Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Marro.Biology and Eugenics. 
io%, 43%, and 45%, whilst amongst the septuagenarians the respective pro­ 
portions are 8%, 46%, and 45%. Apart from the small difference of the septua­ 
genarians of the second class, vve find that amongst almost all the aged, septua­ 
genarians or octogenarians, there is a high proportion of parents who were 
themselves notable for longevity, which proves the transmission of this capa­ 
city for resistance to the struggle of life from fathers to sons. It must 
be noted, however, that in this very energy there is found a risk for the 
integrity of the descendants, because the vigour of the individual per­ 
mitting the prolongation of the generative faculty exposes the late off­ 
spring to the risk of degeneration, which can manifest itself by madness or 
criminality. Lastly, I have directed my attention to other biological qualities of 
children relative to the age of their parents, but the insufficient number of 
my observations does not permit me to arrive at present at decisive con­ 
clusions. As regards physical qualities, I have endeavoured to study the relations 
which exist between the anomalous characteristics relating specially to 
physiognomy and the exterior conformation of the skull of the persons 
examined by me with the age of their parents. 
I have divided these degenerative characters into two classes, according 
as they were congenital or acquired, subdividing the former into atavic 
when they reproduced forms of inferior human or bestial type, such as the 
exaggeration of the frontal sinuses, the torus occipitalis, ears with the 
projecting tubercles of Darwin, the receding forehead, or else atypical forms 
due to morbid influences of different kinds, and the results of errors of 
development of the foetus, such as the cretinoid type, congenital goitre, 
deviations of the nose and congenital strabismus, plagiocephaly, hydro­ 
cephalus, bad formation of the teeth. A study which I have made in this 
matter has shown me that those who show a majority of abnormal congenital 
atavic characters are descended from alcoholic or aged parents, whilst the 
ancestors of those who presented rather abnormal atypical characters 
reckoned a greater number of alcoholics, of insane and epileptics. 
It now remains for us to examine the age of the mother. In adopting the 
same criterion as that adopted for the men, I reduce the limit of maturity to 
21 years, the limit fixed by the laws when the consent of the parents is not 
necessary for marriage, the earlier development of the woman as compared 
to the man being a physiological fact. The age of decline is also marked 
by a corresponding precocity. Now, in noting the proportion given by the 
mothers of persons examined by me, according to their respective age, in the 
three periods of immaturity, perfect development (which I have perhaps 
exaggerated in supposing it equal to the duration of that of the man), and 
of the decline (which with them must commence at 37 years), we find the 
following result:—k 2

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