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IMPERIAL . PARLIAMENT.

PROFESSOR HUXLEY ON THE PEDIGREE…

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PROFESSOR HUXLEY ON THE PEDIGREE OF THE HORSE. On Friday night Professor Huxley delivered a lecture at the Royal Institution, London, before a very large audience, upon "The Pedigree of the Horse." Sir Henry Holland, Bart., F.R.S., presided. Professor Huxley began by saying that time now travels faster than it used to do. It was now ten years since he had the honour of addressing a public audience on the origin of species and the theory of evolution due to the genius of Charles Darwin. At that time the theory was passing through the trial, through the struggle for existence, which all youthful organisms in nature have to undergo. On that occa- sion he succeeded eo far in overcoming his natural love for peace and quietness—(laughter)—as to advocate what was then a repressed doctrine. Now all was changed. The doctrine which then was regularly refuted and overthrown once in every six weeks had since grown to such an extent that it was now the leading doctrine of most of the first scientific men in 1 Europe, and he thought it would be well to get up a little constitutional opposition to its tenets, for now it j entered even into the considerations of its adversaries, i The nineteenth century, as far as science was con- i cerned, would be known in history as having given birth to two doctrines—namely, the doctrine of the conservation of force, and the doctrine of evolution as ( set forth by Charles Darwin. The foundations of the first of these theories are as firmly set as the walls of the Royal Institution, but the other is not yet on quite 1 such a stable footing. The doctrine rests upon three J pillars of observation and experiment. The first of j these is the production of living matter from matter I not living; the next is the production of new species by natural selection; the third piller was historical < evidence of living animals succeeding each other in a j way which met the requirements of the doctrine, j When these three lines of ev^ence h 1.r .-sa ¡;nbÔrv:Ei ø J^SrOT9a £ SBtfWfirBt of these we were now in an f unsatisfactory state as regards the second, c In spite of an enormous accumulation of pro- -t babilities, we yet stand without the direct pro. duction of a new species from one common stock r but as regards the third point, which not long since i was the weakest of all, it is now, in a sense, the head c stone of the corner, and may be more satisfactorily I relied upon than either of the other two. j: The rocks reveal to us transitional forms between II animals now existing and those long gone, and yield to I, the philosopher fossils transitional between groups of animals now far apart. At a lecture delivered at the 11 institution two or three yeara ago, he had brought un* der their notice forms transitional between the widely- t separated groups of birds and reptiles; and the reason- t ing he then adduced had been rendered stronger by a subsequent observation, mere especially by the dis- coveries of Professor Cooke, of Philadelphia. What 0 was required to form good historical geological evi- b dence ? Let A, B, and C be three geological strata, g each successive one older than the other; and let X, c Y, Z be groups of animal forms, succeeding each other, c If he could show tnat there was a gradual progression t of A X to B Y, and from B Y to C Z, it was the t highest kind of proof which could be gives. But it is exceedingly hard to find evidence of this kind good r enough to satisfy critical minds, and at present it would be very injurious to bring forward evidence of a I less conclusive nature. c But he had one particular case to bring before them, which he thought would stand any amount of Worrying, and tearing, and "pulling about. The case in question was of particular interest, because it concerned an ( animal of which Englishmen were exceedingly proud, J that is to say—the horse. He was told that some among his listeners were on the look-out for what are J called "tips "in his lecture—(laughter)—but on this I occasion he was going to treat the subject in a thoroughly scientific way, and none other. AH t animals and things which were very accurately ( and delicately balanced were apt to be very beautiful. < On the same principle the beauty of the body of the < horse probably has much to do with its being < one of the best possible pieces of apparatus for 1 running swiftly along the land. In many respects the organisation of the horse departed in an extraordinary way from what may be called the f average quadruped," and the peculiarities to which he ] desired to call special attention were those of the fore I limbs, the hind limbs, and the teeth. What was called titt knee of the horse was in reality the wrist of the snunal. Human beings had two bones in the fore-arm, < and this was also the case with most quadrupeds, but in the horse these two bones were completely fused and < bound together into one. In most horses and asses the I two bones were soldered together, and the shaft of I the ulna nearly disappeared. The horse's hoof an- I swered to the fingers of the human hand, only in the hoof some of the bones and fingers of the hand were < missing, and the horse in reality rests upon the end of the nail of the middle finger. What haa become f of the other fingers? Two of them were taken: away, and two of the other bones were reduced to < little splints, which could be seen from the outside of I the horse's foot. This peculiarity was found only in < these animals. In the hind-legs of the horse the small bone was reduced as in the fore-legs, and the middle toe was there with its nail made into a hoof. 1 The horse had also a peculiar