of  reproduction  of  those  animals,  other  things 
being  equal.  The  rather  rare  cases  among  mammals  where 
there  is  little  or  nothing  of  a  seasonal  curtailment  of  the 
sexual  activity,  the  female's  willingness  to  mate  being  limited 
only  by  her  condition  due  to  her  last  pregnancy,  and  the 
male's  eagerness  being  limited  by  nothing  except  the  limited 
capacity  of  the  activity  itself,  are  just  the  species  in  which 
the  "geometrical  ratio  of  increase"  brings  disaster  to  great 
numbers  of  the  species  most  certainly  and  promptly.  The 
self-devastation  from  overpopulation  which  some  species  of 
rodents,  as  certain  rats  and  rabbits,  may  bring  upon  them- 
selves is  well  known,  these  species  being  also  well  known 
to  be  but  slightly  restricted  in  their  sexual  activities. 

In  man  we  have  a  species  which  though  a  relatively  slow 
reproducer  and  though  possessed  of  remarkable  abilities  to 
provide  itself  with  the  essentials  of  existence,  is  yet  so 
continuously  and  insistently  active  sexually  that  the  problem 
of  overpopulation  always  has  stared  the  species  in  the  face 
and  seemingly  always  will.  It  will,  unless  man  finds  some 
way  of  adjusting  the  relation  between  his  sexual  responses 
and  his  reproductive  activities  as  yet  hardly  intimated  by  the 
recognizable  facts  of  the  problem.    The  extent  to  which  all 

^  There  is  a  mode  of  interpreting  the  facts  here  referred  to  that  is 
just  end-for-end  to  tliat  given.  The  reproductive  elements  themselves, 
the  sex  cells,  and  especially  the  sex  internal  secretions,  according  to 
this  theory,  explain  the  phenomena  of  rut  and  all  else  that  the  sexually 
mature  males  and  females  exhibit.  Although  this  theory  enjoys  wide 
currency  at  present,  it  is  alm.ost  certainly  wrong,  its  error  being  in- 
volved in  an  inadequate  metaphysics  of  the  relations  between  bodies  and 
the  elements  composing  them.  But  the  theoretical  difficulty  thus  en- 
countered need  not  trouble  us  at  all  so  far  as  concerns  the  point  here 
being  made. 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  293 

people,  no  matter  what  their  mental  endowment  or  cultural 
grade,  have  wrestled  with  this  problem,  both  theoretically 
and  practically,  must  be  taken  as  proof  of  its  great  difficulty 
and  so  of  the  unlikelihood  that  its  solution  may  be  reached, 
even  approximately,  by  any  short  cut,  or  stated  in  any 
compact,  trim  formula.  It  is,  however,  justifiable  to  pre- 
sume, on  the  strength  of  scientific  aim  and  method  gen- 
erally, that  the  more  fully  and  clearly  the  problem  can  be 
stated  the  greater  the  chance  of  success  in  dealing  with  it 
practically. 

The  problem  takes  its  place  as  a  form  of  maladaptive 
activity  due  to  excessiveness  of  action  resulting  in  injury  to 
the  acting  organisms.  This  statement  furnishes  a  better 
formulation  than  any  we  have  previously  utilized  for  analyz- 
ing the  situation,  recognizing  more  clearly  than  ever  before 
the  sharp  distinction  nature  herself  presents  between  re- 
production and  sex.  All  biological  research  in  this  general 
field  has  undoubtedly  led  toward  such  recognition,  and 
from  the  psychobiological  standpoint  the  distinction  is  even 
more  fundamental  than  morphological  or  physiological  bi- 
ology is  in  position  to  see. 

Reproductive  activities  and  sexual  activities  represent  two 
forms  of  response  dependent  on  two  forms  of  stimuli  which 
have  no  recognizably  necessary  connection  with  each  other, 
and  hence  would  seem  to  have  acquired  such  connection 
secondarily  in  the  course  of  evolution.  No  biologist  would 
think  of  attributing  the  division  of  any  cell  to  exactly  the 
same  causes  that  bring  about  conjugation  of  two  protozoan 
cells  or  two  metazoan  sex  cells.  If  a  stimulus  is  a  necessary 
factor  in  each  case  the  presumption  is  strong  that  this  factor 
is  different  in  the  two  cases.  When  the  phenomena  are 
described  in  detail,  down  to  the  activities  of  the  chromo- 
somes in  division  (reproduction),  on  the  one  hand,  and 
fusion  (sexual  union)  on  the  other,  the  conclusion  seems 
unescapable  that  the  effective  stimuli  in  the  two  cases  are 


294  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

diametrically  opposed  to  each  other.  The  fusing  bodies  are 
so  nearly  alike,  and  their  observable  activities  are  such  as 
to  justify  the  supposition  that  the  chief  stimulus  for  each 
comes  from  the  other.  We  must  suppose  that  the  set  of 
causes,  including  the  stimuli,  which  bring  the  elements  to- 
gether (basic  sexuality)  are  essentially  the  opposite  of  those 
which  make  them  separate  (basic  reproduction). 

This  is  the  way  the  matter  looks  when  the  "ultimate" 
elements  alone  are  considered.  The  case  is  much  more  com- 
prehensible when  we  consider  the  reproductive  elements  as 
minute  parts  of  larger,  more  complicated  and  more  active 
individual  organisms.  These  elements  come  from  individual 
organisms  which  are  radically  different  in  certain  structural 
respects  which  have  to  do  with  the  coming  together  and  fu- 
sion of  elements  preparatory  to  the  division  of  elements. 
The  two  sexes  are  individual  organisms  structurally  so  dif- 
ferentiated that  while  they  continue  their  individual  ex- 
istence and  give  rise  to  reproductive  elements  they  bring 
about,  or  greatly  facilitate  bringing  about,  the  meeting  and 
fusion  of  these  elements. 

The  activities  by  the  organisms  involved  in  this  operation 
of  producing  elements  and  bringing  them  together  are  what 
we  know  as  sexual  activities.  These  activities  have  their 
source  in  stimuli  assumed  to  be  essential  to  them  but  quite 
independent  of  the  sex  elements  themselves.  The  stimuli 
belong  .to  the  large  category  of  physical  contact  stimuli  re- 
sulting in  positive  response.  There  is  not  the  slightest 
ground  for  supposing  that  any  of  the  touch  stimulations 
which  play  so  great  a  part  in  sexual  activities  are  utterly 
different  from  touch  stimuli  which  play  important  parts  in 
many  other  activities,  as  for  instance  that  of  food-getting. 
The  intimate  role  of  facial  and  especially  of  lip  contacts  in 
both  nutritional  and  sexual  activities  seems  conclusive  evi- 
dence of  the  basic  identity  of  stimulus  and  response  in  these 
two  activities.    The  biological  evidence,  especially  from  the 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS         295 

side  of  comparative  zoology,  is  overwhelming  that  positive 
responses  to  physically  tactual  stimuli  are  far  older  and 
more  general  than  is  anything  connected  with  sex.  The 
probable  meaning  of  the  special  quality  imparted  to  the 
tactile  sensation  and  response  to  give  the  sex  instinct,  and 
of  the  overwhelmingly  dominant  place  acquired  by  it  in  the 
total  life  of  the  organisms,  does  not  fall  within  the  scope  of 
this  presentation  to  examine. 

There  seems  no  escape  from  the  conclusion  that  the  sexual 
mode  of  reproduction  as  we  find  it  in  the  higher  animals, 
especially  in  man,  has  called  to  its  help  this  ancient  and  ap- 
parently universal  form  of  the  stimulus-response  duality, 
and  has  developed  it  to  such  a  dominant  place  in  the  general 
scheme  of  stimulation  and  response  as  to  mislead  even  highly 
trained  students  of  human  conduct  as  to  the  basic  nature  of 
sexual  activity  in  human  conduct.  Freud  and  his  followers, 
so  far  as  they  still  cling  to  the  idea  that  sex  is  the  ultimate 
reality  of  human  action,  are  conspicuous  victims  of  this 
fallacious  interpretation. 

The  two  forms  of  stimulation  and  response  here  recog- 
nized belong  to  two  widely  different  categories  of  activity 
already  referred  to  as  life-or-death  responses  and  life-ful- 
filling responses.  Life-or-death  responses  and  activities  are 
those  concerned  primarily  with  the  mere  continued  existence 
of  individual  and  species.  The  reproductive  activity  in  the 
strict  sense  of  the  present  discussion  belongs  clearly  to  this 
category,  while  the  sexual  activity  belongs  to  the  second 
category,  that  of  life-fulfilling  responses  and  activities. 
These  are  concerned  primarily  with  all  that  makes  human 
life  valuable,  worth  while,  as  common  expression  has  it. 
Notably  sexual  response  and  activity,  esthetic  instinct  and 
impulses,  and  the  religious  and  scientific  modes  of  response 
and  activity,  all  belong  in  this  category  of  life-fulfilling 
responses. 

Having  been  witnesses  on  a  grand  scale  of  the  liability  of 


296  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

all  activity  to  maladaptation,  thereby  exposing  the  actors  to 
various  dangers,  and  having  noted  the  character  and  fruit- 
age of  the  reproductive  activity  in  its  connection  with  the 
sexual  activity,  we  should  expect  that  the  dangers  to  which 
organisms  would  be  exposed  in  this  realm  would  be  pro- 
portional to  the  strength  of  the  impulsions  to  respond  to  the 
stimuli  definitive  of  the  realm.  In  other  words,  we  should 
expect  that  maladaptive  reproductive  and  sexual  activities 
stand  very  near  the  top  of,  if  indeed  they  do  not  actually 
lead,  the  list  of  mankind's  troublemakers.  Experience  here 
is  so  ample  and  intimate  that  illustrations,  on  which  we 
have  greatly  relied  in  the  previous  discussions,  may  be  dis- 
pensed with.  A  resume  of  the  main  forms  of  maladaptivity 
will  fall  under  the  two  heads  of  reproductive  activity  and 
sexual  activity. 

REPRODUCTIVE  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY:    OVERPOPULATION 

It  can  hardly  be  doubted  that  from  the  standpoint  of 
the  species,  the  community,  the  nation,  this  is  the  most  im- 
portant category  for  man.  Reminder  of  the  great  attention 
this  subject  has  received  by  thoughtful  students  of  human 
life,  particularly  since  Malthus'  time,  will  suffice  for  the 
needs  of  this  discussion  as  evidence  of  the  reality  of  this 
form  of  maladaptivity.  "Injury  to  kind"  is  outstanding 
here;  but  it  is  also  a  case  of  self -in  jury,  the  welfare  of  the 
acting  individuals  themselves  being  closely  involved. 

DANGERS  TO  THE  MOTHER  IN  CHILD-BEARING 

In  addition  to  overpopulation,  there  are  a  whole  series 
of  injurious  consequences  that  may  attend  the  reproductive 
activity.  Natural  dangers  to  the  mother  in  pregnancy  and 
childbirth  may  be  due  to  physical  defects  which  though  not 
sufficient  to  prevent  conception  may  seriously  impair  com- 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS         297 

petency  for  normal  pregnancy  and  parturition,  one  or  both. 
The  great  efforts  of  scientific  medicine  to  improve  obstet- 
rical care  and  to  find  safe  and  effective  means  of  preventing 
conception  are  well  known.  Another  category  of  dangers 
to  the  mother  is  dependent  not  on  any  natural  physical  de- 
fects of  hers,  but  on  efforts  to  prevent  the  natural  results  of 
conception  through  purposely  induced  abortion,  with  its 
train  of  probable  consequences. 

DANGERS  ARISING  FROM  RELATION  OF  OFFSPRING  TO  PARENTS 

Finally  there  is  a  large  category  of  injurious  reproduction 
that  is  dependent  on  the  character  of  the  offspring  in  relation 
to  the  parents,  including  the  production  of  unmistakably  in- 
ferior progeny,  racially  speaking  (the  "cacogenic"  progeny  of 
eugenics);  and  irresponsible  parenthood.  In  view  of  the 
well-nigh  utter  helplessness  of  the  just-born  human  infant, 
whenever  one  comes  into  the  world  through  the  mutual  ac- 
tion of  two  adults,  either  one  or  both  of  whom  fails  to  be 
responsible  for  their  helpless  product,  an  abnormal  thing 
is  done  and  one  which  is  more  or  less  harmful  to  some- 
body, usually  to  several  persons.  Illegitimacy  comes  under 
this  head  but  does  not  coincide  fully  with  irresponsibility. 
Offspring  may  be  entirely  legitimate  so  far  as  formal  law 
or  custom  are  concerned;  yet  parental  responsibility  may  be 
defective  or  wholly  lacking.  Legal  and  social  criteria  of 
legitimate  parenthood  are  very  different  from  the  criteria 
of  physical  and  spiritual  ability  and  willingness  of  parents 
to  care  for  their  offspring  during  the  period  of  its  inability 
for  self-maintenance. 

MALADAPTIVE  SEXUAL  ACTIVITY 

Several  categories  are  quite  as  obvious  and  familiar  here 
as  under  reproductive  activity.    These  fall  into  a  group  in 


298  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

which  the  activities  involve  two  persons,  and  a  group  in 
which  only  one  person  is  directly  involved.  The  outstand- 
ing form  under  the  first  group  in  most  civilized  communities 
is  prostitution;  surely  the  merest  allusion  to  this  sufficiently 
establishes  its  place  in  our  conception  of  maladaptive  sexual 
activity.  That  every  special  act  which  would  have  to  be 
listed  under  sexual  prostitution  is  injurious  perhaps  could 
not  be  successfully  contended;  nor  need  it  be  to  maintain 
our  point.  Nobody  doubts  that  on  the  whole  prostitution 
is  and  always  has  been  a  scourge  upon  mankind  in  a  variety 
of  ways.  For  one  thing  the  woman  who  makes  a  single  one 
of  her  functions,  namely  her  sexual,  the  basis  of  her  life 
career  and  thereby  cuts  herself  away  from  participating, 
through  her  other  functions  and  abilities,  in  the  broader  life 
of  the  community,  injures  by  just  so  much  both  her  personal 
life  and  the  community  life  to  which  she  should  normally 
contribute.  The  physically  impaired  and  shortened  and 
the  spiritually  impoverished  life  of  the  female  prostitute  is 
sufficient  evidence  of  the  maladaptivity  of  this  phase  of 
sexual  activity.  Further  evidence  to  the  same  effect  that 
might  be  adduced  from  males  who  are  the  chief  patrons  of 
such  females,  we  may  justifiably  neglect  so  far  as  the  present 
inquiry  is  concerned. 

The  only  other  form  of  maladaptive  activity  under  the 
first  group  that  need  be  noticed  is  sodomy.  A  few  writers 
have  undertaken  a  measure  of  defense  of  this  form  of 
sexual  gratification.  It  is  hardly  possible  that  anybody 
would  seriously  contend  that  so  gross  a  perversion  of  an 
activity  is  not  fraught  with  dire  possibilities  of  physical  and 
moral  injury  to  both  participants  in  the  action.  Probably 
the  obviousness  of  these  possibilities  is  exactly  what  makes 
the  mere  thought  of  them  so  repellent  to  us.  Only  the 
stringent  demands  of  scientific  description  make  it  tolerable 
even  to  mention  mankind's  ability  thus  to  pervert  its  own 
most  vital  processes. 


AMONG  HIGH-CULTURED  HUMANS  299 

The  other  group  of  maladaptive  sexual  activities  which 
implicate  only  one  person  has  its  main  exemplification  in 
masturbation.  It  is  not  necessary  for  the  purposes  of  this 
discussion  to  contend  that  every  act  of  this  sort  is  injurious. 
It  is  sufficient  to  recognize  that  a  variety  of  bad  conse- 
quences may  and  unquestionably  do  result  from  it.  There 
seems  to  be  a  great  dearth  of  accurate  knowledge  in  this  as 
in  many  other  aspects  of  maladaptive  sexual  practices.  Any 
consideration  of  sexual  maladaptivity  confined  to  the  indi- 
vidual itself  ought  not  to  neglect  entirely  reference  to  the 
subject  as  it  concerns  the  pre-adolescent  life  of  the  individ- 
ual. It  seems  probable  that  closer  researches  in  this  field, 
from  the  standpoint  of  stimulus-response  as  we  are  con- 
ceiving it,  will  discover  that  wholesome  sex  life  during  and 
following  adolescence  is  more  dependent  on  how  the  individ- 
ual gets  acquainted  with  himself  sexually  than  has  been 
appreciated. 

