Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/514

This page has been validated.

the Microscopical Journal of 1868, in which his conclusions are stated: "Such, so far as I have been able to determine them, are the facts of structure to he observed in the gelatinous matter of the Atlantic mud, and in the coccoliths and coccospheres. I have hitherto said nothing about their meaning, as, in an inquiry so difficult and fraught with interest as this, it seems to be in the highest degree important to keep the questions of fact and the questions of interpretation well apart."

Again: "I conceive that the granule-heaps and the transparent gelatinous matter, in which they are imbedded, represent masses of protoplasm. Take away the cysts which characterize the radiolaria, and the dead spherozum would very nearly resemble one of the masses of this deep-sea Urschleim, which must, I think, be regarded as anew form of those simple animated beings which have recently been so well described by Haeckel, in his 'Monographic der Moneren.' I propose to confer upon this new monera the generic name of Bathybius, and to call it after the eminent Professor of Zoölogy in the University of Jena, B. Haeckelii."

This modest and cautious statement is the whole of the announcement of Bathybius. It is made by a scientific man in the true spirit of science, and when the Rev. Mr. Cook charges Huxley with "haughtiness" in regard to it, his statement has no value except as an exemplification of the trustworthiness of his book. What the nature of the evidence was for the existence of this protoplasmic substance at the bottom of the sea will appear from the following statements:

Those eminent zoölogists, Sir Wyville Thomson and Dr. William B. Carpenter, while engaged in a deep-sea exploring expedition in the North Atlantic with the war-ship Porcupine, had abundant opportunity to examine the ooze of the ocean-bed, and they write in the Magazine of Natural History (1869), "This ooze was actually living; it collected in lumps, as though albumen had been mixed with it; and under the microscope the sticky mass was seen to be living sarcode." The protoplasmic character of this simplest formed material of low animal life was still further attested by Sir Wyville Thomson in his "Depths of the Sea" (page 410, second edition, 1874): "If a little of the mud, in which this viscid condition is most marked, be placed in a drop of sea-water under the microscope, we can usually see, after a time, an irregular network of matter resembling white of egg, distinguishable by its maintaining its outline and not mixing with the water. This network may be seen gradually altering in form, and entangled granules and foreign bodies change their relative positions. The gelatinous matter is, therefore, capable of a certain amount of movement, and there can he no doubt that it manifests the phenomena of a very simple form of life."

Dr. Emil Bessels, who accompanied the expedition of the Polaris, writes to a German journal of natural history: "I found in Smith Sound, at the depth of ninety-two fathoms, great masses of free, undifferentiated homogeneous protoplasm," which he names Protobathybius. He adds: "I would simply say, in this place, that these masses consisted of pure protoplasm, in which calcareous particles occurred only by accident. They appeared to be very sticky, mesh-like structures, with perfect amœboid movements; they took up particles of carmine and other foreign substances, and there was active motion of the nuclei."

And now, to nullify the effect of such direct, positive, and concurrent observations made and verified, again and again, by experienced men, what have we? Only this: the ship Challenger started around the world to dredge the sea-bottom, and its observers sought Bathybius and did not find