Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

“Pelican Island.” They are really very prettily rendered, and, were the deeds they chronicle true, would be doubly so. Unfortunately, however, the highly poetical idea of the animal's hoisting up its sails, and scudding before the breeze, is not true; but observers say that it does occasionally make use of its other feet as oars or paddles. The female

CHAPTERS ON CUTTLES.

No. 2.

By W. H, Booti. IN N geological times the Tetrabranchiata were

the more abundant forms, as testified by the numerous species of ammonites, orthoceratites, and others, whilst the Dibranchiata were comparatively scarce, and very poorly represented. Proceeding, we find that the two-gilled are separated into two sections, A and B, the first of which (A) contains cuttles which have eight arms, and is hence termed Octopoda ; whilst the latter section contains cuttles which, in addition to the eight arms, possess two long tentacles, and so the section goes by the name Decapoda. The first in order of the eight-footed cuttles is the Paper Nautilus, Argonauta (so called from the ship Argo, and ναυτίλος, the Greek for a sailor), a species which is not represented in British waters. From the times of the ancients the Paper

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

Nautilus has been a subject of conjecture and romance. Pliny and Aristotle both mentioned it in their works, and failed not to weave a most fanciful story concerning it. They supposed that two broad arms, with which the animal is equipped, were used for sails, and other arms for oars, so that the Argonauta navigated its vessel like any skilful seaman. Even two of our own poets have fallen into the same error; Pope's lines,

“ Learn of the little nautilus to sail,

Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale," — are perhaps the best known; but James Montgomery gives us some verses to the same effect in his

People very naturally thought from this that the shell was not the production of the animal they found in it, but that it had been formed by some other creature, and seized as a convenient dwellingplace by the euttle. Madame Jeanette Power, residing at Messina, conducted several experiments to test the truth of this, her conclusion being that the shell was the veritable production of the Argonauta. Having collected a number of living specimens of Argonauta Argo, the Mediterranean species of Paper Nautilus, this lady broke their shells in different degrees, and was rewarded by seeing some apply their broad dorsal arms to the fractures, and deposit a thin film of shelly matter, covering the broken parts. In about thirteen days, this became quite as hard and thick as the unbroken part, but

slightly more opaque. Should the whole of the namely, by the expulsion of the water from the shell be broken, the animal is unable to reconstruct gills; they also crawl along the bottom of the sea. a new one, and dies. The eggs are kept within the The Argonauta is very abundant about Messina, shell, and are so clustered around the spiral, that and even enters the port. It is most plentiful, when the animal propels itself, keel foremost, they about autumn, and frequents muddy spots. Madame are not exposed to the swift current of water, which Power was inclined to believe that the Argonauta otherwise might seriously interfere with their due really did use its two dorsal arms as sails, but incubation. The shell, during the life of the animal, another close observer of these interesting crea

tures, M. Sander Rang, at Algiers, altogether discountenances the idea. He says,—“Watching what took place around the Poulp (another name for Cuttle), which we left contracted in the Argonaut shell, we saw it extending itself from its shell and protruding six of its arms; then it threw itself into violent motion, and travelled over the basin in all directions, often dashing itself against the side. In these different movements the body leaned a little

[graphic]
[graphic]

Fig. 6. Cuttle-fish. (Octopus rulgaris.)

is flexible, and with a little pressure an be squeezed together. When dry it becomes quite brittle, but after being soaked in water for some time may be bent as before. The males, not possessing any shell, naturally do not require the means of making one; and so we find that in the male Argonauta

[graphic]

Fig. 8. Common Sepia. (Sepia officinalis.)

towards the forepart of the shell, aud the long slender arms, much extended and collected into a close bundle, were carried before it, as well as the tube, which showed itself open and protruded. The locomotion was effected in the ordinary manner of Poulps, backwards, by contraction of the sac, and expulsion of water through the funnel.” Another

species of Paper Nautilus, Argonauta hians, is found Fig. 7. Bone of common Sepia. (Sepia officinalis.) on the west coast of Africa and in the Chinese

seas; but although it has been discovered in a the dorsal arms are not expanded into a fleshy disc, fossil state in Piedmont, no living species have as those of the female. The males, and also the been taken in the Mediterranean. Argonauta Argo females when denuded of their shells, have very attains the largest size of all the Paper Nautili, the much the appearance of the common Octopus, with shell sometimes exceeding nine inches in diameter; which they are nearly connected. Their usual most specimens of other species would average mode of progression is that of other cuttles, about three inches.