Meager  as  has  been  our  examination  of  high-cultured 
man's  liability  to  act  maladaptively  in  his  reproductive  and 
sexual  affairs,  it  has  been  enough  to  convince  us  that  in  its 
application  to  these  affairs  the  saying  that  "human  beings 
act  just  that  way"  is  rather  specially  true.  Thought-com- 
pelling as  was  our  recognition  of  man's  greater  liability  and 
his  greater  ability  than  the  sub-human  animals  have,  to  act 
maladaptively  in  various  sectors  of  his  life,  notably  in  in- 
dustry and  in  war,  even  more  thought-compelling  is  our 
recognition  now  of  his  still  greater  ability  and  liability  to 
outdo  the  animals  in  bringing  failure  and  pain  and  sorrow 
upon  himself  in  this  sector  of  his  life. 

Were  it  not  that  the  same  elements  in  man's  adaptive 
ability  by  which  he  has  gained  his  supremacy  over  the  rest 
of  the  animal  world  make  it  possible  for  him  to  gain  su- 
premacy over  his  own  tendencies  to  act  maladaptively  in 
all  sectors  of  his  life,  reproductive  and  sexual  included,  we 
should  have  to  conclude  that,  much  of  somberness  as  there 


300  MALADAPTIVE  ACTIVITY 

has  been  in  man's  past  career  upon  the  earth,  still  more 
somber  would  be  his  outlook  for  the  future.  Human  salva- 
tion depends  on  our  race's  ability  to  avail  itself  more  and 
more  of  its  already  long-possessed  and  much-used  adaptive 
capacity. 


CHAPTER  17 

THE  ELEMENTS  OF  MAN's  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE  WHICH 

ENABLE  HIM  TO  BE  THE  MOST  ACTIVELY  ADAPTIVE 

OF  ALL  LIVING  BEINGS 

It  would  be  obvious  folly  to  affirm  that  in  all  his  bodily 
structure  and  functions  man  is  superior  to  all  other  animals. 
The  ostrich  is  much  fleeter  of  foot  than  is  man.  The  elephant 
is  many  times  stronger.  The  seal  can  outswim  him  with 
the  greatest  ease.  When  wholly  unarmed  his  hunting  ability 
is  greatly  inferior  to  that  of  the  tiger  or  wolf.  The  dog  ex- 
cels him  in  sense  of  smell.  Only  when  his  physical  nature 
is  viewed  in  relation  with  his  spiritual  nature  does  his  ad- 
vantage over  all  other  creatures  come  into  clear  light.  Early 
in  our  discussion  we  noted  the  great  role  discovery  and  in- 
vention have  played  in  bringing  man  to  where  he  now  is, 
as  contrasted  with  the  place  still  occupied  by  any  of  the 
other  creatures  with  which  he  has  had  to  contend.  Attention 
was  called  to  the  part  his  brain  and  his  hands  have  taken 
in  these  matters.  We  must  now  consider  this  subject  more 
fully. 

STRUCTURAL  AND  FUNCTIONAL  ASPECT 

The  working  together  of  head  and  hand  in  all  the  opera- 
tions by  which  man  has  won  his  place  in  the  world  is  appar- 
ent to  everybody.  The  anatomist  and  the  neurologist  are  im- 
pressed with  the  nice  complexity  of  the  structures  by  which 
head  and  hands  are  connected.  The  physiologist  concen- 
trates upon  the  special  activities  of  muscles,  nerves  and 
blood  vessels  involved  in  this  connection.  The  embryologist 
watches  with  never-ceasing  wonder  the  structures  gradually 
come  into  being  properly  ordered  for  making  the  completed 

301 


302  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

organism.  To  comprehend  the  unitary  whole  seems  to  be 
a  task  reserved  for  the  psychobiologist. 

WTiat  would  be  the  result  were  either  head  or  hands,  like 
those  of  man,  to  be  combined  in  any  other  way  than  just 
as  they  are  combined?  What  could  result  from  combining 
a  head  like  that  of  a  man,  with  hands  (fore  limbs)  like  those 
of  a  lion?  a  horse?  a  walrus?  an  eagle?  What  could  resuli 
from  combining  hands  like  those  of  man  with  a  head  like 
that  of  an  elephant?  a  bear?  an  ostrich?  an  alligator?  This 
query  runs  in  the  channel  that  pure  fancy  has  followed 
throughout  man's  career  as  a  rational  being.  The  fact  that 
such  combinations  have  been  made  long  and  often  as  fanciful 
things  to  excite  mirth  or  derision  implies  universal  recogni- 
tion that  human  hands  and  human  heads  belong  inseparably 
together.  They  are  inseparable  both  as  to  their  present 
activities  and  as  to  their  genesis.  Had  we  not  human  heads 
we  should  not  have  human  hands;  and,  per  contra,  had  we 
not  human  hands  we  should  not  have  human  heads. 

The  terms  head  and  hands  as  here  used  are  highly  figura- 
tive as  well  as  very  general.  One's  "head"  is  his  best  wit 
and  wisdom.  It  is  also  his  sense  organs  situated  in  that  part 
of  his  body,  and  his  brain,  particularly  his  cerebral  cortex. 
"Hands"  symbolize  his  best  manual  skill,  at  the  same  time 
denoting  the  anatomical  structures  with  their  skin  sensitive- 
ness, and  muscular  suppleness  and  strength. 

Certain  well-known  instances  of  animal  achievement  raise 
the  question  of  whether  we  are  really  justified  in  speaking  of 
man's  great  superiority  over  the  animals  concerned. 

Such  an  accomplishment  as  the  nest-building  of  orioles 
could  hardly  be  duplicated  by  human  handiwork.  There 
happens  to  be  before  me  as  I  work  a  nest  of  the  Bullock 
Oriole  which  illustrates  what  these  birds  can  do.  This  nest 
was  built  in  a  eucalyptus  tree,  from  several  slender  pendant 
twigs  of  which  it  was  suspended.  Its  framework  is  of  threads 
taken  from  leaves  of  pampas  grass,  bunches  of  which  were 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS         303 

near  at  hand.  These  threads  are  interwoven  with  the  twigs 
and  leaves  in  such  a  way  as  to  give  both  proper  form  and 
security  of  attachment  to  the  nest.  But  the  most  surprising 
thing  about  this  piece  of  construction  is  that  in  one  place 
several  of  the  threads  are  put  through  a  hole  in  a  leaf,  the 
hole  having  almost  certainly  been  made  by  the  bird's  beak, 
and  securely  inserted  at  both  ends  into  the  fabric  of  the  nest, 
thus  making  the  threads  contribute  definitely  to  holding  the 
nest  in  place.  In  addition  to  the  hole  just  mentioned,  which 
is  well  toward  the  tip  of  the  pendant  leaf,  near  the  base  of 
the  same  leaf  is  another  hole,  undoubtedly  m.ade  by  the  bird. 
Through  the  hole  nearest  the  nest,  a  thread  is  passed,  one  end 
of  which  is  attached  to  the  nest,  the  free  end  being  carried  up 
and  passed  through  the  other  hole  in  the  opposite  direction 
to  its  course  through  the  first  hole.  The  long  free  end  is 
left  dangling  in  the  air,  so  contributes  nothing  to  the  support 
of  the  nest,  its  passage  through  the  holes  being  very  loose. 
Thus  we  have  in  this  leaf  a  sewing  stitch,  crude  to  be  sure, 
but  nevertheless  a  typical  stitch  made  by  a  bird.  The  nest 
construction  here  displayed  could  hardly  be  duplicated  by 
human  handiwork. 

In  view  of  such  instances  of  animal  achievement  are  we 
justified  in  speaking  of  man's  great  superiority  over  the 
animals  concerned?  Is  it  not  permissible  to  hold  that  ani- 
mals thus  capable  ought  to  be  compared  with  very  primitive 
rather  than  with  civilized  man,  and  then  to  assume  that  in 
time  these  dawn  capabilities  might  become  much  what  we 
see  in  modern  man?  But  consider  the  anatomical  conditions 
under  which  this  piece  of  oriole  work  was  done.  Not  hands, 
remember,  but  feet  and  mouth  are  the  body  members  alone 
available  for  bird  work.  The  "hands"  (the  whole  fore 
limbs)  are  so  completely  given  over  in  birds  to  locomotion 
that  such  uses  of  them  as  man  makes  of  his  hands  are  en- 
tirely excluded.  If  we  inquire  whether  a  bird  capable  as 
is  the  oriole,  might  conceivably  grow  in  power  and  skill 


304!  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

until  finally  its  achievements  might  be  comparable  with 
those  of  civilized  man,  the  question  of  physical  means  at 
the  bird's  command  appears  quite  as  important  as  that  of 
mental  means.  By  no  possibility  could  an  oriole's  feet  and 
beak  be  trained  to  produce,  either  directly  or  through  bird- 
made  tools  and  machines,  thread  and  needles  in  any  wise 
equal  in  quality  to  those  produced  by  man.  It  is  not  con- 
ceivable that  these  members  could  be  trained  to  do  as  good 
a  job  of  sewing  as  a  seamstress  does  no  matter  how  good  a 
brain  might  be  possessed  by  the  bird. 

Similar  considerations  apply  to  any  four-limbed  animal 
below  the  primates.  Think  of  the  utter  uselessness  of  the 
arms  and  hands  of  the  horse  and  ox  and  all  other  hoofed 
creatures  for  any  of  the  chief  services  to  which  the  human 
arms  and  hands  are  put.  Nor  is  there  a  single  carnivore 
that  is  much  better  off  so  far  as  this  is  concerned.  Even  in 
animals  of  the  squirrel  kind  in  which  the  hands  are  better 
fitted  for  handling  objects  than  in  any  other  animals  below 
the  primates,  the  shortness  and  comparative  inflexibility  of 
the  fore  limbs  and  the  structure  of  the  hands,  particularly 
of  the  fingers,  limit  their  manipulative  power  very  narrowly. 

Many  persons,  including  Francis  Galton,  have  commented 
on  the  intellectual  comradeship  between  man  and  his  dog. 
Galton  writes:  "The  animal  which  above  all  others  is  a 
companion  to  man  is  the  dog,  and  we  observe  how  readily 
their  proceedings  are  intelligible  to  each  other.  Every  whine 
or  bark  of  the  dog,  each  of  his  fawning,  savage,  or  timorous 
movements,  is  an  exact  counterpart  of  what  would  have 
been  the  man's  behavior,  had  he  felt  similar  emotions.  As 
the  man  understands  the  thoughts  of  the  dog,  so  the  dog 
understands  the  thoughts  of  the  man,  by  attending  to  his 
natural  voice,  his  countenance,  and  his  actions.  A  man  ir- 
ritates a  dog  by  an  ordinary  laugh,  he  frightens  him  by  an 
angry  look,  or  he  calms  him  by  a  kindly  bearing."  ^    One 

1  Enquiries  into  Human  Faculty,  Everyman's  Library,  p.   187. 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        305 

who  actually  experiences  with  his  own  favorite  dog  com- 
panion such  dog  qualities  as  these  can  hardly  avoid  ques- 
tioning something  in  this  wise:  Well,  Shep,  bless  your  soul, 
so  alike  are  you  and  I  even  to  some  of  the  finest  of  our 
qualities,  what  stops  us  from  being  equally  alike  in  all  our 
qualities?  What  is  it  that  stands  between  us  as  to  many 
other  qualities?  Since  you  can  be  so  fond  of  me  and  will 
overcome  so  many  difficulties  to  be  with  me,  just  as  I  am 
fond  of  you  and  will  go  to  much  trouble  to  be  with  you, 
how  is  it  that  you  are  not  fond,  as  I  am,  of  reading  and 
writing  books? 

Without  harrowing  our  minds  for  an  ultimate  answer  to 
such  questioning,  this  much  is  obvious  enough:  Were  dogs 
to  be  fond  of  reading  books,  the  only  books  they  could  have 
to  read  would  be  man's  books;  for  man  is  the  only  creature 
in  all  the  world  capable  of  making  writing  tools  and  then 
holding  them  for  the  act  of  writing.  Notice  your  dog's  paw^s 
and  you  find  yourself  forced  to  the  conclusion  that  no  matter 
how  much  he  might  desire  to  write  books,  and  even  try 
to  do  so,  he  is  forever  debarred  from  doing  so  by  the  fact 
that  he  has  no  bodily  means  for  doing  it.  This  defective- 
ness in  dog  construction  really  affects  the  character  of  dog 
life  much  more  extensively  than  merely  in  debarring  him 
from  becoming  a  writer  and  reader  of  books.  It  affects  the 
most  basic  of  all  his  activities,  that  of  getting  and  using 
food.  When  you  feed  your  dog  what  does  he  do?  W^hat 
can  he  do?  Can  he  sit  down  or  even  stand  up  on  his  hind 
feet,  take  his  meal  in  his  hands,  piece  at  a  time,  and  put  it 
in  his  mouth?  Not  at  all.  Straight  at  it  he  goes,  and 
must,  with  his  mouth.  If  his  useless  (for  this  purpose)  paws 
can  be  made  to  help  him  at  all,  it  is  merely  by  way  of  step- 
ping on  and  holding  down  some  piece  of  food  the  better  to 
be  able  to  tear  it  into  manageable  mouthfuls  or  by  way  of 
poking  some  fragment  into  a  more  favorable  position  for 
getting  at  it  with  the  mouth. 


3o6  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

All  this,  however,  is  mere  inconvenience  for  the  dog  as 
contrasted  with  the  way  man  can  manage  his  meal.  The 
really  vital  thing  comes  in  connection  with  the  problem  of 
getting  food  at  all,  the  problem  of  capturing  prey.  All  of 
the  dog-kind,  like  all  of  the  man-kind,  are  by  nature  hunters 
of  animals  to  a  greater  or  less  extent.  With  man  as  with 
dog,  modes  of  hunting  the  larger,  more  active,  more  wily 
species  of  animals  which  inhabit  the  same  parts  of  the 
earth  with  themselves,  constitute  the  major  problem  and 
some  of  the  most  vital  activities  of  the  species. 

The  most  searching  studies  into  the  life-methods  of  primi- 
tive man  are  at  one  on  the  great  role  which  hunting  (includ- 
ing fishing)  played  with  him.  While  all  students  of  man's 
dawn  life  recognize  this  more  or  less,  a  few  have  specially 
emphasized  it.  One  of  these  is  Carveth  Read.^  We  read: 
"The  differences  between  Man  and  his  nearest  relatives  are 
innumerable;  but  taking  the  chief  of  them,  and  assuming 
that  the  minor  details  are  correlated  with  these,  it  is  the 
hypothesis  of  this  essay  that  they  may  all  be  traced  to  the 
influence  of  one  variation  operating  amongst  the  original 
anthropoid  conditions.  That  variation  was  the  adoption  of 
a  flesh  diet  and  the  habits  of  a  hunter  in  order  to  obtain  it. 
.  .  .  The  adoption  of  the  hunting-life,  therefore,  is  the  essen- 
tial variation  upon  which  everything  else  depends."  ^  What- 
ever the  truth  may  be  as  to  how  man  originated,  certain  it 
is  that  hunting  has  played  an  enormous  part  with  him  and 
is  almost  a  major  impulsion  with  him  still,  even  though 
living  under  conditions  in  which  the  original  need  for  it 
does  not  exist.  Similarly  is  it  with  the  dog  and  his  kind, 
wolves,  foxes  and  so  on.  Hunters  they  all  are  in  the  strict- 
est sense. 

It  is  interesting  to  note  the  extent  to  which  mankind  and 

2  The  Origin  of  Man  and  of  His  Superstitions,  1920. 

3  P.    I. 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        307 

dogkind  have  preyed  upon  the  same  animal  kinds ;  especially 
on  the  deer  and  rabbit  families,  many  mammals,  and  the 
gallinaceous  and  duck  families  among  birds.  Reflect  on 
what  the  course  of  things  is,  and  in  all  likelihood  for  num- 
berless centuries  has  been,  in  the  hunting  business,  with 
these  two  groups  of  hunters.  As  far  back  into  the  past  as 
we  can  possibly  see,  dogkind  has  had  to  depend  on  almost 
exactly  the  same  agencies  and  methods.  Acuteness  of  sense 
in  smelling,  in  hearing,  in  seeing,  physical  strength  and  en- 
durance for  the  chase,  sharp  teeth  and  strong  jaws,  these 
alone  have  been  the  reliances.  The  chief  reason  for  this  has 
been  that  the  unfortunate  creatures  have  lacked  any  physical 
equipment  by  which  the  work  could  be  done  in  any  way 
greatly  different.  Given  dog  nature  constituted  as  we  actu- 
ally see  it,  with  body,  limbs  and  head  as  they  are,  what 
possible  methods  can  you  imagine  for  capturing  prey  greatly 
different  from  those  actually  employed?  Senses  can  be 
imagined  keener  than  they  are.  Jaws  might  be  stronger  and 
be  set  with  teeth  sharper,  more  effective  and  more  durable. 
There  might  be  greater  fleetness  of  foot  and  more  endurance. 
But  with  limbs  and  feet  fashioned  as  they  are,  by  no  pos- 
sibility could  they  be  used  very  differently  from  the  way 
they  are  used. 

