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HerodotusMisunderstandsEvolution

In The History, Book 3 Part 108, Herodotus shows some confusion over the facts of life in various species. From the David Greene translation:

... There is a divine providence, with a kind of wisdom to it, as one might guess, according to which whatever is cowardly of spirit and edible should be prolific in progeny, so that, with all the eating of them, they should not fail to exist; while things that are savage and inflict pain are infertile. For instance, the hare is hunted by every wild beast, bird, and man; but it is very prolific. It is the only one of all creatures that conceives on top of an existing pregnancy. Some of its children in the womb have fur already, while others are still bare; some are being shaped in the womb while others are being conceived. That is how the hare is. But the lioness, which is the strongest and most daring of animals, gives birth only once in her life and to but one cub. When she gives birth, she expels the womb with the cub. The reason is that, when the cub in the womb begins to stir, it has the sharpest nails of any creature and tears at the womb; as it grows bigger, the scratching grows worse, and, when the birth is near, there is hardly any of the womb left whole.

... implying that the total population of lions should be roughly halved every generation?


TopicLiterature - TopicScience - Datetag20070602



(correlates: SeeingEyeSingle, IdeasLikeSparks, HerodotusOnWarAndPeace, ...)