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among the enormous number of recent corals displayed in the British Museum of Natural History, and the number of fossil corals figured or described in the sumptuous publications of the Palæontographical Society*, there is no appearance whatever of any change or transformation from one species to another. The imaginary lines of descent, sometimes glibly laid down, so flattering and so fascinating to young philosophers, have no counterpart nor foundation in Nature.

The beautiful and often slender marks which divide the species from each other are more permanent and rigid than steel. To attempt to gloss over this absolute differentiation appears to me to be a task rather of the imagination than of


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We have before noticed that coral-life burst upon the stage all at once; it continued in existence from that epoch until to-day.

The present reef-corals are classed by zoologists as all entirely different in species from the fossil corals ; the fossil corals of each stratum differ, too, from those of others. We see at once that there has been frequent change, and it may be said progress in form, but not evolution. In order to be more fully persuaded of this, we will examine the subject more closely, for at a little distance the pyramid of life (which is arranged like some of the Egyptian pyramids in'a gigantic staircase), looks like a smooth inclined plane, and it is not until we get near enough that we distinct steps. One of the leading differences is in the case of the Palæozoic corals, in which the vertical divisions are arranged in four plates and in multiples of four, whereas in the modern the plates are six, or multiples of six. This is constant, and not a mere variation, for there has been no recurrence to the old type.

The amplitude of the lists of Silurian species, and the great number of localities quoted, give pretty full evidence that the search for intermediate forms between existing fossils and some supposititious ancestor is a hopeless pursuit.

Nor can we find ancestors of the modern or of the Palæozoic corals in rocks still older than the latter; for, if we could throw back the creation of corals into the previous Laurentian age, and if we then found them in myriads, and traced them back even to the Eozoon, we should find no pedigree with any pretensions to minute verification or proof.

* Edwards and Haimes' and Duncan's Fossil Corals.


The ancient Cyathophyllidoe were most important in size in Palæozoic times; but (with the exception of one doubtful form*) they have all become extinct. Yet, from their magnitude and perfection, if descent with variation were a good law, it seems inconceivable that a family so strong to the last should have completely died out, unless by virtue of some other law unknown to the naturalist.

The Carboniferous corals are also equally distinguished from the preceding Devonians by remarkable differences. The great majority of the Carboniferous genera are new.t We no longer encounter the feathery form of the Favositidce; but we have a grand display of the almost universal Lithostrotionform which carries in its face the evidence of equality in size and beauty with any modern structures.

The great rough corals of the older formations cease altogether before the opening of the Jurassic coral-beds.

At first the Rugose corals bear the bell; next, the Tubulosa and Tubulata; and, during Oolitic days, the Aporosa and Perforata ; and, after them, in the Cretaceous, the Perforata and Millepores.

It must be stated also that many species of reef-corals are liable to a considerable amount of variation; but these do not render classification difficult, nor occasion any confusion of species, nor necessitate new names. The degree of sunshine, the angle of growth, the condition of the water, all occasion variations; but, with all allowances which can be made, the evolution pedigree is radically defective,—it has too many blanks and loose statements to be seriously brought forward as evidence of heirship.

The reefs which we have been surveying proclaim that each platform of organic life, in regard to its antecedents, had a distinct separate beginning.

The late Dr. Wright, of Cheltenham, the shrewd and indefatigable explorer of life of the Jurassic period, and the skilled collector of the fossils of the Cotswold Hills, writes the following matured conclusions from the life-history of corals :

“1. The genera and species of each of the great groups into which zoologists divide these animals have had a limited duration in time and space, no genera of the Palæozoic epoch having been found in any subsequent epoch, and no new living germs having been discovered in rocks older than those of the Jurassic period.

* Dani, p. 57.

+ Nicholson, p. 175.

“2. There is no evidence of any gradual development having taken place in the class from a lower to a higher type of coraligenous structures. The old corals of the ancient reefs appear to have been as highly organised and as elaborately constructed as the modern corals now building reefs in our tropical seas.* The Cretaceous corals belong chiefly to families now existing, but there are still remaining here a very few instances of the old forms of tabulate corals, hardly distinguishable from Silurian species.

The life-history of fossil corals, therefore, so far as it can be gathered from the remains of their edifices, teaches us that there has been no transformation of those creatures by efiluxion of time alone.

The facts prove the simultaneous introduction of whole platforms of organic life by some means unknown to science. There is a record which states this to have been effected by acts of direct creation. Science, with an admission of its helplessness, must bow before this. We must say with Goethe:

'None resembleth another, yet all their forms have a likeness.
Therefore, a mystical law is by the chorus proclaimed.
Yes ; a sacred enigma."