With  mankind  the  case  is  quite  otherwise.  Compare  deer 
hunting  by  American  sportsmen  today  in  the  Rocky  Moun- 
tain wilds  with  deer  hunting  by  the  gray  wolf  in  the  same 
region.  The  American  aboriginal  hunting  the  same  game 
in  the  same  region  a  thousand  years  ago  enjoyed  a  vast 
advantage  over  his  wolf  competitor  through  his  bow  and 
arrows  and  other  implements,  but  his  advantage  was  slight 
compared  with  that  enjoyed  by  the  hunter  of  today.  There 
is  ground  for  doubt  whether  even  this  slight  advantage  was 
enjoyed  by  the  human  huntsman  at  the  dawn  of  his  hunting 
career  so  far  as  that  is  known  to  us  by  his  rude  weapons  of 


3o8  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

the  stone  age.  The  wolf  may  have  had  somewhat  the  better 
of  it  for  centuries  even  after  man  began  his  weapon-making 
and  weapon-using  career. 

Marvelous  were  the  possibilities  for  the  future  in  the  fact 
that  man  could  do  anything  at  all  toward  weapon-making. 
If  he  could  make  weapons  he  could  make  thousands  of  other 
things.  That  was  his  supreme  advantage.  But  how  could 
he  do  these  things  when  his  wolf  competitor  could  not? 
Beyond  question  his  superior  ability  was  due  to  the  fact  that 
primitive  mankind  had  in  his  hands  the  physical  members 
available  for  such  making  whereas  dog-kind  had  no  mem- 
bers which  could  be  thus  used.  Man  at  the  very  dawn  of 
his  career  as  man  had  physical  members  which  he  could 
spare  from  other  uses  and  by  which  he  could  take  hold  of 
such  external  objects  as  sticks  and  stones,  and  move  them 
about  to  his  pleasure,  and  shape  them  to  some  extent  the 
better  to  serve  his  needs. 

As  to  all  the  activities  on  which  human  culture  and  civil- 
ization mainly  depend,  no  animal  below  the  primates  could 
come  much  nearer  equaling  man  in  actual  performance 
than  they  now  do,  even  were  they  his  equal  in  mental  en- 
dowment. Several  writers  before  the  Darwinian  era  and 
Darwin  himself  saw  this  matter  in  a  clearer  light  than  many 
professed  followers  of  Darwin  have  seen  it.  The  importance 
of  the  diversity  of  uses  to  which  human  hands  can  be  put 
was  recognized  to  some  extent  as  far  back  in  the  history 
of  human  culture  as  the  time  of  Aristotle.  This  earliest 
of  philosophical  naturalists  tells  us:  "Much  in  error,  then, 
are  they  who  say  that  the  construction  of  man  is  not  only 
faulty,  but  inferior  to  that  of  all  other  animals;  seeing  that 
he  is,  as  they  point  out,  bare-footed,  naked,  and  without 
weapon  of  which  to  avail  himself.  For  other  animals  have 
each  but  one  mode  of  defense,  and  this  they  can  never 
change ;  so  that  they  must  perform  all  the  offices  of  life  and 
even,  so  to  speak,  sleep  with  sandals  on,  never  laying  aside 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        309 

whatever  serves  as  a  protection  to  their  bodies,  nor  changing 
such  single  weapon  as  they  may  chance  to  possess.  But  to 
man  numerous  modes  of  defense  are  open,  and  these,  more- 
over, he  may  change  at  will,  as  also  he  may  adopt  such 
weapon  as  he  pleases,  and  at  such  times  as  suit  him.  For 
the  hand  is  talon,  hoof,  and  horn,  at  will.  So  too  it  is  spear, 
and  sword,  and  whatsoever  other  weapon  or  instrument  you 
please;  for  all  these  can  it  be  from  its  power  of  grasping 
and  holding  them  all."  *  Aristotle  goes  on  to  speak  of  the 
powers  of  the  hand,  particularly  the  grasping  power  as  de- 
pendent upon  the  fingers.  He  duly  appreciates  the  great 
importance  of  the  thumb  from  being  opposable  to  all  the 
other  digits,  and  comments  on  the  "no  less  skillfully  con- 
trived" nails. 

Perception  of  the  importance  of  hands  reached  its  cul- 
mination in  the  pre-Darwinian  period  in  a  whole  volume 
devoted  to  the  subject,  and  appearing  as  Number  IV  of  the 
Bridgewater  Treatises."  While  much  of  the  speculative  part 
of  this  work  has  become  obsolete  by  the  advance  of  knowl- 
edge, the  philosophical  standpoint  from  which  it  was  written 
encouraged  comprehensive  treatment  of  the  functional  im- 
portance of  human  hands.  As  a  consequence  we  have  here 
one  of  the  fullest,  most  adequate  descriptions  of  these  mem- 
bers that  has  ever  been  written.  A  single  passage,  part  of 
which  is  quoted  by  Darwin,  will  sufficiently  indicate  Bell's 
general  view  so  far  as  anatomy  and  physiology  are  con- 
cerned. "With  respect  to  the  superiority  of  man  being  in 
his  mind,"  he  writes,  "and  not  merely  in  the  provisions  of 
his  body,  it  is  no  doubt  true;  but  as  we  proceed,  we  shall 
find  how  the  Hand  supplies  all  instruments,  and  by  its  cor- 
respondence with  the  intellect  gives  him  universal  domin- 
ion." « 

*De  Partibus  Animalium,  William  Ogle,  translation  687a,  25,  30,  and 

5  The  Hand.  Its  Mechanism  and  Vital  Endowments  as  Evincing  De- 
sign, by  Sir  Charles  Bell. 
«  P.  38. 


3IO  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

Following  his  quotation  from  Bell,  Darwin  says:  '  "But 
the  hands  and  arms  could  hardly  have  become  perfect 
enough  to  have  manufactured  weapons,  or  to  have  hurled 
stones  and  spears  with  a  true  aim,  as  long  as  they  were 
habitually  used  for  locomotion  and  for  supporting  the  whole 
weight  of  the  body,  or  as  long  as  they  were  especially  well 
adapted,  as  previously  remarked,  for  climbing  trees.  Such 
rough  treatment  would  also  have  blunted  the  sense  of  touch, 
on  which  their  delicate  use  largely  depends.  From  these 
causes  alone  it  would  have  been  an  advantage  to  man  to  have 
become  a  biped;  but  for  many  actions  it  is  indispensable 
that  the  arms  and  the  whole  upper  part  of  the  body  should 
be  free;  and  he  must  for  this  end  stand  firmly  on  his  feet. 
To  gain  this  great  advantage,  the  feet  have  been  rendered 
flat  and  the  great-toe  peculiarly  modified,  though  this  has 
entailed  the  almost  complete  loss  of  the  power  of  pre- 
hension." ^ 

Darwin  the  evolutionist  saw,  as  his  special-creationist 
predecessors  could  not  see,  that  adaptive  changes  in  differ- 
ent parts  of  the  body  would  follow  in  accordance 
with  the  principle  of  organic  correlation.  The  special- 
creative  theory  implies  the  special  and  independent  crea- 
tion of  the  different  organs  of  the  body  as  well  as  the  special 
and  independent  creation  of  the  species.  The  evolution 
theory  on  the  other  hand  implies  the  origin  of  organs  from 
other  organs  and  their  dependence  on  other  organs  and  on 
the  whole  organism,  as  well  as  the  origin  of  species  from 

">  This  bringing  together  of  the  views  of  Bell  and  Darwin  illustrates 
a  very  important  principle.  Bell,  though  so  distinguished  an  anatomist 
as  to  be  sometimes  ranked  second  only  to  Harvey,  was  not  a  believer 
in  the  derivative  origin  of  man,  while  Darwin  was  committed  soul  and 
body  to  this  belief.  Nevertheless  the  two  were  in  close  accord  as  to 
all  sorts  of  facts  in  man's  structure  and  as  to  many  general  conclusions 
such  as  on  that  here  referred  to,  concerning  the  importance  of  human 
hands.  The  principle  illustrated  is  this :  We  can  know  vast  numbers 
of  facts  and  reach  broad  generalizations  about  the  structure  and  func- 
tions of  man  and  other  organisms,  wholly  independently  of  anything  we 
may  believe  or  even  know  about  the  origin  of  the  organisms. 

8  The  Descent  of  Man,  Appleton  edition,  1897,  Vol.  I,  pp.  51-52. 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        311 

other  species.  But  unqualifiedly  as  the  evolution  theory  has 
long  been  accepted,  its  implications  as  to  the  dependence  of 
the  organs  of  the  body  on  one  another  in  evolution  as  well  as 
in  function  seems  not  to  have  been  very  clearly  seen. 

This  case  of  the  human  head  and  hands  is  strikingly  in 
point;  and  Darwin  went  some  distance  in  calling  attention 
to  the  coordinated  changes  which  have  occurred  in  different 
parts  of  the  body.  The  pelvis  has  become  broader,  the  spine 
peculiarly  curved,  and  the  head  fixed  in  an  altered  position. 
It  has  even  been  claimed  that  the  powerful  mastoid  processes 
of  the  human  skull  are  the  result  of  man's  erect  position. 

The  idea  that  human  head  and  human  hands  are  deriva- 
tively as  well  as  functionally  interdependent  and  that  both 
are  adaptive  to  the  needs  of  the  human  organism  is  the 
standpoint  of  this  discussion. 

Although  several  evolutionists  of  today,  writing  on  the 
nature  of  man,  have  recognized  something  of  the  strategic 
place  held  by  the  head-and-hands  combination,  it  is  sur- 
prising that  the  hand  member  of  the  combination  should  have 
received  so  little  attention.  A  few  striking  exceptions  are 
found  to  the  general  rule.  One  of  these  is  J.  M.  McFarlane 
in  his  volume  The  Causes  and  Course  of  Organic  Evolution, 
1918.  This  author's  appreciation  of  the  functional  signifi- 
cance of  the  human  hand  runs  close  to  that  of  Darwin  and 
Bell.  We  read:  'Tossibly  no  more  graphic  method  could 
be  devised  for  bringing  before  us  the  enormous,  the  wholly 
preponderating,  importance  of  the  forelimbs  than  by  asking 
ourselves  the  question:  What  would  man  be  without  his 
arms?  By  these  he  secures,  cooks,  and  eats  his  food;  cleans 
his  body;  grows,  collects,  weaves,  shapes,  and  puts  on  his 
clothes;  digs,  cuts,  or  hews  material  for  his  home;  prepares 
it  often  elaborately,  pieces  it  together,  and  roofs  in  the 
whole;  fashions  and  places  lights  for  its  illumination.  He 
internally  decorates  it  with  materials  at  times  of  the  most 
delicate  and  elaborate  hand  workmanship;  he  prepares  the 


312  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

soil,  sows,  waters,  reaps,  garners,  and  distributes  his  grain, 
straw,  fruits,  etc.;  he  fashions  instruments  of  musical  har- 
mony, of  mechanical  skill,  of  space-penetrating  power,  of 
microscopic  exploration,  of  wholesale  destruction.  He  so 
operates  on  the  body  of  his  neighbor,  surgically  taking  it 
apart,  and  placing  it  together  again,  as  to  convert  that  body 
truly  into  a  living  machine;  he  catches,  tames,  pens  up,  and 
uses  the  animals  below  him  as  he  wills,  to  ride  on  them, 
to  be  drawn  by  them,  and  to  use  them  in  many  other  ways 
for  his  purposes.  Like  the  beaver  he  builds  dams;  digs 
canals,  and  drains  or  floods  countries.  He  puts  together 
machines  that  chain  and  store  heat,  chemical  energy,  me- 
chanical energy  and  electricity.  He  expands  even  on  all 
of  the  above  in  endless  manner,  so  that  he  can  correctly 
proclaim  himself  Tord  of  Creation.'  "  ^ 

All  this,  so  patent  that  no  one  questions  it,  is  equivalent 
to  saying  that  nearly  everything  distinctively  human  which 
is  done  or  ever  has  been  done  on  this  earth  never  could  have 
been  done  without  human  hands.  Even  the  vast  and  noble 
edifice  of  pure  mathematics,  perhaps  the  least  dependent 
upon  hand  work  of  all  earthly  creations,  would  have  been 
impossible  without  the  aid  of  hands  in  devising  and  using 
the  written  language  of  mathematics.  Unaided  thought  and 
memory  would  have  been  quite  incompetent  to  carry  through 
the  long  and  highly  complicated  operations  involved  in  the 
creation  of  this  science. 

From  his  possession  of  the  head-and-hands  combination 
each  and  every  person  is  equipped  with  amazingly  varied 
capacity  for  accomplishment.  The  sociologist  F.  Miiller- 
Lyer  has  called  attention,  though  hardly  adequately,  to  this 
as  follows:  "In  the  hand  man  has  a  number  of  organs  cor- 
responding to  the  number  of  tools  he  possesses.  .  .  .  The 
hand  that  clasps  a  knife  is  practically  another  organ  to  the 
same  hand  that  holds  a  paint  brush,  an  auger,  a  drinking 

•  P.  574. 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        313 

vessel,  pen,  hammer,  or  pistol."  ^'^  The  full  meaning  of  this 
great  range  of  possible  activity  by  the  human  hand  is  recog- 
nized only  when  the  matter  is  viewed  psychobiologically  as 
well  as  structurally.  That  is  to  say,  the  full  meaning  of 
the  varied  possibilities  of  hand  activity  is  not  recognized 
until  cognizance  is  taken  of  the  realities  of  such  activity 
exhibited  by  the  human  species  as  it  exists  on  earth  now  and 
in  past  times  has  existed.  Reflect  comparatively  on  the 
variety  of  hand  work  presented  in  the  beautifully  fashioned 
and  decorated  pottery  of  the  Pueblo  Indian  women  of  New 
Mexico,  and  in  the  delicate  laces  of  the  Indian  women  of 
old  Mexico.  There  is  no  reason  for  supposing  the  difference 
between  these  two  kinds  of  production  is  dependent  in  the 
slightest  degree  on  inherent  differences  in  the  hands  by 
which  they  are  produced.  So  far  as  these  members  are  con- 
cerned no  physiologist  would  entertain  any  doubt  that  the 
young  girl  of  New  Mexico  could  be  trained  to  produce  lace 
as  perfect  and  beautiful  as  can  her  sister  of  old  Mexico. 
So  far  as  hands  are  concerned  the  maiden  of  old  Mexico 
could  become  just  as  good  a  potter  as  the  maiden  of  New 
Mexico.  Compare  the  Navajo  rug  at  its  best,  woven  on  a 
simple  form  of  the  hand  loom,  with  the  finest,  most  elabor- 
ately figured  modern  Paisley  shawls,  woven  on  the  power 
loom  at  the  climax  of  its  perfection.  Does  any  one  imagine 
that  there  could  be  found  anywhere  among  the  hands  which 
contribute  to  the  making  and  using  of  power-loom,  silk- 
worm filaments  and  pattern  of  marvelous  intricacy,  differ- 
ences of  structure  in  the  hands  involved  in  producing  the 
rugs,  which  would  be  at  all  comparable  to  the  difference  be- 
tween the  two  products?  It  is  doubtful  if  the  most  expert 
anatomist  could  discover  anything,  no  matter  how  far  he 
might  push  his  examination  of  hand  structure,  that  would 
enable  him  to  distinguish  rug-producing  hands  from  Paisley 
shawl-producing  hands. 

1"  The  History  of  Social  Development,  p.  55. 


314  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

Compare  the  famous  Zeiss  optical  works  of  Germany  with 
the  equally  famous  Clyde  shipbuilding  works  of  Scotland, 
and  these  again  with  Krupp's  munition  works  in  Germany. 
Let  the  comparison  cover  the  products  of  these  great  "works" 
as  well  as  the  works  themselves.  Almost  the  entire  vast  and 
varied  material  fabric  of  civilization,  alike  the  parts  designed 
for  upbuilding,  for  peace  and  happiness,  and  the  parts  de- 
signed for  down-fearing  and  war,  for  suffering  and  misery, 
is  wholly  dependent  upon  the  activities  of  human  hands  all 
so  nearly  identical  in  structure  and  basic  function  that  al- 
most any  given  pair  could  be  as  well  trained  to  do  any  one 
part  as  any  other  part  of  the  work  involved! 

