Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/588
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
respiratory organs of the mussel, and this orifice corresponds to the siphon in the sea-snails already studied. This current of water, besides bathing the gills, also carries in minute particles which are floating in the water, and these particles are conducted to the mouth of the creature, and swallowed as food. At the opposite end of the shell from these openings, or the forward end, a whitish, fleshy mass will be seen protruding. This is called the foot, and corresponds to the foot or creeping disk in the snails. By means of this foot the mussel crawls through the sand.
The mouth is above the foot, and always concealed within the shell. In Fig. 7 the foot is shown, and also the excurrent and incurrent orifices, with arrows drawn to indicate the direction of the currents of water.
In some small species of fresh-water bivalves, the excurrent and incurrent orifices are prolonged into tubes, and then they are called siphons. Fig. 9 represents a common species which the pupils may find in muddy brooks and ditches. By using the long-handled dipper already described, some specimens will probably be found. They are quite small, from the size of a pea to that of a nickel cent. The siphonal tubes are prominent, and the foot is long and tongue-shaped, and the animal is very active in crawling about; also in Fig. 4 K and L represent two of these small animals with bivalve shells.
The foot of these creatures resembles in appearance and action the foot of a fresh-water snail, only there is no mouth nor tentacles in sight. These parts are present, but are never protruded beyond the edges of the shell.
When the fresh-water mussels are partly open, a fleshy border will be seen just within the edges of the shell, and this is the border of the mantle, and corresponds to the same parts described in the snails; the fringed membrane which formed the openings at the hinder part of the mussel is simply a continuation of the mantle.
When the shells are removed from the animal, the mantle will be found lining the shells, just as the blank pages line the inside of a book-cover. While the edge of the mantle deposits the successive layers, which increase the size of the shell, the entire surface of the mantle deposits the pearly substance which lines the inner surface of the shells, and which is so characteristic of the fresh-water mussels.
Grains of sand, or other particles, getting in between the mantle and the shell, are soon covered by layers of pearly substance poured out, or secreted by the mantle. In this way pearls are formed.