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- The Evolution of Man, V.2 - 30/63 -


(FIGURE 2.286. Rudimentary lachrymal glands from a human embryo of four months. (From Kolliker.) 1 earliest structure, in the shape of a simple solid cone, 2 and 3 more advanced structures, ramifying and hollowing out. a solid buds, e cellular coat of the hollow buds, f structure of the fibrous envelope, which afterwards forms the corium about the glands.)

The mammary glands (Figures 2.287 and 2.288) are very remarkable; they are found in all mammals, and in these alone. They secrete the milk for the feeding of the new-born mammal. In spite of their unusual size these structures are nothing more than large sebaceous glands in the skin. The milk is formed by the liquefaction of the fatty milk-cells inside the branching mammary-gland tubes (Figure 2.287 c), in the same way as the skin-grease or hair-fat, by the solution of fatty cells inside the sebaceous glands. The outlets of the mammary glands enlarge and form sac-like mammary ducts (b); these narrow again (a), and open in the teats or nipples of the breast by sixteen to twenty-four fine apertures. The first structure of this large and elaborate gland is a very simple cone in the epidermis, which penetrates into the corium and ramifies. In the new-born infant it consists of twelve to eighteen radiating lobes (Figure 2.288). These gradually ramify, their ducts become hollow and larger, and rich masses of fat accumulate between the lobes. Thus is formed the prominent female breast (mamma), on the top of which rises the teat or nipple (mammilla). The latter is only developed later on, when the mammary gland is fully-formed; and this ontogenetic phenomenon is extremely interesting, because the earlier mammals (the stem-forms of the whole class) have no teats. In them the milk comes out through a flat portion of the ventral skin that is pierced like a sieve, as we still find in the lowest living mammals, the oviparous Monotremes of Australia. The young animal licks the milk from the mother instead of sucking it. In many of the lower mammals we find a number of milk-glands at different parts of the ventral surface. In the human female there is usually only one pair of glands, at the breast; and it is the same with the apes, bats, elephants, and several other mammals. Sometimes, however, we find two successive pairs of glands (or even more) in the human female. Some women have four or five pairs of breasts, like pigs and hedgehogs (Figure 1.103). This polymastism points back to an older stem-form. We often find these accessory breasts in the male also (Figure 1.103 D). Sometimes, moreover, the normal mammary glands are fully developed and can suckle in the male; but as a rule they are merely rudimentary organs without functions in the male. We have already (Chapter 1.11) dealt with this remarkable and interesting instance of atavism.

(FIGURE 2.287. The female breast (mamma) in vertical section. c racemose glandular lobes, b enlarged milk-ducts, a narrower outlets, which open into the nipple. (From H. Meyer.))

While the cutaneous glands are inner growths of the epidermis, the appendages which we call hairs and nails are external local growths in it. The nails (Ungues) which form important protective structures on the back of the most sensitive parts of our limbs, the tips of the fingers and toes, are horny growths of the epidermis, which we share with the apes. The lower mammals usually have claws instead of them; the ungulates, hoofs. The stem-form of the mammals certainly had claws; we find them in a rudimentary form even in the salamander. The horny claws are highly developed in most of the reptiles (Figure 2.264), and the mammals have inherited them from the earliest representatives of this class, the stem-reptiles (Tocosauria). Like the hoofs (ungulae) of the Ungulates, the nails of apes and men have been evolved from the claws of the older mammals. In the human embryo the first rudiment of the nails is found (between the horny and the mucous stratum of the epidermis) in the fourth month. But their edges do not penetrate through until the end of the sixth month.

The most interesting and important appendages of the epidermis are the hairs; on account of their peculiar composition and origin we must regard them as highly characteristic of the whole mammalian class. It is true that we also find hairs in many of the lower animals, such as insects and worms. But these hairs, like the hairs of plants, are thread-like appendages of the surface, and differ entirely from the hairs of the mammals in the details of their structure and development.

The embryology of the hairs is known in all its details, but there are two different views as to their phylogeny. On the older view the hairs of the mammals are equivalent or homologous to the feathers of the bird or the horny scales of the reptile. As we deduce all three classes of Amniotes from a common stem-group, we must assume that these Permian stem-reptiles had a complete scaly coat, inherited from their Carboniferous ancestors, the mailed amphibia (Stegocephala); the bony scales of their corium were covered with horny scales. In passing from aquatic to terrestrial life the horny scales were further developed, and the bony scales degenerated in most of the reptiles. As regards the bird's feathers, it is certain that they are modifications of the horny scales of their reptilian ancestors. But it is otherwise with the hairs of the mammals. In their case the hypothesis has lately been advanced on the strength of very extensive research, especially by Friedrich Maurer, that they have been evolved from the cutaneous sense-organs of amphibian ancestors by modification of functions; the epidermic structure is very similar in both in its embryonic rudiments. This modern view, which had the support of the greatest expert on the vertebrates, Carl Gegenbaur, can be harmonised with the older theory to an extent, in the sense that both formations, scales and hairs, were very closely connected originally. Probably the conical budding of the skin-sense layer grew up UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THE HORNY SCALE, and became an organ of touch subsequently by the cornification of the hairs; many hairs are still sensory organs (tactile hairs on the muzzle and cheeks of many mammals: pubic hairs).

