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OPHIOCYTIUM. TN the Micrographic Dictionary it is said that no 1 species of Ophiocytium have yet been observed in Britain. The plant, therefore, of which I send a drawing, and which seems to be undoubtedly a species of Ophiocytium, is interesting as an addition to our Microscopic Flora. It seems only to differ in size from 0. majus, figured in plate 45 of the Micrographic Dictionary. I have found it abundantly in a small pond, entangled amongst the filaments, &c., of other Algæ; and I think that it is only from its minuteness that it has hitherto escaped
A CENTURY AGO. M OST of your readers will not need to be
I informed that Natural History a century ago was a very different science to what it is at the present day. In order to bring this the more vividly before them, perhaps you will allow me space to make a few extracts from an old work which I have met with. It is, I believe, a fair sample of the text-books which our grandfathers and grandmothers used in their youth.
It is entitled, “A description of Three hundred Animals, viz., Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Serpents and Insects. With a particular Account of the Manner of their catching of Whales in Greenland. Extracted from the best Authors, and Adapted to the Use of all Capacities. Illustrated with Copper-plates, whereon is curiously engraven every Beast, Bird, Fish, Serpent, and Insect, described in the whole book. The Ninth Edition, carefully corrected and amended. Printed for C. & R. Ware at the Bible and Sun, on Ludgate-hill, 1763.” If, having in some measure recovered breath, after reading this lengthy title, we proceed to the preface,
we shall find, that “the Instruction of Children | described : He has but one Horn, and that an having been always thought, by wise Men, of great exceeding rich one, growing out of the Middle of Use, both with regard to the present Age, and to his Forehead. His head resembles an Hart's, his Posterity; and most of the Books, which have been Feet an Elephant's, his Tail a Boar's, and the rest made use of to introduce Children into an Habit of of his Body an Horse's. The Horn is about a Foot Reading, being such as tend rather to cloy than and a half in Length. His Voice is like the Lowentertain them.” The anonymous author has ex- | | ing of an Ox. His Mane and Hair are of a yellowish tracted from “the most considerable Authors,” Colour. His Horn is as hard as Iron, and as rough a short account of all the Beasts, Birds, In- | as any File, twisted or curled like a flaming Sword ; sects, and Fishes. He somewhat magniloquently very straight, sharp and everywhere black, excepting closes the preface by saying, “If this brief Essay the Point. Great Virtues are attributed to it, in shall any Ways contribute to the End proposed, let expelling of Poison, and curing of several Diseases. God have the Glory, and the Compiler the Good He is not a Beast of Prey.” Wishes and Prayers of Parents.” It will be observed A picture of the Whale-Fishery, on p. 132, is that throughout my extracts I carefully followed very curious, the seamen being dressed in long coats the somewhat primitive punctuation and typography resembling a soldier's tunic, and in triangular of the original. Every substantive is commenced cocked-hats rather a different style of dress from with a capital letter, as in modern German.
that indulged in by modern sailors. On arriving There are three of the Animals described which at the Serpents, after a very terrible description of have apparently become extinct in later years; divers Dragons, of which the author very wisely unless, indeed, some of your readers, who are so says, “it may be justly questioned whether they widely scattered over the world, can personally exist,” we find the Cockatrice described as “Called testify to having encountered them. First, on page the King of Serpents, not from his Bigness, for he 19, we read that “the Manticora (or, according to is much inferior, in this Respect, to a great many the Persians, Mantiora), a Devourer, is bred among Serpents; but because of his majestic Pace, for he the Indians; having a triple Row of Teeth beneath does not creep upon the Ground, like other Serpents, and above, and in Bigness and Roughness like a / but goes half-upright; for which Cause all other Lion's; as are also his Feet; Face and Ears like a Serpents avoid him; and it seems, Nature designed Mau's; his Tail like a Scorpion's, armed with a him that Pre-eminence, by the Crown or Coronet Sting, and sharp-pointed Quills. His Voice is like upon his Head. Writers differ concerning the a small Trumpet or Pipe. He is so wild 'tis very Production of this Animal. Some are of Opinion difficult to tame him; and as swift as an Hart. that it is brought forth of a Cock’s Egg, and fed With his Tail he wounds the Hunters, whether they upon by a Snake, or Toad, and so becomes a Cockacome before or behind him. When the Indians | trice, &c.” take a Whelp of this Beast, they bruise its Buttocks The last extract I have space for is a story on and Tail, to prevent its bearing the sharp Quills; p. 200, concerning a combat between a spider and then it is tamed without Danger."
