Darwins Fishes a dry run

Presenting aspects of the work of Charles Darwin (CD) in alphabetic form appears never to have been done so far. Thus, it may be useful to provide examples of how this book can be used to extract structured information from its entries and annotated references. This 'dry run' may then serve as:

1 Another introduction to those who skip prefaces and/or introductory essays (which one should not, as this is where the authors usually best explain themselves); and

2 An instructor's guide for the daring colleague considering using Darwin's Fishes as main text or supplementary reading for a course in ichthyology, evolutionary biology, or in the history of science.

First to the structure of Darwin's Fishes. This book presents all that CD ever wrote on fishes. The bulk of this material is presented in the form of alphabetized entries. Another, if small, part of CD's writing on fishes is presented here as annotation to references. This, plus the fact that most references also include my own annotations (and translations, where appropriate), and that all references are cross-linked to all entries where they are cited, make the bibliography an integral part of Darwin's Fishes, and not what it might seem at first sight: a grave for the dead bones of scholarship. This integration with the main entries also applies to CD's field notes on fishes, presented here both as a whole (see Appendix I and/or 'Fish in Spirits of Wine') and as short quotes within the relevant entries.

Thus, following up on a topic will usually require starting from its main entry, then linking to both the related entries and the references. This is illustrated here with sequences of quotes and comments dealing with three topics, each documenting one typical entry in Darwin's Fishes, and pertaining to:

1 A (group of) fish species CD was interested in;

2 A concept which CD documented with fish examples; and

3 A person with whom CD debated fish-related issues.

Parrotfishes CD sampled parrotfishes in both *Tahiti and the *Cocos Islands. While the species in question were not new to science, CD's thoughts about the ecological role of parrotfishes turned out to anticipate his later work on the slow work of earthworms: he believed that parrotfishes, by consuming corals and defecating calcium carbonate, had created the chalk layers that characterize the *Cre-taceous, only to be rebuffed by a naturalist, William Buckland, who was often wrong, but not on this. CD also tested whether parrotfishes contain poison, which they do. He also misspelled parrotfish (genus Scarus) to *Sparus, which earlier editors of his work failed to notice. Thus, if you turn to the entry on parrotfishes (p. 154) you will see that it is linked through the asterisked entries to:

Ciguatera A form of ichthyotoxicity of reef fishes, increasingly affecting the international fish trade and to which CD exposed himself when he consumed a *barrow-cooter (his *spelling again) and, possibly, a parrotfish. Cocos Islands The atolls, now officially known as 'Cocos (Keeling) Islands,' visited by the *Beagle in April 1836, where CD tested his just-developed theory of coral reef formation (outlined in *CoralReefs and predictably rejected by *Agassiz), sampled eleven species of fish (all asterisked), none new to science and a small fraction of the 533 fish species occurring there. Porgies Fishes of the genus Sparus,amisspellingof Scarus.CDsampledaporgy in the *Galapagos.

Shoals Referring to a group of fishes, but differing from 'school.' Shoal also pertains to an area of shallow waters, such as the *Abrolhos. Tahiti where CD sampled ten species of fish (all asterisked), whose range was later briefly discussed, and where he performed a memorable trip inland, described in further entries (see Food-fish; Otters).

There are other ways than shown above to follow up on the parrotfishes entry. Forexample, it would have been possible to first visit some of the references cited in that entry (e.g. Valenciennes (1840) or *Fish, i.e. Jenyns (1840-2)). This would have led to details on the monumental *Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, the major source of data on fishes at the time, or to CD's annotation on the book in which the specimens he collected were described.

Sexual dimorphism We take this entry to illustrate how Darwin's Fishes deals with concepts, in this case one proposed by CD himself. Here we find a definitional quote by CD, and a cross link to *sexual selection, usually the cause of sexual dimorphism. Also, we find a link to *FishBase, an Internet-accessible global database on fish that can be used to test the hypothesis implicit in the CD quote, i.e. that in fish, the females are always larger than the males.

Contrary to the information CD was given on this by *Günther and others, not all fish species have females that are larger than the males (the *Cichlidae represent one of many exceptions). However, this rule does apply to the majority of fish species, and it is sufficiently true to cast doubt on a related belief CD held, which I call the Reproductive drain hypothesis. The belief here is that growth and reproduction act as 'antagonists', i.e. that fish either grow fast or have a high fecundity, but not both. CD favourably cites *Spencer to that effect, and refers to his 'explanation' of the antagonism. Spencer, however, only asserts its existence, and the few examples he gives (Cod, Stickleback) contradict him: Cod grow faster to larger sizes than Sticklebacks, though they have a much higher fecundity. I refer to the entry on *oxygen to explain this apparent paradox, one of the cases where I smuggled a pet theory into Darwin'sFishes.