Sir William Dawson, the accomplished President of the British Association in 1886, says "It is certain that, up to this time, the origination of the living being from the nonliving is an inscrutable mystery. No one has witnessed this change, or has been able to effect it."

That Evolution is an unsupported theory is admitted by an eminent French scientist, who is, nevertheless, a favourer of the doctrine. Speaking of the coral-reefs, he says :-" The first corals, Halysites and others of the primitive genera, differ too widely from those which have succeeded them to allow us to consider them as their progenitors.”+ But he adds the gratuitous supposition that, alongside of the germs which we do find, lived others which we do not, which contained small modifications whereby the change took place,-a supposition unscientific and improbable to the last degree, considering the complete overhauling which the fossil-bearing beds have received.

Dr. Claus, the learned evolutionary physiologist, admits the insufficiency of this theory to account for the facts, and tries

* Proceedings of Cotswold Naturalists' Field Club, p. 120.
+ Les Enchaînements du Monde Animal, par Alfred Gaudry, p. 78.


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to gain a victory, not by the prowess of his own troops, but by the alleged weakness of the other side.

He says :

“ However well grounded we admit the theory of selection to be, we cannot accept it as in itself sufficient to obtain the complicated and involved metamorphoses which have taken place in organisms in the course of immeasurable time. If the theory of repeated acts of creation be rejected, and the process of natural development be established in its place, there is still the first appearance of organisms to be accounted for, and especially the definite cause which the evolution of the complicated and more highly-developed organisms has taken to be explained."*

He further says: “It must be admitted that we are entirely ignorant of the molecular basis of a living organism, and it exists under conditions the nature of which is, as yet, unexplained.”+

This is not, however, a question to be settled by authority; and the fact that the authorities are, as we have seen, clearly conflicting, relegates us to the facts themselves.

So far as we can discover, difference of form is occasioned by difference of structure and arrangement in the soft parts, so that difference in species may be all traced to permanent difference in the tissues of the living animal.

These differences are manifested from the very first. The forms of the Spermatozoa, the very start of individual life, are distinctly different in each family. With more perfect vision and instruments we should doubtless find differences where we now only see similarities, and the vision of identity would vanish. It is the same if we trace the nucleus in the egg. The peculiar nature, the very essence and character of things is in and at their beginnings.

However development may be promoted by favourable surroundings, yet the act of the exercise of life is the act of the life itself. The faculty in the living coral (whatever it may be called) which determines the precise fashion which every molecule secreted from the sea-water shall assume, makes it to differ from any other form in the world above or below it. The influence of environment modifies individuals temporarily, but never transforms them. At least, we have no instance of any disposal by the creature into an absolutely new form.

The difficulties of evolution, in this case, seem to be very

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* Claus, vol. i. p. 179.
+ Claus' Elementary Bool of Zoology, vol. i. p. 9 (translated by. Sedgwick).

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great in view of the existence among the reef-corals of indi-
viduals associated together in a gelatinous mantle, penetrated
by threads which are connected with the individual polyp,
so that all contribute in common to the maintenance of the
colony. The coral-animal being one of the radiate creatures
in which there is symmetry between two or more segments,
any differentiation in any part necessitates a twofold or four-
fold change in the entire structure—a circumstance which
renders specific change without renovation almost incon-

Taking into consideration the facts referred to, and look-
ing on a fragment of old Silurian Halysites (Chain-coral);
and a superb lump of Devonian Cyathophyllum; a stone
from a Carboniferous reef, Lithostrotion; and a mass of ex-
quisite Astroa (Star-coral) from the Oolite, --we submit that
there has been change without advance, and similarity apart
from any parentage. The alterations were not made by any
internal property, nor by any evolutionary process known to

Until further advised, I must be content to be ranked among the “scientific ' Rip Van Winkles,' who have been asleep for the last quarter of a century ;” and, in spite of the eminent biologist and still more eminent writer in the February number of the Nineteenth Century,* express my belief in the existence of a vital force in living bodies behind and above all other activities.

Science alone is helpless and dumb before causation; we must either retire from the task in despair, or look up to God, and say with the Psalmist, “ O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches” (Psalm civ. 24).


The CHAIRMAN (Mr. H. Cadman Jones).- I am sure I may return the thanks of the Meeting to Mr. Pattison for his very interesting paper.

Captain F. PETRIE, F.G.S., (Hon. Sec.).-Two communications have been received. The first is from the President :

“Lensfield Cottage, Cambridge,

“ 4th April, 1887.
“I think the case against evolution has been overstated. The limits
of species are very uncertain ; and it is constantly a matter on which
naturalists have differences of opinion whether so and so are to be
regarded as distinct species or only varieties. The only logical ground we

* Page 203, February, 1887.

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