New answers tagged history
The original article cited in your reference is available here for free. After a quick skim, I saw that their study was based on fossils of a single species (Moas) all taken within a 5 km radius. Thus, it's possible the fossils were preserved under relatively similar conditions, despite different preservation ages. So, it's not yet clear how their results ...
After reading your question, I had a vague memory that this subject was indirectly touched upon in "On the Origin of Species", so I did some text searches (in this pdf version I found online). From what I can see, Darwin never used the technical term 'variance' (don't know how old this use of the word is), but 'variability' is often used, both with regard to ...
I think Darwin just stuck to the empirical observation that variation exists. Without knowing about genetics and mutations, he didn't know the mechanism that generates variation, and he knew that he was lacking that, but he knew variation was being generated.
The pollex was a Roman length measurement, approximately equivalent to an inch. The pollex was also known as the uncia, which is where the word "inch" comes from. There were 12 unciae in a pes ...
"Caud." refers to the tail (lat: cauda) and, judging from the description, "poll." seems to be another word for inch. So the translation should be something like: Body length: 8 inches, tail length: 9 inches.
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