Biology before Darwin was almost all facts. My friend R. B. Freeman has brought to light some Victorian examination questions from our oldest English school of zoology, at University College, London. The answers called for nothing more than a voluble pouring forth of factual information…This is one (by no means the longest) of eight questions set by Professor Grant in Comparative Anatomy in February 1860:
'By what special structures are bats enabled to fly through the air? and how do the galeopitheci, the pteromys, the petaurus, and petauristae support themselves in that light element? Compare the structure of the wing of the bat with that of the bird, and with that of the extinct pterodactyl: and explain the structures by which the cobra expands its neck, and the saurian dragon flies through the atmosphere. By what structures do serpents spring from the ground, and fishes and cephalopods leap on deck from the waters? and how do flying-fishes support themselves in the air? Explain the origin, the nature, the mode of construction, and the uses of the fibrous parachutes of arachnidans and larvae, and the cocoons which envelope the young; and describe the skeletal elements which support, and the muscles which move the mesoptera and the metaptera of insects. Describe the structure, the attachments, and the principal varieties of form of the legs of insects; and compare them with the hollow articulated limbs of nereides, and the tubular feet of lumbrici. How are the muscles disposed which move the solid setae of stylaria, the cutaneous investment of ascaris, the tubular peduncle of pentalasmis, the wheels of rotifera, the feet of asterias, the mantle of medusae, and the tubular tentacles of actinae? How do entozoa effect the migrations necessary to their development and metamorphoses? how do the fixed polypifera and porifera distribute their progeny over the ocean? and lastly, how do the microscopic indestructible protozoa spread from lake to lake over the globe?'
The Grant Museum is a must-see for any visitor to London:
Here are a few poor photographs (my iPhone 4 had difficulty coping with the low light):
|The microscope slides look pretty modern to me