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- The Evolution of Man, V.1. - 30/54 -


(Lepidosteus), approaches the osseous fishes, and is discoblastic like them. A third genus (Amia) is midway between the sturgeons and the latter.

(FIGURE 1.48. Sagittal section of the gastrula of the water-salamander (Triton). (From Hertwig.) Letters as in Figure 1.47; except--p yelk-stopper, mk beginning of the middle germinal layer.)

The group of the lung-fishes (Dipneusta or Dipnoi) is closely connected with the older ganoids. In respect of their whole organisation they are midway between the gill-breathing fishes and the lung-breathing amphibia; they share with the former the shape of the body and limbs, and with the latter the form of the heart and lungs. Of the older dipnoi (Paladipneusta) we have now only one specimen, the remarkable Ceratodus of East Australia; its amphiblastic gastrulation has been recently explained by Richard Semon (cf. Chapter 2.21). That of the two modern dipneusta, of which Protopterus is found in Africa and Lepidosiren in America, is not materially different. (Cf. Figure 1.51.)

(FIGURE 1.49. Ovum-segmentation of the lamprey (Petromyzon fluviatalis), in four successive stages. The small cells of the upper (animal) hemisphere divide much more quickly than the cells of the lower (vegetal) hemisphere.

FIGURE 1.50. Gastrulation of the lamprey (Petromyzon fluviatilis). A blastula, with wide embryonic cavity (blastocoel, bl), g incipient invagination. B depula, with advanced invagination, from the primitive mouth (g). C gastrula, with complete primitive gut: the embryonic cavity has almost disappeared in consequence of invagination.)

All these amphiblastic vertebrates, Petromyzon and Cestracion, Accipenser and Ceratodus, and also the salamanders and batrachia, belong to the old, conservative groups of our stem. Their unequal ovum-segmentation and gastrulation have many peculiarities in detail, but can always be reduced with comparative ease to the original cleavage and gastrulation of the lowest vertebrate, the amphioxus; and this is little removed, as we have seen, from the very simple archigastrula of the Sagitta and Monoxenia (see Figures 1.29 to 1.36). All these and many other classes of animals generally agree in the circumstance that in segmentation their ovum divides into a large number of cells by repeated cleavage. All such ova have been called, after Remak, "whole-cleaving" (holoblasta), because their division into cells is complete or total.

(FIGURE 1.51. Gastrulation of ceratodus (from Semon). A and C stage with four cells, B and D with sixteen cells. A and B are seen from above, C and D sideways. E stage with thirty-two cells; F blastula; G gastrula in longitudinal section. fh segmentation-cavity. gh primitive gut or gastric cavity.)

In a great many other classes of animals this is not the case, as we find (in the vertebrate stem) among the birds, reptiles, and most of the fishes; among the insects and most of the spiders and crabs (of the articulates); and the cephalopods (of the molluscs). In all these animals the mature ovum, and the stem-cell that arises from it in fertilisation, consist of two different and separate parts, which we have called formative yelk and nutritive yelk. The formative yelk alone consists of living protoplasm, and is the active, evolutionary, and nucleated part of the ovum; this alone divides in segmentation, and produces the numerous cells which make up the embryo. On the other hand, the nutritive yelk is merely a passive part of the contents of the ovum, a subordinate element which contains nutritive material (albumin, fat, etc.), and so represents in a sense the provision-store of the developing embryo. The latter takes a quantity of food out of this store, and finally consumes it all. Hence the nutritive yelk is of great indirect importance in embryonic development, though it has no direct share in it. It either does not divide at all, or only later on, and does not generally consist of cells. It is sometimes large and sometimes small, but generally many times larger than the formative yelk; and hence it is that it was formerly thought the more important of the two. As the respective significance of these two parts of the ovum is often wrongly described, it must be borne in mind that the nutritive yelk is only a secondary addition to the primary cell, it is an inner enclosure, not an external appendage. All ova that have this independent nutritive yelk are called, after Remak, "partially-cleaving" (meroblasta). Their segmentation is incomplete or partial.

(FIGURE 1.52. Ovum of a deep-sea bony fish. b protoplasm of the stem-cell, k nucleus of same, d clear globule of albumin, the nutritive yelk, f fat-globule of same, c outer membrane of the ovum, or ovolemma.)

There are many difficulties in the way of understanding this partial segmentation and the gastrula that arises from it. We have only recently succeeded, by means of comparative research, in overcoming these difficulties, and reducing this cenogenetic form of gastrulation to the original palingenetic type. This is comparatively easy in the small meroblastic ova which contain little nutritive yelk--for instance, in the marine ova of a bony fish, the development of which I observed in 1875 at Ajaccio in Corsica. I found them joined together in lumps of jelly, floating on the surface of the sea; and, as the little ovula were completely transparent, I could easily follow the development of the germ step by step. These ovula are glossy and colourless globules of little more than the 50th of an inch. Inside a structureless, thin, but firm membrane (ovolemma, Figure 1.52 c) we find a large, quite clear, and transparent globule of albumin (d). At both poles of its axis this globule has a pit-like depression. In the pit at the upper, animal pole (which is turned downwards in the floating ovum) there is a bi-convex lens composed of protoplasm, and this encloses the nucleus (k); this is the formative yelk of the stem-cell, or the germinal disk (b). The small fat-globule (f) and the large albumin-globule (d) together form the nutritive yelk. Only the formative yelk undergoes cleavage, the nutritive yelk not dividing at all at first.