Special  emphasis  must  be  put  on  man's  hands  and  arms  as 
contrasted  with  his  feet  and  legs  because  of  the  preeminent 
part  taken  by  the  former  in  making  tools  and  machines; 
that  is,  in  making  instruments  to  assist  in  doing  other  things. 
No  phase  of  human  activity  has  contributed  so  much  to 
man's  mastery  over  nature  as  has  his  ability  to  supplement 
and  augment  his  very  ordinary  physical  strength,  manual 
dexterity,  and  sensory  power,  by  mechanical  contrivances. 
Reflect,  for  instance,  on  what  he  is  able  to  do  as  a  traveler 
by  water  through  his  having  developed  the  ocean  liner,  in 
comparison  with  what  he  could  ever  do  as  a  mere  swimmer : 
Almost  the  whole  of  the  physical  activity  involved  in  this 
and  innumerable  other  developments  has  been  performed, 
directly  and  indirectly,  by  the  hands. 

While  thus  recognizing  the  enormously  preponderant  role 
of  the  fore  limbs  in  bringing  civilized  man  to  his  present 
stage  of  advancement  it  must  not  be  forgotten  that  the  hind 
limbs  have  also  played  a  distinct  and  positive  part.  Ability 
to  move  about  independently  in  space  is  quite  distinct  from 
ability  for  creative  work.  Although  it  must  be  assigned  an 
inferior  place  in  human  significance  its  importance  is  still 
great.  While  it  is  undoubtedly  justifiable  to  think  of  the 
feet  as  having  developed  historically  in  organic  coordination 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        315 

with  the  hands,  we  must  also  think  of  them  as  having  taken 
their  form  and  function  partly  on  their  own  account,  having 
an  office  strictly  their  own. 


EVOLUTIONAL   ASPECT 

Anatomists  and  embryologists  have  dwelt  at  length  on  the 
fact  that  the  human  form  presents  many  structures  which 
are  primitive  in  character.  By  this  it  is  meant  that  the 
structures  resemble  the  corresponding  parts  possessed  by 
species  relatively  low  in  the  zoological  scale.  Thus  the 
single-chambered  stomach  of  man  is  regarded  as  more  primi- 
tive than  the  four-chambered  stomach  of  the  ox.  In  no  part 
of  man's  bodily  structure  is  this  primitiveness  more  pro- 
nounced and  significant  than  in  his  hands.  To  find  what 
may  justly  be  called  a  prototype  of  the  human  hand  we  have 
to  go  clear  down  the  zoological  scale  to  the  amphibians,  for 
it  is  not  until  we  descend  this  far  that  we  come  to  hands  in 
which  the  digits  are  freely  and  fully  present  (though  no 
living  amphibian  possesses  a  fully  developed  thumb)  and  are 
unarmed  with  claws.  The  absence  of  claws  is  favorable  for 
the  later  development  of  finger-ends,  the  outer  surface  of 
which  may  be  covered  by  nails,  and  the  skin  of  the  inner 
surfaces  may  become  sensitive  tactile  organs.  This  is 
equivalent  to  saying  that  nowhere  in  the  series  of  four-footed 
animals  below  the  primates  do  we  find  the  fore  arm,  the 
palm  of  the  hand,  and  the  disposition  and  structure  of  the 
fingers  such  as  to  become  readily  modifiable  into  the  human 
hand,  until  we  reach  the  amphibians.  The  hand  of  the 
human  foetus  resembles  more  the  hand  of  a  typical  amphib- 
ian than  that  of  any  other  adult  vertebrate  below  the 
primates.  A  moderately  critical  layman  might  say:  "If  your 
suggestion  that  resemblance  among  animals  indicates  actual 
genetic  kinship  and  thereby  gives  greater  concreteness  to 
the  idea  of  the  web  of  life,  what  about  jumping  from  the 


3i6  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

primates  way  back  to  the  amphibians?  What  about  all  the 
four-footed  species  that  intervene,  zoologically,  between  the 
primates  and  the  amphibians?  Where  do  the  numerous 
orders  and  genera  of  lower  quadrupedal  mammals  and  rep- 
tiles come  in?  Must  their  place  in  the  web  be  regarded 
dubiously  because  their  fore  limbs  have  less  resemblance 
to  man's  than  have  those  of  the  amphibians?  Wha.t  of 
whales,  birds  and  snakes,  creatures  whose  fore  limbs  have 
almost  no  likeness  at  all  to  those  of  man?  Are  they  to  be 
wholly  counted  out?" 

These  are  legitimate  questions  and  are  susceptible  of  a 
fairly  satisfactory  answer.  The  answer  would  take  us  much 
farther  into  the  well-known  but  highly  elaborate  and  tech- 
nical facts  of  comparative  anatomy  and  embryology  of  the 
vertebrate  limbs  than  we  can  go  in  a  work  like  this.  The 
general  direction  in  which  the  answer  lies  is  better  shown, 
I  believe,  by  F.  W.  Jones  than  by  any  other  writer  with 
whom  I  am  acquainted. ^^  The  absence  of  anything  in  the 
way  of  solid,  horny  structures  from  the  fingers  and  toes  of 
amphibians  is  likely  to  strike  unzoological  readers  as  a  rather 
trivial  fact;  and  so  it  is  from  some  points  of  view.  W-Tien, 
however,  we  reflect  on  it  as  evidence  that  there  once  existed 
a  group  of  vertebrates  having  hands  and  feet  so  constructed 
that  they  could  readily  (developmentally  speaking)  become 
transformed  into  human  hands  and  feet,  the  fact  is 
seen  to  be  very  far  from  trivial.  Such  reflection  would 
properly  run  something  as  follows:  For  an  evolutional 
course  which  could  lead  to  man  or  any  creature  comparable 
with  him  (as  the  anthropoid  apes)  it  was  absolutely  essential 
that  the  fore  limbs  should  be  rescued  from  becoming  devoted 
exclusively  to  locomotion  whether  on  land,  in  the  water,  or  in 
the  air.  Something  of  their  original  pliability  had  to  be 
maintained. 

Many  authors  call  attention  to  the  structural  similarity 

11  Arboreal  Man,  1916. 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        317 

between  the  human  hand,  especially  in  its  early  embryonal 
stages,  and  the  typical  amphibian  hand.  No  one,  so  far  as 
I  am  aware,  has  made  much  of  it  from  the  standpoint  of 
activity  except  Jones  in  the  book  just  mentioned.  Jones' 
central  hypothesis  is  that  the  wide-swinging  powers  char- 
acteristic of  the  human  and  other  primate  arms,  and  the 
rotative  and  grasping  powers  peculiarly  characteristic  of 
human  hands  were  evolved  in  connection  with  tree-climbing 
and  locomotion  among  the  branches  of  trees  after  the  fashion 
of  many  present-day  monkeys.  The  very  beginning  of 
habits  of  this  sort  he  believes  must  have  been  among  animals 
as  far  down  the  vertebrate  scale  as  the  amphibians.  In  sup- 
port of  this  he  calls  attention  to  the  expertness  of  Tree  Frogs 
as  climbers,  and  notes  the  clambering  abilities  of  some  of 
the  tailed  amphibians.  "It  may  seem,"  he  writes,  "a  long 
way  to  go  back  when  attempting  to  unravel  the  influence  of 
tree-climbing  among  the  Primates,  to  appeal  to  the  clamber- 
ing activities  of  the  water-newt.  And  yet  the  anatomical 
condition  of  the  limbs  of  man  demands  a  shifting  backward 
of  the  inquiry  to  some  such  stage  as  this.  I  believe  that 
the  truest  picture  of  the  evolution  of  Primate  climbing  starts 
with  such  a  scene  as  we  are  depicting  now."  ^^ 

This  hypothesis  appeals  to  me  the  more  strongly  from 
observations  of  my  own  made  years  ago  on  a  tree  climb- 
ing salamander.^^  The  long-tailed  amphibian  referred  to 
was  discovered  to  deposit  and  hatch  its  eggs  tj^ically  in 
decay  holes  in  oak  trees,  some  of  the  holes  utilized  being 
thirty  feet  from  the  ground.  This  hitherto  unheard-of  breed- 
ing habit  of  salamanders  together  with  the  unusual  alertness 
of  this  species  on  its  feet,  its  ability  to  use  its  tail  as  a  cling- 
ing organ,  and  other  departures  from  the  orthodox  ways  of 
salamanders  are  certainly  suggestive   of  the  possibilities 

12  p.  16. 

13  "Further  Notes  on  the  Habits  of  Autodax  lugubris,"  Amer.  Natural- 
ist, 1903,  Vol.  XXXVII,  p.  883. 


3i8  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

there  are  in  such  lowly,  generalized  animals  as  the  tailed 
amphibians.  The  suggestion  is  not  at  all  that  such  off-t>^e 
habits  are  really  on  the  road  to  man  or  any  other  higher 
animal.  Given  man  and  other  higher  animals,  such  cases 
do  suggest  how,  functionally,  these  higher  animals  may  have 
started. 

No  aspect  of  living  nature  is  more  interesting  than  that 
which  involves  problems  of  yet  unrealized  possibilities;  prob- 
lems of  what  actions  and  developments  are  still  possible 
and  what  are  impossible.  It  is  difficult  to  see  how  the  front 
feet  of  any  typical  land-dwelling  four-footed  animal,  a  lizard, 
a  bear,  or  a  squirrel,  could  change  into  hands  like  those  of 
men.  But  there  is  little  difficulty  in  seeing  how  such  a  hand 
as  is  possessed  by  a  typical  amphibian  could  be  so  changed. 

The  vertebrate  limbs  offer  a  striking  illustration  of  that 
principle  of  evolution  of  structure  according  to  which,  once 
a  part  becomes  sharply  fashioned  for  performing  a  particular 
function,  its  capacity  for  performing  any  other  function  or 
of  being  modified  for  taking  on  additional  functions,  is  al- 
most wholly  gone.  Think  how  little  else  a  horse  or  ox  can 
do  with  its  legs  than  to  use  them  for  moving  around!  Be- 
yond the  limited  use  of  the  fore  limbs  for  striking  and  the 
somewhat  less  limited  use  of  the  hind  limbs  for  kicking,  the 
story  of  the  utility  of  these  members  is  thus  wholly  told. 
Many  of  the  rodents  have  a  great  advantage  over  the  hoofed 
animals  in  this.  The  fore  limbs  of  mice  and  rats,  besides 
being  highly  efficient  for  locomotion,  are  efficient  for  digging, 
climbing  and  gathering  up  and  handling  objects,  as  for  food. 
In  man  alone  are  the  structure  and  relations  of  these  mem- 
bers such  as  to  secure  the  greatest  possible  variety  of  useful 
activity  combined  with  the  greatest  possible  efficiency  in 
each  particular  activity,  and  also  the  greatest  possibility  for 
future  development.  Taking  advantage  of  the  more  or  less 
legitimate  custom  of  personifying  nature  we  may  state  the 
evolutional  task  nature  set  for  herself,  the  achievement  of 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        319 

which  is  man:  Having  discovered  that  activity  of  the  sort 
definitive  of  animal  organisms  is  an  effective  means  of  secur- 
ing well-being,  that  is  to  say,  is  an  effective  means  of  adap- 
tiveness,  the  question  of  how  this  means  could  reach  its 
highest  effectiveness  presented  itself  for  consideration.  The 
answer  to  the  question  was  soon  seen  to  hinge  on  the  working 
together  of  two  different  categories  of  structure,  one  for  the 
actual  performance  of  movements  by  the  organism,  the 
other  for  the  guidance  of  the  movements.  In  other  words 
the  two  categories  of  muscular  structures  and  nervous  struc- 
tures were  produced.  In  order  to  make  these  basic  cate- 
gories workable  each  had  to  be  supplemented  in  various 
ways,  especially  by  supporting  and  prehensile  structures  on 
the  muscular  side;  and  by  sensory,  conducting,  and  selective 
structures  on  the  nervous  side.  As  operating  structures, 
especially  those  devoted  to  moving  the  organism  from  one 
place  to  another  and  those  devoted  to  grasping  and  holding 
objects,  became  more  effective  for  their  special  purposes, 
they  also  became  more  restricted  to  the  particular  actions  in 
question,  and  less  effective  for  performing  other  kinds  of 
action.  In  order  to  secure  the  highest  measure  possible  of 
adaptiveness  through  activity,  operative  structures,  espe- 
cially for  grasping  and  holding  objects,  having  the  maximum 
range  and  maximum  effectiveness  in  themselves,  had  to  be 
produced  in  combination  with  directive  structures  having 
also  the  maximum  range  and  effectiveness  of  action. 

The  organism  thus  produced  is  the  human  organism,  its 
arms  and  hands  being  first  in  importance  on  the  operative 
side  of  its  activities,  and  its  brain  of  first  importance  on  the 
directive  side  of  its  activities.  This  statement,  the  meaning 
of  which  may  be  rather  obscure  because  of  the  wide  range 
of  the  generalizations  involved,  may  be  helped  to  objective 
clarity  by  an  illustration. 

The  example  to  be  used  is  from  observations  of  my  own. 
It  is  chosen  because  of  the  goodly  number  and  range  of  the 


320  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

elements  in  the  purely  operative  aspect  of  the  generalization. 
It  concerns  the  activities,  especially  of  the  fore  limbs  and 
hands,  by  representatives  of  four  mammalian  species  rather 
widely  separated  from  one  another  in  the  class  of  mammals 
as  a  whole.  These  representatives  were  an  airedale  dog, 
Laddy  by  name;  a  marmoset  of  the  genus  Midas,  called  Sir 
Henry  (after  the  noted  West  Indian  buccaneer  and  Jamaican 
governor);  a  Capuchin  monkey,  Jimmy  by  name;  and  a 
four-year-old  boy  nicknamed  Bobby.  The  incident  extended 
over  a  period  of  about  three  weeks,  the  locus  of  it  being  a 
yacht  making  its  way  leisurely  from  Panama  to  San  Diego, 
California. 

A  better  example  of  a  graded  biological  series  as  viewed 
from  the  standpoint  of  the  structure  and  use  of  the  arms  and 
hands  it  would  be  hard  to  find;  and  so  far  as  could  be  made 
out  by  the  rough  means  of  testing  that  could  be  applied,  the 
intervals  between  the  four  members  of  the  series  were  about 
equal.  At  the  lower  end  stood  Laddy.  There  could  be  no 
doubt  about  that.  It  was  pathetic  to  see  his  relative  help- 
lessness in  this  way,  especially  when  he  came  into  close 
comparison  with  Jimmy  and  Bobby.  Only  in  their 
capering  about  on  the  floor  was  Laddy  in  it  at  all 
with  the  other  two.  So  far  as  there  was  a  chance  for  a 
straightaway  run  he  had  a  clear  advantage.  Since  the 
chances  for  this  were  limited  by  the  small  floor-space,  most 
of  their  activities  had  to  go  in  other  directions.  In  ball- 
plajnng,  for  instance,  poor  Laddy  could  do  nothing  except 
chase  the  ball,  pick  it  up  with  his  mouth  and  carry  it  around. 
He  could  not  throw  it  at  all.  Bobby,  on  the  contrary,  had 
great  fun  in  not  only  chasing  it,  but  picking  it  up  with  his 
hands,  throwing  it,  bouncing  it  on  the  floor  or  against  a  wall, 
and  catching  it  when  it  was  thrown  by  some  one  else.  Jimmy, 
while  he  could  not  compete  with  Bobby  in  throwing  the  ball, 
could  do  almost  as  well  as  Bobby  in  catching  it,  and  could 
do  better,  if  anything,  in  chasing  it  and  picking  it  up.    Com- 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        321 

pared  with  Laddy  he  was  a  great  success  as  a  ball  player 
and  at  handling  all  sorts  of  objects.  And  when  it  came  to 
getting  around  over  the  ship  generally — well,  neither  of  the 
others  were  in  Jimmy's  class  at  all.  So  extremely  capable 
and  active  was  he  in  this  way  that  he  had  to  be  kept  chained 
most  of  the  time. 

