Moreover, it veiled the honest attempts that were making both in France and Germany to find real grounds for establishing an improved state of things, and consequently the labours of De Blainville, Etienne, Geoffroy St-Hilaire and L'Herminier, of Merrem, Johannes Muller and Nitzsch-to say nothing of others-were almost wholly unknown on this side of the Channel, and even the value of the investigations of British ornithotomists of high merit, such as Macartney and Pvlacgillivray, was almost completely overlooked.
According to the testimony of L'Herminier (for whom see later) he divided the " Passereaux" into two sections, the " faux " and the " vrais "; but, while the latter were very correctly defined, the former were most arbitrarily separated from the " Grimpeurs."
Now we must return to France, where, in 1827, L'Herminier, a creole of Guadaloupe and a pupil of De Blainville's, contributed to the Actes of the Linnaean Society of Paris for that year (vi.
There is no evidence, so far as we can see, of his having been aware of Merrem's views; but like that anatomist he without hesitation divided the class into, two great " coupes," to which he gave, however, no other names than " Oiseaux normaux " and" Oiseaux anomaux "-exactly corresponding with his predecessor's Carinatae and Ratitae-and, moreover, he had a great advantage in founding these groups, since he had discovered, apparently from his own investigations, that the mode of ossification in each was distinct; for hitherto the statement of there being five centres of ossification in every bird's sternum seems to have been accepted as a general truth, without contradiction, whereas in the ostrich and the rhea, at any rate, L'Herminier found that there were but two such primitive points, 3 and from analogy 1 Their value was, however, understood by Gloger, who in 1834, as will presently be seen, expressed his regret at not being able to use them.
4 These are the forms which composed the family previously termed Cursores by De Blainville; but L'Herminier was able to distinguish no fewer than thirty-four families of " Oiseaux normaux," and the judgment with which their separation and definition were effected must be deemed on the whole to be most creditable to him.
It is to be remarked, however, that the wealth of the Paris Museum, which he enjoyed to the full, placed him in a situation incomparably more favourable for arriving at results than that which was occupied by Merrem, to whom many of the most remarkable forms were wholly unknown, while L'Herminier had at his disposal examples of nearly every type then known to exist.
L'Herminier thus separated the families of " Normal Birds ": 1.
To enable the reader to compare the several groups of Nitzsch with the families of L'Herminier, the numbers applied by the latter to his families are suffixed in square brackets to the names of the former; and, disregarding the order of sequence, which is here immaterial, the essential correspondence of the two systems is worthy of all attention, for it obviously means that these two investigators, starting from different points, must have been on the right track, when they so often coincided as to the limits of what they considered to be, and what we are now almost justified in calling, natural groups.'
The latter's name seems not to be even mentioned by him, but Nitzsch was in Paris in the summer of 1827, and it is almost impossible that he should not have heard of L'Herminier's labours, unless the relations between the followers of Cuvier to whom Nitzsch attached himself, and those of De Blainville, whose pupil L'Herminier was, were such as to forbid anv communication between the rival schools.
Nitzsch's silence, both on this occasion and afterwards, is very curious; but he cannot be accused of plagiarism, for the scheme given above is only an amplification of that foreshadowed by him (as already mentioned) in 1820 - a scheme which seems to have been equally unknown to L'Herminier, perhaps through linguistic difficulty.
Considering the enormous stride in advance made by L'Herminier, it is very disappointing for the historian to have to record that the next inquirer into the osteology of birds achieved a Berthold.
It had hitherto been generally believed that the mode of ossification in the fowl was that which obtained in all birds - the ostrich and its allies (as L'Herminier, we have seen, had already shown) excepted.
The points at issue between Cuvier and Etienne Geoffroy St-Hilaire before mentioned naturally attracted the attention of L'Herminier, who in 1836 presented to the French Academy the results of his researches into the mode Isidore of growth of that bone which in the adult bird he had already studied to such good purpose.
L'Herminier arrived at the conclusion that, so far from there being only two or three different modes by which the process of ossification in the sternum is carried out, the number of different modes is very considerable - almost each natural group of birds having its own.
These nine theoretical centres or " pieces " L'Herminier deemed to be disposed in three transverse series (rangees), namely the anterior or " prosternal," the middle or " mesosternal " and the posterior or " metasternal " - each series consisting of three portions, one median piece and two side-pieces.
As regards the ducks, L'Herminier agreed with Cuvier that there are commonly only two centres of ossification - the side-pieces of the middle series; but as these grow to meet one another a distinct median " noyau," also of the same series, sometimes appears, which soon forms a connexion with each of them.
He knew at least the earlier investigations of L'Herminier, and, though the work of Nitzsch, even if he had ever heard of it, must (through ignorance of the language in which it was written) have been to him a sealed book, he had followed out and extended the hints already given by Temminck as to the differences which various groups of birds display in their moult.
He of course knew the investigations of L'Herminier and De Blainville on sternal formation, and he also seems to have been aware of some pterylological differences exhibited by birds - whether those of Nitzsch or those of Jacquemin is not stated.
It was also within the scope of his plan to have continued on a more extended scale the researches on ossification begun by L'Herminier, and thus M.
Few, if any, of the faults of that classification are removed, and the improvements suggested, if not established by his successors, those especially of other countries than France, are ignored, or, as is the case with some of those of L'Herminier, are only cited to be set aside.
On the other hand L'Herminier in 1827 saw features in the Tinamou's sternum that in his judgment linked the bird to the Rallidae.
In addition to the works above quoted valuable information about this curious bird may be found under the following references: L'Herminier, Ann.