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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/550

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"The portion of Gegenbaur's view which asserts that the biserial archipterygial fin is of an extremely primitive character is supported by a large body of anatomical facts, and is rendered further probable by the great frequency with which fins apparently of this character occur amongst the oldest known fishes. On the lateral fold view we should have to regard these as independently evolved, which would imply that fins of this type are of a very perfect character, and in that case we may be indeed surprised at their so complete disappearance in the more highly developed forms, which followed later on."

As to Gegenbaur's theory it is urged that no form is known in which a gill septum develops into a limb during the growth of the individual. The main thesis, according to Professor Kerr, "that the archipterygium was derived from gill-rays, is supported only by evidence of an indirect character. Gegenbaur in his very first suggestion of his theory pointed cut, as a great difficulty in the way of its acceptance, the position of the

PSM V61 D550 Polypterus congicus with external gills from the congo river.png

Polypterus congicus, a Crossopterygian Fish from Congo River; Young with External Gills. After Boulenger

limbs, especially of the pelvic limbs, in a position far removed from that of the branchial arches. This difficulty has been entirely removed by the brilliant work of Gegenbaur's followers, who have shown from the facts of comparative anatomy and embryology that the limbs, and the hind limbs especially, actually have undergone, and in ontogeny do undergo, an extensive backward migration. In some cases Braus has been able to find traces of this migration as far forward as a point just behind the branchial arches. Now, when we consider the numbers, the enthusiasm, and the ability of Gegenbaur's disciples, we cannot help being struck by the fact that the only evidence in favor of this derivation of the limbs has been that which tends to show that a migration of the limbs backwards has taken place from a region somewhere near the last branchial arch, and that they have failed utterly to discover any intermediate steps between gill-rays and archipterygial fin. And if for a moment we apply the test of common sense we cannot but be impressed by the improbability of the evolution of a gill septum, which in all the lower forms of fishes is fixed firmly in the body wall, and beneath its surface, into an organ of locomotion.

"May I express the hope that what I have said is sufficient to show in what a state of uncertainty our views are regarding the morphological