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A Guide to the Study of Fishes, Volume 1 (of 2) By David Starr Jordan Characters: 50879

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Origin of the Fins of Fishes.-One of the most interesting problems in vertebrate morphology, and one of the most important from its wide-reaching relations, is that of the derivation of the fins of fishes. This resolves itself at once into two problems, the origin of the median fins, which appear in the lancelets, at the very bottom of the fish-like series, and the origin of the paired fins or limbs, which are much more complex, and which first appear with the primitive sharks.

In this study the problem is to ascertain not what theoretically should happen, but what, as a matter of fact, has happened in the early history of the fish-like groups. That these structures, with the others in the fish body, have sprung from simple origins, growing more complex with the demands of varied conditions, and then at times again simple, through degeneration, there can be no doubt. It is also certain that each structure must have had some element of usefulness in all its stages. In such studies we have, as H?ckel has expressed it, "three ancestral documents, paleontology, morphology, and ontogeny"-the actual history as shown by fossil remains, the sidelight derived from comparison of structures, and the evidence of the hereditary influences shown in the development of the individual. As to the first of these ancestral documents, the evidence of paleontology is conclusive where it is complete. But in very few cases are we sure of any series of details. The records of geology are like a book with half its leaves torn out, the other half confused, displaced, and blotted. Still each record actually existing represents genuine history, and in paleontology we must in time find our final court of appeal in all matters of biological origins.

The evidence of comparative anatomy is most completely secured, but it is often indecisive as to relative age and primitiveness of origin among structures. As to ontogeny, it is, of course, true that through heredity "the life-history of the individual is an epitome of the life-history of the race." "Ontogeny repeats phylogeny," and phylogeny, or line of descent of organisms and structures, is what we are seeking. But here the repetition is never perfect, never nearly so perfect in fact as H?ckel and his followers expected to find it. The demands of natural selection may lead to the lengthening, shortening, or distortion of phases of growth, just as they may modify adult conditions. The interpolation of non-ancestral stages is recognized in several groups. The conditions of the individual development may, therefore, furnish evidence in favor of certain theories of origins, but they cannot alone furnish the absolute proof.

In the process of development the median or vertical fins are doubtless older than the paired fins or limbs, whatever be the origin of the latter. They arise in a dermal keel which is developed in a web fitting and accentuating the undulatory motion of the body. In the embryo of the fish the continuous vertical fin from the head along the back and around the tail precedes any trace of the paired fins.

In this elementary fin-fold slender supports, the rudiments of fin-rays, tend to appear at intervals. These are called by Ryder ray-hairs or actinotrichia. They are the prototype of fin-rays in the embryo fish, and doubtless similarly preceded the latter in geological time. In the development of fishes the caudal fin becomes more and more the seat of propulsion. The fin-rays are strengthened, their basal supports are more and more specialized, and the fin-fold ultimately divides into distinct fins, the longest rays developed where most needed.

That the vertical fins, dorsal, anal, and caudal, have their origin in a median fold of the skin admits of no question. In the lowest forms which bear fins these structures are dermal folds, being supported by very feeble rays. Doubtless at first the vertical fins formed a continuous fold, extending around the tail, this fold ultimately broken, by atrophy of parts not needed, into distinct dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. In the lower fishes, as in the earlier sharks, there is an approach to this condition of primitive continuity, and in the embryos of almost all fishes the same condition occurs. Dr. John A. Ryder points out the fact that there are certain unexplained exceptions to this rule. The sea-horse, pipefish, and other highly modified forms do not show this unbroken fold, and it is wanting in the embryo of the top-minnow, Gambusia affinis. Nevertheless the existence of a continuous vertical fold in the embryo is the rule, almost universal. The codfish with three dorsals, the Spanish mackerel with dorsal and anal finlets, the herring with one dorsal, the stickleback with a highly modified one, all show this character, and we may well regard it as a certain trait of the primitive fish. This fold springs from the ectoblast or external series of cells in the embryo. The fin-rays and bony supports of the fins spring from the mesoblast or middle series of cells, being thrust upward from the skeleton as supports for the fin-fold.

Origin of the Paired Fins.-The question of the origin of the paired fins is much more difficult and is still far from settled, although many, perhaps the majority of recent writers favor the theory that these fins are parts of a once continuous lateral fold of skin, corresponding to the vertical fold which forms the dorsal, anal, and caudal. In this view the lateral fold, at first continuous, became soon atrophied in the middle, while at either end it is highly specialized, at first into an organ of direction, then into fan-shaped and later paddle-shaped organs of locomotion. According to another view, the paired fins originated from gill structures, originally both close behind the head, the ventral fin migrating backward with the progress of evolution of the species.

