The Evolutionist at Large

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These Essays originally appeared in the columns of the 'St. James's Gazette,' and I have to thank the courtesy of the Editor for kind permission to republish them. My object in writing them was to make the general principles and methods of evolutionists a little more familiar to unscientific readers. Biologists usually deal with those underlying points of structure which are most really important, and on which all technical discussion must necessarily be based. But ordinary people care little for such minute anatomical and physiological details. They cannot be expected to interest themselves in the flexor pollicis longus, or the hippocampus major about whose very existence they are ignorant, and whose names suggest to them nothing but unpleasant ideas. What they want to find out is how the outward and visible forms of plants and animals were produced. They would much rather learn why birds have feathers than why they have a keeled sternum; and they think the origin of bright flowers far more attractive than the origin of monocotyledonous seeds or exogenous stems. It is with these surface questions of obvious outward appearance that I have attempted to deal in this little series. My plan is to take a simple and well-known natural object, and give such an explanation as evolutionary principles afford of its most striking external features. A strawberry, a snail-shell, a tadpole, a bird, a wayside flower—these are the sort of things which I have tried to explain. If I have not gone very deep, I hope at least that I have suggested in simple language the right way to go to work. - Summary by Grant Allen (4 hr 11 min)


Poem and Preface 5:42 Read by ToddHW
A Ballade of Evolution 1:42 Read by ToddHW
Microscopic Brains 12:15 Read by ToddHW
A Wayside Berry 9:38 Read by Keren Smithies
In Summer Fields 15:01 Read by Tom Merritt
A Sprig of Water Crowfoot 13:19 Read by Claudia Caldi
Slugs and Snails 12:44 Read by Lee Vogler
A Study of Bones 9:28 Read by Availle
Blue Mud 9:47 Read by 65tux
Cuckoo-Pint 9:19 Read by 65tux
Berries and Berries 8:47 Read by 65tux
Distant Relations 8:31 Read by Jesse L.
Among the Heather 12:58 Read by Steve C
Speckled Trout 11:02 Read by Doreen Marcotte
Dodder and Broomrape 10:04 Read by Lisa Reichert
Dog's Mercury and Plantain 9:09 Read by Zachery Joseph Holmes
Butterfly Psychology 14:06 Read by Tom Merritt
Butterfly Æsthetics 10:41 Read by Tom Merritt
The Origin of Walnuts 16:46 Read by Steve C
A Pretty Land-Shell 9:22 Read by Keren Smithies
Dogs and Masters 9:15 Read by Tom Merritt
Blackcock 9:01 Read by Lee Vogler
Bindweed 12:57 Read by Steve C
On Cornish Cliffs 9:59 Read by BettyB