Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/62

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MOLLUSCA.

and the inhabitants of Sicily weave them into a sort of cloth remarkable for its softness and warmth, but which refuses to take any dye. In the British Museum, together with some very fine specimens of the shells of this Mollusk, there is a pair of gloves made of its byssus; but articles made of this material are very costly, and cannot be considered in any other light than that of curiosities. Pope Benedict XV, in 1754, had a pair of stockings presented to him which were woven from the silk of the Pinna. These were the subject of general admiration, from the extreme delicacy of their texture—well shown by the minuteness of the box in which they were enclosed.

The mention of the ship-worm naturally presents to the mind another tribe of boring Mollusca,—those which perforate hardened clay, and even stone. These, belonging to various genera, are sufficiently common on our own coasts. Different species of Pholas excavate their burrows, which resemble the holes bored by augers or large gimlets in wood, clay, and sandstone; the Venerupis in shale and similar friable rocks, the Lithodomi and Saxicavæ in the limestone, and the Gastrochæna in limestone, fluor, and granite. A curious example of the boring powers of one of these species, the Modiola lithophaga occurs at Pozzuolo, in the Bay of Naples, where a colony of these Mollusks had settled themselves in the pillars of the temple of Jupiter Serapis during the period of its submersion. At the height of ten feet above the base of the three standing pillars which remain, and in a position exactly corresponding in all, is a zone of six feet in height, where the marble has been scooped into cells by these Mollusca. The holes are to the