Evidence of Paleontology.-If we had representations of all the early forms of fishes arranged in proper sequence, we could decide once for all, by evidence of paleontology, which form of fin appears first and what is the order of appearance. As to this, it is plain that we do not know the most primitive form of fin. Sharks of unknown character must have existed long before the earliest remains accessible to us. Hence the evidence of paleontology seems conflicting and uncertain. On the whole it lends most support to the fin-fold theory. In the later Devonian, a shark, Cladoselache fyleri, is found in which the paired fins are lappet-shaped, so formed and placed as to suggest their origin from a continuous fold of skin. In this species the dorsal fins show much the same form. Other early sharks, constituting the order of Acanthodei, have fins somewhat similar, but each preceded by a stiff spine, which may be formed from coalescent rays.

Fig. 51.-Cladoselache fyleri (Newberry), restored. Upper Devonian of Ohio. (After Dean.)

Fig. 52.-Fold-like pectoral and ventral fins of Cladoselache fyleri. (After Dean.)

Long after these appears another type of sharks represented by Pleuracanthus and Cladodus, in which the pectoral fin is a jointed organ fringed with rays arranged serially in one or two rows. This form of fin has no resemblance to a fold of skin, but accords better with Gegenbaur's theory that the pectoral limb was at first a modified gill-arch. In the Coal Measures are found also teeth of sharks (Orodontid?) which bear a strong resemblance to still existing forms of the family of Heterodontid?, which originates in the Permian. The existing Heterodontid? have the usual specialized form of shark-fin, with three of the basal segments especially enlarged and placed side by side, the type seen in modern sharks. Whatever the primitive form of shark-fin, it may well be doubted whether any one of these three (Cladoselache, Pleuracanthus, or Heterodontus) actually represents it. The beginning is therefore unknown, though there is some evidence that Cladoselache is actually more nearly primitive than any of the others. As we shall see, the evidence of comparative anatomy may be consistent with either of the two chief theories, while that of ontogeny or embryology is apparently inconclusive, and that of paleontology is apparently most easily reconciled with the theory of the fin-fold.

Fig. 53.-Pectoral fin of shark, Chiloscyllium. (After Parker and Haswell.)

Development of the Paired Fins in the Embryo.-According to Dr. John A. Ryder ("Embryography of Osseous Fishes," 1882) "the paired fins in Teleostei arise locally, as short longitudinal folds, with perhaps a few exceptions. The pectorals of Lepisosteus originate in the same way. Of the paired fins, the pectoral or anterior pair seems to be the first to be developed, the ventral or pelvic pair often not making its appearance until after the absorption of the yolk-sac has been completed, in other cases before that event, as in Salmo and in Gambusia. The pectoral fin undergoes less alteration of position during its evolution than the posterior pair."

In the codfish (Gadus callarias) the pectoral fin-fold "appears as a slight longitudinal elevation of the skin on either side of the body of the embryo a little way behind the auditory vesicles, and shortly after the tail of the embryo begins to bud out. At the very first it appears to be merely a dermal fold, and in some forms a layer of cells extends out underneath it from the sides of the body, but does not ascend into it. It begins to develop as a very low fold, hardly noticeable, and, as growth proceeds, its base does not expand antero-posteriorly, but tends rather to become narrowed, so that it has a pedunculated form. With the progress of this process the margin of the fin-fold also becomes thinner at its distal border, and at the basal part mesodermal cells make their appearance more noticeably within the inner contour-line. The free border of the fin-fold grows out laterally and longitudinally, expanding the portion outside of the inner contour-line of the fin into a fan-shape. This distal thinner portion is at first without any evidence of rays; further than that there is a manifest tendency to a radial disposition of the histological elements of the fin."

The next point of interest is found in the change of position of the pectoral fin by a rotation on its base. This is associated with changes in the development of the fish itself. The ventral fin is also, in most fishes, a short horizontal fold and just above the preanal part of the median vertical fold which becomes anal, caudal, and dorsal. But in the top-minnow (Gambusia), of the order Haplomi, the ventral first appears as "a little papilla and not as a fold, where the body-walls join the hinder upper portion of the yolk-sac, a very little way in front of the vent." "These two modes of origin," observes Dr. Ryder, "are therefore in striking contrast and well calculated to impress us with the protean character of the means at the disposal of Nature to achieve one and the same end."

