J. B. S. Haldane, Julian Huxley
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This Animal Biology was designed as an introduction to the general principles of the subject, not only on the zoological, but also on the physiological, side. We hope that it will appeal to that increasing section of the general public who are desirous of knowing something of the achievements and outlook of science, and who want something more solid and more continuous than is the bulk of popular scientific literature. Relying on this hope, we have not shrunk from incorporating the results of quite recent work
where this seems apposite; we have taken pains to ensure that our illustrations shall not only be abundant and varied, but that many of them shall be original or taken from new or not easily accessible sources; and, finally, we trust to our subject.
The last century saw the growth of physico-chemical science from childhood to maturity: the present century bids fair to see the same growth in biology. Mendel's work was rediscovered in 1900: and if Darwin may be regarded as the Newton of biology, Mendelism seems destined to play the part in our science which the atomic theory did in chemistry; by providing a particulate theory of the constitution of
living things, it puts into our hands a new and deeper-piercing method of analysis.
Meanwhile the brilliant work of the nineteenth century in pure physiology and in pathology is now becoming linked up with general zoology. For one thing, physiology is becoming a comparative science. Knowledge of adult physiology is no longer almost confined to that of man, a few mammals, and the frog, but studies are being made on members of every animal group. In the second place, physiological methods and ideas are becoming applied to embryology; and we are in a fair way towards the possession
of a real science of developmental physiology, linked up at one end with pure physiology, and at the other with heredity.
Evolutionary studies, after falling on somewhat evil days as the result of too much theorizing and arm-chair speculation, are feeling the stimulus of the new knowledge, and are being ardently prosecuted under the influence of ideas drawn from the new work on heredity, on growth and development, and on ecology. In addition, the labours of the systematists and the discovery of many new fossils are filling in the gaps which in the old edifice had to be bridged by speculation, and are bringing new points of view
into the foreground.
In brief, biology is at last beginning to be a unitary science, in which discoveries in one branch rapidly come to alter our outlook in other branches.
With the growth of biological knowledge has come also a realization of its many-sided possibility of application. It is no exaggeration to say that the evolutionary concept has brought about a revolution in thought; not merely biology, but psychology, history, archaeology, the moral sciences, and religion itself are thought of in new ways, both by specialists and by the common man, owing to Darwin's great biological achievement. In applied science, biology is being increasingly looked to as the foundation of agriculture and of hygiene, and as the necessary handmaid of civilization's advancement in the tropics. Through our understanding of the laws of heredity, it is becoming recognized that man's biological control of his racial destiny is one of the most vital questions for the statesmanship of the future. Through better knowledge of physiology and of development, we are seeing that we can build a more solid foundation for future education; and in planning that education a biological approach to psychology is
proving of the greatest value.
Only by a judicious combination of eugenics and good education can we get the best out of humanity; and biology is basic for both.
Biology, in fact, now that the world is filling up and now that medicine and social organization are preventing natural selection from acting upon man with its old rigour, is seen to be not merely, like physics and chemistry, necessary for the control of outer nature, but necessary also for the control of our own nature.
It is a sound instinct, therefore, which is manifesting itself in the increased general interest in biology; and if this little book should help in diffusing a knowledge of biological principles, it will have achieved its aim.