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Full text of "Living lights : a popular account of phosphorescent animals and vegetables"

LIVING LIGHTS 



PLATE XVII. 




PYROSOMA AND DIVER. 



(See page 84.) 



LIVING LIGHTS 

A POPULAR ACCOUNT OF 

PHOSPHORESCENT ANIMALS AND 
VEGETABLES 



BY 

CHARLES FREDERICK HOLDER 

FELLOW OF THE NEW-YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, ETC. J AUTHOR OF " ELEMENTS 
OF ZOOLOGY," "MARVELS OF ANIMAL LIFE," "THE IVORY 

KING," "WONDER WINGS," ETC. 




LONDON 
SAMPSON LOW, MAKSTON, SEAKLE, AND KIVINGTON, 

St. Bunstan's ?2}ousc 
FETTEK LANE, FLEET STREET, E.G. 

1887 
[All rig7its reserved] 




TO MY FATHER, THIS VOLUME IS GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED, IN 
REMEMBRANCE OF DAYS PASSED AMONG THE LIVING LIGHTS 
OF THE OUTER REEF. 



PKEFACE. 



THE object of the present work is to interest young people in 
natural history by the presentation of an attractive indeed, 
marvellous phase of nature, and to encourage healthful outdoor 
observation, as well as habits of investigation. 

The subject chosen for this work that embracing the phe- 
nomenon of luminosity in animals, plants, and inorganic matter, 
and especially those that seem intended as illuminators of the ocean 
is one which has ever possessed a fascination for the author. 

During many years spent on Southern shores, in constant asso- 
ciation with the most attractive features of marine life, the remem- 
brance of the splendors of the night festivals of these wondrous 
ocean forms is most enduring. No fairy tale of human invention 
can relate to us more fascinating scenes than are realized in Nature's 
carnivals of the sea. Not only is the surface of the ocean, when 
lashed into foam by the tempest, luminous, but the greater depths, 
where the water is cold, near the freezing-point, and subject to 
pressure so great that instruments of glass are shattered and 
reduced to powder, abound in living lights. 

And this abyssal region, covered by miles in depth of water, and 
which was formerly considered to be the most desolate region upon 
the globe, is inhabited by light-givers of marvellous beauty and 
brilliancy. 

The little Malacosteus, with its gleams of yellow and green ; 
Stomias, with sparkling side-lights; the dazzling effulgence of 
Pyrosoma; the comet-like glare of Medusae, with their tints of 

vii 



viii PREFACE. 



many colors, present a series of wonders which must excite the 
admiration of the most indifferent observer. 

In the United States, there are ten thousand enrolled young nat- 
uralists, comprising the Agassiz Association. As one of a com- 
mittee solicited to answer questions propounded by the young 
people, members of this association and of the Chautauqua Circle, 
I have often been surprised at the nature of the queries, which 
shows that this army of young observers includes many who are 
not merely collectors of curiosities, but are naturalists in the best 
sense. They are systematic inquirers, and working in the right 
direction to become scientists, should they continue. 

It is to these young scientists, their unscientific elders, and the 
boys and girls in general who have not yet had their interest aroused 
in Nature's works, that this volume is addressed ; and if some infor 
mation is conveyed, while appearing merely to entertain, one object 
of the author will have been accomplished. 

The subject of phosphorescence is one which affords the widest 
field for investigators ; as, while the most careful descriptions of 
the light-emitting organs have been made, the actual cause of ani- 
mal phosphorescence is unknown. Material for study is ever at 
hand ; the fire-fly courts attention at every summer door-yard, and 
the pools of beach and cove are illumined by ocean forms. Even 
the simplest experiments are of the greatest interest. I have read 
by the light of a luminous beetle, and have determined the time of 
night while holding my watch in the glare of ocean animals. Von 
Bibra wrote his description of the Pyrosoma by its own light ; the 
shark of Bennett illuminated his cabin like a chandelier ; photo- 
graphs have been taken by the light of luminous beetles and 
by phosphorescent plates ; and probably the day is not distant 
when more important uses will be found for this wonderful light, 
which, in default of a better name, we term phosphorescence. It 
is found in the animal, vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms ; m 
life and in death; in growth and in decay. It illumines, but 



PREFACE. 



IX 



does not appear to consume, and without perceptible heat exists 
where ordinary combustion is impossible. 

From the nature of the subject, it is evident that illustrations 
of the phosphorescence of marine animals must be more or less 
conjectural ; and those given, representing over fifty luminous 
forms, show as nearly as possible the probable effect produced. 
As this work is scientific only so far as to secure accuracy, some 
technical details have been omitted. To compensate in a measure, 
I have appended a fairly complete bibliography of most important 
monographs and papers on the subject, which may be of value to 
those who wish to pursue the subject in its technical relations. 

To render the work as popular as possible, certain systematic 
portions necessary to the student are placed in an appendix, and 
referred to by number. The whole work is also thoroughly indexed. 

While the chief feature of the volume embraces the phosphores- 
cence of animals, it has been deemed advisable to include reference 
to luminous plants, minerals, and certain atmospheric phenomena, 
which, if not strictly comprehended under our title, will perhaps 
not be considered entirely foreign nor uninteresting in this con- 
nection. 

It is my agreeable duty to acknowledge here the courtesy and 
kindly attentions received from M. Raphael Dubois of the Zoologi- 
cal Society of France; Professor H. Filhol ; Professor H. H. 
Giglioli, Director of the Zoological Institute of Florence, Italy ; 
Professor Carlo Emery of the University of Bologna, Italy ; and 
M. Zenger of Prague, Hungary, who generously forwarded for my 
use their most recent papers on the subject of phosphorescence. 

I have also to name with thanks for similar favors Dr. Gunther, 
keeper of the British Museum, and acknowledge the value of con- 
tributions from the works of M. Quatrefages of the Institute of 



C. F. H. 
PASADENA, CAL., July, 1887. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER 



PAGE 



I. STARS OF THE SEA 1 

II. THE METEORS OF THE SEA 10 

III. FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA 19 

IV. LUMINOUS ECHINODERMS 29 

V. SUBTERRANEAN LIGHT-GIVERS 33 

VI. LAMP SHELLS 40 

VII. LIGHTNING-BUGS 47 

VIII. FIRE-FLIES 59 

IX. LANTERN-FLIES 64 

X. BY CRAB-LIGHT 72 

XI. SEAS OF FLAME 80 

XII. FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS 91 

XIII. FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS (SURFACE FORMS) . . . .103 

XIV. LUMINOUS BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS .... 108 
XV. MAN'S RELATIONS TO THE PHENOMENON OF PHOSPHO- 
RESCENCE 116 

XVI. LUMINOUS FLOWERS 121 

XVII. VEGETABLE LAMPS 127 

XVIII. PHANTOMS 140 

XIX. LUMINOUS SHOWERS 144 

XX. THE USES OF PHOSPHORESCENCE 160 

APPENDIX 169 

BIBLIOGRAPHY H9 

INDEX 185 

xi 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PYROSOMA AND DIVER (PLATE XVII.) Facing Title. 

SEA BOTTOM. 1,500 metres, or one-quarter of mile in depth . Facing Page 1 

FACISO PAGE 

PLATE I. LUMINOUS PROTOZOANS LUMINOUS PORTIONS OP Noc- 

TILUCA 3 

" II. M. DE TUSSAN READING BY LIGHT OF PHOSPHOR- 
ESCENT SEA 7 

" III. LUMINOUS SEA JELLY LUMINOUS CORAL PRUNING- 

KNIPE FISH 11 

IV. LUMINOUS SEA JELLY AND MOLLUSK 13 

V. VENUS' GIRDLE 15 

" VI. APOLEMIA CLEODORA PRAYA. .... 43 



List of Illustrations. 



FACING PAGE 

PLATE VII. BURROW OP PHOLAS SEA PEN , 39 



" VIII. LUMINOUS STAR FISHES. From 4,500 feet deep . . 29 

" IX. LUMINOUS BEETLES, ETC 47 

" X. ANATOMICAL DETAILS . 53 

" XI. LUMINOUS BEETLE, iu burrow of Mole Cricket ... 59 

XII. THE LANTERN FLY 63 

" XIII. LUMINOUS MUSHROOMS LUMINOUS INSECT .... 137 

" XIV. SPIDER CRAB ' .75 

XV. LUMINOUS CRUSTACEANS 79 

XVI. CHAIN OP SALPS 89 

' ' XVIII. CHIASMODUS SUN-FISH PLAGIODUS HARPODON 

BERYX .97 

XIX. LUMINOUS FISH. From depth of 8,100 feet . . . .103 

XX. LUMINOUS FISH 115 



List of Illustrations. 



FACIHO PAGE 

PLATE XXI. UMBELLULARIA LUMINOUS FISH SILICIOUS SPONGE- 
LUMINOUS CORALS LUMINOUS CRUSTACEAN . . 125 



XXII. LUMINOUS FISH. With two luminous disks, one emit- 
ting a golden, the other a greenish light 132 

XXIII. DEEP SEA ANGLER 145 

XXIV. PELICAN FISH , 155 

XXV. LUMINOUS WATERSPOUT 163 

XXVI. LUMINOSITY OF HERON'S BREAST 109 



LIVING LIGHTS 




SEA BOTTOM. 
1,500 metres, or one quarter of mile in depttu 







LIVING- LIGHTS, 



CHAPTER I. 

STARS OF THE SEA. 

AMONG the many revelations of modern science, none 
have a more absorbing interest than those relating to 
the illumination of the deep sea. Until within a few years 
the ocean has been a sealed book. The surface forms only 
were known ; and it was assumed that, owing to the enor- 
mous pressure, lack of sunlight, and consequent darkness, 
Nature, at least in the abyssal depths, was at fault, and this 
vast region was devoid of life and incapable of supporting it. 

Recent investigations, however, have shown the reverse, 
and that this great area, with its plateaux, its mountain 
ranges, and its isolated, coral-capped peaks, whose valleys are 
now known to lie miles in ocean depths, teems with living 
forms, and, far from being the dismal realm we had sup- 
posed, is a region of surpassing wonder; which we ma}', 
in fancy, term that lower firmament, where float sparkling, 
gleaming constellations, meteor-like disks and globes with 
trailing luminosity, single stars and nebulce of living lights. 

The phosphorescence of the sea is no new discovery, and 
those who have visited the seashore at night must have 

l 



LIVING LIGHTS. 



witnessed tins phenomenon. The region of coves and 
beaches along the shores of Eastern Massachusetts, around 
Nahant particularly, is a favorable one for its full display. 
As the waves come rolling in upon the rocks, or upon the 
long, expansive shingle, in tidal measure, we see the foam- 
ing crest, seemingly igniting all along the line, more and 
more intense in brilliancy, when, with a roar, it breaks, 
masses of scintillating liquid upon the sands. We glide 
over the smooth portions of this sea, our boat leaving a 
golden train ; and every dip of oar, or the dash of some 
affrighted fish, creates an equally vivid display. Even when 
not disturbed, looking down into the calm, clear depths, the 
same phenomenon is witnessed. Pale, ghostly forms are 
seen here and there, moving slowly about, while the seeming 
silvery atoms suggest the nebulce of this submarine sky. 
Deeper yet, the bottom shows weird splendors. The great 
kelps are bedecked with mystic lights, and gleam like 
diamond's flash from ledge and rock. 

These wonderful exhibitions of submarine illumination 
are due to the presence of luminous creatures, or in some 
cases to large animals swimming through immense numbers 
of small phosphorescent bodies, so appearing as light-givers 
themselves. 

In nearly every branch of the animal kingdom we shall 
find these living lights ; some marvellously brilliant, others 
glowing with dim rays, and all contributing often to won- 
drous illumination, far-reaching or circumscribed. 

If the ocean which contains these wondrous forms should 
suddenly become dry, we should find that its contour is very 
similar to that of the land. There would be hills, valleys, 
plains, mountains, and seeming river-beds where currents 






LUMINOUS PROTOZOANS. 

Noctiluca iniliaris 

Noctilucce (magnified KX3 diameters), 

(in milk). N. mUiaris 

(slightly magnified). 

LUMINOUS PORTION OF NOCTILUCA 

(highly magnified) . 



STARS OF THE SEA. 



have flowed ; and so sharply are these defined, where grow- 
ing atolls and reefs abound, one may stand as I have often 
done upon those of the Florida reef and drop a leaded line 
almost directly to the bottom in the clear blue waters. 

This submarine scenery would not show the rough and 
jagged outlines which are a characteristic of terrestrial 
mountain ranges. Nearly all prominences in water at a con- 
siderable depth are well rounded off by a coating of fine 
ooze, formed of the minute and delicate shells of the yloberi- 
gina, one of the lowest organized of animal life. These little 
creatures live upon the bottom, or in the watery space above, 
and the ooze which makes the sea-bottom, in great thickness, 
is almost entirely made up of the dead and cast-off shells 
of these microscopical creatures. The chalk cliff of Dover, 
England, that white headland which has given the ancient 
name of Albion to the mother country, is an upheaved mass 
of the same material, once found in the ocean bottom, now 
elevated by some geological change, and hardened into chalk, 
which it really is. What a 'surprising monument, erected 
by Nature's processes from the myriads of bodies of her most 
minute and most simply organized animals ! 

The familiar modern term " protoplasm " represents what 
is know to be the simplest form of life ; scarcely more, 
seemingly, than a bit of jelly, without form, and we might 
say void of organization, for it is alive, and yet has no nerves, 
no organized vessels which we can perceive, but exists in our 
pools as the least organized animal known. 

There is a species which belongs to one of the numerous 
kinds or groups of this the first and least perfect of the 
animal kingdom, which has also the great distinction of 
being the best known and most brilliant of marine light- 



LIVING LIGHTS. 



bearers. This is the Noctiluca, or, as its name implies, the 
night-light. This little creature, but little more than visible 
to the naked eye, is the largest of the so-called infusorians ; 
others of this group of animals requiring the aid of a 
microscope to determine the form. It is but little more 
in structure than the bit of protoplasm, or simplest organ- 
ism or animal known. It looks when magnified its 
natural size being about that of a pin's head much more 
highly organized than the others, by being almost a complete 
globe, and provided with a whip-like process or member. 
It is also veined somewhat, and reminds one of a currant 
or gooseberry. Now, it is often noticed that the smaller the 
animal, the more numerous ; indeed, also, the more numer- 
ous its progeny. We may well be prepared, then, to hear 
that these minute creatures often swarm on the ocean 
surface in myriad masses. 

Fig. 1. of Plate I. represents the Noctiluca magnified one 
hundred times. Fig. 2. of the same, represents the appear- 
ance of the creature when luminous, and only slightly 
magnified. The long lash which extends from the side 
is the locomotive organ. It is attached to the body near 
what is supposed to be the mouth ; though these creatures 
are so simple that many kinds, just below in organization, 
have no definite mouth nor stomach, but absorb food from 
any surface of the body which comes in contact with it. 

This infusorian and most potent of living lights, albeit 
of extreme minuteness and simplicity as an organism, is 
abundant in the ocean along the European shores, and is 
often seen in our north-eastern waters, notably off Portland 
harbor and along shore to Cape Ann. I have enjoyed the 
privilege of witnessing the fullest glory of this little crea- 



STARS OF THE SEA. 



ture's effulgence. In our so-styled ocean firmament these 
living asteroids shine forth in those waters, and rival, if not 
excel, in light-giving any other known creature. 

In the endeavor to study the mysterious lights, I spent 
considerable time on a rocky point which jutted out into 
the sea, at Ogunquit, Me., with my microscope at hand, as 
near as possible to the water ; thus examining them while 
comparatively fresh from the sea. In taking up the little 
creatures, they assume a pear shape, from contraction, the 
only evidence, seemingly, of life, but blazing with a flashing 
light over their entire surface. We had the advantage of 
having specimens fresh at hand, yet there are certain appli- 
ances indispensable for such work which we did not have, 
and, therefore, could not then perfect our dissections suffi- 
ciently to get satisfactory results. We must refer the reader, 
therefore, to the experiments detailed in the Appendix. 1 

In watching the light of the Noctiluca, we are reminded 
of the flash-light of a light-house, the gleam appearing 
and disappearing with considerable regularity. It is difficult 
to trace the light to any particular portion of the body. In 
Plate I., Fig. III., is shown the supposed luminous organs, 
which would seem to show that there are luminous spots. 
Sometimes the light seems to pervade the entire body ; again, 
to be in the outer skin or cuticle. When the light appears 
after an intermission, the spots referred to become luminous 
first, the light extending to the outer surface. 

The conditions most favorable for respiration produce the 
greatest exhibitions of light ; thus, if the water is constantly 
aerated, or disturbed so that the air has access, the gleam is 
intensified. If the animal is touched with the point of a 
needle, the light is quickly visible ; and just before death it 



6 LIVING LIGHTS. 

is continuously luminous, the phosphorescence disappearing 
just after dissolution. Experiments have shown that in a 
vacuum the light diminishes, carbonic gas producing the 
same result. Humboldt refers to his luminous appearance 
after bathing in water abounding in Noctilucce; and among 
the curious experiments might be mentioned one where 
print was read by a gobletful of these little creatures which 
rendered them living lamps, literally. 

M. de Tessan, a French observer, has recorded a phenome- 
enon, which, I should judge, was due to Noctilucce, with 
perhaps the additional light of other forms. The accom- 
panying picture on plate II. was made from his description, 
showing the light, and people upon the shore endeavoring 
to read by it. He writes: "On the 10th of April, in the 
evening, the sea in the roadstead of Simonstown, Cape of 
Good Hope, presented an extraordinary phosphorescence 
of a most vivid character. At whatever points the phos- 
phorescence was greatest, the water was colored on the 
surface as red as blood ; and it contained such an immense 
quantity of little globules that it had the consistency of 
sirup. A bucket of water taken up at one of these points, 
and filtered through a piece of linen, left in the filter a mass 
of globules greater in volume than the water that had passed 
through ;' in other words, the globules constituted more than 
half of the whole quantity of sea water taken up in the 
bucket. Viewed under the magnifying-glass, these globules 
presented the appearance of little transparent and inflated 
bladders, having on their surface a black point surrounded 
with equally black radiating strice. . . . The least agitation 
or slightest contact made them throw out a vivid greenish 
light." 



PLATE II. 




M. DE TESSAN READING BY LIGHT OF 
PHOSPHORESCENT SEA. 



STARS OF THE SEA. 



As the waves washed in, M. de Tessan describes the light 
as appearing like the vivid flashes of lightning. "Klighu-d 
up the chamber that I and my companions occupied in the 
house of Mr. Ball, though it was situated more than fifty 
yards distant from the breakers. I even attempted to write 
by the light, but the flashes were of too short duration." 

When a vessel is ploughing through masses of these 
animals, the effect is extremely brilliant. An American 
captain states that when his ship traversed a zone of these 
animals in the Indian Ocean, nearly thirty miles in extent, 
the light emitted by these myriads of fire-bodies, of which 
he estimated there were thirty thousand in a cubic foot 
of water, eclipsed the brightest stars ; the milky way was 
but dimly seen ; and as far as the eye could reach the water 
presented the appearance of a vast, gleaming sea of molten 
metal, of purest white. The sails, masts, and rigging cast 
weird shadows all about ; flames sprang from the bow as the 
ship surged along, and great waves of living light spread out 
ahead, a fascinating and appalling sight. 

The enormous quantity of Noctilucce in the water explains 
the intensity of the light. In experiments made at Bologne, 
one-seventh to one-half of a given amount of water taken 
up consisted of these minute light-givers, and Rymer Jones 
found thirty thousand in a cubic foot. According to Quatre- 
fages, the light of Noctilucce in full vigor is a clear blue ; 
but, if the water is agitated, it becomes nearly, if not quite 
white, producing rich silvery gleams sprinkled with greenish 
and bluish spangles. 

Regarding the intensity of the light, a tube fifteen milli- 
metres in diameter, containing a bed of Noctilucce at the 
surface twenty millimetres thick, emitted light sufficient 



8 LIVING LIGHTS. 

to see the face of a watch and read the figures ; and, if the 
little creatures were agitated, time could be ascertained 
at a distance of a foot. M. Quatrefages found that the 
most delicate thermometer was not affected by the light ; 
and he assumes that it is not combustion from the fact that 
oxygen gas, when introduced, does not restore the light after 
it has disappeared at the death of the animal. His conclu- 
sion is, that the light is produced by the contracting of the 
interior mass of the body ; and that the flashes, or scintilla- 
tions, are due to the rupture and rapid contraction of the 
filaments of the interior. The fixed light he explains as 
resulting from the permanent contraction of the contractile 
tissues adhering to the inner surfaces of the general envelope. 
Giglioli is especially enthusiastic over the light of the Nocti- 
lucce and other forms ; and to show its general distribution 
he says that in fifty-five thousand marine miles traversed 
by the " Magenta," the Italian exploring-ship, in four hun- 
dred and thirty-nine days, phosphorescence was observed 
more than half of the time. He met Noctilucce in the Bay 
of Naples, at Rio, in the Straits of Banca, while in the east 
coast of Asia ; and at Port Jackson " the same milky uniform 
light was seen, without any green or bluish tint," and again 
at Valparaiso. He observed, including Noctiluca miliaris, 
three luminous forms, all differing in the color of their light. 
The one observed on the Asiatic coast emitted a green 
light, and is called by M. Giglioli, N. homogenea. The Pacific 
form, N. pacifica, has a whitish luminosity, and differs from 
the others materially in form and structure. 

In many of the ports of tropical and semi-tropical America, 
it is the custom to bathe in the ocean at night, the warmth 
of the water rendering such recreation enjoyable. A gentle- 



STAES OF THE SEA. 9 

man newly arrived at one of the places on the Pacific coast 
proceeded at night to take a bath, and, upon rising from the 
water, was astonished and amazed to find that his entire body 
was luminous, seeming covered with a coating of light, which 
he found originated from innumerable minute phosphorescent 
animals, which clung to his garments, and changed the water 
all about to a golden hue. 

A distinguished professor at Keil was, perhaps, the first 
to discover luminous microscopic animals. 2 

The largest of these minute creatures is about one-eighth 
of a line, the smallest from a forty-eighth to a ninety-sixth 
of a line in size. 

Giglioli has made some interesting observations regarding 
the phosphorescence of the lowest class of animal life, the 
protozoans, and with his colleague, Professor de Fillipi, 
intends publishing the results of their observations. 3 



10 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE METEORS OF THE SEA. 

AS the rushing comets dim the brightest luminaries 
with their radiance, so the ocean meteors, the moving 
medusce, seem to excel in the glory of their light. 

The sea-jellies are among the commonest forms of the sea- 
shore. In the summer months the silvery sands are strewn 
with their glassy disks ; unattractive then, but, once launched 
and imbued with life, possessed of many beauties of form and 
color. They range in size from those almost invisible to the 
naked eye, to giants weighing, it is estimated, over a ton. 
Many have a complicated structure ; yet, in nearly all, the 
solid parts of the animal rarely represents over five per cent 
of the whole ; and in specimens of a familiar northern kind, 
Aurelia, 95.84 is water. Little opportunity for light in such 
a creature, one would say ; yet the simple jellies are num- 
bered amoiig the chief illuminators of the upper region of the 
ocean. I have observed them in the Atlantic, the Pacific, 
and in the Gulf of Mexico, in waters of various degrees of 
temperature ; but, perhaps, the finest exhibition of their 
phosphorescence was seen off Boon Island, on the coast of 
Maine. The ocean surface seemed fairly bespangled with 
these living gems, which appeared surrounded by a halo 
of light. Each tentacle seemed to glow with an intense 



PLATE III. 




LUMINOUS SEA JELLY. 

(Thaumantius.) 



LUMINOUS COKAL. 



PRUNING-KNIFE FISH. 

(Zanclus.) 



THE METEORS OF THE SEA. 11 

white heat; and, at a short distance, the streamers resembled 
delicate lace, wrought in curious designs. Peering into the 
depths, they appeared everywhere, moving in all directions, 
surrounded by the mysterious light whose office it is difficult 
to conjecture. 

The vast numbers of medusae, and their importance as 
light-givers, may be realized from the remarks of Giglioli, 
who states that their light was seen from the " Magenta " 
over an area of forty-four degrees of latitude, and for nearly 
thirty consecutive days. During the day they sank into the 
greater depths, at night rising to the surface, and appearing 
like moderator lamps. With their long groups of tentacles 
trailing behind as they pulsate through the ocean waters, 
they readily suggest the title, " Meteors of the Sea." 

With few exceptions, the sea-jellies are light-givers. The 
giant Cyanea, one of which was measured by Mrs. Agassiz, 
and found to be nearly six feet in diameter, and to have 
tentacles over one hundred feet in length emits a pale, 
greenish light ; and, if the entire mass is luminous, it must 
present a wondrous appearance as it moves through the 
water, like a gigantic meteor. As large as this giant is, 
weighing many hundred pounds, it is produced from a deli- 
cate little creature which would hardly be noticed by the 
casual observer. 

One of the commonest forms along the New-England coast 
is a diminutive jelly, 4 seemingly blown in glass by some 
skilful worker. As it moves gracefully along, it emits 
a light of a deep aurelian blue, vast numbers imparting a 
metallic glitter to the water. 

On some calm night, about a rocky point where the 
current flows silently along, myriads of these wondrous 



12 LIVING LIGHTS. 



forms may be seen passing in review. Peering down into 
the depths from our boat, we may see a pretty, shapely 
jelly-fish, called Zygodactyla, a golden ignis fatuus of the ocean 
waters; the Melicertus, another of the same family, sur- 
rounded by a golden radiance ; and a stately RMzostoma, 
which Giglioli observed in fresh or brackish water in Batavia, 
emitting a fixed, bluish light; while Zina, Coryne, Eucope 
and Clytia, and a host of other exceedingly pretty sea-jellies, 
add to the glories of the scene. 

The delicate Thaumantius (Plate III., Fig. 3) and Oceanea 
are resplendent light-givers. The latter, according to Ehren- 
berg, being "surrounded by a shining crown," while Pelagia 
illumines the deep sea by its mystic rays. 

Although we have established a rule to refer the most 
of the technical names, with the more scientific matter, to 
the Appendix notes, we are yet inclined to retain in the 
text, occasionally, some names which are especially attrac- 
tive. Thousands of marine animals have no other name 
but the generic ones given them by discoverers; but in 
many instances they are pretty, and there is no reason 
why they should not be used, as they must become the 
common name of the object, as well as its technical 
one. 

Other known light-givers are recorded in the Appendix, 5 
all forms of the greatest delicacy and beauty. 

Of a brilliantly phosphorescent form, 6 Professor Alexander 
Agassiz says, " When passing through shoals of these 
medusce, ranging in size from a pin's head to several inches 
in length, the whole water becomes so wonderfully luminous 
that an oar dipped in the water up to the handle can be 
seen plainly on dark nights by the light so produced. The 



PLATE IV. 




LUMINOUS SEA-JELLY AND MOLLUSK. 

Beroe f&reakii . Crane/, ia scabta. 



THE METEORS OF THE SEA. 13 

seat of the phosphorescence is confined to the locomotive 
rows ; and so exceedingly sensitive are they, that the slight- 
est shock is sufficient to make them visible by the light 
emitted from the eight phosphorescent plates." 

Professor Agassiz also states that the Lucernaria 7 , a hand- 
some green sea-jelly, emits a peculiar bluish light of an 
exceedingly pale steel color. While all these forms are 
beautiful individually, their combined forces " produce an 
array of splendors hardly to be described. Such pyrotechnic 
displays of Nature are best observed during the autumn, 
when the jellies are wrecked and stranded ; the waves hurl- 
ing them in, and grinding them up upon the rocks, which 
appear bathed in warm, lambent lights. 

At Spouting Horn, on the New-England coast, this lumin- 
ous water is forced through a small chimney or crevice in 
the rocks, with a reverberating roar; sending skyward a 
column of gleaming water, that breaks in mid-air and falls 
in golden spray. In drifting along in a boat at this time, 
every movement of the oar produces the most astonishing 
results. A slight splash is followed by a blaze of light. By 
having a companion keep up a continuous motion of the 
water, I have almost been able to read the print of a 
newspaper by the light of these disintegrated forms. One 
of the most striking displays of this phenomenon I have 
ever witnessed was at the little port of Ogunquit, Me. 

Returning, one dark night, from an off-shore fishing excur- 
sion, I saw, as we approached the harbor, an irregular row of 
lights, apparently lanterns in the hands of friends. We 
hailed, and not until we were nearly in the surf were we 
undeceived. The rocks were lined with kelp ; and, when the 
waves came in, the glowing, sparkling mass of medusce caught 



14 LIVING LIGHTS. 



upon the weed, remaining, as the water left it suspended, a 
blaze of light, until the next wave broke. My companion, 
an old fisherman, had also been deceived by the lights ; and 
we drifted there for some time watching these strange 
spectres appear and disappear. 

The medusce differ in their methods of illumination. The 
Obelia, as a free-swimming disk, is non-luminous ; but the 
stem, or trophosome, out of which it is developed, has a fluc- 
tuating light extending up and down its surface. In many 
medusce the light appears to be confined to the upper portion 
of the umbrella, to the tentacles, and to the margin of the 
disk ; but if an oar is thrust through it, or a freshly stranded 
jelly is torn and cut upon the sand, every portion seems to 
become more or less luminous. 8 

The little jelly-like creatures called "comb-bearers," or 
Ctenophores, are nearly all wonderfully phosphorescent. In- 
stead of moving as do the ordinary jelly-fishes, they have 
rows of comb-like paddles which move up and down in regu- 
lar measure as they float along. In the daytime the little 
fins gleam with gorgeous iridescent hues; while at night 
they are brilliantly luminous, even the eggs and embryos of 
some emitting light. 

The Beroe (Plate IV., Fig. 1) is the most familiar, but the 
Pleurobrachia is the most graceful. Drummond refers to 
these forms in the following lines, 

" Shaped as bard's fancy shapes the small balloon, 
To bear some sylph or fay beyond the moon. 
From all her bands see lurid fringes play, 
That glance and sparkle in the solar ray 
With iridescent hues. Now round and round 
She whirls and twirls ; now mounts, then sinks profound." 



THE METEORS OF THE SEA. 15 

So vast are the numbers of these and other light-givers in 
the northern seas, that the olive-green tints of the waters 
are due to them in the daytime. Mr. Scoresby, finding 
sixty-five of them in a cubic inch of water, summed up the 
interesting calculation, that, if eighty thousand persons had 
commenced at the beginning of the world (he refers to the 
popular, not geological, reckoning,) to count, they would 
barely at the present time have completed the enumeration 
of individuals of a single species found in a cubical mile. 

One of the most remarkable of the Ctenophores is the 
" Venus' girdle " ( Cestus veneris), Plate V., Fig. 1. In shape 
it differs from all others of the class, as a comparison between 
it and the Beroe (Plate IV.), will show. It resembles in the 
daytime a silvery ribbon, or girdle, two or three feet in 
length, moving through the water by contractions of the 
body, rather than by the rows of combs that are found upon 
the edges. So delicate is this fragile creature, that it is almost 
impossible to remove it intact from the water. The mouth 
is in the centre, or equidistant between the ends ; and on 
each side of it depends a short tentacle protruding from a 
sac. Opposite the mouth there is an otocyst, or sense-body. 
The combs, which are so conspicuous in other forms, are not 
so noticeable here, yet are well defined ; and when moving 
along, and propelled by these gentle undulations, the Cestus 
is one of the most beautiful objects of the sea. At night this 
wonderful sea-ribbon develops a new charm, emitting, accord- 
ing to Giglioli, a reddish yellow light of singular brilliancy. 

The Ctenophores, from their phosphorescence and great 
numbers, offer an interesting field for study. Pleurolrachia 9 
may be found in myriads upon our eastern shores in the 
autumn. Idya 10 attracts immediate attention by its won- 



16 LIVING LIGHTS. 



drous coloring, having a deep roseate hue. After death, its 
phosphorescence appears to be intensified, and much of the 
phosphorescent display is due to it. In nearly all the Cteno- 
phores the light is erratic, flash succeeding flash, and seem- 
ing, according to Giglioli, to reside along the zone covered 
by the vibrating cilia, or little paddles. 

In the interesting group of animals known as Physopho- 
rce, 11 or bubble-bearers, we find many light-givers of most 
remarkable form, in their structure reminding one of deli- 
cate objects in glass ; and, according to Giglioli, all are more 
or less luminous. In the harbor of Gibraltar, he observed 
several beautiful forms, as Abyla^ Diphyes, and Eudoxia; and 
in the Atlantic, in the latitude of Rio Janeiro, Vogtia, Praia 
(Plate VI., Fig. 2), Abyla, and Eudoxia were constantly 
encountered. These are all so fanciful in design, that they 
appear to be veritable fairy ships freighted with color-tints 
and gleams of light. Their luminosity is not scattered over 
the entire body as in many sea-jellies, but seems confined to 
fixed points, as in Eucope, a specimen of which, observed in 
the China Sea, seemed studded with brilliant emeralds, which 
appeared as marginal knobs at the base of the tentacles. In 
the Pacific, several species of Dipliyes have been observed, 
their zooids 12 brilliantly phosphorescent ; but the hydroids of 
this group, so far as known, are not luminous. 

Many beautiful phosphorescent jellies can be observed, as 
we drift along, by using a small glass cylinder. With the 
finger pressed upon the top, lower the open end near the 
little creature, then remove the finger, when the jelly will be 
drawn into the improvised aquarium. If the night is dark, 
the play about its delicate form will be found a rare study. 

Darwin refers to the beauties of the phosphorescent jellies 



THE METEORS OF THE SEA. 17 

observed on one of his collecting-tours. He says, " While 
sailing a little south of the Plata on one very dark night, 
the sea presented a wonderful and most beautiful spectacle. 
There was a fresh breeze, and every part of the surface which 
during the day is seen as foam now glowed with a pale light. 
The vessel drove before her bows two billows of liquid phos- 
phorus, and in her wake she was followed by a milky train. 
As far as the eye reached, the crest of every wave was bright ; 
and the sky above the horizon, from the reflected glare of 
these livid flames, was not so utterly obscure as over the 
vault of the heavens. . . . Having used the net during one 
night, I allowed it to become partially dry; and having occa- 
sion, twelve hours afterward, to employ it again, I found the 
whole surface sparkling as brightly as when first taken out 
. of the water. It does not appear probable, in this case, that 
the particles could have remained so long alive. On one 
occasion, having kept a sea-jelly of the genus Diancea till it 
was dead, the water in which it was placed became luminous. 
. . . Near Fernando Do Norhona, the sea gave out light in 
flashes. The appearance was very similar to that which 
might be expected from a large fish moving rapidly through 
a luminous fluid. To this cause the sailors attributed it ; at 
the time, however, I entertained some doubts, on account 
of the frequency and rapidity of the flashes." 

