Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/80

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68
DIBRANCHIATA.—SEPIADÆ.

height and distance, as the Flying-fish. Many of them were captured by birds during their leaps, and one individual, in making a desperate effort to escape some aquatic pursuer, sprang to a considerable height above the bulwarks of the ship, and fell with violence upon the deck."[1]


Genus Sepia.

(The Cuttle.)


CUTTLE-BONE.
In this genus, which contains our commonest species of the Order, the body is oblong and flattened, with the side-fins extending along its whole length. The mantle is free at its front margin; the suckers are supported by horny hoops with entire edges. The internal support is shelly, and is composed of a succession of extremely delicate plates, sustained by slender columns, regularly arranged, the spaces between the plates being filled with air.

Many of my readers are doubtless familiar with the object here represented, so frequently cast up by the waves upon our smooth sandy beaches: it is the shell of the common Cuttle-fish (Sepia officinalis). Its use is not only to give firmness to the soft and jelly-like body of the animal, but to aid it in swimming by its buoyancy; for though the material of which it is composed is stone, from the delicacy of its texture and the peculiar arrangement of the plates, the large proportion of air

  1. Whaling Voyage round the Globe.