The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the action of worms with
by Charles Darwin
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I was led to believe that a considerable quantity of fine earth is washed quite away from castings during rain, from the surfaces of old ones being often studded with coarse particles. Accordingly a little fine precipitated chalk, moistened with saliva or gum-water, so as to be slightly viscid and of the same consistence as a fresh casting, was placed on the summits of several castings and gently mixed with them. These castings were then watered through a very fine rose, the drops from which were closer together than those of rain, but not nearly so large as those in a thunderstorm; nor did they strike the ground with nearly so much force as drops during heavy rain. A casting thus treated subsided with surprising slowness, owing as I suppose to its viscidity. It did not flow bodily down the grass-covered surface of the lawn, which was here inclined at an angle of 16 degrees 20 seconds; nevertheless many particles of the chalk were found three inches below the casting. The experiment was repeated on three other castings on different parts of the lawn, which sloped at 2 degrees 30 seconds, 3 degrees and 6 degrees; and particles of chalk could be seen between 4 and 5 inches below the casting; and after the surface had become dry, particles were found in two cases at a distance of 5 and 6 inches. Several other castings with precipitated chalk placed on their summits were left to the natural action of the rain. In one case, after rain which was not heavy, the casting was longitudinally streaked with white. In two other cases the surface of the ground was rendered somewhat white for a distance of one inch from the casting; and some soil collected at a distance of 2.5 inches, where the slope was 7 degrees, effervesced slightly when placed in acid. After one or two weeks, the chalk was wholly or almost wholly washed away from all the castings on which it had been placed, and these had recovered their natural colour.

It may be here remarked that after very heavy rain shallow pools may be seen on level or nearly level fields, where the soil is not very porous, and the water in them is often slightly muddy; when such little pools have dried, the leaves and blades of grass at their bottoms are generally coated with a thin layer of mud. This mud I believe is derived in large part from recently ejected castings.

Dr. King informs me that the majority of the before described gigantic castings, which he found on a fully exposed, bare, gravelly knoll on the Nilgiri Mountains in India, had been more or less weathered by the previous north-east monsoon; and most of them presented a subsided appearance. The worms here eject their castings only during the rainy season; and at the time of Dr. King's visit no rain had fallen for 110 days. He carefully examined the ground between the place where these huge castings lay, and a little watercourse at the base of the knoll, and nowhere was there any accumulation of fine earth, such as would necessarily have been left by the disintegration of the castings if they had not been wholly removed. He therefore has no hesitation in asserting that the whole of these huge castings are annually washed during the two monsoons (when about 100 inches of rain fall) into the little water-course, and thence into the plains lying below at a depth of 3000 or 4000 feet.

Castings ejected before or during dry weather become hard, sometimes surprisingly hard, from the particles of earth having been cemented together by the intestinal secretions. Frost seems to be less effective in their disintegration than might have been expected. Nevertheless they readily disintegrate into small pellets, after being alternately moistened with rain and again dried. Those which have flowed during rain down a slope, disintegrate in the same manner. Such pellets often roll a little down any sloping surface; their descent being sometimes much aided by the wind. The whole bottom of a broad dry ditch in my grounds, where there were very few fresh castings, was completely covered with these pellets or disintegrated castings, which had rolled down the steep sides, inclined at an angle of 27 degrees.

Near Nice, in places where the great cylindrical castings, previously described, abound, the soil consists of very fine arenaceo-calcareous loam; and Dr. King informs me that these castings are extremely liable to crumble during dry weather into small fragments, which are soon acted on by rain, and then sink down so as to be no longer distinguishable from the surrounding soil. He sent me a mass of such disintegrated castings, collected on the top of a bank, where none could have rolled down from above. They must have been ejected within the previous five or six months, but they now consisted of more or less rounded fragments of all sizes, from 0.75 of an inch in diameter to minute grains and mere dust. Dr. King witnessed the crumbling process whilst drying some perfect castings, which he afterwards sent me. Mr. Scott also remarks on the crumbling of the castings near Calcutta and on the mountains of Sikkim during the hot and dry season.