To Spallanzani is due the credit of first calling attention to 
the phosphorescence of the jelly-fishes or sea-jellies ; he having 
observed it in the Mediterranean jelly, Pelagia phosphorea, 
which is luminous over its entire surface. He subsequently 
made some interesting experiments with Aurelia pliosphorea, 
a jelly-fish similar to one on our coast, and came to the conclu- 
sion that the Uyht-emitting organs lay in the arms, tentacles, 



18 LIVING LIGHTS. 



and muscular zone of the body, and cavity of the stomach ; 
the rest of the animal showing no luminosity. The light 
seemed to proceed from a viscous liquid, a secretion which 
oozed to the surface. One Aurelia that he squeezed in 
twenty-seven ounces of milk rendered the whole so lumin- 
ous that a letter was read by the light, this being one of the 
first practical results of the investigation of marine phos- 
phorescence. Humboldt experimented with Aurelia aurita, 
and, having placed it upon a tin plate, observed, that, when- 
ever he struck it with another metal, the slightest vibration 
of the tin rendered the animal completely luminous. He also 
observed that it emitted a greater light when in a galvanic 
circuit. 



FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA. 19 




CHAPTER III. 

FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA. 

WE have examined and admired the movable and the 
moving luminaries of the ocean world, in the firma- 
ment of the deep, we may call it, slowly moving stars of 
extreme minuteness, but great brilliancy, in one group, and 
the large orbs, more or less moving in erratic spheres, trail- 
ing in long lines of coruscating light, representing the lowest 
grand branches of the animal kingdom, the protozoans, and 
the vast colony of the sea-jellies, or medusce. 

We now come to the third chapter, which embraces those 
animals forming the grand branch of the animal kingdom 
which included in Cuvier's time the radiated animals. 

All who have visited the New-England shores, or those be- 
yond, farther north, or the warmer waters of our semi-tropical 
regions, have probably become acquainted with the soft and 
leathery forms, which, when seen undisturbed in the water, 
appear like flowers. For example, should we visit the de- 
lightful beaches and coves of Lynn, or Nahant, or Swamp- 
scott, the loved hunting-grounds of Agassiz and his disciples, 
we would see, on well-advised instruction from some one 
informed, what at first would suggest a moss pink in full 
bloom, nestled perhaps in groups, in crevice or open pool, 
among the crags or broken boulders. These are the com 



20 LIVING LIGHTS. 



mon, and well nigh the only, representative of its family 
on our coast, within reach. Others there are, living in 
deeper water, within reach of a hand dredge, as work with 
such, in former years, well informed us. These are beautiful 
and very showy, like large asters and zinnias. But we dwell 
upon the in-shore one because it is always at hand and easily 
obtained, if you know where to look ; and it well represents 
the characters of the group. Time was, when, forty years 
since, if some medical doctor of the town, or some of that ilk, 
did not have a sort of half knowledge of the creature, no one 
about did. But a few years before that, scientists in Europe 
were quarrelling over the question, Is it a vegetable, or an 
animal ? Dr. Marsigli, a nobleman, asserted that such were 
vegetable, with further seeming good argument that the 
creatures looked like flowers and nothing else, therefore they 
must be flowers of the sea, notwithstanding that a poor, but 
educated Londoner, by the name of Ellis, demonstrated in 
good round science that they were animals. The striking 
case of mistaken identity, with the force of nobility, carried 
it. But Ellis lived to see his theory prevail. 

Scarcely any in the whole range of Nature's objects are 
more surprising arid more beautiful. The Urticena nodosa 
is a form found off our shores, which is luminous ; the light 
being confined to its tentacles, and to the soft portion near 
the summit. 

One of the most brilliant of this group of animals is the 
IlyantJius sections, a kind usually found in ooze, the tentacles 
appearing at the surface, and gleaming brightly, like the rays 
of some fixed star. Even when brought up on the dredge, 
these animals emit a brilliant light. 

Some of these sea-anemones are said to attach themselves 



FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA. 21 

to the shells of hermit crabs; and, if luminous, we may 
imagine the spectacle of the gleaming, living light-house, 
moving about at the will of the little crustacean, possibly 
attracting prey to it instead of being the warning beacon 
that we might suppose. The anemones being, as a rule, fixed, 
one naturally likens this one to a light-ship which is drifting 
about away from its moorings. 

The sea-anemones well repay examination and study, and 
thrive well in the aquarium, where their habits and develop- 
ment may be watched. As a rule, they are fastened to the 
rocks by a sucking disk. Some live in the mud ; others float 
upon the surface, or are parasitic upon the great jelly-fishes. 
Some, as we have seen, ride about upon hermit crabs, or 
fasten themselves upon the claws of others; thus showing 
the greatest diversity in their life habits. The corals may 
be termed anemones which have the faculty of secreting 
or depositing lime, and among them are several which at 
times appear phosphorescent. The little cup-like Caryophyl- 
lia has been seen to emit a gleam of light, an idea of which is 
given in Plate III., Fig. 2. 

The phosphorescence of reef-building corals has rarely 
been observed. Col. Nicolas Pike, our late consul to Mauri- 
tius, and an enthusiastic naturalist, informs me that he has 
witnessed the luminosity of their young. The account is 
so interesting an addition to the literature of the subject in 
general, that I give the colonel's letter entire : 

BROOKLYN, N.Y., December, 1886. 

DEAR MR. HOLDER, I remember on one occasion, when sailing 
on the Indian Ocean, the night was dark, but the crest of every wave 
glowed with light. As our vessel moved swiftly through the water, 
dashing the foamy waves on each side of her bows, she left bright streaks 



22 LIVING LIGHTS. 

of light that reached far behind us. Every undulation of the water was 
lit up with scintillating points of light ; and the ocean round us was so 
luminous, it would for splendor vie with the finest pyrotechnic display. 
So intense was the glow, the hull and sails of the vessel were illuminated 
by it ; and, as I gazed at the glorious spectacle, I was filled with wonder 
and delight. The scene changed constantly, sometimes less brilliant than 
others, then again every rope in the ship was lit up ; this, I presume, from 
the animals being more or less numerous. At the same time, darting in 
every direction, could be seen numerous fishes, making distinct streaks 
of light. Luminous spots from one to two inches in diameter were 
observed some distance under the water. These were medusae,. We 
captured many in our nets, and placed them in buckets of water on the 
deck, where they still continued to emit phosphorescent light. The grand 
scene lasted most of the night, and was faintly visible till dawn of day. 

In the year 1868 or 1869, as I was dredging and collecting on the 
reefs near Port Louis, Mauritius, I met with one of the most singular 
sights it is possible to conceive. My Lascar crew gently moved my boat 
over the reefs, so that I could see any object in the water. The day was 
beautiful, not a cloud in the sky; but the bright sun shone down into 
the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, scarcely marked by a ripple on the 
surface. As the boat crossed over the shelving reef into deep water, 
what was my astonishment to find the depths alive with hundreds of 
millions of little creatures (which I supposed to be jelly-fish), actively 
moving about in the water, as far as the eye could penetrate. The little 
creatures, as they flitted about, emitted all the colors of the spectrum ; 
the most brilliant diamond could not vie with the coruscations of light 
sent out by them. Such a scene must be witnessed to form any idea of 
its magnificence:, the whole ocean was aglow with colored lights. I 
threw over my hand-net, and drew many thousands into the boat, which 
I placed in a large glass jar filled with sea-water, where I could examine 
them. They proved to be young polyps of different species of the reef- 
building corals. Those that I carried home were still luminous in the 
evening, and I thought I would pay a visit later, to see the effect at night ; 
and it was truly great. The sea was one vast area of luminosity. The 
illumination extended for miles. Fishing-boats making for Port Louis 
harbor could be plainly seen a long way off by the phosphorescent light 



FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA. 23 

caused by the disturbance they made in passing through the immense 
shoal of coral polyps. The sight was curious and interesting ; it had 
the appearance of an immense meteor coming directly down on our boat, 
as they were all heading for the entrance of the harbor where we lay. 
The bows of the fishing-boats made a great disturbance as they struck 
them, and the luminosity was most intense; but, as the waves were 
thrown off from the bows at a wide angle, the disturbance continued, 
and the colored light from the little creatures formed a long streak from 
behind the boat, representing the head of a comet with a long tail. 
Imagine twenty or thirty of these boats all heading in one direction, and 
you may form a faint idea of the scene. The polyps were not alone, but 
larger animals were darting and gyrating about, sending out vivid streaks 
of light. 

The phosphorescent light of these polyps is probably the effect of a 
vital action ; it appears as a single spark, like that of various insects, 
and is repeated at short intervals. 

In 1867 I passed through a belt of dark-colored water in a large 
stream. It had been observed from the masthead for sometime before 
we reached it : it proved to be a belt, of miles in extent, composed of 
animalcules. When taken up in a bucket, they gave out the strongest 
phosphorescent light I have ever witnessed. It required tho highest 
power of my microscope to define them, and they were of many species 
new to me. Our steamer, a side- wheel vessel, made a great commotion 
as we passed for hours through this belt of living matter. These belts 
or patches, covering vast tracts of the ocean, are not uncommon. They 
are often seen in the Indian Ocean after severe storms and hurricanes. 
They vary in color. I have seen them of olive green, of a yellowish tint, 
and often a dark blue. Once, after a spent hurricane at Mauritius, I 
passed through a belt three miles wide, of a deep purple, so much so it 
could be seen a long way from shore. 



Giglioli, the Italian naturalist, refers to the phosphores- 
cence of madreporic polyps as being quite different from 
that of other forms. He observed on the coast of Sumatra 
and Batavia, that, when the bottom of his launch grounded 



24 LIVING LIGHTS. 

upon the polyps, a brilliant display of phosphorescence 
followed. 

Doubtless nearly all the Alcyonarian 13 corals are light- 
givers, and of great importance in the illuminating economy 
of the ocean. 

The Alcyonarians include the sea-pens (JPennatulidce), 
and the sea-fans and the red coral of commerce (Gorgonias), 
and may be briefly described as animals which, as a rule, 
secrete a horny or calcareous stock, without the true divid- 
ing septa that we see in the corals proper. 

The Alcyonarians dredged by the "Challenger" were 
almost invariably brilliantly luminous, making the dredge 
appear as if red-hot coals were being taken up. The light 
of the deep-sea forms was similar to that of those dredged on 
shallow banks, where the phosphorescence is remarkably 
brilliant; so that we can imagine the wondrous spectacle 
presented in these little known regions. 14 

The sea-fans and plumes, known scientifically as Gorgo- 
nias, are extremely common upon the outer Florida reef, and 
form the chief ornaments of these wonderful gardens of the 
sea. We have drifted over them by day and night, peering 
down into the depths, never wearying of the display. There 
were two forms within diving distance on the reef, one, a 
rich yellow, reticulated fan ; and the other, a vivid lilac. On 
the yellow we often found a parasitic shell of almost the exact 
hue of the Gorgonia ; so like it, indeed, that it would not 
have been noticed if the fan had not been closely examined, 
an interesting example of a protective resemblance. 

At night these waters present a wondrous appearance, 
gleams of light flashing from every direction. Even the 
sand at the bottom seemed to give out fitful coruscations ; 



FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA. 25 

while pale, dim lights told of rare medusce, the phantoms of 
this world beneath the sea. 

The gorgonias emit, as a rule, a light of a beautiful lilac 
hue; and in some localities the bottom of the ocean is 
covered with similar forms, all gleaming with this vivid 
phosphorescence. Imagine a cornfield covering hundreds of 
acres, the ripe ears emitting a fitful, vivid lilac light, through 
which dart various animals, the birds of this submarine 
region, their passage creating a blaze of another hue ; and 
some idea can be formed of this scene that conjecture only 
can picture. 

Sir Wyville Thompson states, that, when dredging in water 
nearly a mile deep off St. Vincent, they must have passed 
over an immense field of light-emitting gorgonias, as the 
trawls came up filled with a delicate form, " with a thin wire- 
like axis slightly twisted spirally, a small tuft of irregular 
rootlets at the base, and long exsert polyps. The stems, 
which were from eighteen inches to two feet in length, were 
coiled in great hanks round the trawl-beam, and entangled 
in masses in the net ; and, as they showed a most vivid phos- 
phorescence of a pale lilac color, their immense numbers 
suggested a wonderful state of things beneath." 

Off our Eastern coast the little brush-like gorgonia, Aca- 
nella^ has been observed by Professor Verrill to emit a pale 
light when brought to the surface. The Gorgonias are all 
important light-givers. Primnoa, a brush coral, and Para- 
gorgia 17 have become well known in late years by specimens 
brought up by the Gloucester fishermen on the Georges 
Banks. Even when dry and dead, they are extremely attrac- 
tive ; the Primnoa being richly tinted with pink, while the 
latter has a reddish hue. 



26 LIVING LIGHTS. 

If we could descend into these depths, we would find a 
veritable forest, with branches seeming on fire ; many of 
the coral trees being from ten to fifteen feet in height, and 
equally as wide, forming lanes and open pathways through 
which the fishes pass, bathed in the wondrous light. That 
this is not imagination is shown by the branches brought up 
accidentally and by dredges; some limbs alone being four 
feet in length, and stout in proportion. Specimens of these 
forms can be seen in most of our museums of science ; some 
sent by Dr. Holder from the Florida reef to the Museum of 
Natural History, in Central Park, are surprisingly beautiful. 

More remarkable than the Gorgonias are the strange ani- 
mals belonging to Pennatulidce, 1 * known popularly as the 
sea-pens (Plate VII., Fig. 2), from the resemblance of some 
to a quill pen, an abnormally large one, it must be con- 
fessed. One of the most familiar forms is Pennatula phos- 
phorea. When the animal is observed at night, and disturbed, 
it emits quite a brilliant light. In specimens observed at 
Oban by Professor Marchel, the more perfect females became 
vividly phosphorescent when the leaves were gently irritated. 
When the polyps were touched, they showed minute points 
of light, which appeared over the whole surface, in rapid, 
irregular coruscations. 

If one of these living pens can produce so interesting a 
display, what must be the sight upon the bottom, where 
myriads of these curious forms abound, either fixed or 
moving ! 

It is not impossible that the light-emitting faculty of sea- 
pens is under control; at least, they have their periods of 
darkness and light. If a specimen which is not luminous 
is disturbed, as we have seen, it immediately becomes so. If 



FIXED LUMINARIES OF THE SEA. / 27 

the long axial stem is pinched, a seemingly protestings^fight 
appears on the lowest branchlets nearest the stem, quickly ^^ 
spreading, as if the polyps were igniting. When all those 
on a branch have become luminous, the light begins to appear 
on the next, and so on in succession until the whole glows 
brilliantly. Four-fifths of a second occur between the stimu- 
lation and the appearance of the light ; so that in a sea-pen 
six and one-tenth inches in length, two seconds and a fifth 
were required for its complete illumination. By pinching 
the top or opposite end of the colony, the same phenomenon 
resulted, but reversed. If a polyp at the end of a branchlet 
was irritated, light immediately appeared, passed to its neigh- 
bor, and so on ; if a branch was touched at both ends, the 
light followed the act, and met in the centre. 

These interesting experiments, which were made by Pan- 
ceri, can be varied in many ways by those fortunate in 
securing a live sea-pen. 19 

The sea-pen Pavonia 20 is noted for its light-emitting prop- 
erties ; and during the voyage of the English ship " Porcu- 
pine " the naturalists on board had many opportunities for 
observing its display. Sir Wyville Thompson, who was in 
charge, says, " Coming down the sound of Skye from Loch 
Torridon on our return, we dredged in about one hundred 
fathoms ; and the dredge came up tangled with the long pink 
stems of the singular sea-pen. Every one of these was em- 
braced and strangled by the twining arms of an Asteronyx,- 
and the round soft bodies of the star-fishes hung from them 
like plump ripe fruit. The Pavonarice were resplendent with 
a pale lilac phoshorescence, like the flame of Cyanogen gas ; 
not scintillating like the green light of some sea-stars, 22 but 
almost constant, sometimes flashing out at one point more 



28 LIVING LIGHTS. 

brightly, and then dying gradually into comparative dimness, 
but always sufficiently bright to make every portion of a 
stem caught in the tangles or sticking to the ropes distinctly 
visible. From the number of specimens of sea-pens brought 
up at one haul, we had evidently passed over a forest of 
them. The stems were a meter long (over three feet) 
fringed with hundreds of polyps." 

When the ship " Venus " was lying off Simonstown, one 
of their boats passed over a forest of sea-pens in shoal water, 
which gave out a vivid light ; while, where the ship lay at 
anchor, other forms of phosphorescent animals illuminated 
the ports so that the men lay in them and read by the 
wondrous light on the darkest night. 

The Henilla 23 is a rich purple species common on our 
south-eastern borders. Agassiz found it at Charleston, S.C., 
and says of its phosphorescence, that " it emitted a golden- 
green light of wonderful softness." 

Virgularia 24 is an attractive form ; and in certain portions 
of the Patagonian coast they have been seen, when left by 
the tide, emitting a light of great brilliancy. 

Vertillum is an interesting genus, resembling a quill pen 
in which the feathers have been curled or singed. Its color 
is a brilliant orange ; but in the darkness it develops a 
phosphorescence of great beauty, and so penetrating that 
a glass containing numbers of them has been used as a lamp 
to read by, an interesting example of one of the possible, 
though not remarkably practical, uses of living lights to 
mankind. 




5 1" 

sf* 

<*- 






LUMINOUS ECHINODERMS. 29 



CHAPTER IV. 

LUMINOUS ECHINODERMS. 

IN the fourth grand branch of the animal kingdom, numer- 
ous creations are known which exhibit luminosity. The 
Echinoderms, as they are termed, are not well known to those 
who are not familiar with the seashore. To those who visit 
the marine beaches, one of the first objects that is met cast 
up by the tide, either fresh from its ocean bed among the 
rocks, or lying cast up high and dry amongst the vast masses 
of kelp, algse, and other marine debris, is a sea-urchin, so 
called for want of a better name, although the spines with 
which it is powerfully armed give good color to the nomen- 
clature. The term Echinoderm is used to express all the 
kinds, as they have spines on the skin. As the arrangement 
of this division of Nature suggests, the creatures which are 
embraced here are next farther advanced in perfection of 
structure from the third, which includes the corals and sea- 
anemones. The animals are of most varied shape, exteriorly 
most unlike each other, yet internally possessing a structure 
each characteristic of the type. The sea-stars, forms quite 
as common as the sea-urchins which we first mentioned, are 
closely alike in structure, though so different in shape. Yet 
another form is seen in the celebrated trepan g, which is 
dried, smoked, and sold to the Chinese for food, a great 
luxury to them. Small species are found on our coast. 



30 LIVING LIGHTS. 

In some of these creatures the luminous property has been 
observed, which usually surrounds the entire animal, a 
pale light, rendering the object a beautiful one against the 
dark background of the ocean bottom. It is needless to say 
that the human eye has not penetrated these vast depths ; 
but the ingenuity of the scientist has resulted in the invention 
of means by which the smallest as well as the largest of 
these strange creatures are dragged from their deep abode. 
Ecninoderms are extremely numerous ; on the Florida reefs 
we have often found it impossible to wade through consider- 
able areas, where a kind of sea-urchin having long, slender 
black spines was so numerous as to pave the entire sea- 
bottom, and in certain localities in Long Island Sound we 
have seen the bottom fairly carpeted with star-fishes. It is 
not surprising, then, that the dredges of the " Challenger," 
" Porcupine," " Talisman," and other ships fitted out for 
scientific investigation, often came up loaded to overflow- 
ing with star-fishes, showing that the deep sea is equally 
populous with these living stars. 

These deep-sea forms, especially of the genera Asterias and 
Ophiura, 25 are remarkable for their brilliancy, even when 
taken from their native element. When the bottom off the 
coast of Ireland was dredged by the " Challenger," an extraor- 
dinary number of luminous star-fishes were brought up from 
a depth of two-thirds of a mile. Several specimens are 
most noticeable for their brilliancy ; a they appear as if burn- 
ing internally with heat of great intensity. Even the mud 
about them was bespangled with luminous specks ; and Sir 
Wyville Thompson says that in many instances every thing 
brought up in these waters was luminous. The light of one 
of the star-fishes was a brilliant green, and seemed to spring 



LUMINOUS ECHINODERMS. 31 

from the centre of the disk ; flashing out now upon one arm, 
again upon another, or suddenly illumining the entire star in 
a brilliant aureola of phosphorescence. 

This resplendent creature is especially common, according 
to Sir Wyville Thompson, off the coast of Stornaway and 
Shetland ; and the nets, when hauled in, were often over- 
laden with masses of these gorgeous forms, which emitted a 
light of brilliant uranium green. Curiously enough, the 
young star-fishes exceeded the adults in the richness of their 
display. The gleams were not constant, but extremely erratic, 
appearing and re-appearing in a bewildering manner ; and, 
according to the same naturalist, the most striking exhibitions 
were seen in very young ones. 

The star-fishes known as Ophiuroids are among the most 
abundant of deap-sea forms. On the " Challenger," about 
several hundred species were brought up in the trawl from a 
depth of from half a mile to two and a half miles. In our 
own waters, two kinds w have been observed to emit a light 
of singular brilliancy. 

Even more beautiful than these, as regards their luminosity, 
are the Brisingas, 28 one of which is shown with its light in 
Plate VIII., Fig. 1. This animal has nineteen long, snake- 
like arms, branching from a small central circular body. Its 
color in the daylight is a rich orange red ; but at night, when 
taken from the dredge, it displays a vivid phosphorescence. 

This attractive animal was first observed near Bergen, 
Norway, by Charles Abjordsen, who took a specimen in two 
hundred fathoms of water. Regarding it, he said, " it is a 
true gloria maris" and gave it the name of Brisinga, one of 
the jewels of the Goddess Freya. 

The Brisingas have the faculty, common to many of their 



32 LIVING LIGHTS. 



allies, of casting their arms when touched; so that it is 
extremely difficult to take them intact. In lifting an Astro- 
phyton s 9 from a branch of coral, we have had it drop into 
myriads of pieces ; so that there was a mimic rain of arms 
upon the bottom. This we found could be avoided by mak- 
ing the transfer under water, and, when the " basket-fish " was 
safely in the jar, killing it by the introduction of alcohol. 

As to the cause of the light in the star-fishes, little is 
known. Quatrefages, after a careful examination of an 
Ophiuran, came to the conclusion that the light emitted 
was due to muscular contraction ; observing it arising be- 
tween the plates of the arms and not on the disk, where, 
however, it has been seen since his observations were made. 
Professor P. Martin Duncan found upon examining a speci- 
men, brought from the icy sea of North Smith's Sound, by 
Sir George Nares's expedition, that it had a delicate mucous 
envelope, which, he thought, in the young covered the plates 
and bases of the spines. In this filmy covering, he suggests, 
may be found the seat of the illuminating power. 



SUBTERRANEAN LIGHT-GIVERS. 



33 




CHAPTER V. 



SUBTERRANEAN LIGHT-GIVERS. 



IN wandering through the fields in early morning, we often 
see little heaps of newly disturbed earth, and occasionally 
catch glimpses of reddish or pink bodies quickly withdraw- 
ing into little tunnels in the sod. These are the earthworms, 
considered the humblest of all animals ; yet, as insignificant 
as they seem, they are among the most valuable aids to the 
agriculturist. 

We may appreciate this by selecting a field at random in a 
good producing country, making a section down through the 
earth for several feet, when, if carefully done, we shall find 
innumerable tunnels formed by the worms, leading here, 
there, and everywhere. In fact, the upper crust of the earth 
is an endless maze of streets, lanes, arid avenues. A natural- 
ist has even attempted to calculate the number of these 
little workers, and has come to the conclusion that they 
average one hundred thousand to the acre ; and in especially 
rich ground in New Zealand it was estimated that there were 
three hundred and forty-eight thousand, four hundred and 
eighty in a single acre. This vast body of worms is continu- 
ally at work, boring this way and that, coming to the surface 
during the night, and retreating to greater depths during the 
day; and it is at once evident that their tunnels constitute 



34 LIVING LIGHTS. 

a system of irrigation and ventilation for the upper crust. 
In other words, rain, instead of running off, enters the holes, 
and so penetrates the earth, thus being held for a longer 
time. Air also finds its way below the surface ; so that 
the homes of the little creatures constitute storehouses for 
moisture. 

But this is a very small part of the work accomplished. 
The worms are in league with the farmer ; are, in fact, his 
unappreciated assistants, upon whose endeavors depends 
much of the success of his crops. They are continually 
swallowing the earth, and depositing it at the surface, and 
working it over and over. If I should ask my young readers 
to estimate the quantity of earth brought to the surface in 
a single acre in a year, I fear they would not place the 
amount as high as Mr. Darwin, who states that the vegetable 
mould thus transported in some places amounts to ten tons 
an acre. Think of it! If your ten-acre farm is in one of 
these favored localities, these silent workers, say to the 
number of a million, have ploughed up about one hundred 
tons of earth for you, giving you a fine top dressing. 

The worms not only carry all this material to the surface, 
but they drag vast quantities of leaves and other matter 
down, that serve to enrich the soil and render it capable of 
producing larger crops. They cover up seeds and other 
objects to a remarkable extent ; and a flat rock set upon the 
ground will soon become buried, through their means. Some 
of the most interesting parts of Roman villas found in Eng- 
land have been, according to Darwin, preserved in this way ; 
the worms undermining them, and gradually heaping soil 
over the walks and slabs, until finally, aided by other causes, 
they disappeared beneath the ground. 



SUBTERRANEAN LIGHT-GIVERS. 35 

The earthworms of Australia attain a large size, some- 
times several feet in length, and have been seen climbing 
trees. Some casts found in India are a foot in length. The 
worms evidently live in complete darkness ; but it is known 
that at certain times, and under certain conditions, they are 
luminous: so that a state of things may exist under the 
ground of which we have no conception, and the tunnels 
of these little creatures may be brightly illumined. We have 
never been so fortunate as to observe their phosphorescence, 
but Dr. Phipson says, "I distinctly remember witnessing, 
when a child, the phosphorescence of the earthworm. The 
light appeared connected with the mucus that covered the ani- 
mal's body." And other naturalists have observed the light 
under certain conditions. 

If they possess this property to a greater extent than we 
are now aware of, it must be a fatal gift, as the sharp little 
eyes of the mole, though not remarkable for their powers of 
observation, would probably catch the faintest gleam. These 
animals are continually upon the forage ; and their appetites 
can be imagined from an actual experiment, which showed 
that two moles devoured in nine days 341 grubs, 193 
earth-worms, 25 caterpillars, and a mouse, skin, bones, 
and all! 

In the ocean depths we find that the marine worms, which 
constitute in the beauty of their appearance a magnificent 
assemblage, tunnel the upper crust of the bottom. Some 
years ago the moat or ditch surrounding Fort Jefferson, 
Fla., was pumped out, leaving a space nearly half a mile in 
extent, high and dry, which abounded in specimens that 
would have delighted the eyes of a specialist in any branch. 
Over this spot we had often, as a lad, enjoyed the venture- 



36 LIVING LIGHTS. 

some fun of riding upon the backs of the great sea-turtles, 
kept there for the commissaries' use, had fished in every nook 
and corner, and now the opportunity was presented for pene- 
trating below the surface of the bottom. 

Some little digging showed, that, for a foot or more from 
the surface, the sand and mud was fairly alive with a variety 
of worms, numerous to an extraordinary extent, and in 
many cases beautiful beyond description. This condition of 
things is true, to a greater or less extent, in many localities ; 
the worms retiring to the mud and other retreats during the 
day, at night venturing out, and even swimming at the 
surface. 

If we take a drop of water from any ditch or pond, or even 
from the stem of a flower that has been standing in a vase, 
and place it under a microscope of even ordinary power, we 
shall find that it is a world of itself; a vast ocean, in fact, 
to the many forms that live there. Chief among these drop 
inhabitants, we notice numbers of little creatures that attract 
attention immediately. They resemble tall hats without 
brims, or crystal bags with fringed edges. And that they are 
busy bodies is at once evident, as they swim along at a won- 
derful rate of speed, eating as they go, keeping their fringes 
or cilia, which appear like so many arms, in perpetual motion ; 
now bumping against each other, forcing their way among 
crowds of different animals, and always appearing full of life 
and energy. 

These little creatures, invisible to the naked eye, are 
minute worms, or Rotifers ; and among them we find some 
interesting light-givers. The Synachata is one ; and others 
described by Ehrenberg, the largest being about one-eighth 
of a line in size, present a striking appearance under the 



SUBTERRANEAN LIGHT-GIVERS. 37 

glass in a dark room, the little bags, seemingly at a white 
heat, darting about in every direction. 

As small as are these wonderful creatures, they are well 
worthy of study ; and even those not interested in natural 
history will find that the stems of their flowers, or the water 
in the vase, contain more wonders than they had dreamed 
of, a single drop that can be lifted upon a pin-head being 
sufficient for the purpose. 

The little hat-like form, Hydatina senta, already referred 
to, is remarkable for the rapidity of its increase. The eggs 
are laid or deposited within a few hours of the time they are 
first seen within the transparent parent, and twelve hours 
later the young break from the shell and appear ; so that in 
a comparatively few days the descendants of a single animal 
might possibly far exceed the population of the United 
States. The larger worms are with hardly any exception 
ornamented in some remarkable way, and in many the splen- 
dors of their decorations must be seen to be appreciated. 
The radiating coronets of Serpulce 3 are of the most delicate 
and beautiful description, abounding in bands and markings 
of striking hues. Pectinaria has upon its head a pair of 
combs that might be burnished gold ; while Eunicedce and 
Nereidce 31 have equally resplendent decorations. 

These charms of color, and they are of great variety, are 
seen by day ; but at night many of these creatures assume 
the gift of phosphorescence, adding to the long list of marine 
light-givers that have been previously referred to. In four 
other families ^ are found the most beautiful light-givers of 
the group. Assuming that we have a certain species of the 
first mentioned in the aquarium, we may prepare for an 
extraordinary display. It is now snugly coiled up under a 



38 LIVING LIGHTS. 

stone, perhaps fast asleep, and giving no evidence of its 
wondrous gift. Now touch it with the narrow handle of 
the dip-net, and a seeming electric spark is given out. But 
there is no electricity here : the light is a phosphorescent 
protest, and rapidly passes from scale to scale, until the whole 
animal stands out like a vivid shield of light against the 
bottom, glowing with the mysterious flame. 

If the worm is greatly disturbed, we are presented with a 
unique method of protection. Upon feeling the blow or 
attack, the light becomes intense, and flashes quickly from 
segment to segment, and along all the series of elytra ; and, 
as the animal darts away, one or more of the scales become 
disconnected and are left behind, a luminous spot, to attract 
the attention of a possible follower, while the worm itself 
escapes. 

Nearly all the phosphorescent worms are rapid swimmers, 
and noted for their agile movements ; and, as their scales are 
very readily disconnected, we may imagine in some cases a 
worm darting off and leaving a shower of sparks behind. 
In these worms the light is usually green. 

We have seen that one of the deep-sea Crustaceans has 
phosphorescent bands upon its feet; and in the Syllidoe, 
a family which contains some remarkable worms, we find 
that the luminosity is confined to the under surface of the 
feet. In Chcetopterus 33 a bright flashing light is emitted 
from the posterior feet, while a far more brilliant one glows 
at a point on the dorsum between the lateral wings of the 
tenth segment. The mucus of the animals appears to be the 
seat of the luminosity, and not only encircles the worm with 
an aureola of phosphorescence, but pervades the surrounding 
water with a rich bluish purple light, so vivid and brilliant 



SUBTERRANEAN LIGHT-GIVERS. 39 

that the medium in which the light-giver lives seems to have 
ignited, and to be slowly consuming its dependents. 

It has been noticed, according to W. C. Mclntosh, that an 
odor accompanies this display, resembling somewhat that pro- 
duced by phosphorus in combustion. We have noticed that 
many worms have a peculiar odor when handled, though 
not quite of this character. 

The most brilliant of all these light-givers is Polycirrus, 
which emits over its entire surface a vivid pale-bluish light, 
marking it as one of the most beautiful of its kind ; while 
Sagitta and many more add to the wonders in this generally 
considered uninteresting group of animals. 34 



,." 



40 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER VI. 

LAMP SHELLS. 

IN all the forms previously mentioned, the phosphorescence 
is conspicuous; but in the little bivalve Pholas it is almost 
hidden. The shells of the family Pholadidce are noted for 
their boring habits ; penetrating into the hardest stone, as 
granite and gneiss, literally entombing themselves, as shown 
in Plate VII., Fig. 1, which represents a section of a block of 
granite into which the little animals have penetrated. How 
they can perform such a work, is something of a mystery ; 
but the foot, which is provided with a hard dermal protection, 
is probably the instrument used by the miner. 

The most remarkable evidence of their work, according to 
Figuier, though it is fair to say he has been disputed, is 
seen in the Temple of Serapis on the Pozzuolan coast, where 
the pillars are perforated with holes, which this author claims 
were made by the Pholas, 35 when by a sinking of the crust the 
pillars were under water ; the columns, by a reverse motion, 
having now re-appeared from the sea, bearing the evidences of 
their submersion. 

As if to still further carry out the idea of the miner, the 
animal bears its own light, which, though vivid, could but 
little more than illumine the stony prison into which the 
Pholas has willingly ensconced itself. In Borneo, a fresh- 



LAMP SHELLS. 41 



water form has been found boring in the dead trunks of trees. 
Pliny was probably among the first to place on record the 
luminosity of this little borer, having stated that it shone 
in the mouths of those who ate it; and its phosphorescence 
has been studied by Re*aumer, Beccaria, Marsilius, Galeatus, 
Montius, and others in modern times. One of Beccaria's 
experiments was to ascertain how the light affected certain 
colors. He secured a Pholas in a dark spot, and placed in 
its light ribbons of various colors. The white ribbon shone 
most brilliantly, the yellow next, and the green next, while 
others were so indistinct as to be hardly noticeable. Sub- 
stituting liquids for the ribbons, the result was the same. 

Beccaria also made one of the first practical applications of 
the phosphorescent Pholas, demonstrating that it could be 
used as a lamp. This was accomplished by placing one in 
seven ounces of milk, which rendered the latter so luminous 
that print could have been read by it, the milk appearing 
almost transparent. So it is within the bounds of possibility 
to write a post-mortem description of the Pholas by its own 
light. 

It is evident from these simple experiments that the dis- 
covery of the secret of phosphorescence, and its practical 
application to the wants of mankind, would result in revolu- 
tionizing present systems, a heatless, inexpensive, unextin- 
guishable light being the perfection of possibilities in this 
direction, and it is not improbable that the experimentalists 
of olden times may have had this in view when making their 
investigations. Both Reaumur and Beccaria attempted to 
render the light of this animal lamp permanent. By placing 
one in honey, the luminosity was apparently preserved for a 
year, the light re-appearing whenever the mollusk was placed 



42 LIVING LIGHTS. 

in warm water. Brandy extinguishes the light, and Galeatus 
and Montius found that vinegar and wine produced the same 
result. If the body of Pholas is heated slowly, the light 
gradually becomes more and more intense, until, finally, at 
45 Re*aumur, or 56 Centigrade, it disappears, and cannot 
be restored. 

