The Interpretation of Mendelian Phenomena


APROPOS of the discussion on the interpretation of Mendelian phenomena, may I seek enlightenment on one or two points from your readers? Mendelian phenomena are possible only when reproduction is bi-parental. They cannot occur, of course, when it is parthenogenetic. I believe I am right in thinking that Mendelian workers suppose or hope that they have found a master key to the problems of heredity. Now, I am able to understand that the study of alternative inheritance may ultimately shed a light on the function of sex, but I find it difficult to conceive how it can shed a light on any other biological problem of importance; for example, the problems of the alleged transmission of acquirements, of the causation of variations, of the retrogression of characters Which have lost selection value, and of the mode of development (whether or not by the recapitulation of the phylogeny). All these problems are of at least equal importance to the problem of sex. I have sought information from my Mendelian acquaintances, but I am always told that we must await the accumulation of data—a somewhat Micawber-like attitude, as it seems to me. I hope I make myself clear. The information I seek would be contained in the answer to the following question:—If Mendelism has a bearing on any biological problem save that of sex, what is that problem? If, as I anticipate, no one is able to name another problem, I venture to suggest that Mendelians are engaged in nothing more than the investigation of sex.

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