This middle position of the genetic connection of scales and hairs was advanced in my Systematic Phylogeny of the Vertebrates (page 433). It is confirmed by the similar arrangement of the two cutaneous formations. As Maurer pointed out, the hairs, as well as the cutaneous sense-organs and the scales, are at first arranged in regular longitudinal series, and they afterwards break into alternate groups. In the embryo of a bear two inches long, which I owe to the kindness of Herr von Schmertzing (of Arva Varallia, Hungary), the back is covered with sixteen to twenty alternating longitudinal rows of scaly protuberances (Figure 2.289). They are at the same time arranged in regular transverse rows, which converge at an acute angle from both sides towards the middle of the back. The tip of the scale-like wart is turned inwards. Between these larger hard scales (or groups of hairs) we find numbers of rudimentary smaller hairs.

The human embryo is, as a rule, entirely clothed with a thick coat of fine wool during the last three or four weeks of gestation. This embryonic woollen coat (Lanugo) generally disappears in part during the last weeks of foetal life but in any case, as a rule, it is lost immediately after birth, and is replaced by the thinner coat of the permanent hair. These permanent hairs grow out of hair-follicles, which are formed from the root-sheaths of the disappearing wool-fibres. The embryonic wool-coat usually, in the case of the human embryo, covers the whole body, with the exception of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. These parts are always bare, as in the case of apes and of most other mammals. Sometimes the wool-coat of the embryo has a striking effect, by its colour, on the later permanent hair-coat. Hence it happens occasionally, for instance, among our Indo-Germanic races, that children of blond parents seem--to the dismay of the latter--to be covered at birth with a dark brown or even a black woolly coat. Not until this has disappeared do we see the permanent blond hair which the child has inherited. Sometimes the darker coat remains for weeks, and even months, after birth. This remarkable woolly coat of the human embryo is a legacy from the apes, our ancient long-haired ancestors.

(FIGURE 2.288. Mammary gland of a new-born infant, a original central gland, b small and c large buds of same. (From Langer.))

It is not less noteworthy that many of the higher apes approach man in the thinness of the hair on various parts of the body. With most of the apes, especially the higher Catarrhines (or narrow-nosed apes), the face is mostly, or entirely, bare, or at least it has hair no longer or thicker than that of man. In their case, too, the back of the head is usually provided with a thicker growth of hair; this is lacking, however, in the case of the bald-headed chimpanzee (Anthropithecus calvus). The males of many species of apes have a considerable beard on the cheeks and chin; this sign of the masculine sex has been acquired by sexual selection. Many species of apes have a very thin covering of hair on the breast and the upper side of the limbs--much thinner than on the back or the under side of the limbs. On the other hand, we are often astonished to find tufts of hair on the shoulders, back, and extremities of members of our Indo-Germanic and of the Semitic races. Exceptional hair on the face, as on the whole body, is hereditary in certain families of hairy men. The quantity and the quality of the hair on head and chin are also conspicuously transmitted in families. These extraordinary variations in the total and partial hairy coat of the body, which are so noticeable, not only in comparing different races of men, but also in comparing different families of the same race, can only be explained on the assumption that in man the hairy coat is, on the whole, a rudimentary organ, a useless inheritance from the more thickly-coated apes. In this man resembles the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, whale, and other mammals of various orders, which have also, almost entirely or for the most part, lost their hairy coats by adaptation.

(FIGURE 2.289. Embryo of a bear (Ursus arctos), twice natural size. A seen from ventral side, B from the left.)

The particular process of adaptation by which man lost the growth of hair on most parts of his body, and retained or augmented it at some points, was most probably sexual selection. As Darwin luminously showed in his Descent of Man, sexual selection has been very active in this respect. As the male anthropoid apes chose the females with the least hair, and the females favoured the males with the finest growths on chin and head, the general coating of the body gradually degenerated, and the hair of the beard and head was more strongly developed. The growth of hair at other parts of the body (arm-pit, pubic region) was also probably due to sexual selection. Moreover, changes of climate, or habits, and other adaptations unknown to us, may have assisted the disappearance of the hairy coat.

The fact that our coat of hair is inherited directly from the anthropoid apes is proved in an interesting way, according to Darwin, by the direction of the rudimentary hairs on our arms, which cannot be explained in any other way. Both on the upper and the lower part of the arm they point towards the elbow. Here they meet at an obtuse angle. This curious arrangement is found only in the anthropoid apes--gorilla, chimpanzee, orang, and several species of gibbons--besides man (Figures 1.203 and 1.207). In other species of gibbon the hairs are pointed towards the hand both in the upper and lower arm, as in the rest of the mammals. We can easily explain this remarkable peculiarity of the anthropoids and man on the theory that our common ancestors were accustomed (as the anthropoid apes are to-day) to place their hands over their heads, or across a branch above their heads, during rain. In this position, the fact that the hairs point downwards helps the rain to run off. Thus the direction of the hair on the lower part of our arm reminds us to-day of that useful custom of our anthropoid ancestors.


The Evolution of Man, V.2 - 30/63

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