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Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)

Abby Sale 22 Sep 05 - 09:10 AM
Micca 22 Sep 05 - 12:27 PM
Abby Sale 23 Sep 05 - 09:31 AM
Rumncoke 23 Sep 05 - 10:32 PM
Ron Davies 23 Sep 05 - 11:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Sep 05 - 11:36 PM
Ron Davies 23 Sep 05 - 11:36 PM
Ron Davies 23 Sep 05 - 11:38 PM
Abby Sale 24 Sep 05 - 10:23 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Sep 05 - 10:40 PM
Bill D 24 Sep 05 - 11:20 PM
Mark Cohen 25 Sep 05 - 12:31 AM
Abby Sale 25 Sep 05 - 11:06 AM
Stilly River Sage 25 Sep 05 - 01:58 PM
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Subject: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 22 Sep 05 - 09:10 AM


Happy Birthday!

German naturalist

Peter Simon Pallas

was born 9/22/1741
(d.Sept 8, 1811)

In 1778 he discovered the Amphioxus (or lancelet), the cephalochordate Branchiostoma. Although not on the main line that leads to us, anatomically the most primitive member of our phylum, the Chordata (vertebrates start a little farther along on.) It was once thought to be the mother of all vertebrates.

        It's a long way from amphioxus
        It's a long way to us,
        It's a long way from amphioxus
        To the meanest human cuss.
        Well, it's good-bye to fins and gill slits
        And it's welcome lungs and hair,
        It's a long, long way from amphioxus
        But we all came from there.

                "It's a Long Way from Amphioxus," Anon., Tune: "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"
                Other, anonymous folk claim written by Philip H. Pope of Cold Spring Harbor
                in 1921

The song was found - appearing apparently by spontaneous generation - on a bulletin board at Woods Hole or at MBL, Massachusetts, in the early 1920's. The most esteemed Sam Hinton learned it from Mr. Sewell H. Hopkins of the Zoology Department In 1934, when Sam was a freshman zoology major at Texas A & M. Mr. Hopkins didn't sing it, but declaimed it as a poem, with quite vivid histrionics. "Amphioxus" was taught to nearly all USian marine biologists for decades as gospel may now be pleasurably discovered on Sam Hinton's The Song of Men; Smith/Folkways.

Technically Amphioxus is not now considered the mother of all vertebrates. Joe Felsenstein says: It is the most distantly related of all chordates. This still proves true, using molecular data, by the way. Chordates are the ones that have a notochord, but vertebrates have a bit more -- they are all chordates except hagfishes and the amphioxus. The name of the group that includes the amphioxi is the Cephalochordates. The scientific (generic) name of the amphioxus is Branchiostoma. Amphioxus and lancelet are in effect "common" names of no official status.

Then there is the sticky question of "mother of all." The ancestor of all chordates may have looked a lot like an amphioxus, and it retains many of those features.   But technically it has evolved away from that ancestor for as long as you and I. So people get irritable about calling it "primitive," though for gross anatomical features I don't think that this is unfair.

Joe has solved the worldwide enigma of whether the song came from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) or the lesser-known Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) that is next door. Since WHOI didn't exist until 1930, it must be the MBL.

Some (says Sam Hinton) have tried to credit it to Prof. Walter Garstang (1868-1949) of the U.K., but I understand he disavowed it, and it does not appear in his book of collected poems entitled Larval Forms. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1962 [3rd printing]}. In his day Amphioxus (now Branchiostoma) was often cited as proving the theory of recapitulation, and Garstang was the first scientist to try to repudiate that theory. One of his last communications was to the effect that Amphioxus most nearly represented a paedomorphic neotenous larva of a Cyclostome. So I guess he didn't write the song!


"Happy" editor's note: As simple and straightforward as the above, at first reading, may seem; at second reading there seems some potential that we have completely misunderstood and wildly misrepresented the reasoned and genuinely expert information kindly provided the Happy Foundation by Messrs. Hinton and Felsenstein. We can only abashedly apologize and assume full credit for all errors.

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Micca
Date: 22 Sep 05 - 12:27 PM

Prof Garstang also penned the memorable verse on Amoebas

" The Amoeba shuns coition
multiplies by binary fission
it finds this method most effectual
Dirty little homosexual!!"


