Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/23

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11
MOLLUSCA.

body. Any one may have ocular evidence of the existence of this organ, by watching our common Garden Snail. If you look at its right side, just behind the tentacle, or horn, that carries a black eye at its point, you will see a large hole suddenly open, where before there was no trace of it. After remaining open for a few moments, the margin will leisurely contract again, until it is perfectly closed, and as invisible as before. This is the breathing orifice; and during the interval that you saw it open, the aerial contents of the chamber were expelled, and a copious draught of fresh air was inspired. The process is repeated with tolerable regularity about once every fifteen seconds.

The blood in the MOLLUSCA is thin, transparent, and colourless; or at most presents only a pale bluish-white hue. It is, however, contained in a system of distinct vessels, through which it circulates, having for the source of its motion a well-developed, complex, pulsating heart.

Besides the system of vessels which carry the blood, there is another system, most conspicuous in the aquatic tribes, which has been called the system of aqueducts. They communicate with the element in which the animal lives and moves, and are filled with it at will, as the galleries and canals of a sponge are filled with the liquid in which it is immersed. The chief use of these water-canals appears to be the distension and expansion of the foot, to render it better fitted for locomotion, yet so as not to interfere with the privilege, essential to most of these animals, of withdrawing the whole of the body within a shell. Some of the marine Mollusca, when in a state of activity, protrude a soft foot, far exceeding in dimensions the whole