In  hardly  anything  was  Jimmy's  manual  ability  displayed 
to  greater  advantage  than  in  such  uses  of  his  fingers  as  in 
parting  the  hair  of  his  own  body  and  picking  (or  pretending 
to  pick)  fleas.  This  very  familiar  monkey  performance 
he  appeared  to  think  it  his  duty  to  perform  on  Laddy  as 
well  as  on  himself.  The  cautious  way  in  which  he  would 
begin  by  touching  the  hair  at  its  tips,  pulling  it  a  little,  and 
finally  coming  to  closer  quarters  in  the  business,  was  highly 
diverting  to  the  human  onlookers.  A  very  erroneous  notion 
about  the  limited  opposability  of  thumb  and  fingers  in  mon- 
keys and  apes  appears  to  be  widespread.  Of  the  erroneous- 
ness  of  the  notion  anybody  can  convince  himself  by  watching 
carefully  the  activities  of  almost  any  species  of  monkey  in 
any  good  collection  of  the  creatures.  I  will  interrupt  this 
narrative  enough  to  mention  the  performance  of  a  large 
chimpanzee  in  the  national  zoological  park  at  Washington. 
When  eating  sunflower  seeds  the  fellow  would  hold  the  seeds 
in  one  hand  nicely  cupped,  and  with  the  other  pick  up  the 
seeds  one  by  one  between  thumb  and  forefinger,  and  put 
them  into  his  mouth  quite  as  skillfully  as  any  human  being 
can  do  it.  It  would  be  interesting  to  know  at  what  age  a 
child  becomes  as  capable  in  this  way  as  the  ape  was. 

Wonderfully  skilled  as  Jimmy  obviously  was  in  several 
manual  activities,  even  as  compared  with  Bobby,  when  it 
came  to  certain  other  activities  Bobby's  superiority  was  un- 
mistakable. These  other  activities  were  of  such  a  nature 
as  to  entitle  Bobby  to  the  highest  place  in  the  series.  For 
example,  he  would  busy  himself  very  intently  in  building 
houses,  castles,  and  bridges  out  of  wooden  blocks,  causing 


322  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

them  to  resemble  certain  pictures  furnished  him  as  patterns 
to  go  by.  Anything  of  this  sort  was  utterly  beyond  Jimmy, 
though  it  looked  as  though  so  far  as  hands  in  themselves 
were  concerned,  he  might  have  done  ahnost  as  well  as  Bobby. 
While  there  was  this  very  striking  difference  in  Bobby's 
favor  between  him  and  Jimmy,  another  striking  resemblance 
was  in  the  great  number  of  things  they  both  seemed  to  feel 
they  must  touch,  get  hold  of,  and  look  at.  Apparently  the 
only  way  either  could  endure  for  long  without  doing  some- 
thing of  the  sort  was  by  lying  down  and  going  to  sleep. 
Here  too  enough  difference  could  be  seen  to  confirm  Bobby's 
claim  to  the  highest  place  in  the  series.  He  could  hold  him- 
self to  the  same  job  for  longer  periods  than  Jimmy  could. 

The  most  striking  difference  of  all  remains  to  be  noticed: 
\\Tien  Bobby  got  tired  of  one  plaything  and  wanted  another, 
he  could  demand  what  he  wanted  in  so  many  words. 
Furthermore,  in  his  running  about  and  touching,  handling, 
and  pulling  different  objects  he  could  facilitate  the  gratifica- 
tion of  his  curiosity  about  them  by  asking  questions  about 
them.  Abilities  of  this  sort  Jimmy  was  wholly  without. 
Yet  as  to  voice  ability,  voice  culture,  we  may  call  it,  there 
was  considerable  likeness  between  them.  In  the  quantity 
of  vocal  noise  each  could  make  whenever  anytliing  displeas- 
ing crossed  his  path,  neither  was  much  behind  the  other. 
Had  Jimmy  been  among  his  own  kind  as  Bobby  was,  he 
would  have  been  at  much  less  disadvantage  as  compared 
with  Bobby  in  making  his  wants,  likes  and  dislikes,  and  so 
forth  known  by  his  voice  than  was  the  case  in  the  actual 
conditions. 

Now  what  of  Sir  Henry?  Nothing  has  yet  been  said  about 
his  place  in  the  series.  It  was  perfectly  clear  that  he  be- 
longed between  Laddy  and  Jimmy.  WTiile  he  could  use  his 
hands  in  several  more  ways  and  to  distinctly  greater  ad- 
vantage than  Laddy  could,  he  was  far  behind  Jimmy  on 
this  score.    For  one  thing,  he  would  almost  always  utilize 


MOST  ADAPTIVE  OF  LIVING  BEINGS        323 

his  hands  to  good  purpose  while  eating.  To  illustrate,  when 
pieces  of  banana,  his  favorite  food,  were  offered  him,  al- 
though he  very  rarely  failed  to  take  them  in  his  mouth  first, 
immediately  thereafter  he  would  raise  his  arm  toward  his 
head,  take  the  large  piece  in  his  hand  and  hold  it  there  while 
he  bit  off  one  mouthful  after  another  till  the  whole  was  gone. 
He  almost  never  failed  to  use  his  right  hand  for  this  pur- 
pose, the  left  being  occupied  as  a  support.  When  he  was 
on  his  perch,  for  which  place  he  seemed  to  have  special 
liking,  the  use  of  the  left  hand  in  this  was  a  clear  advantage. 
Beyond  this  use  of  the  hands  over  and  above  their  regular 
use  in  locomotion,  Henry  was  not  much  better  off  than 
Laddy.  He  could  scratch  himself  with  them  as  Laddy  could 
not;  but  any  such  digital  deftness  in  handling  things,  as  hair 
and  food,  so  strikingly  characteristic  of  Jimmy,  was  quite 
beyond  him.  Restricted  as  was  the  usefulness  of  Henry's 
two  hands  in  comparison  with  Jimmy's  and  Bobby's  two, 
it  was  considerably  greater  than  is  that  of  a  squirrel's  or 
other  rodent's  two  hands.  These  latter  animals  have  very 
little  ability  to  use  one  of  the  hands  independently  of  the 
other.  For  instance,  a  squirrel  is  rarely  seen  to  hold  a  piece 
of  food  in  one  hand  while  he  does  something  else  with  the 
other.  Typically  he  uses  both  hands  at  the  same  time  and 
in  the  same  way  for  holding  his  food. 

Now  the  activities  presented  by  this  numerically  short 
mammalian  series  are  strictly  correlated  with  and  dependent 
on  a  certain  structural  series,  namely  the  fore-limb  series. 
One  does  not  need  to  be  at  all  learned  in  comparative 
anatomy,  to  recognize  this  correlation  and  dependence. 
However,  in  the  preceding  pages  devoted  to  the  structural 
parts  of  man  on  which  depend  his  supremacy  over  all  other 
creatures,  we  have  examined  the  facts  involved  not  only  in 
this  short  series  but  in  a  much  longer  series,  with  a  view 
to  gaining  a  deeper  and  clearer  insight  than  by  cursory  ob- 
servation we  can  gain,  into  just  wherein  man's  place  in  the 


324  MAN'S  PHYSICAL  STRUCTURE 

series  gives  him  the  advantage  he  obviously  has.  In  order 
thus  to  improve  our  insight  we  looked  at  the  structural  series 
in  its  evolutional  as  well  as  in  its  anatomical  aspects,  the 
presumption  that  the  series  actually  is  a  developmental  series 
being  based  on  what  we  learned  in  Chapters  3  and  4  of  this 
volume. 

In  these  examinations  of  structural  series  and  activity 
series,  almost  all  the  attention  bestowed  upon  details  has 
been  given  to  limbs,  especially  arm-and-hand.  Although  the 
fundamental  inseparableness  of  arm-hands  and  head  was 
insisted  upon,  no  details  whatever  of  head  structure  and 
activity  were  entered  into.  Manifestly  this  leaves  our  exam- 
ination woefully  defective.  Nobody  now  questions  that 
head,  using  the  term  in  the  general  sense  indicated  above, 
is  not  only  an  exceedingly  important  element  in  the  combina- 
tion we  have  been  considering,  but  that  it  is  an  exceedingly 
complex  structural  element,  performing  correspondingly  com- 
plex activities  of  its  own;  and  that  the  limb  activities  (and 
all  other  body  activities)  are  very  intimately  connected  with 
the  head  structures  and  activities.  So  enormously  complex 
and  detailed  and  subtle  are  the  structure  and  the  activity 
of  the  "head"  and  the  connection  of  limb  and  general  body 
structure  with  head  structure  and  activity,  that  nothing  short 
of  a  whole  volume  as  large  as  the  one  just  now  being  com- 
pleted will  suffice  for  this  part  of  our  enterprise.  That  is 
how  it  happens  that  this.  The  Natural  History  of  Our  Con- 
duct, is  to  have  as  a  companion  book  The  Natural  Philos- 
ophy of  Our  Conduct. 


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Nelson,  E.  W.  1921  (Apr.). 
"The  Big  Game  of  Alaska,"  in 
Bull,  of  Amcr.  Game  Assoc. 

1925  (Aug.).    "Status  of  the 

Prong-Horned  Antelope,  1922- 
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Dept.  of  Agric. 

Osborn,  H.  F.  1913.  The  Horse 
Past  and  Present. 

Paget,  Sir  Stephen.  1914.  Pas- 
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Pakea  Maori.  1922.  Old  New 
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Peck,  Morton  E.  192  i.  "On 
the  Acorn-Storing  Habits  of 
Certain  Woodpeckers,"  in  The 
Condor,  Vol.  XXIII. 

Peckham,  George  W.,  and  Peck- 
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"The  Instincts  and  Habits  of 
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Pitt,  Frances.  1920.  "The 
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Porter,  J.  H.    1924.    Wild  Beasts. 

Racey,  Kenneth.  1921.  "The 
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Northwest  Bird  and  Mammal 
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Rau,  Phil.  1915.  "The  Ability 
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Read,  Carveth.  1920.  The  Ori- 
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Ridgway,  Robert.  1901.  Birds 
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Ritter,  William  E.  1921.  "Acorn 
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328 


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INDEX 


Acorns:  stored  by  woodpeckers,  128; 
crops  of,  131  ;  planting  of,  by 
animals,   136. 

Activity  and  activities :  conscious, 
12;  human,  13;  of  animals,  14; 
adaptive,  of  man,  17 ;  intelligent, 
17;  knowledge  of,  distinct  from 
knowledge  of  origin,  22 ;  life-or- 
death,  and  life-fulfilling,  73 ;  mal- 
adaptive, 75 ;  successful,  77 ;  at 
the  level  of  reflexes,  78 ;  instinc- 
tive, 79 ;  at  the  level  of  intelli- 
gence, 88 ;  nutritional,  among  birds, 
144;  misdirection  of,  by  apes  and 
monkeys,  246 ;  misdirected,  among 
low-cultured  peoples,  266 ;  super- 
stitious, relative  to  pregnancy  and 
childbirth,  among  savages,  266 ;  of 
savages  compared  with  activity  of 
brutes,  270 ;  excessive  reproduc- 
tive, problems  arising  from,  292 ; 
sexual,  problems  arising  from,  292, 

Adaptability:  psychobiological,   183. 

Adaptation:  phenomenon  of,  11,  12; 
problem  of,  14;  essential  to  life, 
IS;  final  meaning  of,  16;  criterion 
of,  16,  41 ;  the  problem  of,  in 
beaver  work,  105;  imperfection  of, 
among  insects,  162;  in  breeding 
habits  of  cuckoos,   171. 

Adaptiveness :  of  beaver  work,  100; 
as  contributing  to  well-being,  319. 

Adirondacks :  beavers  of,  150. 

Agassiz,  Alexander :  quoted  on  beaver 
work,  158. 

,    Louis :    and    the    comparative 

method,   12. 

Alder,  W.  F. :  quoted  on  festivities 
among  natives  of  New  Guiana, 
260. 

Alexander  the  Great :  supernatural 
origin  of,  22,  30. 

Altruism :  and  egoism,  among  chim- 
panzees, 250. 

Amphibians :  mating  activities  of, 
167;  primitiveness  of  limbs,  316. 

Ancestor  and  ancestors :  man's  sub- 
human, 21;  totemic,  41;  man's 
most  probable,  52. 

Anger :  of  monkeys,  243 ;  of  Fi- 
jians,  271. 

Animal  and  animals :  man  and  in- 
ferior, 9 ;  subclass,  1 1  ;  activities 
of,  14;  as  predominant  totems,  39; 
kingdom,  solidarity  of,  57 ;  unicel- 
lular, 58;  activity,  success  and 
failure  in,  64;   fact  and  fancy  as 


to  intelligence  of,  98 ;  list  of  train- 
able, 115;  in  zoological  parks,  116; 
wild,  slight  adaptability  to  new 
conditions,  218;  brute  and  human, 
254. 

Animism:  42;  and  maladaptive  ac- 
tivity, 267. 

Ant  and  ants :  65 ;  exaggeration  as 
to  intelligence  of,  95  ;  personalities 
among,  113;  black  harvester,  ac- 
tivities of,  120;  harvester  of 
Texas,  127;  harvester  of  New 
Mexico,   164. 

"Ant-rice" :  127. 

Antelope :  pronghorn,  fatal  curiosity 
of,  227. 

Anthropoids :  53 ;  superiority  to 
beavers,   106. 

Anthropology :  reveals  stages  of 
man's  development,  32. 

Apartness :  man's  from  nature,  6. 

Apes  :  35  ;  anthropoid,  52  ;  mentality 
of,  by  Wolfgang  Kohler,  107; 
maladaptive  activity  in,  241. 

Appetite :  untrustworthiness  of,  for 
welfare,  285. 

Aristotle :  quoted  on  man's  advan- 
tage in  possessing  hands,   308. 

Art :  as  intelligent  human  activitj', 
94 ;  in  the  guidance  of  instinctive 
activities,  287. 

Arthropods :  injury  to  kind  among, 
159  et  seq. 

Association  :  among  chimpanzees,  252. 

Astronomer :  response  to  light  in 
coinmon  with  child  and  savage,  5. 

Attributes :  common  of  animal  and 
plant  organisms,    11. 

Audubon,  J.  J. :  quoted  on  prodigious 
numbers  of  passenger  pigeons,  203. 

Australia:  natives  of,   41. 

Axioms :  what  they  are  to  the  natu- 
ralist, 7. 

Babe :  development  of  adult  from,  25. 

Babies :  human,  malnutrition  of,  285. 

Baird,  Brewer,  and  Ridgway :  quoted 
on  food  storing  by  blue  jays,  135  ; 
on  habits  of  passenger  pigeons,  205. 

"Ballooning":  of  spiders,  189. 

Banta,  Arthur  M. :  quoted  on  mating 
among   frogs,    167   et  seq. 

Barnard,  E,  E. :  on  mistakes  of  but- 
terflies.   186. 

Barnes,  W.  C. :  quoted  on  senseless- 
ness of  cattle,  216. 

Barrows,  W.  B. :  quoted  on  habits  of 


329 


330 


INDEX 


blue  jays,  136;  on  habits  of  pas- 
senger pigeons,  206. 

Beak :  of  bird,  identification  of  in 
embryo,  33. 

Beal,  F.  E.  L. :  quoted  on  food  habits 
of  birds,   140  ct  seq. 

Bear,  grizzly :  intelligence  of,  99 ; 
personalities  among,   113. 

Bears :  knowledge  of  activities  de- 
pendent on  field  studies,  67 ;  intel- 
ligence of,  98  et  seq. 

Beasts :  man  a  match  for,  1 7. 

"Beasts  of  the  Field" :  37. 

Beavers:  observations  on,  65,  98; 
works  of,  100,  150;  land-flooding 
by,  156;  destruction  of  timber  by 
flooding,  220. 

Bee  and  bees :  activities  of,  83 ; 
honey-gathering  by,   191. 

Beetle :  blister,  remarkable  breeding 
habits  of,  187. 

Behavior :  animal,  relation  to,  task 
of  this  book,  12;  and  laboratory 
studies,  66. 

Beings:  living,  abilities  of,  11. 

Bell,  Sir  Charles :  quoted  on  contri- 
bution of  hands  to  man's  supe- 
rioritj',  309. 

Belief :  in  man's  evolutionary  origin, 
eflfect  of,  62. 

Belt,  Thomas  :  quoted  on  intelligence 
of  ants,  06. 

Bethe,  Albrecht :  quoted  on  mentality 
of  ants  and  bees,  120. 

Biologists :  modern,  6 ;  views  regard- 
ing adaptation,   15. 

Biology :  restricted  meaning  of  term, 
6. 