Current Theories as to Origin of Paired Fins.-There are three chief theories as to the morphology and origin of the paired fins. The earliest is that of Dr. Karl Gegenbaur, supported by various workers among his students and colleagues. In his view the pectoral and ventral fins are derived from modifications of primitive gill-arches. According to this theory, the skeletal arrangements of the vertebrate limb are derived from modifications of one primitive form, a structure made up of successive joints, with a series of fin-rays on one or both sides of it. To this structure Gegenbaur gives the name of archipterygium. It is found in the shark, Pleuracanthus, in Cladodus, and in all the Dipnoan and Crossopterygian fishes, its primitive form being still retained in the Australian genus of Dipnoans, Neoceratodus. This biserial archipterygium with its limb-girdle is derived from a series of gill-rays attached to a branchial arch. The backward position of the ventral fin is due to a succession of migrations in the individual and in the species.

As to this theory, Mr. J. Graham Kerr observes:

Fig. 54.-Skull and shoulder-girdle of Neoceratodus forsteri (Günther), showing the archipterygium.

"The Gegenbaur theory of the morphology of vertebrate limbs thus consists of two very distinct portions. The first, that the archipterygium is the ground-form from which all other forms of presently existing fin skeletons are derived, concerns us only indirectly, as we are dealing here only with the origin of the limbs, i.e., their origin from other structures that were not limbs.

"It is the second part of the view that we have to do with, that deriving the archipterygium, the skeleton of the primitive paired fin, from a series of gill-rays and involving the idea that the limb itself is derived from the septum between two gill-clefts.

"This view is based on the skeletal structures within the fin. It rests upon (1) the assumption that the archipterygium is the primitive type of fin, and (2) the fact that amongst the Selachians is found a tendency for one branchial ray to become larger than the others, and, when this has happened, for the base of attachment of neighboring rays to show a tendency to migrate from the branchial arch on to the base of the larger or, as we may call it, primary ray; a condition coming about which, were the process to continue rather farther than it is known to do in actual fact, would obviously result in a structure practically identical with the archipterygium. Gegenbaur suggests that the archipterygium actually has arisen in this way in phylogeny."

Fig. 55.-Acanthoessus wardi (Egerton). Carboniferous. Family Acanthoessid?. (After Woodward.)

Fig. 56.-Shoulder-girdle of Acanthoessus. (After Dean.)

Fig. 57.-Pectoral fin of Pleuracanthus. (After Dean.)

The fin-fold theory of Balfour, adopted by Dohrn, Weidersheim, Thacher, Mivart, Ryder, Dean, Boulenger, and others, and now generally accepted by most morphologists as plausible, is this: that "The paired limbs are persisting and exaggerated portions of a fin-fold once continuous, which stretched along each side of the body and to which they bear an exactly similar phylogenetic relation as do the separate dorsal and anal fins to the once continuous median fin-fold."

"This view, in its modern form, was based by Balfour on his observation that in the embryos of certain Elasmobranchs the rudiments of the pectoral and pelvic fins are at a very early period connected together by a longitudinal ridge of thickened epiblast-of which indeed they are but exaggerations. In Balfour's own words referring to these observations: 'If the account just given of the development of the limb is an accurate record of what really takes place, it is not possible to deny that some light is thrown by it upon the first origin of the vertebrate limbs. The facts can only bear one interpretation, viz., that the limbs are the remnants of continuous lateral fins.'

Fig. 58.-Shoulder-girdle of Polypterus bichir. Specimen from the White Nile.

"A similar view to that of Balfour was enunciated almost synchronously by Thacher and a little later by Mivart-in each case based on anatomical investigation of Selachians-mainly relating to the remarkable similarity of the skeletal arrangements in the paired and unpaired fins."

A third theory is suggested by Mr. J. Graham Kerr (Cambridge Philos. Trans., 1899), who has recently given a summary of the theories on this subject. Mr. Kerr agrees with Gegenbaur as to the primitive nature of the archipterygium, but believes that it is derived, not from the gill-septum, but from an external gill. Such a gill is well developed in the young of all the living sharks, Dipnoans and Crossopterygians, and in the latter types of fishes it has a form analogous to that of the archipterygium, although without bony or cartilaginous axis.

We may now take up the evidence in regard to each of the different theories, using in part the language of Kerr, the paragraphs in quotation-marks being taken from his paper. We may first consider Balfour's theory of the lateral fold.

