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History of Animals   


(The star-fish is naturally so warm that whatever it lays hold
of is found, when suddenly taken away from the animal, to have
undergone a process like boiling. Fishermen say that the star-fish
is a great pest in the Strait of Pyrrha. In shape it resembles a
star as seen in an ordinary drawing. The so-called 'lungs' are
generated spontaneously. The shells that painters use are a good
deal thicker, and the bloom is outside the shell on the surface. These
creatures are mostly found on the coast of Caria.)
The hermit-crab grows spontaneously out of soil and slime, and
finds its way into untenanted shells. As it grows it shifts to a
larger shell, as for instance into the shell of the nerites, or of the
strombus or the like, and very often into the shell of the small
ceryx. After entering new shell, it carries it about, and begins again
to feed, and, by and by, as it grows, it shifts again into another
larger one.
16

Moreover, the animals that are unfurnished with shells grow
spontaneously, like the testaceans, as, for instance, the
sea-nettles and the sponges in rocky caves.
Of the sea-nettle, or sea-anemone, there are two species; and of
these one species lives in hollows and never loosens its hold upon the
rocks, and the other lives on smooth flat reefs, free and detached,
and shifts its position from time to time. (Limpets also detach
themselves, and shift from place to place.)
In the chambered cavities of sponges pinna-guards or parasites are
found. And over the chambers there is a kind of spider's web, by the
opening and closing of which they catch mute fishes; that is to say,
they open the web to let the fish get in, and close it again to entrap
them.
Of sponges there are three species; the first is of loose porous
texture, the second is close textured, the third, which is nicknamed
'the sponge of Achilles', is exceptionally fine and close-textured and
strong. This sponge is used as a lining to helmets and greaves, for
the purpose of deadening the sound of the blow; and this is a very
scarce species. Of the close textured sponges such as are particularly
hard and rough are nicknamed 'goats'.
Sponges grow spontaneously either attached to a rock or on
sea-beaches, and they get their nutriment in slime: a proof of this
statement is the fact that when they are first secured they are
found to be full of slime. This is characteristic of all living
creatures that get their nutriment by close local attachment. And,
by the way, the close-textured sponges are weaker than the more openly
porous ones because their attachment extends over a smaller area.
It is said that the sponge is sensitive; and as a proof of
this statement they say that if the sponge is made aware of an attempt
being made to pluck it from its place of attachment it draws itself
together, and it becomes a difficult task to detach it. It makes a
similar contractile movement in windy and boisterous weather,
obviously with the object of tightening its hold. Some persons express
doubts as to the truth of this assertion; as, for instance, the people
of Torone.
The sponge breeds parasites, worms, and other creatures, on
which, if they be detached, the rock-fishes prey, as they prey also on
the remaining stumps of the sponge; but, if the sponge be broken
off, it grows again from the remaining stump and the place is soon
as well covered as before.
The largest of all sponges are the loose-textured ones, and
these are peculiarly abundant on the coast of Lycia. The softest are
the close-textured sponges; for, by the way, the so-called sponges
of Achilles are harder than these. As a general rule, sponges that are
found in deep calm waters are the softest; for usually windy and
stormy weather has a tendency to harden them (as it has to harden
all similar growing things), and to arrest their growth. And this

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