The next cuttle which we shall examine is the its jaws very effective weapons, such that a close acOctopus (óstù, octo, eight, and mous, pous, a foot), quaintance with them when the animal is alive is far or Poulp. Many are the names that have been from desirable. A Mr. Beale has described an engiven to this species,-Sucker, Man-sucker, Blood counter he had with an Octopus in the Bonin Islands, sucker, and Devil-fish, being amongst them. A where he was searching for shells. It seems that Mr. species of this genus was the celebrated Polypus of Beale, seeing one of these strange-looking monsters the ancients, performing all sorts of wonders and on the rocks, endeavoured to stop its progress by terrible deeds. As I now sit, there are three of pressing on one of its legs with bis foot. As the our English Poulpes, Octopus vulgaris, staring at animal still persisted in its attempts to escape, he me with their huge dark eyes, and in their present caught hold of one of its arms, and tried to discondition looking inexpressibly ugly. These three engage it from the rocks, when the animal, evidently creatures I procured a few months ago, and in order enraged, loosing its hold from the stones, sprang on to be able to examine their organization more his arm, and prepared to bite it with its beak. Had closely, had them immersed in spirits of wine, and not a friend been at band, the consequences might securely corked up. As our English Octopus is as have been serious; but, fortunately, a companion good a representative of its kind as any, we will came up, and released Mr. Beale from his ferocious take it as

our example. Many are the little assailant by means of a large boat-knife. Thus we adventures I have had with the Octopus. By going see, the Octopus when enraged does not hesitate to out to its haunts, several opportunities of seeing it attack man himself, in self-defence. The number in its many different conditions have been offered of suckers possessed by our common Octopus falls to me. For a general appearance of the animal I but little short of two thousand; their application must refer my readers to the illustration, merely to the human skin is said to cause pain and inflamobserving that when in the following lines any mation. My own experience has not led me to mention is made of “ ventral or dorsal” sides or verify this statement; for, although in searching feet, by“ dorsal" is meant the side on which the under the rocks, in such places as the Octopus loves funnel is situated; and by "ventral” the opposite. to haunt, I have often had my hand seized by its As its name implies, the Octopus has eight fleshy tenacious arms, yet on releasing myself, no subsearms or feet, which on an average are about twice the quent feeling of pain whatsoever has resulted. The length of the body, are very muscular and flexible, cold, slimy grasp of this small creature is by no and taper down to a point little thicker than ordi means pleasant; how much more so must that of nary twine. Along the whole under-surface of the larger species be? The food of this cuttle these arms is situated a series of circular discs or consists chiefly of mollusks, which it collects and suckers, of strange construction. These suckers brings to its den. The fact of the Poulp baving a are fixed in pairs, except the first half-dozen near regular den is rather curious, as one would have the mouth, which are placed immediately over each supposed that an animal so low in creation, and of other; they form the chief means by which the such a predatory nature, would devour its prey on Poulp is enabled to seize its prey, and are of curious the spot. The place chosen for the den is generally construction. To describe them, I cannot do better an isolated piece of rock, situated on the sand, than liken them to the pneumatic pegs so largely where the hollow which is generally to be found used by photographers, and for fastening on to round about such stones, forms a convenient place shop-windows. Like these pegs, the suckers have for the Octopus to stow itself, and deposit its booty. around the outside a broad soft band, which in the The large otter-shells (Lutraria), with those of the case of the pegs is made of india-rubber, and in genus Tapes, and various others, form its favourite that of the Octopus of a fleshy substance. This food. Often after bringing the creature out of its band then leaves a cavity in the centre, and to this den, a feat best performed by means of a large fishhollow is attached a muscular piston, exactly fitting hook attached to a stick, many excellent shells, the aperture, capable of being worked up and down with the animals still undevoured, may be found. at the will of the animal. When, therefore, the An amusing fact is that the Octopus nearly always surface of this sucker is pressed against any sub has a number of hangers-on, in the shape of small stance, the withdrawal of the piston creates a Herniit Crabs (Pagurus), mostly tenants of a vacuum, and powerful adhesion takes place. common top-shell (Trochus cinereus). These paraHaving seized its victim by encircling it with his sitical hosts, on being disturbed, present a most arms, the Octopus drags the unfortunate animal to ridiculous spectacle in their hurry to be off. Enthe powerful horny mandibles with which it is deavouring to clamber up the bank of sand, they furnished, and makes short work of it. These naturally only bring down a heap of it with themmandibles are similar to the beak of a parrot, and selves, and to see twenty or more of these droll are of great strength, being able to break through little creatures rushing franctically up, and then the hard sbelly covering of crabs or lobsters. falling back again pell-mell, is most laughable. As Endued with so much strength, the Octopus makes the Octopus is addicted to getting more food than