construction of the < grinding teeth of the upper and lower jaw, some por- < tions of these teeth being harder than other portions, so that each tooth wore unequally in different parts, whereby it always had a rough surface for grinding pur- < poses, something like the face of a millstone. The tooth I wascomposedofridgesandpillars, bone and cement, very < curiously arranged with respect to each other, and a I set of such teeth made a very efficient mill for the use of the horse. In a very young horse—that is to say, in ] a horse a foot long, before it was born-there were the remains of the ulna much more complete than in the < grown animal, and in the young horse the rudiments of < the toes were larger in proportion than in the adult ] Sometimes horses were born with extra toes, and there was a specimen of this kind in the museum of the 1 College of Surgeons. At the present time also there ] was a South American pony in the Victoria Docks 1 with an extra toe each hoof, and the toes could be < felt by the finger. If these facts were interpreted by the doctrine of evolution, what did it say? It said that the missing < toss of the horse must have vanished from some animal 1 preceding the horse, which had the normal number of tpes, and that the ancestors of the horse must at one wmehave had the leg and foot bones complete, although these were blotted out before the hone was turned iato a. Perfect running machine. It also said that at one tune the teeth of the horse must have resembled those j of other herbivorous animals. It almr said that the ] young or embryonic form often resembled the commdn form, more than the adult animal did. The extra toe m some cases, was probably but a reversion tothe type remote ancestor—nevertheless, he did not lay "N"n uPon this point himself. did palaeontology say to all this? The T7nron« aiL ^orae were found in profusion ail over t Annrmmn an<* they existed in geological strata °f -X?n^ wiquity; th«y could be Wd back to penodslGDg before any indications of the existence of man had a y t been found, yet the horses and asses of that remote penod resembled in nearly every respect the horses andaeses which now ran wild in many parts of Asia and Africa. On going still further back to the upper xnioeene penod-a time when the world alto- gether differed from its present condition as regarded its geographical features—the horse was still found with all its present peculiarities, and the two differ from each other only in minute details. But side by side with the remains of the horse in this deposit were the remains of another horse-like creature called the "hipparion" or "little horse." As much was known about the hipparion as about the horse. There was no break in the series of time, for both are found in the same deposit. In the fore limb of the hipparion the leg bones were united, but the extra one was traceable, and the leg bones were nearer to the average type; the animal also had two little hoofs or fingers, one on each side of the main hoof, but they appeared to have been of no use whatever. The tooth was still very horsev, but it was changed nearer to the ordinary type. There was, therefore, in the upper miocene an animal which resembles the horse in some narticiilara. and denarts from it in others. Professor Huxley continued Did the horse succeed the hipparion? Was it conceivable that the one animal was struck out of existence altogether, and that the other was then created afresh out of nothing ? Was it thinkable? If so, he might as well give up his theory altogether. Having proceeded thus far, the investigator turns with considerable confidence to his geological remains to look for the hypothetical ancestor of the hipparion. This ancestor was found in the ancbitherium, and its remains were found in the lower miocene, but not in the upper as yet, so that there is a greater gap between the anchitherium and the hipparion than between the latter and the horae. In the anchitherium the leg bones are still more separated it has three toes in the fore limb, the two outside ones being half as big as the middle toe, so that the foot somewhat resembles that of the tapir. This animal, therefore, has the fore foot which theory requires that it should have. In the hind leg the bones are more divided than in the case of the hipparion, the binder feet have three toes, and the teeth have not the plasticity of those (If the horse, but approach more nearly to those of the ordinary type. Thus in these three animals there are proofs of gradual progression in teeth, hind legs, and fore legs, all the rest of the organisation of each being horse-like. He submitted, then, that these animals fulfilled the conditions which he laid down at the beginning of his lecture, and that it was impossible to obtain evidence more complete in kind than this of the pedigree and origin of the horse. If a man says that he can trace his pedigree back to the time of the Conquest—well, there is no harm in that; but if he says that he has descended from King Arthur or Noah, the evidence is not worth much. In like manner the history of the horse had been traced by him in the lecture as far back as the Conquest but he wished to go a little further, md look a little over the edge of certainty, to get some idea of what is lying on the other side. He then pointed out that in the eocene period there are remain )f animals which are probably remote ancestors of the lorse; the plagiolophus minor to wit. This animal nore approaches the rodents in type, but it differs trom the horse only in degree, and not in kind. He concluded by remarking that if Darwin's doctrine 8 made out in this one case of the horse, it is strong mdence that similarmodifications have taken place in til cases.

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