Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just so storyÃ¢â‚¬Â is a phrase one hears often in the origins debate. Etymologically, the phrase is traced to a series of childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stories by Rudyard Kipling in which he gave comical accounts of how various animals acquired their peculiar traits, including Ã¢â‚¬Å“How the Camel got his Hump,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“How the Rhinoceros got his Skin,Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“How the Leopard got his Spots.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Following are two Ã¢â‚¬Å“just so stories.Ã¢â‚¬Â LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s see if you can guess which one is Kipling and which one is Darwin.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How the Whale Learned to SwimÃ¢â‚¬Â
In North America the black bear was seen . . . swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered . . . more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ElephantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ChildÃ¢â‚¬Â
Then the ElephantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Child put his head down close to the CrocodileÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful . . . Then the ElephantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Child sat back on his little haunches, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled . . . and ever since that day, O Best Beloved, all the Elephants you will ever see, besides all those that you wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, have trunks precisely like the trunk of the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsatiable ElephantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Child.
If you guessed the first story is Darwin and the second is Kipling, you are right. But donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rush to your Ã¢â‚¬Å“Origin of SpeciesÃ¢â‚¬Â to check me out, because you are likely to have the 6th edition, the edition that is most commonly available today. The bear story above appeared in the first edition only, because DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s friends thought it was so outrageous they convinced him to leave it out of subsequent editions.