Bird  and  birds:  adaptation  of,  14; 
embryology  of,  33  ;  little  provision 
for  future  needs  among,  141  ; 
wingless,  190 ;  self-injury  among, 
198;  imprisoned  in  houses,  198; 
fighting  their  own  image,  199; 
Hawaiian,  extinction  among,  201 ; 
destruction  of  by  man,   213. 

Bison :  American,  destruction  of,  222. 

Blair,  W.  Reid :  on  birth  of  chim- 
panzee, 246. 

Blowflies :  mistaking  flowers  for  car- 
rion, 162. 

Blue  jay:  food-storing  by,  135. 

Bodies :  celestial,  5 ;  laiowing  our 
own,   8;   myriads  of,    11. 

"Bom  of  woman" :  proof  of,  30  et 
seq. 

Brain  :  and  hands,  4  ;  surgery  of,  59  ; 
human  and  animal,  90,  92 ;  of  man 
in  relation  to  his  hands,  301. 

Bridges,  Captain  Jack :  famous  buf- 
falo hunter,  224. 

Bruce,  Jay :  quoted  on  habits  of  Cali- 
fornia lion,   148. 

Brutes :  possessions  in  common  with 
man,  12. 


Buffalo :  American,  phenomenal  stu- 
pidity of,  222 ;  carcasses  of,  left 
by  kunters,  223 ;  mired  in  quick- 
sands, 225 ;  death  by  venturing  on 
rotten  ice,   225. 

Bums,  Robert :  as  name,  26. 

Butler,  Amos  W. :  quoted  on  destruc- 
tive habits  of  Carolina  parrakeets, 
143. 

Buttel-Reepen,  H.  von :  on  mentality 
of  bees,  165. 

Butterflies :  visiting  artificial  flowers, 
186. 

Cannibalism:  among  spiders,  160; 
among  salamanders,  16S;  among 
owls,  172;  among  mammals,  174. 

Cat :  vagus  nerve  of,  59 ;  in  catching 
prey,  88. 

"Cat,  Dalton's" :  60. 

Cattle :  raids  on  agricultural  crops, 
146;  wounded  by  Custer  wolf, 
148;  treatment  of  sick  and 
wounded  among,  175;  persistence 
in  visiting  water  hole,  217. 

Celestial  objects :  relation  to  man,  5. 

Cells :  similarities  of,  in  nearly  all 
living  beings,  58. 

Ceremonies:   of  savages,  261. 

Certainty :  and  probability,  35 ;  as  to 
man's  evolution,  35. 

Chase,  Stuart :  quoted  on  waste,  275. 

Checks:  on  reproduction,  291  et  seq. 

Chemistry :  in  the  explanation  of  or- 
ganisms, 6. 

Child  and  children :  tendency  to  ex- 
cessiveness  in  play,  122;  bearing, 
dangers  in,  to  mother,  296. 

Chimpanzee:  54,  107;  maternal  in- 
stinct in,  246 ;  treatment  of 
strangers  by,  248 ;  violent  per- 
formances of,  252 ;  emotional  ex- 
pression among,  253. 

Choice :  as  attribute  of  intelligence, 
92. 

Civilization :  dependence  of,  on  hu- 
man hands,   314. 

Clodd,  Edward  :  27  ;  quoted  on  nam- 
ing, 39. 

Common  sense :  and  the  evolution 
theor>',  18;  in  relation  to  past 
events,  52. 

Communication  :  among  one  another, 
by  insects,  165. 

Comparison :  importance  of  method 
of,  12;  importance  of  extensive 
range  of,  58. 

Comrades :  relation  between,  among 
chimpanzees,   252. 

Comradeship :  between  man  and  dog, 
304. 

Comstock,  J.  H. :  quoted  on  canni- 
balism among  spiders,   161. 

Conduct :  material  for  interpretation 
of  human,   16 ;  influence  of  belief 


INDEX 


331 


on,   62 ;   zoological   background  of 

human,  68. 
Consciousness :     moral,     absence     of 

among  animals,    181. 
Copulation :    multiple,    among    frogs, 

168. 
Couch,    Jonathan :    quoted   on   activi- 
ties of  sticklebacks,  166. 
Courtship:  among  fishes,  167. 
Cowbirds :  parasitic  habits  of,  170. 
Craig,    Wallace :    quoted    on    animal 

fighting,   174. 
Creator :  cooperation  with  Coyote  in 

production  of  man,   38. 
Crowd :    terror-stricken,    among    hu- 
mans, 233. 
Crowing :  of  roosters,  86. 
Cuckoos:  parasitic  habits  of,  170. 
Culture :    human,    dependence   of    on 

human  hands,  311   et  seq. 
Cunningham.  Miss  Alyse :  quoted  on 

John  Gorilla,   no. 
Curiosity :     of     pronghorn     antelope, 

227,  229 ;    human,   and  attainment 

of  welfare,  287. 
Cycles :   of   instinctive  activity,    1 62 ; 

in  monkeys,  244. 

Dance:  ghost,  of  Sioux  Indians,  261. 

Danger  and  dangers :  74 ;  maladap- 
tive activity  in  presence  of,  221  ; 
overactivity  in  the  presence  of, 
232 ;  in  reproduction  among  human 
beings,  296. 

Darwin,  Charles:  18,  176;  quoted  on 
earthworms,  185;  quoted  on  bal- 
looning of  spiders,  189;  on  geo- 
metrical ratio  of  increase,  288 ; 
quoted  on  importance  of  man's 
hands,  310. 

Deane,  W. :  quoted  on  waste  of  food 
by  Fijians,  255. 

Death :  from  old  age,  70. 

Decision :  element  of  intelligence,  88, 
92. 

Degradation :  of  organisms  due  to 
crowding  from  geometrical  ratio 
of  increase,  288. 

Destruction :  of  timber  by  beavers, 
157;  among  May-flies,  196;  nat- 
ural, of  passenger  pigeons,   210. 

Destructiveness :  by  Carolina  Par- 
rakeet,  and  other  species  of  birds, 
143. 

Development:  organic,  19;  of  variety 
of  kinds  of  organisms,  20 ;  phys- 
ical, 94. 

Discovery  :  scientific,  94. 

Disease:  of  silkworm,  91. 

Distinction :  psychical,  between  man 
and  beast,  43. 

Ditmars,  R.  L. :  quoted  on  feeding 
activities  among  snakes,  169. 

Divine :  considered  attribute  of  man 
only,  4. 


Divinity :  Joseph  Smith  and  Brigham 
Young  regarded  as  partaking  of, 
23. 

Dog  and  dogs :  man's  association 
with,  40,  304;  sheep-killing,  147; 
extent  of,  220 ;  limitation  on  ac- 
tivities due  to  character  of  fore 
limbs,  305,  320. 

Domestication  :  variation  under,   18. 

Dominion:  of  man  over  beasts,   17. 

Drunkenness :  among  savages,  259  et 
seq, 

Dryopithecus :  56. 

Ducks  :  maladaptive  mating  activities 
among,  174. 

Dueling :  a  form  of  maladaptive  ac- 
tivity, 279 ;  extent  of,  280 ;  a  sort 
of  wild  justice,  281. 

Dugmore,  A.  R. :  on  beaver  work, 
105. 

Dumas  :  quoted  on  scientific  research, 
93. 

Earthworm :  self-destructive  activi- 
ties  among,    1S4. 

Education:  of  animals,  115;  and  the 
guidance  of  instinctive  activities, 
287. 

Effort :  none  supposed  wasted  among 
birds,   142. 

Eggs  and  young :  of  salamanders 
eaten  by  adults,   169. 

Egoism :  and  altruism,  among  chim- 
panzees,  250. 

Elephant  seal :  deficiency  of  fear  in, 
230. 

Elk :  activity  under  shortage  of  for- 
age, 219;  California,  effect  of  rage 
in,  237. 

Emotion  :  of  Fijians,  271. 

Emotional  expression  :  in  chimpanzee, 
253- 

Energy:  expended  by  ants,  121. 

Engineering:  by  beavers,  155. 

Evidence :  of  man's  origin  and  kin- 
ship, 17;  paleontological,  44,  49; 
of  evolution,  51. 

Evolution :  common  sense  and,  1 8 ; 
accepted  as  mode  of  origin  of  in- 
dividuals, 19;  of  kinds  of  organ- 
isms, 20 ;  every  step  in,  49 ;  uni- 
versal, 63. 

Evolutionists:  discomfiture  of,   51. 

Excessiveness :  a  common  form  of 
maladaptive  activity,  75  et  seq. 

Excitement :  of  chase,  140 ;  in  diim- 
panzees,  253. 

Experience :  objective,  essential  to 
welfare-securing  activity,  287. 

Experiences :  of  naturalist,  7. 

Extermination  :  of  passenger  pigeons, 
203    et   seq.;   of    American    bison, 

222, 

Extinction :  of  species  promoted  by 
maladaptive  activity,  200. 


332 


INDEX 


Fabre,  J.  H.  C. :  on  sphex  moth, 
163  ;  on  breeding  habits  of  blister 
beetles,   187. 

Fact  and  fancy :  as  to  animal  intel- 
ligence, 98. 

Facts :  objective  and  subjective  moi- 
eties of,   25. 

Faith :  basis  of,  30. 

Fascination :  among  animals,  235. 

Fastidiousness :    as  to   food,   257. 

Fear:  defective,  self-injury _  arising 
from,  211;  overfunctioning  of, 
213;  defective  sense  of,  in  buffalo, 
224 ;  absence  of,  in  animals,  229 ; 
in  horse,  233 ;  in  rabbits,  235 ; 
among  chimpanzees,  251. 

Feasting:  wastefulness  of,  by  Fi- 
jians,  255. 

"Feast  or   famine" :    among  savages, 

^55.  .,       , 

Feeding  time :  perils  of,  among  cer- 
tain animals,  221. 

Female  and  females :  eats  male, 
among  spiders,  161  ;  weakened  in 
mating  among  frogs,   168. 

Festivals :  among  savages,  258. 

Fetishism :  and  maladaptive  activity, 
267. 

Field :  studies,  64, 

Fighting :  of  ants,  96 ;  for  the  pure 
love  of  it,  280 ;  emotional  phase 
and  rational  phase  of,  282. 

Fijians:  waste  of  food  among,  255; 
emotional  characteristics  of,  271, 

Finn,  Frank :  quoted  on  habits  of 
cuckoo,   171    ct  seq. 

Fishes :  instinctive  activities  of,  84 ; 
pugnacity   of,    166. 

Flower,  W.  H.,  and  Lydekker,  R. : 
quoted  on  migration  of  lemming, 
227. 

Flowers  :  artificial,  visited  bv  butter- 
flies, 186. 

Food  and  foods :  necessary  to  living 
beings,  1 5  ;  absolute  necessity  for, 
yz ;  supply,  yy  ;  defective,  for  in- 
fants, 118;  stored  but  not  used, 
140;  getting  by  adult  mammals, 
216;  response  to  in  absence  of 
hunger,  244 ;  wasted  by  Fijians, 
256 ;  nutritional  deficiencies  in, 
285. 

Food-getting :  by  dog-kind  and  man- 
kind, 306. 

"Foolhen"  :  pseudonym  for  Franklin 
grouse,  211. 

Forbush,  E.  H. :  quoted,  136;  quoted 
on  destruction  of  passenger  pigeon, 
208  ct  scq. 

Forel,  Auguste :  quoted  on  compara- 
tive psychology,   193. 

Foresight:  question  of,  in  birds  and 
mammals,  117. 

Form :  knowledge  of,  distinct  from 
knowledge  of  origin,  22. 


Fossils:  of  horse  series,  45,  50;  pri- 
mate of  soutliern  Asia,  55. 
Foster    parents :    of    young    cuckoos, 

171- 

Freud :  and  the  misinterpretation  of 
sex,   295. 

Fright :  excessive,  in  horse,  233. 

Fruitlessness :  of  labor  in  mud  dau- 
ber wasp,    164. 

"Fulness  of  life" :  78. 

Fur  seal:   mating  habits  of,   178. 

Future :  choice  with  reference  to, 
112. 

Galton,  Sir  Francis :  quoted  on  com- 
radeship bet%veen  man  and  dog, 
304. 

Germ  cells :  vast  numbers  of,  289, 
et  seq. 

Ghost  dance:  of  Sioux  Indians,  261. 

Gifts :  special,  24 ;  among  animals, 
114. 

Gillen,  F.  J. :  quoted  on  totemic  an- 
cestors, 41. 

Goal :  gained  or  missed,  89 ;  imper- 
fection of  instinctive  activity  to- 
ward, 286. 

God :  and  infinite  nature,  63, 

Goldenweisser,  A.  A. :  quoted  on 
totemism,  40. 

Goldman,  E.  A. :  on  cannibalism 
among  rats,  175. 

Goose :  Hawaiian,  self -endangering 
habits  of,  201. 

Gorilla :  human-like  structures  of, 
54;  John,  intelligence  of,  no; 
need  of  investigations  of,  112, 
251. 

Government :  and  the  guidance  of 
activities,  287. 

Grave,  Caswell :  quoted  on  mentality 
of  ants  and  bees,   120. 

Gregariousness :  excessive,  of  Aus- 
tralian parrots,  202 ;  excessive,  of 
passenger  pigeon,   209. 

Gregory,  William  K. :  quoted  on  evo- 
lution of  primates,  53,  56. 

Grinnell,  Joseph :  quoted  on  activity 
of  birds,   141. 

and  Dixon,  J.  S. :  on  tree-fell- 
ing by  beavers,    155. 

Grote :  quoted  on  supernatural  origin 
of  Alexander  the  Great,  22. 

Group :  instinct,  among  chimpanzees, 
250. 

Grouse :  ruflfed,  faulty  protective  in- 
stinct of,  173;  Franklin,  under- 
functioning  of  fear  in,  211. 

Grunion :   breeding  habits  of,  84. 

Habit :  acorn-storing  by  woodpecker, 
'33  1  prey-impaling  by  shrikes, 
138;    sheep-killing,    147. 

Habitat :  changes  of,  among  mam- 
mals, 219. 


INDEX 


333 


Hamilton,  G.  V. :  on  maladaptive 
activity,   75    (footnote). 

Hand  and  hands :  4 ;  performance 
of,  14,  92;  of  man  in  relation  to 
his  brain,  301  ;  and  head,  relation 
between  in  different  animals,  302 ; 
man's  superiority  dependent  upon, 
309 ;  human,  varied  activity  of  in 
industry,  313  et  seq.;  human,  pro- 
totype of,  in  amphibians,  315  et 
seq,;  effective  use  of  in  different 
mammalian  classes,   320   et  seq. 

"Hand-to-mouth"  living :  among 
birds,   141  ;   among  savages,  255. 

Hasbrouck,  E.  M. :  quoting  Audubon 
on    habits    of    Carolina    parrakeet, 

143. 

"Head  and  hands" :  relation  between, 
in  different  animals,  302 ;  deriva- 
tional as  well  as  functional  inter- 
dependence of,  311. 

Head-hunting :  as  good-luck  bringer, 
among  savages,  266. 

Hearne,  Samuel :  quoted  on  beaver 
intelligence,    105. 

Henshaw,  H.  W. :  quoted  on  acorn- 
storing  by  California  woodpecker, 
133;  quoted  on  destruction  of 
Hawaiian  birds,  201. 

Heredity :  and  interpretation  of  char- 
acters,  32 ;   in  activity,   87. 

Hermon  and  Owen :  quoted  on  de- 
structiveness      of      rose      starling, 

MS. 

Hogs  :  meat-production  by,  1 3  ;  tram- 
pling young,   181. 

Hole-drilling:   by   woodpeckers,    129. 

Homicide :  a  form  of  maladaptive 
activity,  276. 

Homo  caudatus:   36. 

Homology :  of  human  and  other  ver- 
tebrate brains,  68. 

Honor :  means  of  defense  of,  280. 

Hornaday,  W.  T. :  quoted  on  teach- 
able animals,  115;  on  fighting 
among  deer  at  mating  time,  178; 
on  breeding  time  among  deer,  1 80  ; 
on  extermination  of  American 
bison,  222  et  seq. 

Horse  and  horses :  bones  of,  46 ; 
modern,  47  ;  fossil,  50  ;  series,  hy- 
pothetical, 52 ;  stereotyped  habits 
in  drinking,  217  ;  in  burning  build- 
ings, 233  ;  fear  in,  233. 

Howard,  L.  O. :  quotes  Mark  Twam 
on  ants,   119. 

Hrdlicka,  Ales :  quoted  on  improvi- 
dence of  Indians,  262. 

