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The processes of reproduction would allow for geometric increases in the populations of all forms of life—only a small proportion of each species 43 needs to survive in any generation for the species to keep up its numbers. One need look no further for a natural filter; indeed the struggle for survival is much more efficient than any human selection, since there can be a continuous assessment of minute differences in internal structure and the organisation of behaviour. The final piece in the puzzle is the presence of sufficient inherited variation in structure and function to provide something worth filtering for.

So far as cerebral structure goes therefore, it is clear that man differs less from the Chimpanzee or the Orang, than these do even from the monkeys, and that the difference between the brains of the Chimpanzee and of Man is almost insignificant, when compared with that between the Chimpanzee brain and that of a Lemur. (Darwin, 1901, p. 312) Even the greater size of the human brain, though it ‘doubtless will one day help to furnish an explanation of the great gulf which intervenes between the lowest man and the highest ape in intellectual power’, was not to be regarded as crucial, since ‘the difference in 53 weight of brain between the highest and lowest men is far greater, both relatively and absolutely, than that between the lowest man and the highest ape’.

The reproductive process is at the heart of natural selection, and in all but a handful of animal species this requires sexual interactions. The modern term ‘inclusive fitness’ emphasises the degree to which an individual’s genes are included in the next generation—from one point of view coping with the conditions of life is merely an incidental preliminary to genetic reduplication—but Darwin’s term ‘sexual selection’ is retained to cover aspects of structure and behaviour whose importance depends solely or mainly on their role in sexual reproduction.

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