Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/36

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24
MOLLUSCA.

always pushed backwards—a circumstance that has misled some naturalists to describe the posterior aperture for the true mouth. The Pyrosomata are a still more singular family of the same order. Each seeming individual of this genus is, in fact, a numerous colony of little mollusca, every one in its own cell, distinct, yet inseparably connected with its fellows. Collected into the figure of a gelatinous cylinder, open at one extremity and closed at the other, and roughened externally by a multitude of tubercles disposed sometimes in rings and sometimes irregularly, they float in the Australian seas like stars of this lower world, shedding around them a halo of light, brilliant indeed, but surpassed in beauty by those other colours of the creatures which it serves to disclose; colours which come and go at pleasure, glorying as it were, in their subtle changes, passing rapidly from a lively red to aurora, to orange, to green, and to azure blue; a magic scene, compelling more than the admiration of every beholder."[1]

Bivalve Mollusca in general have much less power of shifting their locality than Univalves. Many appear to be absolutely stationary, at least during their adult existence. But others, as the Cockle, have a most versatile organ, known as the foot, capable of being protruded from between the valves, which, among its various uses, serves the purpose of locomotion. It is in general applied in this manner. Being stretched out to its utmost extent, its point is made to hook downward into the sand or mud, and the body with the shell is then dragged down by the muscular contraction of the foot. In most cases, this mode of progression

  1. Johnston's Intr. to Conch. p. 125.