Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 096.djvu/13

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and mechanical Action of the Muscles of Fishes.

and for keeping the back upwards. The single fins appear to prevent the rolling of the body, whilst the tail is employed to impel it forward.

Each of those fins, which are in pairs, is capable of four motions, viz. of flexion and extension, like oars, and of expanding the rays, and closing them.

The extension of the whole fin is performed by a single radiated muscle, which is often supplied with red blood: the antagonist is of a similar character. The great power of the extensor muscle (Vide Plate I. a,a,) shews how strongly it is required to act when employed to stop suddenly the progressive motion. A series of intervening muscles expand and close the rays.

In the act of extending the fin the interosseal muscles are passive. It is advanced forward edgeways and closed; but during its flexion, the rays are expanded, striking the water with its broadest surface: this action assists the tail in turning the fish. In the effort to stop, these fins are strongly retained at right angles with the body, by the force of the extensor muscles, the rays are expanded, and the effect is assisted by the tail turning laterally with its broadest surface forward.

The single fins, for the expansion and contraction of their rays, are furnished with two sets of muscles; one of which is situated at their roots, and lies oblique; (bbbbb) the other, parallel with the spines, to which the rays are articulated (cc.) The fin has also a lateral motion, by which it is occasionally drawn out of a straight line; and by the co-operation of these muscles on both sides, it is kept steady whilst the body of the fish is turned oblique in swift motion, or in eddies.

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