Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/65

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55
THE STRUCTURE OF BLIND FISHES.

and two explanations are prominent among those suggesting its solution:

1. The explanation of Lankester seems either a pleasantry or the most unwarranted speculation. He says: "Supposing a number of some species of Arthropod or fish to be swept into a cavern or to be carried from less to greater depths in the sea, those individuals with perfect eyes would follow the glimmer of light, and eventually escape to the outer air or the shallower depths, leaving behind those with imperfect eyes to breed in the dark place. A natural selection would thus be effected. In every succeeding generation this would be the case, and even those with weak but still seeing eyes would in the course of time escape, until only a pure race of eyeless or blind animals would be left in the cavern or deep sea."

This process does not, of course, account for the degeneration of the eye beyond blindness. But, aside from this objection, the humor of his "glimmer of light" impresses itself very forcibly on one after spending a day in following the devious windings of a living cave, not to mention his tendency in cave animals, which are negatively heliotropic, to follow it. There are other objections.

PSM V57 D065 Lateral view of amblyopsis showing location of tactile ridges.png
Fig. 7.—Lateral view of Amblyopsis, showing the location of the tactile ridges.

Fishes are annually swept into the caves, but they are not able to establish themselves in them. To do this they must have peculiar habits, special methods of feeding and mating before a successful colonization of caverns can become successful. Further, if the origin of the cave fauna is due to accident, the accident must have happened to four species out of six of the Ambly-