Page:Origin of Species 1872.djvu/214

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the manner in which ordinary spines and the pedicellariæ with their supporting calcareous rods, are articulated to the shell. In certain genera of star-fishes, "the very combinations needed to show that the pedicellariæ are only modified branching spines" may be found. Thus we have fixed spines, with three equi-distant, serrated, movable branches, articulated to near their bases; and higher up, on the same spine, three other movable branches. Now when the latter arise from the summit of a spine they form, in fact, a rude tridactyle pedicellariæ, and such may be seen on the same spine together with the three lower branches. In this case the identity in nature between the arms of the pedicellariæ and the movable branches of a spine, is unmistakable. It is generally admitted that the ordinary spines serve as a protection; and if so, there can be no reason to doubt that those furnished with serrated and movable branches likewise serve for the same purpose; and they would thus serve still more effectively as soon as by meeting together they acted as a prehensile or snapping apparatus. Thus every gradation, from an ordinary fixed spine to a fixed pedicellaria, would be of service.

In certain genera of star-fishes these organs, instead of being fixed or borne on an immovable support, are placed on the summit of a flexible and muscular, though short, stem; and in this case they probably subserve some additional function besides defence. In the sea-urchins the steps can be followed by which a fixed spine becomes articulated to the shell, and is thus rendered movable. I wish I had space here to give a fuller abstract of Mr. Agassiz's interesting observations on the development of the pedicellariæ. All possible gradations, as he adds, may likewise be found between the pedicellariæ of the star-fishes and the hooks of the Ophiurians, another group of the Echinodermata; and again between the pedicellariæ of sea-urchins and the anchors of the Holothuriæ, also belonging to the same great class.


Certain compound animals, or zoophytes, as they have been termed, namely the Polyzoa, are provided with curious organs called avicularia. These differ much in structure in the different species. In their most perfect condition they curiously resemble the head and beak of a vulture in miniature, seated on a neck and capable of movement, as is likewise the lower jaw or mandible. In one species observed by me, all the avicularia on the same branch often moved simultaneously backwards and forwards, with the lower jaw widely open, through an angle of about 90 degrees, in the course of five seconds; and their movement caused the whole polyzoary to