toad, which runs as follows:-“A certain Earl On the next page a still more marvellous creature | travelling near Woburn in Bedfordshire, some of is described, i.e., “The Lamia, concerning which his Company espied a Toad fighting with a Spider, there are many fictitious Stories, is (according to under a Hedge by the High-way Side, whereat they the Opinion of some Writers) the Creature men- stood still, till the Earl came also to behold the tioned in the 34th Chapter of Isaiah, called in same; and there he saw how the Spider still kept Hebrew, Liliath; as also the same which is men- her Standing, and the Toad divers times went back tioned in the 4th of Lamentations. It is thought from the Spider, and did eat a Piece of an Herb like a to be the swiftest of all four-footed Creatures, so Plantain ; at last, the Earl having seen the Toad do that its Prey can seldom or never escape it; And it often, and still return to the Combat against the by its Fraud it destroys Men, (or, when it sees a Spider, ordered one of his Men to go and cut off Man, it lays open its Breast, and entices him to that Herb; which he performed, and brought it draw near; and when it has him within Reach, it away. Presently after the Toad returned to seek it, falls upon and devours him. It is said to be bred and, not finding it, according to her Expectation, in Libya; and to have a Face and Breasts like a | swelled and burst asunder; for, having received very beautiful Woman. It has no Voice but that Poison from the Spider in the Combat, Nature of hissing like a Serpent. Its binder Parts are like taught her the Value of that Herb, to expel and a Goat's, its fore Legs like a Bear's; its Body is drive it out; but wanting the Herb, the Poison did scaled all over. It is said, they sometimes devour instantly work, and destroy her.” Here is valutheir own young."
able evidence for the correspondents who wrote It is almost superfluous to add that there appears, lately in SCIENCE - Gossip about the “Spider's in his turn, “The Unicorn, a Beast which, tho' | Poison Vessels"! Of course, in the preceding doubted of by many Writers, yet it is by others thus extracts, I have merely quoted the descriptions which would appear most extraordinary and amus. | into details of affinities or classification, for the main ing to our modern ideas; there is, it is only fair to object of this article is to suggest work required to add, a considerable amount of really useful informa be done, rather than to teach what has been accomtion in the volume. But, without actually reading plished. extracts from works of this nature, I believe few Two subjects require at the hands of naturalists and would credit the fact that such preposterous statements were prevalent even “a century ago.”
review of the accepted classification into families, F. ALLEN.
genera, and species; and a careful and actual investi. gation of the living forms and their actual stages of
development. The one question involves the other; FORAMINIFERA.
and we must start with an hypothesis. We must pre
sume that the primitive typical form of a foraminifer TT is not a little remarkable that whilst the shells
is a simple single sphere, and that this primitive form 1 of foraminisers are amongst the common objects
is the first rudimentary stage of every species, howmost familiar to microscopists, and thousands of
ever complex niay be its ultimate mature condition. miles of the soft beds of our deepest oceans, and
Shut up in its stony cell, then, how will it propawhole mountains and great tracks of land-the
gate its kind ? The mass of sarcode, constantly solidified mud of the oceans of geologic ages--are
fed, increases, exudes; and the exuded mass ultialmost entirely composed of the carapaces and débris
mately forms another individual, which coats itself, of these tiny beings in uncountable myriads, that
and builds another house next door to its parent's, hardly any one knows anything about them in their
and the two have become a pair of semi-detached living state, and very few naturalists even can be
Ameban villas. Nutrition of the sarcode still goes said to be at all reliably acquainted with the
on, and exudation again takes place; another house proper history of the various species, still less with
is added, and yet another and another, until in the their actual habits.
