Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/429

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By Professor W. A. HERDMAN, F.R.S.,


BIOLOGICAL, Zoological, Marine Stations are all of them merely the seaside workshops of the modern naturalist 'writ large.' But they offer wonderful facilities for the most advanced and best kinds of biological work and it is almost impossible to overestimate the influence they have had in the advancement of our knowledge of living nature. The field-naturalist of old, before the days of college laboratories, studied his animals and plants alive in the open, or collected and arranged them in his cabinets and museums. The work was interesting and necessary, but to some extent superficial. We see its importance enhanced in these later days in the light of Darwinism. It was an enormous gain to science when zoological and botanical laboratories were equipped in the universities, and when every student came to examine everything for himself and to probe as deeply as possible into structure and function. It is no wonder if for a time, in some quarters, in the fascinations of microscopic dissection and section cutting and mounting, there was perhaps a tendency to lose sight of living nature, and to convert refinement of method and beauty of preparation into the end, in place of being only the means of the investigation.

The biological station came to put all that right. It presented a happy union of the observational work of the field-naturalist with the minute investigations of the laboratory student. It brought the laboratory to the seashore, and the sea, in the form of well-equipped healthy

  1. From notes taken on a recent visit to the Zoological Station at Naples.