Hudson,  W,  H.:  quoted  on  parasitic 
habits  of  cowbird,  1 70  ;  on  disaster- 
producing  fear,  213;  on  fascinat- 
ing power  of  snakes,  236. 

Human  beings  :  maladaptivity  among, 
"act  just  like  animals,"  254;  high- 
cultured,  maladaptivity  among,  272. 


Human  infant :  extreme  helplessness 
of,  297. 

Human  nature :  mind  as  central 
wonder  of,  6. 

Humans :  low-cultured,  254  et  seq. 

Hunger :  response  to  food  in  absence 
of,  244 ;  stress  of,  among  savages, 
257. 

Hunters :  men  and  animals  as,  306 
et  seq. 

Hydroids :   form  of  response  in,   78. 

Hyracotherium :  supposed  remote  an- 
cestor of  horse,  47. 

Identity :  in  evolution  theory,  20 ;  in 
relation  to  facts,  25. 

Imperfection :  in  utilization  of  ma- 
terial by  animals,    150. 

Improvidence:  of  primitive  people, 
124;  of  some  mammals,  219;  of 
Indians,   262. 

Increase :  geometrical  ratio  of,  288. 

Indians:  of  California,  38;  of  north- 
west America,  38;  American,  123; 
Winnebago,  255 ;  Shoshone,  reac- 
tion to  food  in  hunger,  256 ; 
Guiana,  festivities  among,  259 ; 
improvidence  of,  262, 

Indian  fair:  among  Navajos,   123. 

Individuals :  inorganic,  1 1  ;  spiritual 
differences  among,  113;  bright  and 
dull  among  animals,  115. 

Industry:  among  ants,  119;  Navajo, 
123;   waste  in  human,  275. 

Infant :  human,  sucking  instinct  of, 
215. 

Injury  to  kind,  among  arthropods, 
159;  among  lower  vertebrates, 
165;  among  mammals,  174;  in 
California  elk,  238;  resulting 
from  misdirected  action  in  apes 
and  monkeys,  248 ;  among  high- 
cultured  humans,  276. 

Insects :  great  prevalence  of  instinct 
in,  80;  wingless,  190. 

Instinct  and  instincts :  divine  iner- 
rancy of  and  theological  concep- 
tion of,  71  ;  sense  in  which  here 
used,  80  ;  as  hereditary  action,  87  ; 
of  nest-building,  126,  163;  ances- 
tral, 132;  for  slaughter  among 
birds  and  men,  140;  running  in 
cycles,  162;  protective,  raisfunc- 
tioning  of  among  birds,  173;  dan- 
gerously gregarious  among  birds, 
203;  sucking,  215;  antagonism 
among,  221  ;  migratory,  of  Ameri- 
can bison,  226 ;  of  Scandinavian 
lemming,  226 ;  running  in  cycles 
among  monkeys,  244 ;  excessive 
maternal,  in  monkeys,  245  ;  group, 
among  chimpanzees,  250 ;  untrust- 
worthiness  of,  in  nutrition,  2S5. 

Instinctive  activity :  wastefulness  of, 
75. 


334 


INDEX 


Intelligence :  sense  in  which  used, 
88 ;  test  of,  at  low  level  and  at 
high  level,  89 ;  mark  of,  92 ;  in 
zoological  scale,  95  ;  supposed  evi- 
dence of,  in  harvester  ants,  127; 
of  beavers,  151. 

Invention:   by   savages,   261. 

Jones,  F.  W. :  quoted  on  man's  ar- 
boreal ancestry,  316. 

Jordan,  David  Starr :  quoted  on  mat- 
ing activities  among  fur  seals. 
179. 

Judd,  Sylvester  D. :  quoted  on  habits 
of  shrike,   137  et  sea. 

Keen,  W.  W. :  quoted  on  evolution, 
58. 

Keith,  Arthur :  on  structural  similari- 
ties between  primates  and  man,  57. 

Kellogg,  Vernon :  quoted  on  instinc- 
tive action  in  insects,  164;  on 
dance  of  death  by  May-flies,    194. 

Keynes,  J.  M. :  quoted  on  logic,  34, 

Kicking:  as  incidental  activity,  13, 
14. 

Killing :  modes  of,  of  American 
bison,  222. 

Kind  and  kinds:  origin  of,  19;  diffi- 
culty of  problem  of  origin  of,  20  ; 
injury  to,  among  arthropods,  159; 
injury  to,  among  California  elk, 
238. 

Kindred :  animistic,  42. 

Kinship:  problem  of  man's,  12,  17; 
of  humans  and  brutes,  16;  used 
literally,  18;  by  descent  and  by 
adoption,   41. 

Klugh,  A.  Brooker :  quoted  on  gor- 
mandizing of  shrew,  221. 

Knowing:  powers  of,  5. 

Knowledge :  man's  systems  of  posi- 
tive, 23. 

Knowledge-getting :   6,   24. 

Knowledge-processes:  21. 

Kohler,  Wolfgang:  107;  quoted  on 
tool-making  and  using  by  chim- 
panzee, 108  et  seq.;  on  treatment 
of  strangers  by  chimpanzee,  249 ; 
on  fear  and  rage  in  chimpanzees, 
251  ;  on  emotional  expression  of 
chimpanzees,  253. 

Laboratory :  insufficiency  of  research 
in,  for  animal  activity,  66,  67. 

Lambs:  sucking  by  new-born,  214. 

Lang,  Andrew  :  quoted  on  totemism, 
38. 

Law :  moral,  63  ;  natural,  6^  \  crimi- 
nal, as  control  of  maladaptive  ac- 
tivity, 277. 

"Law  of  battle" :  among  animals, 
177. 

Lee,  Robert  E. :  as  individual  name, 

36. 


Lemming :  mass  movements  of,  226. 

Lewis  and  Clark  Expedition,  Journal 
of :  quoted  on  pronghorn  antelope, 
228 ;  on  eating  activities  of  In- 
dians, 257. 

Lid-making:  by  trap-door  spider,  81, 

Life :  personal  and  social,  63 ;  full- 
ness of,  78 ;  problems  of  among 
animals,   116. 

Life-or-death  :  utilities,  268 ;  activi- 
ties among  savages  and  brutes, 
270 ;  responses,  and  life-fulfilling 
responses,  in  relation  to  sex  and 
reproduction,   295. 

Life-sustaining :    activities,    74. 

Links:  connecting,  36;  missing,   52. 

Lion :  California,  as  sheep-killer, 
148. 

Lipking,  E.  K. :  quoted  on  behavior 
of  wild  doves,  212. 

Literature :  as  human  activity,  94. 

Lizards :  Australian,  bipedal  locomo- 
tion of,  69. 

Localizations :  of  brain  centers,  59. 

Logic :  a  system  of,  28 ;  treatises  on. 

Logicians  :  attitude  of  toward  science, 
34. 

"Lord  of  Creation" :  dependent  on 
hands  as  well  as  head,  312. 

Lull,  R.  S. :  quoted  on  fossil  horse, 
47. 

Lumholtz,  K.  S. :  quoted  on  head- 
hunting among  natives  of  Borneo, 
267. 

Mace,  Herbert :  quoted  on  honey- 
gathering  by  domestic  bees,  191. 

Magic :  as  maladaptive  activity,  267. 

Magpie :  carnivorous  practice  ac- 
quired by,   14. 

Maladaptation :  of  animal  activity  in 
nature,  67,  72  et  seq.;  in  wood- 
pecker activity,    132. 

Maladaptive  activity :  promotive  of 
extinction  of  species,  200 ;  among 
monkeys  and  apes,  241  ;  corrected 
by  science,   284 ;   sexual,  297. 

Maladaptivity :  among  insects,  125; 
in  horses,  234;  among  low-cultured 
human  beings,  254;  among  high- 
cultured  human  beings,  272  et  seq. 

Male :  eaten  by  female,  among 
spiders,   161. 

Mammals  :  waste  of  materials  among, 
146;  fur-bearing,  of  California, 
155;  injury  to  kind  among,  174; 
self-injury  among,   214. 

Man  :  and  nature,  3  ;  divinity  of,  4 ; 
relation  to  celestial  objects,  5  ;  as 
part  of  nature,  6 ;  problem  of 
origin  of,  12  et  seq.;  our  concep- 
tion of,  12;  possibility  of  change  in 
conception  of,  16;  psychobiological 
Study  of,    18;    ultimate  origin  of. 


INDEX 


335 


20 ;  "mere  man,"  23 ;  primitive, 
27 ;  individual,  31  ;  species,  31  ;  the 
term  man,  32;  coming  of,  55;  in 
the  environment  of  brute  animals, 
183 ;  superior  adaptive  ability  of, 
due  to  hands  as  well  as  head,  323, 
324. 

"Man  of  the  woods'  :   35. 

Man's  religious  nature :  63. 

Mania :  sheep-killing,    147. 

Manning,  F,  E. :  (Pakea  Maori): 
marauding  among  Maoris,  269. 

Maoris :   plunder  among,  269. 

Marauding :  a  form  of  maladaptive 
activity,   267. 

Mark  Twain :  quoted  on  the  per- 
formances of  ants,  119;  on  habits 
of  blue  jays,    135. 

Marmoset :   use  of  hands  by,   320. 

Marsupials :  tropistic  movement  of 
embryos,  215. 

Massacre:  of  neuters  by  wasps,  162. 

Mates :  need  of,   73. 

Mathematician :  mode  of  treating  na- 
ture, 6. 

Mating  activities:  of  deer,  178  et 
seq.;  among  May-flies,   193. 

Mathews,  G.  M. :  quoted  on  destruc- 
tive habits  of  Australian  parrots, 
202. 

Matthews,  W.  D. :  quoted  on  evolu- 
tion of  the  horse,  47. 

May-flies :  mating  habits  of,  193 ; 
specialized  structure  of,  196;  an 
expiring  group,   197. 

McCollum,  E.  v.:  on  knowledge  of 
nutrition,  257. 

McFarlane,  J.  N. :  quoted  on  depend- 
ence of  human  culture  on  human 
hands,  311. 

Mental  processes :  need  of  study  of 
as  activities,   6. 

Mentality :  manifest  in  activities  of 
humans  and  brutes,  16;  of  ants 
and  bees,    120;   of   worms,    186. 

Merriam,  C.  Hart :  quoted  on  rage 
in    California  elk,    237    et  seq. 

Metamorphosis:    in    development,    31. 

Method :  comparative,  9 ;  of  Louis 
Agassiz,  12  ;  comparative  for  psy- 
chobiological  study  of  man,  18; 
laboratory,    66 ;    comparative,    68. 

Mill,  J.  S. :  on  use  of  individual 
names,  27. 

Mills,   Enos   A. :   on  beaver  activity, 

105,  157. 
Mind  and  minds :  in  relation  to  na- 
ture, 4 ;  thinking,  5  ;  conceived  as 
apart  from  nature,  6 ;  knowing  the 
mind,  8;  of  animals,  10;  animal, 
64,  66 ;  leading,  among  animals, 
97. 
Mind-and-body :       from      organismal 

standpoint,    8. 
Misdirection :    of    activity,    75 ;    lia- 


bility to,  among  civilized  people, 
286. 

Mistakes:  of  woodpeckers,  129;  of 
beavers,  152;  of  insects  in  recog- 
nizing odors,  162;  of  butterflies, 
1 86 ;  in  activity  by  savages,  265 
ct  seq. 

Moffatt,  C.  B. :  quoted  on  birds  fight- 
ing their  own  images,   199. 

Monkeys  :  a  kind  of  savages,  36  ;  old 
world  and  new  world,  57;  intelli- 
gence of,  compared  with  beavers, 
106;  maladaptive  activity  in,  241; 
response  to  food  when  not  hungry, 
243 ;  excessive  maternal  solicitude 
among,  245  ;  collecting  water  bub- 
bles, 248 ;  comparative  activities  in 
mammalian  series,  320. 

Monkey  house :  great  activity  in, 
242. 

"Monkey-men" ;   ^6. 

Moorehead,  W.  K. :  quoted  on  cere- 
monies  of   Sioux   Indians,   261. 

Morgan,  L.  H. :  quoted  on  beaver 
work,   103. 

,   C.   Lloyd :   quoted  on  nursing 

ability  of  infants,  215. 

Mormon:   The  Book  of,  23. 

Mortality :  among  animals,  70 ; 
among  earthworms,  184;  by  self- 
destruction   among   spiders,    189. 

Moseley,  H.  N. :  quoted  on  fear  in 
elephant    seals,    231. 

Mosso,  Angelino :  on  fear,  234. 

Mother  and  mothers :  mammalian, 
eating  their  young,  175;  bereave- 
ment of,  among  monkeys,  245 ; 
danger  to,  in  childbearing,  296. 

Motion:  lost,  in  ant  harvesting,  121. 

Mule-deer :  activities  during  mating 
season,  177. 

Miiller-Lyer,  F. :  quoted  on  impor- 
tance of  human  hands,  312. 

Murder :  a  form  of  maladaptive  ac- 
tivity, 276. 

Names :   individual,   26,  27. 

Naming :  problem  of,  a  developing 
thing,  24. 

Natural  history  :  of  animals,  defects 
of,   72. 

Naturalism :  use  of  term,  8. 

Naturalist  and  naturalists :  subject 
matter  for,  6 ;  realm  of,  6  ;  naive, 
7;  critical,  8;  use  of  term,  8; 
method  of  earlier,  12,  33  ;  out-of- 
door,  64;  philosophical,  136. 

Natural  science :  research  in,  92, 

Nature:  study  of,  3;  living,  12;  pos- 
sibility of  change  in  conception 
of,  16;  development  in  living,  19; 
man's  moral,  62;  physical,  62; 
infinite,  and  God,  63. 

Navajo  Indians :  industries  and  pref- 
erences of,   123. 


336 


INDEX 


Nelson,  E.  W. :  on  habits  of  elk, 
218;  quoted  on  changes  of  habitat 
of  moose,  219  ;  on  habits  of  prong- 
horn  antelope,   229. 

Nerve :  vagus,  divided  in  cat,  59 ; 
sympathetic,  60. 

Nest-building:  instinct  of,    126,    163. 

"Never  knows  when  to  stop" :  272. 

Nutrition :  scientific  study  of,  285. 

Observers :  of  animal  activities,  atti- 
tudes of,  65. 

Orang:  54,  107;  mistakes  of,  247. 

Organism  and  organisms :  7 ;  char- 
acterization of  animal,  1 1  ;  activity, 
evidence  of  life  in,    ii7. 

Orgy :  sexual,  among  Guiana  Indians, 
260.  ^ 

Origin:  problem  of  mans,  12,  17; 
The  Origin  of  Species,  18;  racial, 
21  ;  individual,  21  ;  supernatural, 
of  man,  21. 

Overactivity:  in  the  presence  of 
danger,   232. 

Overpopulation :  and  reproductive 
maladaptive  activity,  296. 

Owen,  Sir  Richard:  on  ancestry  of 
horse,  47' 

Paget,  Sir  Stephen:  quoted  on  Pas- 
teur, 93. 

Paleontologist:  his  reasoning  on  evi- 
dence of  horse  series,  46. 

Paleontology :  worth  and  limitation 
of  evidence  of  evolution,  44;  on 
origin  of  man,   55. 

Palmer,  T.  S. :  on  habits  of  elk,  218. 

Panic :  from  fear,  232. 

Paralysis:   from  excessive  fear,  212. 

Parenthood :   irresponsibility  in,   297. 

Parrakeet:  Carolina,  near  extinction 
of,  and  its  causes,    143. 

Parrots:  Australian,  danger-exposing 
habits  of,   202. 

Passenger  pigeons :  extinction  of, 
203  ;  modes  of  slaughter  of,  207  ; 
last  great  assemblage  of,  208. 

Pasteur,  Louis :  investigation  of  silk- 
worm disease,   90. 

Pebbles:  stored  by  woodpeckers,  76, 
129. 

Peck,  Morton  E. ;  quoted  on  acorn- 
storing  by  Honduras  woodpeckers, 
130. 

Peckham,  George  W.,  and  Elizabeth 
G. :  quoted  on  activities  of  solitary 
wasps,    125. 

Peoples :  primitive,  on  their  own 
origin,  35  ;  low-cultured,  maladap- 
tive activities  among.  123. 

Perfection  and  imperfection :  in  ac- 
tivity,  67. 

Performance:  records  of,   13. 

Personality  and  personalities :  out- 
standing    spiritual,     113;     among 


domestic    animals,     114;    specially 
adaptive  among  animals,   116. 

