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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/540

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

reception of contact stimuli, is applicable to our present case, since lie has shown that the organs for intensifying the effect of contact are similar in the two kingdoms. No one supposes that the whisker of a cat and the sensitive papilla of a plant are phylogenetically connected. It is a case of what Ray Lankester called homoplastic resemblance. Necessity is the mother of invention, but invention is not infinitely varied, and the same need has led to similar apparatus in beings which have little more in common than that both are living organisms.

But, whether we are or are not affected in our belief by the general argument from analogy, we can not neglect the important fact that Kreidl proves the possibility of gravisensitiveness depending on the possession of statoliths. We must add to this a very important consideration—namely, that we know from Němec's work that an alteration in the position of the statoliths does stimulate the statocyte. Such, at least, is, to my mind, the only conclusion to be drawn from the remarkable accumulation of protoplasm which occurs, for instance, on the basal wall of a normally vertical cell when that wall is cleared of statoliths by temporary horizontality. The fact that a visible disturbance in the plasmic contents of the statocyte follows the disturbance of the starch-grains seems to me a valuable contribution to the evidence.

There is one other set of facts of sufficiently general interest to find a place in this section. I mean Haberlandt's result, also independently arrived at by myself, that when a plant is placed horizontally and rapidly shaken up and down in a vertical plane the gravistimulus is increased. This is readily comprehensible on the statolith theory, since we can imagine the starch-grains would give a greater stimulus if made to vibrate on one of the lateral walls, or if forced into the protoplasm, as Haberlandt supposes. I do not see that the difference in the pressure of the cell-sap on the upper and lower walls (i. e., the lateral walls morphologically considered) would be increased. It would, I imagine, be rendered uneven; but the average difference would remain the same. But in the case of the starch-grains an obvious new feature is introduced by exchanging a stationary condition for one of movement. And though I speak with hesitation on such a point, I am inclined to see in Haberlandt's and my own experiments a means of distinguishing between the pressure and statolith theories. Noll, however, considers that the shaking method is not essentially different from that of Knight's experiment, and adds that the result might have been foreseen.