When the castings near Nice had been ejected on an inclined surface, the disintegrated fragments rolled downwards, without losing their distinctive shape; and in some places could "be collected in basketfuls." Dr. King observed a striking instance of this fact on the Corniche road, where a drain, about 2.5 feet wide and 9 inches deep, had been made to catch the surface drainage from the adjoining hill-side. The bottom of this drain was covered for a distance of several hundred yards, to a depth of from 1.5 to 3 inches, by a layer of broken castings, still retaining their characteristic shape. Nearly all these innumerable fragments had rolled down from above, for extremely few castings had been ejected in the drain itself. The hill-side was steep, but varied much in inclination, which Dr. King estimated at from 30 degrees to 60 degrees with the horizon. He climbed up the slope, and "found every here and there little embankments, formed by fragments of the castings that had been arrested in their downward progress by irregularities of the surface, by stones, twigs, &c. One little group of plants of Anemone hortensis had acted in this manner, and quite a small bank of soil had collected round it. Much of this soil had crumbled down, but a great deal of it still retained the form of castings." Dr. King dug up this plant, and was struck with the thickness of the soil which must have recently accumulated over the crown of the rhizoma, as shown by the length of the bleached petioles, in comparison with those of other plants of the same kind, where there had been no such accumulation. The earth thus accumulated had no doubt been secured (as I have everywhere seen) by the smaller roots of the plants. After describing this and other analogous cases, Dr. King concludes: "I can have no doubt that worms help greatly in the process of denudation."

Ledges of earth on steep hill-sides.—Little horizontal ledges, one above another, have been observed on steep grassy slopes in many parts of the world. The formation has been attributed to animals travelling repeatedly along the slope in the same horizontal lines while grazing, and that they do thus move and use the ledges is certain; but Professor Henslow (a most careful observer) told Sir J. Hooker that he was convinced that this was not the sole cause of their formation. Sir J. Hooker saw such ledges on the Himalayan and Atlas ranges, where there were no domesticated animals and not many wild ones; but these latter would, it is probable, use the ledges at night while grazing like our domesticated animals. A friend observed for me the ledges on the Alps of Switzerland, and states that they ran at 3 or 4 ft. one above the other, and were about a foot in breadth. They had been deeply pitted by the feet of grazing cows. Similar ledges were observed by the same friend on our Chalk downs, and on an old talus of chalk-fragments (thrown out of a quarry) which had become clothed with turf.

My son Francis examined a Chalk escarpment near Lewes; and here on a part which was very steep, sloping at 40 degrees with the horizon, about 30 flat ledges extended horizontally for more than 100 yards, at an average distance of about 20 inches, one beneath the other. They were from 9 to 10 inches in breadth. When viewed from a distance they presented a striking appearance, owing to their parallelism; but when examined closely, they were seen to be somewhat sinuous, and one often ran into another, giving the appearance of the ledge having forked into two. They are formed of light-coloured earth, which on the outside, where thickest, was in one case 9 inches, and in another case between 6 and 7 inches in thickness. Above the ledges, the thickness of the earth over the chalk was in the former case 4 and in the latter only 3 inches. The grass grew more vigorously on the outer edges of the ledges than on any other part of the slope, and here formed a tufted fringe. Their middle part was bare, but whether this had been caused by the trampling of sheep, which sometimes frequent the ledges, my son could not ascertain. Nor could he feel sure how much of the earth on the middle and bare parts, consisted of disintegrated worm-castings which had rolled down from above; but he felt convinced that some had thus originated; and it was manifest that the ledges with their grass-fringed edges would arrest any small object rolling down from above.

At one end or side of the bank bearing these ledges, the surface consisted in parts of bare chalk, and here the ledges were very irregular. At the other end of the bank, the slope suddenly became less steep, and here the ledges ceased rather abruptly; but little embankments only a foot or two in length were still present. The slope became steeper lower down the hill, and the regular ledges then reappeared. Another of my sons observed, on the inland side of Beachy Head, where the surface sloped at about 25 degrees, many short little embankments like those just mentioned. They extended horizontally and were from a few inches to two or three feet in length. They supported tufts of grass growing vigorously. The average thickness of the mould of which they were formed, taken from nine measurements, was 4.5 inches; while that of the mould above and beneath them was on an average only 3.2 inches, and on each side, on the same level, 3.1 inches. On the upper parts of the slope, these embankments showed no signs of having been trampled on by sheep, but in the lower parts such signs were fairly plain. No long continuous ledges had here been formed.

