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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/548

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542
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Mollier, a supporter of the lateral-fold view, is to the effect that it does not occur in such ordinary sharks as Pristiurus and Mustelus, while it is to be gathered from Balfour himself that it does not occur in Scyllium (Scylliorhinus).

"It appears to me that the knowledge we have now that the longitudinal ridge is confined to the rays and absent in the less highly specialized sharks, greatly diminishes its security as a basis on which to rest a theory. In the rays, in correlation with their peculiar mode of life, the paired fins have undergone (in secondary development) enormous extension along the sides of the body, and their continuty in the embryo may well be a mere foreshadowing of this.

"An apparently powerful support from the side of embryology came in Dohrn and Rabl's discoveries that in Pristiurus all the interpterygial myotomes produce muscle buds. This, however, was explained away by the Gegenbaur school as being merely evidence of the backward migration of the hind limb—successive myotomes being taken up and left behind again as the limb moved further back. As either explanation seems an adequate one, I do not think we can lay stress upon this body of facts as supporting either one view or the other. The facts of the development of the skeleton can not be said to support the fold view; according to it we should expect to find a series of metameric supporting rays produced which later on become fused at their bases. Instead of this we find a longitudinal bar of cartilage developing quite continuously, the rays forming as projections from its outer side.

"The most important evidence for the fold view from the side of comparative anatomy is afforded by: (1) The fact that the limb derives its nerve supply from a large number of spinal nerves, and (2) the extraordinary resemblance met with between the skeletal arrangements of paired and unpaired fins. The believers in the branchial-arch hypothesis have disposed of the first of these in the same way as they did the occurrence of interpterygial myotomes, by looking on the nerves received from regions of the spinal cord anterior to the attachment of the limb as forming a kind of trail marking the backward migration of the limb.

"The similarity in the skeleton is indeed most striking, though its weight as evidence has been recently greatly diminished by the knowledge that the apparently metameric segmentation of the skeletal and muscular tissues of the paired fins is quite secondary and does not at all agree with the metamery of the trunk. What resemblance there is may well be of a homoplastic character when we take into account the similarity in function of the median and unpaired fins, especially in such forms as Raja where the anatomical resemblances are especially striking. There is a surprising dearth of paleontological evidence in favor of this view."