Page:Origin of Species 1872.djvu/215

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tremble. When the jaws are touched with a needle they seize it so firmly that the branch can thus be shaken.

Mr. Mivart adduces this case, chiefly on account of the supposed difficulty of organs, namely the avicularia of the Polyzoa and the pedicellariæ of the Echinodermata, which he considers as "essentially similar," having been developed through natural selection in widely distinct divisions of the animal kingdom. But, as far as structure is concerned, I can see no similarity between tridactyle pedicellariæ and avicularia. The latter resembles somewhat more closely the chelæ or pincers of Crustaceans; and Mr. Mivart might have adduced with equal appropriateness this resemblance as a special difficulty, or even their resemblance to the head and beak of a bird. The avicularia are believed by Mr. Busk, Dr. Smitt and Dr. Nitsche — naturalists who have carefully studied this group — to be homologous with the zooids and their cells which compose the zoophyte, the movable lip or lid of the cell corresponding with the lower and movable mandible of the avicularium. Mr. Busk, however, does not know of any gradations now existing between a zooid and an avicularium. It is therefore impossible to conjecture by what serviceable gradations the one could have been converted into the other, but it by no means follows from this that such gradations have not existed.

As the chelæ of Crustaceans resemble in some degree the avicularia of Polyzoa, both serving as pincers, it may be worth while to show that with the former a long series of serviceable gradations still exists. In the first and simplest stage, the terminal segment of a limb shuts down either on the square summit of the broad penultimate segment, or against one whole side, and is thus enabled to catch hold of an object, but the limb still serves as an organ of locomotion. We next find one corner of the broad penultimate segment slightly prominent, sometimes furnished with irregular teeth, and against these the terminal segment shuts down. By an increase in the size of this projection, with its shape, as well as that of the terminal segment, slightly modified and improved, the pincers are rendered more and more perfect, until we have at last an instrument as efficient as the chelæ of a lobster. And all these gradations can be actually traced.

Besides the avicularia, the polyzoa possess curious organs called vibracula. These generally consist of long bristles, capable of movement and easily excited. In one species examined by me the vibracula were slightly curved and serrated along the outer margin, and all of them on the same polyzoary often moved simultaneously; so that, acting like long oars, they swept a branch rapidly