Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/178

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also to do much other work besides. It is probable, however, that the wants of animal activity are so immediate and urgent that, under these conditions, much food would be burned for this purpose, and would not reach the tissues, and the tissues would be imperfectly repaired, and would therefore waste.

Take next the carnivorous animal full fed. In this case there can be no doubt that, while a portion of the food goes to repair the tissues, by far the larger portion is consumed in the blood, and passes away partly as CO2 and H2O through the lungs, and partly as urea through the kidneys. This part is used, and can be of use only, to create force. The food of carnivora, therefore, goes partly to tissue-building, and partly to create heat and force. The force of carnivorous animals is derived partly from decomposing tissues and partly from food-excess consumed in the blood.

11. Herbivora.—The food of herbivora and of man is mixed—partly albuminoid and partly amyloid. In man, doubtless, the albuminoids are usually in excess of what is required for tissue-building; but in herbivora, probably, the albuminoids are not in excess of the requirements of the decomposing tissues. In this case, therefore, the whole of the albuminoids is used for tissue-making, and the whole of the amyloids for force-making. In this class, therefore, these two classes of food may be called tissue-food and force-food. The force of these animals, therefore, is derived partly from the decomposition of the tissues, but principally from the decomposition and combustion of the amyloids and fats.

Some physiologists speak of the amyloid and fat food as being burned to keep up the animal heat; but it is evident that the prime object in the body, as in the steam-engine, is not heat, but force. Heat is a mere condition and perhaps a necessary concomitant of the change, but evidently not the prime object. In tropical regions the heat is not wanted. In the steam-engine, chemical energy is first changed into heat and heat into mechanical energy; in the body the change is, probably, much of it direct and not through the intermediation of heat.

12. We see at once, from the above, why it is that plants cannot feed on elements, viz., because their food must be decomposed in order to create the organic matter out of which all organisms are built. This elevation of matter, which takes place in the green leaves of plants, is the starting-point of life; upon it alone is based the possibility of the existence of the organic kingdom. The running down of the matter there raised determines the vital phenomena of germination of pale plants, and even of some of the vital phenomena of green plants, and all the vital phenomena of the animal kingdom. The stability of chemical compounds, usable as food, is such that a peculiar contrivance and peculiar conditions found only in the green leaves of plants are necessary for their decomposition. We see, therefore, also, why animals as well as pale plants cannot feed on mineral matter.