Alfred Tylor
Colouration in Animals and Plants

Ed. by S. B. J. Skertchly, 100 pp.
Alabaster, Passmore, and Sons. London

Alfred Tylor's book "Colouration in Animals and Plants" (1886) was partly influenced by Butler's "Life and Habit" and Romanes' "Mental Evolution." Tylor's book is unfortunately "only a sketch of what its author desired it to be and he never saw the completed manuscript". It was written from the point of view of a typical structuralist, many years before the beginning of modern structuralism represented by Adolf Portmann. Here, colour and colour patterns are seen not merely as the passive result of adaptation via Natural Selection but as an intrinsic expression of the internal "effort" combined with the character of the structure itself. After the author's death, Mrs. Sydney B. J. Skertchly edited the fragments and drew beautiful illustrations, chiefly from nature, and the resulting book was carefully printed by Alabaster, Passmore and Sons. Today, this book is almost unknown among specialists in colouration of animals and plants.

"Colour, then, as expressed in definite tints and patterns, is no accident; for although, as Wallace has well said, "colour is the normal character,"..."

(Alfred Tylor, p. 29)

"As we write, the beautiful Red Admiral (V. atalanta) is sporting in the garden; and who can view its glossy black velvet coat, barred with vividest crimson, and picked out with purest snow white, and doubt for an instant that its robe is not merely the product of law, but a supreme effort of an important law?"
(Alfred Tylor, p. 29)

"Here, in this common British butterfly, we have the whole problem set before us - vivid colour, the result of intense and long continued effort; grand display, the object of that colour; dusky, indefinite colour, for concealement; and the "instinctive" pose, to make that protective colour profitable. The insect knows all this in some way."
(Alfred Tylor, p. 29)

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