Balfour's Theory of the Lateral Fold.-"The evidence in regard to this view may be classed under three heads, as ontogenetic, comparative anatomical, and paleontological. The ultimate fact on which it was founded was Balfour's discovery that in certain Elasmobranch embryos, but especially in Torpedo (Narcobatus), the fin rudiments were, at an early stage, connected by a ridge of epiblast. I am not able to make out what were the other forms in which Balfour found this ridge, but subsequent research, in particular by 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 (Scyliorhinus).

"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 continuity in the embryo may well be a mere foreshadowing of this.

Fig. 59.-Arm of a frog.

"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 farther 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 cannot 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."

The objection to the first view is its precarious foundation. Such lateral folds are found only in certain rays, in which they may be developed as a secondary modification in connection with the peculiar form of these fishes. Professor Kerr observes that this theory must be looked upon and judged: "Just as any other view at the present time regarding the nature of the vertebrate limb, rather as a speculation, brilliant and suggestive though it be, than as a logically constructed theory of the now known facts. It is, I think, on this account allowable to apply to it a test of a character which is admittedly very apt to mislead, that of 'common sense.'

"If there is any soundness in zoological speculation at all, I think it must be admitted that the more primitive vertebrates were creatures possessing a notochordal axial skeleton near the dorsal side, with the main nervous axis above it, the main viscera below it, and the great mass of muscle lying in myotomes along its sides. Now such a creature is well adapted to movements of the character of lateral flexure, and not at all for movements in the sagittal plane-which would be not only difficult to achieve, but would tend to alternately compress and extend its spinal cord and its viscera. Such a creature would swim through the water as does a Cyclostome, or a Lepidosiren, or any other elongated vertebrate without special swimming organs. Swimming like this, specialization for more and more rapid movement would mean flattening of the tail region and is extension into an at first not separately mobile median tail-fold. It is extremely difficult to my mind to suppose that a new purely swimming arrangement should have arisen involving up-and-down movement, and which, at its first beginnings, while useless as a swimming organ itself, must greatly detract from the efficiency of that which already existed."

Objections to Gegenbaur's Theory.-We now return to the Gegenbaur view-that the limb is a modified gill-septum.

"Resting on Gegenbaur's discovery already mentioned, that the gill-rays in certain cases assume an arrangement showing great similarity to that of the skeletal elements of the archipterygium, it has, so far as I am aware, up to the present time received no direct support whatever of a nature comparable with that found for the rival view in the fact that, in certain forms at all events, the limbs actually do arise in the individual in the way that the theory holds they did in phylogeny. No one has produced either a form in which a gill-septum becomes the limb during ontogeny, or the fossil remains of any form which shows an intermediate condition.

"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."

Fig. 60.-Pleuracanthus decheni (Goldfuss). (After Dean.)

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 out, as a great difficulty in the way of its acceptance, the position of the 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.

Fig. 61.-Embryos of Heterodontus japonicus Maclay and Macleay, a Cestraciont shark, showing the backward migration of the gill-arches and the forward movement of the pectoral fin. a, b, c, representing different stages of growth. (After Dean.)

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

As to the backward migration of the ventral fins, Dr. Bashford Dean has recently brought forward evidence from the embryo of a very ancient type of shark (Heterodontus japonicus) that this does not actually occur in that species. On the other hand, we have a forward migration of the pectoral fin, which gra

dually takes its place in advance of the hindmost gill-arches. The accompanying cut is from Dean's paper, "Biometric Evidence in the Problem of the Paired Limbs of the Vertebrates" (American Naturalist for November, 1902). Dean concludes that in Heterodontus "there is no evidence that there has ever been a migration of the fins in the Gegenbaurian sense." "The gill region, at least in its outer part, shows no affinity during proportional growth with the neighboring region of the pectoral fin. In fact from an early stage onward, they are evidently growing in opposite directions."

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 the branchial arches I-IV. In Polypterus and Calamoichthys (Erpetoichthys) there is one on the hyoid arch. Finally, in many Urodelan larv? 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 larv? for purposes of comparison, my attention was arrested by these structures, and further examinations, by section or otherwise, convinced me that there 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. Rusconi 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 Gnathostomata. But we may put it in another way. The groups in which they do not occur are those whose young possess a very large yolk-sac (or which are admittedly derived from such forms). Now wherever we have a large yolk-sac we have developed on its surface a rich network of blood-vessels for purposes of nutrition. But such a network must necessarily act as an extraordinarily efficient organ of respiration, and did we not know the facts we might venture to prophesy that in forms possessing it any other small skin-organ of respiration would tend to disappear.

