Bruce Sawhill

Paper #: 95-10-085

Mendel was lucky in postulating a particulate theory of genetic determinism in that he chose traits of sweet peas that were neither multigenic in their basis or strongly linked, and having access to a large data set over which he had complete environmental control. Perhaps it is no surprise that he wrote about several traits that did not produce such nice ratios of whole numbers and were discarded from consideration early on. If he had worked with rhinoceri instead of sweet peas, the science of genetics may have gotten off to quite a different start, as he would not have had access to a sufficiently large or controllable data set to enable his succinct observations of recessivity and dominance to emerge.