Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/761

This page has been validated.

among his countrymen. When we say the first zoologist, we give the widest and fullest signification to the word "zoology" which the latest developments of this science demand. Zoology is, in this sense, the entire biology of animals; and we accordingly consider as essential parts of it the whole field of Animal Morphology and Physiology, including not only Comparative Anatomy and Embryology, but also Systematic Zoology, Paleontology, and Zoological Philosophy. We look upon it as a special merit in Prof. Huxley that he has a thoroughly broad conception of the science in which he labors, and that, with a most careful empirical acquaintance with individual phenomena, he combines a clear philosophical appreciation of general relations.

When we consider the long series of distinguished memoirs with which, during the last quarter of a century, Prof. Huxley has enriched zoological literature, we find that in each of the larger divisions of the animal kingdom we are indebted to him for important discoveries.

From the lowest animals, he has gradually extended his investigations up to the highest, and even to man. His earlier labors were, for the most part, occupied with the lower marine animals, especially with the pelagic organisms swimming at the surface of the open sea. He availed himself of an excellent opportunity for the study of these, when on board H. M. S. Rattlesnake on a voyage of circumnavigation, which took him to many most interesting parts of tropical oceans little investigated, previously, by the zoologist; especially the coasts of Australia. Here he was able to observe, in their living state, a host of lower pelagic animals, some of which had not at all been studied, others but imperfectly. In the Protozoa, he was the first to lead us to satisfactory conclusions concerning the nature of the puzzling Thalassicollidæ and Sphærozoida. Our knowledge of Zoophytes has been greatly extended by his splendid work on "Oceanic Hydrozoa," in which, chiefly, the remarkable Siphonophora, with their largely-developed polymorphism and the instructive division of labor in their individual organs, are described with very great accuracy.

Already in his first work "On the Anatomy and Affinities of the Medusæ," 1849, he directed attention to the very important point, that the body of these animals is constructed of two cell-layers—of the Ectoderm and the Endoderm—and that these, physiologically and morphologically, may be compared to the two germinal layers of the higher animals. He has made us better acquainted with several interesting members of the class Vermes, Sagitta, Lacinularia, some lower Annulosa, etc. He was the first to point out the affinities of Echinodermata with Vermes. In opposition to the old view, that the Echinodermata belong to the Radiata, and, on account of their radial type, are to be classed with corals, medusæ, etc., Huxley showed that the whole organization of the former is essentially different from that of the latter, and that the Echinoderms are more nearly related, morpho-