For the teleosts Xiphophorus montezuma, Platypoecilius maculatus, and their F1 hybrids the temperature characteristics (µ in Arrhenius' equation) are the same for the shift of the low intensity and the high intensity segments of the respective and different flicker response contours (critical intensity I as a function of flash frequency F, with light time fraction constant, at 50 per cent). The value of µ is 12,500 calories or a very little less, over the range 12.5 to 36°. This shows that 1/I can be understood as a measure of excitability, with F fixed, and that the excitability is governed by the velocity of a chemical process common to both the classes of elements represented in the duplex performance curve (rods and cones).
It is accordingly illegitimate to assume that the different shapes of the rod and cone branches of the curves are determined by differences in the chemical mechanisms of excitability. It is also forbidden to assume that the differing form constants for the homologous segments in the curves for two forms (X. and P.) are the reflections of a difference in the chemical factors of primary excitability. These differences are determined by statistical factors of the distribution of excitabilities among the elements implicated in the sensory effect vs. intensity function, and are independent of temperature and of the temperature characteristic.
It must be concluded that the physicochemical nature of the excitatory process cannot be deduced from the shape of the performance contour.
The form constants (σ'log I and Fmax.) for F vs. log I are specifically heritable in F1, although µ is here the same as for X. and P. In an intergeneric cross one cannot in general expect Mendelian simplicity of segregation in subsequent generations, and in the present case we find that F2 individuals are indistinguishable from F1, both as regards F vs. log I and as regards the variation of I within a group of 17 individuals. The result in F2 definitely shows, however, that certain specific statistical form constants for the F-log I contour are transmissible in inheritance. It is pointed out that there thus is provided an instance in which statistical (distribution) factors in performance characteristics involving the summating properties of assemblages of cellular units are heritable in a simple manner without the implication of detectable differences in chemical organization of the units involved. This has an important bearing upon the logic of the theory of the gene.