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Reference in the origin of species

  1. Jan 19, 2012 #1
    reference in "the origin of species"

    I've been reading Darwin's "The Origin of Species". It turns out the benefit isn't so much seeing a familiar theory in original form, although there is a fascination in seeing evolution described without knowing Mendellian inheritance. The best benefit is Darwin's antique references. When I see something I don't recognize (and there are often several per page), I look them up on the internet, and find something I've never heard of before. The funnest reference for me so far has been to the turnspit dog.

    The current reference is this: "In the vegetable kingdom we have a case of analogous variation, in the enlarged stems, or as commonly called roots, of the Swedish turnip and ruta-baga, plants which several botanists rank as varieties produced by cultivation from a common parent: if this be not so, the case will then be one of analogous variation in two so-called distinct species; and to these a third may be added, namely, the common turnip." What difference did Darwin see between the Swedish turnip and the rutabaga? I used a rutabaga in a lamb stew yesterday; nice yellow thing. The internet today thinks Swedish turnips and rutabagas are the same thing.

    And another question: how come public domain books like "The Origin of Species" aren't online in sort of a bloglike format, where users can attach comments and discussions to particular passages? I suppose search engines achieve this in a roundabout way if any discussion anywhere on the web quotes a long enough passage, but that seems fragile (I only did a long quote here because I'm asking this question) and indirect.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Re: reference in "the origin of species"

    The rutabaga has had a pretty varied taxonomic history so Darwin was probably just referencing other writers.
    I think he means between one rutabaga and another one. If you grow them yourself they can vary quite a bit.

    Origin of the Species is online in the form of an ebook from the gutenberg project.
    I imagine you won't find wiki-style web pages for much the same reason that the existence of God is a banned topic on PF :)

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