"No doubt these external gills are absent also in a few of the admittedly primitive forms such as, e.g., (Neo-) Ceratodus. But I would ask that in this connection one should bear in mind one of the marked characteristics of external gills-their great regenerative power. This involves their being extremely liable to injury and consequently a source of danger to their possessor. Their absence, therefore, in certain cases may well have been due to natural selection. On the other hand, the presence in so many lowly forms of these organs, the general close similarity in structure that runs through them in different forms, and the exact correspondence in their position and relations to the body can, it seems to me, only be adequately explained by looking on them as being homologous structures inherited from a common ancestor and consequently of great antiquity in the vertebrate stem."

As to the third theory, Professor Kerr suggests tentatively that the external gill may be the structure modified to form the paired limbs. Of the homology of fore and hind limbs and consequently of their like origin there can be no doubt.

The general gill-structures have, according to Kerr, "the primary function of respiration. They are also, however, provided with an elaborate muscular apparatus comprising elevators, depressors, and adductors, and larv? possessing them may be seen every now and then to give them a sharp backward twitch. They are thus potentially motor organs. In such a Urodele as Amblystoma their homologues on the mandibular arch are used as supporting structures against a solid substratum exactly as are the limbs of the young Lepidosiren.

Fig. 62.-Polypterus congicus, a Crossopterygian fish from the Congo River. Young, with external gills. (After Boulenger.)

"I have, therefore, to suggest that the more ancient Gnathostomata possessed a series of potentially motor, potentially supporting structures projecting from their visceral arches; it was inherently extremely probable that these should be made use of when actual supporting, and motor appendages had to be developed in connection with clambering about a solid substratum. If this had been so, we should look upon the limb as a modified external gill; the limb-girdle, with Gegenbaur, as a modified branchial arch.

"This theory of the vertebrate paired limb seems to me, I confess, to be a more plausible one on the face of it than either of the two which at present hold the field. If untrue, it is so dangerously plausible as to surely deserve more consideration than it appears to have had. One of the main differences between it and the other two hypotheses is that, instead of deriving the swimming-fin from the walking and supporting limb, it goes the other way about. That this is the safer line to take seems to me to be shown by the consideration that a very small and rudimentary limb could only be of use if provided with a fixed point d'appui. Also on this view, the pentadactyle limb and the swimming-fin would probably be evolved independently from a simple form of limb. This would evade the great difficulties which have beset those who have endeavored to establish the homologies of the elements of the pentadactyle limb with those of any type of fully formed fin."

Uncertain Conclusions.-In conclusion we may say that the evidence of embryology in this matter is inadequate, though possibly favoring on the whole the fin-fold theory; that of morphology is inconclusive, and probably the final answer may be given by paleontology. If the records of the rocks were complete, they would be decisive. At present we have to decide which is the more primitive of two forms of pectoral fin actually known among fossils. That of Cladoselache is a low, horizontal fold of skin, with feeble rays, called by Cope ptychopterygium. That of Pleuracanthus is a jointed paddle-shaped appendage with a fringe of rays on either side. In the theory of Gegenbaur and Kerr Pleuracanthus must be, so far as the limbs are concerned, the form nearest the primitive limb-bearing vertebrate. In Balfour's theory Cladoselache is nearest the primitive type from which the other and with it the archipterygium of later forms may be derived.

Boulenger and others question even this, believing that the archipterygium in Pleuracanthus and other primitive sharks and that in Neoceratodus and its Dipnoan and Crossopterygian allies and ancestors have been derived independently, not the latter from the former. In this view there is no real homology between the archipterygium in the sharks possessing it and that in the Dipnoans and Crossopterygians. In the one theory the type of Pleuracanthus would be ancestral to the other sharks on the one hand, and to Crossopterygians and all higher vertebrates on the other. With the theory of the origin of the pectoral from a lateral fold, Pleuracanthus would be merely a curious specialized offshoot from the primitive sharks, without descendants and without special significance in phylogeny.

As elements bearing on this decision we may note that the tapering unspecialized diphycercal tail of Pleuracanthus seems very primitive in comparison with the short heterocercal tail of Cladoselache. This evidence, perhaps deceptive, is balanced by the presence on the head of Pleuracanthus of a highly specialized serrated spine, evidence of a far from primitive structure. Certainly neither the one genus nor the other actually represents the primitive shark. But as Cladoselache appears in geological time, long before Pleuracanthus, Cladodus, or any other shark with a jointed, archipterygial fin, the burden of proof, according to Dean, rests with the followers of Gegenbaur. If the remains found in the Ordovician at Ca?on City referred to Crossopterygians are correctly interpreted, we must regard the shark ancestry as lost in pre-Silurian darkness, for in sharks of some sort the Crossopterygians apparently must find their remote ancestry.

