Scientific Serials


    THE Quarterly Journal of Microscopic Science for this month commences with two articles which are of special interest to embryologists, and therefore to biologists generally. The former of these is by Mr. F. M. Balfour, entitled “A Preliminary Account of the Development of the Elasmobranch Fishes;” it occupies about forty pages, and is fully illustrated. The investigations were conducted at the Zoological Station at Naples, which illustrates the value of that institution, and the justifiable-ness of Dr. Dohrn's enthusiasm. The earliest stages of development are those most minutely described. The points of greatest interest made out are the following:-(1) The epiblast of the blastoderm in that part which corresponds to the caudal extremity of the future embryo, folds round inwards and becomes continuous with the deeper layers; which leads the author to conclude that, as the hypoblastic origin of the alimentary canal is connected with the presence of a food-yolk, and in origin its those animals which develop an “anus of Rusconi” is not so, the former is but an adaptation. (2) The notochord is shown to be developed from the hypoblast, the mesoblast forming a mass on each side of it. This may depend upon the mesoblast, whose lateral columns just referred to, are “split off, so to speak, from the hypoblast,” also developing a median independent sheet; or it may be, which unbiassed observation undoubtedly supports, that the notochord is a true hypoblastic structure. The former of these views, as the author remarks, “proves too much,” since it is clear that by the same method of reasoning we could prove the mesoblastic origin of any organ derived from the hypoblast and budded off into the mesoblast. If Mr. Balfour's fundamental fact is verified, it will much modify the argument as to the homology of organs as based upon their embryonic origin. (3) The medullary groove is quite flattened put in the cephalic region at the time that the canal is fully formed in the caudal. This paper is well worthy of careful study.—Mr. Ray Lankester writes on the development of the pond snail (Lymnoeus stagnalis), and on the early stages of other mollusca. He begins by describing the shell-gland, which is situated below the developing shell; he shows its presence in Lamellibranchs, Gasteropods, Pceropods, also in the Brachiopoda and Loxosoma. From this I the question is asked whether it in any way corresponds to the pen of the Dibranchiate Cephalopoda and the internal shell of Limax. Reasons are given in favour of the plug, which is always found to occupy the shell-gland, being developed into the latter; but with regard to the former, the author, from originally holding the opinion that it has a similar origin, now thinks differently for the following reasons:-The pen of Loligo must correspond to the guard of the Belemnite, in which the phragmacone is aborted. This guard is only a sheath to the phragmacone, which again corresponds to the whole shell of Spirula. The shell of Spirula must have been preceded by the shell-gland, therefore the plug of the latter cannot have been the direct origin of the Loligo pen. The latter part of the paper discusses the development of the pond-snail in detail.—Mr. E. A. Schafer describes an ingenious and much-improved microscope warm-stage, in which a mercury valve regulates the gas supply to a small circulating boiler. He remarks that much of the cooling is produced by the proximity of the objective, and suggests that this may be warmed by coiling a tube round it. It has always occurred to us to ask whether the heating of objectives does not injure, for the time being, their optical powers; as they are constructed so as to be achromatic, &c., at the average temperature of the air, and very slight differences must produce material changes in the distance between the lenses and their shape.

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    Scientific Serials . Nature 10, 513–514 (1874).

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