Although the signification of a part or organ cannot be properly understood without careful comparison with other parts or organs, by means of which its true place in nature can be determined; yet the first enunciation of the meaning of the cranial bones was more the result of the inspiration of genius, than of that laboured process of reasoning upon observation by which the various details have been at length worked out. The celebrated Oken, wandering in the south of the Hartz Mountains in August 1806, stumbled upon the blanched, and partially disarticulated skull of a deer. He picked it up, and was examining it, when the idea flashed like lightning across him : "It is a vertebral column!" His forcible and poetical language attracted the attention of anatomists to the subject. That same genius, however, which pointed out to him the great fact, even before he well knew the proofs upon which it rested, led him aside into the mazes of transcendentalism; for he thought to prove not only the existence of cranial vertebrae, but likewise the repetition in the head of the extremities in modified forms. The malar bones and the upper jaws were compared to the arms; the two halves of the lower jaws to the legs, and the teeth to the nails. The resemblance of the occipital protuberance to a spinous process; of the mastoid to a transverse process; and of the condyles to articulating processes; was recognised by Dumeril; Cams believed in the existence of three, and Meckel of four, cranial vertebrae; but the spirit with which these investigations were carried on, received a check from one who was not more renowned for his extensive researches and original thought, than for the perspicuity and classical beauty of his writings.
* Sur les ossemens fossiles.