order of generation a street of Amæban residences What is a foraminifer? may indeed be easily
is built. All this is very simple, and one would answered. It is one of the very lowest forms of
hardly have preconceived the possibility of much life. It belongs to the class of Rhizopods, merely
variety in the results of a process so extremely gelatinous animals of which the Amoeba is the
rudimentary. And yet species and varieties more simplest form. This curious spec of living jelly is
numerous than those of any other single order of devoid of any visible organization, has no perceptible
animals abound, and the class of foraminifers is muscles or nerves, no bead, no mouth, neither arms
prolific in variety and beauty of forms. But all this nor legs--a mere minute mass of sarcode. And yet
variety and beauty are due entirely to the way in life is there-life in one of the most mysterious of
which each particular species builds its house, and its many forms and manifestations. That thin flesh,
the plan upon which it forms its street. seemingly all on the run like limpid starch, quivers
Let us explain ourselves by a selection of actual to the sensation of touch, contracts with the pain
examples. Some foraminifers are perfectly round of injury, protrudes long filaments as arms to seek
and solitary, as the membranous Gromia, and the for food, perhaps more tender than even its own
calcareous shelled Orbulina. Other kinds will put transparent substance, or uses these thread-like limbs-pseudopods, as the Greek-aud-Latin-loving savans have termed them-as cables to pull itself along. Whether these Amabæ even have the thinnest of skins is more than any one could swear
Fig. 104. to, though of course they ought to have; but if any
Orbulina univers, Lagenu glubog'1. L. caudatu. kind of these animals possesses no other difference than that of the power of consolidating calcareous,
on shapes of every modification a viscous sphere is siliceous, or horny matter around it, and turning its | susceptible of. One sort, the Oolina, puts on a form skin into a shelly house, it becomes at once a polycystin or a foraminifer. In the main, if it has a siliceous shell, it is the former; if a calcareous shell, perforated with a lot of little holes for the protrusion of the pseudopods, the latter. There are, however, imperforate foraminifers and perforate poly
Fig. 109. cystins, and these of course have mimetic resem
L. sulcatu, young. L. suicata, adult. blances to each other. Naturally, however, the imperforate foraminifers bave more affinity with the something like an elongated globule of glass broken polycystins than the perforate polycystins have with off from the stick of the blower, with a short bit of the foraminifera. We cannot here, however, enter the tag attached. Another of this group, the Lagena,
puts on all the intermediate shapes between this of the simply bent row (fig. 119); and in Marginulina elongated condition and a primary tear-drop form, | (fig. 120) we have the rudiment of a tendency to some species being plain, others ribbed, cross spirality, and which has made still further progress barred, chequered, and variously ornamented by the in the examples given of Vulvulina (fig. 121), and extraneous solidification of the shell-growth. This selection indicates, too, something of the wonderful variety of modifications put on by the species within the limits of every separate genus.
Fig. 119. Dentalina Fig. 120. Marginulina Fig. 121. Vulvulina
Another group follows in which all these spheres or elongated globules adhere together in lines or rows-single axes which may be straight, or may be bent or curved. Of those thus formed on a straight line, we may take a few examples from amongst the Nodosaria, and in which we shall
Rotalina (fig. 122), until an actual nautiloid spiral is perfected in Robulina.
And now again set in the currents of modifications of lobation and variations of ornamentation. The spiral may be on a flat plane or a direct vertical plane (fig. 123), or it may be of greater or less rising pitch,
or screw-like, or it may be absolutely involute or coil-like, as in Fusilina (fig. 124). And the shells formed on each or all these plans may be plain,
Fig. 113. Fig. 114. Fig. 115. Fig. 116. Nodosaria hispida. N. rugosa. N.longisulcata. N. spinicosta.
again see further illustrations of that wonderful exuberance of modification which characterizes, as
There is yet another division of developments as important as those we have been considering, and capable of permitting again all those modifi
Fig. 139. cations of lobation and ornamentation we have Uvigerina pygmæa.
Truntulina variabilis. previously witnessed under novel and different circumstances. This division is that constituted by
bulina retinaculata. Of this nature possibly is the the compound forms-that is, those in which the recently discovered very remarkable fossil from the development of the lobes takes place upon a
lowest of all known fossiliferous rocks-the Eozoon plurality of lines. The lobes may be added upon Canadense. two, three, or more axes, and these axes may be Amongst the simple single-axis forms, even crops straight, bent, or spiral; and in each of these up, as an example of erratic growth, Truntulina cases the lobation and ornamentation may repeat the wonderful variety characteristic of the simple | Such, then, is in the main the groundwork of classes. In Biloculina (fig. 132) we have one lobe the classification of the foraminifera-a classifica
tion based on the plans of arrangement of the lobes or segmentation of the shell. The animal inhabitants are treated as all alike, mere masses of jelly-like flesh. It is evident that a classification founded entirely on the disposition of the parts of the shell cannot be a perfect one, and that considerable modifications must at the least be engrafted on it
as the knowledge of the living structure of the Fig. 132. Fig. 133.
Fig. 134. Biloculina simplex. Triloculina Austriaca. T. nitida. animals and of their modes of generation is acquired.
Now it is just this knowļedge which is needed, and merely adherent to the side of another; in it is the acquirement of this information that is an Triloculina, a third lobe is patched on to the side open and fame-giving field for microscopists. Almost (figs. 133, 134). In Spiroloculina (fig. 135) we have all that has been done in the way of modifying the many lobes alternately added; and in Quinquelo- primary basis of a purely shell classification has culina, and others, we have other still more com- been done by inductive reasoning upon general plex arrangements.
considerations or microscopic examinations of shellAmongst the most abundant genera and species structure. What is wanted is a regular systematic