The secure position of the Pholas in its impregnable 
fortress would hardly seem to require a warning or attractive 
light; and its use must remain a mystery, though theory 
could, of course, suggest explanations. 

While the Pholas conceals its luminosity in its dungeon, 
there are other molluscan light-givers which float about like 
light-ships astray. These are Pteropods, or wing-footed mol- 
lusks; delicate fairy ships of marvellous beauty. By some 
authorities they are said to represent the higher forms of the 
Cephalophora, while others consider them as degenerate or 
backsliding Cephalopods, of which the squids and octopi are 
representatives. They are pelagic, free-swimming mollusks, 
in which portions of the foot are modified into seeming 
wings, so that the little creature seems to fly through the 
water. They differ much in appearance. Some secrete a 
glassy, horny, cartilaginous or limey shell, which in some 
cases is only present in the larval forms, disappearing in the 
adult ; while others, again, preserve it through their entire 
lives. The body is of various shapes : it is protected by the 
shell when present, and can be drawn into it. 

Though simple, helpless creatures, many have an arma- 
ment which in a larger animal would be considered ex- 
tremely effective. Thus in Clio each tentacle bears nearly 
three thousand cylinders, each containing stalked suckers , 
and, as there are six tentacles, the little animal can grasp its 



LAMP SHELLS. 43 



microscopic prey with three hundred and sixty thousand 
hands. Besides this, it has a pair of many-toothed jaws and 
a toothed tongue. While extremely small, these animals 
exist in such vast multitudes, that they probably constitute 
an important food for certain whales. 

One of the most interesting of the Pteropods, or wing- 
footed animals, as associated with our present subject, is the 
Cleodora lanceolata (Plate VI., Fig. 1). It has a pyramidal 
shell, terminating in three sharp spines, the wing-like fins 
rising above. It is rarely over half an inch in length, almost 
transparent, and bears in its shell a small light, which, how- 
ever, is distinctly seen through the transparent covering. 
A more beautiful living lamp it would be difficult to ima- 
gine ; and when slowly flying through the ocean, in countless 
myriads, they must present a wondrous sight. One of this 
genus, observed by Giglioli, emitted a very livid red light ; 
the luminous organ being at the summit of the shell. There 
are many different genera and species. Hyalea, an oceanic 
wing-foot, moves very rapidly, and looks not unlike a butter- 
fly darting here and there, in erratic flight, in search of food ; 
but the little Cleodora moves in a regular and stately manner. 
In Hyalea observed by Giglioli in the harbor of Anjer, Java, 
the light, which contributed largely to the general phospho- 
rescence, was confined to the basal part of the shell. 

My young readers interested in geology are probably 
familiar with the curous Conularia, or cone in cone, which 
has been found in Australia sixteen inches in length, and has 
always been regarded a puzzle. It has been suggested that 
this is a gigantic fossil Pteropod. The little needle-like 
Tentaculites, from the Silurian and Devonian rocks, are also 
allies. 



44 LIVING LIGHTS. 

Some of the most remarkable mollusks are found among 
the sea-slugs, so called from their resemblance to the slugs 
of the garden. I have found them on the weed floating in 
the Gulf Stream, so resembling the latter in almost every par- 
ticular that it was difficult to determine that they were not 
a part of the weed itself. Scyllaea pelagica is such a form ; 
helpless, yet finding protection in its mimicry of the sur- 
roundings. Equally as remarkable is Dendronotus, m the 
bushy sea-slug whose gills resemble the branches of weed in 
a remarkable manner. This curious sea creature is quite 
common on the seaweeds of our New-England beaches. 
In the Mediterranean and Pacific is found the most unique 
of the group, the PhyllirJioe buoephala (Plate V., Fig. 2), 
which differs from many so entirely that it would seem to 
belong elsewhere. Like the other forms, it is pelagic, often 
being seen swimming along, resembling a fish, with its com- 
pressed body, and vertical, fan-like tail, and with long feelers 
or tentacles ahead. It is transparent and shelless in the 
adult stage, possesses no foot or branchice, evidently breath- 
ing through the body-walls or general surface. To add to 
its curious features, the PhyllirJioe is brilliantly phosphores- 
cent; light being emitted from certain spots, shown in the 
Engraving, rendering the tissues transparent and luminous. 
Examination has shown that the light proceeds from certain 
globular nucleated cells, which appear to be the terminations 
of nerves. 

The Phyllirlioe thrives well in the aquarium, and has been 
studied and observed in the famous aquarium at Naples. 
When it is touched or is swimming, the light seems to diffuse 
the entire surface, so that it presents a striking contrast 
against the dark water ; and undoubtedly this gift is a fatal 



LAMP SHELLS. 45 



one, attracting the attention of many a fish to the dainty 
morsel seemingly outlined in fire. 

Giglioli refers to the luminosity of an undescribed Hetero- 
pod, the axis of whose body gave out a reddish light when- 
ever the animal was excited. According to C. W. Peach, 
the young of JEolis are phosphorescent. Such instances where 
the animal is particularly defenceless are amusing refuta- 
tions of the theories of naturalists who see in the light a 
warning. 

The common garden slugs, the cousins of the snails, are 
well-known forms. They generally remain concealed during 
the day, coming out at night, and often doing much damage 
to vegetation which is largely laid to birds. I have kept many 
of them, and they offered an extremely interesting study. 
They secrete a remarkable amount of mucus, which they 
use in descending from a tree, just as a spider does its silk 
thread. The mucus exudes from the foot, passes along to 
the tail, when it is attached to the twig. This accomplished, 
the slug boldly launches itself into space, the thread becom- 
ing more and more attenuated, until finally, when the slug 
is near the ground, it is exceedingly fine. Nearly all our 
common slugs descend from trees in this manner, quite a 
contrast to the slow, tedious ascent. 

The amount of mucus that can be taken from them is 
remarkable ; and that it is also protective will be evident to 
any one who may experiment with them. 

One genus, Phosphorax, found at Cape Verde, and, accord- 
ing to Duncan, at Teneriffe, has a luminous pore on the 
posterior border of the mantle. One species only is known, 
P. noctilucus ; and its light has not, that I am aware, been 
made the object of any extended investigation. 



46 LIVING LIGHTS. 

The highest forms of the Mollusca, the Cephalopods, cuttle- 
fishes, are probably at times luminous. I have noticed what 
I presumed was a delicate, sensitive, luminous glow about an 
Octopus in a semi-darkened tank, but I am not satisfied to 
make the statement as fact. These forms are so remarkable 
for the waves of color that pass over them, and which seem to 
make them transparent, that one could readily be deceived. 

The little Cranchia (Plate IV., Fig. 2) is a light-giver, its 
phosphorescence having been distinctly observed. It is an 
ally of the giant squids, which have been found fifty-five 
feet in length, and which, if luminous like their pygmy rela- 
tive, would present a marvellous spectacle, darting veritable 
living arrows through the depths of the sea. 

Giglioli refers to the phosphorescence of Loligo saggitatus> 
and to that of several small Octopods observed by him at 
Callao and Valparaiso. Their bodies gave out a pale whitish 
light, uniformly distributed. 






LUMINOUS BEETLES, ETC. 



a. Lampyris splendidula male. 
b. " " female. 

c. " " larva. 



d. Lampyris noctiluca male. 
e. " " female. 

/. " " larva. 



LIGHTNING-BUGS. 47 



CHAPTER VII. 

LIGHTNING-BUGS. 

GEN. COUNT DEJEAN, aide-de-camp to Napoleon, was 
a most enthusiastic collector of beetles; and it is even 
said of him that he would march his army out of its way to 
pass through a good collecting locality. At all times during 
the campaigns which he helped to render famous, his atten- 
tion was riot taken from his favorite occupation ; and his 
military cap was invariably conspicuous from the gorgeous 
beetles that were there immolated. Every one in the army, 
from the emperor clown to his men, was aware of what was 
termed his weakness ; and the latter were constantly on the 
lookout for specimens for their commander. At the battle 
of Wagram, 1809, the general went into the combat with his 
hat as usual ornamented with beetles, which he had received 
that morning ; and, while standing near the emperor, a shot 
from the enemy struck him upon the head, knocking him 
senseless, and destroying his collection, the hat being com- 
pletely torn in pieces. The emperor, thinking him fatally 
wounded, hastened to his side, asking if he was still alive ; 
upon which the general gasped out, " I am not dead ; but, 
alas, my insects are all gone ! " 

The beetles are among the most interesting of all insects ; 
and a study of them, though casual, will well repay my young 



48 LIVING LIGHTS. 

readers, who cannot fail to be interested in their peculiari- 
ties, their habits, methods of protection and defence, their 
intelligence in caring for their young, and the wondrous 
light-emitting power of some species. 

In my walks about the San Gabriel Valley, I generally 
meet a peculiar beetle, a large, black fellow, who lumbers 
along in a clumsy manner. If touched, he cannonades me 
with a fluid of iodine color, which has a most disagreeable 
odor ; so much so, that upon one occasion, my nostrils being 
in range, I was made temporarily faint by it. The fluid 
stained my hands like iodine, and caused not a little irrita- 
tion to the skin. The beetle, then, is a living cannon ; the 
fluid, which is contained in certain glands, being its defence. 
It can be ejected or thrown two inches, so that it affords 
quite a protection, and probably would be effective with 
birds. 

Many insects have a curious odor which serves several pur- 
poses, one, in rendering them nauseous to birds and various 
enemies ; and, again, as a means of communication among 
themselves. Thus, if a community of deaf and dumb persons 
should decide to identify themselves by certain odors, we 
would see a practical application of this. One family would 
carry musk, and be recognized some distance off by it ; and 
so with other perfumes or odors. This is just how some 
beetles call each other; and in the one referred to both 
male and female possess the same odor. 

Some of the flesh-eating beetles (Plate IX.) exhibit great 
ingenuity and intelligence in securing a food-supply and an 
asylum for their young at the same time. To their work is 
due the fact that the remains of few animals are found at the 
surface. The moment the latter die, these insects, and espe- 



LIGHTNING-BUGS. 49 

cially the grave-diggers (Necrophorus), appear. They run 
about the body, if upon the ground, inspecting it with great 
interest. If the animal is small, and the earth about it not 
suitable for its purpose, it is removed to softer ground ; and 
here the beetles begin to dig, undermining the body, until 
in a very few hours it has disappeared or been completely 
buried. I have seen a garter snake covered in four hours, 
and some animals are sunk in this way a foot from the sur- 
face. The beetles then feed upon the body, and the female 
deposits her eggs there, perhaps thirty white cylindrical 
objects, which in time hatch ; the young being in this way 
provided with an ample supply of food. 

The Egyptian Scarabceus, noted for being found in the 
ancient tombs and monuments, and considered sacred by some 
of the natives, has an interesting method of caring for its 
future young. It encloses the eggs in round balls of various 
material suitable for food ; a well is then dug several inches 
deep, into whicli the beetles roll the balls, then covering 
them: so that, when the young appears, it is encased in the 
food necessary to its existence. 

Passing the giant beetles of the tropics, and many others 
that have features of interest, we come to the forms called 
lightning-bugs, which, of all their tribe, impress us as mar- 
vellous, and which are especially associated with our present 
subject. 

" Sorrowing we beheld 

The night come on ; but soon did night display 
More wonders than it veiled : innumerous tribes 
From the wood-cover swarmed, and darkness made 
Their beauties visible ; one while they streamed 
A bright blue radiance upon flowers which closed 
Their gorgeous colors from the eye of day ; 



50 LIVING LIGHTS. 

Now motionless and dark, eluded search, 
Self-shrouded ; and anon, starring the sky, 
Rose like a shower of fire." 



Southey's description of the South-American fireflies does 
not ill apply to the midsummer night festivals held in our own 
woods and fields of the North, by the diamonds of the night. 
As twilight deepens, these living lights appear; creeping 
from beneath the bark of trees, out of the ground, or drop- 
ping from some distant limb ; darting here and there in 
streams of light, soaring high in air, twinkling among the 
leaves; while down in the hollow, where the cat-tails rustle 
and nod, rises a veritable luminous cloud. 

The producers of these displays are the lightning-bugs, 
beetles belonging to the family Lampyridce (Plate X., 
Fig. 7). They are mainly of small size and soft texture ; 
the larvae being flat and dark colored, and often presenting 
the appearance of a bit of velvet. They are carniverous in 
their habits, and can be found under stones and the bark 
of trees. The velvet-hued larvce of one species is often 
seen on the surface of the snow, giving rise to stories of 
worm showers. The family is divided, generally, into three 
sub-divisions; and one, the Lampyrince^ is noted for the 
phosphorescence of many of the species. Numerous species 
are known throughout the world and in this country, differ- 
ing much in size ; those in Kentucky and other Southern 
States being somewhat larger than their Northern cousins. 
In the South and the West-India Islands they are seen to best 
advantage. In these isles of summer, especially Jamaica, 
Gosse studied their habits, and observed their nocturnal 
glories ; and to him I am indebted for the following notes 



LIGHTNING-BUGS. 51 

relating to the West-India species. He says at all times 
their sparks, of various degrees of intensity, according to the 
size of the species, are to be seen, fitfully gleaming by scores 
about the margins of woods, and in open and cultivated 
places. He observed about fourteen species, all luminous. 
Photuris versicolor, a large species with drab-colored elytra, 
he found abroad soon after his arrival in December. One 
flying around the house in the evening, he was struck with 
its swift and headlong flight and nearly permanent luminos- 
ity, which was much more brilliant than that of any species 
he had at that time seen. The large Pygolampis, which he 
called afterwards P. xanthophotis, he did not observe until 
May, when one flew into his house at Bluefields one evening; 
and a few nights later he found them in great numbers on 
the very sea-beach at Sabito. It was conspicuous for the 
intensity of its light, much exceeding that of Photuris verm- 
color. Sometimes it is only the last segment but two that 
shows luminosity ; but, when excited, the whole hinder part 
of the abdomen is lighted up with a dazzling glare. 

In June, in the woods of St. Elizabeth's, Gosse had special 
opportunities for observing the Lampyridce ; particularly 
along the road leading up the mountain from Shrewsbury 
to Content, where it is cut through the forest, which over- 
hangs it on each side, making it sombre even by day, and 
casting an impenetrable gloom over the scene by night. 
The darkness here, however, and especially at one point, 
a little dell, which is most obscure, is studded thick with 
fireflies of various species, among which the two large ones 
above named are conspicuous. Pygolampis xanthophotis he 
observed only in flight. Its light is of a rich orange color 
when seen abroad, but when viewed in the light of a candle 



52 LIVING LIGHTS. 

appears yellow. It is not so deeply tinted as the abdominal 
light of Pyrophorus noctilucus, and is intermittent. 

Photuris versicolor is noticeable by its frequent resting on 
a twig or leaf in the woods, when it will gradually increase 
the intensity of its light till it glows like a torch ; then it 
gradually fades to a spark, and becomes quite extinct. It 
thus remains unseen for some time ; but in about a minute, 
or it may be two, it will begin to appear, and gradually 
increase to its former blaze; then fade again, strongly 
reminding the beholder of the revolving light at sea. The 
light of this species is of a brilliant green hue. Gosse says 
he has seen a passing Pyg. xanthophotis, attracted by the 
glow of a stationary Phot, versicolor, fly upward and play 
around it ; when the intermingling of the green and orange 
rays had a charming effect. 

The smaller species have, some a yellow, and some a green, 
light. Pyg. xanthophotis, when held in the fingers, will fre- 
quently illuminate a segment of the abdomen, over which 
the light plays fitfully, sometimes momentarily clouded, more 
or less, but generally saturated, as it were, with most brilliant 
effulgence. This species occasionally comes in at open win- 
dows at night, but much more rarely than the Photuris versi- 
color and the smaller kinds, a dozen or more of which may be 
seen almost every night, crawling up the walls, or flitting 
around the room and beneath the ceiling, of these Jamaica 
homes. 

One of our commonest forms in the eastern United States 
is Photuris pennsylvanicus. It is about one-half of an inch in 
length, has a general yellowish color, with a few stripes or 
lines of brown or black. Both sexes have wings and quite 
long elytra. 



PLATE X. 




1. Scopelus humboldti, showing luminous spots. 

2. Mother o'pearl organ from side of same. 

3. Argyropdecus. 

4. Longitudinal section of organs from abdominal region of same. 

5. Luminous organ from nasal region of Ichthyococcus. 

6. Luminous Crustacean. 7. Lampyris. 8. Light cells of same, and trachea (magnified). 



LIGHTNING-BUGS. 53 

In the diurnal Lucidota, often seen flying in shady places, 
and to be remembered by the peculiar, disagreeable, milky 
fluid they exude when caught, the luminous organs are 
feebly developed. In the female they are indicated by 
yellow spots found on the last ventral segment, and on the 
tast two in the male. In the genus Pyropyya the light 
organs are inconspicuous, except in one species, luteicollis. 
In Pyractomena, an attractive genus, this peculiar feature is 
well developed in both sexes, and the light vivid at times. 
The phosphorescent organs are larger in the male, and situated 
on the fifth and sixth ventral segments. Close examination 
will show in the male a large, stigma-like pore on each side, 
midway between the middle and the side, whose office is not 
perfectly understood. In the female the lanterns are at the 
sides of the segments. P. lucifera, found from Massachusetts 
to Texas, has extremely small luminous organs. 

In the genus Photinus, certain species of which have parts 
of a roseate tint, the light-emitting organs are larger in the 
male than in the female, and vary considerably in position in 
the different species. In the male they cover the entire 
ventral segments, from the fourth to fifth inclusive; and on 
the fifth and sixth segments the little impressions or pores 
referred to are seen in the females. The light-organs occupy 
the middle portion of the ventral segments, and resemble a 
flat elevation upon the fifth segment. There are so many 
exceptions and differences, that the young naturalist will find 
it a particularly interesting study. Thus in P. dimissus the 
male has the usual illuminating apparatus, while it is entirely 
wanting in the female. 

In the group Lampyres the lights are bright in the females, 
but variable in the males. For a long time only the male of 



54 LIVING LIGHTS. 

the genus Phengodes was known, the female being described 
as another insect. The mistake was made owing to the fact 
that the female never attains a development beyond the 
larval condition, and is the only instance among beetles 
where the larval female produces fertile eggs. The female is 
about two inches in length, of a creamy-white hue in the day- 
time ; but at night it presents a truly magnificent appearance, 
emitting from the sides or margins of the segments a rich 
green phosphorescent light. 

Another light-giver rarely seen is the larva of Mastinocerus, 
a slender* cylindrical form of a pale color. It lives upon 
snails, and is feebly luminous. Mrs. King thus writes to Dr. 
le Conte concerning it : " June 4, saw running rapidly over 
the table, near a lighted lamp, a small Coleopter ; it was twist- 
ing its abdomen up over its wings, and evidently trying to 
straighten them out, as they seemed moist and twisted at 
their ends. The general appearance suggested Mastinocerus ; 
and, acting on this thought, I captured it, and sat up till 
a late hour to be assured of the truth. The insect was in a 
small phial, and moved quickly. It gave out light conspicu- 
ously from the head, feebly from the anal end, and still more 
so from about the base of the abdomen. The light seen in 
the head, though visible in the dark as a round spot, yet, 
when taken into a room obscurely lighted, was invisible from 
above ; but, when the insect was suddenly thrown upon its 
back, a light no larger than a pin-point was seen just about 
the junction of the head and prothorax." 

The method of illumination in this group is intermittent, 
the light appearing as repeated flashes : hence the term " light- 
ning-bugs " in contrast to the steady gleam of the fire-flies or 
Elaters. Mr. A. E. Eaton has counted the flashes in Luciola 



LIGHTNING-BUGS. 55 

lusitanica, and found that there were thirty-six in a minute, 
each flash lasting from one-fourth to one-third of a second. 37 

The light of some species is intense, while that of others 
is very feeble. By placing detached parts of the luminous 
organs upon a page, I have been able to make out the type ; 
and, if numbers of living lightning-bugs are confined, they 
can be utilized as a lamp, rather a dull one, it must be 
confessed, unless the numbers are greatly augmented. The 
larvce, as well as the imagos, are often luminous ; even the 
eggs of some emit light. 

An examination of the luminous organs during the day- 
time shows them to be yellowish or whitish patches on the 
various segments. If the hand is held over them, the light 
is seen, and in complete darkness they present a magnificent 
spectacle, the light dying away, then growing intense, about 
the spot, so that it appears to be fairly trembling with heat, 
as if some chemical action was periodically asserting itself, 
causing the tissues to become suffused with a fiery glow; 
yet, if the most delicate thermometer is placed against the 
luminous organs of a large number of these insects, there 
is not the slightest elevation to show the presence of heat. 
If now we kill the insect, and remove the luminous matter, 
it resembles a bit of starch with luminous spots ; and pressure, 
which admits more oxygen, causes a temporary increase in 
the light. 

The luminous organs are similar in structure to the fat 
body of the insect, and are made up of light-emitting cells 
(Plate X., Fig. 8), surrounded by a maze of tracheae, or air- 
tubes. In explanation of the light, it has been suggested 
that the cells secrete phosphuretted hydrogen, which becomes 
luminous upon contact with oxygen which reaches it through 



56 LIVING LIGHTS. 

the minute air-tubes. Regarding Luciola Italica, Professor 
Emery says that the male Luciolce gave out light in two 
distinct modes: in the night, when they are brisk and fly 
about, the light increases and decreases at short, regular 
intervals, so that it seems to twinkle. If one of them is 
caught flying, or disturbed in its rest by day, it shines less 
than at the maximum of its intensity when on the wing, 
but without intermission. It is remarked, however, that the 
luminous plates do not shine uniformly over their whole 
extent ; but that sometimes one spot, and sometimes another, 
glows more strongly. If such a specimen is examined under 
the microscope, we perceive, on a dark background, bright, 
luminous rings, which are not, however, uniformly brilliant, 
but display certain more intense points, which flash up, and 
again disappear, or continue to shine on faintly for a time, 
re-appearing afterward in full splendor. These changes take 
place without any regular succession. 38 

The common lightning-bugs of Europe are Lampyris nocti- 
luca (Plate IX., Fig. <2) and L. splendidula (Fig. a). Their 
life history is an interesting study,, and a brief description 
will apply to all. In early spring we find the little yellow 
eggs, perhaps gleaming with the wonderful phosphorescence, 
and thus finding protection, attached to blades of grass or 
other objects just above ground. The larva (Plate IX., 
Fig. c), a long, narrow, flat creature, soon appears and begins 
a predatory life ; even being provided with an apparatus for 
removing the mucus of its victim. About the month of 
April it attains its full vigor, and during the summer 
changes to the pupa form, or hibernates all winter, entering 
a deep sleep, and assuming its new shape the following spring. 
We see the light from the very first in the eggs of some ; 



LIGHTNING-BUGS. 57 



then in the larva, there appearing like little sacs on the under 
surface, one on each side of the middle line, so arranged that 
the insect can hide them by retracting the body, and causing 
them to blaze out when the abdomen is extended. Nothing 
in all nature is more wonderful than the changes through 
which these and other insects pass before attaining adult 
growth. 

The larva is a busy little creature, full of life ; but, when 
about to change, it becomes lethargic and quiet, as it im- 
pressed with the importance of the coming metamorphosis. 
Finally it wriggles out of its old skin, and becomes a pupa, 
also luminous ; exceedingly lively, yet with its motions 
restricted. It moves its antennae and legs, and pushes itself 
along by movements of the abdomen. Finally the perfect 
insect appears, with its wondrous array of lights, so little 
understood, and which, if accompanied with the ordinary 
amount of heat attendant upon such a display, would soon 
roast or fry its possessor. As to the use of the lights, we can 
only conjecture. It has been shown that one insect recog- 
nized the other by it, and thus it may be a sign language ; 
while, according to others, it is a warning to birds and other 
enemies. 

Mr. Darwin thus refers to the lightning-bug of South 
America: "All the fire-flies which I caught here (at Rio) 
belonged to the Lampyridce (in which family the English 
glow-worm is included), and the greater number of speci- 
mens were of Lampyris occidentalis. I found that this insect 
emitted the most brilliant flashes when irritated; in the 
intervals, the abdominal rings were obscured. The flash 
was almost co-instantaneous in the two rings, but it was just 
perceptible first in the anterior one. The shining matter 



58 LIVING LIGHTS. 



was fluid and very adhesive ; little spots, where the skin had 
been torn, continued bright with a slight scintillation, whilst 
the uninjured parts were obscured. When the insect was 
decapitated, the rings remained uninterruptedly bright, but 
not so brilliant as before. Local irritation with a needle 
always increased the vividness of the light. The rings in 
one instance retained their luminous property nearly twenty- 
four hours after the death of the insect. From these facts it 
would appear probable that the animal has only the power 
of concealing or extinguishing the light for short intervals, 
and that at other times the display is voluntary. On the 
muddy and wet gravel walks, I found the larvce of Lampyris 
in great numbers. They resembled in general form the 
female of the English glow-worm. These larvce possessed 
but feeble luminous powers ; and on the slightest touch they 
feigned death, and ceased to shine ; nor did irritation excite 
any fresh display." 



PLATE XI. 




LUMINOUS BEETLE. (Pyrophvrus noctiivcus.) 
In burrow of Mole Cricket. 



FIRE-FLIES. 59 



CHAPTER VIII. 

FIRE-FLIES. 

SOME years ago an American gentleman, visiting in one 
of the large cities of South America, was invited to a 
masquerade ball at one of the finest private residences in the 
city. The ball-room was the garden, a veritable fairy-land 
abounding in plants of the most novel and beautiful descrip- 
tion, and upon the grass had been laid an extended plat- 
form for the dancers. It was moonlight when the festivities 
began, and no artificial lights were used ; yet at various 
intervals among the flowers soft gleams appeared, apparently 
for ornament. Among the first comers was a tall gentleman 
dressed in a style of several centuries ago, a most picturesque 
costume ; but what particularly attracted the attention of the 
American were the decorations of this gentleman and his 
companion. Around the broad-brimmed hat he wore a band 
of what appeared, from a distance, to be gems, that flashed 
like diamonds, presenting a magnificent appearance. The 
lady's costume was still more remarkable, being fairly ablaze 
with these brilliant scintillations. As the evening wore on, 
he was presented to these maskers, when he found that the 
light proceeded from innumerable luminous insects which 
had been secured by delicate wires, and fastened upon the 
hat and the lady's dress. 



60 LIVING LIGHTS. 

About the garden, hundreds of the insects were confined 
in delicate glass globes, which without emitting much light, 
added to the charm and novelty of the surroundings. 

In Vera Cruz these beetles are so commonly used as toilet 
ornaments that they form an important article of trade ; 
and the natives make a business of catching them, and in a 
way that would seem to show that the lights of insects are 
their means of recognition. The fire-fly hunters provide 
themselves with long sticks, upon the end of which is fas- 
tened a burning coal. This waved in the air attracts the 
light-givers, and they are entrapped in a net. They are then 
placed in a box covered with a wire netting, bathed twice 
a day in tepid water, and at night fed with sugar-cane. 

The insects utilized in this curious manner are fire-flies, 
distinguished from the lightning-bugs by the steady glare 
they produce. And that the lights of these Elaters, as they 
are scientifically called, is intense, and of practical value in 
other ways, we may realize from the statement of Professor 
Jaeger, who says, " I feel particularly grateful to these little 
insects, because, during my excursions in St. Domingo, they 
were frequently the means of saving my life. Often has dark 
night surrounded me in the midst of a desert forest, or on 
the mountains, when the little animals were my only guide ; 
and by their welcome light I have discovered a path for my 
horse, which has led me safely on my journey." If a number 
are confined in a glass, they emit sufficient light to read by. 

It is in the genus Pyrophorus that we find the most 
remarkable light-givers ; the different species being found 
principally in tropical America. In Plate XI. Pyrophorus 
noctilucus, a form common in the West Indies and Brazil, is 
shown. It ranges from 1.50 to 1.75 inches in length ; is a 



FIEE-FLIES. 61 



black or rusty-brown color ; and, if observed during the day- 
light, two conspicuous oval spots of a yellowish white hue 
are seen on each side of the prothorax. These are the lan- 
terns of the Elaters, and in the dark glow with a brilliancy 
far exceeding that of the lightning-bugs. These lights shine 
from above, while between the part known as the metathorax 
and the first abdominal segment gleams another, or lower 
light, even more brilliant than the other : so the Pyrophorus, 
turn which way it will in its flight, emits a flash of light. 
The light appears to be dependent upon the will, as when 
feeding or asleep it is not seen ; attaining its greatest bril- 
liancy during activity and flight. The color of the light, as 
seen by the author, is a rich green ; but the eggs emit a light 
of a bluish tint, according to Dubois. This naturalist has 
made some extremely interesting experiments with this 
beetle. The eggs which he dried retained their luminosity 
for a week, the light re-appearing when they were placed in 
water. He ground the luminous organs in a mortar, after 
having dried them in vacuum, and then mixed them in boiled 
water ; the latter immediately becoming luminous. Dr. Du- 
bois concludes that the light of the Pyrophorus is intended 
as an illuminator for itself alone. To prove this, he covered 
one of the upper lights with wax, and the animal moved in 
a curve ; when both spots were covered, the beetle soon 
stopped, and then moved in an uncertain manner, carefully 
feeling the ground with its antennce. The spectrum of the 
light was extremely beautiful, being continuous, without dark 
or brilliant rays; and, what appears most remarkable, the com- 
position of the light was found to change with its intensity. 
As to the exact cause of the light, how it is produced, the 
secret yet rests with Nature. 



62 LIVING LIGHTS. 



Dr. Kidder thus refers to the brilliancy of one of these 
wondrous light-givers : u Before retracing my steps, I stood 
for a few moments looking down into the Cimmerian black- 
ness of the gulf before me ; and, while thus gazing, a lumi- 
nous mass seemed to start from the very centre. I watched 
it as it floated up, revealing in its slow flight the long leaves 
of the palm Euterpe edulis, and the minuter foliage, of other 
trees. It came directly towards me, lighting up the gloom 
around with its three luminosities, which I could now dis- 
tinctly see." 

The insect was the Pyrophorus noctilucus ; a longish click- 
beetle of a dull blackish-brown color, and covered over with 
a short, slight-brown pubescence. When walking or at rest, 
the chief light that it emits proceeds from the two yellow 
tubercles on the ' thorax, so conspicuous in dead specimens ; 
but, when flying, another luminous spot is discernible on the 
hinder part of the thorax, and this is continued to the under 
side of the insect. 

Ovideo says that the Indians travel in the night with 
these insects fixed to their hands and feet; and that they 
spin, weave, paint, dance, etc., by their light. In Prescott's 
" Conquest of Mexico," we are told that in 1520, when the 
Spaniards visited that country, "the air was filled with the 
Cucujo, a species of large beetle, which emits an intense 
phosphoric light from its body, strong enough to enable one 
to read by it. These wandering flies, seen in the darkness 
of the night, were converted, by the excited imaginations of 
the besieged, into an army of matchlocks." 

At the time of the discovery of Hispaniola, Peter Martyr 
assures us that the natives, in their night journeyings through 
the woods, were in the habit of fastening a number of these 



PLATE XII. 




THE LANTERN FLY. 

(Fulgora lanternaria.} 
According to Madame MERIAN, Marquis SPINOLA, and others. 



FIRE-FLIES. 63 



light-givers to their feet to light the way. On this occur- 
rence Southey founds the incident mentioned in " Madoc " 
where Coatel guides Madoc through the cave : 

" She beckoned, and descended, and drew out 
From underneath her vest a cage, or net 
It rather might be called, so fine the twigs 
Which knit it, where, confined, two fire-fiies gare their lustre." 





64 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER IX. 

LANTERN-FLIES. 
/ 

WHEN Sir Charles Lyell visited this country some years 
ago, he expressed much interest in the sea-serpent 
question ; and one of his first inquiries, when introduced to 
a certain gentleman, was, " Have you heard any thing about 
the sea-serpent?" The reply was, "Unfortunately I have 
seen it." 

If Mme. Merian were alive, and a similar question should 
be propounded to her regarding the luminosity of the South- 
American lantern-fly, she could with propriety make a like 
response. She makes a definite and distinct statement con- 
cerning the phosphorescence of the Fulgora lanternaria, yet 
to-day it is declared non-luminous by nearly all scientists. 

It is not our intention to champion the cause of this enthu- 
siastic naturalist ; but to some it would seem that the direct 
evidence of a single observer of good repute should have 
some weight against an indefinite number who merely failed 
to corroborate the observation. In the chapter on luminous 
plants, an almost similar instance is given, where for years the 
direct statement of the daughter of Linnaeus regarding the 
luminosity of a plant was doubted by scientific men, until 
finally a well-known botanist confirmed it. To some it would 
seem possible that the Fulgora emits light only at certain times, 



LANTERN-FLIES. 65 

and under peculiar conditions ; be this as it may, scientific 
opinion 'is entirely against its luminosity, and the light in 
the figure of Fulgora lanternaria (Plate XII.) is introduced 
merely to show its supposed appearance according to the 
description of Mme. Merian and her supporters. The ques- 
tion is so interesting, and so typical of many that arise, that 
we introduce the opinions of the various authorities upon the 
subject. 

The two most interesting species come from China and 
South America, Fulgora candelaria from the former, and 
F. lanternaria from the latter. The Asiatic species is the 
smallest, measuring about two inches in length, and notice- 
able for the peculiar horn-like projection on the head, sup- 
posed to be the luminous organ. Its colors are rich and 
attractive ; the head and proboscis, as we may call it, being a 
fine reddish brown, apparently dotted here and there with 
white specks. The thorax is a deep yellow hue ; the body, 
black above, and yellow beneath. The wings are still more 
striking, the upper pair dark, with many green reticulations, 
that divide the entire surface into many minute squares, 
yellow spots being scattered here and there ; the under wings 
are orange with black tips. 

The Fulgora lanternaria of South America is nearly three 
inches and a half in length from the tip of the head to the 
extremity of the tail, and about five inches and a half broad 
with its wings expanded. The body is of a lengthened oval 
shape, sub-cylindric, and divided into several rings or seg- 
ments ; while the head is distinguished by a singular prolon- 
gation, which sometimes equals the rest of the body in size. 
The general color is yellow, variegated with many brown 
stripes and spots. The wings are large arid powerful ; the 



66 LIVING LIGHTS. 

lower pair ornamented with a large eye-spot, well shown in 
the accompanying figure ; the iris or border being red, while 
the centre is half red and half white, rendering it a very con- 
spicuous object. The remarkable extension of the head or 
lantern, as it has been called is pale yellow, ornamented with 
longitudinal red stripes. In this projection the luminous 
property of the lantern-fly is said to exist. 

