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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/551

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545
ORIGIN OF THE FINS OF FISHES.

nature of the paired fins, and upon what an exceedingly slender basis rest both of the two views which at present hold the field?"

 

Kerr's Theory of Modified External Gills.

"It is because I feel that in the present state of our knowledge neither of the two views I have mentioned has a claim to any higher rank than that of extremely suggestive speculations that I venture to say a few words for the third view, which is avowedly a mere speculation.

"Before proceeding with it I should say that I assume the serial homology of fore-and hind-limbs to be beyond dispute. The great and deep-seated resemblances between them are such as to my mind seem not to be adequately explicable except on this assumption.

"In the Urodela (salamanders) the external gills are well-known structures—serially arranged projections from the body wall near the upper ends of certain of the branchial arches. When one considers the ontogenetic development of these organs, from knob-like outgrowth from the outer face of the branchial arch, covered with ectoderm and possessing a mesoblastic core, and which frequently if not always appear before the branchial clefts are open, one cannot but conclude that they are morphologically projections of the outer skin and that they have nothing whatever to do with the gill pouches of the gut wall. Amongst the Urodela one such gill projects from each of the first three branchial arches. In Lepidosiren there is one on each of branchial arches I.-IV. In Polypterus and Calamoichthys (Erpetoichthys) there is one on the hyoid arch. Finally, in many Urodelan larvæ we have present at the same time as the external gills a pair of curious structures called balancers. At an early stage of my work on Lepidosiren, while looking over other vertebrate embryos and larvae for purposes of comparison, my attention was arrested by these structures, and further examinations by section and otherwise, convinced me that they were serial homologues of the external gills, situated on the mandibular arch. On then looking up the literature, I found that I was by no means first in this view. Eusconi had long ago noticed the resemblance, and in more recent times both Orr and Maurer had been led to the same conclusion as I had been. Three different observers having been independently led to exactly the same conclusions, we may, I think, fairly enough regard the view I have mentioned of the morphological nature of the balancers as probably a correct one.

"Here then, we have a series of homologous structures projecting from each of the series of visceral arches. They crop up on the Crossopterygii, the Dipnoi and the Urodela, i. e., in three of the most archaic of the groups of Gnathatomata. But we may put it in another way. The groups in which they do not occur are those whose young possess a