Page images
PDF
EPUB

ed to solicit subscriptions from the citizens. That they will meet with encouragement, we do not doubt. A Society which has done so much to beget and encourage a taste for nature; which assists so much in the investigation of this widely extended science, and which, from the very nature of things is necessarily so far in advance of our national state, will not, we are confident, be allowed to suffer from want of proper support.

TO OUR REVIEWERS.

The Editors of this Journal are always thankful for the notices with which they may be favoured by the newspaper-press, and are willing to profit by the hints whether of friendly or hostile. critics. They may, however, be allowed to say that they have sometimes been distressed by statements which convey to the public-unintentionally no doubt-very imperfector incorrect ideas of their meaning. A remarkable instance of this has occurred with reference to an article in our June number on the Bowmanville Coal question. In that article we endeavoured to vindicate Prof. Chapman and Sir W. E. Logan from the charges which had been urged against them; and by a careful investigation of all the possibilities that remain of the occurrence of coal in Canada, to show that none of these applied to the current statements respecting Bowmanville, and consequently that the pretended discovery must be rejected. Our explanations may have been less clear than we had supposed, but it certainly was with some surprise that we found one of our contemporaries stating that the possibilities referred to were urged in defence of the supposed discovery; and that we had blamed Sir W. E. Logan for excess of caution when we said that he is "too cautious to hazard any conjecture as to the occurrence of fossil fuel in a country where facts palpable to the Geologist have inscribed everywhere a negation of its presence." With still greater astonishment we found that only a few weeks ago we were accused of attacking our Provincial Geologist as guilty of rashness, an opposite and we are sure still more undeserved charge. Personally we feel that we have good reason to complain, that after fully committing ourselves against the so-called discovery, at a time when it was very generally credited, we should now be blamed as if we had taken an opposite course. But as Canadians we feel more deeply aggrieved, that through what we must regard as the culpable carelessness of our reviewers, an impression should be spread abroad that there was any controversy between scientific men here on the subject. In the interest of truth, therefore, and of our common country, we ask the gentlemen who have thus misrepresented us, to re-examine the position taken by this Journal, and to do justice to its statements.

[blocks in formation]

Fig. 1.-Actinia Dianthus. Contracted.

ARTICLE XXXII.-On Sea Anemones and Hydroid Polyps from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Read before the Natural History Society of Montreal.

The creatures to which this notice relates are of great interest, whether we regard their singular and beautiful plant-like forms, their zoological relations, or the curious questions that concern their growth and reproduction. They are favourite subjects of study with all sea side collectors, and they have engaged and are

engaging the most minute attention of some of the ablest naturalists. I do not propose in the present paper to add anything to their general natural history, but merely to record the occurrence on the coast of British America of some species found by myself in Gaspé, or collected at Metis and Murray Bay by Miss Carey of Perth, who has placed a number of interesting specimens in my hands for determination.

I.-Sea Anemones collected in Gaspé.

The Actiniæ, or Sea Anemones, belong to a large and impor tant group of radiated animals, including the coral building polyps of the intertropical seas, and constituting the class Anthozoa of Owen's system, and the Polypi of that of Agassiz. The Acti

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

niæ are the largest and most interesting representatives of this group in these latitudes. They derive their common name from their flower-like aspect, though they are truly animals, and are both complex in structure and voracious in their habits. When expanded they present a circular fleshy disc. having the mouth in the centre, and at or near the circumference a fringe of tentacles

serving as organs of touch and prehension, and which can be extended or retracted at pleasure. The whole of the upper surface is tinted with gay or softly blended colours, often of great beauty. Internally the mouth leads into a sac-like stomach, surrounded by a space divided by a series of radiating membranous lamellae, between which are the organs of respiration and reproduction. Without the whole is a thick muscular skin.

Fixed by their flat bases to rocks or stones, the Actiniæ extend their tentacles and seize and devour any small animals that come within their reach. When at rest or when alarmed, the animal withdraws all its oral and tentacular apparatus, and the body shrinks into a cylindrical, spheroidal, or conical mass.

(1.)-Actinia Dianthus.

Near the mouth of Gaspé Basin is a patch of gravelly bottom at a depth of from eight to ten fathoms, which abounds in sea anemones, and especially in the fine species represented in Figs. 1 and 2, and which appears identical with the A. dianthus of the British coast. It falls within the characters of the published descriptions of that species, and cannot properly be separated from it, though it presents some points of difference. As compared with the British figures and descriptions, my Gaspé specimens show somewhat longer oral bands, with wedge shaped secondary bands between their extremities; the inner tentacles are more crowded toward the margin, and the range of colouring is different. These characters may however be within the limits of variation of the species.*

In the spot above referred to, not only were the Actiniæ abundant, but the stones to which they were attached could be taken up with the dredge; so that in a few hours dredging, about thirty perfect specimens were obtained, and being placed in basins of salt water, could be drawn and studied at leisure. Observed in this way, they presented a great variety of colouring, form, and attitude. I have selected the drawings copied in Figs. 1 and 2, from several others, as exhibiting the ordinary attitude of repose, and that of watching for prey, with the body extended to its full length. Both figures represent individuals of small size-the larger specimens being four inches in diameter when expanded. In their habits they corresponded with the accounts of the species given by Johnston and Landsborough, and like the British speci

Johnston, British Zoophytes. P. 232.

mens they adhered very firmly to the stones, and could scarcely be detached without injury to the base. When disturbed, they ejected water forcibly from the pores of the skin, along with their long white filaments, probably organs of defence, and possessing an urticating or benumbing property.

The range of colouring was very great, and was quite independent of the age or size of the specimens; but when several specimens were attached to the same stone, they were usually of the same colour. The prevailing tint externally was umber brown of various shades, but some specimens were fawn coloured, and this passed in others into a very pale flesh colour; some were beautifully striped with brown on a fawn or flesh coloured ground. In every case the colours of the disc and tentacles corresponded in intensity with those of the outer coat. The following descriptions show this relation in the more conspicuous colour varieties.

(a) Body externally very pale flesh colour, sometimes nearly white; oral bands pale flesh colour; outer tentacles rich flesh colour. The inner tentacles in this and the other varieties were paler than the outer. The specimen represented in Fig. 1 was of this variety.

(b) Body flesh colour or fawn, striped with brown; oral dise flesh colour; outer tentacles rich dark flesh colour. The specimen represented in Fig. 2 was of this colour.

(c) Body reddish brown; oral bands reddish orange; outer tentacles deep purple.

(d) Body umber brown, lighter when expanded; oral bands fawn or dull orange; outer tentacles purplish slate colour. Some of the largest specimens were of this colour, and presented a lurid or dingy aspect, very strongly contrasting with their delicately complexioned neighbours.

I have not met with any notice of the occurrence of A. dianthus in America, except in Stimpson's Marine Invertebrata of Grand Manan, where it is stated that a specimen supposed to belong to this species was taken, but lost before it could be examined. As already stated, I believe the specimens above described to be referrible to this species, but should they prove on comparison to be distinct and previously undiscovered, I shall claim for them the name of A. Canadensis.

[blocks in formation]

With the specimens just described were found a few individuals of a very distinct species, not unlike A. Mesembryanthemum,

« PreviousContinue »