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Indeed, for my own part, I am strongly of opinion that there is sense existing in those bodies which have the nature1 of neither animals nor vegetables, but a third which partakes of them both:—sea-nettles and sponges, I mean. The sea-nettle2 wanders to and fro by night, and at night changes its locality. These creatures are by nature a sort of fleshy branch,3 and are nurtured upon flesh. They have the power of producing an itching, smarting pain,4 just like that caused by the nettle found on land. For the purpose of seeking its prey, it contracts and stiffens itself to the utmost possible extent, and then, as a small fish swims past, it will suddenly spread out its branches, and so seize and devour5 it. At another time it will assume the appearance of being quite withered away, and let itself be tossed6 to and fro by the waves like a piece of sea-weed, until it happens to touch a fish. The moment it does so, the fish goes to rub itself against a rock, to get rid of the itching; immediately upon which, the nettle pounces upon it. By night also it is on the look-out for scallops and sea-urchins. When it perceives a hand approaching it, it instantly changes its colour, and contracts itself; when touched it produces a burning sensation, and if ever so short a time is afforded, makes its escape. Its mouth is situate, it is said, at the root or lower part,7 and the excrements8 are discharged by a small canal situated above.

1 The zoöphytes, or the zoödendra.

2 The wandering urticæ, or sea-nettles, are the Medusæ of Linnæus; the stationary nettle is the Actinia of the same naturalist.

3 "Camosæ frondis his natura."

4 Many species of the medusæ, Cuvier says, and other animals of the same class, the physalus more especially, cause an itching sensation in the skin when they are touched. This is noticed also by Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. vii. c. 35; and by Diphilus of Siphnos, in Athenæus, B. iii.

5 This is true, Cuvier says, and more especially with reference to the actiniæ. They have the mouth provided with numerous fleshy tentacles, by means of which they can seize very small animals which come within their reach, which they instantly swallow.

6 Cuvier says, that this is the case more especially with the medusæ and the physali.

7 "Ora ei in radice." Aristotle, however, says, fist. Anim. B. iv. c. 5, and B. viii. c. 3, that the sea-nettle has the mouth situate ἐν μέσῳ, "in the middle of the body." Hardouin attempts to explain the passage on the ground that Pliny has made a mistake, in an endeavour to suit his similitude of a tree to the language of Aristotle. Cuvier says, that there exists one genus or species of the medusæ, which appears to feed itself by the aid of an apparatus of branches, and is divided into such a multitude of filaments, almost innumerable, that it bears a strong resemblance to the roots of a tree or vegetable. It is this kind, he says, that he has called by the name of "Rhizostomos."

8 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 3, says the same; though, on the other hand, in the Fourth Book, he says that the animal has no excrements, although it has a mouth, and feeds.

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