Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/27

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15
MOLLUSCA.

the mantle alone which provides for the increase of the shell in superficial extent. On examining this part, it is found to be of a glandular character, and moreover not unfrequently provided with a delicate and highly sensitive fringe of minute tentacula. Considered more attentively, it is seen to contain in its substance patches of different colours, corresponding both in tint and relative position with those that decorate the exterior of the shell.

"When the animal is engaged in increasing the dimensions of its abode, the margin of the mantle is protruded, and firmly adherent all round to the circumference of the valve with which it corresponds. Thus circumstanced, it secretes calcareous matter, and deposits it in a soft state upon the extreme edge of the shell, where the secretion hardens and becomes converted into a layer of solid testaceous substance. At intervals this process is repeated, and every newly-formed layer enlarges the diameter of the valve. The concentric strata thus deposited remain distinguishable externally, and thus the lines of growth marking the progressive increase of size may easily be traced.

"It appears that at certain times the deposition of calcareous substance from the fringed circumference of the mantle is much more abundant than at others: in this case ridges are formed at distinct intervals; or, if the border of the mantle at such periods shoots out beyond its usual position, broad plates of shell, or spines of different lengths, are secreted, which, remaining permanent, indicate, by the interspaces separating successively deposited growths of this description, the periodical stimulus to increased action that caused their formation.

"Whatever thickness the shell may subsequently