Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/14

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MOLLUSCA.

those which belong to Vertebrate animals; and where this is not the case, as in the Articulate Classes, the skeleton which affords attachment to the muscles, is not internal, but invests the body, while its substance differs essentially from bone in its chemical composition and its structure.

An immense assemblage of living creatures are included in this category; creatures differing widely from each other in the most important characteristics, so that they cannot be grouped together. The term Invertebrata, by which they are sometimes designated, indicates indeed only a negative character, and we shall be greatly mistaken if we suppose (misled by such a term) that the animals which have a skeleton, and those which are destitute of one, constitute two primary divisions of living beings, of equal or co-ordinate importance.

Several divisions of Invertebrate animals do, in fact, exist, each one of which is equal in rank to the Vertebrata. One of these will form the subject of the present volume, commonly known by the name of Mollusca; a term invented by the illustrious Cuvier, from the word mollis (soft), and evidently suggested by the softness of their boneless bodies. The appellation can scarcely be considered happy, for the character so indicated is very trivial, and is shared by other animals of totally different structure:—objectionable, however, as it is, it has been generally adopted, and I shall not hesitate to make use of it.

As the great Vertebrate Division includes the four distinct Classes of Beasts, Birds, Reptiles and Fishes, so does the great Division of Mollusca contain six Classes, distinguished by characters which I shall presently enumerate. I must, how