Philosophers :  and  the  naturalness  of 
thinking,  24. 

Philosophizing :  natural  history  mode 
of,  6 

Philosophy :  view  regarding  nature, 
3 ;  traditional,  94. 

Physics :  terms  of,  in  interpreting 
nature,  6. 

Pigeons:  contentiousness  of,  174; 
passenger,   extinction  of,  203. 

Pilgrim,  Guy  E. :  on  primate  fossils 
in   India,   55. 

Pithecanthropus :  36. 

Pitt,  Frances :  quoted  on  fear  in 
rabbits,  235. 

Plans :  supposedly  made  by  animals, 
96. 

Plants :  flowering,  modes  of  fertili- 
zation among,  291. 

Play  :  woodpecker  activity  interpreted 
as,    133. 

Pleasure :  of  chase  among  animals, 
140. 

Plunder :  among  low^-cultured  peo- 
ples, 269. 

Poetry:  and  science,  195. 

Possessions :  defense  of,  among  low- 
-cultured  peoples,   269. 

Possibilities :  alternative,  93,  97 ;  un- 
realized, in  primitive  structure, 
318. 

Postulates :  naturalist's  conception 
of,  7. 

Potentiality :  in  natural  bodies,  30, 
31. 

Presence :  sensory,  importance  of 
among  chimpanzees,  250 ;  sensory, 
influence  of,   263. 

Presuppositions :  naturalist's  concep- 
tion of,  7. 

Prey:  impaled  by  shrikes,   137. 

Pride:  among  Fijians,  271. 

Primates:   fossils  of,   55. 

Principle :  organizing,  for  facts  of 
animal  activity,  66. 

Probability :  a  treatise  on,  34 ;  and 
certainty,  35  ;  as  to  man's  evolu- 
tion, 35,  37,  50. 

Problem  of  man's  origin  and  kin- 
ship :    1 2. 

Processes :    knowledge,    25. 

Proof:  more  and  less  probable,  61. 

Prophet :  in  supernatural istic  sense, 
22. 

Prostitution  :  a  form  of  maladaptive 
sexual  activity,  298. 

Psychobiology :  comparative,  17,  40, 
112;  in  interpretation  of  the  re- 
lation between  structure  and  func- 
tion. 301. 

Psychology:  comparative,  12;  stu- 
dents of  animal,  64  ;  of  birds,  137  ; 
comparative,  Forel  on,   193. 


INDEX 


337 


Pugnacity:    of   sticklebacks,    166. 
Pupa :  as  stage  in  development,  29. 

Rabbits:  petrified  by  fear,  235. 
Racey.    Kenneth :    quoted    on    habits 

of  Franklin  grouse,   211. 
Rage :  self-injury  due  to,  among  ani- 
mals,    237 ;     among     chimpanzees, 
251. 
Rattlesnake:    alleged    charming   abil- 
ity of,  235, 
Rau,    Phil :    quoted    on    activities    of 
mud   dauber    wasps,    126,    162    et 
scq. 
Read,    Carveth :    quoted    on    use    of 
names,  28 ;  on  man  as  hunter,  39 ; 
on      adoption      of      bunting      life, 
306. 
Reality :   independent  of   our  knowl- 
edge,  21  ;    observational,    26. 
Reason :    and  alternative  possibilities 

of  action,  93-       . 
Recognition :    individual,    among    in- 
sects,  165. 
Reflexes :  of  lower  animals,  79. 
Relation :  between  man  and  celestial 
objects,    5 ;    man   and  physical   ob- 
jects, 6 ;  genetic,  between  man  and 
lowest  animals,  58. 
Relationship:  genetic,   18. 
Religion :    and   science,    63,    94 ;    and 
the  guidance  of  instinctive  activi- 
ties,  287. 
Remorse :  absence  of,  among  animals, 

181. 
Reproduction :      maladaptive     human 
activity    in,    288 ;    not    dependent 
on    sex,    289;    sexual,    extent    of, 
289 ;  sexual,  as  mode  of  curtailing 
excessiveness  of  propagation,  290 ; 
and  sex,  importance  of  distinction 
between,     293 ;     basic,     and    basic 
sexuality,    dependent    on    different 
stimuli,   294. 
Reproductivity :  checks  on,  291. 
Resemblance:    the    principle   of,    32; 
man  and  primates,  35,  37,  42 ;  and 
difference,  49. 
Revelation :   divine,  as  to  man's  ori- 
gin, 24.  ,  ,       , 
Ritter.   W.   E. :    quoted   on   work   of 
California     woodpeckers,     128     et 
scq.;  on   cannibalism   among   sala- 
manders,    169;     on     tree-climbing 
salamander,  317. 
Robert :   as  individual   name,   25. 
Robinson,    Louis :    quoted   on   animal 
treatment    of    helpless    companies, 
175. 
Robbing:  a  form  of  maladaptive  ac- 
tivity, 267. 
Romanes,  George  J.;    162.  quoted  on 
mating  habits  of  stickleback,   167; 
on   fear   in  horse,  233. 
Roosevelt,  Theodore :  quoted  on  fight- 


ing among  deer  at  mating  time, 
177;  on  pronghorn  antelope,  228. 

Roosters :   crowing  of,   86. 

Roth,  W.  E. :  quoted  on  festivities 
of  Guiana  Indians,  259;  on  use 
of  nose-string  in  Guiana  Indians, 
265,   266. 

Rubbish:   collected  by  ants,    120. 

"Running  a  good  thing  into  the 
ground" :   272. 

Salamanders :  cannibalism  among, 
168;  tree-climbing,  illustrative  of 
prototype  of  hands,   317. 

Safety :   need  of   activity   for,   74, 

Salvation :  human,  dependent  on 
man's  superior  adaptive  capacity, 
300. 

Savages :  a  kind  of  monkeys,  36 ; 
maladaptivity  among,   255. 

Scammon,  C.  M. :  quoted  on  elephant 
seals,  2:^2. 

Schneider,  G.  H. :  on  mistakes  of 
insects,    162. 

Schwarz.  E.  A. :  quoted  on  habits 
of  shrikes,  139  et  seq. 

Scepticism :  proper  role  of  in  science, 
SO. 

Science:  and  religion,  63,  94;  and 
poetry,  195;  in  the  correction  of 
maladaptive  activity,  284 ;  in  the 
attainment  of  welfare,  287. 

Scientists :  attitude  of  toward  scep- 
ticism, so. 

Seal :  elephant,  deficiency  of  fear  in, 
230. 

Sea  lions:  training  of,   115. 

Self-control:   of  Fijians,   271. 

Self-destruction:  among  Fijians,  271. 

Self-guidance :  of  instinctive  activi- 
ties, 287. 

Self-injury :  maladaptive  activity  re- 
sulting in,  182;  among  birds,  198; 
due  to  rage,  237;  among  high-cul- 
tured people,  278 ;  war  a  form  of, 
282. 

Self-restraint :   272. 

Self-torture:   among  savages,  271. 

Series :  mammalian,  illustrating 
grades  of  manual  activities,  320. 

Seton,  Ernest  Thompson  :  quoted  on 
fighting  among  deer,  178;  on 
death  of  buffalo  by  venturing  on 
rotten  ice,   225. 

Sense :  common,  in  using  individual 
names,   27. 

Senselessness :  in  food  habits  of  do- 
mestic animals,  216. 

Sentiment :  in  interpretation  of  ani- 
mal  activity,   95. 

Sex  :  maladaptive  human  activity  in, 
288  ;  instinct,  periodicity  of,  among 
animals,  291  ;  and  reproduction, 
importance  of  distinction  between, 
293. 


338 


INDEX 


Sex  products:  treatment  of,  among 
lower  animals,  290. 

Sexual  activity :  in  human  conduct, 
295. 

Sexual  orgy :  among  Guiana  Indians, 
260. 

Sexuality :  basic,  and  basic  repro- 
duction, dependent  on  different 
stimuli,  294. 

Sharp.  David:  quoted  on  breeding 
habits  of  blister  beetles,    187. 

Sheep:  14;  faces  of,  40;  killed  by 
dogs,  147;  killed  by  wolves,  148; 
killed  by  California  lion,  149. 

Sheep-killing  habit :  147. 

Shrikes:  food  habits  of.  135;  impal- 
ing prey,  137;  indiscriminate  kill- 
ing of  other  birds,    142. 

Sick:  the  treatment  of,  by  compan- 
ions  among   animals.    176. 

Silkworm :  developmental  series  of, 
29 ;  disease  of,  91. 

Sin:  sense  of,  among  savages.  271. 

Sioux  Indians:  ghost  dance  of,  261. 

Sitans:   life  career  of.    188. 

Sivapithecus :   fossil  primate,   55. 

Slaughter :  supposed  instinct  for, 
among  birds  and  men,   140. 

Smith,  Joseph :  supernatural  attri- 
butes of,  23.   24,   30. 

Solidarity    of    the    animal    kingdom, 

57.  63.  .  .    , 

Souls :  of  beasts,  birds,  reptiles,  men, 
43. 

Spawning :  of  the  grunion,  84. 

Species:  parent,  32;  offspring,  32; 
probable  ancestral,  53 ;  extinction 
of.  promoted  by  maladaptive  ac- 
tivity, 200. 

Spider :  trap-door,  nest-building  by, 
80. 

Spiders:  prey  of  solitary  wasps,  125; 
cannibalism  among,   160. 

Spenser,  Sir  Baldwin :  quoted  on 
totemic  ancestors  of  man,  42. 

Spirits  :    in   relation   to   totemism,   42. 

Stages  :  fundamental  to  evolution,  30. 

Standards :  human,  as  compared  with 
animal.   146. 

Sticklebacks :  mating  activities  of, 
166. 

Stimuli :  to  mental  processes,  6 ;  and 
intelligent  action.    88. 

Stimulation  :  and  response,  78 ;  seek- 
ing of.  in  various  substances.  259. 

Storr,  Francis :  quoted  on  dueling, 
280. 

Structure  and  structures :  knowledge 
of,  distinct  from  knowledge  of 
origin  of  object.  22 ;  of  man  and 
his  adaptive  ability  in  action,  300 ; 
selective,  dependent  on  nerves  and 
muscles,  319. 

Stupidity :  of  American  bison,  222. 

Sucking :    by    the    new-born    young, 


£14;  by  mammalian  infant,  nutri- 
tional  defectiveness  of,  285. 

Suicide :  voluntary,  by  lemmings, 
227 ;  a  form  of  self-injury,  278. 

Supernatural :  belief  in,  defeats  in- 
terpretation of  mind,  6. 

Superstitious  activities :  relative  to 
pregnancy  and  childbirth  among 
savages,  266. 

Superstition :  totemism  a  form  of, 
38 ;  and  maladaptive  activitj',  267- 

Supremacy  :  of  man  in  adaptive  ac- 
tivity, 299. 

Sympathy :  lack  of,  among  animals, 
181. 

Systems :  circulatory  and  nervous,  9. 

Taboo :  as  means  of  protecting  prop- 
erty, 269. 

Taste :  untrustworthiness  of,  for  wel- 
fare, 285. 

Technique:  mental,   8,   16. 

Teeth :  of  horse,  47 ;  of  man  and 
horse,   55. 

Theologian :  method  of,  6. 

Theology :  view  regarding  nature,  3. 

Theories  :  contradictory,  of  the  origin 
of  man,  51. 

Thieving:  by  animals,  137;  a  form 
of  maladaptive  activity,  267. 

Thompson,  Will  F. :  on  breeding  of 
grunion,   84. 

Thoreau  :  quoted  on  fighting  of  antS; 

95. 

Timber:  killed  by  beavers,  157. 

Tongue :  of  the  serpent,  236. 

Tools  :  made  and  used  by  chimpanzee, 
109. 

Torture:  among  savages,  271. 

Totemism  :   38.   40. 

Trainers:  of  animals,   114. 

Trap-door :  of  trap-door  spider's 
nest,  82. 

Treatment  of  evidence  of  man's 
origin.    17. 

Trees :  acorns  stored  in  by  wood- 
peckers,   130;    felled    by    beavers, 

153. 

Trials:  in  finding  obscure  trails.  122. 

Tropisms  :  fatal  consequences  of,  186 

Truth  :  probable,  of  genetic  relation- 
ship. 18;  probable,  31,  46;  certain, 
50  ;   love  of.  and  welfare.  287. 

Tyler.  John  M. :  quoted  on  resem- 
blances between  man  and  anthro- 
poids. 55. 

Tylor.  E.  B. :  quoted  on  resemblances 
between  man  and  anthropoids.  35  ; 
imperfect  discrimination  by  sav- 
ages of  men  from  monkeys,  43. 

Unit\' :   all-embracing,  and  theory  of 

universal   evolution,   63. 
Unintelligence  :  supposed  evidence  of, 

in  ants,  127. 


INDEX 


339 


Universe :   conception  of  a  true,   4 ; 
stellar,  5  ;  study  of  segment  of,  7. 
Utilities :  life-or-death,  268. 

Vertebrates :  higher  and  lower,  84 ; 
lower,  injury  to  kind  among,   165. 

Wallace,  A.  R. :  quoted  on  mistaken 
action  by  apes,  247. 

Wantonness :  in  destruction  by  ani- 
mals, 146;  of  dogs  and  wolves  in 
stock-killing,  220. 

Wapiti :  fighting  of,  at  mating  time, 
177. 

Warburton,  Cecil :  cannibalism  among 
spiders,  160;  quoted  on  wolf 
spiders,   190. 

War :  modern,  as  self-injury,  282 ; 
the  climax  of  maladaptive  activity, 
283 ;  and  waste,  283 ;  outlawing 
of,  284 ;  as  supposed  means  of 
attaining  welfare,  284. 

Wars  of  conquest :  a  form  of  mal- 
adaptive  activity,    267. 

Wasps :  activities  of,  83 ;  habits  of 
solitary,  125;  mud  dauber,  126; 
blunders  by,   162. 

Wastage :  of  sex  elements  among 
plants  and  lower  animals,  291. 

Waste :  of  time  and  energy  among 
animals,  117;  of  useful  materials 
among  insects,  125 ;  of  materials 
among  birds,  128;  of  materials 
among  mammals,  146;  by  self- 
destruction,  of  blister  beetle,  188; 
of  materials  among  high-cultured 
peoples,  274;  tragedy  of,  275;  and 
war,  283. 

Wastefulness :  instinctive  activity, 
75 ;  by  birds  in  feeding  on  agri- 
cultural crops,  144;  of  dogs  and 
wolves   in   stock-killing,   220. 

Water :  as  fluid  and  as  steam,  30. 

Wealth :  material,  and  human  wel- 
fare,  94. 


Web-of-nature :    132,   136. 

Welfare :  of  organism,  66,  "ji  \  phys- 
ical and  spiritual,  78,  88 ;  psy- 
chical, 90 ;  of  acorn-storing  wood- 
peckers, 131;  of  kind,  159;  sup- 
posed attainment  of,  by  dueling, 
281  ;  supposedly  attained  by  war, 
284 ;  human,  dependent  on  ration- 
ally  guided   activity,    287. 

Wheeler,  W.  M. :  quoted  on  ant 
farming,    127. 

Wilder,  B.  G. :  quoted  on  cannibal- 
ism among  spiders,   160. 

Williams,  Thomas :  quoted  on  char- 
acter of  Fijians,  270,  271. 

Wilson,  Alexander  :  estimate  of  num- 
bers of  passenger  pigeons,  204. 

,  J.   F. :   quoted  on  sheep-killing 

dogs,   147. 

Willoughby,  Charles  M. :  quoted  on 
beaver  work,  151. 

Wits :  human  and  brute,  matched 
against   each    other,    183. 

Wolves  :  excessive  stock-killing,  220. 

Woman  and  women  :  as  mother,  30 ; 
exclusion  from  ceremonials  among 
some  savages,  261  ;  activities  of  in 
ghost  dance,  262. 

Woodpecker :  red-headed,  storing  ac- 
tivities of,   134. 

Woodpeckers :  studied,  65 ;  acorn- 
storing    habits    of,    128. 

Worms  :   mentality  of,    1 86. 

Wounded,  the :  treatment  of,  by  com- 
panions  among   animals,    176. 

Wrath:  of  Fijians,  271. 

Wright,  William  M. :  quoted  on  in- 
telligence of  grizzly  bear,  99. 

Yale  University :   anthropoid   studies 

at,   112. 
Yerkes,  R.  M. :   75,    107;   quoted  on 

maternal  instinct  in  monkeys,  245. 

Zoology :  of  toydom,  39. 


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