1902 Encyclopedia > Animal Kingdom > Animal Kingdom - The Protozoa

Animal Kingdom
(Part 2)



Haeckel has shown that, among the Protozoa, there are some which are simpler than the rest, inasmuch as they are devoid of both nuclei and contractile vesicles. To these he applies the name of --

1.Monera. -- Among the members of this group, which are at present known, three series are distinguishable, in all of which multiplication is effected by division, preceded, or not preceded, by the assumption of an encysted condition. In one state, each of these Monera is a myxopod, that is, is provided with longer or shorter pseudopodia as locomotive organs, and, in Protamoeba and Protogenes, the result of the process of division is also two or more myxopods. But, in Protomonas, the myxopod, after becoming encysted, gives rise by division to bodies provided with long flagelliform cilia, by which they are propelled, and which may be termed mastigipods; and in Myxastrum, the encysted body divides into a multitude of oval particles, each enclosed in its own coat. These are set free, and each gives rise to a new myxopod of the same character as the parent.

In Protomyxa, the myxopods coalesce into a reticulated plasmodium; and Vampyrella is parasitic, devouring stalked diatoms, and encysting itself upon the ends of their stalks, the encysted form dividing into new Vampyrelloe. Most of these interesting Monera have been made known by Haeckel, so that, in all probability, many others remain to be discovered. It is probable that the Foraminifera, notwithstanding the complexity of the skeletons, belong to this group, but too little is known of the structure of their soft parts to enable any certain conclusion to be drawn respecting them, and the analogy of Gromia leads to the suspicion that they may belong to the next division.

2. Endoplastica. -- In these Protozoa a portion of the interior protoplasmic body is separated from the rest as a distinct, more or less rounded, body, which may be termed the endoplast, as a term suggestive of its similarity to the nucleus of a histogenetic, cell, without implying its identity there with. Of such endoplast there may be one or many, but the protoplasm in which they lie does not give rise to cells, which become metamorphosed into elements of the tissues. Very often they possess one or more vacuoles, which rhythmically dilate and contracts, in accordance with the changes in the protoplasm in which they lie, and which are termed contractile vesicles.

In this division of the Protozoa, three groups -- the Amoebidoe, the Flagellata (or flagellate Infusoria), and the Gregarinidoe -- closely repeat the forms and mode of reproduction of the Protamoebidoe, Protomonadidoe, and Myxastridoe among the Monera. Among the rest, the Acinetidoe are distinguished by their pseudopodia being converted into suckers, through which they draw the juices of their prey. In all these, and in the preceding forms, there is a more or less marked distinction of the protoplasm constituting the body into a firmer and denser outer layer, the extosarc, and a more fluid inner substance, the endosarc; and, in some of the gregarinidoe, the ectosarc becomes differentiated into muscular fibres. In the Flagellata there is a permanent oral aperture; and in one member of this group, Noctiluca, additional complications of structure, in the form of a ridge-like tooth and a tectacle, occur. In the Radiolaria, the body is still more clearly differentiated into an inner substance, surrounded by a capsule, and containing nuclei and even cells, and a vacuolated ectosarc, whence the radiating pseudopodia proceed. Coloured corpuscles, usually yellow, appear in the extosarc, and have been shown by Haeckel to contain starch and to multiply independently. In the Ciliata (ciliated Infusoria), with which the Catallacta of Haeckel may be included, the differentiation of the protoplasm of the body, without any development of histogenetic cells, goes still further. A permanent mouth and anus may appear, connected by a permanently softer and more fluid region of the protoplasm (as is plainly to be seen, for example, in Nyctotherus) foreshadowing an intestinal cavity. The ectosarc may be differentiated into a specially modified cortical layer, and well-marked muscular fibres may be developed. Moreover, the endoplasts, or ;nucleus," becomes an organ of reproduction, the germs of the young being given off by division from it. Very generally, a small body-the so-called "nucleolus," but which has, admittedly, nothing to do with the structure so named in a true cell, and may be termed the "endoplastula" -- is to be found close to the nucleus, and there is some ground for supposing it to be a testis. The Infusoria frequently multiply by fission, which may, or may not, be preceded by encystment; and in many of them, as in the Gregarinidoe, Acinetidoe, and some Flagellata, conjugation has been observed. It is yet disputed how far the conjugation is a necessary antecedent of the process of endogenous germ formation.

Ehrenberg concluded, from those remarkable researches which first gave a clear insight into the structure of the ciliated Infusoria, that they were animals of complex structure, possessing, on a minute scale, all the organs characteristic of the higher forms of animal life. In opposition to this view, Dujardin started the conception that they are little more than masses of sarcode (= protoplasm); and Von Siebold, modifying this view in accordance with the cell theory, regards them as the equivalents of single cells of the tissues of the higher animals. The result of the long controversy which has been carried on this subject seems to be, on the one hand, that Ehrenberg was quite right in vindicating for the Infusoria a far greater complexity of structure than they had been supposed to possess. It is certain that an Infusorium may possess a distinct integumentary layer, muscles, a permanent oesophagus, a permanent anal area, and, in some cases, a persistent tract of the body substance, more permeable to alimentary matters than the rest, which might be fairly termed a permanent alimentary tract. Moreover, there is much reason for regarding the endoplast and endoplastula as generative organs, while there is, sometimes, a rather complex persistent system of water vessels. But, on the other hand, this complexity of organization is different from that observed in the higher animals , inasmuch as the various structures enumerated do not result from the metamorphosis of histogenetic cells, but arise by immediate differentiation of the finely granular protoplasm of which the body is composed. And, so far, Von Siebold appears to have been fully justified in regarding a ciliated Infusorium as the homologue of a single cell. This is a view which will present no difficulty to those who are familiar with the morphology of the lower plants. The complicated mycelium of Mucor Mucedo, for example, is, while young, nothing but a single cell; and, in Cauderpa, a single undivided cell grows, without division, into an organism which simulates one of the higher algae in the diversity of its parts.

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