Re: For paleontologists: Is this true?

From: Keith B Miller (
Date: Sun Oct 21 2001 - 22:09:47 EDT

  • Next message: D. F. Siemens, Jr.: "Re: For paleontologists: Is this true?"

    > On skimming Sir James Jeans' Science & Music (first published in
    >1937) I noted the closing sentence:
    > "Students of evolution in the animal world tell us that the ear
    >was the last of the sense organs to arrive; it is beyond question the
    >most intricate and the most wonderful."
    > Is the statement in the first clause now correct? If so, it
    >suggests an interesting theological reflection.

    I'm not sure I can answer this directly. There is a lot left unsaid here
    -- what "senses" are being considered, what is meant by "the ear."

    If an "ear" is an organ that receives acoustic signals then fish have
    lateral line systems for that purpose. I don't know how far back lateral
    line systems are present in fish phylogeny. The early tetrapods received
    acoustic signals through their jaws. The bones at the back of the jaw
    became progressively reduced in the lineage of "mammal-like reptiles"
    (synapsids) that gave rise to mammals. These bones were already
    functioning as sound receptors when they were detached from the jaw and
    became the mammalian middle ear.

    Invertebrates such as arthropods also have a wide range of structures used
    to receive sound.


    Keith B. Miller
    Department of Geology
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

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