Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/240

This page has been validated.

generates to become a mere elongated worm, devoted to the production of eggs, and exhibiting but little advance on the sacculina. There are dozens of low crustaceans which, like sacculina, afford examples of animals which are free and locomotive in the days of their youth, but which, losing eyes, legs, digestive system, and all the ordinary belongings of animal life, "go to the bad," as a natural result of participating in what has been well named "the vicious cycle of parasitism."

Plainly marked as are the foregoing cases, there are yet other familiar crustaceans which, although not parasites, as a rule, nevertheless illustrate animal retrogression in an excellent manner. Such are the sea-acorns (Balani), which stud the rocks by thousands at low-PSM V19 D240 Barnacles.jpgFig. 12.—Barnacles. water mark, and such are the barnacles (Fig. 12), that adhere to floating timber and the sides of ships. In the development of sea-acorns and barnacles, the first stage is essentially like that of the sacculina. The young barnacle is a "nauplius," three-legged, free-swimming, single-eyed, and possessing a mouth and digestive apparatus. In the next stage we again meet with the six pairs of swimming-feet seen in sacculina, with the enormously developed front pair of legs serving as "feelers," and with two "magnificent compound eyes," as Darwin describes the organs of vision. The mouth in this second stage, however, is closed, and feeding is there impossible. As Darwin remarks, the function of the young barnacles "at this stage is to search out by their well-developed organs of sense and to reach by their active powers of swimming a proper place on which to become attached, and to undergo their final metamorphosis. When this is completed," adds Darwin, "they are fixed for life; their legs are now converted into prehensile organs; they again obtain a well-constructed mouth, but they have no antennae, and their two eyes are now reconverted into a minute, single, simple eye-spot." A barnacle is thus simply a highly modified crab-like animal which fixes itself by its head to the floating log, and which "kicks its food into its mouth with its feet," to use the simile and description of biological authority. The development of its "shell" and stalk are matters which do not in the least concern its place in the animal series. These latter are local and personal features of the barnacle tribe. For in the "sea-acorns,"