Fig. 63.-Heterocercal tail of Sturgeon, Acipenser sturio (Linn?us). (After Zittel.)

Forms of the Tail in Fishes.-In the process of development the median or vertical fins are, as above stated, older than the paired fins or limbs, whatever be the origin of the latter. They arise in a dermal keel, its membranes fitting and accentuating the undulatory motion of the body.

In this elementary fin-fold slender supports (actinotrichia), the rudiments of fin-rays, appear at intervals. In those fins of most service in the movement of the fish, the fin-rays are strengthened, and their basal supports specialized.

Dean calls attention to the fact that in fishes which swim, when adult, by an undulatory motion, the paired fins tend to disappear, as in the eel and in all eel-like fishes, as blennies and eel-pouts.

The form of the tail at the base of the caudal fin varies in the different groups. In most primitive types, as in most embryonic fishes, the vertebr? grow smaller to the last (diphycercal). In others, also primitive, the end of the tail is directed upward, and the most of the caudal fin is below it. Such a tail is seen in most sharks, in the sturgeon, garpike, bowfin, and in the Ganoid fishes. It is known as heterocercal, and finally in ordinary fishes the tail becomes homocercal or fan-shaped, although usually some trace of the heterocercal condition is traceable, gradually growing less with the process of development.

Since Professor Agassiz first recognized, in 1833, the distinction between the heterocercal and homocercal tail, this matter has been the subject of elaborate investigation and a number of additional terms have been proposed, some of which are in common use.

A detailed discussion of these is found in a paper by Dr. John A. Ryder "On the Origin of Heterocercy" in the Report of the U. S. Fish Commissioner for 1884. In this paper a dynamic or mechanical theory of the causes of change of form is set forth, parts of this having a hypothetical and somewhat uncertain basis.

Dr. Ryder proposes the name archicercal to denote the cylindroidal worm-like caudal end of the larva of fishes and amphibians before they acquire median fin-folds. The term lophocercal is proposed by Ryder for the form of caudal fin which consists of a rayless fold of skin continuous with the skin of the tail, the inner surfaces of this fold being more or less nearly in contact. To the same type of tail Dr. Jeffries Wyman in 1864 gave the name protocercal. This name was used for the tail of the larval ray when it acquires median fin-folds. The term implies, what cannot be far from true, that this form of tail is the first in the stages of evolution of the caudal fin.

To the same type of tail Mr. Alexander Agassiz gave, in 1877, the name of leptocardial, on the supposition that it represented the adult condition of the lancelet. In this creature, however, rudimentary basal rays are present, a condition differing from that of the early embryos.

The diphycercal tail, as usually understood, is one in which the end of the vertebral column bears "not only hypural but also epural intermediary pieces which support rays." The term is used for the primitive type of tail in which the vertebr?, lying horizontally, grow progressively smaller, as in Neoceratodus, Protopterus, and other Dipnoans and Crossopterygians. The term was first applied by McCoy to the tails of the Dipnoan genera Diplopterus and Gyroptychius, and for tails of this type it should be reserved.

Fig. 64.-Heterocercal tail of Bowfin, Amia calva (Linn?us). (After Zittel.)

Fig. 65.-Heterocercal tail of Garpike, Lepisosteus osseus (Linn?us).

The heterocercal tail is one in which the hindmost vertebr? are bent upwards. The term is generally applied to those fishes only in which this bending is considerable and is externally evident, as in the sharks and Ganoids. The character disappears by degrees, changing sometimes to diphycercal or leptocercal by a process of degeneration, or in ordinary fishes becoming homocercal. Dr. Ryder uses the term heterocercal for all cases in which any up-bending of the axis takes place, even though it involves the modification of but a single vertebra. With this definition, the tail of salmon, herring, and even of most bony fishes would be considered heterocercal, and most or all of these pass through a heterocercal stage in the course of development. The term is, however, usually restricted to those forms in which the curving of the axis is evident without dissection.

Fig. 66.-Coryph?noides carapinus (Goode and Bean), showing leptocercal tail. Gulf Stream.

The homocercal tail is the fan-shaped or symmetrical tail common among the Teleosts, or bony fishes. In its process of development the individual tail is first archicercal, then lophocercal, then diphycercal, then heterocercal, and lastly homocercal. A similar order is indicated by the sequence of fossil fishes in the rocks, although some forms of diphycercal tail may be produced by degeneration of the heterocercal tail, as suggested by Dr. Dollo and Dr. Boulenger, who divide diphycercal tails into primitive and secondary.

