Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 096.djvu/20

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Mr. Carlisle's Lecture on the Arrangement

the hook; but the same effects take place when the hook is fastened to the side, or tail. This prostration of strength may depend partly on fear, and partly on interrupted respiration, since fishes, when swimming rapidly, keep the membranæ branchiostegæ closed, and when nearly exhausted, act violently with their gills.

The shortness of the muscular fibres, and the multiplied ramifications of the blood-vessels, are probably peculiar adaptations for the purpose of gaining velocity of action, which seems to be invariably connected with a very limited duration of it. Such examples form an obvious contrast with the muscular structure of slow-moving animals, and with those partial arrangements where unusual continuance of action is concomitant.

Since my former communications on the subject of cylindrical arteries,[1] another instance of their supplying slow-moving muscles, which are capable of long continued action, has been pointed out to me by Mr. Macartney. It is in the muscles, which act upon the feet and toes of many birds, and seems to be an adaptation for the long exertion of those muscles while they sleep, and also when they alternately retract one foot under the feathers to preserve it from the effects of cold.

The muscles of the human body, which perform the most sudden actions, have their masses of fibres subdivided by transverse tendons, or are arranged in a penniform direction. The semi-tendinosus, and semi-membranosus of the thigh are thus constructed; the former having its fleshy belly divided by a narrow fascia, and the fibres of the latter being ranged

  1. Phil. Trans, 1800, p. 98.— Also 1804, p. 17.