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RADIOLARIA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 806 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RADIOLARIA. " The occasional total absence of any siliceous or acanthinous skeleton does not appear to be a matter of classificatory importance, since skeletal elements occur in close allies of those very few forms which are totally devoid of skeleton. Similarly it does not appear to be a matter of great significance that some forms (Polycyttaria) form colonies, instead of the central capsules separating from one another after fission has occurred. " It is important to note that the skeleton of silex or acanthin does not correspond to the shell of other Sarcodina, which appears rather to be represented by the membranous central capsule. The . skeleton does, however, appear to correspond to the spicules of Heliozoa, and there is an undeniable affinity between such a form as Clathrulina .and the Sphaerid Peripylaea (such as Heliosphaera, fig. III. 14). The Radiolaria are, however, a very strongly marked group, definitely separated from all other Sarcodina by the membranous central capsule sunk in their protoplasm. Their differences inter se do not affect their essential structure. The variations in the chemical composition of the skeleton and in the perforation of the capsule do not appear superficially. The most obvious features in which they differ from one another relate to the form and complexity of the skeleton, a part of the organism so little characteristic of the group that it may be wanting altogether. It is not known how far the form-species and form-genera which have been distinguished in such profusion by Haeckel as the result of a study of the skeletons are permanent (i.e. relatively permanent) physiological species. There is no doubt that very many are local and conditional varieties, or even merely stages of growth, of a single Protean species. The same remark applies to the species discriminated among the shell-bearing Reticularia. It must not be supposed, however, that less importance is to be attached to the distinguishing and recording of such forms because we are not able to assert that they are permanent species. ' The streaming of the granules of the protoplasm has been observed in the pseudopodia of Radiolaria as in those of Heliozoa and Reticularia; it has also been seen in the deeper protoplasm; and granules have been definitely seen to pass through the pores of the central capsule from the intracapsular to the extracapsular protoplasm. A feeble vibrating movement of the pseudopodia has been occasionally noticed. " The production of swarm-spores has been observed only in Acanthometra and in the Polycyttaria and Thalassicollidae, and only in the two latter groups have any detailed observations been made. Two distinct processes of swarm-spore production have been observed by Cienkowski, confirmed by Hertwig,—distinguished by the character of the resulting spores, which are called ' crystalligerous ' and ' isospores ' (fig. III. 15) in the one case, and ' dimorphous ' or ' anisospores ' in the other (fig. III. 16). In both processes the nucleated protoplasm within the central capsule breaks up by a more or less regular cell-division into small Acanthometridea. pieces, the details of the process differing a little in the two cases. In those individuals which produce crystalligerous swarm-spores, each spore encloses a small crystal (fig. I I I. 15). On the other hand, in those individuals which produce dimorphous swarm-spores, the contents of the capsule (which in both instances are set free by its natural rupture) are seen to consist of individuals of two sizes, ' megaspores ' and ' microspores,' neither of which contain crystals (fig. 111. 16). The further development of the spores has not been observed in either case. Both processes have been observed in the same species, and it is suggested that there is an alternation of sexual and asexual generations, the crystalligerous spores developing directly into adults, which in their turn produce in their central capsules dimorphous swarm-spores (megaspores and microspores), which in a manner analogous to that observgd in the Volvocinean Flagellata copulate (permanently fuse) with one another (the larger with the smaller) before proceeding to develop. The adults resulting from this process would, it is suggested, produce in their turn crystalligerous swarm-spores. Unfortunately we have no observations to support this hypothetical scheme of a life-history. " Fusion or conjugation of adult Radiolaria, whether preliminary to swarm-spore-production or independently of it, has not been observed—this affording a distinction between them and Heliozoa. " Simple fission of the central capsule of adult individuals, pre-ceded of course by nuclear fission, and subsequently of the whole protoplasmic mass, has been observed in several genera of Acantharia and Phaeodaria, and is probably a general method of reproduction in the group. In Spumellaria it gives rise to colonial ' Polycyttarian' forms when the extracapsular protoplasm does not divide. " The siliceous shells of the Radiolaria are found abundantly in certain rocks from Palaeozoic times onwards. They furnish, together with Diatoms and Sponge spicules, the silica which has been segregated as flint in the Chalk formation. They are present in quantity (as much as to %) in the Atlantic ooze, and in the celebrated ' Barbados earth ' (a Tertiary deposit) are the chief components."
End of Article: RADIOLARIA
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