He who wishes to see what ingenuity and knowledge can effect, may consult Prof. Haeckel's works. (21. Elaborate tables are given in his 'Generelle Morphologie' (B. ii. s. cliii. and s. 425); and with more especial reference to man in his 'Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte,' 1868. Prof. Huxley, in reviewing this latter work ('The Academy,' 1869, p. 42) says, that he considers the phylum or lines of descent of the Vertebrata to be admirably discussed by Haeckel, although he differs on some points. He expresses, also, his high estimate of the general tenor and spirit of the whole work.) I will content myself with a few general remarks. Every evolutionist will admit that the five great vertebrate classes, namely, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes, are descended from some one prototype; for they have much in common, especially during their embryonic state. As the class of fishes is the most lowly organised, and appeared before the others, we may conclude that all the members of the vertebrate kingdom are derived from some fishlike animal. The belief that animals so distinct as a monkey, an elephant, a humming-bird, a snake, a frog, and a fish, etc., could all have sprung from the same parents, will appear monstrous to those who have not attended to the recent progress of natural history. For this belief implies the former existence of links binding closely together all these forms, now so utterly unlike.

Nevertheless, it is certain that groups of animals have existed, or do now exist, which serve to connect several of the great vertebrate classes more or less closely. We have seen that the Ornithorhynchus graduates towards reptiles; and Prof. Huxley has discovered, and is confirmed by Mr. Cope and others, that the Dinosaurians are in many important characters intermediate between certain reptiles and certain birds--the birds referred to being the ostrich-tribe (itself evidently a widely-diffused remnant of a larger group) and the Archeopteryx, that strange Secondary bird, with a long lizard-like tail. Again, according to Prof. Owen (22. 'Palaeontology' 1860, p. 199.), the Ichthyosaurians--great sea-lizards furnished with paddles--present many affinities with fishes, or rather, according to Huxley, with amphibians; a class which, including in its highest division frogs and toads, is plainly allied to the Ganoid fishes. These latter fishes swarmed during the earlier geological periods, and were constructed on what is called a generalised type, that is, they presented diversified affinities with other groups of organisms. The Lepidosiren is also so closely allied to amphibians and fishes, that naturalists long disputed in which of these two classes to rank it; it, and also some few Ganoid fishes, have been preserved from utter extinction by inhabiting rivers, which are harbours of refuge, and are related to the great waters of the ocean in the same way that islands are to continents.

Lastly, one single member of the immense and diversified class of fishes, namely, the lancelet or amphioxus, is so different from all other fishes, that Haeckel maintains that it ought to form a distinct class in the vertebrate kingdom. This fish is remarkable for its negative characters; it can hardly be said to possess a brain, vertebral column, or heart, etc.; so that it was classed by the older naturalists amongst the worms. Many years ago Prof. Goodsir perceived that the lancelet presented some affinities with the Ascidians, which are invertebrate, hermaphrodite, marine creatures permanently attached to a support. They hardly appear like animals, and consist of a simple, tough, leathery sack, with two small projecting orifices. They belong to the Mulluscoida of Huxley--a lower division of the great kingdom of the Mollusca; but they have recently been placed by some naturalists amongst the Vermes or worms. Their larvae somewhat resemble tadpoles in shape (23. At the Falkland Islands I had the satisfaction of seeing, in April, 1833, and therefore some years before any other naturalist, the locomotive larvae of a compound Ascidian, closely allied to Synoicum, but apparently generically distinct from it.

Charles Darwin

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