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October 17, 1891


Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1891;XVII(16):578-581. doi:10.1001/jama.1891.02410940006001a

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The resources of Nature are infinite. The expedients to which she resorts are marvelous and endless in their variety. When new conditions are to be met, her invention is never at a loss, and her capacity for change is boundless. Environments change and corresponding alterations in organs arise to meet the new conditions presented. The life of a species depends upon this power to change, to conform to new environments. The law is adaptation or extinction.

In no set of organs—in animal life at least—is this infinite variety of resources, or the capacity for change, or the power of invention, so fully illustrated, as in the teeth. Food selection has created a wonderful variety of forms of teeth which have arisen in response to changes in the food environment. Those species which could conform to gradual change, survived and transmitted the acquired modifications in the dental apparatus. Those which could

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