Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/762

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It is clear that if the backboned animals were ever to live upon land, after they had begun their career in the water, there must have been some among them which learned gradually to give up water-breathing, and to make use of free air; and we shall not have far to seek for creatures which will help us to guess how they managed it.

PSM V22 D762 The early air breathers.jpg
Fig. 3.

The common tadpole is to all intents a fish. He swims with a fish's tail; he gulps in water at his mouth, passing it out at the slits in his throat after it has poured over his fish's gills. Moreover, he has a fish's heart, of two chambers only, which pumps the blood into these gills to be freshened, while, like the lamprey, he has a gristly cord, enlarged at the end to form a gristly skull, a round sucking mouth, and no limbs. As he grows bigger and more active week by week, two little bumps appear, one on each side of his now bulky body, just where it joins the tail. These bumps grow larger every day, until, lo! some morning they have pierced through the skin, and two tiny hind legs are working between the body and the tail. In about another week the front legs appear, and we have a small four-legged animal with a lamprey's tail.

During this time a bag has been forming inside, at the back of the