Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 296 pages of information about Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20).
into tower-like constructions.  But it is far more surprising that they should apparently exhibit some degree of intelligence instead of a mere blind, instinctive impulse, in their manner of plugging up the mouths of their burrows.  They act in nearly the same manner as would a man, who had to close a cylindrical tube with different kinds of leaves, petioles, triangles of paper, etc., for they commonly seize such objects by their pointed ends.  But with thin objects a certain number are drawn in by their broader ends.  They do not act in the same unvarying manner in all cases, as do most of the lower animals; for instance, they do not drag in leaves by their foot-stalks, unless the basil part of the blade is as narrow as the apex, or narrower than it.

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When we behold a wide, turf-covered expanse, we should remember that its smoothness, on which so much of its beauty depends, is mainly due to all the inequalities having been slowly levelled by worms.  It is a marvellous reflection that the whole of the superficial mould over any such expanse has passed, and will again pass, every few years through the bodies of worms.  The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed, and, still continues to be thus ploughed by earth-worms.  It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.  Some other animals, however, still more lowly organized, namely, corals, have done far more conspicuous work in having constructed innumerable reefs and islands in the great oceans; but these are almost confined to the tropical zones.






When the country swain, loitering along some lane, comes to a standstill to contemplate, with awe and wonder, the spectacle of a mass of the familiar “hair-eels” or “hair-worms” wriggling about in a pool, he plods on his way firmly convinced that, as he has been taught to believe, he has just witnessed the results of the transformation of some horse’s hairs into living creatures.  So familiar is this belief to people of professedly higher culture than the countryman, that the transformation just alluded to has to all, save a few thinking persons and zooelogists, become a matter of the most commonplace kind.  When some quarrymen, engaged in splitting up the rocks, have succeeded in dislodging some huge mass of stone, there may sometimes be seen to hop from among the debris a lively toad or frog, which comes to be regarded by the excavators with feelings akin to those of superstitious wonder and amazement.  The animal may or may not be captured; but the fact is duly chronicled in the

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Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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