Micrographia, by Robert Hooke

Observ. lvii. Of the Eels in Vinegar.

Of these small Eels, which are to be found in divers sorts of Vinegar, I have little to add besides their Picture, which you may find drawn in Schem. 25.
Fig. 3.
the third Figure of the 25. Scheme: That is, they were shaped much like an Eel, save only that their nose A, (which was a little more opacous then the rest of their body) was a little sharper, and longer, in proportion to their body, and the wrigling motion of their body seem'd to be onely upwards and downwards, whereas that of Eels is onely side wayes: They seem'd to have a more opacous part about B, which might, perhaps, be their Gills; it seeming always the same proportionate distant from their nose, from which, to the tip of their tail, C, their body seem'd to taper.

Taking several of these out of their Pond of Vinegar, by the net of a small piece of filtring Paper, and laying them on a black smooth Glass plate, I found that they could wriggle and winde their body, as much almost as a Snake, which made me doubt, whether they were a kind of Eal or Leech.

I shall add no other observations made on this minute Animal, being prevented herein by many excellent ones already publish'd by the ingenious, Doctor Power, among his Microscopical Observations, save onely that a quantity of Vinegar repleat with them being included in a small Viol, and stop'd very close from the ambient air, all the included Worms in a very short time died, as if they had been stifled.

And that their motion seems (contrary to what we may observe in the motion of all other Infects) exceeding slow. But the reason of it seems plain, for being to move to and fro after that manner which they do, by waving onely, or wrigling their body; the tenacity, or glutinousness, and the density or resistance of the fluid medium becomes so exceeding sensible to their extremely minute bodies, that it is to me indeed a greater wonder that they move them so fast as they do, then that they move them no faster. For what a vastly greater proportion have they of their superficies to their bulk, then Eels or other larger Fishes, and next, the tenacity and density of the liquor being much the same to be moved, both by the one and the other, the resistance or impediment thence arising to the motions made through it, must be almost infinitely greater to the small one then to the great. This we find experimentally verify'd in the Air, which though a medium a thousand times more rarify'd then the water, the resistance of it to motions made through it, is yet so sensible to very minute bodies, that a Down-feather (the least of whose parts seem yet bigger then these Eels, and many of them almost incomparably bigger, such as the quill and stalk) is suspended by it, and carried to and fro as if it had no weight.

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