Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/662

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to it in baptism the name Bathybius Haeckelii, he of course could not have foreseen that the poor neophyte would, like another Icarus, in a very short time become a biological celebrity, ascending to the heaven of terrestrial fame, and then before the end of its first decennium tumbling down into the gloomy Hades of mythology. Let us see, then, whether it is really dead, and whether it has ever existed at all. And supposing we have to admit its merely mythological apparition-existence, let us see what consequences result for the Moneres.

I. History of the Moneres.—In the spring of 1864 I observed in the Mediterranean, at Villafranca, near Nice, little floating globules of slime, one millimetre or half a line in diameter, which interested me very much. Under the microscope each of these globules looked like a little star, its centre consisting of a far smaller, structureless globule, while from the outer surface radiated several thousand exceedingly fine threads. Close examination with high powers showed that the whole body of the star-shaped thing consisted of simple albuminous cell-substance—sarcode, or protoplasm; and that the threads radiating on all sides from the surface were not permanent organs, but constantly variable, in number, size, and shape. They were seen to be changing and non-persistent processes of the central protoplasmic body, like the "false feet," or pseudopodia, which constitute the only organs of the Rhizopods. But while in the Rhizopods cell-nuclei are scattered through the protoplasm, and hence their bodies, morphologically considered, are made up of one or of many cells, nothing of the kind is to be seen in the protoplasmic globules observed at Villafranca. For the rest, no difference was to be found between the two with respect either to the motions of the filaments or to the manner in which they were employed as organs of touch for sensation, or as organs of nutrition for taking in food. To complete the natural history of the little protoplasm-globule, which I had studied with great minuteness, all that was still needed was a knowledge of its mode of propagation. In this, too, I was finally successful. After some time the little creature broke up into two halves by simple division, and each of these went on living like the original one. Thus I had learned the whole life-cycle of what I had to regard as one of the simplest organisms conceivable, and I gave it, in recognition of its fundamental significance, the name of Protogenes primordialis, "first-born of primeval time." An accurate description of it was published by me in vol. xv. of the Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie (p. 360, Plate XXVI., Figs. 1 and 2).

The very next year two distinct, extremely simple organisms, very closely resembling Protogenes, were described by the distinguished microscopist Cienkowski. In vol. i. of the Archiv für mikroskopische Zoologie (p. 203, Plates XII.-XIV.) he published very interesting "Contributions to the Knowledge of Monads." Among the various Protista here associated by Cienkowski under the old, ambiguous term