Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/62

This page has been validated.
52
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Panmixia can not account for the reduction of the color, since it returns in some species when they are exposed to the light, and disappears to a certain extent in others when kept in the dark. Panmixia, Romanes thinks, may have helped to discharge the color. In many instances the coloration is a protective adaptation, and therefore maintained by selection. Panmixia might in such instances lower the general average to what has been termed the "birth mean." Proteus is perhaps such an instance. But in this species the bleached condition has not yet been hereditarily established, and since each individual is independently affected "the main cause of change must have been of that direct order which we understand by the term climatic."

Since, however, the bleached condition, which in the first instance is an individual reaction to the absence of light, has become hereditarily established in Amblyopsis so that the bleaching goes on even when the young are reared in the light, it is evident that in Amblyopsis we have the direct effect of the environment on the individual hereditarily established.

The Eyes of the Amblyopsidæ.—The structure of the eyes has formed the basis of a separate, fully illustrated paper.[1] The prominent features in the eyes of the various species must, however, be known before the question of the origin of these forms and the causes of degeneration can be seriously considered. The eyes of the species of Chologaster are normally formed, possessing a lens, pupil, vitreous body, retina, and optic nerve, and all the eye muscles normal to the fishes. The eyes are functional. The retina is, however, very much simplified. The eye of papilliferus is, in this respect, more perfect than the eye of cornutus. In papilliferus the outer nuclear layer consists of two series of nuclei, the inner layer of about five series of nuclei, and the ganglionic layer of a complete single layer of nuclei except where the optic fibers pass between them, for an optic-fiber layer is not present. In Chologaster cornutus the outer nuclear layer has been reduced to one or two series, and the ganglionic layer to cells widely separated from each other or in rows and little groups, but no longer forming a complete layer. In Amblyopsis and Typhlichthys the largest eyes are not more than one twentieth the diameter of those of Chologaster, or one thousandth of their bulk; the lens is nearly, if not quite, obliterated; the same is true of the vitreous body and the optic nerve in the adult. Beyond this the eyes differ much. In Amblyopsis scleral cartilages are present and prominent, the pigmented layer is prominent, the outer and inner nuclear layers form one layer only, two or three cells deep. In T. subterraneus


  1. Archiv f. Entwiekelungsmechanik, viii, pp. 545-617, Plates XI-XV.