Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/29

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19
HYDROIDS.

the profounder oceanic depths, that no vegetation can exist there; an absence of animal life was therefore inferred. Certain exceptions to this definition of vegetable life, as being exhaustive, are found in the Fungi, which germinate and grow in darkness, and it is believed are nourished in great measure by organic matter, as well as in the curious carnivorous plants, which have of late attracted so much attention. This, however, does not invalidate the truth that all nutriment, in order to be fit for the maintenance of animal life, must pass, at least once, through the transmutation effected only by vegetation.

The non-existence of life below 300 fathoms, in all the oceans of our globe, was strongly supported by Forbes's investigations in the Mediterranean. The abyssal depths of the sea were thus determined by logic to be the universal empire over which reigned darkness, desolation,

PSM V08 D029 Nutritive bud of tubularia indivisa.jpg
Fig. 3.—Nutritive Bud of Tubularia indivisa. (From Male Colony.)

and death. No investigations were made as to the facts of the case. Logic and a hasty generalization from inadequate knowledge were made, once again in the history of science, to do duty for the more laborious method of patient observation. Commerce at last gave the impulse to deep-sea exploration, which had before been lacking. The commercial world demanded a more speedy mode of communication from continent to continent, and the response came in the form of the submarine telegraph. Thousands of soundings were made to determine the best position in the ocean's bed for its successful laying, and thousands, again, to secure the broken end after the