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I BELIEVE that all the instances which I shall collect under this title, might, consistently enough with technical language, have been placed under the head of Comparative Anatomy. But there appears to me an impropriety in the use which that term hath obtained; it being, in some sort, absurd to call that a case of comparative anatomy, in which there is nothing to “compare;", in which a conformation is found in one animal, which hath nothing properly answering to it in another. Of this kind are the examples which I have to propose in the present chapter: and the reader will see that, though some of them be the strongest, perhaps, he will meet with under any division of our subject, they must necessarily be of an unconnected and miscellaneous nature. To dispose them, i however, into some sort of order, we will notice, first, particularities of structure which belong to quadrupeds, birds, and fish, as such, or to many of the kinds included in these classes of animals; and then, sạch particu
upper end of
end of a crop
larities as are confined to one or two species.
I. Along each side of the neck of large quadrupeds, runs a stiff, robust cartilage, which butchers call the pax-wax. person can carve the
of beef without driving his knife against it. It is a tough, strong, tendinous substance, braced from the head to the middle of the back: its office is to assist in supporting the weight of the head. It is a mechanical provision, of which this is the undisputed, use; and it is sufficient, and not more than sufficient, for the purpose which it has to execute. The head of an ox or a horse is a heavy weight, acting at the end of a long lever (consequently with a great purchase), and in a direction nearly perpendicular to the joints of the supporting neck. From such a force, so' advantageously applied, the bones of the neck would be in constant danger of dislocation, if they were not fortified by this strong tape. No such organ is found in the human subject, , because, from the erect position of the head (the pressure of it acting nearly in the direction of the spine) the junction of the vertebræ appears to be sufficiently secure without it. This cautionary expedient, therefore, is limit
ed to quadrupeds: the care of the Creator is seen where it is wanted. II. The oil with which birds
their feathers, and the organ which supplies it, is a specific provision for the winged creation. On each side of the rump of birds is observed a small nipple, yielding upon pressure a butter-like substance, which the bird extracts by pinching the pap with its bill. With this oil, or ointment, thus procured, the bird dresses its coat; and repeats the action as often as its own sensations teach it that it is in any part wanted, or as the excretion
may be sufficient for the expense. The gland, the pap, the nature and quality of the excreted substance, the manner of obtaining it from its lodgement in the body, the application of it when obtained, form, collectively, an evidence of intention which it is not easy to withstand. Nothing similar to it is found in unfeathered animals. What: blind conatus of nature should produce it in birds; should not produce it in beasts?
III. The air-bladder also of a fish affords a plain and direct instance, not only of contrivance, but strictly of that species of contrivance which we denominate mechanical. It is a philosophical apparatus in the body of
an animal. The principle of the contrivance is clear; the application of the principle is also clear. The use of the organ to sustain, and, at will, also to elevate, the body of the fish in the water, is proved by observing, what has been tried, that, when the bladder is burst, the fish grovels at the bottom; and also, that founders, soles, skates, which are without the air-bladder, seldom rise in the water, and that with effort. · The manner in wliich the purpose
is attained, and the suitableness of the means to the end, are not difficult to be apprehended. The rising and sinking of a fish in water, so far as it is independent of the stroke of the fins and tail, can only be regulated by the specific gravity of tire bóly. : When the bladder, contained in the body of the fish; is contracted, which the Sisli probably possesses a muscular power of doing, the bulk of the fish is contracted along with it; whereby, since the absolute weight remains the same, the specific gravity, which is the sinking force, is inereased, and the fish descends: 'on the contrary, when, in consequence of the relaxatidii of the muscles, the
clasticity of the inclosed and now compressed air, restore : the-dimensions of the bladder, -- the temteney ilowinrards técques proportion
ably less than it was before, or is turned into
a contrary tendency. These are known properties of bodies immersed in a fluid. The enamelled figures, or little glass bubbles, in a jar of water, are made to rise and fall by the same artifice. A diving machine might be made to ascend and descend, upon the like principle ; namely, by introducing into the inside of it an air-vessel, which, by its contraction, would diminish, and by its distension enlarge, the bulk of the machine itself, and thuş render it specifically heavier, or specifically lighter, than the water which surrounds it. Suppose this to be done, and the artist to solicit a patent for his invention. The inspectors of the model, whatever they might think of the use or value of the contrivance, could, by no possibility, entertain a question in their minds, whether it were a contrivance or not. No reason has ever been assigned,,no reason can be assigned, why the conclusion is not as certain in the fish, as it is in the machine ; why the argument is not as firm in one case as the other.
It would be very worthy of inquiry, if it were possible to discover, by what method an animal, which lives constantly in water, is able to supply a repository of air. The expedient, whatever it be, forms part, and perhaps the most curious part, of the provision. No