Effects of Use and Disuse. -- From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited.
There is not sufficient evidence to induce us to believe that mutilations are ever inherited; and I should prefer explaining the entire absence of the anterior tarsi in Ateuchus, and their rudimentary condition in some other genera, by the long-continued effects of disuse in their progenitors; for as the tarsi are almost always lost in many dung-feeding beetles, they must be lost early in life, and therefore cannot be much used by these insects.
In some cases we might easily put down to disuse modifications of structure which are wholly, or mainly, due to natural selection.
This state of the eyes is probably due to gradual reduction from disuse, but aided perhaps by natural selection.
As it is difficult to imagine that eyes, though useless, could be in any way injurious to animals living in darkness, I attribute their loss wholly to disuse. In one of the blind animals, namely, the cave-rat, the eyes are of immense size; and Professor Silliman thought that it regained, after living some days in the light, some slight power of vision.
Next follow those that are constructed for twilight; and, last of all, those destined for total darkness.' By the time that an animal had reached, after numberless generations, the deepest recesses, disuse will on this view have more or less perfectly obliterated its eyes, and natural selection will often have effected other changes, such as an increase in the length of the antennae or palpi, as a compensation for blindness.
On the whole, I think we may conclude that habit, use, and disuse, have, in some cases, played a considerable part in the modification of the constitution, and of the structure of various organs; but that the effects of use and disuse have often been largely combined with, and sometimes overmastered by, the natural selection of innate differences.
I will not, however, here give any instances, for I see hardly any way of distinguishing between the effects, on the one hand, of a part being largely developed through natural selection and another and adjoining part being reduced by this same process or by disuse, and, on the other hand, the actual withdrawal of nutriment from one part owing to the excess of growth in another and adjoining part.