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plan of structure than theirs must be sought if the animal kingdom is to have a future.
The future belonged to the vertebrate. To begin with less characteristic organs the digestive system is much like that of the annelid or schematic worm, but with greatly increased glandular and absorptive surfaces. The present mouth of nearly all vertebrates is probably not primitive. It is almost certainly one of the gill-slits of some old ancestor of fish, such as now are used to discharge the water which is used for respiration. The jaws are modified branchial arches or the cartilaginous or bony rods which in our present fish support the fringe of gills. These have formed a pair of exceedingly effective and powerful jaws. The reproductive system holds still to the old type and shows little if any improvement. The excretory organs, kidneys, are composed primitively of nephridial tubes like those of the schematic worm or annelid, but immensely increased in number, modified, and improved in certain very important particulars. The muscles in simplest forms are composed of heavy longitudinal bands, especially developed toward the dorsal surface of the body to the right and left of the axial skeleton. Locomotion was produced by lashing the tail right and left, as still in fish. There is improvement in all these organs, except perhaps the reproductive, but nothing very new or striking. The great improvement from this time on was not to be sought in the vegetative organs, or even directly to any great extent in muscles.
The new and characteristic organ was not the vertebral column, or series of vertebræ, or backbone, from which the kingdom has derived its name. This was a
later production. The primitive skeleton was the notochord, still appearing in the embryos of all vertebrates and persisting throughout life in fish. This is an elastic rod of cartilage, lying just beneath the spinal marrow or nerve-cord, which runs backward from the brain. The nerve-centres are therefore here all dorsal, and the notochord or skeleton lies between these and the digestive or alimentary canal. The skeleton of the clam or snail is purely protective and a hindrance to locomotion. That of the insect is almost purely locomotive, but external, that of the vertebrate purely locomotive and internal. It does not lie outside even of the nervous system, although this system especially required, and was worthy of, protection. It does
CROSS-SECTION OF SKELETON OF PETROMYZON.
AXIAL HERTWIG, FROM HIEDERSHEIM.
SS, skeletogenous layer; Ob, Ub,
dorsal and ventral processes of not protect even the brain; the SS; C, notochord; Cs, sheath skull of vertebrates is an afof notochord; Ee, elastic ex
ternal layer of sheath; F, fatty ter-thought. It is almost the
tissue; M, spinal marrow; P, sheath of M.
deepest seated of all organs.
But lying in the central axis of the body it furnishes the very best possible attachment for muscles. Around this primitive notochord was a layer of connectile tissue which later gave rise to the vertebræ forming our backbone.
The nervous system on the dorsal surface of the notochord consists of the brain in the head and the spinal
marrow running down the back. The brain of all except the very lowest vertebrates consists of four portions: 1. The cerebrum, or cerebral lobes, or simply "forebrain," the seat of consciousness, thought, and will, and from which no nerves proceed. Whether the primitive vertebrate had any cerebrum is still uncertain. 2. The mid-brain, which sends nerves to the eyes, and in this respect reminds us of the brain of insects. Its anterior portion appears from embryology to be very primitive. 3. The small brain, or cerebellum, which in all higher forms is the centre for co-ordination of the motions of the body. 4. The medulla, which controls especially the internal organs. The spinal marrow, or that portion of the nervous system which lies outside of the head, is at the same time a great nerve-trunk and a centre for reflex action of the muscles of the body. But the development of these distinct portions and the division of labor between them must have been a long and gradual process.
We have every reason to believe that here, as in insects, the head has been formed by annexation of segments from the rump and the fusion of their nervous matter with that of the brain. But here, instead of only three segments, from nine to fourteen have been fused in the head to furnish the material for the brain. Notochord and backbone may be the most striking and apparent characteristic of vertebrates, but their predominant characteristic is brain. On this system they lavished material, giving it from three to four times as much as any lower or earlier group had done. They very early set apart the cerebral lobes to be the commander-in-chief and centre of control for all other nerve-centres. To this all report, and from it all di
rectly or indirectly receive orders. It can say to every other organ in the body, "Starve that I may live." It is the seat of thought and will. The other portions of the brain report to it what they have gathered of vision or sound; it explains the vision or song or parable. It is relieved as far as possible from all lower and routine work that it may think and remember and govern. The vertebrate built for mind, not neglecting the body.
Every trait of vertebrates is a promise of a great future. Its internal skeleton gives it the possibility of large size. This gave it in time the victory in the struggle with its competitors, as to whether it should eat or be eaten. It is vigorous and powerful, for all its organs are at the best. It gives the possibility of later, on land, becoming warm-blooded, i.e., of maintaining a constant high temperature. It is thus resistant to climate and hardship. In time its descendants will face the arctic winter as well as the heat of the tropics.
But it has started on the road which leads to mind. The greater size is correlated with longer life. The lessons of experience come to it over and over again, and it can and must learn them. It is the intelligent, remembering, thinking type. The insect had begun to peer into the world of invisible and intangible relations, the vertebrate will some day see them. This much is prophecied in his very structure. He must be heir to an indefinite future.
You have probably noticed that the vertebrate differs greatly from all his predecessors. The gulf between him and them is indeed wide and deep. His origin and ancestry are yet far from certain. But an
attempt to decipher his past history, though it may lead to no sure conclusions, will yet be of use to us. Practically all aquatic vertebrates lead a swimming life, neither sessile nor creeping. The embryonic development of our appendages leads to the same conclusion. We must never forget that the embryonic development of the individual recapitulates briefly the history of the development of the race. Now the legs and arms, or fore- and hind-legs, of higher vertebrates and the corresponding paired fins of fish develop in the embryo as portions of a long ridge extending from front to rear of the side of the body.
This justifies the inference that the primitive vertebrate ancestor had a pair of long fins running along the sides of the body, but bending slightly downward toward the rear so as to meet one another and continue as a single caudal fin behind the anal opening. Such fins, like the feathers of an arrow, could be useful only to keep the animal “ on an even keel as it was forced through the water by the lateral sweeps of the tail. They would have been useless for creeping.
But there is another piece of evidence that he was a free swimming form. All vertebrates breathe by gills or lungs, and these are modified portions of the digestive system, of the walls of the oesophagus, from which even the lung is an embryonic outgrowth. Now practically all invertebrates breathe through modified portions of the integument or outer surface of the body, and their gills are merely expansions of this. In the annelid they are projections of the parapodia, in the mollusk expansions of the skin, where the foot or creeping sole joins the body. Why did the vertebrate take a new and strange, and, at first sight, disadvantageous