Scientific American Supplement, No. 601, July 9, 1887 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 601, July 9, 1887.

It is remarkable that here again Aristotle has predicted that sponges have a nervous system, basing his statement on the fact that ancient Greek mariners foretold storms by the alleged contraction of the sponge.  The reproductive organs of sponges are also very highly developed, and both ova and spermatozoa are found throughout the sponge, though more concentrated in the interior.  The ova consist of spherical cells, while the spermatozoa resemble an arrow-head in shape.  It has not yet been ascertained whether two sexes exist in sponges, or whether the ova and spermatozoa are produced at different periods by the same sponge.  When the embryo has become partly developed, it detaches itself from the parent sponge, and, issuing from the oscula, propels itself through the water by means of a number of flagella.

Silicious spicules next appear in its structure, and it then attaches itself to a rock and assumes its mature form.  Sponges are most numerous in the waters of the temperate and sub-tropical zones, and the salt-water varieties are by far more numerous than the fresh water.  Thus, while there are not more than ten fresh-water species known, Dr. Ledenfeld remarked that about one thousand species of salt-water sponges had been recognized.  Each species of the salt-water sponge is, however, generally found only in limited areas, and very few, all of which inhabit deep water, are cosmopolitan.  This is the more remarkable as Dr. Ledenfeld asserts that all the sponges inhabiting the rivers of Australia are identical with the fresh-water sponges of Europe, and in order to explain this fact he put forward a rather interesting theory.  He assumes that sponge life in rivers has been originally generated by the introduction of a single, or at most two or three germs by means of aquatic birds.  The inbreeding consequent upon this paucity of sponge life has produced a certain fixity of character in fresh-water sponges, and is in direct opposition to the effects of hybridization in the salt-water sponges, by which they have acquired the capacity of adapting themselves to local circumstances.

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Keeping the body clean is indispensable for the preservation of good health, through obtaining an operation of the skin and expelling matter whose presence aids in the development of diseases.  It is unfortunately necessary to say that, considering the population as a whole, the proportion of those who take baths is very small.  This is due to the fact that the habit of cleanliness, which should become a necessity, has not been early inculcated in every individual; and the reason that this complement to education is not realized is because the means of satisfying its exigencies are usually wanting.

We shall not speak of the improved processes that are used solely by the rich or well-to-do, as these become impracticable where it is a question of the working classes or of large masses of individuals.  It is, in fact, the last named category that interests us, and we are convinced that if we get young soldiers and children to hold dirtiness in horror, we shall be sure that they will later on take care of their bodies themselves.

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 601, July 9, 1887 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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