Mollusca

FIG. 33.—MOLLUSCA.
1, Nautilus (Argonauta); 2, Clio Borealis; 3, Mussel (Mytilus edule).

The last of the three great divisions of the Invertebrata is formed by the Mollusca; it is divided into six classes, (see page 218 ). The Mollusca are characterised by having no internal skeleton, nor external horny case, as in the Articulata; they are rather soft, and either void of solid covering, or possessed of "shells" composed chiefly of earthy matter (chalk), and in one or two pieces, called valves, hence the names, uni-valve and bi-valve; all shells of this description belong to the Mollusca, some of which have no means of locomotion, as Oysters; others have a "foot" covered with a muscular expansion, called the "mantle," by which they glide onwards, as the Snail.

1. The Tunicata have no shell or hard covering, but are of a pretty firm consistence; they are either fixed to rocks and sea-weeds, or float about freely, and are either solitary, social, or compound. The "Ascidians" are united in groups, and are all connected by a common stalk or "Stolon," from which they grow by buds.

2. The Brachiopoda. These Molluscs are furnished with a pair of shells, within which the animal lives; one of these shells (the ventral one) has a small hole in it, close to the hinge, and through this a long tendinous cord passes, which fixes the creature to some stone or rock, hence the name Brachiopodous, which means arm-footed. The young of this Mollusc are not fixed, but float about. The Lingula has horny shells, and the foot passes out between them; these creatures were some of the first created, if not the very first; the shells of Terebratula are found in vast quantities in the oldest fossiliferous strata.

FIG. 34.—COCKLE (Cardium edule).

3. The Lamellibranchiata include a great many of our most ordinary Mollusca, commonly known as "shell fish." They have a pair of shells, and are thence called "bivalve." The Oyster (Ostrea edulis), Mussel (Mytilus edulis), Cockle (Cardium edule), Scallop (Pecten), belong to this class. Oysters form a considerable article of commerce, thirty or forty thousand bushels are brought each season to London; they are dredged up from "beds," where they are found in great quantities. They spawn in May and June, and are not then good. There is an old and a well-known saying, that "Oysters are not fit to eat, unless there is an R in the month," all the names of the months containing an R but May, June, July, and August. The spawn is collected and placed in artificial beds, consisting of shallow places or hollows in the sea, where the tide will not wash them away, and whence they can be easily removed when sufficiently grown, which is in five or six years; these creatures have no powers of locomotion, but remain where the tide washes them; but Scallops, Cockles (fig. 34), and Mussels (fig. 33), have the power of fixing themselves to any substance they wish, by means of the "byssus" or beard, which is a tuft of fibres passing out from between the shells; and it is said, the Scallops have the power of progression, by suddenly opening and shutting the shells.

4. The Pteropoda are Mollusca which have no shell, or a very thin one; the Clio borealis (fig. 33), which forms the chief food of the Whale, is found in great multitudes in the Arctic seas, it swims about by means of two extensions, similar to wings. The Hyalœa has a small round transparent shell.

FIG. 35.—SNAIL (Helix aspersa), AND SLUG  (Limax cinerius).
FIG. 36.—WENTLE-TRAP SHELL
(Scalaria).

5. The Gasteropoda are extremely numerous; most of them have univalve shells, but many of them have none, as the Garden Slug (Limax, fig. 35). The Whelk (Buccinum undatum), Perriwinkle (Littorina littoria), Garden Snail (Helix aspersa, fig. 35), and the Wentle-trap (Scalaria, fig. 36), are the most familiar examples of this class. These Mollusca walk by means of the mantle, which is muscular, and capable of alternate contraction and expansion; they breathe by means of lungs on their back beneath the shell, and to which there is an opening in their side. What are usually called the horns are four in number, two short and two long; they are tentaculæ, but what is peculiar in them is the circumstance of having the eyes placed at their ends. These Mollusca have a sort of valve, which, when they retire into the shell, closes it like a lid; it is called the "Operculum;" in some cases it is horny, as in the Perriwinkle, and in others, resembles shell; the shells of these mollusca are coiled into a spiral, this is caused by the shell always growing by additions to the edges of the mouth, and in nearly every case this spiral turns in the same direction that a screw does, but in a very few it turns in the opposite direction, as in the "Fusus contrarius."

6. The Cephalopoda include the "Cuttle-Fish," and Nautilus (fig. 33). They are furnished with eight or ten tentacula or arms, which spring from the head, and which are covered with suckers; the mouth is in the centre, and these tentacula are used to lay hold of their prey and convey it to the mouth; they have two perfect eyes, and they breathe by gills. The Nautilus has a univalve shell, which is of a very graceful and elegant form; its interior is divided into chambers, with a syphon running through them, by which the air is exhausted or compressed so as to cause them to sink or swim; the animal occupies only the outer chamber; the extinct Ammonite belonged to this class. It is from the Cuttle-Fish (Sepiæ) that the beautiful dark brown pigment, known as "sepia," is obtained, and also the material of which Indian-ink is made.