In Mme. Merian's work on the insects of Surinam, she says, 
" The Indians once brought me, before I knew that they shone 
at night, a number of these lantern-flies, which I shut up in a 
large wooden box. In the night they made such a noise that 
I awoke in a fright, and ordered a light to be brought, not 
knowing from whence the noise proceeded. As soon as we 
found that it came from the box, we opened it, but were still 
much more alarmed, and let it fall to the ground in a fright, 
at seeing a flame of fire come out of it ; and as many animals 
as came out, so many flames of fire appeared. When we 
found this to be the case, we recovered from our fright, and 
again collected the insects, highly admiring their splendid 
appearance." 

Such a statement naturally attracted attention ; and, from 
its publication until the present, collectors have endeavored to 
substantiate it. Count Hoffrnansegg states that his insect 
collector Sieber, who was a practical entomologist of thirty 
years' experience, took many specimens of F. lanternaria in 
Brazil, but never saw one emit light. The Marquis Spinola, 
in the annals of the "Entomological Society of France," vol. 
xiii., contends for the luminosity of the entire tribe. On the 
other hand, M. Richard succeeded in raising a species of 
Fulgora, but failed to observe the light ; while M. Westmael 
assures us that a friend of his observed the luminosity. 



LANTERN-FLIES. 67 

John C. Branner, Ph.D., states that when in South 
America he was often informed that it was luminous, but 
never could find any one who had personally seen the light. 
Snr. Luiz A. A. de Carvalho, jun., of Rio de Janeiro, who 
had fine specimens in his cabinet, assured him that he knew 
of no evidence whatever that they produced light- In the 
article on phosphorescence in the last edition of the Ency- 
clopaedia Britannica, Mr. William E. Hoyle, F.R.S., of the 
" Challenger " expedition, apparently accepts the Fulgora as 
a light-giver ; as he says, " Whilst the lantern-flies, Fulgoridce, 
carry their light at the extremity of a long, curved pro- 
boscis." Professor P. Martin Duncan writes, " It is doubtful 
if the Fulgora, so often described in books as the lantern-fly, 
has a scarlet light, if any at all." 

The Fulgora is not remarkable for its supposed light alone ; 
as in Brazil, where it is called Gitiranaboia, etc., it is consid- 
ered by some natives to be extremely deadly. Mr. John C. 
Branner, of the Indiana University, investigated the subject, 
and found that the natives believed that the long proboscis 
was the poisonous organ ; and that when this struck any 
animal, no matter how large or powerful, the latter immedi- 
ately dropped dead. Even a distinguished Brazilian engineer 
assured Mr. Branner of the truth of the stories, saying that 
monkeys were often seen to fall dead from trees along the 
Amazon, killed by the deadly Gitiranaboia; and a local paper 
reported the fact that these insects were destroying cattle in 
the southern provinces. At Par&, Mr. Branner was assured 
that a child died in great agony after being stung by one. 
It is needless to say that the lantern-fly is perfectly harmless, 
and its poisonous properties as mythical as modern science 
deems its light. 



68 LIVING LIGHTS. 



Concerning the Chinese and African species, there is the 
same conflict of opinion. Dr. Phipson, an eminent authority 
on phosphorescence, evidently accepts them as luminous ; 
as, in referring to the proboscis, he says, " It is from these 
appendages, the sides of which are transparent, that the 
phosphoric light appears ; " and in mentioning Fulgora cande- 
laria, he says, without giving his authority, " It is said, also, 
that the trunk of a tree covered with numerous individuals 
of F. candelaria, some in movement, others in repose, pre- 
sents a very grand spectacle, impossible to describe, but 
which may be witnessed sometimes in China." Dr. Donovan, 
in his "Insects of India," figures the Fulgora pyrrhorynchus ; 
and Phipson states, " It is said to emit a light of a fine purple 
color. Donovan evidently had some reason for believing that 
they emitted light, as he represents them in the act. 

In " Packard's Guide," there occurs the following refer- 
ence to the light of an East-African Fulgora: "Mr. Caleb 
Cooke of Salem, who resided several years in Zanzibar, 
Africa, told me that the lantern-fly is said by the natives 
to be luminous. They state that the long snout lights up 
in the night, and in describing it say, its head is like a lamp 
(keetchwa hand-tali)" According to William Baird, Esq., 
there is an edict in China against young ladies keeping 
lantern-flies. Altogether, the question is quite in keeping 
with the mystery that surrounds the entire subject of animal 
phosphorescence. 

One of the classes into which the insects are divided is 
termed Myriopoda, from the fact that the individuals which 
compose it are supplied with" a seemingly endless number of 
locomotive organs. The centipedes and millepedes, "hun- 
dred " and " thousand legs," are the names by which they 



LANTERN-FLIES. 69 



are most commonly known. The body is long ana, Cylindri- 
cal in the genus Geophilus, being made up of from 




two hundred segments, each bearing a pair of short 

In the Eastern States Lithobius Americanus, Wood., is per- 

haps the most familiar form, and often found under old logs. 

Some of the centipedes are very poisonous. Such a one is 
Scolopendra heros, Girard., the poison being stored in two 
enormous fangs. In Southern California I have found 
extremely large specimens of this genus. In the East Indies 
Scolopendra yigantea, Linn., attains a length of nine inches, 
and is a most repulsive appearing creature, and so dreaded 
that the most extravagant stories are told as to its power. 
A native informed me, who evidently believed his statement, 
that a man died near him from having one merely walk over 
him. The bite is undoubtedly poisonous, as is that of many 
of our common spiders; but I never could find an authentic 
case where it had resulted fatally. 

As hideous as they are in certain parts of South America, 
a huge species, which attains a length of a foot, is eaten ; the 
native children, according to Humboldt, tearing off the heads, 
and devouring the remainder with evident enjoyment. 

There are about eight hundred species of Myriapods, and 
among them is one, the G-eophilus electricus of Europe, that 
is positively luminous ; though Phipson, referring to them as 
Scolopendrce, gives two luminous species, S. electrica, Linn., of 
Europe, and S. phosphorea of Asia. Specimens of the former, 
observed in fields at night, have been compared to minute 
pieces of red-hot coal, so vivid was the light. Probably the 
finest spectacle of the luminosity of these insects was observed 
by M. Audouin, at Choissy-le-Roi, near Paris. Noticing a 
light upon the ground in a chiccory field, he ordered his 



70 LIVING LIGHTS. 



man to turn up the earth, when the scene that followed is 
described as truly magnificent. The soil appeared as if it 
had been sprinkled with molten gold, the display being 
intensified if the insects were trodden upon or rubbed ; in 
the latter case, streaks of light appeared, as if a bit of phos- 
phorus had been placed upon the hands, the light being 
distinctly visible for twenty seconds. 

The Geophilus electricus (Plate XIII., Fig. 2) is a small, 
inconspicuous insect, about an inch and a half in length, and 
one tenth of an inch in diameter. Like others of its kind, 
it lives in holes in the ground, and, when discovered, makes 
off rapidly by the use of its one hundred and forty legs. 
The interesting fact that the luminous secretion could be 
separated from the insect was originally noticed by Macart- 
ney seventy years ago, who found that the fluid, as he terms 
it, could be communicated by the centipede to every portion 
of its integument. This author also claims that the insect 
is only luminous after exposure to the sun, a peculiarity 
that is found in certain minerals described in a later chapter. 
The most remarkable exhibition of the luminosity of these 
insects has been recorded by Mr. B. E. Brodhurst, who saw 
it first twenty paces away, so vivid was its display. The 
light looked like moonlight, so bright was it through the 
trees. " It was a dark night, warm and sultry. Taking a 
letter, I could read it. It resembled an electric light, and 
proceeded from two centipedes and their trails. The light 
illuminated the entire body of the animal, and seemed to 
increase its diameter three times. It flashed along both sides 
of the creature in sections, there being about six from head 
to tail between which the light played. The light behaved 
precisely like the electric light ; moving, as it were, perpetu- 



LANTERN-FLIES. 71 

ally in two streams, one on each side, and yet lighting up 
the whole body. The trail extended one and a half feet 
from each centipede over the grass and gravel walk, and it 
had the appearance of illuminated mucus. On securing one 
of the creatures for examination, I found, on touching it, 
the light was instantly extinguished." This observer says 
that this phenomenon was frequently seen by others about 
his place. 

Mr. Brodhurst continues, "Professor Flower identified 
the centipede as Geophilus subterraneus. The published 
descriptions of the luminous properties of British centipedes 
differ considerably from what I observed in this instance; 
the latter attributing light to the creatures only when dis- 
turbed. I was never able to induce my centipede to shine 
while in captivity." 



72 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER X. 

BY CRAB-LIGHT. 

IN drifting over the calm waters of the ocean as night 
comes on, we notice in the depths below luminous forms 
of infinite variety. These are medusce, as we have seen, 
moving here and there like veritable comets. They approach 
so near the unruffled surface, at times, as to expose the gleam- 
ing disk. The nets of the fishermen come up entangled in 
their golden trains, and along shore processions and columns 
of these wondrous shapes pass and repass. 

As the night grows apace, and the wind rises, they sink 
into the deeper waters : yet the foam and crest of the waves 
still give out the curious light, though now from another 
source. Much of this is due to Crustaceans, minute crea- 
tures often almost invisible to the naked eye, yet possessing 
this wonderful gift of phosphorescence to a marked degree. 

Some species of the little Gammarus are remarkable for 
their clear silvery light. They are familiarly known as 
water-fleas, attracting attention from their leaping powers, 
and are often found under seaweed above high- water mark, 
darting here and there in incredible numbers when their 
home is disturbed. These forms are extremely valuable as 
scavengers. 

That these interesting animals were light-givers, has long 



BY CRAB-LIGHT. 73 

been known ; Viviani observing it in a number of species in 
the beginning of the present century. 39 There is one pecul- 
iarity about many of these small animals ; that is, the light 
has a more decided red tint than that of any other group of 
animals. This is especially true of many of the water-fleas, 
or Entomostracans, and the extremely transparent, ten-footed 
kinds. The light is often intense, but fitful and shortlived. 
It seems to start from the locality where the legs join the 
body, and rapidly spreads beneath the skin until the entire 
body appears to be suffused with light, and the little animal 
consumed with an internal fire. Yet if a bushelful of these 
gleaming living lights were confined, and a thermometer 
placed among them, it would not show the slightest variation 
or evidence of heat. The little Cyclops is very common 
in our fresh-water ponds, and forms a beautiful object under 
the microscope. 

Along our sea-shores we may often see, under the rocks, 
clinging to the eel-grass, or among the thickly growing stems 
of Carolina officinalis, in some pool left by the tide, gleaming 
spots that move about in an erratic manner; now many 
collecting together, then breaking up into small patches of 
light, which in turn separate again. They are curious Crus- 
taceans, known scientifically as the Idotea phosphorea. By 
day we shall find that they are usually spotted or entirely 
a bright yellow; at night emitting fitful gleams, perhaps 
as signals or as means of communication to their fellows. 

In the Arctic regions beautiful lights have often been seen, 
due to a minute crustacean. Lieut. Bellot first observed it 
in the North-American polar regions, and Nordenskiold 
refers to it in his " Voyage of the Vega." The most brilliant 
displays have been seen at Mussel Bay. Nordenskiold says, 



74 LIVING LIGHTS. 

" If during winter one walks along the beach on the snow, 
which at ebb is dry, but at flood-tide is more or less 
drenched through with sea-water, there rises at every step 
an exceedingly intense beautiful bluish-white flash of light, 
which in the spectroscope gives a one colored labrador-blue 
spectrum. This beautiful flash of light arises from the snow, 
that shows no luminosity before it is stepped upon. The 
flash lasts only a few moments, but is so intense that it 
appears as if a sea of fire would open at every step a man 
takes. It produces, indeed, a peculiar impression on dark 
and stormy winter days. The temperature of the air is 
sometimes in the neighborhood of freezing of mercury. It 
is certainly a strange experience to walk along in this 
mixture of snow and flame, which -at every step one takes 
splashes about in all directions, shining with a light so 
intense that one is ready to fear that his shoes or clothes 
will take fire. If carefully examined, the cause of this 
phenomenon is found to be a little crustacean, Metridea 
armata, that somewhat resembles the Cyclops. The great 
changes of temperature to which it is subjected in the snow- 
sludge seem not to affect it." 

Few phosphorescent animals exhibit their glories during 
the day ; but Sapphirina (Plate X., Fig. 6) is an exception. 
It is one of the largest of the Entomostracans, about a quarter 
of an inch in length, broad and flat, without the beauty of 
form which characterizes Cyclops, Calanus, and others ; but 
what it lacks in this respect is more than compensated by 
its marvellous powers of light production, few animals of 
any kind equalling it. So vivid is the phosphorescence, that 
it can be distinctly seen by day ; and, peering down into the 
depths where it abounds, flashes of color blue, gold, sap- 



BY CRAB-LIGHT. 75 

phire, purple, green, and other hues appear in bewildering 
frequency, ranging from the softest to the most intense and 
vivid lights, marking this living sapphire as one of the true 
gems of the sea. 

Giglioli mentions an Isopod crab, brilliant with gold and 
purple, gorgeous with iridescence, and possessed also of the 
additional charm of phosphorescence- The light-emitting 
organs in the Entomostracans observed by him were in the 
anterior portion of the thorax. 

The young (Zoe'a) of the graceful little opossum shrimp 
My sis stenolepis is phosphorescent. The adult forms are 
extremely interesting objects for study, the eggs and young 
being carried in a little pouch beneath the thorax. Allied 
to this little sea-opossum is Lucifer, that is to the crustaceans 
what the walking-stick is to the insect world ; a veritable 
incongruit}s resembling a branch of weed, and doubtless 
finding some protection in the mimicry. Some specimens, 
according to Giglioli, are luminous ; the gift perhaps forming 
a signal language, a code understood in this world under the 
sea. The position, or seat, of the luminosity in crustaceans 
differs as widely as the intensity and color of the light ; and 
in the little Stomatopod, formerly considered as an adult, 
and described as Squillerichthus, we find the culmination of 
wonders, as, in a specimen of this genus found in the Atlantic, 
the seat of the brilliant intermittent yellowish-green light is 
in the eye-stalk ; so that the eyes themselves may be said 
to be veritable lanterns. 

The phosphorescence of crabs was probably observed for 
the first time by Sir Joseph Banks, on his voyage from 
Madeira to Rio Janeiro ; a small crab, named Cancer fulyens, 
being captured, which was remarkably luminous. Sir Joseph 



76 LIVING LIGHTS. 

does not state whether the light came from the entire body 
or was confined to certain localities. MM. Eycloux and 
Souleyet, naturalists of the French exploring ship " La 
Bonite." noticed a small luminous crustacean, and succeeded 
in separating the phosphorescent secretion from the animal. 
They describe it as yellowish, viscous, and soluble in water, 
and found that its luminous properties soon disappeared. 
It was their opinion that certain crustaceans secreted the 
luminous matter, and that they differed much in their 
method of producing it. Certain small crabs, they believed, 
could display a certain amount of light when irritated ; the 
phosphorescence at these times appearing in jets, forming a 
cloud or halo of light in which the animal seems to dis- 
appear. 

In the abyssal depths of the ocean, where probably no ray 
of sunlight reaches, the crabs are possibly all luminous. 
Many of these deep-sea forms have a wide geographical dis- 
tribution. Thus the Lithodes are found from the shallow 
waters of the north and south poles to the tropics, in the 
latter living in a region over which rests three-quarters 
of a mile of water. Many other crustaceans live in depths 
vastly more inaccessible than this, and under a much greater 
pressure. Thus Oolossendeis titan, a strange creature, whose 
stomach is prolonged to the ends of the feet, is found living 
at a depth of about two miles and a half. These creatures, 
a species of which is shown in Plate XIV., are the spiders of 
the sea, resembling their not distant allies of the land, at 
least in appearance. 

The different depths affect the inhabitants to a more or 
less extent. In some, the eyes seem to have lost their proper 
functions; and an instance is thus described by the Rev. 



BY CRAB-LIGHT. 77 

A. M. Norman, naturalist of the " Porcupine," the crustacean 
being Ethusa granulata : " The examples at one hundred and 
ten to three hundred and seventy fathoms in the more south- 
ern habitat have the carapace furnished in front with a spinose 
rostrum of considerable length. The animal is apparently 
blind, but has two remarkable spiny eye-stalks, with a 
smooth rounded termination where the eye itself is ordinarily 
situated. In the specimens, however, from the north, which 
live in five hundred and forty-two and seven hundred and 
five fathoms, the eye-stalks are no longer movable. They 
have become firmly fixed in their sockets, and their character 
is quite changed. They are of much larger size, approach 
nearer to each other at their base ; and, instead of being 
rounded at their apices, they terminate in a strong rostrate 
point. No longer used as eyes, they now assume the func- 
tions of a rostrum ; while the true rostrum, so conspicuous in 
the southern specimens, lias, marvellous to state, become ab- 
sorbed. Had there been only a single example of this form 
procured, we should at once have concluded that we had 
found a monstrosity ; but there is no room for such an hypoth- 
esis by which to escape from this most strange instance of 
modification of structure under altered conditions of life. 
Three specimens were procured, on two different occasions, 
and they are in all respects similar."" 

Specimens of these crabs found in shallow water had per- 
fect eyes ; but, beyond one hundred and ten fathoms, they had 
changed as above stated. As Darwin has said, the stand for 
the telescope is there, though the telescope with its glasses 
has been lost. 

Probably many of the deep-sea forms are luminous in 
some way. 40 Aristeus and allied forms are -known to have 



78 LIVING LIGHTS. 

phosphorescent eyes. Others have phosphorescent organs in 
various parts of the body. In one, the legs bear luminous 
bands that sparkle and gleam as the animal moves along in 
its dismal home. In others there are certain globular lumin- 
ous organs beneath the thorax, and between the abdominal 
swimmerets that have been described as eyes. The light 
emitted by the several organs is of different degrees of 
brilliancy. 

Vaughn Thompson is opposed to the theory that the 
objects on the side of the trunk, and along the ventral face 
of the tail, of these little creatures are eyes. " A re-exami- 
nation," he says, " proves that they are not visual organs at 
all, but constitute, rather a highly complicated luminous 
apparatus together ; the lenticular body of the organs acting 
as a condenser, which, in connection with the great mobility 
of the globules, enables the animal to produce at will a very 
bright flash of light in a given direction. The great majority 
of species possess these organs, generally arranged in a per- 
fectly similar manner ; but in a large, deep-sea, non-pellucid 
Euphamia, V. Wiliemoes Suhm could not detect these glob- 
ules in their usual place. 

" The phosphorescent light emitted by the species of the 
Eupliausiidce was frequently under observation. One taken 
by forceps exhibited a pair of bright, phosphorescent 
spots directly behind the eyes ; two other pairs were on 
the trunk, and four other spots were situated along the 
median line of the tail, all quite visible to the naked 
eye. The light of these is a bluish white. After a bril- 
liant flash as been emitted from the organs, they glow for 
some time with a dull light. The light is given out at 
will by the animal, and usually, but not always, when irri- 



PLATE XV. 




LUMINOUS CRUSTACEANS. 
Nemalocarcinm gracilipes. 

Cyclops (magnified). 



BY CRAB-LIGHT. 79 

tated. The most brilliant flashes occur when freshly taken 
from the sea. Under the microscope these phosphorescent 
organs appear as pale-red spots, with a central, clear, lenticu- 
lar body. The light comes from the red pigment surround- 
ing the lenticular space. Mr. Murray observed at night, on 
the surface of the sea in the Faeroe Channel, large patches 
and long streaks of apparently milky-white water. The tow- 
nets caught in these immense numbers of NyctipJianes nove- 
jica, and the peculiar appearance of the water seemed to be 
due to the diffused light emitted from the phosphorescent 
organs of this species. 

Many of the deep-sea shrimps are remarkable for their 
brilliant coloring. Aristes is a bright red, with antenncB five 
or six times as long as its body. Equally strange is the 
long-legged Nematocarcinus (Plate XV., Fig. 1), and the Oplo- 
phori and Notostomi, curious little creatures, that have no 
common names, are of an intense red hue, while others are 
brown, rose, or spotted with red; showing that Nature 
decorates her own even in the uttermost depths of the sea. 



80 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER XL 

SEAS OF FLAME. 

IN the summer months in tropical and semi-tropical waters, 
often during several days in succession, the ocean pre- 
sents a surface almost unruffled. The fin of some roving 
shark, the splash of the flying-fish, or, if near shore, the 
plunge of the pelican or gull, are the only objects that dis- 
turb the sea of glass. At such times, after the sun had gone 
down, we have lain in our boat, with faces as near the surface 
as possible, and watched the wondrous panorama of the sub- 
marine world. Here great globes of light seemed to shoot 
through the watery space : every fish left a train of light ; 
while the dolphin, or other great forms, gliding by, appeared 
converted into fiery monsters ; and, as they rose to the sur- 
face, fountains of phosphorescence burst from the sea. 

The forms which tend to produce this remarkable appear- 
ance in the ocean depths are many ; but, in the warm waters 
of the tropics, the most noticeable are those belonging to the 
class known scientifically as Tunicata. Aside from their 
luminous properties, the Tunicates are extremely interesting, 
from the fact that they are now supposed to represent, with 
perhaps one exception, the lowest form of backboned life, 
being what are called degenerate forms. In the larval stage 
of some species a noto-cord is present, which is supposed to 



SEAS OF FLAME. 81 

represent the backbone of higher vertebrates. In some, 
when the animals assume the adult form, the little spinal 
cord is absorbed; but in others, as the Appendicularia 
(Plate XVI., Fig. 3), the noto-cord and neural cord persist 
throughout the entire life of the animal. The life-history of 
these forms is of extreme interest ; but, as it can be found in 
any text-book, we will pass to the feature that has rendered 
some of the class most conspicuous. 

In exploring the depths of southern seas, among others 
we shall see a columnar form, the Pyrosoma, or " fire-body " 
(Plate XVII.), the giant of the Tunicates. It is an aggre- 
gation of individuals, forming a hollow cylinder closed at 
one end, and from two inches to four feet in length. 41 

The Pyrosomce are richly tinted during the day; but at 
night, as their name implies, they resemble incandescent 
bodies. Humboldt refers to the spectacle he enjoyed when 
passing through a zone of them in the Gulf Stream, distin- 
guishing by their light the forms of fishes, that, bathed by 
their gleams, stood out in bold relief far below the surface. 

The light is extremely beautiful. That of the Atlantic 
forms is said to be polychroic, or an intense green ; while in 
the very large species it is azure. So brilliant and striking 
is the light, that the impression is gained that it proceeds 
from the entire surface of the animal ; but this is not the 
case, according to Panceri. 42 When the Pyrosoma is moving 
along in its curious fashion, which calls to mind the old 
stern-wheel steamers, and is undisturbed, the light is inter- 
mittent, now flashing from one cell, and now from another ; 
the vast number of gleams giving it the appearance at times 
of constant light over the entire surface. 

Panceri found that the luminous bodies produced an albu- 



82 LIVING LIGHTS. 



minoid substance that may become diffused by handling, and 
retain its luminosity for some time. Curiously enough, 
fresh water increases the intensity of the light, and causes it 
to continue for a longer period. The intensity of the light 
may be realized, when we learn from Figuier that Bibra, a 
Brazilian navigator, employed six Pyrosomce to illuminate his 
cabin, which was thus rendered so bright that he could read 
to a friend the description he had written of these living 
lanterns. 

Mr. Bennett, the naturalist, thus describes his experience 
with these beautiful creatures : " On the 8th of June, being 
then in latitude 30 south, and 27 5' west longitude, having 
fine weather and a fresh south-easterly trade-wind, and the 
thermometer ranging from 78 to 84, late at night the mate 
of the watch called me to witness a very unusual appearance 
in the water. This was a broad and expansive sheet of phos- 
phorescence, extending from east to west as far as the eye 
could reach. I immediately cast the towing-net over the 
stern of the ship, which soon cleaved through the brilliant 
mass, the disturbance causing strong flashes of light to be 
emitted; and the shoal, judging from the time the vessel 
took in passing through the mass, may have been a mile in 
length. On taking in the towing-net, it was found half filled 
with Pyrosoma atlanticum, which shone with a beautiful pale- 
greenish light. After the mass had been passed through 
by the ship, the light was still seen astern, until it became 
invisible in the distance, and the ocean became hidden in 
the darkness as before this took place. 

" The second occasion of my meeting these creatures was 
in a high latitude, and during the winter season ; the 
weather dark and gloomy, with light breezes from north- 



SEAS OF FLAME. 83 



north-east, in latitude 40 30' south, and 138 3' east hngi- 
tude, at the western entrance to Bass's Straits, and about 
eight o'clock P.M., when the ship's wake was perceived 
to be luminous, while scintillations of the same light were 
abundant all around. To ascertain the cause, I threw the 
towing-net overboard, and in twenty minutes succeeded in 
capturing several Pyrosomce, which gave out their usual pale- 
green light ; and it was, no doubt, detached groups of these 
animals which occasioned the light in question. The beautiful 
light given out by these molluscans * soon ceased to be seen ; 
but, by moving them about, it could be reproduced for some 
length of time after. The luminosity of the water gradually 
decreased during the night, and toward morning was no 
longer seen." 

M. Peron, says Figuier, observed the beauties of the 
Pyrosoma atlanticum on his voyage to the Isle of France. 
The wind was blowing with great violence, the night was 
dark, and the vessel was making rapid way, when what 
appeared to be a vast sheet of phosphorus presented itself, 
floating on the waves, and occupying a great space ahead of 
the ship. The vessel having passed through this fiery mass, 
it was discovered that the light was occasioned by animal- 
cules swimming about in the sea, at various depths, round 
the ship. Those which were deepest in the water looked 
like red-hot balls, while those on the surface resembled 
cylinders of red-hot iron. Some of the latter were caught ; 
they were found to vary in size from three to seven inches. 
All the exterior of the creatures bristled with long, thick 
tubercles, shining like so many diamonds ; and these seemed 

* When this account was written, the Tunicates were supposed to be 
mollusks. NOTE BY THE AUTHOR. 



84 LIVING LIGHTS. 

to be the principal seat of their luminosity. Inside, also, 
there appeared to be a multitude of oblong, narrow glands, 
exhibiting a high degree of phosphoric power. The color of 
these animals, when in repose, is an opal yellow, mixed with 
green ; but, on the slightest movement, the animal exhibits 
a spontaneous contractile power, and assumes a luminous 
brilliancy, passing through various shades of deep red, orange 
green, and azure blue. 

Professor Moseley captured a Pyrosoma four feet long, ten 
inches in diameter, with walls an inch in thickness. It was 
placed upon the deck of the vessel, and, when the naturalist 
wrote his name upon the animal with his finger, it came out 
in letters of fire: each letter seeming to increase in size, 
until the entire name was lost in a blaze of light, that radi- 
ated rapidly and soon suffused the entire animal ; presenting 
a marvellous spectacle, and showing, in a striking manner, 
how intimately the animals are connected. In Plate XVII. 
a Pyrosoma of the largest size is shown in comparison with 
a native diver. 

Sir Wyville Thompson observed the Pyrosomce off the Cape 
Verde Islands, and refers to the " blaze of phosphorescence 
and train of intense brightness that followed the ship ; " and, 
while he did not experiment with the animals in his cabin, 
as did Bibra, he says, " It was an easy matter to read the 
smallest print, sitting at the after port in my cabin ; and the 
bows shed on either side rapidly widening spaces of radiance, 
so vivid as to throw the sails and rigging into distinct lights 
and shadows. The first night or two after leaving San lago, 
the phosphorescence seemed chiefly due to large Pyrosomoe, 
of which we took many specimens in the tow-net, and which 
glowed in the water with a white light like that from molten 



SEAS OF FLAME. 85 

Not the least wonderful feature of this animal is the variety 
of tints; white, green, various shades of deep red, orange 
green, and azure blue having been ascribed to it by different 
observers, a fact that must stamp it as the most wonderful 
of all light-givers, a veritable living diamond. 

One of the most remarkable exhibitions of phosphorescence 
was observed in January, 1880, by Commander R. E. Harris 
of the steamship " Shahjehan," a display so unusual that 
I quote Capt. Harris's letter in full; and, while he is in- 
clined to consider the exhibition as possibly electric, it would 
seem that the luminous objects referred to were phosphores- 
cent animals of some kind, and possibly may have had some 
connection with the phenomenon. 

" The most remarkable phenomenon," says Capt. Harris, " that 
I have ever seen at sea was seen by myself and officers on the 
5th instant, between Oyster Reef and Pigeon Islands (Malabar 
coast) . At ten P.M. we were steaming along very comfortably. 
There was a perfect calm, the water was without a ripple upon it, 
the sky was cloudless, and, there being no moon, the stars shone 
brightly. The atmosphere was beautifully clear, and the night 
was one of great quietude. At the above-named hour I went on 
deck, and at once observed a streak of white matter on the 
horizon bearing south-south-west. I then went on the bridge, 
and drew the third officer's attention to it. In a few minutes it 
had assumed the shape of a segment of a circle, measuring about 
forty-five degrees in length, and several degrees in altitude about 
its centre. At this time it shone with a peculiar but beautiful 
milky whiteness, and resembled (only in a huge mass, and greater 
luminous intensity) the nebulw sometimes seen in the heavens. 
We were steaming to the southward ; and, as the bank of light 
extended, one of its arms crossed our path. The whole thing 



86 LIVING LIGHTS. 

appeared so foreign to any thing I had ever seen, and so wonder- 
ful, that I stopped the ship just on its outskirts, so that I might 
try to form a true and just conception of what it really was. 'By 
this time all the officers and engineers had assembled on deck to 
witness the scene, and were all equally astonished and interested. 
Some little time before the first body of light reached the ship, 
I was enabled, with my night glasses, to resolve in a measure 
what appeared to the unassisted eye a huge mass of nebulous 
matter. I distinctly saw spaces between what again appeared to 
be waves of light of great lustre. These came rolling on with 
ever-increasing rapidity till they reached the ship ; and in a short 
time the ship was completely surrounded with one great body of 
undulating light, which soon extended to the horizon on all sides. 
On looking into the water, it was seen to be studded with patches 
of faint, luminous, inanimate matter, measuring about two feet 
in diameter. Although these emitted a certain amount of light, 
it was most insignificant when compared with the great waves of 
light that were floating on the surface of the water, and which 
were at this time converging upon the ship. ,The waves stood 
many degrees above the water, like a highly luminous mist, and 
obscured by their intensity the distant horizon ; and, as wave 
succeeded wave in rapid succession, one of the most grand and 
brilliant, yet solemn, spectacles that one could ever think of w T as 
here witnessed. In speaking of waves of light, I do not wish to 
convey the idea that they were mere ripplings, which are some- 
times caused by fish passing through a phosphorescent sea ; but 
waves of great length and breadth, or, in other words, great bodies 
of light. If the sea could be converted into a huge mirror, and 
thousands of powerful electric lights were made to throw their 
rays across it, it would convey no adequate idea of this strange 
yet grand phenomenon. 

" As the waves of light converged upon the ship from all sides, 
they appeared higher than her hull, and looked as if they were 



SEAS OF FLAME. 87 

about to envelop her ; and, as they impinged upon her, her sides 
seemed to collapse and expand. 

" Whilst this was going on, the ship was perfectly at rest, and 
the water was like a millpond. 

" After about half an hour had elapsed, the brilliancy of the 
light somewhat abated, and there was a great paucity of the faint, 
lustrous patches which I have before referred to ; but still the body 
of light was great, and, if emanating from these patches, was 
out of all proportion to their number. 

"This light I do not think could have been produced without 
the agency of electro-magnetic currents exercising their exciting 
influence upon some organic animal or vegetable substance. And 
one thing I wish to point out is, that, whilst the ship was stopped 
and the light yet some distance away, nothing was discernible in 
the water ; but, so soon as the light reached the ship, a number of 
luminous patches presented themselves : and, as these were equally 
as motionless as the ship at the time, it is only natural to assume 
that they existed, and were actually in our vicinity, before the 
light reached us, only they were not made visible till they became 
the transmitting media for the electro-magnetic currents. This 
hypothesis is borne out by the fact that each wave of light in its 
passage was distinctly seen to pass over them in succession ; and, 
as the light gradually became less brilliant, they also became less 
distinct, and had actually disappeared so soon as the waves of 
light ceased to exist." 

A little Ascidian called the Salpa is quite famous for its 
luminous properties. Like the previously mentioned form, it 
is a free swimmer, two kinds of individuals being recognized. 
One is known as solitary ; while the others are termed chain 
zooids, being many joined together, forming long chains, the 
links represented by the individual animals. 



88 LIVING LIGHTS. 

The Salpa spinosa, a familiar form upon our coasts, is quite 
cylindrical, often a little flattened above and below, and 
seemingly moulded in glass, so beautiful is its structure upon 
examination. As small and common as they are, they have 
created much discussion. Some observers deem their devel- 
opment one of the most remarkable instances of the alterna- 
tion of generations. Chamisso, the German poet-naturalist, 
explains the relationship as follows : " A Salpa mother is not 
like its daughter or its own mother, but resembles its sister, 
its granddaughter, and its grandmother." Dr. W. K. Brooks 
has given much attention to these forms in this country; 
and, from his point of view, the alternation of generations 
would be impossible. 

The Salpce give little signs of animation. " The only con- 
spicuous vital action," says Professor Owen, " is the rhyth- 
mical contraction and expansion of the mantle, in which the 
elasticity of the outer tunic antagonizes the contraction of 
the inner one. During expansion, the sea-water enters by the 
posterior aperture, and is expelled, in contraction, by the an- 
terior one ; its exit by the opposite end being prevented by a 
valve. The re-action of the jet, which is commonly forced 
out of a contracted tube, occasions a retrograde movement 
of the animal." As they move along, on dark nights, they 
present the appearance of fiery serpents or luminous ribbons 
(Plate XVI., Fig. 1), winding their way over the sea, a 
most striking spectacle. 

The light of Salpce observed by Giglioli was confined to 
the so-called nucleus, but was not constant; indeed, some 
were luminous and some were not. This was particularly 
evident in the month of September, when the exploring-ship 
"Magenta" passed through a bed of these little creatures, 



PLATE XVI. 




8ali>a spinosa. 



CHAIN OF SALPS 

Appendicularia 



SEAS OF FLAME. 89 

fifteen miles in extent. Some observed in the South Atlantic 
had the nucleus tinged with a brilliant red light. Very simi- 
lar to Salpa is Doliolum, which seems to burn with a vivid 
green light scattered over the entire body, and is one of the 
emeralds of the sea. In the very lowest order ( Copelatce) of 
the Tunicates, we find an interesting, indeed remarkable, light- 
giver, the Appendicularia (Plate XVI., Fig. 3). It resembles 
a tadpole with quite a long tail, retaining in its adult life 
features that only characterize the larvae of others of the 
group. Professor Agassiz has noticed two specimens on 
the New-England coast, and they are very common in both 
tropical and temperate waters of various regions. 

