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- The Evolution of Man, V.2 - 50/63 -

then (within the mammal series) in the Monotremes, Marsupials, and the various Placentals. All the peculiarities of urogenital structure that distinguish the mammals from the rest of the Vertebrates are found in man; and in all special structural features he resembles the apes, particularly the anthropoid apes. In proof of the fact that the special features of the mammals have been inherited by man, I will, in conclusion, point out the identical way in which the ova are formed in the ovary. In all the mammals the mature ova are contained in special capsules, which are known as the Graafian follicles, after their discoverer, Roger de Graaf (1677). They were formerly supposed to be the ova themselves; but Baer discovered the ova within the follicles (Chapter 1.3). Each follicle (Figure 2.407) consists of a round fibrous capsule (d), which contains fluid and is lined with several strata of cells (c). The layer is thickened like a knob at one point (b); this ovum-capsule encloses the ovum proper (a). The mammal ovary is originally a very simple oval body (Figure 2.387 g), formed only of connective tissue and blood-vessels, covered with a layer of cells, the ovarian epithelium or the female germ epithelium. From this germ epithelium strings of cells grow out into the connective tissue or "stroma" of the ovary (Figure 2.403 b). Some of the cells of these strings (or Pfluger's tubes) grow larger and become ova (primitive ova, c); but the great majority remain small, and form a protective and nutritive stratum of cells round each ovum--the "follicle-epithelium" (e).

The follicle-epithelium of the mammal has at first one stratum (Figure 2.404 1), but afterwards several (2). It is true that in all the other Vertebrates the ova are enclosed in a membrane, or "follicle," that consists of smaller cells. But it is only in the mammals that fluid accumulates between the growing follicle-cells, and distends the follicle into a large round capsule, on the inside wall of which the ovum lies, at one side (Figures 2.405 and 2.406). There again, as in the whole of his morphology, man proves indubitably his descent from the mammals.

In the lower Vertebrates the formation of ova in the germ-epithelium of the ovary continues throughout life; but in the higher it is restricted to the earlier stages, or even to the period of embryonic development. In man it seems to cease in the first year; in the second year we find no new-formed ova or chains of ova (Pfluger's tubes). However, the number of ova in the two ovaries is very large in the young girl; there are calculated to be 72,000 in the sexually-mature maiden. In the production of the ova men resemble most of the anthropoid apes.

Generally speaking, the natural history of the human sexual organs is one of those parts of anthropology that furnish the most convincing proofs of the animal origin of the human race. Any man who is acquainted with the facts and impartially weighs them will conclude from them alone that we have been evolved from the lower Vertebrates. The larger and the detailed structure, the action, and the embryological development of the sexual organs are just the same in man as in the apes. This applies equally to the male and the female, the internal and the external organs. The differences we find in this respect between man and the anthropoid apes are much slighter than the differences between the various species of apes. But all the apes have certainly a common origin, and have been evolved from a long-extinct early-Tertiary stem-form, which we must trace to a branch of the lemurs. If we had this unknown pithecoid stem-form before us, we should certainly put it in the order of the true apes in the primate system; but within this order we cannot, for the anatomic and ontogenetic reasons we have seen, separate man from the group of the anthropoid apes. Here again, therefore, on the ground of the pithecometra-principle, comparative anatomy and ontogeny teach with full confidence the descent of man from the ape.


Now that we have traversed the wonderful region of human embryology and are familiar with the principal parts of it, it will be well to look back on the way we have come, and forward to the further path to truth to which it has led us. We started from the simplest facts of ontogeny, or the development of the individual--from observations that we can repeat and verify by microscopic and anatomic study at any moment. The first and most important of these facts is that every man, like every other animal, begins his existence as a simple cell. This round ovum has the same characteristic form and origin as the ovum of any other mammal. From it is developed in the same manner in all the Placentals, by repeated cleavage, a multicellular blastula. This is converted into a gastrula, and this in turn into a blastocystis (or embryonic vesicle). The two strata of cells that compose its wall are the primary germinal layers, the skin-layer (ectoderm), and gut-layer (entoderm). This two-layered embryonic form is the ontogenetic reproduction of the extremely important phylogenetic stem-form of all the Metazoa, which we have called the Gastraea. As the human embryo passes through the gastrula-form like that of all the other Metazoa, we can trace its phylogenetic origin to the Gastraea.

As we continued to follow the embryonic development of the two-layered structure, we saw that first a third, or middle layer (mesoderm), appears between the two primary layers; when this divides into two, we have the four secondary germinal layers. These have just the same composition and genetic significance in man as in all the other Vertebrates. From the skin-sense layer are developed the epidermis, the central nervous system, and the chief part of the sense-organs. The skin-fibre layer forms the corium and the motor organs--the skeleton and the muscular system. From the gut-fibre layer are developed the vascular system, the muscular wall of the gut, and the sexual glands. Finally, the gut-gland layer only forms the epithelium, or the inner cellular stratum of the mucous membrane of the alimentary canal and glands (lungs, liver, etc.).

