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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/487

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THE BLIND FISHES OF NORTH AMERICA.

form of our liberties have not kept up with the progress of those very liberties. Yet, what we call rights must have a counterpart or reflection in our laws. We may, while enjoying those rights, forget that the juridic basis on which they stand is crumbling with age. Unless that basis is rejuvenated the entire edifice must eventually fall. While we are in full possession of our rights we need no laws to guarantee them; but it is when those laws are encroached upon that there arises the necessity of juridic sanction for them.

The right of life, liberty, and property constitutes the essence of the "law of the land." But the conception of rights, as we have seen, changes and progresses. The law of the land must likewise change and progress.

Laws may be the highest and best creation of man's intellect, but they are not "hedged in by any divinity." That is why they are neither infallible nor unchangeable. Yet, as the highest and best creation of man's intellect, and as the final criterion of human public conduct, they should conform to the best thought and to the highest scientific progress. If they do not approach this standard they are worse than useless, for they become legalized means of oppression. It is then that Justice needs a bandage over her eyes, not to avoid partiality, but to hide her shame.

 

THE BLIND FISHES OF NORTH AMERICA.
By CARL H. EIGENMANN.

PROFESSOR OF ZOÖLOGY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY.

"An investigation into the history of degenerate forms often teaches us more of the causes of change in organic Nature than can be learned by the study of the progressive ones."—Weismann.

THE caves of the United States are inhabited by three cave salamanders, two of them with degenerate eyes; by six cave fishes, all with impaired vision—five of them with rudimentary eyes, one with eyes the most degenerate among vertebrates; and by several mammals. It is thus seen that among the interesting features of the North American fauna the blind vertebrates are not the least. Yet during the past twenty-five years the only additions to our knowledge, aside from diagnoses of new species, have been a few random notes on the habits and a short account of the eye of Troglichthys by Kohl.

Various classes of vertebrates have blind members, but no large vertebrate has become blind or permanently taken up its home in caves. Blatchley reports that a number of cats have established