Some of the species are veritable house-builders, forming 
a gelatinous protection covering called a test. This habita- 
tion, if so we may term it, is formed or secreted with con- 
siderable rapidity, and is quite an elaborate affair ; having 
two front chambers and a middle one large enough for the 
tail to move with ease. Curious to relate, this transparent 
residence is, according to Filhol, only used a few hours, 
being then deserted and another formed; so that its life 
would seem to be spent in making houses and deserting 
them. 

The light of certain Appendicularice is almost as remarka- 
ble as that of the Pt/rosomce, in the variety of its coloring ; 
one, according to Giglioli, appearing first red, then blue, and 
finally green. The seat of the luminosity, which appears in 
intense flashes, was the central axis of the taiL, or caudal 
appendage. Between Montevideo and Batavia in the South 
Atlantic, this naturalist observed many of these little crea- 
tures, nearly all of which showed these tri-colored favors; 
and in the Indian Ocean some were seen emitting white, 



90 LIVING LIGHTS. 



blue, and green lights, marking them as among the most 
striking of all the light-givers. 

Charles William Peach, an English naturalist, has observed 
the tadpole form of Cynthia to emit light. Cynthia pyrifor- 
mis resembles a peach in form, size, and even bloom ; its tests 
having rich reddish tints. It is a familiar form in deep water 
from Cape Cod to Greenland and across to Scandinavia. It 
is one of the most common objects on our New-England 
beaches after storms. The heavy seas throw it up from its 
hiding-places. To the student or interested visitor it is a 
beautiful object. 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS. 91 



CHAPTER XII. 

FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS. 

IF it were possible for human beings to penetrate to the 
abyssal depths of the ocean, finny torch-bearers would be 
found from the very surface to nearly four miles beneath it ; 
existing in many cases under conditions almost incomprehen- 
sible when the enormous attendant pressure is considered. 
While it is extremely difficult to tell the exact depth from 
which a fish is taken by the dredge, sufficient data has been 
secured for naturalists to assume, though there is great differ- 
ence of opinion, that, to a greater or less degree, the forms 
of certain depths have certain peculiarities. These are often 
seen in the organs of vision, which have been modified in 
many ways by the lack of light. Thus the eyes of forms 
that are found living five or six hundred feet below the sur- 
face are often extremely large, as in Beryx (Plate XVIII., 
Fig. 1), as if to absorb the faintest beams of sunlight that 
may penetrate this distance. As we descend to twelve hun- 
dred feet, the eyes seem to grow larger; and beyond this, 
large and small eyed fishes are found indiscriminately. The 
former evidently use these organs ; while those with small 
eyes are provided with remarkable organs of touch, long 
feelers which can be thrown forward, or moved to a more 
or less extent, and used as the blind man uses his cane. An 



92 LIVING LIGHTS. 

interesting, indeed remarkable, example of this is seen in 
the fish BatJiypterus longipes, Giinther found at a depth vary- 
ing from one-half to three-quarters of a mile from the surface 
in the Atlantic. The eyes are extremely small, apparently 
useless; but the blind man's cane is here, as the pectoral 
fins are modified to serve as feelers, two rays almost as long 
as the entire fish extending from the back of the head. As 
the fish swims freely, the fins are trailed behind ; but, does it 
approach a prospective victim, the articulation of these won- 
derful feelers enables them to be thrown forward as a cane 
in advance of the fish. They are divided at the tip, and 
form a delicate sense-organ with which to explore the depths 
of this abyssal world. Upon the ventral fins, there are two 
similar rays, that serve a like purpose. 

Many fishes having remarkable feelers have quite recently 
been discovered, and among them Eustomias obscurus (Plate 
XIX.), a fish found at a depth of twenty-seven hundred 
meters, which has a long tentacle dependent from the lower 
jaw. 

When we penetrate beyond a certain depth, we find blind 
fishes as well as those possessing eyes ; and all the forms of 
the greater depths are adapted to their life under the con- 
sequent enormous pressure in a remarkable manner. The 
bones are friable and cavernous, and loosely connected. 
Many are covered with a thick mucus, while many more 
have curious plates, that are so many torches or lanterns to 
emit light for their possessors. As some of the fishes have 
eyes and no phosphorescent organs, while others are lumin- 
ous and perhaps blind, and knowing that all are carnivorous, 
we may well imagine that a fierce struggle for existence is 
carried on in this distant world of the sea. The lamps of 



FINNY LIGHT-BEAREES. 93 

some forms must attract their enemies ; while, on the other 
hand, they may constitute a lure, dazzling weaker forms, 
which fall victims to their curiosity. 

Among all the light-givers, these deep-sea lantern-bearers 
are the most interesting, and typical of the mysterious realm 
from which they are taken by the ingenious inventions of 
mankind. Some are luminous over their entire surface, as 
the Harpodon, or Bombay duck (Plate XVIII., Fig. 2). 
Others have a series of plates extending along the side, that 
resemble the open ports of a steamer. Some possess gleam- 
ing head-lights, the locomotives of the sea ; while others have 
their lights confined in groups. 

While the expeditions of the " Challenger," " Talisman," 
" Albatross," and " Travailleur " have resulted in the dis- 
covery of what seems a remarkable presentation of these 
light-givers, we can well imagine, understanding the diffi- 
culties of deep-sea dredging, that the largest and perhaps 
most interesting of these forms are yet undiscovered, and 
that the greatest mysteries may never be revealed. The 
difficulties that attend, and the chances against, the capture 
of deep-sea fishes, can be perhaps realized by my young 
readers, if they imagine a large balloon sailing along over 
the country at an elevation of from four to five miles, drag- 
ging a dredge ten or twelve feet wide. Few active boys 
or girls would be caught by such a device ; only the slug- 
gards that were fast asleep would be trapped. The com- 
paratively small dredge at the end of a six-mile rope, dragging 
along and creating an unusual commotion in the silent sub- 
marine world, secures only a few forms, the sluggards and 
mud-lovers, as a rule : so that fishes taken at extreme depths 
are prizes indeed. The " Talisman " took the fish Bythites 



94 LIVING LIGHTS. 

crassus from a depth of about two miles. The naturalists of 
the " Challenger " expedition captured the Bathyophis ferox 
about three miles from the surface, or, to be exact, five thou- 
sand and nineteen meters. The American exploring-vessel, 
the " Albatross," under the direction of Professor Spencer 
F. Baird, has exceeded any of these hauls ; in 1883 making 
a capture of five species in twenty-nine hundred and forty- 
nine fathoms. 

While luminous fishes have been known for many years, 
the " Challenger " expedition brought many new forms to 
light, and the work accomplished by her officers may be said 
to have given a new impetus to the study of deep-sea forms. 
Off the north-west coast of Australia, the " Challenger's " 
trawl captured the curious black 'fish Uchiostoma microdon. 
The luminous spots were few in number, but so arranged as 
to be of the greatest service: thus two are found just below 
the eyes ; above the maxillary there is a narrow, elongated 
one, with a smaller spot nearer the eye. E. micripnus, found 
in twenty-one hundred and fifty fathoms, has long, fringed 
barbels, and small, round luminous spots above the maxillary, 
resembling a rudimentary eye. 

Referring to this interesting torch-bearer, Dr. Giinther 
says, "The fishes of the family Stomiatidce, to which this 
genus belongs, are armed with formidable teeth, a certain 
indication of their predaceous habits and voracity. Their 
long body is covered with a smooth, scaleless skin, of an 
intensely black color. The vertical fins are close together, 
near the end of the tail, as in the pike, forming a powerful 
propeller, by a single stroke of which the fishes are enabled 
to dart with great rapidity to a considerable distance. A 
long filament is suspended below the chin ; and, as it is fre- 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS. 95 

quently fringed at its extremity, it evidently serves as a lure 
for other fishes or animalculce. Series of luminous, globular 
bodies run along the lower half of the body and tail ; and 
some others of larger size occupy the side of the head, gener- 
ally below the eye or behind the maxillary bone. This fish i 
is sixteen inches in length. The end of the barbel, which 
was thickened, was flesh-color with a rose tint; there was 
also a rose tint on the dorsal and anal fins. The rest of the 
animal was of a dark color. The phosphorescent spots along 
the belly and radial and lateral line were red, as was also 
that below the eye." 

It is not often that the light of these fishes is seen ; 
but the late Professor Willemoes Suhm, while watching the 
great trawl come over the side upon a calm night, noticed 
a gleaming spot, and taking it out found it to be the little 
fish Sternoptyx. In referring to it he says, " It hung in the 
net like a golden star, as it came out of the darkness." 

As the Sternoptyx is a delicate little creature, and quite 
defenceless, its illumination must be a fatal gift. This is 
equally true of the Argyropelecus hemigymnus (Plate X., Fig. 
3), a curiously formed fish, deep in the body, tapering 
off suddenly to the tail, as if a piece had been bitten out by 
some large fish. Referring to the figure, it will be seen that 
the luminous organs are grouped ; four being at the side of 
the tail, six midway between it and the line of the dorsal fin, 
and many others around the edge of the ventral surface, 
one hundred and six in all : so that if all these plates are 
luminous, the Argyropelecus must present a dazzling sight 
as it darts along in the blue waters of the Mediterranean, 
where it has been most commonly observed. 

Concerning the functions of these organs, there is still 



96 LIVING LIGHTS. 

much controversy. The opinions of Ussow, Ley dig, and 
others will be found in their papers referred to in the bibli- 
ography ; and, as the question is thoroughly a technical one, 
its further discussion is omitted. As early as 1865 Pro- 
fessor Leuckart suggested that the curious plates (Plate X., 
Fig. 4) were organs of sight, or accessory eyes. In 1879 
Dr. M. Ussow, of the University of St. Petersburg, gave the 
world an account of his researches upon the plates of the 
genera Astronesthes, Stomias (Plate XX.), Chauliodus (Plate 
XXI., Fig. 4), Scopelus (Plate X., Fig. 1), Maurolicus, Gonos- 
toma, and Argyopelecus, small fishes, most of which were 
found in the Mediterranean. This was followed by similar 
investigations by Dr. Leydig of Bonn, and Dr. Giinther. 

A well-known phosphorescent fish is seen in Scopelus, 
which bears upon its sides and various parts of the body 
numbers of spots (Plate X., Fig. 1), which, if all luminous, 
mark it as one of the most brilliant of the light-givers. The 
appearance of these organs in reflected light is shown in 
Plate X., Fig. 2. 

The snake-like Stomiasboa (Plate XX.), from a depth 
of twenty-seven hundred feet, is perhaps the most hideous of 
the light-givers ; its large mouth and ferocious teeth giving 
it a bull-dog aspect, which in a large fish would make a 
veritable dragon. But Stomias . is not over twelve or fifteen 
inches in length, though quite large enough to terrify the 
smaller fry. The specimen figured was taken in the Gulf 
of Gascony by the naturalists of the " Talisman," from its 
home, a mile and a quarter beneath the surface. The sides 
of the body are provided with a double row of luminous 
disks, which, according to M. Filhol, " cause the fish to be 
surrounded by a brilliant luminous aureola." 



PLATE XVIII. 




CHIASMODUS. 



SUN-FISH. 



PLAGIODUS. HARPODON. 

BEKYX. 



FINNY LIGHT-BE AEERS. 97 

In Plate XVIII., Fig. 4, is shown a large light-giver, the 
Plagiodus, a fish six feet in length. According to Dr. Giin- 
ther, it emits light from various parts of its surface ; the tips 
of the fins gleaming with a soft phosphorescence similar to 
that of the large-eyed Beryx (Fig. 1) of same plate. The 
latter attains a length of about twenty inches. 

Quite as ferocious in appearance as the Stomias is Chau- 
liodus (Plate XXL, Fig. 4), with long, lance-like teeth, gleam- 
ing fins, and a row of small phosphorescent plates that 
perhaps sparkle like so many gems as their bearer sails along 
in the greater depths. 

Exaggerations are often termed "fish-stories," for the 
reason perhaps that improbable tales are related concerning 
the denizens of the sea by fun-loving mariners ; but the most 
remarkable stories that the vivid imagination of those who 
go down to the sea in ships has ever devised are not as 
remarkable as the simple truths regarding the every-day his- 
tory of fish-life. What can be more astonishing than the fact 
that these delicate forms are enabled to live in water where 
the pressure is so great that hard wood is crushed and glass 
reduced to powder ? If a decade or so ago a statement had 
appeared in the daily press, to the* effect that a fish had been 
discovered which could swallow another five times its own 
bulk, it would in all probability have been classed as a " fish- 
story," too big an one, indeed, to have even the merit of 
comical exaggeration : yet such a fish does exist in the black 
swallower, or Chiasmodus (Plate XVIII., Fig. 5) ; the fish, 
besides being luminous, possessing this extraordinary faculty. 
The jaws, by a special arrangement, are capable of great 
extension ; so that the fish actually draws itself over its prey, 
that may be many times its own bulk. The skin of the 



98 LIVING LIGHTS. 



swallower seems to possess a rubber-like character, stretching 
to enormous dimensions, and often, when filled with gas, 
carrying the glutinous light-bearer into the upper regions 
of the ocean. 

Malacosteus niger, Ayres (Plate XXII.), is a rare fish, 
from a depth of two-thirds of a mile ; though several speci- 
mens have recently been taken by the United-States Fish- 
Commission, and others by the " Talisman " off Morocco, in 
forty-eight hundred feet of water. It is of small size, from 
thirteen to fourteen centimeters in length, of a velvet-black 
hue, and possesses two large luminous organs upon the head ; 
one of which, according to M. Filhol, who observed the light 
in the living fish, emits a golden, and the other a greenish 
phosphorescence. We have here,' then, a fish that vies with 
the Appendicularia, and other forms which we have seen 
emitting light of more than one color. It is possible that 
the rays of light from these spots project ahead of the fish, 
in the manner shown in the accompanying figure, in which 
the appearance of the light is of course conjectural ; but as 
to the meaning of the different colors, are they a system of 
signals cunningly devised by Nature to enable Malacosteus 
to distinguish its kind in the profound depths of the ocean, 
or are they merely lures of more than ordinary brilliancy ? 

In some fishes the luminous organs are extremely small, 
almost invisible to the naked eye, and often spread over a 
large extent of surface. Such an instance is seen in Uusto- 
mias obscurus (Plate XIX.) and Neostoma. In the former, 
an attenuated carnivorous fish of a jet-black color, we see 
another example of remarkable feelers, or sense-organs. 

While these forms are probably free swimmers, there are 
many others that are mud-dwellers, of most extraordinary 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS. 99 

make-up, literally living bags, or rather mouths. The Mela- 
nocetus Johnstoni (Giinther, Plate XXIII.) is one of these ; 
having an enormous pouch, with a fishing-rod upon its head 
similar to that of our common Lophius. Melanocetus probably 
buries itself in the ooze, as shown in the engraving, allowing 
the tip of its tentacle, or rod, to protrude ; and, when the 
living bait is touched, it opens its cavernous mouth and seizes 
the victim. 

Still more remarkable is the Eurypharynx pelecanoides^ 
which has a mouth of enormous dimensions (Plate XXIV.), 
from which depends a pelican-like pouch. This form is 
interesting, from many peculiarities ; among which may be 
mentioned the fact, that the bronchial arches are here simple 
bars, five in number, having no connection with the cranium. 
The mouth can open to a surprising extent, the lower jaw 
being composed of two pieces attached to the cranium by 
a movable joint, so that it swings literally in various direc- 
tions. The fish probably feeds by swimming along the 
bottom blindly, ingulfing various animals, holding them by 
its interlocked teeth. This phenomenal fish was taken in 
1882 by Vaillant, the French scientist, twenty-five hundred 
metres from the surface ; while another genus of these deep- 
sea, eel-like creatures was described in 1883 by Gill and 
Ryder, who called it Grastrostomus bairdii. In the latter, the 
jaw is six or seven times as long as the cranium. 

One of the most striking phosphorescent fishes is a small 
shark, Squalus fulgens, also described and figured by Kner as 
Leius ferox, which, in general appearance, somewhat resem- 
bles the black or brown nurse (or Scymnus) of our Southern 
coast. This interesting light-giver was discovered by Dr. 
Bennett, and the following is his version of the find : " Being 



100 LIVING LIGHTS. 

dark when I first saw it shining in the net, it resembled a 
Pyrosoma, emitting, as it did, a bright phosphorescent light. 
This was in latitude 2 15' south, longitude 163 west. The 
length of my specimen was five inches and a half. It is not 
a little singular that my brother, the late D. F. Bennett, 
obtained a specimen of this fish in the same latitude, and 
another in latitude 55 north, longitude 110 west. The 
first was taken in the daytime, and was ten inches in length, 
much larger in size than my specimen. The second was 
taken at night, and its entire length was a foot and a half : 
both were alive when captured,- and fought fiercely with 
their jaws, tearing the net in several places. On placing my 
fish in sea-water, arid observing , it in the dark cabin, it 
swam about for some time, emitting a bright phosphoric 
light ; and when this had become so faint as to be almost 
imperceptible, it was readily rekindled on the animal being 
disturbed or excited. My specimen was of a perfectly black 
color, and died about four hours after it had been taken. 
The luminosity was retained for some hours after life was 
extinct. 

" The form of the shark, as indeed its whole structure, is 
peculiar. It no doubt belongs to the subgenus Scymnus. My 
specimen having been accidentally lost, I am unable to give a 
minute description of it. My brother was more fortunate. 
I will, therefore, give his account of so novel and interesting 
a fish. The body is cylindrical, rather slender, and tapers 
finely towards the tail. Its prevailing color is dusky brown ; 
a broad black band, or collar, passes around the throat ; and 
the fins are partially margined with white (my specimen, 
being small and young, varied in this respect, being black, 
with the fins of a less intensity of color) ; the skin rough, 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS. 101 

as is usual in the shark tribe. The number of gill-apertures 
is five on each side. The fins are short, and for the most 
part disposed in a round form ; the dorsals are two in num- 
ber, small, and placed far back ; the tail-fin is unequally 
divided, the upper being the longest and largest lobe. The 
head is flat ; the snout prominent, rather pointed, and has 
two nostrils at its extremity. There is, also, on each side of 
the upper and back part of the head, a large oval orifice, 
like a spiracle or nostril, provided with a valve, and com- 
municating with a corresponding aperture in the roof of the 
mouth. The mouth is capacious ; and the dark skin around 
it is incised on each side to some extent beyond the commis- 
sure of the lips, exposing a white elastic membrane beneath. 
The upper jaw is armed with many rows of small, sharp teeth ; 
while the lower has only a single row of perpendicular teeth, 
or, rather, an elevated plate of bone, sharply toothed on its 
summit, and bearing a close resemblance to a segment of the 
surgical circular-saw called a trephine. The eyes are much 
more prominent and dilated than is usual in sharks ; the iris 
is black, the pupil transparent and of a greenish color. 

" When the larger specimen, taken at night, was removed 
into a dark apartment, it afforded a very extraordinary 
spectacle. The entire inferior surface of the body and head 
emitted a vivid and greenish phosphorescent gleam, impart- 
ing to the creature, by its own light, a truly ghastly and 
terrific appearance. The luminous effect was constant, and 
not perceptibly increased by agitation or friction. I thought 
at one time it shone brighter when the fish struggled, but I 
was not satisfied that such was the fact. When the shark 
expired (which was not until it had been out of the water 
more than three hours), the luminous appearance faded 



102 LIVING LIGHTS. 

entirely from the abdomen, and more gradually from other 
parts ; lingering the longest around the jaws and on the fins. 

" The only part of the under surface of the animal which 
was free from luminosity was the black collar around the 
throat ; and while the inferior surface of the pectoral, anal, 
and caudal fins shone with splendor, their superior surface 
(including the upper lobe of the tail-fin) was in darkness ; as 
also were the dorsal fins, back, and summit of the head. I 
am inclined to believe that the luminous power of this shark 
resides in a peculiar secretion from the skin. It was my 
first impression that the fish had accidentally contracted 
some phosphorescent matter from the sea, or from the net in 
which it was captured ; but the most rigid investigation did 
not confirm this suspicion, while the uniformity with which 
the luminous gleam occupied certain portions of the body 
and fins, its permanence during life, and decline and cessa- 
tion upon the approach and occurrence of death, did not leave 
a doubt in my mind that it was a vital principle, essential to 
the economy of the animal. The small size of the fins would 
appear to denote that this fish is not active in swimming ; 
and, since it is highly predaceous, and evidently of nocturnal 
habits, we may, perhaps, indulge in the hypothesis that the 
phosphorescent power it possesses is of use to attract its 
prey, upon the same principle as the Polynesian Islanders 
and others employ torches in night-fishing." 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS (SURFACE FORMS). 103 



CHAPTER XIII. 

FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS (SURFACE FORMS). 

ON calm nights the splash of the oars and the fall of 
spray from the bow of the boat startle many fishes 
resting at or near the surface, which dart away like comets, 
leaving a blaze of light behind, and giving the impression 
that they are light-givers or phosphorescent. This does not 
always follow ; as, while many possessors of luminous spots 
undoubtedly approach the surface at night, as Scopelus (Plate 
X., Fig. 1), many owe their brilliant appearance to the 
luminosity of the medium in which they swim ; in other 
words, the vigorous motion of their fins produces the same 
effect and result that is attained by darting the hand througji 
water bearing phosphorescent animals. If such a display is 
produced by one fish, we may well imagine that a school 
moving rapidly would create a light of considerable intensity. 

Drifting over a school of menhaden, and peering down 
among them, each fish seems outlined in a golden halo ; while 
coruscations of light appear to flash from the fishes as- they 
move along, the presence of the school being indicated upon 
the water by a pale luminous spot. 

In more active fishes, as the mackerel, the display is.- still 
more brilliant, often presenting a blaze of light upon the 
surface, visible from the mast-head of a vessel for a long dis- 



104 LIVING LIGHTS. 

tance, and often resulting in the capture of an entire school ; 
as the mackerel-inen, aware of the light produced by the fish, 
keep a lookout in the foretop ; and upon its discovery, the 
great net is passed around it, the fishes becoming victims to 
the light they inadvertently produce. When the mackerel- 
are tossed into the boat, they roll over in a golden mass in 
their struggles, hurling a cloud of spray into the air over 
boat, net, and men. In handling these fishes, phosphores- 
cent matter will sometimes come off upon the hands, and the 
gleaming fluid is seen running from the bodies ; so, possibly, 
in some instances, the fishes possess a luminous secretion, as 
in the case of the shark of Dr. Bennett. 

The sunfish (Plate XVIII., Fig. 3), an extremely common 
form on our eastern shores, appears to have a wide geograph- 
ical range. In American waters, it is known as the sunfish, 
presumably from its oval shape. Two fins only are present, 
these being opposite one another, the tail represented by a 
mere ridge. The sunfish attains a height, from the tip of one 
fin to that of the other, of seven feet, and sometimes more, 
weighing several hundred pounds. 44 

Some years ago, while at the little fishing-village of May- 
port, at the mouth of the St. John's River, Florida, one of 
these huge fishes ran aground on the bar, actually drawing 
too much water to cross. Its struggles attracted so much 
attention, that a boat was sent out, and the monster captured. 
I sent a photograph of the fish north, and the latter was 
afterwards purchased by the New- York Aquarium. It was 
the largest specimen of this fish I ever saw on exhibition. 

So sluggish are they, that, at Ogunquit, Me., the fishermen 
frequently ran alongside of them as they rolled about at the 
surface, and, thrusting a boat-hook into the small mouth, 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS (SURFACE FORMS). 105 

hauled them aboard ; or, if too heavy, lashed them to the 
side, in which position they were towed ashore, where the 
liver, the only valuable portion, was secured ; though the mus- 
cular tissue was sometimes appropriated by the boys of the 
neighborhood, who found it a good substitute fo] 
rubber as an interior for base-balls. />. 

>. 

In a large specimen which I examined, the skin 
ered with a remarkable mucilaginous envelope, in which 
numerous parasites ; while in the mouth was a large goose- 
barnacle, which was situated just far enough in to escape 
being crushed by the formidable teeth. If asked to select a 
fish showing evidences of possible phosphorescence, I should 
name the sunfish, as the curious envelope of mucus seems 
particularly adapted as the seat of this remarkable phenome- 
non ; but I have not only never observed its luminosity, 
but have been unable to obtain a direct statement from any 
one in this country as to its light-emitting quality. I give 
it a place among the luminous fishes, on the authority of 
T. Spencer Cobbold, M.D., F.L.S., who says, in referring to 
it, " It is nearly circular in form ; and the silvery whiteness 
of the sides, together with their brilliant phosphorescence 
during the night, has obtained for it, very generally, the 
appellation of sun or moon fish. 

Karl Semper, in his " Animal Life," says : " The fishermen 
of Nice assert that the moonfish (Orthagoriscus mold) is 
luminous ; " but as no scientist, that I am aware of, makes 
a definite statement of personally observing its light, we 
will leave the moon or sun fish among the forms which are 
possibly phosphorescent, yet not proven so. 

Statements are often made regarding the phosphorescence 



106 LIVING LIGHTS. 

-_ r __ 5 ____ _ _ --T-- - -. - r-r--^.. ..._--- _ - -_ -_. ., 

of whales and other cetaceans ; but the wondrous displays 
which they undoubtedly produce as they rise, perhaps to 
escape the ferocious attacks of the killer, are due only to the 
myriads of small light-givers, medusce, salpce, crustaceans, 
and others, which when disturbed become luminous. 

Among the well-known phosphorescent fishes, the Scopelus, 
found in the greater depths, rises at times, at night, to the 
surface. Scopelus humboldtii (Plate X., Fig. 1), has a double 
row of luminous spots on each side of the abdomen. One 
of the spots, enlarged in reflected light, is shown in the same 
plate. 

The phosphorescence of Myctophum crenulare, an ally of 
Scopelus, has been observed; and, at least on the Pacific 
coast, this little fish probably rises to the surface, a speci- 
men an inch and a half in length having been taken from 
the stomach of an albicore {Orcynus alalonga) in the Santa 
Barbara Channel. In this specimen a phosphorescent spot 
was seen on each mandible near the symphysis, thirty-three 
along the abdomen, six in front of the ventral fins, six more 
between the latter and the origin of the anal, and twenty- 
one between the front of the anal fin and the base of the 
tail ; quite enough, if all are luminous, to outline the little 
creature in lines of vivid brightness. 

The long, arrow-like gars are peculiarly surface forms, it 
being evidently only with extreme difficulty that they leave 
the surface. Allied to them is Hemiramphus, in which the 
lower jaw only is elongated ; and, according to Gunther, this 
interesting fish has a gleaming phosphorescent pustule at the 
tip of its tail, a circumstance that makes it one, riot only of 
the most unique of the surface forms, but of all the finny 
light-bearers. Many other forms known to possess luminous 



FINNY LIGHT-BEARERS (SURFACE FORMS.) 107 

spots undoubtedly visit the surface at night, just as many 
large predatory fishes then come well in shore. Indeed, the 
night is the feeding-time of the southern fishes; at least, 
the season when they are upon their travels. 

At Tortugas, on the Florida reef, the shoal to the west 
of the key was deserted during the day, except by schools of 
mullet, small barracuda, and a few others ; but at night the 
sandy shoal seemed fairly alive with large fishes. Man- 
eaters, ten or fourteen feet long, ranged up and down, readily 
taking the hook ; and nearly all the large fishes, which by 
day lived upon the outer reef or in the channel, could be 
taken here ; while loud splashes and vivid displays of phos- 
phorescence told that the large rays, indeed the great manta 
itself, ventured in shore in nocturnal rambles. 



108 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

LUMINOUS BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS. 

IN floating over the great coral reef of the Florida penin- 
sula one day, the boat startled a number of large cranes 
which were standing upon a small key ; and, as they laboriously 
flew away, my companion, a sportsman of experience, related 
to me the following incident : " Some years ago," he said, " I 
was much more confined than I am at present, and rarely 
had an opportunity of enjoying hunting during the day-time ; 
so I began a series of moonlight excursions about the reef, 
generally securing a green turtle, if nothing else, and occa- 
sionally a large bird. 

" One evening I visited one of the large keys ; and before 
I was ready to return the moon had gone down, leaving me 
in the dark. It was a perfectly calm night, not a ripple 
appearing upon the water, so that every sound was heard 
with striking distinctness ; and the break of the sea upon the 
outer reef came to me in a sullen roar, occasionally varied by 
the crash of some huge fish as it left the water. I was making 
my way to my boat, when suddenly I perceived on the sands 
several dim lights. Thinking it the reflection of the stars 
upon the water, perhaps, I pushed on ; and when I was 
almost upon them, there came a flapping of wings, while 
above I saw indistinctly the forms of several large cranes, 



PLATE XXVI. 




LUMINOSITY OF HEUON'S BKEA8T. 



LUMINOUS BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS. 109 

that made their escape before I thought of shooting. The 
light disappeared with them ; and my opinion is, that what 
I saw was phosphorescent light upon the breast of the 
birds." 

I have been told by several sportsmen that they have 
heard of such an occurrence ; and I have always been im- 
pressed with the belief that the greasy, oily, powder-down 
patches might become luminous under certain conditions, 
but never until the present year have been able to find 
reliable personal testimony. The following statement, pre- 
pared for me by Mr. Isaac W. Worrall of Philadelphia, shows 
that the phosphorescence of birds is a fact. To obtain a 
full account of Mr. Worrall's observations, I made out a list 
of questions, which he has kindly answered; and which, 
from the great interest connected with the occurrence, are 
given in full : 

" Upon what birds did you observe the luminosity ? " 
" The night heron (Nyctiardea .grisea) and blue crane 
(Ardea ccerulea)" 

" What was the situation of the light or lights ? " 
" One on the breast, and one on each side of the hips, 
between the hips and the tail." 

" Upon how many birds did you observe the light ? " 
" Upon four different birds, including the one I shot." 
" How far could you see the lights in the living bird ? " 
"I saw the light plainly at a distance of about fifty 
yards." 

"Did you notice the reflection of the light upon the 
water?" 
"No." 
" Was the light brilliant enough to make a reflection ? " 



110 LIVING LIGHTS. 

"Before I fired, the light appeared equivalent to two 
candles." 

" Where was the bird you shot when first observed ? " 

" Standing in about six inches of water." 

" Give a practical example of its brilliancy." 

" When I aimed, I considered it equal to the light of a 
hand-lamp or lantern, and could see my gun-sight quite 
plainly against it." 

" Could you have read by the light as it appeared when 
you took the bird from the water ? " 

" I have read small print with a dimmer light than that 
upon the bird immediately after it was shot." 

" Do you think the bird can conceal or display its light 
at will?" 

" I know the bird has full control of the light. I saw it 
open and shut it four times when I was crawling towards 
it. I stopped when it put out the light, and advanced when 
it was displayed again." (The bird may have turned. 
AUTHOR.) 

" What was the state of the weather when you shot the 
bird?" 

" A clear, dark night in spring." (Kansas.) 

" Did you notice the sex of the bird ? " 

"No." 

" How long did the light last after you shot the bird ? " 

" The light faded as the bird died, disappearing at death." 

"Did you notice any odor while the light was appar- 
ent?" 

"No." 

" Did the luminous matter come off upon your hands ? " 

" I did not touch it." 



LUMINOUS BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS. Ill 

" Was the light a steady glow ? " 

" It lasted about as long as I could count twenty at 
moderate speed." 

" What was the color of the light ? " 

"It reminded me of phosphorescent wood, and was 
whitish." 

When my informant first observed the light, he was a 
hundred and fifty feet away, and while slowly creeping 
toward it saw it disappear four times, the intervals between 
the disappearance and re-appearance being long enough for 
him to count twenty at a moderate rate ; from which he 
assumed that the bird has the light more or less under con- 
trol, and governs it by raising or depressing the feathers that 
cover the powder-down patches. When he fired at the bird, 
the light on the breast was so intense that he distinctly 
saw the sight of his gun against it, and he describes its 
brilliancy as comparable to that of a lantern or hand-lamp. 
He did not notice a reflection upon the water, as he was 
some distance away, and in a recumbent position, which 
rendered it impossible. The bird fell where it was stand- 
ing, in six inches of water ; and taking it by the wings, he 
threw it upon the shore, noticing and watching the three 
phosphorescent spots, one in front, and one on each side of 
the hips, between the hips and the tail. The bird died slowly, 
the light gradually dying out, and disappearing entirely with 
death ; a fact which I consider to be of the greatest interest, 
showing that the phosphorescence is not an accidental occur- 
rence, depending upon a favorable condition of the greasy 
powder-down patches, or associated entirely with their 
decomposition, but is essentially due to some physiological 



112 LIVING LIGHTS. 

action, and dependent upon the life of the bird ; and the 
areas of the powder-down patches may be considered true 
photogenic structures. The bird shot and examined by Mr. 
Worrall was known to him as the blue crane, and I assume 
from his description that it is the Ardea ccerulea. The other 
birds in which the light was observed were night herons. 
The light was in the so-called powder-down patches, which 
form a characteristic feature of the herons, and doubtless 
serve the same purpose, as a lure, in all. 

In a night heron, which I recently obtained from a valley 
among the foothills of the Sierra Madre range, there were 
three of those patches, and any heron will show them. One 
is directly in front upon the breast, while the other two are 
upon each side, midway between 'the base of the tail and 
the upper portion of the thigh-bone. They are not visible 
unless the feathers which cover these portions are brushed 
aside, when a mass of oily small plumes are seen, of a 
decided yellow hue, growing closely together, and about two 
inches in length. A yellow powder will be found profusely 
mixed among them, and is due to their barbed tips breaking 
off as fast as they develop. 

In my specimen, just after death the patches were quite 
oily, the substance coming off upon the hands, and smelling 
like ordinary bird oil. As soon as possible I took the bird 
into a perfectly dark room, to test it for phosphorescent 
light, but not the slightest gleam was perceptible. Just 
under the patches a large accumulation of fat is seen ; and 
from these portions probably exudes the substance, which, 
during the life of the bird, becomes luminous upon exposure 
to the air. In the specimen alluded to, after it had been 
dead for several days, the shafts of the feathers of the patch 



LUMINOUS BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS. 113 

seemed suffused with a dark oily substance. The feathers 
of the powder-down patches did not burn more readily than 
feathers from other parts, and the odor was the same. 

These patches are not strictly confined to cranes and 
herons. The kirumbo (or Leptosmus discolor) of Madagascar 
has a highly developed patch upon each side of the rump. 
These birds are related to the rollers, and are remarkable 
for their games in mid-air. The bitterns have two pairs of 
powder-down patches, the true herons three, and the curious 
boatbills (Cochlearius') four pairs, which, if all luminous, 
must render them the centre of attraction in the South- 
American swamps. 

The interesting oil-bird Podargus (or Guarcharo), that 
builds in the island of Trinidad and on various parts of the 
South-American coast, is a fruit-eating, nocturnal bird allied 
to the night-hawks. Curiously enough, it has no oil-glands, 
but two large powder-down patches, one on each side of 
the rump, composed, according to Dr. Sclater, "who made the 
discovery, of about forty feathers each. In Plate XXVIL, 
an ideal view is given of the possible appearance of the 
light of a large heron (Ardeomega goliath) of Africa. 

