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and settle on the edge of the glass or pan, high and dry; but they descended again after a few hours. The locomotion of the anemones is, however, various in various species. I do not think the "Trogs" ever move; nor do the "Gems seem migratory; but the "Antheas" and the "Smooths" are somewhat restless. "The Actiniæ," says Rymer Jones, "possess the power of changing their position; they often elongate their bodies, and, remaining fixed by the base, stretch from side to side, as if seeking food at a distance; they can even change their place by gliding upon the disc that supports them, or detaching themselves entirely, and swelling themselves with water, they become nearly of the same specific gravity as the element they inhabit, and the least agitation is sufficient to drive them elsewhere. Reaumur even asserts, that they can turn themselves so as to use their tentacles as feet, crawling upon the bottom of the sea; but this mode of progression has not been observed by subsequent naturalists." Yes, Dr. Johnston once saw it; I also witnessed an Anthea moving thus; but I suspect it is only the Anthea which has the power, and this it probably owes to its more solid tentacles.
not to say gourmandise; in the matter of shell-fish it would put even Dando to the blush. Dr. Johnston in his valuable History of British Zoophytes relates this anecdote (which you are not bound to believe): "I had once brought to me a specimen of Actinia crassicornis that might originally have been two inches in diameter, and that had somehow contrived to swallow a valve of Pecten maximus of the size of an ordinary saucer. The shell fixed within the stomach was so placed as to divide it completely into two halves, so that the body stretched tensely over had become thin and flattened like a pancake. All communication between the inferior portion of the stomach and the mouth was of course prevented; yet instead of emaciating and dying of an atrophy, the animal had availed itself of what had undoubtedly been a very untoward accident, to increase its enjoyments and its chance of double fare. A new mouth furnished with two rows of numerous tentacles was opened upon what had been the base, and led to the under stomachthe individual had become a sort of Siamese Twin, but with greater intimacy and extent in its unions." Such is the blind voracity of this animal, that anything and everything is carried straightway into its stomach to be there tried, and rejected only on proved indigestibility. Oue day, while sorting and distributing to their respective jars the animals captured during the morning's hunt, I was called into the balcony by the agitated entreaties of lovely Sixteen, exclaiming, "Oh,.do come Mr. Contributor! do come, and rescue this green anemone from a great nasty beetle." I went to the rescue, and found a large beetle struggling in the clutches of a green、
Again the question recurs, How then do we know the anemone to be an animal? in other words, what characteristic marks guide zoologists in classing it in that division? really know of none but purely anatomical marks.* These however, suffice, and if you please we will continue to speak of the anemone as an animal, and, what is more, a very carnivorous animal, eating most things that come within reach, from limpets to worms, from fish to roast beef. It has even a reputation for voracity,
*It is unnecessary to particularise these anatomical marks, which will occur to the mind of every student, as belonging exclusively to that division of animated beings which manifest the group of phenomena baptised by the name of Animality. Wherever you find muscular tissue, or an alimentary canal, you are absolutely certain that nothing belonging to the vegetable kingdom is before you. In function there is often considerable resemblance between Plant and Animal; but in structure the differences early manifest themselves, growing greater as the scale ascends. Although, therefore, at the bottom of the scale no distinguished characteristic isolates animals from plants, as we ascend the scale we find many definite marks by which the two groups may be known.
