The bones which bear the two occipital condyles have given rise to much discussion, and the definition given by Huxley in the previous edition - "two occipital condyles, the basi-occipital region of the skull either very incompletely or not at all ossified" - requires revision.
Some authors have held that the bone on which the occipital condyles have been found most developed in some labyrinthodonts (2) represents a large basi-occipital bearing two knobs for the articulation with the first vertebra, whilst the skull of the batrachians of the present day has lost the basi-occipital, and the condyles are furnished by the exoccipitals.
Woodward (3) to show that, in that form at any rate, the condyles are really exoccipital, although they are separated by a narrow basi-occipital.
From both birds and reptiles the class is distinguished, so far at any rate as existing forms are concerned, by the following features: the absence of a nucleus in the red corpuscles of the blood, which are nearly always circular in outline; the free suspension of the lungs in a thoracic cavity, separated from the abdominal cavity by a muscular partition, or diaphragm, which is the chief agent in inflating the lungs in respiration; the aorta, or main artery, forming but a single arch after leaving the heart, which curves over the left terminal division of the windpipe, or bronchus; the presence of more or fewer hairs on the skin and the absence of feathers; the greater development of the bridge, or commissure, connecting the two halves of the brain, which usually forms a complete corpus callosum, or displays an unusually large size of its anterior portion; the presence of a fully developed larynx at the upper end of the trachea or windpipe, accompanied by the absence of a syrinx, or expansion, near the lower end of the same; the circumstance that each half of the lower jaw (except perhaps at a very early stage of development) consists of a single piece articulating posteriorly with the squamosal element of the skull without the intervention of a separate quadrate bone; the absence of prefrontal bones in the skull; the presence of a pair of lateral knobs, or condyles (in place of a single median one), on the occipital aspect of the skull for articulation with the first vertebra; and, lastly, the very obvious character of the female being provided with milk-glands, by the secretion of which the young (produced, except in the very lowest group, alive and not by means of externally hatched eggs) are nourished for some time after birth.
Osborn, the tripartite reptilian condyle, by the loss of its median element, has given rise to the paired mammalian condyles; so that this difficulty disappears.