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Individuals may vary through so-called modifications, through "recombinations" and through "mutations." The first are those changes which supervene by reason of the conditions under which the embryonic or adult life of the individual is developing, these being influences on the body or soma and not on the germ-cells. The environment with all its perquisites, to wit, temperature, humidity, foodstuffs, friends, enemies, etc., as well as education, work, general reaction to the environment, become translated into functional and morphological characteristics such as the blacksmith's brawny arm, the supple fingers of the violinist, the reasoning powers of the mathematician, and so on. These are "acquired characters," and they do not appear to be transmissible.
Recombinations consist in changes in the form of offspring as compared with that of their progenitors, these being exactly proportional to the genetic qualities of such progenitors, and germ characters transmitted definitely in accordance with the laws of heredity. Mutations give rise to sudden jumps and changes. Normal parents bear children with different forms and functions from their normal selves, occurring by reason of some disturbance of the genetic elements. Mutations constitute an incontestable reason for variation, because the ancestral line will tend to have fresh characters starting with the mutate. From which we may deduce that an individual can be "modified" merely by the effect of environment, but that fresh characters will not be transmitted by heredity or will be transmitted only with difficulty and perhaps even then only because of some sustained environmental pressure repeatedly exerted upon a large number of generations.
Breeding can be another reason for variation in form or recombination. The genetic heritages from male and female parent, which are different when dealing with cross-breeding, will give rise, through Mendelian segregation of characters, to different combinations and the offspring will be perhaps quite different from either or each of its parents. The new characters thus attained will naturally be transmissible. Natural cross-breeds, so effectively studied by Darwin, have had a major part in the generation of fresh specific forms. Crossing, however, which is possible through the cohabitation of two strains then becomes a circumstance arising out of biological environment. Mutations were formerly considered to be a matter of chance, something mysterious which was produced by unknown means. The transmissibility of mutate characters is now, as we have seen, no longer a matter for discussion. Fresh strains of races and even of species arise from mutation.
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