Whether these lights are of sufficient brightness to 
attract fishes is a question ; but, knowing that fishes are 
readily attracted by light of fire, we may well imagine that 
a crane or heron, if standing in the water in perfect stillness, 
with this soft light a short distance above it, might possibly 
avail itself of such a lure, though such a view is purely con- 
jectural. Mr. Charles Harris of Pasadena, Cal., informed me 
that several years ago he entered a heronry in Maine on a 
dark night, and distinctly observed numbers of lights too 
large for insects ; and, moreover, they disappeared with the 



114 LIVING LIGHTS. 

birds, so that he was impressed that there was some associa- 
tion between the light and the herons. 

That birds should be luminous is not, perhaps, strange. 
Other vertebrates appear to possess this gift in an equally 
remarkable manner. Some years ago an English gentleman, 
a lover of sport, was travelling in South America ; and among 
the tales that he heard from the natives was one that related 
to a monkey with fiery eyes, as they expressed it. It seemed 
that one season, when the tribe was far up the branch of 
a small river, a woman wandered off into the forest at night, 
and returned much alarmed, stating to the rest that an 
animal had appeared to her with eyes gleaming like coals. 
Several of the natives went to the spot designated, and were 
repaid with a glimpse of the strange creature. 

Such a tale was, of course, not received in good faith, 
being considered an example of the inventive fancy of these 
children of the forest ; yet, curiously enough, Reninger the 
naturalist, who travelled extensively in Paraguay, states 
that he has seen the eyes of the monkey, Nyctipithecus trivir- 
gatus, so brilliant in complete darkness that they illuminated 
objects at a distance of half a foot. In several instances I 
have referred to the phosphorescence of animals being used 
possibly as a warning ; at least, this is the explanation given 
the phenomena by some observers, and one of the most inter- 
esting cases that may possibly come under this head is the 
luminosity of frogs' eggs. This has been noticed in various 
parts of Europe ; masses of luminous matter being found 
about ponds and damp places, and termed mucilage atmos- 
phSrique, as it was believed by the simple peasants to be part 
of the tail of comets. 

On one occasion several peasants were travelling from one 



LUMINOUS BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS. 115 

village to another at night, when suddenly a large meteor 
shot across the heavens, seeming to fall before them. A few 
miles farther on, in crossing a small swamp, they found sev- 
eral patches of a jelly-like matter, which gleamed as if at a 
white heat, which so alarmed them, that they ran into the 
next village, crying that a comet had fallen, and was burn- 
ing up the earth. So much excitement was created that 
some scientific men visited the spot, finding the comet to be 
merely the mucus that had surrounded the eggs of a frog, 
and had become luminous. If the mucus was luminous when 
it surrounded the eggs, we may well imagine that birds 
would be deterred from eating them ; but the luminosity 
probably precedes decomposition in the mass after the young 
have escaped. 

Among the lizards, a gecko has been mentioned as a light- 
giver, as if these curious creatures were not remarkable 
enough in themselves without this attendant phenomenon. 
According to Dr. Carpenter, the eggs of the gray lizard have 
been seen to emit light ; and in Surinam he states that a frog 
or toad is luminous, especially in the interior of its mouth. 
Thus we see that this strange light is found in some form 
from the lowest to the highest animals, one of the com- 
monest of phenomena, yet presenting a problem defying 
solution. 



116 LIVING LIGHTS. 







CHAPTER XV. 



MAN'S RELATIONS TO THE PHENOMENON OF 
PHOSPHORESCENCE. 

DR. PHIPSON, the eminent scientist, states that he once 
observed certain phenomena in man, the light being a 
brilliant scintillation of a metallic pink color. 

It is well known that human beings under certain physical 
conditions become luminous. In some cases among the igno- 
rant great excitement has been occasioned, and the victim 
avoided as a pest, or something capable of dire disaster to 
the entire community. 

In a small German village, an English physician discovered 
a man who was luminous at night, and who had caused much 
alarm among the superstitious. 

Bartholin records an instance of an Italian lady whom he 
calls Mulier splendens, who suddenly found that, when 
rubbed with a linen cloth in the dark, her body gave out a 
brilliant phosphorescent light ; so that she appeared in a dark- 
ened room like a veritable fire-body, an awe-striking object 
to her superstitious servant, who fled from her speechless 
with fear and amazement, thinking that her mistress was 
being consumed. 

Dr. Kane records a very curious instance of luminosity, 
probably electric, which played about his person. He was on 



MAN'S RELATIONS TO PHOSPHORESCENCE. 117 

his way with Petersen to an Esquimau settlement, in order 
to procure food. Their thermometer indicated 42 C. (44 
Fahr). With their weary dogs and sledges, they had reached 
some untenanted huts at a place called Anoatok, after thirty 
miles march from the ship. " We took to the best hut," says 
Dr. Kane, " filled in its broken front with snow, housed our 
dogs, and crawled in among them. It was too cold to sleep. 
Next morning we broke down our door, and tried the dogs 
again. They could hardly stand. A gale now set in from the 
south-west, obscuring the moon, and blowing very hard. We 
were forced back into the hut ; but after corking up all the 
openings with snow, and making a fire with our Esquimau 
lamp, we got up the temperature to 30 below zero, Fahr., 
cooked coffee, and fed the dogs freely. This done, Petersen 
and myself, our clothing frozen stiff, fell asleep through pure 
exhaustion ; the wind outside blowing death to all that 
might be exposed to its influence. I do not know how long 
we slept, but my admirable clothing kept me up. I was 
cold, but far from dangerously so, and was in a fair way of 
sleeping out a refreshing night, when Petersen woke me with, 
4 Captain Kane, the lamp's out.' I heard him with a thrill of 
horror. . . . Our only hope was in relighting our lamp. 
Petersen, acting by my directions, made several attempts to 
obtain fire from a pocket-pistol ; but his only tinder was moss, 
and our heavily stone-roofed hut or cave would not bear the 
concussion of a rammed wad. By good luck I found a bit of 
tolerably dry paper, and becoming apprehensive that Petersen 
would waste our few percussion-caps with his ineffectual 
snapping, I determined to take the pistol myself. It was so 
intensely dark that I had to grope for it, and in so doing 
touched his hand. At that instant the pistol became distinctly 



118 LIVING LIGHTS. 

visible. A pale-bluish light slightly tremulous, but not broken, 
covered the metallic parts of it, the barrel, lock and trigger. 
The stock, too, was clearly discernible, as if by the reflected 
light ; and to the amazement of both of us, the thumb and two 
fingers with which Petersen was holding it, the creases, wrinkles, 
and circuit of the nails, clearly defined upon the skin. The 
phosphorescence was not unlike the ineffectual fire of the glow- 
worm. As I took the pistol, my hand became illuminated also, 
and so did the powder-rubbed paper when I raised it against the 
muzzle. The paper did not ignite at the first trial ; but the 
light from it continuing, I was able to charge the pistol without 
difficulty, rolled up my paper into a cone, filled it with moss 
sprinkled over with powder, and held it in my hand whilst I 
fired. This time I succeeded in producing flame, and we 
saw no more of the phosphorescence. . . . Our fur clothing 
and the state of the atmosphere may refer it plausibly 
enough to our electrical condition." 

Mr. James Moir of Saroch, Scotland^ relates an equally 
strange personal experience, possibly connected with the 
electrical condition of the atmosphere. " In February, 
1882," he says, "this part of Scotland was visited by a 
furious gale of wind, rain, sleet, and hail. The gale subsided 
considerably about five o'clock in the afternoon. At eight 
o'clock the sky was fairly clear, when a black cloud sprang 
up in the north, and the night became suddenly intensely 
dark. With the darkness came a tremendous shower of hail. 
All at once I was startled by a vivid flash of lightning close 
at hand, but without thunder. At the same instant I found 
myself enveloped in a sheet of pale, flickering, white light. 
It seemed to proceed from every part of my clothes, espe- 
cially on the side least exposed to the hail ; and more particu- 



MAN'S RELATIONS TO PHOSPHORESCENCE. 119 

larly and brightly from my arm, shoulder, and head. Though 
I turned about pretty smartly, and shifted my position, I 
found it impossible to shake off the nickering flames. When 
I walked on they continued with me for two or three min- 
utes, disappearing only when the violence of the blast was 
somewhat diminished. I felt no unusual sensation beyond 
the stinging of the hail, and no sound except that of the 
storm." 

The adventures of John Stewart, who for many years 
drove a mail-gig between Dunkeld and Aberfeldy, Scotland, 
as given by an English paper, are well worth recording. 
On an extremely dark night, he and another man, climbing 
a rocky, heathery height in Rannock, were all at once set on 
flames by some mysterious fire, which appeared to proceed 
from the heather which they were traversing ; and the more 
they tried to rub the flames off, the more tenaciously they 
seemed to adhere, and the more the fire increased in bright- 
ness and magnitude. Moreover, the long heather, agitated 
by their feet, emitted streams of burning vapor ; and for the 
space of a few minutes they were in the greatest consterna- 
tion. They believed that they barely escaped a living cre- 
mation. Of course their liberal share of native superstition, 
and the gloom of the night in the weird wilderness remote 
from human habitation, rendered their position the more 
alarming. 

A wonderful phenomenon is noted by a gentleman living 
in Cheltenham, England. He was returning from Great 
Yarmouth to his house, a distance of three miles, and took 
the road of the Denes, intending to cross by the lower ferry. 
Before reaching it, a dark cloud coming from the south-east, 
off the sea, suddenly surprised him, and drenched him with 



120 LIVING LIGHTS. 

rain. He jumped into the boat, and when the boatman had 
pushed off, he remarked that every drop of rain hanging 
from his hair, beard, and clothes was luminous with white 
light, well seen, as it was very dark at the time. He after- 
wards learned that the same appearance had been observed 
by several pilots exposed to the same shower, and he attri- 
buted the occurrence to a species of St. Elmo's fire. 



LUMINOUS FLOWERS. 121 



CHAPTER XVI. 

LUMINOUS FLOWERS. 

AMONG the earliest observers of phosphorescent flowers 
may be mentioned a young Swedish girl, the daughter 
of Linnaeus, the eminent naturalist. While walking in the 
garden one sultry night, she saw what was described as a 
" lightning-like phosphorescence " about the flowers of the 
nasturtium (Tropceolum majus). The sparks, or flashes, were 
also visible early in the morning, but, curiously enough, 
were not apparent in complete darkness ; the time between 
day and night evidently being the most favorable for the 
exhibition. This observation was made in 1762, and the 
young girl lived to the advanced age of ninety-six, often 
repeating the story. 

In 1843 Mr. Dowden, an English botanist, noted a similar 
display in the double variety of a common marigold. Several 
friends were with him at the time ; and, by shading the flower, 
they distinctly saw a golden-colored lambent light playing 
from petal to petal, so that an almost uninterrupted corona 
was formed about the disk. 

Others have observed this peculiarity in this flower and 
in the hairy red poppy (Papaver pilosuni). A correspondent 
of the " Gardner's Chronicle " writes, " We witnessed 
(June 10, 1858) this evening, a little before nine o'clock, 



122 LIVING LIGHTS. 

a very curious phenomenon. There are three scarlet ver- 
benas, each about nine inches high, and about a foot apart, 
planted in front of the greenhouse. As I was standing a 
few yards from them, my attention was arrested by faint 
flashes of light passing backwards and forwards from one 
plant to the other. I immediately called the gardener and 
several members of my family, who all witnessed the extraor- 
dinary sight, which lasted for about a quarter of an hour, 
gradually becoming fainter, till at last it ceased altogether. 
There was a smoky appearance after each flash, which we all 
particularly remarked. The ground under the plants was 
very dry ; the air was sultry, and seemed charged with elec- 
tricity. The flashes had the exact appearance of summer 
lightning in miniature. This was the first time I had ever 
seen any thing of the kind ; and having never heard of such 
appearances, I could hardly believe my eyes. Afterwards, 
however, when the day had been hot and the ground was 
dry, the same phenomenon was constantly observed at about 
sunset, and equally on the scarlet geraniums and verbenas. 
In 1859 it was again seen. On Sunday evening, June 10, 
of that year, my children came running in to say that the 
lightning was again playing on the flowers. We all saw it ; 
and again on July 11, I thought that the flashes of light 
were brighter than I had ever seen them before." 

It has been asserted that this phenomenon was due to 
optical illusion, but the experience of Goethe points to a dif- 
ferent conclusion. He says, " On the 19th of June, 1799, 
late in the evening, when the twilight was passing into a 
clear night, as I was walking up and down with a friend in 
the garden, we remarked very plainly about the flowers of 
the Oriental poppy, which were distinguishable above every 



LUMINOUS FLOWERS. 123 

tiling else by their brilliant red, something like flame. We 
placed ourselves before the plant, and looked steadfastly at 
it, but could not see the flash again, till we chanced in pass- 
ing and repassing to look at it obliquely; and we could 
then repeat the phenomenon at pleasure. It appeared to be 
an optical illusion, and that the apparent flash of light was 
merely the spectral representation of the blossoms of a blue- 
green." 

It is an interesting fact, that the light has been observed 
principally about yellow flowers, as the sunflower (Helian- 
thus annuus), the Rose d'lnde and Oeillet d'Inde, the garden 
marigolds (Calendula), yellow lily, and others. 

The Swedish naturalist, Professor Haggern, was fortunate 
in observing the light about the marigold. His first impres- 
sion was, that it was an illusion ; and to convince himself, he 
placed a man near at hand with orders to make a signal 
when he saw the light : the result was, that both observed 
it simultaneously. The light appeared as a flash, often in 
quick succession from the same flower, and again only after 
several moments. It was only observed at sunset on dry 
days. Professor Haggern 's observations were made upon 
the marigold, garden nasturtium (Tropceolum majus), the 
orange lily (Lilium bulbiferum), and the French and African 
marigolds (Tagetes patula and T. erecta). He was at first 
disposed to consider the light due to some insect, but finally 
decided that it was electrical. 

In 1857 the press of Upsala, Sweden, contained accounts 
of remarkable lights that had been observed about a group of 
poppies in the Botanic Gardens. The observer, M. Th. Fries, 
a well-known botanist, in passing the flowers, noticed three 
or four emitting little flashes of light. Believing that he 



124 LIVING LIGHTS. 

was the victim of an optical illusion, and wishing to satisfy 
himself, he took a friend to the place at the same hour on 
the following night, without, however, informing him what 
he had seen. The latter immediately noticed the light, and 
soon the garden was thronged with persons interested, who 
wished to see the flowers that " threw out flames." Later, 
fourteen persons saw the exhibition at once, not only upon 
the Papaver orientals, but on the Lilium bulbiferum; and 
before the curious phenomenon ceased, over one hundred 
and fifty reliable observers were enabled to testify to the 
delight they had experienced in watching the gleams of light 
play about these flowers; the doubters and critics, of which 
there were many, being effectually silenced. 

It is usually the misfortune of the single observer, or the 
minority, to be ridiculed, and their word doubted, simply 
because others do not choose to believe their statements. 
That such a course is unjust, is well shown in the instance 
of the daughter of Linnaeus, who made the statement, that 
as she approached the flowers of Dictamnus albus with a light 
they appeared to ignite, without, however, injury to them. 
This experiment was tried time and again by others, but 
without success ; and not a few scientists of the day regarded 
it as a delusion, while others averred that it was pure inven- 
tion ; opinions which placed the lady in a disagreeable posi- 
tion. Some years after, Dr. Hahn was enabled to show that 
the experiment was not mere fiction. He says, " Being in 
the habit of visiting a garden in which strong, healthy plants 
of Dictamnus albus were cultivated, I often repeated the 
experiment, but always without success ; and I already began 
to doubt the correctness of the observation made by the 
daughter of Linnaeus, when, during the dry and hot summer 



m 



LUMINOUS UMBELLULARIA. 
LUMINOUS FISH. SILICIOUS SPONGE. 

(Chauliodus.) 

LUMINOUS CRUSTACEAN. 
(Ptichogaster.) 



LUMINOUS CORALS. 



LUMINOUS FLOWERS. 125 

of 1857, 1 repeated the experiment once more. Fancying that 
the warm weather might possibly have exercised a more than 
ordinary effect upon the plant, I held a lighted match close 
to "an open flower, but again without result; in bringing, 
however, the match close to some other blossoms, it ap- 
proached a nearly faded one, and suddenly was seen a reddish, 
crackling, strongly shooting flame, which left a powerful 
aromatic smell, and did not injure the peduncle. Since then 
I have repeated the experiment during several seasons ; and 
even during wet, cold summers it has always succeeded, thus 
clearly proving that it is not influenced by the state of the 
weather. In doing so, I observed the following results, 
which fully explain the phenomenon. On the pedicels and 
peduncles are a number of minute reddish-brown glands, 
secreting etheric oil. These glands are but little developed 
when the flowers begin to open, and they are fully grown 
shortly after the blossoms begin to fade, shrivelling up when 
the fruit begins to form. For this reason the experiment 
can succeed only at that limited period when the flowers are 
fading. The radius is uninjured, being too green to take 
fire, and because the flame runs along almost as quick as 
lightning, becoming extinguished at the top, and diffusing 
a powerful incense-like smell." 

As to the actual cause of these exhibitions of light, little is 
known. In the case of M. Fries, the luminosity was always 
observed between quarter past ten and quarter past eleven 
in the evening, and especially when the weather was sultry, 
and was seen to best advantage when the observers were not 
looking at the flowers directly. The light appeared in fitful 
flashes, similar to that seen about the other flowers men- 
tioned, and was supposed to be electric. Mr. Haggeru was 



126 LIVING LIGHTS 



also inclined to believe that the phenomenon observed by 
him was electric. The flame seen about the flower ignited, 
by the daughter of Linnseus, was caused, as suggested by 
Phipson, by the ignition of the inflammable atmosphere that 
envelopes the essential oil-glands of certain Flaxinellce. 
Electric light has been observed in a plant allied to the palm, 
belonging to the genus Pandanus. When the spatha, or cov- 
ering which envelopes the flowers, is ruptured, a crackling 
sound is heard, and a spark of light emitted. It is not im- 
possible that the light of certain flowers is in some way 
attendant upon the escape of pollen. 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 127 



CHAPTER XVII. 

VEGETABLE LAMPS. 

ONE of the most remarkable and awe-inspiring phenom- 
ena of the ocean is the water-spout, a lofty column 
composed of tons of water, whirling upward, lifted by the 
mighty force of the wind. From a distance the formation 
of a spout is an interesting sight. In my own observations, 
there has generally been a low-lying bank of dark lead-col- 
ored cloud to announce its coming. From this a sharp cone, 
seemingly of cloud, was seen to drop, and in a very few 
moments an attenuated pillar rose from the water directly 
beneath it. The two appeared to meet, and, the alliance 
consummated, the lofty column moved away with a greater 
or less velocity. 

Near proximity to them is not unaccompanied with dan- 
ger ; and I once found myself in the centre of four or 
five, which were moving slowly about. The wind almost 
entirely died away, so that had our boat been a large one, 
we would have been completely at the mercy of the aqueous 
giants ; as it was, we lowered the sail, and taking the oars, 
succeeded in avoiding them all. 

It is the general impression, that if a water-spout touches 
an object, or is struck, its form is broken, and the water 
descends; but this is not always the case. I was stand- 



128 LIVING LIGHTS. 



ing one day upon the sea-wall of Fort Jefferson, on the 
island of Tortugas, Florida reef, when I perceived a lofty 
water-spout, a mile to the east, headed directly for the fort, 
as I thought. In a few moments it struck Long Key, a 
narrow island a quarter of a mile away ; passing over perhaps 
one hundred and fifty feet of it, striking a small schooner 
which had been hauled upon the beach, twisting it around, 
and then continuing its course with great rapidity. It now 
turned a little to the north ; and, seeing that in all probability 
it would not strike the fort, I awaited its coming. Never 
shall I forget the awful grandeur of the sight, as the watery 
monster, seemingly several thousand feet in height, reached 
the shoal. For some reason which I cannot explain, the 
central portion was invisible, but the upper part was dis- 
tinctly seen, and appeared to be nearly over my head; and 
its proximity may be imagined from the fact that the drops 
from it seemed like a heavy rain. The entire spout was 
bent like a bow by the wind, and was moving along with 
great rapidity. I could not keep up with it, though run- 
ning at utmost speed as it passed. Its progress was ac- 
companied by a loud roar, and a hissing, splashing sound, 
while great masses of foam were thrown up before and 
behind. In its wake followed numbers of gulls, feeding 
upon the small fishes killed by the rush of waters; and 
where it crossed the shoal, in perhaps eight feet of water, 
quite a trench was scooped out. Imagine such a column at 
night coursing over the ocean; its entire shape outlined 
against the darkness in phosphorescent light (Plate XXV.), 
and an idea may be gained of the magnificent spectacles 
which, on rare occasions, are produced by some of the sim- 
plest of plants, the diatoms, 45 whose nuclei are luminous. 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 129 

U-_ 

The southern oceans, in certain places, often swarm with 
these minute light-givers, and when borne aloft in the s 
they tend to produce one of the most remarkable and strik- 
ing scenes possible to imagine. In color these luminous 
columns are yellow, of different shades, according to the 
numbers of diatoms present. The naturalists of the " Chal- 
lenger " found that P. pseudo-noctiluca was always present, 
and often existed at the surface in vast numbers, in the 
tropics and subtropical regions where the temperature was 
over sixty-eight or seventy degrees ; and the most beautiful 
exhibitions seen during the cruise were due to these little 
forms. They have been observed in the Bay of Funchal all 
the year round. The light was equally brilliant in each 
species ; and in each, when disturbed several times in suc- 
cession, the phosphorescence perceptibly diminished, and 
finally disappeared : but after an hour's rest, it re-appeared 
as brilliant as before. 

The phosphorescence of plants, though not so remarkable 
in its general manifestations as in the forms previously 
reviewed, is sufficiently interesting to attract general atten- 
tion. In nearly all countries these vegetable lamps are 
found ; and even in the old legends of the Greeks, Hindus, 
and Persians, references to the " burning bush," and other 
luminous phenomena are met with, evidently having some 
foundation in fact. In India the old natives tell the story, 
that their forefathers, who visited the mountain of Sufed 
Koh, at the north of Nalroo in Afghanistan, found a spring 
in which grew a bush which, from a distance, seemed to 
emit a brilliant light ; but if any one approached, it imme- 
diately disappeared, vanishing in the air. In 1845 the white 
residents of Simla were informed by the natives that a won- 



130 LIVING LIGHTS. 

derful plant was illuminating the mountains near Syree ; 
and those who investigated it expressed the belief that the 
light, if it existed at all, came from a species of Dictamnus, 
which was known to grow about Gungotree and Jumnotree. 

Even in Josephus we find reference to the luminosity of 
plants. " There is a certain place," he says, " called Baaras, 
which produces a root of the same name with itself; its 
color is like to that of flame, and towards evening it sends 
out a certain ray like lightning ; it is not easily taken by 
such as would do it, but recedes from their hands." 

In the "Proceedings of the Royal Asiatic Society" of 
April, 1845, there is reference to a luminous root-stock found 
in the Oraghum jungles, " gleaming in the dark with all the 
vividness of a glow-worm, or the electric scolopendra, after 
having been moistened with a wet cloth applied to its surface 
for an hour or two, and did not seem to lose the property by 
use, becoming lustreless when dry, and lighting up again 
whenever moistened." It is probable that this is the plant 
which is referred to by the Brahmins as Jyotismati, produced, 
it is said, by a variety of Oardiospermum. According to 
Sanscrit authorities, it abounds in the Himalaya Mountains ; 
and is well known, according to Major Madden, at Almora, 
where investigation showed it to be, at least in this locality, 
the roots of the fragrant khus-khus grass, which at certain 
times, as rainy nights, was luminous. 

In South America and Asia occurs a plant known to 
science as Euphorbia phosphorea; which emits, when severed 
or cut, a milky juice somewhat resembling that of the dan- 
delion. At night the juice of the former is, when heated, 
brilliantly phosphorescent; so much so, that, according to 
M. Martins of Montpellier, if the stem be broken and used 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 131 

as a pen, this latex may be employed as a luminous ink, 
the characters appearing in the dark as letters of fire. One 
of the most familiar exhibitions of vegetable luminosity is 
seen in the " touchwood " or " fox-fire," which many a school- 
boy has employed in the perpetuation of a practical joke. 
It is found about old decayed trees, and is simply rotten 
wood permeated by the mycelium of fungi, which is lumi- 
nous in the dark. This simple luminant is often quite 
sufficient to enable one to read large print, and is often 
the cause of laughable episodes among camping-parties. A 
friend of the writer, in building a camp-fire in the deep 
woods, hauled an old log to the door of the tent, and there 
broke it up, making a fire about which the men slept. In 
the night, after the fire was extinguished, one of the party 
awoke, and with a shout aroused the rest, who sprang to 
their feet, believing that they were lying among coals; as 
all about were masses of wood seemingly at a white heat., 
but which investigation showed to be fox-fire. 

This luminous decayed wood often rolls out from trees 
in the forests, to the astonishment or alarm of animals un- 
familiar with fire. 

Perhaps the most remarkable exhibition of fox-fire is re- 
corded by the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, who says, "A quantity 
of wood had been purchased in a neighboring parish, which 
was dragged up a very steep hill to its destination. Amongst 
them was a log of larch or spruce, it is not quite certain 
which, twenty-four feet long, and a foot in diameter. Some 
young friends happened to pass up the hill at night, and 
were surprised to find the road scattered with luminous 
patches, which, when more closely examined, proved to 
be portions of bark or little fragments of wood. Following 



132 LIVING LIGHTS. 

the track, they came to a blaze of white light which was 
perfectly surprising; on examination it appeared that the 
whole of the inside of the bark of the log was covered with 
a white byssoid mycelium of a peculiarly strong smell, but 
unfortunately in such a state that the perfect form could 
not be ascertained. This was luminous ; but the light was 
by no means so bright as in those parts of the wood where 
the spawn had penetrated more deeply, and where it was 
so intense that the roughest treatment scarcely seemed to 
check it. If any attempt was made to rub off the luminous 
matter, it only shone the more brightly ; and when wrapped 
up in five folds of paper the light penetrated through all 
the folds on either side as brightly as if the specimen was 
exposed; when, again, the specimens were placed in the 
pocket, the pocket when opened was a mass of light. The 
luminosity had now been going on for three days. Unfor- 
tunately we did not see it ourselves till the third day, when 
it had, possibly from a change in the state of electricity, 
been somewhat impaired ; but it was still most interesting, 
and we have merely recorded what we saw ourselves. It 
was almost possible to read the time on the face of a watch, 
even in its less luminous condition. We do not for a moment 
suppose that the mycelium is essentially luminous, but are 
rather inclined to believe that a peculiar occurrence of cli- 
matic conditions is necessary for the production of the phe- 
nomenon, which is certainly one of great rarity. Observers 
as we have been of fungi in their native haunts for fifty 
years, it has never fallen to our lot to witness a similar case 
before ; though Professor Churchill Babington once sent us 
specimens of luminous wood, which had, however, lost their 
luminosity before they arrived. It should be observed that 




I 

o 

I 

El 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 133 

the parts of the wood which were most luminous were not 
only deeply penetrated by the more delicate parts of the 
mycelium, but were those which were most decomposed. It 
is probable, therefore, that this fact is an element in the case 
as well as the presence of fungoid matter." 

Any one who has wandered among old tree-trunks in 
search of insects, or been a careful observer in underground 
nooks and corners, must have seen the white tangles, often 
of beautiful shape, which constitute the forms of some 
fungi. They are frequently to be seen under old boards in 
frost-like designs of great delicacy, and many of these are 
supposed by some to have a certain relation to luminous 
woods. Around old tree-stumps, the decayed arms of the 
oak especially, long, cylindrical, flexible branches with a hard 
bark covering are often found. When freshly broken, the 
interior is pure white, later changing to a more or less deep 
brown tint. The white, flocculent extremities form the 
mycelium of the fungus known as Mhizomorpha subterranea, 
one of the most interesting of the luminous plants. Its 
mystic light is often seen in caves, where the rootlets have 
made their way, gleaming with a soft phosphorescence. 

In coal-mines this plant is quite common, and has been 
especially observed near Dresden. Ehrman speaks in enthu- 
siastic terms of these " vegetable glow-worms," as he calls 
them, which he observed gleaming on the walls and in the 
crevices of Swedish mines. 

In Bohemia the caves are not uncommonly illumined by 
this interesting cryptogam ; and, according to Phipson, suffi- 
cient light has been emitted in English coal-mines from this 
source to enable miners to read ordinary print. In the 
mines of North Hesse, Germany, the conditions are particu- 



134 LIVING LIGHTS. 

larly favorable for such displays, the gleams being described 
as resembling moonbeams stealing through the gloomy 
caverns. 

That this fungus is luminous when detached, is shown by 
the following from M. Tulasue, in the " Annals of Natural 
Science," 1848. "On the evening of the day I received 
the specimens," he writes, "the temperature being about 
22 C., all the young branches brightened with an uniform 
phosphoric light the whole of their length. It was the same 
with the surface of some of the older branches, the greater 
number of which were still brilliant in some parts, and only 
on their surface. I split and lacerated many of these twigs, 
but their internal substance remained dull. The next even- 
ing, on the contrary, this substance, having been exposed to 
contact with the air., exhibited at its surface the same bright- 
ness as the bark of the branches. Prolonged friction of the 
luminous surfaces reduced the brightness, and dried them to 
a certain degree, but did not leave on the fingers any phos- 
phorescent matter." And again, " By preserving these 
Rhizomorphce in an adequate state of humidity, I have been 
able for many evenings to renew the examination of their 
phosphorescence ; the commencement of desiccation, long 
before they really perish, deprives them of the faculty of 
giving light." 

Rumphius, the celebrated botanist, was perhaps the first 
European to discover the phosphorescence of fungi, observ- 
ing it in a large specimen on the island of Amboirie, which 
he named Fungus igneus, or fire-mushroom. In America 
such exhibitions are rare. Mr. H. K. Morrell, editor of 
"The Gardiner (Me.) Home Journal," informed me some 
few years ago that he had observed the phosphorescence of 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 135 

Tianus stypticus in his garden ; the young of which, being 
especially brilliant, emitted a steady light. In Brazil a 
certain agaric is famous for its vivid luminosity. It was 
observed by Mr. Gardner in 1840, who says, referring to the 
species which has been named Agaricus gardneri, " One 
dark night about the beginning of December, while passing 
along the streets of the Villa de Natividate, Goyaz, Brazil, 
I observed some boys amusing themselves with some lumi- 
nous object, which I at first supposed to be a kind of large 
fire-fly ; but, on making inquiry, I found it to be a beautiful 
phosphorescent species of Agaricus, and was told that it 
grew abundantly in the neighborhood on the decaying fronds 
of a dwarf palm. The whole plant gives out at night a 
bright phosphorescent light, somewhat similar to that emit- 
ted by the larger fire-flies, having a pale greenish hue. From 
this circumstance, and from growing on a palm, it is called 
by the inhabitants ' Flor de Coco.' " 

Dr. Cuthbert Collingwood had a similar experience with 
an allied species in Borneo. " The night being dark, the 
fungi could be very distinctly seen, though not at any great 
distance, shining with a soft, pale greenish light. Here and 
there spots of much more intense light were visible, and 
these proved to be very young and minute specimens. The 
older specimens may more properly be described as possess- 
ing a greenish, luminous glow like the glow of the electric 
discharge ; which, however, was quite sufficient to define its 
shape, and when closely examined, the chief details of its 
form and appearance. The luminosity did not impart itself 
to the hand, and did not appear to be affected by the separa- 
tion from the root on which it grew, at least not for some 
hours. I think it probable that the mycelium of this fungus 



136 LIVING LIGHTS. 

is also luminous ; for, upon turning up the ground in search 
of small, luminous worms, minute spots of light were 
observed, which could not be referred to any particular 
object or body, when brought to the light and examined, 
and were probably due to some minute portions of its 
mycelium." Mr. Hugh Low has stated that "he saw the 
jungle all in a blaze of light, by which he could see to read, 
as some years ago he was riding across the island by the 
jungle road, and that this luminosity was produced by an 
agaric." 

Australia has produced a number of luminous toadstools. 
Drummond found some striking forms near Swan River. 
He had noticed two species growing as parasites on the 
stumps of trees. Their appearance in the daytime did not 
attract particular attention ; but at night they developed into 
veritable plant lamps, exceeding any thing that he had ever 
seen. One was about two inches across, and grew in clus- 
ters on the stump of a banksia-tree which was surrounded 
by water. When the little plant was secured from its 
miniature island home, it could have been used as a lamp 
for several successive nights, a newspaper being read by 
placing the agaric on it, the light illuminating the type in 
the immediate vicinity. As the plant dried, the light grad- 
ually diminished. 

Later Mr. Drummond found a giant specimen that was 
sixteen inches in diameter and a foot high, a veritable chan- 
delier. He says regarding it, " This specimen was hung up 
inside the chimney of our sitting-room to dry ; and, on 
passing through the apartment in the dark, I observed the 
fungus giving out a most remarkable light, similar to that 
described above. No light is so white as this, at least none 




LUMINOUS MUSHKOOMS. 



LUMINOUS INSECT. 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 137 

that I have ever seen. The luminous property continued, 
though gradually diminishing, for four or five nights, when 
it ceased on the plant becoming dry. We called some of the 
natives, and showed them this fungus when emitting light. 
The room was dark, for the fire was very low and the candles 
extinguished; and the poor creatures cried out, 'Chinga,' 
their name for a spirit, and seemed afraid of it." 

A very attractive agaric, Agaricus olearius (Plate XIII.), 
is found at the foot of olive-trees in Southern Europe. 
During the daytime the color is yellow, but observed at 
night it emits a brilliant blue light. Like the Australian 
species, it continues to emit light after it has been taken 
from the ground, the phosphorescence persisting for succes- 
sive nights. So brilliant are the gleams, that they may be 
perceived at times before darkness sets in. Experiment 
showed that the light was extinguished when the tempera- 
ture was below -f- 90 to -f- 6 C. ; but the luminosity was 
not destroyed, as it re-appeared when the temperature was 
raised above this point. If kept some time in a temperature 
below freezing, it loses its light-emitting property entirely. 
It gleams as brightly under water as out; pure oxygen 
seems to have no effect upon it, and the most careful experi- 
ments fail to show the slightest elevation of temperature 
about the parts which shine. The light seems to emanate 
from the head (pileus) of the fungus, the lamellce of the 
latter, where the seeds are found, being the centre of 
the luminous phenomenon. 