it can possibly stow away in its capacious stomach, so great was the luminosity proceeding from them these small gentry act as its scavengers, and clear ut totum palatium ardere videretur." There are away the remains of each feast in the neatest upwards of forty species of Octopus known; their manner. The skin of the Poulp is furnished with eggs are usually deposited in the spring on seaseveral colour-glands, which enable the animal to weeds or empty shells. vary its tint in a manner very similar to that of the We now come to Section B, the Ten-footed Chameleon. In a chase after one which I had dis Cuttles, or Decapoda. The chief peculiarity of the turbed, I was pleased to notice that when darting animals comprised in this section consists in their over sandy ground, its colour became very much having, in addition to the eight arms such as are lighter than before, whilst directly it approached a possessed by the Octopus, two long tentacles, wliose rocky or shingly portion of the coast, a darker hue ends are expanded and furnished with suckers. pervaded its body. Darwin, in that most interest These tentacles, in all but one genus, can be drawn ing of books, his “Journal of a Voyage Round the within a sort of pouch situated below the eyes; they World,” gives a pleasing account of the Octopi at are of use to the cuttles for seizing their prey, and St. Iago. After a description of their rapid motion, also for mooring the animals fast to the rocks, when and methods of escaping notice, he goes on to say the stormy weather would threaten them with that'any part of the skin of the Octopus, on being destruction. The suckers of cuttles of this section subjected to a slight shock of galvanism, becomes are of a different description to those before menquite black : a similar effect, but in a less degree, is tioned, being what is termed pedunculated, and produced by scratching the skin with a needle. These more prominent. The dissimilarity chiefly consists clouds, or blushes, as they may be called, are said in their being surrounded by a borny ring. Their to be produced by the alternate expansion and con bodies are rather elongated, and contain a shell traction of minute vesicles containing variously which in some species is calcareous, and in others coloured fluids. This gentleman whilst looking for horny; it is not fastened to the body of the animal, marine animals, with his head near the rocks, was but contained loosely in the mantle. The Decapods. more than once saluted by a jet of water, accom are mostly gregarious, and frequent the bigh seas. panied by a slight grating noise. On examination, in great numbers, moving about periodically from, he found out that this was a cuttle which, though the northern and southern zones. They are divided concealed in a hole, thus led to its discovery. “That into four families, the Teuthida, Belemnitida. it possesses the power of ejecting water," says Sepiada, and Spiralida, a few genera of each of Darwin, “there is no doubt, and it appeared to me which we shall examine in their order. Our first that it could certainly take good aim by directing the decapod, a member of the Teuthida, or Calamaries, tube or siphon on the under part of its body.” As is a very abundant animal on our coasts. Referthe Octopus darts along, the dilation and subsequent ence to the illustration of the Squid (Loligo contraction of the sac is very plain, and the rush of vulgaris), for that is the creature's name, will show the water through the funnel is also easily discernible. that in this species the arms are very short, and the Its first action on being disturbed is to discharge body much elongated. An expansion of the mantle some of the ink with which it is furnished, in order on each side of the caudal extremity forms a pair of to cover its retreat. This ink is of a more viscid fins, by means of whieh the Squid is able to swim nature than ordinary writing ink, and when spurted very swiftly. The most curious part of the animal forth does not become generally suffused, but forms is its shell, or pen, as it is called, a horny substance a dense cloud about the animal, and ultimately analogous to the bone in the Sepia. This pen may settles down to the ground. Even if all its supply be seen figured, together with the illustration of the of ink has been discharged, the Octopus in a few animal; it resembles an ordinary quillpen in general hours has a full battery ready for use again. The shape, and acts as a sort of backbone to the flesh of the Octopus is sometimes used as food, but creature. Several“ pens” have been found in the only by the poorer classes of the seaside population. body of a single squid, so that it is thought that In the Levant, (according to "A. M. B.," SCIENCE they increase with the age of the animal. From Gossip, June, 1865), a species of Octopus, going by. possessing this peculiar appendage, the Squid has the name of Octopoda, is very troublesome to the had the name of Sea-pen given to it. The pen is of fishermen, but much esteemed as an article of con a horny transparent substance, and has been found sumption. The method of preparing it for table in in a fossil state. Like most other cuttles, the Squid those Eastern quarters, is to beat it for an hour or is furnished with a supply of ink. From these two so against a rock, and afterwards serve it up as a characteristics, I think it might very appropriately fricassée, or otherwise. Horrible to think of, some be called the “Pen-and-Ink Cuttle.” A lady at savages eat the Octopus raw-what a strange taste Lyme Regis, Miss Mary Anning, was the first to is this! In the Octopoda, no shell, internal or ex discover the ink.bags of the Loligo in a fossil state ternal, is visible; they are said to be highly luminous in that neighbourhood. They are found distended in the dark, and Pliny, quoting Bartholinus, says just as when they formed parts of the living animal