The peculiar tapering tail of the cod, the vertebr? growing progressively smaller behind, is termed isocercal by Professor Cope. This form differs little from diphycercal, except in its supposed derivation from the homocercal type. A similar form is seen in eels.

Fig. 67.-Heterocercal tail of Young Trout, Salmo fario (Linn?us). (After Parker and Haswell.)

The term leptocercal has been suggested by Gaudry, 1883, for those tails in which the vertebral column ends in a point. We may, perhaps, use it for all such as are attenuate, ending in a long point or whip, as in the Macrourid?, or grenadiers, the sting-rays, and in various degenerate members of almost every large group.

The term gephyrocercal is devised by Ryder for fishes in which the end of the vertebral axis is aborted in the adult, leaving the caudal elements to be inserted on the end of this axis, thus bridging over the interval between the vertical fins, as the name (γεφ?ρο?, bridge; κ?ρκο?, tail) is intended to indicate. Such a tail has been recognized in four genera only, Mola, Ranzania, Fierasfer, and Echiodon, the head-fishes and the pearl-fishes.

Fig. 68.-Isocercal tail of Hake, Merluccius productus (Ayres).

Fig. 69.-Homocercal tail of a Flounder, Paralichthys californicus.

The part of the body of the fish which lies behind the vent is known as the urosome. The urostyle is the name given to a modified bony structure, originally the end of the notochord, turned upward in most fishes. The term opisthure is suggested by Ryder for the exserted tip of the vertebral column, which in some larv? (Lepisosteus) and in some adult fishes (Fistularia, Chim?ra) projects beyond the caudal fin. The urosome, or posterior part of the body, must be regarded as a product of evolution and specialization, its function being largely that of locomotion. In the theoretically primitive fish there is no urosome, the alimentary canal, as in the worm, beginning at one end of the body and terminating at the other.

Fig. 70.-Gephyrocercal tail of Mola mola (Linn?us). (After Ryder.)

Homologies of the Pectoral Limb.-Dr. Gill has made an elaborate attempt to work out the homologies of the bones of the pectoral limb.[4] From his thesis we take the following:

"The following are assumed as premises that will be granted by all zootomists:

"1. Homologies of parts are best determinable, ceteris paribus, in the most nearly related forms.

"2. Identification should proceed from a central or determinate point outwards.

"The applications of these principles are embodied in the following conclusions:

"1. The forms that are best comparable and that are most nearly related to each other are the Dipnoi, an order of fishes at present represented by Lepidosiren, Protopterus, and Ceratodus, and the Batrachians as represented by the Ganocephala, Salamanders, and Salamander-like animals.

"2. The articulation of the anterior member with the shoulder-girdle forms the most obvious and determinable point for comparison in the representatives of the respective classes.

Fig. 71.-Shoulder-girdle of Amia calva (Linn?us).

Fig. 72.-Shoulder-girdle of a Sea Catfish, Selenaspis dowi.

The Girdle in Dipnoans.-"The proximal element of the anterior limb in the Dipnoi has almost by common consent been regarded as homologous with the humerus of the higher vertebrates.

"The humerus of Urodele Batrachians, as well as the extinct Ganocephala and Labyrinthodontia, is articulated chiefly with the coracoid. Therefore the element of the shoulder-girdle with which the humerus of the Dipnoi is articulated must also be regarded as the coracoid (subject to the proviso hereinafter stated), unless some specific evidence can be shown to the contrary. No such evidence has been produced.

"The scapula in the Urodele and other Batrachians is entirely or almost wholly excluded from the glenoid foramen, and above the coracoid. Therefore the corresponding element in Dipnoi must be the scapula.

"The other elements must be determined by their relation to the preceding, or to those parts from or in connection with which they originate. All those elements in immediate connection with the pectoral fin and the scapula must be homologous as a whole with the coraco-scapular plate of the Batrachians; that is, it is infinitely more probable that they represent, as a whole or as dismemberments therefrom, the coraco-scapular element than that they independently originated. But the homogeneity of that coraco-scapular element forbids the identification of the several elements of the fish's shoulder-girdle with regions of the Batrachian's coraco-scapular plate.

Fig. 73.-Clavicles of a Sea Catfish, Selenaspis dowi (Gill).

"And it is equally impossible to identify the fish's elements with those of the higher reptiles or other vertebrates which have developed from the Batrachians. The elements in the shoulder-girdles of the distantly separated classes may be (to use the terms introduced by Dr. Lankester) homoplastic, but they are not homogenetic. Therefore they must be named accordingly. The element of the Dipnoan's shoulder-girdle, continuous downward from the scapula, and to which the coracoid is closely applied, may be named ectocoracoid.

