The British Association: Section D Biology


    Department of Anatomy and Physiology On the Conario-hypophysial Tract, or the Pineal and Pituitary Glands, by Prof. Owen, C.B., F.R.S.— The author, referring to the latest contributions to the subject of his paper, remarked that they bore upon the functions of the so-termed “glands.” Prof. Sapolini, in his work “L'Aire de la Selle Turcique”(8vo, 1880), concludes that “the pituitary gland secretes the fluid of the ventricles of the brain.” Prof. Ed. Van Beneden, in reference to the supposed pituitary gland in Ascidians, regards it as their renal secretory organ (Archives de Biologic, 8vo, 1881). In pursuance of his aim, which was homological, Prof. Owen traced the modifications of the pineal and pituitary bodies and connecting parts from man down to the lowest fishes possessing a brain; and noted the progressively increased relative size and retention of tubular structure of the tract, including the so-called “pituitary gland,” “infundibulum,” “third ventricle,” and “pineal gland,” as the vertebrate series descended; also the further extension of the pineal part of the tract, beyond the brain, to its perforation of the cranium, leaving the so-called “foramen parietale” in some existing and in many extinct Reptilia. These phenomena were then tested and compared with concomitant phases in the development of the vertebrate, especially the mammalian, embryo. It was shown, as had been noted by previous embryologists, that prior to the permanent anterior outlet of the digestive sac, a production from such sac extended to the large cerebral vesicle, subsequently reduced to a “third ventricle”; whence the hollow tract was continued onward to the epithelial covering of the head, by which it was closed. The lower pharyngeal beginning of this trans-cerebral tract also became closed and modified as the “pituitary body.” The upper continuation became modified, and in higher vertebrates closed as the “pineal body”; but the intermediate portion of the tract retained its primitive hollow condition as the “third ventricle” and “infundibulum.” The “sella turcica” in mammals, like the “foramen parietale” in cold-blooded vertebrates, were modifications in the skeleton of parts of the “conario-hypophysial tract.” This tract, under all its modifications, marked vertically the division between the “cerebrum” and the “optic lobes,” or divided the “fore-brain” from the “hind-brain.”

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    The British Association: Section D Biology. Nature 24, 498–502 (1881).

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