Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/825

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parts correspond with their tactual activities. The palms have but one fifth the perceptiveness possessed by the forefinger-ends; the inner surfaces of the finger-joints next the palms have but one third, while the inner surfaces of the second joints have but one half. These abilities correspond with the facts that whereas the inner parts of the hand are used only in grasping things, the tips of the fingers come into play not only when things are grasped, but when such things, as well as smaller things, are felt at or manipulated. It needs but to observe the relative actions of these parts in writing, in sewing, in judging textures, etc., to see that above all other parts the finger-ends, and especially the forefinger-ends, have the most multiplied experiences. If, then, it be that the extra perceptiveness acquired from extra tactual activities, as in a compositor, is inheritable, these gradations of tactual perceptiveness are explained.

Doubtless some of those who remember Weber's results, have had on the tip of the tongue the argument derived from the tip of the tongue. This part exceeds all other parts in power of tactual discrimination: doubling, in that respect, the power of the forefinger-tip. It can distinguish points that are only one twenty-fourth of an inch apart. Why this unparalleled perceptiveness? If survival of the fittest be the ascribed cause, then it has to be shown what the advantages achieved have been; and, further, that those advantages have been sufficiently great to have had effects on the maintenance of life.

Besides tasting, there are two functions conducive to life, which the tongue performs. It enables us to move about food during mastication, and it enables us to make many of the articulations constituting speech. But how does the extreme discriminativeness of the tongue-tip aid these functions? The food is moved about, not by the tongue-tip, but by the body of the tongue; and even were the tip largely employed in this process, it would still have to be shown that its ability to distinguish between points one twenty-fourth of an inch apart, is of service to that end, which can not be shown. It may, indeed, be said that the tactual perceptiveness of the tongue-tip serves for detection of foreign bodies in the food, as plum-stones or as fish-bones. But such extreme perceptiveness is needless for the purposeā€”a perceptiveness equal to that of the finger-ends would suffice; and further, even were such extreme perceptiveness useful, it could not have caused survival of individuals who possessed it in slightly higher degrees than others. It needs but to observe a dog crunching small bones, and swallowing with impunity the sharp-angled pieces, to see that but a very small amount of mortality would be prevented.

But what about speech? Well, neither here can there be