Alternate Title

A Historical Note Concerning Salt in Vertebrate Blood and in the Sea

Document Type

Short Communication


In 1902 and 1903 G. von Bunge and A. B. Macallum became impressed independently with the similarity between the salt content of ocean water and vertebrate blood. Von Bunge’s ideas concerned NaCl and were stated in a physiology text. Macallum’s ideas, related mostly to the proportions of Na, K, and Ca in sea water and blood, were set forth in a series of papers ending in 1926. Bayliss (1927) and Pearse and Gunter (1957) accepted this thesis. Conway (1943, 1945) questioned it on the grounds that the salts from land erosion do not correspond to those in the sea. However, Rubey (1951) has shown that sea salt has come from the deep Earth rather than erosion. All ensuing discoveries have corresponded to that idea. As a side issue, the theory of the freshwater origin of fishes has succumbed to a large number of questioning papers. Now the von Bunge-Macallum theory is generally unquestioned.

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