Here again, tracking the references allows identifying further links. Thus, the annotations to Spencer (1864-7) connects not only back to the Reproductive drain hypothesis, but also to *social Darwinism, to which he contributed the key ingredients, and to *survival of the fittest, the term he invented and passed on to a reluctant CD.

Agassiz Our last example is an entry on a person, Jean-Louis Rodolphe Agassiz. The text of the entry betrays that I do not like the man, despite having grown up in a city (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, although I am French) whose main street and one of its schools bear his name. He was just too bigoted to now serve as a role model to anyone. And it did not help that he ended up rejecting just about any scientific advance he encountered, be it evolution by *natural selection, or the elegant theory of reef formation outlined in * Coral Reefs.

In his own entry, Agassiz is cross-referenced to *cavefishes, *classification, *creationism, *evolution, and *taxonomy. As in the above two examples, these entries lead to other entries, etc., and thus to more material on Agassiz' often weird scientific stands (though he did get his glaciers right). We can also sample the virulence of his racism (even within the context of his time) more directly through the references cited in the main entry, i.e. through the annotations to Morton (1854), in which CD suggests he (Agassiz) should be ashamed of what he wrote.

Finally: while navigating through this book, refer to the section on 'Conventions used in the text', and try the entry on *spelling if you think something looks wrong. And please read the Preface if you have not already done so.

Entries (A to ZZZ)

A The first letter of the Roman alphabet, and hence the place where the systematic reader and the author of an encyclopedia first meet. It is therefore the place where the reader is urged not to judge this book by its first letter(s) - just as it shouldn't be judged by its cover. Rather, continue to read further down, 'alphabetically' as it were, or browse. You can do this randomly, or by following the links connecting the entries in this book.

Thus, you can go from here to *Darwin the person (a.k.a. *CD), or to a *darwin, the unit of evolutionary change. (Note the subtle introduction of 'a,' the indefinite article, also much used by CD). Or, if you don't already know, you can find out what a *chrestomathy is, or look at the references, either to see if you are cited (you might be ifyou are an ichthyologist, or a Darwin scholar), or to read some of the nasty remarks CD penned about authors such as Chambers, or *Lamarck. Or you can check on the epistemological problem posed by CD's often strange *spelling.

In this book, CD's writings are always in this font; italics are used for emphasis, for Latin or French expressions, and for scientific names (see also ZZZ).

Aberrant Forms or groups of animals or plants which deviate in important characters from their nearest allies, so as not to be easily included in the same group with them, are said to be aberrant (Origin VI,p. 430;see Cavefishes, Lungfishes, Seahorses).

Abnormal contrary to the general rule (Origin VI, p. 430; see, for example, Analogous organs; Flatfish controversy (II); Monstrosities).

Abrolhos Reefs named from the Portuguese 'abre olhos,' i.e. 'open your eyes'. Given the soft nature ofships' hulls relative to reefs, there are several places where opening one's eyes was recommended by Portuguese sailors, and two of these are mentioned by CD.

One of these places is the Abrolhos Archipelago, off Brazil (about 18°S, 38°35'W), visited by the Beagle in late March 1831. CD noted, while in the vicinity of the Abrol-hos, that since leaving Bahia, the only livin^^H A things that we have seen were a few *sharks & *Mother Carey's chickens (Diary, March 24-6, 1832).

The ecosystems of the Brazilian Abrolhos have been relatively well studied (Telles 1998; Ferreira and Gonplves 1999), and it is hoped that the establishment of a marine park in the area (Dutra 1999)will help overcome the effects of various stresses, notably overfishing.

Another of these places is Houtman's Abrol-hos, located on the northwest coast of Australia (28° S), and briefly described in * Coral Reefs (pp. 234-5). CD noted that: Dampier also repeatedly talks about the immense quantities of Cuttle fish bones floating on the surface of the ocean, before arriving at the Abrol-hos *shoals. (Notebook R, p. 23; Dampier 1703). However, cuttlefish are molluscs, and do not belong to *Darwin's fishes as defined in this book. Thus, I don't know how these cuttles smuggled themselves in here. Perhaps because ofCD's *spelling.

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