The manner in which these different systems of organs arise from the secondary germinal layers is essentially the same from the start in man as in all the other Vertebrates. We saw, in studying the embryonic development of each organ, that the human embryo follows the special lines of differentiation and construction that are only found otherwise in the Vertebrates. Within the limits of this vast stem we have followed, step by step, the development both of the body as a whole and of its various parts. This higher development follows in the human embryo the form that is peculiar to the mammals. Finally, we saw that, even within the limits of this class, the various phylogenetic stages that we distinguish in a natural classification of the mammals correspond to the ontogenetic stages that the human embryo passes through in the course of its evolution. We were thus in a position to determine precisely the position of man in this class, and so to establish his relationship to the different orders of mammals.

The line of argument we followed in this explanation of the ontogenetic facts was simply a consistent application of the biogenetic law. In this we have throughout taken strict account of the distinction between palingenetic and cenogenetic phenomena. Palingenesis (or "synoptic development") alone enables us to draw conclusions from the observed embryonic form to the stem-form preserved by heredity. Such inference becomes more or less precarious when there has been cenogenesis, or disturbance of development, owing to fresh adaptations. We cannot understand embryonic development unless we appreciate this very important distinction. Here we stand at the very limit that separates the older and the new science or philosophy of nature. The whole of the results of recent morphological research compel us irresistibly to recognise the biogenetic law and its far-reaching consequences. These are, it is true, irreconcilable with the legends and doctrines of former days, that have been impressed on us by religious education. But without the biogenetic law, without the distinction between palingenesis and cenogenesis, and without the theory of evolution on which we base it, it is quite impossible to understand the facts of organic development; without them we cannot cast the faintest gleam of explanation over this marvellous field of phenomena. But when we recognise the causal correlation of ontogeny and phylogeny expressed in this law, the wonderful facts of embryology are susceptible of a very simple explanation; they are found to be the necessary mechanical effects of the evolution of the stem, determined by the laws of heredity and adaptation. The correlative action of these laws under the universal influence of the struggle for existence, or--as we may say in a word, with Darwin--"natural selection," is entirely adequate to explain the whole process of embryology in the light of phylogeny. It is the chief merit of Darwin that he explained by his theory of selection the correlation of the laws of heredity and adaptation that Lamarck had recognised, and pointed out the true way to reach a causal interpretation of evolution.

The phenomenon that it is most imperative to recognise in this connection is the inheritance of functional variations. Jean Lamarck was the first to appreciate its fundamental importance in 1809, and we may therefore justly give the name of Lamarckism to the theory of descent he based on it. Hence the radical opponents of the latter have very properly directed their attacks chiefly against the former. One of the most distinguished and most narrow-minded of these opponents, Wilhelm His, affirms very positively that "characteristics acquired in the life of the individual are not inherited."

The inheritance of acquired characters is denied, not only by thorough opponents of evolution, but even by scientists who admit it and have contributed a good deal to its establishment, especially Weismann, Galton, Ray Lankester, etc. Since 1884 the chief opponent has been August Weismann, who has rendered the greatest service in the development of Darwin's theory of selection. In his work on The Continuity of the Germ-plasm, and in his recent excellent Lectures on the Theory of Descent (1902), he has with great success advanced the opinion that "only those characters can be transmitted to subsequent generations that were contained in rudimentary form in the embryo." However, this germ-plasm theory, with its attempt to explain heredity, is merely a "provisional molecular hypothesis"; it is one of those metaphysical speculations that attribute the evolutionary phenomena exclusively to internal causes, and regard the influence of the environment as insignificant. Herbert Spencer, Theodor Eimer, Lester Ward, Hering, and Zehnder have pointed out the untenable consequences of this position. I have given my view of it in the tenth edition of the History of Creation (pages 192 and 203). I hold, with Lamarck and Darwin, that the hereditary transmission of acquired characters is one of the most important phenomena in biology, and is proved by thousands of morphological and physiological experiences. It is an indispensable foundation of the theory of evolution.

Of the many and weighty arguments for the truth of this conception of evolution I will for the moment merely point to the invaluable evidence of dysteleology, the science of rudimentary organs. We cannot insist too often or too strongly on the great morphological significance of these remarkable organs, which are completely useless from the physiological point of view. We find some of these useless parts, inherited from our lower vertebrate ancestors, in every system of organs in man and the higher Vertebrates. Thus we find at once on the skin a scanty and rudimentary coat of hair, only fully developed on the head, under the shoulders, and at a few other parts of the body. The short hairs on the greater part of the body are quite useless and devoid of physiological value; they are the last relic of the thicker hairy coat of our simian ancestors. The sensory apparatus presents a series of most remarkable rudimentary organs. We have seen

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