Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/201

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189
NATICKS.

The animal, in such specimens as I have seen, is almost wholly of a puree milk-white hue. It is, as already stated, very large, the long oval foot extending far beyond the outline of the shell on every side, and partly inclosing it. Messrs. Forbes and Hanley state that this is a local species, found, however, on most parts of our coast where sand is plentiful. I have taken it by dredging in Weymouth Bay, where it seems a common species, together with N. Alderi. Both of these animals have a curious habit, which I have not seen noticed. They are said to live buried in sand, but I believe this is only to a partial extent. When put into an aquarium with a sandy bottom, they soon begin to crawl just beneath the surface of the sand, the foot alone being immersed in it; and this organ as it slowly moves along, deposits and leaves behind a broad belt of clear mucus, of slight density. The progress of the creature through the fine soft sand, is very curious to witness.

In places where this Natica is common, the dredge not unfrequently brings up its spawn-masses. Professor Harvey in his delightful "Sea-Side Book," thus speaks of them.—"These egg-clusters are really very curious and elegantly formed objects, which must often have attracted the notice of a rambler, who felt puzzled to know what they were. They are firmly gelatinous, or of the consistence of gristle, transparent, or nearly so, slightly coated with fine sand, and in shape resemble the hoof of an animal. When dry, they look not unlike pieces of thin Scotch oaten bread. The surface is marked with little hexagonal spaces, which define the eggs. But what is most to be admired in the structure, is the form of the curves