thing approaching to stinging; but I never touched a tentaculum without perceiving the tip of it had some prehensile property by which it took a slight hold of the skin of the finger, causing a kind of rasping feeling when withdrawn. It may be, however, that the fangs had not fair play with my fingers, if somehow or other they are sting-proof."* He then makes the following quotation from Mrs. Pratt's Chapters on the Common Things of the Sea-side, which I reproduce as positive and direct testimony: "It appears that different persons are variously affected even by touching the same Actiniæ. The author had placed in a vessel of sea-water a fine specimen of the fig marigold seaanemone, which she was accustomed to touch many times during the day. The tentacula closed immediately round the intruding finger,_producing only a slight tingling. Her surprise was great at finding that the same anemone, on being touched by another person, communicated a more powerful sensation, which her friend assured her was felt up the whole of the arm. More than twenty persons touched this anemone; and the writer was amused by observing how variously they were affected, some being only slightly tingled, while others started back as if stung by a nettle." I think, in the face of testimony so precise as this, we may waive all negative evidence, and accept the fact of stinging as proven. But now comes the question: Is this stinging produced by poison vesicles and spicula, as the great majority of writers maintain; or is it no more poisonous than the pricking of a thorn? Those who maintain the former opinion, explain by it the alleged cases of paralysis exhibited by the animals which have escaped in the struggle; and the incident just related of the beetle killed, but not swallowed (he was too large for that), seems entirely to favour such
conclusion. Nevertheless, from subsequent investigations I am led to oppose the opinion in toto. Sir John Dalyell-one of the best authorities-thinks that the anemone conquers its prey by mere strength,
Anthea not much larger than himself. "The beetle is the victim," I quietly told Sixteen, who, not having profound sympathies with beetles, was pacified as she saw the struggling insect slowly passing into the stomach of the Anthea, his struggles growing fainter and fainter, and finally ceasing altogether, till at last we saw him with head and thorax engulphed in the ravenous maw, his abdomen sticking up in the air.
A question of great interest and some intricacy here presents itself: Was the beetle paralysed by some peculiar poison secreted from the tentacles of the anemone? a question which opens into this wider one Have the polypes the mysterious power, almost universally attributed to them, of paralysing with a touch the victims they may grasp, so that, should the victim escape from the grasp, it is only to die presently from the fatal touch? The powers of fascination possessed by some animals, of poisoning possessed by others, of electrical discharges possessed by others, naturally lead men to interpret certain observations made on the polypes, as proofs that they, too, possess some such power; and this suggestion gains a more ready credence from the tendency in most minds to welcome every unexplained phenomenon as indicating an occult cause. This witch-like power of fascination, this power of paralysing with a touch, appeals to our imagination, and gains easy access to belief. But the spirit of scientific scepticism forces me to declare that as far as my observations and experiments extend, there is nothing like evidence in favour of this power, much evidence against it. Some anemones certainly appear to sting-as some jelly-fish sting-although the majority have no such effect upon our hands, which every one knows who has handled them. I never perceived this stinging sensation myself; and Dr. Landsborough says: "From my a own experience I can say nothing as to this stinging power; for though I have handled not only the commoner Actiniæ, but also the larger and less common Anthea, I never felt any
*Popular History of British Zoophytes, p. 239.
and not by any poisonous fluid. He of all the anemones, and the only is somewhat exaggerated, however, one which seems to sting; but the in the statement of his opinion. crab was Nothing," he says, their deadly touch. Every animated I tried another Anthea and a Daisy can escape appetising: he got away as before. too active, or too little being that comes in slightest con- (Actinia bellis), but with the same tact is instantly caught, retained, result. In each case the crab was and mercilessly devoured." mere rhetoric: animals, even such away unhurt. I then chose another This is clutched, but in each case he got as form their natural prey, con- crab, not more than half the size of stantly touch the tentacles are even caught, and yet escape. in point of strength for the anemone, nay, the former, and certainly no match "Neither strength nor size, nor the yet after being embraced and carried resistance of the victim, can daunt to the mouth, I observed the crab the ravenous captor. It will readily slowly appear from the unfolding grasp an animal which, if endowed tentacles, and with similar strength, advantage, great activity. scuttle away with and resolution, could certainly rend its body asunder. It is in the highest degree carnivorous. Thence do all the varieties of the smaller finny tribes, the fiercest of the crustacea, the whole vermicular race, and the softer tenants among the