"Neither the scapula in Batrachians nor the cartilaginous extension thereof, designated suprascapula, is dissevered from the coracoid. Therefore there is an a priori improbability against the homology with the scapula of any part having a distant and merely ligamentous connection with the humerus-bearing element. Consequently, as an element better representing the scapula exists, the element named scapula (by Owen, Günther, etc.) cannot be the homologue of the scapula of Batrachians. On the other hand, its more intimate relations with the skull and the mode of development indicate that it is rather an element originating and developed in more intimate connection with the skull. It may therefore be considered, with Parker, as a post-temporal.

"The shoulder-girdle in the Dipnoi is connected by an azygous differentiated cartilage, swollen backwards. It is more probable that this is the homologue of the sternum of Batrachians, and that in the latter that element has been still more differentiated and specialized than that it should have originated de novo from an independently developed nucleus."

Fig. 74.-Shoulder-girdle of a Batfish, Ogcocephalus radiatus (Mitchill).

The Girdle in Fishes Other than Dipnoans.-"Proceeding from the basis now obtained, a comparative examination of other types of fishes successively removed by their affinities from the Lepidosirenids may be instituted.

"With the humerus of the Dipnoans, the element of the Polypterids (single at the base, but immediately divaricating and with its limbs bordering an intervening cartilage which supports the pectoral and its basilar ossicles) must be homologous. But it is evident that the external elements of the so-called carpus of the teleosteoid Ganoids are homologous with that element in Polypterids. Therefore those elements cannot be carpal, but must represent the humerus.

Fig. 75.-Shoulder-girdle of a Threadfin, Polydactylus approximans (Lay and Bennett).

"The element with which the homologue of the humerus, in Polypterids, is articulated must be homologous with the analogous element in Dipnoans, and therefore with the coracoid. The coracoid of Polypterids is also evidently homologous with the corresponding element in the other Ganoids, and the latter consequently must be also coracoid. It is equally evident, after a detailed comparison, that the single coracoid element of the Ganoids represents the three elements developed in the generalized Teleosts (Cyprinids, etc.) in connection with the basis of the pectoral fin, and, such being the case, the nomenclature should correspond. Therefore the upper element may be named hypercoracoid; the lower, hypocoracoid; and the transverse or median, mesocoracoid.

"The two elements of the arch named by Parker, in Lepidosiren, 'supraclavicle' (scapula) and 'clavicle' (ectocoracoid) seem to be comparable together, and as a whole, with the single element carrying the humerus and pectoral fin in the Crossopterygians (Polypterus and Calamoichthys) and other fishes, and therefore not identical respectively with the 'supraclavicle' and 'clavicle' (except in part) recognized by him in other fishes. As this compound bone, composed of the scapula and ectocoracoid fused together, has received no name which is not ambiguous or deceptive in its homologous allusions, it may be designated as proscapula.

"The post-temporal of the Dipnoans is evidently represented by the analogous element in the Ganoids generally, as well as in the typical fishes. The succeeding elements (outside those already alluded to) appear from their relations to be developed from or in connection with the post-temporal, and not from the true scapular apparatus; they may therefore be named post-temporal, posterotemporal, and teleo-temporal. It will be thus seen that the determinations here adopted depend mainly (1) on the interpretation of the homologies of the elements with which the pectoral limbs are articulated, and (2) on the application of the term 'coracoid.' The name 'coracoid,' originally applied to the process so called in the human scapula and subsequently extended to the independent element homologous with it in birds and other vertebrates, has been more especially retained (e.g., by Parker in mammals, etc.) for the region including the glenoid cavity. On the assumption that this may be preferred by some zootomists, the preceding terms have been applied. But if the name should be restricted to the proximal element, nearest the glenoid cavity, in which ossification commences, the name paraglenal given by Dugès to the cartilaginous glenoid region can be adopted, and the coracoid would then be represented (in part) rather by the element so named by Owen. That eminent anatomist, however, reached his conclusion (only in part the same as that here adopted) by an entirely different course of reasoning, and by a process, as it may be called, of elimination; that is, recognizing first the so-called 'radius' and 'ulna,' the 'humerus,' the 'scapula,' and the 'coracoid' were successively identified from their relations to the elements thus determined and because they were numerically similar to the homonymous parts among higher vertebrates."


[4] Catalogue of the Families of Fishes, 1872.

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