In examinations for the higher degrees and diplomas in science and medicine, candidates are required to show that they possess not only a knowledge of the anatomy of the chief types of the animal kingdom, but also of comparative morphology. Indeed, with respect to medicine, this latter is the more important, especially the morphology of vertebrates.
For some time past English students have found themselves considerably handicapped by the want of a short and concise textbook on this subject, to enable them to meet the requirements of Examination Boards; the text-books available for their perusal being generally of too advanced a character, and better suited for the use of those wishing to make comparative anatomy a lifelong study, than for students whose ulterior aim is the practice of medicine or some of its branches.
German students, notwithstanding the numerous works on comparative anatomy published in that country, seem to have been equally as ill off for a suitable text-book as their English confrères. So impressed was Prof. Wiedersheim that his “Lehrbuch der Vergleichenden Anatomie,” a work well known and appreciated by comparative anatomists in this country, and one of the leading works on the subject in Germany, was not a suitable book for ordinary students of medicine, that before bringing out a new edition of it he published a smaller one, entitled “Grundriss der Vergleichenden Anatomie der Wirbelthiere.” expressly to meet their requirements.
The number of English students sufficiently acquainted with German to be able to take advantage of this work in the original is unfortunately very small, but to those who could do so it has proved to be of great assistance. So well has the German edition fulfilled the object of its author, that the idea occurred to others besides Mr. Parker, that the translation of so useful a work into English was very desirable in the interests of English-speaking students, though it cannot but be a matter of regret that this should be necessary, and probably would not have been so, were English students as well acquainted with the German language as its importance demands they should be.