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Geological Contemporaneity and Persistent Types of Life
written by "Huxley, Thomas Henry, 1825-1895"
...tween Macrura and Brachyura—the Anomura—are little better represented in the older Mesozoic rocks than the Brachyura are. None of the cases of progressive modification which are cited from among the Invertebrata appear to me to have a foundation less open to criticism than these; and if this be so, no careful reasoner would, I think, be inclined to lay very great stress upon them. Among the Vertebrata, however, there are a few examples which appear to be far less open to objection. It is, in fact, true of several groups of Vertebrata which have lived through a considerable range of time, that the endoskeleton (more particularly the spinal column) of the older genera presents a less ossified, and, so far, less differentiated, condition than that of the younger genera. Thus the Devonian Ganoids, though almost all members of the same sub-order as 'Polypterus', and presenting numerous important resemblances to the existing genus, which possesses biconcave vertebrae, are, for the most part, wholly devoid of ossified vertebral centra. The Mesozoic Lepidosteidae, again, have, at most, biconcave vertebrae, while the existing 'Lepidosteus' has Salamandroid, opisthocoelous, vertebrae. So, none of the Paleozoic Sharks have shown themselves to be possessed of ossified vertebrae, while the majority of modern Sharks possess such vertebrae. Again, the more ancient Crocodilia and Lacertilia have vertebrae with the articular facets of their centra flattened or biconcave, while the modern members of the same group have them procoelous. But the most remarkable examples of progressive modification of the vertebral column, in correspondence with geological age, are those afforded by the Pycnodonts among fish, and the Labyrinthodonts among Amphibia. The late able ichthyologist Heckel pointed out the fact, that, while the Pycnodonts never possess true vertebral centra, they differ in the degree of expansion and extension of the ends of...

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