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 09:31 AM

:-)


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Rumncoke
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 10:32 PM

A slightly altered by the folk process 'Amphioxus' is in my repertoire - I always wanted to write a song on the subject of the Branchiostoma to the tune Oklahoma, but somehow have never got around to it.

Its a long was from Amphioxus, and all things amphibious!!

Anne


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 11:23 PM

This is one of the all-time best "Happies"--so much information, especially on the history.
Even if it doesn't turn out to be absolutely accurate, it sure is a great story for anybody singing the song.

I taped "Amphioxus" from Prairie Home Companion, oh, about 20 years ago. Have been meaning to learn it ever since--both the chorus and the verses are wonderful. I'll definitely have to try to dig out that tape. Also on the show was a romantic song about the chemical makeup of salt.

Thanks so much.


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 11:36 PM

Haven't sung 'Amphioxus' since I was a Freshman.
More than you want to know here: Introduction


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 11:36 PM

How about that--it's already in the DT. Well, that simplifies things. But your info really puts flesh on the bones, (pun at least somewhat intended).

Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 11:38 PM

You're right, Q. You'd have to have a very select audience to give that introduction before singing the song.


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 10:23 AM

Q,

Thanks for the reference. I did not read it but did copy it for my file which I will never read. I seem to recall that when I originally put the item together, I carefully read that piece three or five times then turned off the big red switch on the side of my computer and cut the modem chord with a scissor. That made it, of course, a chord-not-a. The title of Dr Waggoner's most interesting page adds to my notion that the song is (was) known to marine biologists but also to invertebrate paleontologist / evolutionary biologists.

If you have still more interest in this stuff (and God help you, if you do) I refer you to Joe's info which included:

Jeff Moran's "Dr. Chordate" pages include a copy of the song [http://www.tranquility.net/~scimusic/lyrics.html#Biologysongs] and mention of its presence in the book "Songs of Biology" in 1948.
Joseph M. Newcomer has presented The Annotated Amphioxus [http://www.flounder.com/amphioxus.htm], which explains much of the terminology of the song.
The excellent Cephalochordate page at the web site of the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley, California, has lots of information about the amphioxus and, in the page title, makes reference to the song.
-----------------

You can hear Sam on RealAudio singing it AND trying to explain/intro the thing at http://www.sandiegohistory.org/audio/hinton/amphioxus.ram (but buy the tape, anyway.)


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 10:40 PM

The song would be known to anyone whose field of study is based on organisms, since paleontology, evolutionary paleontology-biology, medicine veterinary or human, etc., are all rooted in biology. Everyone in these and other specialties, the medical disciplines, forensic anthropology, entomology and herpetology, and a great big etc. would have taken freshman biology at the beginning of their university studies.


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Sep 05 - 11:20 PM

Gee, Ron...Bob Clayton (SongBob) and I have been doing "Amphioxious" at odd times for many years. I have the original Sam Hinton "Songs of Men..." LP that had the booklet with a drawing of Amphioxius.


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 12:31 AM

Is that the same Joe Felsenstein who was in the Seattle Song Circle in the mid-80's? I seem to remember that he was a biologist. Or has my memory played its usual tricks with his name?   (A couple of years ago I had a rather long email conversation with Mudcatter Steve Latimer, trying to determine if he was, or was related to, an oboist who sat near me in the Woodrow Wilson Junior High School Orchestra in Philadelphia. I later realized that the oboe player's last name was not Latimer at all, but Labiner.)

"Amphioxus" was one of the late John Dwyer's favorite ditties.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 11:06 AM

Sounds right, Mark. Washington, anyway. I'll PM you his e-mail. Decent feller. And knows some things, too.


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Subject: RE: Happy! - Sept 22 (Amphioxus)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 Sep 05 - 01:58 PM

Mark is correct, and at the Song Circle/potluck held after Dad died, the song was requested but few could remember all of it, so Bruce Baker got up and sang the song from the blue book. None of us are singers so didn't volunteer, but all of the Dwyers in the room already knew it by heart. :)


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