Micrographia, by Robert Hooke

Observ. li. Of the Crab-like Insect.

Reading one day in Septemb. I chanced to observe a very smal creature creep over the Book I was reading, very slowly; having a Microscope by me, I observ'd it to be a creature of a very unusual Schem. 33.
Fig. 2.
form, and that not less notable; such as is describ'd in the second Figure of the 33. Scheme. It was about the bigness of a large Mite, or somewhat longer, it had ten legs, eight of which, AAAA, were topt with very sharp claws, and were those upon which he walk'd, seeming shap'd much like those of a Crab, which in many other things also this little creature resembled; for the two other claws, BB, which were the formost of all the ten, and seem'd to grow out of his head, like the horns of other Animals, were exactly form'd in the manner of Crabs or Lobsters claws, for they were shap'd and jointed much like those represented in the Scheme and the ends of them were furnish'd with a pair of claws or pincers, CC, which this little animal did open and shut at pleasure: It seem'd to make use of those two horns or claws both for feelers and holders; for in its motion it carried these aloft extended before, moving them to and fro, just as a man blindfolded would do his hands when he is fearfull of running against a wall, and if I put a hair to it, it would readily take hold of it with these claws, and seem to hold it fast. Now, though these horns seem'd to serve him for two uses, namely, for feeling and holding; yet he seem'd neither blind, having two small black spots, DD, which by the make of them, and the bright reflection from them seem'd to be his eyes, nor did it want other hands, having another pair of claws, EE, very neer plac'd to its mouth, and seem'd adjoining to it.

The whole body was cased over with armour-shells, as is usuall in all those kinds of crustaceous creatures, especially about their bellies, and seem'd of three kinds, the head F seem'd cover'd with a kind of scaly shell, the thorax with two smooth shells, or Rings, GG, and the belly with eight knobb'd ones. I could not certainly find whether it had under these last shells any wings, but I suspect the contrary; for I have not found any wing'd Insect with eight leggs, two of those leggs being always converted into wings, and, for the most part, those that have but six, have wings.

This creature, though I could never meet with more then one of them, and so could not make so many examinations of it as otherwise I would, I did notwithstanding, by reason of the great curiosity that appear'd to me in its shape, delineate it, to shew that, in all likelihood, Nature had crouded together into this very minute Insect, as many, and as excellent contrivances, as into the body of a very large Crab, which exceeds it in bulk, perhaps, some Millions of times; for as to all the apparent parts, there is a greater rather then a less multiplicity of parts, each legg has as many parts, and as many joints as a Crabs, nay, and as many hairs or brisles; and the like may be in all the other visible parts; and 'tis very likely, that the internal curiosities are not less excellent: It being a general rule in Nature's proceedings, that where she begins to display any excellency, if the subject be further search'd into, it will manifest, that there is not less curiosity in those parts which our single eye cannot reach, then in those which are more obvious.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hooke/robert/micrographia/observ51.html

Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:42