Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/948

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931
RAY, J.

indicated by their shape, are bottom-fishes, living on Hat sandy ground, generally at no great distance from the coast or the surface. They lead a sedentary life, progressing, like the flatfishes, by an undulatory motion of the greatly extended pectoral tins, the thin slender tail having lost the function of an organ of locomotion, and acting merely as a rudder. They are carnivorous and feed exclusively on molluscs, crustaceans and fishes. Some of the species possess a much larger and more pointed snout than the others, and are popularly distinguished as “ skates.” The following are known as inhabitants of the British seas:-(a) short-snouted species: (1) the thorn back (R. clavala), (2) the homelyn or spotted ray (R. maculata), (3) the starry ray (R. radiala), (4) the cuckoo or sandy ray (R. circular is); (b) long-snouted species: (5) the common skate (R. balis), (6) the flapper skate or jumbo skate (R. macrorhynchus), (7) the burton skate (R. alba), (8) and (9) the shagreen skates (R. oxyrhynchus and R. fullonica). A few deep-sea species are known, including R. abyssicola from 1588 fathoms off the coast of British Columbia. Most of the skates and rays are eaten, except during the breeding season; and even the young of the former are esteemed as food. The skates attain to a much larger size than the rays, viz. to a width of 6 ft. and a weight of 400 and 500 lb.

The members of the fifth family, Trygonidae or sting-rays, are distinguished from the rays proper by having the vertical fins replaced by a strong spine attached to the upper side of the tail. Some fifty species are known, which inhabit tropical more than temperate seas, some species being found in great tropical rivers over 1000 m. from the sea. The spine is barbed on the sides and is a most effective weapon of defence; by lashing the tail in every direction the sting-rays can inflict dangerous or at least extremely painful wounds. The danger arises from the lacerated nature of the wound rather than from any specially poisonous property of the mucus inoculated. Generally only one or two spines are developed. Sting-rays attain to about the same size as the skates and are eaten on the coasts of the -Mediterranean and elsewhere. One species (Trygon paslinaca) is not rarely found in the North Atlantic and extends northwards to the coasts of Ireland, England and Norway. The rays of the sixth and last family, Myliobatidae, are popularly known under various names, such as “ devil-fishes, ” “ sea-devils ” and “ eagle-rays.” In them the dilatation of the body, or rather the development of the pectoral fins, is carried to an extreme, whilst the tail is very thin and sometimes long like a whip-cord (fig. 3). Caudal spines are generally present and

FIG. 3.-Aelobatis narinari (Indo-Pacific Ocean). similar to those of the sting-rays. In the enormous “ sea-devils, ” sometimes classed as a separate family (Mobulidae), the anterior part of the pectoral fin is detached and forms a “ cephalic ” lobe or pair of lobes in front of the snout. The dentition consists of perfectly flat molars, adapted for crushing hard substances. In some of the eagle-rays the molars are large and tessellated (fig. 4),


FIG. 4.*J3.WS of an Eagle-Ray, M yliobalis aguila. in others extremely small. Of the twenty-seven species which are known, from tropical and temperate seas, the majority attain a very large and some an enormous size: one mentioned by Risso, which was taken at Messina, weighed 1250 lb. A foetus taken from the uterus of the mother (all eagle-rays are viviparous), captured at Jamaica and preserved in the British Museum, is 5 ft. broad and weighed 20 lb. The mother measured 15 ft. in width and as many in length, and was between 3 and 4 ft. thick. At Jamaica, where these rays are well known under the name of “ devil-fishes, ” they are frequently attacked for sport's sake, but their capture is uncertain and sometimes attended with danger. The eagle-ray of the Mediterranean and Atlantic (M yliobalis aquila) is occasionally found off the British coasts. (A. C. G.; J. G. K.)


RAY (or Wray, as he wrote his name till 1670), JOHN (1628–1705), sometimes called the father of English natural history, was the son of the blacksmith of Black Notley near Braintree in Essex, where he was born on the 29th of November 1628, or, according to other authorities, some months earlier. From Braintree school he was sent at the age of sixteen to Catharine Hall, Cambridge, whence he removed to Trinity College after about one year and three-quarters. His tutor at Trinity was Dr James Duport (1606–1679), regius professor of Greek, and his intimate friend and fellow-pupil the celebrated Isaac Barrow. Ray was chosen minor fellow of Trinity in 1649, and in due course became a major fellow on proceeding to the master's degree. He held many college offices, becoming successively lecturer in Greek (1651), mathematics (1653), and humanity (1655), praelector (1657), junior dean (1657), and college steward (1659 and 1660); and according to the habit of the time, he was accustomed to preach in his college chapel and also at Great St Mary's before the university, long before he took holy orders. Among his sermons preached before his ordination, which was not till the 23rd of December 1660, were the famous discourses on The Wisdom of God in the Creation, and on the Chaos, Deluge and Dissolulion of the World. Ray's reputation was high also as a tutor; and he communicated his own passion for natural history to several pupils, of whom Francis Willughby is by far the most famous.

Ray's quiet college life closed when he found himself unable to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity of 1661, and was obliged to give up his fellowship in 1662, the year after Isaac Newton had entered the college. We are told by Dr Derham in his Life of Ray that the reason of his refusal “ was not (as some have imagined) his having taken the ' Solemn League and Covenant,' for that he never did, and often declared that he ever thought it an unlawful oath; but he said he could not declare for those that had taken the oath that no obligation lay upon them, but feared there might.” From this time onwards he seems to have depended chiefly on the bounty of his pupil Willughby, who made Ray his constant companion while he lived, and at his death left him £60 a year, with the charge of educating his two sons.