testacea, fall a prey to the Actiniæ." One is astonished to meet with such a passage from so accurate an observer. It is pure exaggeration, which succeeding writers have accepted as literal truth. Thus, Rymer Jones assures the student that "no sooner are the tentacles touched by a passing animal, than it is seized and held with unfailing pertinacity." Had the professor watched anemones he would know that, so far from the grasp being "unfailing," it as often fails as succeeds, when the captive is of tolerable activity; and very noticeable is the fact, that when the animals escape, they escape unhurt: a fact in direct contradiction to the belief in a poison secreted by the tentacles. On the 19th June 1856 I resolved to bring this question to the test, and dropped a tiny crab, rather smaller than a fourpenny piece, on the tentacles of my largest Crassicornis (nearly as large as a glass tumbler). He was clutched at once, and the tentacles began to close round him; he struggled vigorously, and freed bimself after a few seconds. Placed there a second time, he again got away. I waited to see if any symptoms of paralysis would declare themselves after this contact, but he was as lively as ever. I placed him on the tentacles of the Later in the day voracious Anthea, the most powerful
on what is asserted by all writers, This experiment casts a doubt namely, that crabs- Rymer anemones feed cording that "they will devour a Jones actually recrab as large as a hen's egg." any one ever seen a live crab caught and eaten by an anemone? I confess Has never to have seen it, and the experiment just related disposes me to doubt: although it is quite possible that my anemones were dainty, because not hungry, and refused food which, under less epicurean conditions, would have been welcome. If any one has seen the anemone feeding on live crabs, it would be thus that my observation could be explained. Meanwhile I think it right to propound the doubt, and to add to it this subsequent observation made on the 3d of August: I took a tiny crustacean, of the shrimp family, about half an inch in length, and dropped it in some Daisies. It soon touched the a vase containing tentacles of one of these, was drawn in, but almost immediately escaped. It then swam about until it touched the largest Daisy, and was quickly engulfed. appeared, I expected it would be As it had entirely discertainly killed if not eaten, but in a few moments it made its way out unhurt, and Daisies had not been fed for at least a fortnight; they had subsisted enaway. These tirely on the invisible aliment floating in the water; yet they either could not, or would not, eat this crustacean.
withhold our opinion till some more
decisive evidence is adduced; but time held by the tentacle of the on the question of the paralysing hydra; and after intently watching power said to reside in the ten- them, saw them at last swim away tacles, these experiments surely de- again lively as before. I removed a termine a negative. In spite of hydra from the phial, in a little the beetle, so completely vanquished, water, and placing it on a slip of there is the evidence of two crabs glass, allowed it to settle and expand and a shrimp being in repeated con- there for two hours, when I added tact with the tentacles, and in nowise several water-fleas (Cypride) to the affected. little pond, and patiently watched them swimming to and fro. peatedly they touched the tentacles in their course, but were not hurt, were not arrested. At length one was caught, and held for seconds; it then fell to the bottom, and remained motionless for at least two minutes, after which it started
While preparing these notes for the press, I have been led to extend the experiments; because, although it would by no means necessarily follow that whatever was true of the hydroid polypes must also be true of the anemones, yet a very plausible suspicion might arise and did indeed arise in my mind-throwing up, and was off as if its course had doubt on results which were in never been arrested, Now came the contradiction to what was reported test. With a needle I gently arrested of the fresh-water polypes. Read one of these water-fleas; it suddenly this passage from the last edition of sank motionless, remained thus for Owen's Lectures, bearing the date more than a minute, and then darted 1855 "That the tentacula have the off again. Thrice I repeated this power of communicating some be- act, and each time with similar numbing or noxious influence to the result. Will any one say the needle living animals which constitute the had a benumbing poison which was food of the hydra, is evident from secreted when the animal came in the effect produced, for example, contact with it? And does not the upon an entomostracan, which may reader at once recognise in this sudhave been touched, but not seized, by den motionlessness of the animal a one of these organs. The little active very familar phenomenon? The spider, crustacean is arrested in the midst of the crab, the oniscus, and very many its rapid darting motion, and sinks animals "sham dead," as schoolapparently lifeless for some distance; boys know, when danger threatens; then slowly recovers itself, and re- these water-fleas "sham dead" when sumes its ordinary movements. Sie- the polype or the needle touches bold states, that when a Naïs, a them. I might have rested my inDaphnia, or the larva of a Cheiro- credulity of the alleged paralysing nomus, have been wounded by the influence on this one experiment; but