The segmentation of the lens-shaped formative yelk (b) proceeds quite independently of the nutritive yelk, and in perfect geometrical order.

When the mulberry-like cluster of cells has been formed, the border-cells of the lens separate from the rest and travel into the yelk and the border-layer. From this the blastula is developed; the regular bi-convex lens being converted into a disk, like a watch-glass, with thick borders. This lies on the upper and less curved polar surface of the nutritive yelk like the watch glass on the yelk. Fluid gathers between the outer layer and the border, and the segmentation-cavity is formed. The gastrula is then formed by invagination, or a kind of turning-up of the edge of the blastoderm. In this process the segmentation-cavity disappears.

The space underneath the entoderm corresponds to the primitive gut-cavity, and is filled with the decreasing food-yelk (n). Thus the formation of the gastrula of our fish is complete. In contrast to the two chief forms of gastrula we considered previously, we give the name of discoid gastrula (discogastrula, Figure 1.54) to this third principal type.

Very similar to the discoid gastrulation of the bony fishes is that of the hags or myxinoida, the remarkable cyclostomes that live parasitically in the body-cavity of fishes, and are distinguished by several notable peculiarities from their nearest relatives, the lampreys. While the amphiblastic ova of the latter are small and develop like those of the amphibia, the cucumber-shaped ova of the hag are about an inch long, and form a discoid gastrula. Up to the present it has only been observed in one species (Bdellostoma Stouti), by Dean and Doflein (1898).

It is clear that the important features which distinguish the discoid gastrula from the other chief forms we have considered are determined by the large food-yelk. This takes no direct part in the building of the germinal layers, and completely fills the primitive gut-cavity of the gastrula, even protruding at the mouth-opening. If we imagine the original bell-gastrula (Figures 1.30 to 1.36) trying to swallow a ball of food which is much bigger than itself, it would spread out round it in discoid shape in the attempt, just as we find to be the case here (Figure 1.54). Hence we may derive the discoid gastrula from the original bell-gastrula, through the intermediate stage of the hooded gastrula. It has arisen through the accumulation of a store of food-stuff at the vegetal pole, a "nutritive yelk" being thus formed in contrast to the "formative yelk." Nevertheless, the gastrula is formed here, as in the previous cases, by the folding or invagination of the blastula. We can, therefore, reduce this cenogenetic form of the discoid segmentation to the palingenetic form of the primitive cleavage.

(FIGURE 1.53. Ovum-segmentation of a bony fish. A first cleavage of the stem-cell (cytula), B division of same into four segmentation-cells (only two visible), C the germinal disk divides into the blastoderm (b) and the periblast (p). d nutritive yelk, f fat-globule, c ovolemma, z space between the ovolemma and the ovum, filled with a clear fluid.)

This reduction is tolerably easy and confident in the case of the small ovum of our deep-sea bony fish, but it becomes difficult and uncertain in the case of the large ova that we find in the majority of the other fishes and in all the reptiles and birds. In these cases the food-yelk is, in the first place, comparatively colossal, the formative yelk being almost invisible beside it; and, in the second place, the food-yelk contains a quantity of different elements, which are known as "yelk-granules, yelk-globules, yelk-plates, yelk-flakes, yelk-vesicles," and so on. Frequently these definite elements in the yelk have been described as real cells, and it has been wrongly stated that a portion of the embryonic body is built up from these cells. This is by no means the case. In every case, however large it is--and even when cell-nuclei travel into it during the cleavage of the border--the nutritive yelk remains a dead accumulation of food, which is taken into the gut during embryonic development and consumed by the embryo. The latter develops solely from the living formative yelk of the stem-cell. This is equally true of the ova of our small bony fishes and of the colossal ova of the primitive fishes, reptiles, and birds.

(FIGURE 1.54. Discoid gastrula (discogastrula) of a bony fish. e ectoderm, i entoderm, w border-swelling or primitive mouth, n albuminous globule of the nutritive yelk, f fat-globule of same, c external membrane (ovolemma), d partition between entoderm and ectoderm (earlier the segmentation-cavity).)

The gastrulation of the primitive fishes or selachii (sharks and rays) has been carefully studied of late years by Ruckert, Rabl, and H.E. Ziegler in particular, and is very important in the sense that this group is the oldest among living fishes, and their gastrulation can be derived directly from that of the cyclostoma by the accumulation of a large quantity of food-yelk. The oldest sharks (Cestracion) still have the unequal segmentation inherited from the cyclostoma. But while in this case, as in the case of the amphibia, the small ovum completely divides into cells in segmentation, this is no longer so in the great majority of the selachii (or Elasmobranchii). In these the contractility of the active protoplasm no longer suffices to break up


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