Darwin’s Verifications of the Theory of Subsidence

It has sometimes been objected to Darwin’g theory of upgrowing coral reefs On intermittently subsiding foundations, that he gave no independent proof of the subsidence which he postulated; but as a matter of fact he brought forward three kinds of confirmatory evidence for it. He showed, first, that the sequence of forms which includes fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls finds a simple and rational explanation in the processes that the theory of subsidence involves, and thus gave to the theory the recommendation of bringing reasonable order out of unexplained confusion. This evidence is of the same kind that he employed some 20 years later when he wrote in the “Origin of Species” : “I believe in, the doctrine of descent with modification, notwithstanding that this or that particular change of structure can not be accounted for, because this doctrine groups together and explains . . . many general phenomena

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