Philip Henry Gosse.

Evenings at the microscope (Volume 1) online

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flexible, much like the shield of a Tortoise. Several
species have this ^glassy shield marked with delicate lines
running lengthwise; sometimes in the form of parallel
ridges, as in a little species found in infusions (perhaps
E. charori)\ at others forming rows of minute round

knobs, as E. truncatus, the spe-
cies now before us. The shield
is ample, considerably overlap-
ping the soft body ; it rises into
an arched form in the centre,
and is more or less round or
EUPLOTKS. ova L The mouth is oblique,

and extends a long way down the under surface; it is set
with strong and fine cilia, which also spread over the front.
The organs of motion are, as before, long styles, pointed
and rather stiff processes, which project from beneath the
shell backward and downward, and soft hook-like uncini
which are set chiefly near the fore part of the inferior sur-
face. In the species before us, these are about six or seven
in number, but in E. charon they are more numerous. The
twinkling rapidity with which these little feet are applied
to the surface in crawling affords a pleasing sight; par-
ticularly when the animal is running back- downward on
the upper glass plate of the live- box. Some species have
bristles (or setce) affixed to the hinder part of the shell,
from which they diverge. In E. truncatus these are four,
but they are wanting in E. charon. The body displays a
mass of granules, vacuoles, and vesicles of different sizes.



INFUSORIA 467

These are very beautiful objects; and their sprightly
motions, and apparent intelligence give them an addi-
tional interest. They crawl more than they swim, running
with great swiftness hither and thither, frequently taking
short starts and suddenly stopping. The specimens which
we are examining are taken from water which had been
kept in a jar for several weeks. The vegetable matters
are decaying, and among the stems and filaments this
pretty species crawls and dodges about. It seems reluc-
tant to leave the shelter of the decaying solution; some-
times one will creep out a little way into the open water;
but in an instant it darts back, and settles in among the
stems and flocculent matter. Any attempt by turning the
glass cover to bring it out into view only makes it dive
deeper into the mass, as if seeking concealment. This is
about Tsfatln. of an inch in length of lorica; and the E.
charon is not more than one-fourth of this size. These
creatures remind one of an Oniscus, especially when in
profile.

There is an animal very closely allied to these, but
much more beautiful, being of a clear greenish translu-
cency, with several vesicles filled with a rose-colored or
purple fluid of much brilliancy. This creature, which
bears the name of Chlamidodon, has the peculiarity of a
set of wand -like teeth arranged in a hollow cylinder.

And with these we dismiss the Infusoria, a class of
animals, which, from their minuteness, the number and
variety of their species, their exceeding abundance, the
readiness with which they may be procured, and, as it
were, made to our hand (by simply steeping vegetable
matter in water), and the uncertainty which still prevails
as to many parts of their structure and economy and,



468 EVENINGS AT THE MICROSCOPE

therefore, as to their true affinities in the great Plan of
creation offer one of the most promising fields of research
which a young microscopist could cultivate.

These are thy glorious works, Parent of good

Almighty; thine this universal frame;

Thus wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then!

Unspeakable, who sitt'st above these heav'ns

To us invisible, or dimly seen

In these thy lowest works; yet these declare

Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.



END OF " EVENINGS AT THE MICROSCOPE v



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Online LibraryPhilip Henry GosseEvenings at the microscope (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 32)