Hair on the Digits of Man

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THE distribution of hair on the dorsal surfaces of the digits in man, anthropoid apes and monkeys, is referred to by Romanes in “Darwin and alter Darwin,” but its significance seems to be overlooked. I would venture to suggest that these facts bear a Lamarckian, and only a Lamarckian, interpretation. It is clear that if acquired characters can be inherited through use, habit or environment, the loss of certain characters through habit and the like may also be inherited, and the development of characters on the one hand and the decay of characters on the other will be sufficient to prove that Weismann's great rule is not absolute. Use-inheritance and disuse-inheritance ought both to be capable of proof. It may be difficult, or impossible, to prove the greater cases, such as the long cervical vertebræ of the giraffe and the great horns of the elk, and indeed most of the instances brought forward by Herbert Spencer, Eimer and Cunningham. These may lie open to a selectionist interpretation. But it becomes well-nigh impossible to carry such an interpretation into the trifling biological characters to which I would briefly refer.

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KIDD, W. Hair on the Digits of Man. Nature 64, 351 (1901) doi:10.1038/064351a0

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