from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A definite pigmented spot, or circumscribed pigmentary area; specifically, the so-called eye-spot of certain animalcules, as infusorians and rotifers.
- n. In botany, a reddish or brownish spot present in certain spores.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Thus, in the case before us, it is unquestionable that the first rudiment of the eye is found in the pigment-spot of the lower organisms; this spot may indeed have been produced physically, by the mere action of light, and there are a great number of intermediaries between the simple spot of pigment and a complicated eye like that of the vertebrates.
Now, since these organs are found, in a rudimentary state, in the lower animals, and since nature offers us many intermediaries between the pigment-spot of the simplest organisms and the infinitely complex eye of the vertebrates, it may just as well be alleged that the result has been brought about by natural selection perfecting the organ automatically.
The intermediate degrees between a pigment-spot and an eye are nothing to the point: however numerous the degrees, there will still be the same interval between the pigment-spot and the eye as between a photograph and a photographic apparatus.
When we think of the enormous number of variations, all in the same direction, that we must suppose to be accumulated before the passage from the pigment-spot of the Infusorian to the eye of the mollusc and of the vertebrate is possible, we do not see how heredity, as we observe it, could ever have determined this piling-up of differences, even supposing that individual efforts could have produced each of them singly.
If, on the other hand, an internal activity is appealed to, then it must be something quite different from what we usually call an effort, for never has an effort been known to produce the slightest complication of an organ, and yet an enormous number of complications, all admirably coördinated, have been necessary to pass from the pigment-spot of the
Now, of course, as light may have produced a pigment-spot by physical means, so it can physically determine the movements of certain organisms; ciliated Infusoria, for instance, react to light.
But take the function at its origin, in the Infusorian, where it is reduced to the mere impressionability (almost purely chemical) of a pigment-spot to light: this function, possibly only an accidental fact in the beginning, may have brought about a slight complication of the organ, which again induced an improvement of the function.