and retain the same juxta-position to a horny pen, by bringing these two discs together they become which the ink-bag of the recent Loligo bears to the firmly locked. The victim once embraced by these pen within the body of that animal. The state of has no hope of escape left, and is pressed against preservation of the pens is such as to admit of a the jaws of its destroyer by means of the arms. close comparison of their internal structure with The next genus, Enoploteuthis (svorlos, enoplos, that of the present living Loligo. Similar remains armed, and tevdis), is a still more formidable one, of the pens and ink-bags of animals of this genus for in it all the arms are furnished with hooks. are frequently found in the Lias shale of Aalen and Professor Owen says that the natives of the PolyBoll, in Germany. The Squid is the animal used for nesian Islands live in great dread of cuttles of this bait in the Newfoundland cod-fisheries, and is also genus. One species found dead there by Sir Joseph occasionally used for the same purpose by the fisher- | Banks, measured over six feet in length. One arm men on our own coasts. The manner in which it is of this identical calamary is still preserved in the caught is as follows:-A party of sailors go out in museum of the College of Surgeons, where it may boats to a place the Squid is known to frequent, be inspected. Another genus, Ommastrephes (õuna, armed with an instrument know as a " Squid-jigger.” omma, the eye, and otpéow, strepho, to turn), much This consists of a number of large hooks fastened resembles the Octopus in general form. The eyes together so as to form a circular chevaux de frise. are very conspicuous, and the arms welded together To catch the Squid, this weapon is fastened to a line, up a considerable part. Animals of this genus, as and dropped in the water without any bait, but by well as those of Loligo, are used in the cod-fisheries. giving it a continuous up-and-down motion, all the The former have the power of leaping a great Squids that come near are hooked and secured. On height out of the water. Mr. F. D. Bennet menbeing brought to the surface, they discharge a

tions that these calamaries were very numerous in itorrent of ink, so that to avoid being deluged with the vicinity of the Sandwich Islands, where they the black stream, a little dexterity is needed. The are extensively used as food, their flesh having Loligo has sets of suckers arranged in two rows somewhat the flavour of a lobster, and being conalong its arms, as the Octopus; the suckers on the sidered a delicacy. In that locality the Flying.fish extremities of the tentacles are situated in fours. and this Calamary were most plentiful during a

This is a well-distributed genus, being found in the calm, when they were seen leaping out of the water. . Atlantic, Mediterranean, North Seas, and the The fate of the Ommastrephes appears to be someSouthern Ocean. Of another genus, Sepiola, an what similar to that of the Flying-fish; for whilst abundant little species is found in our common leaping out of the water to escape their aquatic Sepiola (Sepiola atlantica). In this cuttle the body pursuers, they fall a prey to birds, who diligently is short and dumpy, furnished with two compara watch for an opportunity to seize them when out tively large-sized fins situated diametrically oppo of their native element. Some few, being thus site one another on the sides of the animal. The pursued, leapt up to a considerable height above pen is very similar to that of the Loligo. Gosse, the bulwarks of the ship in which Mr. Bennet was, in his valuable work on the aquarium, gives a vivid and fell on the deck. Having now examined a few description of this animal, portraying in the most of the genera of the Teuthide, we proceed to the lively terms the various evolutions it is seen to per next family, the Belemnitidæ. This family is proform when kept captive in an aquarium. A striking bably better known to our geological than to our feature in the animal is the propensity it has for conchological friends, as no living species exists, burrowing ; by directing its funnel towards the and all our information as to it is drawn from sand, and then expelling the water from its gills, it fossils. The shell of the Belemnites, which is scoops out, in the most perfect manner, a small nearly the only part ever found, was an internal kollow, where it snugly ensconces itself, leaving but one, somewhat similar to that of the Sepia. In the little of its body visible.

middle is a sort of cup, termed the alveolus, Passing over several other genera, we come to divided into compartments, which are connected by the Onychoteuthis (ovvč, onyx, a claw, and tevdis, a tube. The alveolus is protected by a calcareous teuthis, a calamary) or uncinated calamary. This incrustation (rostrum), rather elongated, whose formidable genus, in addition to the suckers on its function was probably to guard the animal from arms, is furnished with a terrible set of horny the shocks to which it was exposed as it swam hooks on the expanded extremities of its long backwards. It is this rostrum which is discovered tentacles. By means of these hooks it is better so very frequently in a fossil state. An interesting able to retain its hold on fishes, as, from the slimy article on the Belemnites, by our much-esteemed nature of their scales, it would frequently be diffi-| editor, will be found in the volume of this magazine cult to get the suckers into action. As if not for 1872. It is embellisbed with several illustrasufficiently armed with its suckers and hooks, this tions, which will serve to make their construction calamary is also furnished with an adhesive disc, more manifest. immediately below the hooks on the tentacles; and Leaving the Belemnitide, we now proceed to

« AnteriorContinuar »