Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/375

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PSM V35 D375 Leaf ray fungi.jpgFig. 3. his "Manual of Infusoria" and claims the whole series as animals; while Cooke, as representing the English botanists, says, in the introduction to "Myxomycetes of Great Britain," "It is unnecessary to attempt any controversion of the proposition once made, but soon ignored, that these organisms are more intimately related to animals than plants."[1] And Saccardo, in his great work now appearing, "Sylloge Fungorum," enumerates and describes the Myxomycetes with the rest.

But while systematists thus differ as to the place the slime-molds should have in classification, we need not hesitate to enjoy their beautiful forms. They are, whether we know what they are or not. The sidewalk species is very strange, and the transition from slime to dusty spores would be incredible did we not witness it. Stranger still, however, is the case of a species often brought in midsummer from the woods. Here, as the object comes from the forest, is a mass of yellowish slime without apparent structure or parts, "without form or comeliness." We lay it upon the laboratory table, shut it up in a box, if you choose, and a few days later examine to find no end of structure. Every particle appears to have passed into the composition of definite and elegant machinery. A perfect honey-comb now lies upon the bit of rotten wood, the original support, each cell capped with a filmy lid which seems all too fragile, and which, opening here and there, discloses a powdery, fluffy mass within. Brought to the microscope, the contents of each cell spread out in fruit, in spores and banded filaments, "elaters" called, to whose beauty our drawing (Fig. 5) pays but distant tribute. Golden is the color, sculptured

  1. Cooke's "Myxomycetes of Great Britain," introduction, p. iii.