Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/203

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Chap. VI.
191
TRANSITION OF ORGANS.

view is now generally held, a part of the auditory apparatus has been worked in as a complement to the swimbladder. All physiologists admit that the swimbladder is homologous, or "ideally similar," in position and structure with the lungs of the higher vertebrate animals: hence there seems to me to be no great difficulty in believing that natural selection has actually converted a swimbladder into a lung, or organ used exclusively for respiration.

I can, indeed, hardly doubt that all vertebrate animals having true lungs have descended by ordinary generation from an ancient prototype, of which we know nothing, furnished with a floating apparatus or swimbladder. We can thus, as I infer from Professor Owen's interesting description of these parts, understand the strange fact that every particle of food and drink which we swallow has to pass over the orifice of the trachea, with some risk of falling into the lungs, notwithstanding the beautiful contrivance by which the glottis is closed. In the higher Vertebrata the branchiæ have wholly disappeared—the slits on the sides of the neck and the loop-like course of the arteries still marking in the embryo their former position. But it is conceivable that the now utterly lost branchiæ might have been gradually worked in by natural selection for some quite distinct purpose: in the same manner as, on the view entertained by some naturalists that the branchiæ and dorsal scales of Annelids are homologous with the wings and wing-covers of insects, it is probable that organs which at a very ancient period served for respiration have been actually converted into organs of flight.

In considering transitions of organs, it is so important to bear in mind the probability of conversion from one function to another, that I will give one more instance. Pedunculated cirripedes have two minute folds of skin,