darts, they do not recover, but die. I confirmed it in other ways. DropThese and other active inhabi- ping the larva of an ephemeron into tants of fresh waters, whose powers the phial containing my hydræ, I should be equivalent to rend asunder observed it thrice caught by three the delicate gelatinous arms of their different hydræ; it did not "sham low-organised captor, seem paralysed dead," but tore itself away without almost immediately after they have visible hurt. Nay, I also observed been seized, and so countenance the one of those animalcules known as opinion of Corda, that the secretion "paste-eels" for some time in conof a poison enters the wounds.' " tact with the tentacle of a hydra, Such statements can only be set on the stage of the microscope, but, aside by direct experiment; and the in spite of its having no shell to superiority of experiment over mere protect it from the poison, it was observation needs no argument. As unhurt by the contact. Not having a matter of observation, I too had a Naïs, I could not test what Siebold been struck with the fact noticed by says of it; but what has already Owen. I saw the tiny water-fleas been mentioned must, I think, sufdrop apparently lifeless to the bot- fice to convince the reader that the tom of the phial, after being some current opinion is an error, founded
on observation unverified by experi- a whole Encyclopædia, and is so ment. Had I trusted to observation obliging as to retail many pages of it alone, I too should have believed freely in her conversation. Besides, the current opinion; it was only by if the monotony of the anemone verification, according to the de- wearies you, there is always this mands of inductive scepticism, that variety in reserve: you can eat it! the error became obvious.* The Italians do; they boil it in seawater with great satisfaction. Thus boiled, it has "a shivering texture, somewhat like calf's-foot jelly; the smell is somewhat like that of a warm crab or lobster," and it is caten with savoury sauce. Mr. Gosse describes his frying them in butter, if I remember rightly; and although he felt a little difficulty in swallowing the first mouthful-probably remorse and zoological tenderness gave him what the Italians call a "knot in the throat"-yet, having vanquished his scruples, he ate with some relish. Lady Jane is "horrified" at the idea of eating her pets; but now that horse-flesh is publicly sold in the markets of Vienna and other German towns, and public banquets of hippophagists are frequent in France, will anemones escape the frying-pan?
"But do tell us something about the habits and instincts of these anemones," some light-minded reader suggests, impatient of all discussion, and supremely indifferent to all considerations, save those of a moral order. Unhappily my story is not ampler in detail, nor finer in complexity of movement, than the story of Canning's Knife-grinder"-who had none to tell. The anemone is lovely, but even its warmest admirers must confess it is a little monotonous in its manifestations. Existence suffices it. It expands its coronal of tentacles, eats when chance favours it, produces offspring, which it sends forth, leaving it,
πολλοις διαυλοις κυμάτων φορούμενος, borne by the many currents of the sea, to settle where it lists, without any fear of parental supervision, and thus lives to a good old age, if no one nudges the elbow of Atropos, and causes that grim lady suddenly to cut the thread. The anemone has little more than beauty to recommend it; the indications of intelligence being of by no means a powerful order. What then? Is beauty nothing? Is it not the subtle charm which draws us from the side of the enlightened Miss Crosser to that of the lovely though "quite unintellectual" Caroline, whose conversation, indeed, is not of a novel or brilliant kind; whereas Miss Crosser has read
It was hinted just now that the anemone was but an indifferent parent. Having given birth to her offspring, she spends no anxious hours over the episodes of infancy. When I say She, I might as well say He, or It, for no distinction of sex exists; and probably it is to this cause that the parental indifference may be traced; how can maternal tenderness and ceaseless vigilance be expected, when the maternal individual is as yet undeveloped? The Actinia are viviparous. Indeed I suspect they are only viviparous, and not at all oviparous. Rymer Jones
The day this was written I could not rest till I had dredged a favourite pond and brought home a supply of Naïds, with which, on the following morning, I tested Siebold's statement. First I placed a Naïs filiformis in a glass cell with a Hydra viridis; but although its wriggling constantly brought it into contact with the tentacles, it was never grasped. I then placed a Naïs in the phial containing many hydra; it was instantly caught by one, and held for some time till it struggled itself free. Not only was it apparently unhurt by this contact, but to-day it is as lively as it was three days ago, just before the experiment. With two other Naids the same result was observed. This completes the overthrow of the current opinion respecting the hydra's paralysing power.
The age to which an Actinia may live has not yet been definitely ascertained; but Mr. Tugwell communicates in a note that Professor Fleming at Edinburgh has one in his possession, which was taken at North Berwick in 1828; so that, at the very least, it must be twenty-eight years old, that period having been passed in confinement.