Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/443

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THE IMPORT OF PROTOPLASM.

the indifferent tissues, which, being devoid of irritability, present an effectual barrier to the propagation of molecular explosions. It thus becomes necessary that, in the increasing complexity of animal forms, the process of differentiation should be accompanied by a corresponding integration, that the isolated tissues should be made a whole by bonds uniting them together. These bonds, moreover, must be of two kinds.

In the first place, there must be a ready and rapid distribution and interchange of material. The contractile tissues must be abundantly supplied with material best adapted by previous elaboration for direct assimilation, and the waste products arising from their activity must be at once carried away to the metabolic or excretory tissues. And so with all the other tissues. There must be a free and speedy intercourse of material between each and all. This is at once and most easily effected by the regular circulation of a common fluid, the blood, into which all the elaborated food is discharged, from which each tissue seeks what it needs, and to which each returns that for which it has no longer any use. Such a circulation of fluid being in large measure a mechanical matter, needs a machinery, and calls forth an expenditure of energy. The machinery is supplied by a special construction of the primary tissues, and the energy is arranged for by the presence among these of contractile and irritable matter. Thus, to the fundamental tissues there is added, in the higher animals, a vascular bond in the shape of a mechanism of circulation.

In the second place, no less important than the interchange of material is the interchange of energy. In the amœba, the irritable surface is physiologically continuous with the more internal protoplasm, while each and every part of the body has automatic powers. In the higher animals portions only of the skin remain as eminently irritable or sensitive structures, while automatic actions are chiefly confined to a central mass of irritable or nervous matter. Both forms of irritable matter are separated by long tracts of indifferent material from those contractile tissues through which they chiefly manifest the changes going on in themselves. Hence the necessity for long strands of eminently irritable tissue to connect the skin and contractile tissues, as well with each other as with the automatic centres. Similar strands are also needed, though perhaps less urgently, to connect the other tissues with these and with each other. To the vascular bond there must be added an irritable bond, along the strands of which impulses, set up by changes in one or another part, may travel in determinate courses for the regulation of the energy of distant spots. In other words, part of the irritable tissues must be specially arranged to form a coördinating nervous system.

Still further complications have yet to be considered. In the life of a minute homogeneous amœba, possessing no special form or structure, there is little scope for purely mechanical operations. As, how-