Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 095.djvu/30

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Mr. Carlisle's Lecture

adapted to the last weak actions of life, and to its gradual recommencement.

This diminished respiration is the first step into the state of torpidity; a deep sleep accompanies it; respiration then ceases altogether; the animal temperature is totally destroyed, coldness and insensibility take place, and finally the heart concludes its motions, and the muscles cease to be irritable. It is worthy of remark that a confined air, and a confined respiration, ever precede these phenomena: the animal retires from the open atmosphere, his mouth and nostrils are brought into contact with his chest, and enveloped in fur; the limbs become rigid, but the blood never coagulates during the dormant state. On being roused, the animal yawns, the respirations are fluttering, the heart acts slowly and irregularly, he begins to stretch out his limbs, and proceeds in quest of food. During this dormancy, the animal may be frozen, without the destruction of the muscular irritability, and this always happens to the garden snail,[1] and to the chrysalides of many insects during the winter of this climate.

The loss of motion and sensation from the influence of low temperature, accompany each other, and the capillaries of the vascular system appear to become contracted by the loss of animal heat, as in the examples of numbness from cold. Whether the cessation of muscular action be owing to the impeded influence of the nerves, or to the lowered temperature of the muscles themselves, is doubtful; but the known influence of cold upon the sensorial system, rather favours the supposition that a certain temperature is necessary for the transmission of nervous influence, as well as sensation.

  1. Helix nemoralis.