These interesting light-givers are perhaps more common 
than we are aware of, from the fact that nocturnal investi- 
gations in the woods are not frequent, nearly all the discov- 
eries being the result of accident. A small, luminous fungus 



138 LIVING LIGHTS. 

has been observed in the Andaman Islands. Gandichand 
found one in Manilla, while Dr. Hooker, as we have seen, 
refers to the presence of one in the Sikkim Himalayas. 

These curious families of fungi are not only ornamental, 
but useful. In European countries the common mushroom 46 
enjoys the widest popularity as an esculent, especially the 
cultivated varieties. The meadow mushroom is scarcely 
inferior, though stronger in flavor, and is preferred by many 
to the cultivated species. In France the champignon is 
largely eaten ; and in Austria a kind which has no admirers 
in England finds a constant place in the markets during 
the summer. Truffles and morels are favorites not only in 
Europe, but also in the vales of Cashmere, where two or 
three species of morels are dried for consumption through- 
out the year. The great puff-ball is increasing in reputation 
as a breakfast delicacy in Great Britain, while the chanta- 
relle and the hedgehog fungus are esteemed by many. 

Numerous other species are more or less eaten by my- 
cophagists, although they are never found in the public mar- 
kets. A species of Boletus, cut in slices and dried, may be 
purchased throughout the year in most of the Continental 
cities. In Tahiti the Jew's ear 47 is dried in large quantities 
and exported to China ; while a species of agaric comes into 
the markets of Singapore, and another dried agaric is sent 
from the Cabul hills and the plains of north-western India. 
Several species of Cyttaria are eaten in the southern parts 
of South America, and in Australia a native kind 48 is a 
favorite article of food. Indeed, a very long catalogue 
might be made of the species which are more or less con- 
sumed in different parts of the world. 

The cultivation of fungi for esculent purposes has not hith- 



VEGETABLE LAMPS. 139 

erto been successful with any other species than the ordinary 
mushroom. Attempts were made in France to cultivate 
truffles, at first apparently with considerable promise, but 
ultimately without much satisfaction. There is no good 
reason to suppose it impossible or improbable that many 
species might be devoted to experiments in that direction. 
Some species of Polyporus have been employed as styptics, 
or beaten till soft and used as amadon. One species in 
Burmah has a good reputation as an anthelmintic. Some 
species of Polysaccum and G-easter are employed medicinally 
in China. Species of ElapJiomyces were at one time sup- 
posed to possess great virtues now deemed apocryphal. 
Ergot, developed on rye, wheat, and the germen of various 
grasses, still maintains its position in the pharmacopoeia ; but 
is almost the only fungus now employed, and that sparingly, 
by the legitimate medical practitioner. 

In the Cardiff coal-mines an interesting plant is found, 
which emits so brilliant a light, that the men have been 
able to " see their hands by it," and was visible at a distance 
of sixty feet. Mr. Worthington Smith, who is authority for 
this, observed the same phenomenon in Polyporus sulfureus. 

While various theories have been recorded as to the phys- 
iological cause of the light in cryptogams, and many writers 
give the most careful details of the structure of the luminous 
parts, we are unable to go a step farther to explain the cause 
of the light which appears to be a combustion, but does not 
consume. 



140 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

PHANTOMS. 

PHOSPHORESCENT light plays an important part in 
the composition of ghosts and phantoms ; and the num- 
ber of persons who believe that certain phenomena exist 
which cannot be explained by well-known natural laws is 
somewhat surprising. Some years ago I was introduced to 
a gentleman who was a firm believer in a modern Flying 
Dutchman. His house was upon a beautiful little bay, and 
from the piazza, he informed me that, more than once, he 
had seen a phantom ship. Sometimes it beat up the bay, 
the white sails showing distinctly at night. Again it was 
seen coming in directly against the wind, now appearing in 
one place, then in another, as fickle as the wind itself. On 
every other subject he was sane, and of more than ordinary 
intelligence ; but some electric phenomenon or emanations 
from schools of fishes, together with a vivid imagination, had 
produced the phantom ship, which in his mind was a reality. 
Many well remember the excitement occasioned around 
one of the New- York markets a number of years ago, by 
the appearance of a mysterious light. A fish-dealer's assist- 
ant, who had occasion to enter the market late one evening, 
observed an unusual light there ; and being an ignorant, 
superstitious fellow, he rushed out of the building and into 



PHANTOMS. 141 

; 

a neighboring store, stating excitedly that the ghost of a 
former market-man was hovering about his old stand. A 
number of persons returned with him to the market, and 
there saw a light, a dull yellowish gleam, about six feet in 
length, proceeding apparently from some body lying in a 
recumbent position. The crowd pressed in, and found the 
ghost to be a large piece of fish that had become phospho- 
rescent. 

Such occurrences are not uncommon, and show that phos- 
phorescence is not confined to any special place, object, or 
condition. As early as 1592 we read of its having caused 
surprise and astonishment among the Romans. Several 
young men having bought a lamb, and kept it over night 
for an Easter feast on the following day, were amazed to 
find that at night the flesh gleamed as if candles had been 
placed upon it. So much interest was aroused by the occur- 
rence, that the animal was sent to a scientist of the day, 
Fabricio d'Acquapendente, for explanation ; but it was as 
little understood then as it is to-day. This meat emitted 
a white light, and it was communicated to a piece of kid's 
meat that was placed in contact with it. 

Bartholin, the Danish philosopher, records an instance 
that excited much interest in his day. A poor woman had 
purchased a piece of meat; and, during the night having 
to go to the pantry, was terrified by observing that it 
was surrounded by a blaze of light. Many persons visited 
the house, and it was noticed that as soon as putrefaction 
commenced the light disappeared. 

According to M. Nueesh, in a certain butcher's shop the 
meat became strongly phosphorescent, and remained so as 
long as sound. If putrefaction set in, and Bacterium termo 



142 LIVING LIGHTS. 

made its appearance, the luminous appearance ceased. In 
many cases timid persons have thrown water upon such 
light, but without effect. Alcohol and certain acids, how- 
ever, seem to extinguish it. Boyle was curious enough to 
place a piece of shining veal in the receiver of an air- 
pump, which had no perceptible effect upon it, showing 
that there was no combustion, as we understand it. He 
also used his luminous meat as a lamp, and states that 
it made a "splendid show." A printed paper was placed 
over the light spots, and the type made out without diffi- 
culty. 

If heat is given out by this light, the instruments of the 
present day fail to show it. Every surgeon has had experi- 
ence with this phenomenon in the course of his studies, yet 
it is still unexplained. 

We have observed living forms producing light from spe- 
cial plates, or from the mucilaginous envelope of their bodies, 
and when dead the same curious light appears for a limited 
time. Dr. Phipson examined a luminous ray with great 
care, thinking to find traces of phosphorus in the luminous 
grease, but it was entirely wanting. The little boring-shell 
pholas, which we have seen is a brilliant light-giver when 
alive, is equally so after death ; its luminosity continuing in 
honey for a year, as previously described. 

A boat containing dead mackerel often presents the 
appearance of being loaded with coals of fire, each fish 
gleaming with a soft phosphorescent light, that seems to arise 
in the greasy mucus which covers them. Place one of these 
luminous fishes in the water, and the latter will soon assume 
a like appearance. Vegetables piled in cellars often appear 
phosphorescent, especially potatoes and cantelopes. In a 



PHANTOMS. 143 



case of the former, a servant seeing the brilliant light gave 
an alarm of fire, arousing the neighborhood. The men 
rushed in, and the cellar was well flooded before it was 
discovered that some unoffending potatoes were the cause 
of the alarm. 



144 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 

Emany old works, accounts are found of so-called show- 
ers of fire, during which the entire heavens seemed filled 
with gleaming drops, that threatened to burn every living 
thing, but were in reality harmless; the exhibition being 
merely another instance of this strange phenomenon of 
heatless light. 

Some years ago a party of peasants were making the 
ascent of one of the high peaks of the Alps, when they 
were caught in a rain-storm, which produced a demoralizing 
effect upon them. As the rain fell, it seemed to become 
luminous, and drops of fire apparently ran from their cloth- 
ing and beards. Their attempts at brushing it away, while 
adding to the startling nature of the phenomenon, showed, 
however, that it was perfectly harmless. 

Dr. Phipson records some interesting instances of this kind 
of phosphorescence, of which the following may be cited : 

M. de Thielan observed on Jan. 25, 1822, near Freyburg, 
a most extraordinary spectacle. A heavy snow had been 
falling during the early part of the evening, and the trees, 
branches, limbs, and leaves quivered and scintillated with 
a resplendent bluish light, while the drops of rain upon the 
grass left golden trains as they dripped to the ground. 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 145 

Arrago records similar occurrences: In 1731 a priest 
named Hallai, who lived at Lessay, near Constance, states 
that he observed one evening during a severe thunder-storm, 
rain falling which looked like drops of red-hot liquid metal. 

Bergman, the eminent Swedish chemist, communicated to 
the Royal Society of London, in 1761, that late in the after- 
noon upon two occasions, though hearing no thunder, he had 
seen rain which glittered as it fell upon the ground, making 
it look as if covered with waves of fire. 

M. Pasumot, on May 3, 1768, was overtaken, while walk- 
ing near Arnay-le-Duc, on an open plain, by a very heavy 
storm. The rain collecting on the brim of his hat, he 
stooped his head to allow it to run off, when to his astonish- 
ment, as it encountered that which fell from the clouds, at 
about twenty inches from the ground, sparks were emitted 
between the two portions of liquid. 

During January, 1822, Lampadius was told by the miners 
of Freyburg, that they had observed during a storm, sleet 
which emitted light when it fell upon the ground. 

A friend of Howard, the meteorologist, stated to him, that 
while going from London to Bow on the 19th of May, 1809, 
there came up a very severe storm ; and he 'observed the rain 
emit light as it struck the earth. 

On the 28th of October, 1772, the Abbs' Bertholon, who 
was travelling to Lyons from Brignai, early in the morning 
was overtaken by a violent storm of rain and hail. The rain 
and hail-stones emitted light as they fell upon the metallic 
mounting of his horse's trappings. 

Luminous hail has often been observed ; and when we 
remember that hail-stones sometimes attain great size, we can 
imagine the scene occasioned by a fall where each stone is 



146 LIVING LIGHTS. 

phosphorescent. Ordinary hail-stones are the size of small 
peas, but they occasionally occur large enough to kill human 
beings ; and I have seen them so large in the Sierra Madre 
Mountains that any shelter was preferable to exposure to 
them. In 1707 a hail-storm occurred at the town of Como, 
Switzerland, doing an incredible amount of damage, some 
of the stones weighing nearly ten ounces. Darwin describes 
a storm upon the South American pampas, in which the 
stones that fell were large enough to kill powerful animals. 

Ice has often been observed to emit luminous sparks ; and 
probably one of the grandest spectacles ever witnessed, is 
the luminous cap of a snow-covered mountain. The glaciers 
of the Alps have been seen bathed in a soft phosphoric glow, 
the icy rivers being distinctly marked by the phenomenon, 
which is so brilliant, at times, that the appearance of a second 
sunset is occasioned. Not only are the summits of Alpine 
peaks and the glaciers luminous, but the valleys of Piedmont, 
Valais, and others have been seen to emit from their cover- 
ing of snow a soft blue light of singular beauty. So intense 
is this light about the cap of Mount Blanc, it has been 
photographed. Luminous vapors or mists may be mentioned 
in this connection. Several times in the history of this 
country, luminous mists or fogs have been recorded. Massa- 
chusetts was visited by one some years ago, in which the 
fog was so dense that observers a few feet away were in- 
visible, yet darkness was not an accompaniment ; the mist 
seemed to be light-emitting itself, having a reddish, metallic 
hue. Others described it as a fiery red or yellow, while 
to some it appeared to be composed of faintly luminous 
matter. 

In the year 1783 all Europe and a portion of Asia were 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 147 

enveloped in a dense fog of a most remarkable nature. It 
was termed "dry," as even at night no dampness was ob- 
served. It was first seen at Copenhagen, its coming being 
heralded by severe storms. A few weeks later it appeared 
in various parts of France, and rapidly seemed to spread 
over Europe and portions of Asia. During the day it had 
a metallic glow, which at night changed to a phosphorescent 
light, so brilliant that ordinary print could be read by it. 
Many attempts to explain it were made by the savants of 
the day, and it was universally supposed to be due to the 
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which were of unusual 
severity that year. 

A somewhat similar fog appeared in the United States, 
a portion of Europe, and Africa in August, 1831. The day- 
light was perceptibly diminished, while at night a con- 
spicuous phosphorescent light was emitted. A remarkable 
luminous fog occurred in Switzerland in 1859. M. L. F. 
Wartmann of Geneva states that the strange light was 
observed on five successive nights, and apparently proceeded 
from a heavy dry fog that hung over Geneva during the 
time. The light was so brilliant that this gentleman dis- 
tinguished the smallest objects upon his table with perfect 
ease, no other light being in the apartment. The light 
caused general comment in the places in which it appeared, 
and a traveller between Geneva and Annemassi stated that 
he readily found the road by its means. Dr. Verdeil of 
Lausanne describes a fog which diffused so much light 
that distant objects were perfectly visible at night. 

Among the phenomena which attended the eruption of 
Vesuvius in 1794 was one which did not tend to allay the 
fears of the people. During the day a fine dust filled the 



148 LIVING LIGHTS. 

air about Naples, which was not particularly noticeable ; 
but as night came on, it emitted a pale though distinct phos- 
phorescent light. An English gentleman sailing near Torre 
del Greco noticed that where the dust collected upon his 
hat it was luminous, and no little consternation was caused 
among the superstitious sailors by the occurrence. 

Luminous dust-showers have been noticed in several local- 
ities ; and the peculiar glows that were seen in this country 
a few years ago were accredited by many to them, the sup- 
position being that dust, perhaps from volcanic eruptions, 
was floating about in the upper strata of the atmosphere. 
Many other explanations were given, and the literature upon 
the subject is extremely voluminous and interesting. 

The amount of material floating about in the upper regions 
of the air is perhaps little realized by my young readers, 
and some reference to the phenomenon may be of interest. 

Professor Nordenskjold has for many years been a close 
observer of dust of all kinds that has fallen upon the 
earth in rain or snow ; and it was his good fortune, during 
the expedition of the " Vega, 1 ' to prove beyond a doubt the 
presence of cosmic dust. For many years we have been 
assured by astronomers that the earth was being bombarded, 
as it were, continually, by innumerable meteors. The 
moment they enter our domain, we observe the spectacle of 
their ignition. In a moment they are reduced to ashes, and 
the fine impalpable dust drops slowly, an invisible shower, 
upon the earth. When such showers are intensified, it is 
not impossible that some outward and visible phenomena 
may be the result. 

In the search for this cosmic dust, the far North, where the 
surface is covered by an almost continuous coating of snow 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 




and ice, offers a wide and promising field for investigation. 
Here no other dust prevails. Professor Nordenskjold first 
found cosmic dust in the North at Spitzbergen. The second 
discovery, off the Taimar coast, seemed to be in the form of 
yellow specks lying on the snow. They were at first sup- 
posed to be diatomaceous ooze; 49 but when placed in the 
hands of Dr. Kjellman, he pronounced them to be pale 
yellow crystals, and, curious enough, formed of carbonate 
of lime. " The original composition and origin of tin's sub- 
stance," says Professor Nordenskjold, "appears to me exceed- 
ingly enigmatical. It was not carbonate of lime, for the 
crystals were rhomboidal, and did not show the cleavage of 
calcite. Nor can there be a question of its being arragonite, 
because this mineral might indeed fall asunder of itself; but 
in that case the newly formed powder ought to be crystal- 
line. Have the crystals originally been a new hydrated 
carbonate of lime formed by crystallizing out at a tempera- 
ture of ten or twenty degrees above the freezing point? In 
such case they ought not to have been found on the surface 
of the snow, but lower, on the surface of the ice. Or have 
they fallen down from the inter-planetary spaces to the 
surface of the earth, and before crumbling down have had 
a composition differing from terrestrial substances, in the 
same way as various chemical compounds found in recent 
times in meteoric stones? The occurrence of the crystals 
in the uppermost layer of snow, and their falling asunder in 
the air, tell in favor of this view. Unfortunately there is 
no possibility of settling these questions ; but at all events 
this discovery is a further incitement to those who travel 
in the high North, to collect with extreme care, from snow- 
fields lying far from the ordinary routes of communication, 



150 LIVING LIGHTS. 

all foreign substances, though apparently of trifling impor- 
tance." 

The investigations of the Swedish naturalist in this field 
are of exceeding interest. His first attempt to obtain mete- 
oric dust was at Stockholm, where, in December, 1871, there 
was a great fall of snow, the heaviest ever known. On the 
last days of the storm, after the atmosphere had been pre- 
sumably purified of extraneous substances, he collected a 
cubic metre of snow, melted it over a fire, and found that 
after the water had evaporated a residue of black powder 
remained, in which were many grains of metallic iron, that 
were attracted by a magnet. In 1872 his brother made a 
similar examination of the snow, in a quiet locality near 
the remote village of Evois, Finland. The snow upon 
being melted also gave the same black powder and me- 
tallic iron. 

The investigations of Nordenskjold himself, conducted in 
Spitzbergen, as previously mentioned, were the most satis- 
factory. The observations were made in 80 north latitude, 
and 13 to 150 east longitude, in the layer of snow that 
covered the ice. An imaginary section was as follows: 
(1), new fallen snow ; (2), a layer of hardened old snow, 
eight millimetres in thickness; (3), a layer of snow, con- 
glomerated to a crystalline granular mass ; and (4), common 
granular hardened snow. Layer three was full of small 
black grains, among which were found numerous metallic 
particles, that were attracted by the magnet, and found to 
contain iron, cobalt, and possibly nickel also. 

In his visit to Greenland in 1870, Nordenskjold found in 
the dust that lay on the inland ice, grains of metallic iron 
and cobalt. "The main mass," he says, "consisted of a 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 151 

crystalline, double refracting silicate, drenched through with 
an ill-smelling organic substance. The dust was found in 
large quantities at the bottom of innumerable small holes 
in the surface of the inland ice. This dust could scarcely 
be of volcanic origin, because by its crystalline structure it 
differs completely from the glass dust that is commonly 
thrown out of volcanoes, and is often carried by the wind 
to very remote regions; as also from the dust which, in 
March, 1875, fell at many places in the middle of Scandi- 
navia, and which was proved to have been thrown out by 
volcanoes in Iceland." Professor Nor den skj old's estimate of 
the quantity of dust shows that it has been in past ages a 
not unimportant factor, perhaps, in its addition to the crust. 
He says, "I estimate the quantity of the dust that was 
found on the ice north of Spitsbergen, at from .01 to 1 milli- 
gram per square metre ; and probably the whole fall of dust 
for the year, far exceeded the latter figure. But a milligram 
on every square metre of the surface of the earth amounts 
for the globe to five hundred million kilograms (say half a 
million tons). Such a mass, collected year by year during 
the geological ages, of a duration probably incomprehensible 
by us, becomes a consideration too important to be neglected, 
when the fundamental facts of the geological history of our 
planet are enumerated. A continuation of these investi- 
gations will perhaps show that our globe has increased 
gradually from a small beginning to the dimensions it now 
possesses ; that a considerable quantity of the constituents 
of our sedimentary strata, especially of those that have been 
deposited in the open sea far from land, are of cosmic origin ; 
and will throw an unexpected light on the origin of the fire- 
hearths of the volcanoes, and afford a simple explanation 



152 LIVING LIGHTS. 

of the remarkable resemblance which unmistakably exists 
between plutonic rocks and meteoric stones." 

Such enormous masses of material could well explain the 
rosy and other curious lights that are from time to time 
observed. But cosmic dust is not the only matter in the 
air that could occasion the phenomena; the atmosphere is 
constantly rilled with innumerable forms caught up by cur- 
rents and carried to inconceivable heights, and thus to great 
distances, to be precipitated to the earth in hail, snow, or 
rain. 

Near St. Domingo, Darwin tells us, the atmosphere became 
thick and hazy from the impalpable fine dust that actually 
injured their astronomical instruments. u The morning 
before we anchored at Porto Praya," he says, " I collected 
a little packet of this brown-colored dust, which appeared 
to have been filtered from the wind by the gauze of the 
vane at the masthead. Mr. Lyell has also given me four 
packets of dust which fell on a vessel a few hundred miles 
northward of these islands. Professor Ehrenberg finds that 
this dust consists in great part of infusoria with siliceous 
shields, and of the siliceous tissue of plants. In five little 
packets which I sent him, he has ascertained no less than 
sixty-seven different organic forms. The infusoria, with the 
exception of two marine species, are all inhabitants of fresh 
water. I have found no less than fifteen different accounts 
of dust having fallen on vessels when far out in the Atlantic. 
From the direction of the wind whenever it has fallen, and 
from its having always fallen during those months when 
the harmattan is known to raise clouds of dust high into 
the atmosphere, we may feel sure that it all comes from 
Africa. It is, however, a very singular fact, that, although 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 153 

Professor Ehrenberg knows many species of infusoria pecul- 
iar to Africa, he finds none of them in the dust which I sent 
him ; on the other hand, he finds in it two species which 
hitherto he knows as living only in South America. The 
dust falls in such quantities as to dirty every thing on board, 
and to hurt people's eyes; vessels even have run ashore, 
owing to the obscurity of the atmosphere. It has often 
fallen on ships when more than a thousand miles from the 
coast of Africa, and at points sixteen hundred miles distant 
in a north and south direction. In some dust which was 
collected on a vessel three hundred miles from the land, I 
found particles of stone, above the thousandth of an inch 
square, mixed with finer matter. After this fact, one need 
not be surprised at the diffusion of the far lighter and smaller 
sporules of cryptogamic plants." 

The extent to which dust and ashes can be taken up and 
held by air currents is shown in volcanoes. In 1810 the 
ashes from a volcano at St. Vincent were wafted to Barba- 
does, nearly a hundred miles ; and in 1835 the material 
thrown from a volcano in Guatamala to Jamaica, eight hun- 
dred miles. As intimated, these showers are not all inor- 
ganic, but are often living or fossil animals or plants that 
are floating about. Such are the reddish or gray showers 
that are frequently met with off the African coast, and when 
in the snow they are called "blood-rains." The one in 
1755, near Lago Maggiore, covered over two hundred square 
leagues, causing a panic among the inhabitants. For a dis- 
tance of nine feet below the surface, the snow was blood 
red, the atmosphere appeared red and fiery, while at sunrise 
and sunset a rosy hue pervaded every thing. When this 
shower fell and there was no snow, the earthy deposit accu- 



154 LIVING LIGHTS. 

mulated an inch deep ; and it has been estimated that, sup- 
posing it to average two lines in depth, there would be for 
each square mile an amount equal to nearly three thousand 
cubic feet. A similar panic was caused some years ago by 
a swarm of butterflies. Everywhere they left a drop of 
blood-colored fluid, so that the fences, houses, and cattle 
were covered with it. The insects were so numerous that 
they obstructed the vision. 

In the "blood-rains" of Italy, and generally in such in- 
stances, the red hue comes from red oxide of iron. At a 
single shower in Lyons in 1846, Ehrenberg estimated that 
seven hundred and twenty thousand pounds of material fell, 
ninety thousand pounds of which were microscopic organisms, 
including thirty-nine species of siliceous diatoms, and many 
others of great beauty of form and shape. 

Ehrenberg enumerates a very large number of these show- 
ers, referring to Homer's "Iliad" for one of the earliest 
known ; and asks, with such facts before us, how many thou- 
sand millions of hundred-weight of microscopic organism have 
reached the earth since Homer's time ? The whole number 
of species made out is over three hundred. The species, 
as far as ascertained, are not African; fifteen are North 
American. But the origin of the dust is yet unknown. The 
zone in which these showers occur covers Southern Europe 
and Northern Africa, with the adjoining portion of the 
Atlantic, and the corresponding latitudes in Western and 
middle Asia. 

When blown along by the wind, these showers perform 
another office besides affecting, perhaps, the color or tint of 
the atmosphere ; they wear away rock, and polish and 
furrow it. Such work can be seen in the granite rocks 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 155 

at the San Bernardino Pass in California. Quartz is pol- 
ished, and hard gems left weathered out ; while at Cape Cod 
ordinary sand has been known to wear holes through glass 
windows by continually blowing against them. 

An ingenious instrument has been invented to capture 
these flying objects of the air. It is called by the inventor, 
Doctor Miguel, the seroscope, and is really a net for animals 
invisible to the naked eye. 

Many objects are phosphorescent when struck, or when 
divided into thin laminaB. Some simple materials for such 
experiments are chlorate of potash, fluor-spar, feld-spar, 
sugar, etc. By placing any of these in a mortar, and grind- 
ing them in the dark, flashes of light will be seen, powdered 
sugar often making a striking display. A beautiful and 
effective exhibition can be produced by placing a small 
amount of phosphuret of calcium in water; decomposition 
follows, and phosphuretted gas is evolved. As the bub- 
bles of gas rise and come in contact with the atmosphere, 
they seem to take fire. If in a dark room, luminous rings are 
seen rising, and they can be made to take various shapes by 
using a fan. A trick often performed by magicians is to 
hand around a marble, and then pretend to render it lumin- 
ous by blowing upon it. This trick consists in having small 
balls at hand, of a material that can readily be rendered 
luminous by the application of heat. These substances can 
be easily made. 

A fine light is produced by taking, 

Barium sulphate (C P.) 32 parts 

Magnesium carbonate (C P.) 1 part 

Sulphur (C P.) 1 part 

Gum tragacanth q. s. 



156 LIVING LIGHTS. 

This should be made into balls of a convenient size, dried 
at a moderate temperature, and kept in a crucible at a red 
heat for about an hour. Allow them to cool slowly, and then 
place in a glass-stoppered bottle before their heat has dis- 
appeared. When required for use, expose them to the sun 
or any strong light, and they will become luminous, and con- 
tinue so for many hours. 

Another formula is : 

Strontium sulphate (C P.) 22 parts 

Sulphur (C P.) 1 part 

Gum tragacauth . . q. s. 

This should be heated as above described. 

A most interesting experiment is to make a selection of 
artificial flowers, and, having brushed them over with glue 
or mucilage, dust them with the powder from one of the 
balls made as described. If the flowers are exposed to the 
sun a short time, they will emit a phosphorescent light, each 
flower standing out in the darkness with extreme brilliancy, 
a striking and remarkable spectacle. 

Canton's phosphorus is easily made by calcining clean 
oyster-shells, until they are perfectly white, in a crucible. 
The clearer and finer portions should then be reduced to 
powder, and placed in layers with alternate layers of flowers 
of sulphur in a crucible. Cover, and heat to a dull redness 
for about half an hour, then allow to cool slowly. 

Luminous "ink " or liquid can be made by placing a small 
piece of phosphorus about as large as a pea in a test-tube 
with a small quantity of olive oil ; hold the tube in a water- 
bath until the oil becomes heated, and the phosphorus lique- 
fies ; then shake it until the oil will take up no more phos- 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 157 

phorus, and, when it becomes clear, pour into a bottle with a 
glass stopper. When it is to be used, take out the stopper, 
and admit the air. The oil can be used with a brush, and in 
the dark will appear luminous. 

Water may be rendered phosphorescent by dissolving a 
small piece of phosphorus in ether for several days in a glass- 
stoppered bottle ; then by immersing a piece of sugar in the 
solution, and placing it in water, the latter becomes vividly 
phosphorescent. It should be remembered that phosphorus 
and ether are both extremely dangerous, and experiments 
with them should be conducted with care and judgment. 

While this is a mere toy, luminous paint is of great 
value. It is easily made, and can be applied to many pur- 
poses. 

Schade of Dresden has quite recently patented an inven- 
tion, which enables him to produce paints that are luminous 
without affecting the tint by day. This is accomplished, 
according to the inventor, as follows : 

Zanzibar or Kauri copal is melted over a charcoal fire. 
Fifteen parts of the melt are dissolved in 60 parts of French 
oil of turpentine, and the filtered solution is mixed with 25 
parts, previously heated and cooled, pure linseed-oil. The 
varnish which is thus obtained, is used in the following 
methods, in the manufacture of luminous paints, by grinding 
between granite rolls in a paint-mill. Iron rolls should be 
avoided, because particles of iron, which are liable to be 
detached, would injure the luminous properties. 

Varnishes, as they occur in commerce, generally contain 
lead or manganese, which would destroy the phosphorescence 
of calcium sulphide. A pure white luminous paint is prepared 
by mixing 40 parts of the varnish obtained in the above- 



158 LIVING LIGHTS. 

described process with 6 parts prepared barium sulphate, 
6 parts prepared calcium carbonate, 12 parts prepared white 
zinc sulphide, and 36 parts good luminous calcium sulphide 
in a proper vessel, to an emulsion, and then grinding it very 
fine in a color-mill. For red luminous paint, 60 parts varnish 
are mixed with 8 parts prepared barium sulphate, 2 parts 
prepared madder lake, 6 parts prepared realgar (red arsenic 
sulphide), and 30 parts luminous calcium sulphide, and 
treated the same as for white paint. For orange luminous 
paint, 46 parts varnish are mixed with 17.5 parts prepared 
barium sulphate, 1 part prepared Indian yellow, 1.5 parts 
prepared madder lake, and 38 parts luminous calcium sul- 
phide. For yellow luminous paint, 48 parts varnish are mixed 
with 10 parts prepared barium sulphate, 8 parts barium 
chromate, and 34 parts luminous calcium sulphide. For 
green luminous paint, 48 parts varnish are mixed with 10 
parts prepared barium sulphate, 8 parts chromium oxide 
green, and 34 parts luminous calcium sulphide. 

A blue luminous paint is prepared from 42 parts varnish, 
10.2 parts prepared barium sulphate, 6.4 parts ultramarine 
blue, 5.4 parts cobalt blue, and 46 parts luminous calcium 
sulphide. 

A violet luminous paint is made from 42 parts varnish, 10.2 
parts prepared barium sulphate, 2.8 parts ultramarine violet, 
9 parts cobaltous arsenate, and 36 parts luminous calcium 
sulphide. 

For gray luminous paint, 45 parts of the varnish are mixed 
with 6 parts prepared barium sulphate, 6 parts prepared cal- 
cium carbonate, 0.5 parts ultramarine blue, 6.5 parts gray 
zinc sulphide. 

A yellowish-brown luminous paint is obtained from 48 parts 



LUMINOUS SHOWERS. 159 

varnish, 10 parts precipitated barium sulphate, 8 parts auri 
pigment, and 34 parts luminous calcium sulphide. 

Luminous colors for artists' use are prepared by using East 
India poppy oil in the same quantity, instead of the var- 
nish, and taking particular pains to grind the materials as 
fine as possible. 

For luminous oil-color paints, equal quantities of pure lin- 
seed oil are used in place of the varnish. The linseed oil 
must be cold-pressed, and thickened by heat. All the 
above luminous paints can be used in the manufacture of 
colored papers, etc., if the varnish is altogether omitted, and 
the dry mixtures are ground to a paste with water. 

The luminous paints can also be used as wax colors for 
painting on glass and similar objects, by adding, instead of 
the varnish, ten per cent more of Japanese wax, and one- 
fourth the quantity of the latter of olive oil. The wax 
colors prepared in this way may also be used for painting 
upon porcelain, and are then carefully burned without access 
of air. Paintings of this kind can also be treated with 
water-glass. 



160 LIVING LIGHTS. 



CHAPTER XX. 

THE USES OF PHOSPHORESCENCE. 

AS to the value and use of the gift of luminosity possessed 
by various animals, we can only surmise. Many inter- 
esting theories have been suggested, none of which, however, 
seem to stand the test of practical application. Some natur- 
alists believe that the light of certain invertebrates is a 
warning. As an example, the jelly-fishes have a terrible 
array of stings; and it is supposed that fishes once stung, 
remember the light of these forms, and avoid them in the 
future. If this were true, many helpless animals, as the 
salpa and others, would also find protection in the lesson 
taught by the jelly-fishes. 

It is a poor rule that will not work both ways ; and we 
might well ask, if nature supplies these lights as warnings, 
why the physalia, the most terrible of all these forms, has 
not been thus provided. Phipson mentions it as a phospho- 
rescent animal, but in the thousands that I have observed 
during a long residence in the physalia country, I never 
saw one give out light; hence I assume that if they are 
luminous, it is only on certain occasions. It might be con- 
sidered that the vivid colors of this attractive creature 
constituted a warning; but even this does not hold, as I 
have found all kinds of pelagic fishes in their toils, and even 



THE USES OF PHOSPHORESCENCE. 161 

a turtle and many small fishes bite readily at the deadly 
tentacles. 

It is well known that the sunfish (Orthagoriscus), lump- 
fish, and dogfish all attack jelly-fishes, perhaps in default of 
better food ; and far from being afraid of light, all fishes are 
attracted by it. It is evident, that, if jelly-fishes possess eyes, 
they must be able to distinguish others of their kind ; hence 
their phosphorescence may possibly be a simple signal lan- 
guage, if so we may term it, by which they may find one 
another ; or, having its origin in the nervous functions of 
the animal, the light may be unconsciously emitted, and 
have no more significance than a blush or sudden pallor 
upon the human face. Whatever may be the value of the 
light to themselves, it is of obvious use to other animals. It 
assists in the general illumination of the deep recesses of 
the ocean ; and, in the case of jelly-fishes, certainly marks 
their position, and thus aids the whalebone whales when 
feeding at night at depths from the surface where little light 
penetrates. 

The various colored lights seen upon certain crustaceans 
and worms, and their peculiar position, point to the possible 
belief that they may be signals, constituting a primitive 
means of communication ; also of use to the animals in light- 
ing their way, as we have seen in the case of the pyropho- 
rus. The lights of fishes, whatever may have been the 
object of nature, serve several distinct purposes: to draw 
the attention of enemies, to attract prey, and to illumine the 
gloom about them. Any one who has fished at night by 
torchlight well knows the attraction that light has for fishes 
of all kinds, and when submarine electric lights have been 
watched, groups of fishes and squids have been observed 



162 LIVING LIGHTS. 

about them ; so it is evident that predatory fishes possessing 
lights have in their lure a decided advantage. 

Actual experiment has shown that the electric light can 
be seen ninety-nine feet under water. The soft rays of 
animal phosphorescence would not penetrate so far, but 
would be powerful enough to illumine the water for some 
distance about them. 

The deep-sea fishes which are not remarkable for their phos- 
phorescence, or do not possess it at all, have feelers in many 
instances, and grope about like blind men ; while others have 
eyes that not only see, but are possible emitters of light 
themselves. In the case of the predatory shark captured by 
Bennett, we may assume that the light was an effective lure : 
but the same will not apply to the brilliant scopelus and 
other delicate little creatures almost completely defenceless ; 
so that it will be seen that it is as difficult to lay down fixed 
rules for the use of the light as to explain the cause of its 
production. The phosphorescence of corals and their allies, 
gorgonias, sea-anemones, etc., may serve to attract prey. 
The minute crustaceans, so valuable to food fishes, are by 
their unfortunate gift rendered visible to their enemies, and 
the same may apply to many of the worms ; while in a certain 
species of the genus Polynce, we have seen that the phos- 
phorescent scales which it throws off may be used to delude 
its enemies, just as when certain lizards cast off their tails, 
and dart away, leaving them wriggling and squirming, to 
attract the attention of their pursuers. Certain crustaceans 
have luminous bands or spots which undoubtedly serve as 
lanterns, while many have eyes that are modified into light- 
emitting organs. The light produced inadvertently by 
schools of mackerel, in their movements through water teem- 



PLATE XXV. 




LUMINOUS WATERSPOUT. 



THE USES OF PHOSPHORESCENCE. 163 

ing with phosphorescent animals, redounds to the benefit of 
the fishermen. The pale phosphoric cloud, seen from the top 
masthead, resting upon the surface of the ocean, tells the 
secret of their exact situation ; and, by surrounding it with 
the great net, large schools are often caught. t 

Among the insects we have definite experiments to show 
that the light they emit is a signal; in other words, the 
insects recognize the lights of their friends. A French nat- 
uralist one evening held from his window a living specimen of 
Lampyris noctiluca (Plate IX.) in the presence of several 
friends ; and a few moments later a companion insect left the 
gleaming throng without, and alighted upon his hand, touch- 
ing the captive, whose light was almost immediately extin- 
guished. 

M. Raphael Dubois, member of the Zoological Society of 
France, etc., has shown that the Pyrophorus (Plate XL) 
uses its light as we would a lantern in the night. When he 
covered the light upon one side of the insect, it pursued a 
curved course ; and, when both lights were extinguished, it 
was obviously at fault, and moved along with great care, and 
was evidently unfitted for nocturnal life. 

We have seen how these insects were the means of saving 
the life of Jaeger, in lighting him out of the forests of the 
southern islands ; how natives attach them to their feet, and 
employ them as lanterns ; while others in South America form 
an article of trade, being utilized by the ladies as articles of 
personal adornment. 

It must be evident to my young readers, that a practical 
application of the general features of phosphorescence would 
be extremely valuable, and in the previous chapter luminous 
paints and writing fluids have been referred to. An English 



164 LIVING LIGHTS. 

chemist, named Balmain, has produced from Canton's phos- 
phorus a paint which is luminous in the dark, and which has 
been applied to many purposes. Years ago the Chinese used 
a luminous paint made from powdered mussel-shells. The 
Emperor Tai Tsung, who reigned in the latter part of the 
tenth century, possessed a painting which, if examined by 
day, represented a cow browsing in an open pasture , but if 
this picture was taken into a darkened room, or looked at 
by night, the cow was seen to be lying down behind a fence, 
securely housed and protected. The secret was, that the 
fence and the cow in the night picture were painted in 
" South Sea pearl paste," as the Chinese called their phos- 
phorescent paint, and were alone visible ; while in the day- 
light the painting of " powdered reef-stone " only was seen, 
representing the animal in a standing position. 

To Balmain, however, is due the credit of introducing 
luminous paint in this country and Europe, and it is applied 
to many objects. We have the faces of our clocks and 
watches luminous, so that the time can be told in the dark. 
Match-safes are rendered conspicuous by the same means, 
and various other articles. 

Through the courtesy of Messrs. Devoe & Co., of New 
York, I was enabled to examine the application of this paint 
upon statuary and other objects. Upon entering a dark 
room, a statue was seen outlined in a wonderful bluish light 
of remarkable softness and beauty. An arm resting upon a 
table was vividly luminous, and presented a ghostly appear- 
ance. A large globe which hung from the ceiling gave out 
a soft radiance, quite sufficient to dispel the darkness, and the 
entire exhibition was suggestive of the varied uses to which 
the light could be put. Among these might be mentioned 



THE USES OF PHOSPHORESCENCE. 165 

the painting of houses, so that they will render the streets 
luminous ; buoys at sea ; even the hulls of ships and their 
sails might be made conspicuous in this way. In London 
the harnesses of horses engaged in night work have been ren- 
dered luminous by this paint ; and its availability in mines, 
and in large sewers like those of London, tunnels, and other 
subterranean works can hardly be estimated. Artificial fishes 
are painted, and used as luminous bait; and toys innumer- 
able are placed upon the market, made interesting by applica- 
tion of this discovery. 

It is obvious that luminous paint cannot be used in some 
cases, and to take its place Messrs. W. C. Home and E. 
Ormerod of London have recently invented a method of 
utilizing the luminous powder prepared mainly as a sulphide 
of calcium, for admixture with cements, plaster of Paris, 
and concrete, the object being to prepare the articles with 
a self-contained phosphorescent property instead of coating 
them with luminous paint. They take the proper proportion 
of any suitable cement, with the right amount of the lumi- 
nous powder, mixing these with water, and moulding it to 
the required shape in the usual way, after which it is laid 
on the ceilings or walls with a trowel. The patentees attach 
importance to placing the moulded articles, as soon as dry, in 
a bath of parafnne wax and benzoline, or other water- 
proofing substance equally good. 

In the case of using the luminous cement upon a wall or 
ceiling, they sponge or brush the surface over with a solution 
of parafnne wax and benzoline, or other suitable damp- 
proofing solution. The uses of a luminous cement are 
manifold ; e.g., for the garden, luminous concrete as edging 
to garden-paths and carriage-drives ; for guides and beacons 



166 LIVING LIGHTS. 

at the entrance-gates of drives ; insides of stables ; the base 
of balustrades, or the entirety of balustrades ; for roads, as 
luminous beacons of corners of dark country lanes, and at 
the ends of bridges, ends of walls, and curbs of foot-paths ; 
for docks; for edging of piers and wharves; for water- 
works; for the safety and despatch of night-work by the 
erection of luminous guides and beacons ; and for fire-plug 
notices on walls ; in short, for any place where the light of 
day will sufficiently excite the phosphorescent property as to 
render the cement or concrete work luminous by night. 
The difficulty of sighting rifles in the dark has been ingen- 
iously overcome by the use of luminous paint, and it is 
thought that the armies of various nations will adopt phos- 
phorescent sights for general use. 

I have before me as I write, through the courtesy of 
M. Raphael Dubois of Paris, a fine photograph of a bust 
of Claude Bernard, taken by the light of numbers of phos- 
phorescent insects (elaters), which shows the possibility of 
work in this direction. 

M. Ch. V. Zenger of Paris has made some interesting 
experiments, and expressed the belief, some time in 1883, 
that Mount Blanc could be photographed by phosphorescent 
light emitted, and I understand this has been accomplished. 
M. Zenger has photographed objects by the light of Balmaiii's 
phosphoric plates. From a personal communication from this 
scientist, I will quote some things which he has kindly sub- 
mitted for the author's use in this volume, referring to this 
work and the use of Balmain's liquid phosphorus. As a 
light, he says, " No doubt there may exist better and more 
perfect phosphorescent bodies of green, greenish blue, and 
violet hue, than are at my disposal ; and to avoid the use of 



THE USES OF PHOSPHORESCENCE. 167 

sulphurets and sulphides, etc., and to obtain as long a phos- 
phorescence as possible, is all I want to reduce stellar pho- 
tography to the simplest and cheapest apparatus, and make 
it available to every one." 

As we have seen, the light emitted by animals, plants, and 
minerals, of whatever cause, presents much that is mysteri- 
ous ; and the problem of animal phosphorescence would 
seem no nearer being solved to-day than it was fifty years 
ago. This is perhaps due to a lack of study and investiga- 
tion. A glance at the appended bibliography shows that 
much has been written upon the subject ; but it is only within 
the last decade that serious work in this direction has been 
done, typified in the superb work of Dubois, and the papers 
and monographs of the other scientists mentioned. The 
naturalists of the "Albatross," the government exploring- 
steamer, are to make investigations regarding the luminosity 
of the Pacific, during the forthcoming tour on the western 
coast. The French Academy of Sciences offers this year a 
prize of three thousand francs for the best paper upon animal 
phosphorescence. From this it would appear evident that the 
phenomenon is creating renewed or increasing interest, and 
in the following years will be the subject of much study 
and investigation ; and we may expect in the near future to 
have not only its cause explained, but possibly to see a 
practical application of its possibilities to the wants of 
mankind. 



APPENDIX. 




1. PAGE 5. Noctiluca. This interesting little creature belongs, in 
the natural arrangement as now recognized by science, to the first grand 
division of the animal kingdom. Simple as it is, it is not so completely 
without organs as some which form the first groups of this first division, 
as it has a whip-like organ, which gives name to its group, the Flagellata, 
or flagellate infusorians. These monads, as they are also called, are 
represented by a species of Noctiluca in our North- American waters off 
the coast of Maine. Huxley regards its luminous property as given out 
by the peripheral layer of protoplasm which lines the cuticle. 

M. Giglioli of Bologna, Italy, in a letter to the author, says, " I have 
distinguished three modes of marine phosphorescence, very distinct, 
which present a great number of varieties. These are, 

" (a) Diffused homogeneous milky light. 

" (b) Luminous points, sparkling and inconstant. 

" (c) Luminous disks, with light generally fixed, and not sparkling. 

" In one case the sea seemed on fire, and dolphins seemed to be fire. 

"Again, the sea seemed to acquire an oily consistence, giving out soft 
homogeneous light, of a milky color, tinted with green or bluish. It is 
perhaps the least frequent, but most striking. It is due to the presence 
of noctiluca. It often resembled incandescent rain falling from the 
paddle-wheels of steamers.'' 

M. Giglioli agrees with Huxley in stating that " the phenomenon of 
phosphorescence in these animals does not reside in the protoplasmic 
branches, which, as is known, are sometimes wanting; but in the corti- 
cal substance it is not uniform, but manifests itself in distinct and very 
minute luminous points, which sparkle, go out, and light up again." 

169 



170 APPENDIX. 



2. PAGE 9. Kiel observed this phenomenon in Peridinium. The 
following species of luminous forms existing in the Baltic Sea have been 
described by Ehrenberg : Prorocentrum micans, Peridinium michcelis, Peri- 
dinium micans, Peridinum fuscus, Peridinium f urea, Peridinium acuminatum, 
Lynchata ballica, and a species of Stentor. 

3. PAGE 9. Giglioli and his assistant, De Fillipi, observed luminos- 
ity in the gelatinous mass described by Haekel as Citophora. 

The genera of those low forms most remarkable for luminosity are 
Thalassicolla, Collozoum, Sphcerozoum, and Collosphcera. Giglioli states 
that the forms of this group which are found in the Indian Ocean and 
China seas are not luminous. 

4. PAGE 11. Dymophora fulgurans. 

5. PAGE 12. Other light-givers of this group are Willsea prolifera, 
Bourganivillia, and Lizzia. 

6. PAGE 12. Mueniopsis leidyii. 

7. PAGE 13. The Lucernaria is a very rare form of medusa on oui 
northern shores, and particularly characteristic in color and form. It 
is more like a polyp in texture, and its rich beryl color distinguishes it 
from all other forms. It is related to the Discophores, animals belong- 
ing to one of the groups of jelly-fishes, or medusa. 

8. PAGE 14. Schafer has observed radiating fibres on the under side, 
but there is no evidence to show that the luminosity originates here. In 
fact, the outer surface, where the cells of the delicate epithelium, or skin, 
contain minute points of fatty material, is equally phosphorescent. The 
tentacles become luminous, and it is supposed that they contain no nerves 
except at the margin of the disk. In some instances the light seems well 
defined at the so-called eye-spots at the edge of the disk, but its sudden 
fluctuations render any attempt at locating a photogenic structure difficult. 

While numerous theories are advanced, investigators are entirely at 
fault as regards any satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon. Therf. 
are certain conditions which are not favorable to the emission of light; 
and observers have seen medusce vividly luminous at one time, and not so 
at another. 

It has been suggested that the light is subject to the so-called will of 
the creature. A better theory, perhaps, would attribute the luminosity 
to certain peculiar conditions, or to certain stages of existence. 



APPENDIX. 171 



9. PAGE 15. Pleurobrachia rhodactyla, Agassiz. This is one of the 
numerous free-swimming marine animals, belonging to the Ctenophores. 
A group of the sea-jellies which have the pretty rows of paddles adown 
their long diameter. They are usually about a pigeon's-egg in size, are 
oval, and in their element almost invisible, so colorless and transparent 
are they. A close inspection shows the paddles to be iridescent. 

10. PAGE 15. Idya roseola, Agassiz. Another form found near the 
shores of Nahant. 

11. PAGE 16. The Physophoridce include the interesting forms, Phy- 
salia (Portuguese Man-of-War), Porpita, Vellela, etc. The first named 
indicates the character of the group, as its fleshy mass is surmounted by 
a beautiful bladder-like float, a mere bubble of membrane. These forms 
are not often seen out of tropical waters. 

12. PAGE 16. The term zooids is applied to the mass of tentacles 
and other fleshy parts of the Physophorce. The long, extensile feelers are 
for prehension; others aid in locomotion, and some are reproductive; 
others are feeders for the entire colony. Thus it will be seen that these 
creatures are in a sense compound animals. 

13. PAGE 24. Alcyonarian corals from an order in the class 
Aclinozoa. 

14. PAGE 24. Professor Moseley, of the " Challenger " expedition, 
was enabled to examine the light from these beautiful forms by the aid 
of the spectroscope, and found that it consisted of red, yellow, and green 
rays only. 

15. PAGE 25. Acanella normani Verril. A pretty soft coral, which 
has been dredged off the New-England coast by the fish-commission. 
This is a revelation to science, as no one was ready to believe that such 
forms, so common to the tropical regions, would be found where they 
were. The Gulf Stream runs so close to the North-eastern States, it will 
not, on reflection, seem strange that some creatures common to the 
warmer waters may find a home there. 

16. PAGE 25. Primnoa resida. 

17. PAGE 25. Paragorgia arborea. 

18. PAGE 26. Pennalulidce. The name of a family of marine ani- 
mals, which includes the Umbetlularias, Veretillum, etc., the last highly 
phosphorescent. 



172 APPENDIX. 



19. PAGE 26. While investigations so far have failed to explain the 
physiology of the light, it has been found that in a perfect animal it is 
emitted from eight opaque cords, each of which passes from a little 
swelling at the base of a tentacle down each polyp into the covering of 
the branch. The cords are canals in the sarcode of the branch, connect- 
ing the hollow of each tentacle with the tubular cavities of the branch- 
lets and stem. The microscope shows that the contents of the canals are 
a fluid and cells ; the latter containing minute highly refracting globular 
particles of a fatty substance, which resists decomposition long after the 
death of the polyp itself. If these cords are ruptured, the luminosity of 
the entire mass is excited, and the fatty cell contents is luminous after its 
escape, and on foreign matter even after the death of the animal. 

Regarding the light, Duncan says, referring to Panceri's experiments, 
"There is no sensible increase of temperature, and the tint of the 
monochromatic light is azure or greenish, but never red. In this beauti- 
ful instance of this remarkable vital luminousness there is evidently a 
photogenic structure and an elaborated organic material capable of pro- 
ducing light after removal from the animal. The sequence of illuminat- 
ing the whole pen is slow, far less than that of the movement of nerve- 
force. Yet the presence of the lowly organized nervous element indicates 
that the regulating of the light may relate to it as its function." 

Perhaps the most magnificent of all the Pennatulidce is the tall Umbel- 
Maria graenlandica (Plate XXI., Fig. 2), which consists of twelve huge 
polyps, each with eight fringed arms, terminating in a close cluster upon 
a stalk about four feet in height. This striking form was dredged by 
the " Challenger" expedition in water over two miles in depth, where the 
pressure is so great one can hardly realize it, and the temperature is just 
above freezing. Sir Wyville Thompson says, that, when this splendid 
animal was taken from the trawl, it emitted a light so brilliant that Capt. 
Maclear found it an easy matter to determine the character of the light 
by the spectroscope. It gave a very restrictedly continuous spectrum, 
sharply included between the lines b and d. 

20. PAGE 27. Pavonia quadrangular is. 

21. PAGE 27. Asteronyx loveni. 

22. PAGE 27. Ophiacantha. 

23. PAGE 28. Renilla reniformis. 



APPENDIX. 173 



24. PAGE 28. Virgularia is so named from its rod-like form ; vira, 
a rod. V. mirabilis is found off the English coast. 

25. PAGE 30. Ophiura and Asterias. These are genera of the sea- 
stars, or star-fishes long so called ; the former so named on account of 
the resemblance to snakes in its arms. 

26. PAGE 30. Ophiothrix fragilis, Amphiura belli, and Ophiocantha 
spinulosa. 

27. PAGE 31. Ophiocnida olivacca and Ophiocantha bidentata. 

28. PAGE 31. Brisinga elegans. 

29. PAGE 32. Astrophyton. There are several species of this star- 
fish, but each found in deep water. They are curiously circumscribed in 
locality. In one place off Cape Cod they are dredged, but in no other 
place, excepting farther south. Their name, basket-fish, is from their 
numerous intwined arms, resembling basket-work. 

30. PAGE 37. Serpula. A genus of the group Annelida. 

31. PAGE 37. Neiridce and Eunicedce. Genera of the group Annelida. 

32. PAGE 37. Polynoidce, Scyllidce, Chcetopteridce, and Polycirus. 

33. PAGE 38. Chcetopterus norvegicus. 

34. PAGE 39. Harmcethe imbracta emits a bright greenish light when 
disturbed, the luminosity evidently proceeding from the point of attach- 
ment of each dorsal scale. 

35. PAGE 40. Pholas. A clam-like mollusk. Several species are 
found on Nahant beaches. ' P. dactylus is a European form. The genus 
Zirphcea is found from New England to Great Britain. All are more or 
less borers. A small species bores in hard mud on the Nahant beaches. 
Others are known to bore into hard wood and into stone. 

Pholas dactylus will be seen to have photogenic or light-emitting struc- 
tures and substances almost concealed in the tissues of the animal. The 
light-emitting portions are, according to Panceri, "two parallel cords 
containing an opaque white matter extending down the anterior siphon, 
two very small spots at its entrance, and finally an arched cord corre- 
sponding to the superior edge of the mantle, reaching to the middle 
near the valves. The white color of the cords, which stand out in relief, 
distinguishes them; and, although they are only elevations of the sub- 
cuticular tissue, they contain special cells, or rather epithelium, which 
produces the phosphorescent matter. The whole surface of the Pholas 



174 APPENDIX. 



is covered with ciliated epithelium, which dips down into all the parts 
of the animal; but the special epithelium differs from this. It is 
nucleated and crammed with granules, and the cells are very refractive. 
The cells are very fragile, and allow their contents i.e., granular nuclei 
and refractive granules to escape readily. These are soluble in ether 
and alcohol. Under ordinary circumstances this photogenic apparatus 
is hidden ; but violence readily displaces the special cells, which burst, 
and their contents are carried all over the surface by the water, assisted 
by the general ciliation. The white substance, fat-like, retains its 
luminosity, when spread out on paper, for hours ; but the light does not 
appear to be accompanied by an evolution of heat. When it is placed 
in carbonic acid gas, the light pales and ceases. On the other hand, 
the photogenic substance, when barely luminous, is rendered so by 
physical contact. Agitation, and the addition of fresh or salt water, 
develop the light, and the same effect is produced by electricity and by 
heat. The light is monochromatic, and has a constant place in the spec- 
trum as an azure band from E to F, that is to say, in the green." 

36. PAGE 44. Dendronotus arborescens. A curiously decorated marine 
slug, found on the algse of the waters around Massachusetts Bay. Eolis 
is another form nearly as interesting. 

37. PAGE 55. The spectrum of the light of comparatively few of 
these beetles has been examined. That of Photinus was found by Pro- 
fessor C. A. Young, the astronomer, to be continuous without lines, and 
to extend from Fraunhofer's line C in the scarlet, to about F in the 
blue. 

Mr. Meldola examined the spectrum of the light of the glowworm 
some years ago, and found that it was continuous, being rich in blue and 
green rays, and comparatively poor in red and yellow. 

38. PAGE 56. Professor Carl Emery of the Entomological Society of 
Italy has kindly sent to us a detailed account of his experiments with the 
illuminating apparatus of a native luminous insect, the Luciola italica, etc. 
As these are the latest conclusions by the highest scientific authority, 
and therefore to be regarded as the most reliable, we here present a full 
account. 

" The elytra of the insect Luciola were glued upon a holder of the 
microscope, and covered by a glass of tolerable thickness. On examining 



APPENDIX. 175 



it, I got a favorable magnifying power, A of Zeiss. With stronger 
objective there is no good effect. 

" The eye is at first dazzled by a strong, uniform yellowish light. But 
the intensity of this light is soon checked, the luminous field being inter- 
rupted by round spots. The light continues to diminish; the image 
becomes paler ; and between the obscure round spots are seen to appear 
confused shadows, which detach themselves from the more brilliant rings. 
These rings are last to disappear when all the other portions have become 
dark. In the end they disappear entirely. 

" The organ remains dark until the next flash ; only here and there 
brilliant isolated points persist, which, as we shall see later, represent 
parenchymal cells which have retained their activity. If one places under 
the microscope the detached abdomen of a normal Luciola, and excites it 
by pressure of short duration by the cover glass, it is possible to obtain a 
flash which resembles the physiological flash." 

M. Emery states that he found it unsatisfactory to examine the insect 
while alive, as the constant movements rendered it nearly impossible to 
observe correctly the phenomenon of luminosity. He proceeds : " I have 
found by poisoning the Luciola by vapors of osmic acid an excellent 
method in fixing the light, and studying exactly the microscopic aspect. 

" When one examines in a dark chamber the abdomen detached from 
a Luciola which has been plunged in a solution of osmic acid, it is seen 
that a part of the segments, occupied by the luminous organs shine with 
a feeble and variable light ; whilst another part (ordinarily in the neigh- 
borhood of the median line) is obscure, or as it were veiled by a light 
phosphorescent cloud. When the preparation is placed under the micro- 
scope, the luminous parts exhibit towards the top the appearance which 
we have already noted in examining normal Luciolas ; that is to say, 
the existence of obscure round spots surrounded by brilliant field. In 
observing more attentively, one perceives around the spots other little 
spots, less obscure, and sometimes hardly visible, disposed with a certain 
degree of regularity. 

" Now, if we compare these images with those which are presented 
under the microscope by the luminous organs when hardened in alcohol, 
and cleared up by caustic potash, or else a tangetized section made of 
the organ of an animal killed by osmic acid, and colored by carmine, it 



176 APPENDIX. 



becomes evident that the large, obscure round spots correspond to the 
central part of the digitiform lobes of Targioni Tozzetti ; that is to say, 
to the cylinders constituted by the matrix of trachea (Tracheenendzellen 
of M. Schultze), whilst the luminous part is represented by the parenchy- 
mentous cells, and the little obscure spots are due to nuclei of these same 
cells. Still towards the limit of the brilliant and obscure regions of the 
luminous organ a very varied spectacle is observed. . . . 

" From all the facts which we have just described, one may conclude 
with full certainty that the light of the Luciola has its seat in the 
parenchymentous cells of the luminous organ. 

" It remains to be seen if the luminous combustion does not also take 
place, though, with luminosity in other parts. In my previous work I 
had it that the surface of the cylindrical lobes formed by the matrix of 
the tracheae was the principal focus or seat of the combustion. The 
facts which result from later observation oblige me to abandon this 
opinion. . . . 

" In the moments of mean luminous activity, one may say that the 
combustion is situated exclusively in the parenchymentous cells of the 
superficial layer of the luminous organ." 

39. PAGE 73. Gammarus caudisetus, Gammarus longicornis, Gam- 
marus truncatus, Gammarus heteroditus, Gammarus crassimanus. Cyclops 
exiliens is also luminous. 

40. PAGE 77. Another species in which this change had taken place 
is GalatJiodes antonu, an allied form which is shown in the central figure 
of the frontispiece. Many more, as Willemcesea, Pentacheles, Polycheles, 
and others, have organs of vision, which have undergone more or less 
change. It has been suggested that certain deep-sea crabs, as Geryon 
tridens, Gonoplax, Donychus, and Munida, have phosphorescent eyes. 

In Ptycogaster formosus (Plate XIII., Fig. 1), we find an interesting form, 
living at a depth of twenty-eight hundred and fifty feet, or more than half 
a mile, from the surface, which is provided with well-developed eyes. 

41. PAGE 81. The individual zooids, amounting to many hundreds, 
are grouped in whorls, their orifices so arranged that the inhalent are 
upon the outside of the cylinder, and the exhalent upon the interior. 
Each animal draws in a current from the outside, ejecting it into the 
interior ; the result of this volume of water rushing from the open end 



APPENDIX. 177 



being that the entire colony is forced along, at the same time revolving 
upon its long axis. 

42. PAGE 81. Panceri says, " Each zooid has two luminous spots, 
which are situated over the position of the ganglia of the nervous 
system; and there are loops like cords passing over the narrow end, 
connecting them." 

43. PAGE 94. Dr. Gunther expressed the view that the organs are 
the producers, not the receivers, of light. He says, in brief, that the num- 
ber of pairs of small globular bodies found along the abdominal profile 
is in direct relation to that of the vertebrae, the muscular system, etc. 
These are of two kinds. One class consists of the anterior, bi-convex, 
lens-like body, which is transparent during life ; simple, or composed of 
rods, and coated with a dark membrane composed of hexagonal cells or 
rods arranged as in a retina. This structure characterizes the plates of 
Stomias (Plate XX.), Astronechtes, Chauliodus (Plate XXL, Fig. 4). 

In the other set, as found in Gonostoma, Myctoplum mausolicus, and 
Argyopelicus, the organs have a simple, glandular structure. Branches of 
spinal nerves have been traced to each organ, and are distributed over 
the retina-like membrane of the glandular follicles. 

The difference in structure of those organs naturally produces differ- 
ence of opinion regarding their functions ; but Gunther believes that all 
the organs in their functions have some relations to the conditions of 
light in which the fishes that possess them live. Three principal theories 
regarding them are given : first, they may all be accessory eyes ; second, 
only the organs with the lenticular body are eyes, and those with glands 
are light-givers ; third, all are producers of light. Many arguments have 
been advanced to support these different hypotheses ; but it would seem 
that the second view is most tenable, from the fact that the organs with 
the retina-like membrane bear a great resemblance to a true eye, and 
finally the glandular organ in the little fish Myctoplum has been seen 
to gleam with a phosphorescent light. Dr. Gunther thinks it not 
improbable that the compound organ is an accessory eye, and a light- 
producer as well. The light, he says, may be produced at the bottom of 
the posterior chamber, and emitted through the lenticular body in par- 
ticular directions, with the same effect as when light is sent through the 
convex glass of a bull's-eye. 



ITS 



APPENDIX. 



44. PAGE 104. Orthogoriscus mola. 

45. PAGE 128. Diatoms: Pyrocystis pseudo-noctiluca and P. fusci* 
formis. 

46. PAGE 138. The common mushroom (Agaricus campestris), the 
meadow mushroom (Agaricus arvensis), the French champignon (Maras- 
mius oreades), and in Austria Agaricus mellius, are eaten largely. 
Truffles (Tuber cestivum), Morels (Morchella esculenta), and Puff-ball 
(Lycoperdon giganteum) are also favorites in Europe. 

47. PAGE 138. Jew's ear : Himcola auricula Judce. 

48. PAGE 138. Myletta austratis. 

49. PAGE 149. See the description of ooze on page 3. This ooze is 
formed of the cast-off shells of the Diatoms, the minute vegetable forms 
of low organization. 



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INDEX. 



jEroscope, 155. 
Agaric, luminous, 135, et seq. 
Agassiz, Mrs., on jelly-fish, 11. 
Louis, 19. 

Baird, William, on Chinese fire-flies, 

68. 

Baird, Professor S. F., 94. 
Balmain's luminous paint, 164. 
Banks, Sir Joseph, on luminous crabs, 

75. 
Beetles, 47. 

cannonading, 48. 
odorous, 48. 
flesh-eating, 48. 
grave-digging, 49. 
Scarabceus, 49. 
lightning-bugs, 49. 

Bellot, Lieut., on luminous crusta- 
ceans, 73. 
Bennett, D. F., on luminous shark, 

100. 
Berkeley, Rev. J. M., on fox-fire, 

131. 

Black swallower, 97. 
Blind fishes, 92. 
"Blood-rains," 153. 
Bombay duck, 93. 
Boon Island, sea-jellies at, 10. 
Boring-shells, 40. 
Branner, John C., on lantern-fly, 

67. 
Burning bush, legends of, 129. 



Canton's phosphorus, 156. 
Centipedes, 69. 
Chalk Cliff, Dover, 3. 
" Challenger," exploring-ship, 24, 31. 
China, luminous insects in, 65. 
Chinese luminous paint, 164. 
Coal-mines, luminosity in, 133. 
Collingwood, Dr. Cuthbert, on lumi- 
nous fungus, 134. 
Corals, 21. 

Col. Pike on their phosphores- 
cence, 21. 
Cosmic dust, 148 et seq. 

composition of, 149. 
Crabs, luminous, 72 et seq. 
Cranes, phosphorescence of, 109. 
Crustaceans, luminous, 72. 

Lieut. Bellot on, 73. 

Nordenskiold on, 73. 
Cuttle-fishes, 46. 
Cyclops, 73. 

Darwin on phosphorescence of Me- 

dusce, 17. 

on earth-worms, 34. 

on lightning-bugs of South 

America, 57. 

on dust-showers, 152. 

Deep sea, fishes of, 91 et seq. 
Deep-sea shrimps, brilliant colors, 79. 
Deep-sea dredging, 93. 
Dejean, Gen., story of, 47. 
Diatoms, luminous, 128 et seq. 

185 



186 



INDEX. 



Donovan, luminous insects of India, 
68. 

Drummond, Mr., on luminous toad- 
stools, 136. 

Dubois, Professor Kaphael, on phos- 
phorescence, 61. 

Dust, luminous, 148. 

Dust showers at sea, 152. 

Earth-worms, 33. 

of New Zealand, 33. 

Darwin on, 34. 

Roman villas preserved by, 34. 

of Australia, 35. 

of India, 35. 

luminosity, 35. 
Echinoderni, nature of, 29. 

Finny light-bearers, 91 et seq. 
Fire-flies, 59 et seq. 

as ball-room ornaments, 59. 

as lanterns, 60. 

spectrum of their light, 61. 

brilliancy, 52. 
Fire-mushroom, 134. 
Fish, luminous, 91 et seq. 
Fish, dead, phosphorescent, 141. 
"Fish-stories," 97. 
Fogs, luminous, 146. 
Fox-fire, 131. 
Florida Reef, 3, 24. 

displays of phosphorescence at, 

107. 

Flowers, luminous, 121. 
Frog's eggs, luminosity of, 114. 
Fungus, luminous, 133 et seq. 

Gardiner, Mr., on luminous fungus, 

135. 

Garfish, phosphorescent, 106. 
Gecko, luminosity of, 115. 
Globerigina, 3. 
Goethe on luminosity of poppy, 122. 



Gorgonias, 24. 

Sir Wyville Thompson on, 25. 

Dr. Holder on, 26. 
Giinther, Dr., on luminous fish, 92. 

Hailstones, luminous, 145. 

Homer's ** Iliad," dust-shower in, 154. 

Herons, luminosity of, 113. 

Human beings sometimes luminous, 

116. 
Humboldt on phosphorescence, 6. 

Ice, luminous, 146. 
Infusoria, 152. 

Jaeger, Professor, on luminous 

beetles, 60. 

Jelly-fish.- See Medusae. 
Josephus refers to luminosity of 

plants, 130. 

Kane, Dr. E. K., curious instance of 
luminosity recorded by, 117. 

Lantern-flies, 64 et seq. 
Legends of the " burning bush," 129. 
Light-emitting organs of Medusae, 17. 
Luminous larvae, 54 et seq. 
Lightning-bugs, 47. 

Southey, the poet, on, 49. 

of West India Islands, 50. 

Gosse on, 51. 

common, of Eastern United 
States, 52. 

common, of Europe, 56. 
Luminosity in man, instances of, 116. 

of plants, 129 et seq. 
Luminous organs of lightning-bugs, 
55. 

fishes, 94. 

fogs, 146. 

" ink," 156. 

marbles, 155. 



INDEX. 



187 



Luminous organs of fishes, 98. 

paint, 157. 

showers, 144. 

Lyell, Sir Charles, on cosmic dust, 152. 

Mackerel, luminosity of, 104. 
Marigold, luminosity of, 121. 
Martyr, Peter, on luminous insects, 

62. 

Meat, phosphorescent, 141. 
Medusce, or jelly-fish, 10-18. 

numbers, 11. 

light-givers, 11. 

Professor A. Agassiz on, 12. 

brilliance, 14. 

Darwin on, 17. 

Spallanzani on their phospho- 
rescence, 17. 

Humboldt on, 18. 
Menhaden, luminosity of, 103. 
Merian, Madame, on the luminosity 

of Fulrjora lanternaria, 66. 
Meteors of the sea, 10. 
Monkey, luminosity of eyes of, 114. 
Moonfish, 105. 

Mount Blanc, luminous cap of, 146. 
Mushrooms, edible, 138. 
Mussel Bay, luminous snow, 74. 

Nasturtium, luminosity of, 121. 

Noctiluca, 4-9. 

Nordenskjold discovers cosmic dust, 

148. 

Oban, sea-pens at, 26. 
Ogunquit, Me., sunfish at, 104. 
Ooze, 3. 
Ovideo on luminous insects, 62. 

Phantoms, 140. 

Pholas, 40. 

Phosphorescence of the sea, 6-9. 

the secret of, 41. 

of Pyrosoma, 81. 




Phosphorescence, its uses, 160. 
Pliny, on the luminosity of Pholas, 

41. 

Polyps, their phosphorescence, 24. 
Poppy, luminosity of, 121, 123. 
Pteropods, 42. 
Pyrosoma, 81 et seq. 
Rotifers, 36. 

San Gabriel Valley, beetles in, 48. 

Sea-anemones, 20. 

Sea fans and plumes, 24. 

Sea-opossum, 75. 

Sea-pen, 26-28. 

Sea-slugs, luminous, 44. 

Sea-urchins, 29. 

Seas of flame, 86 et seq. 

Serapis, Temple of, 40. 

Shark, luminous, 99 et 

Slugs, garden, 45. 

Spiders of the sea, luminous, 76. 

Squid, 46. 

Star-fish, 29-32. 

Sugar, flashes of light from, 155. 

Sunfish, 104. 

Toadstools, luminous, 136. 
Touchwood, or fox-fire, 131. 
Trepang, 29. 

Tulasue, M., on luminous fungus, 
134. 

Venus' s girdle, 15. 
Verbenas, luminosity of, 122. 

Water-fleas, 72. 
Water-spouts, luminous, 127. 
Whales, supposed phosphorescence 

of, 106. 
Worms, marine, 35. 

phosphorescent, 36-39. 
Worrall, Mr. Isaac W., on luminosity 

of crane, 109. 






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