If the little embankments above the Corniche road, which Dr. King saw in the act of formation by the accumulation of disintegrated and rolled worm-castings, were to become confluent along horizontal lines, ledges would be formed. Each embankment would tend to extend laterally by the lateral extension of the arrested castings; and animals grazing on a steep slope would almost certainly make use of every prominence at nearly the same level, and would indent the turf between them; and such intermediate indentations would again arrest the castings. An irregular ledge when once formed would also tend to become more regular and horizontal by some of the castings rolling laterally from the higher to the lower parts, which would thus be raised. Any projection beneath a ledge would not afterwards receive disintegrated matter from above, and would tend to be obliterated by rain and other atmospheric agencies. There is some analogy between the formation, as here supposed, of these ledges, and that of the ripples of wind-drifted sand as described by Lyell. {78}

The steep, grass-covered sides of a mountainous valley in Westmoreland, called Grisedale, was marked in many places with innumerable lines of miniature cliffs, with almost horizontal, little ledges at their bases. Their formation was in no way connected with the action of worms, for castings could not anywhere be seen (and their absence is an inexplicable fact), although the turf lay in many places over a considerable thickness of boulder- clay and moraine rubbish. Nor, as far as I could judge, was the formation of these little cliffs at all closely connected with the trampling of cows or sheep. It appeared as if the whole superficial, somewhat argillaceous earth, while partially held together by the roots of the grasses, had slided a little way down the mountain sides; and in thus sliding, had yielded and cracked in horizontal lines, transversely to the slope.

Castings blown to leeward by the wind.—We have seen that moist castings flow, and that disintegrated castings roll down any inclined surface; and we shall now see that castings, recently ejected on level grass-covered surfaces, are blown during gales of wind accompanied by rain to leeward. This has been observed by me many times on many fields during several successive years. After such gales, the castings present a gently inclined and smooth, or sometimes furrowed, surface to windward, while they are steeply inclined or precipitous to leeward, so that they resemble on a miniature scale glacier-ground hillocks of rock. They are often cavernous on the leeward side, from the upper part having curled over the lower part. During one unusually heavy south-west gale with torrents of rain, many castings were wholly blown to leeward, so that the mouths of the burrows were left naked and exposed on the windward side. Recent castings naturally flow down an inclined surface, but on a grassy field, which sloped between 10 degrees and 15 degrees, several were found after a heavy gale blown up the slope. This likewise occurred on another occasion on a part of my lawn where the slope was somewhat less. On a third occasion, the castings on the steep, grass-covered sides of a valley, down which a gale had blown, were directed obliquely instead of straight down the slope; and this was obviously due to the combined action of the wind and gravity. Four castings on my lawn, where the downward inclination was 0 degrees 45 seconds, 1 degree, 3 degrees and 3 degrees 30 seconds (mean 2 degrees 45 seconds) towards the north- east, after a heavy south-west gale with rain, were divided across the mouths of the burrows and weighed in the manner formerly described. The mean weight of the earth below the mouths of burrows and to leeward, was to that above the mouths and on the windward side as 2.75 to 1; whereas we have seen that with several castings which had flowed down slopes having a mean inclination of 9 degrees 26 seconds, and with three castings where the inclination was above 12 degrees; the proportional weight of the earth below to that above the burrows was as only 2 to 1. These several cases show how efficiently gales of wind accompanied by rain act in displacing recently ejected castings. We may therefore conclude that even a moderately strong wind will produce some slight effect on them.

Dry and indurated castings, after their disintegration into small fragments or pellets, are sometimes, probably often, blown by a strong wind to leeward. This was observed on four occasions, but I did not sufficiently attend to this point. One old casting on a gently sloping bank was blown quite away by a strong south-west wind. Dr. King believes that the wind removes the greater part of the old crumbling castings near Nice. Several old castings on my lawn were marked with pins and protected from any disturbance. They were examined after an interval of 10 weeks, during which time the weather had been alternately dry and rainy. Some, which were of a yellowish colour had been washed almost completely away, as could be seen by the colour of the surrounding ground. Others had completely disappeared, and these no doubt had been blown away. Lastly, others still remained and would long remain, as blades of grass had grown through them. On poor pasture-land, which has never been rolled and has not been much trampled on by animals, the whole surface is sometimes dotted with little pimples, through and on which grass grows; and these pimples consist of old worm- castings.

In all the many observed cases of soft castings blown to leeward, this had been effected by strong winds accompanied by rain. As such winds in England generally blow from the south and south-west, earth must on the whole tend to travel over our fields in a north and north-east direction. This fact is interesting, because it might be thought that none could be removed from a level, grass- covered surface by any means. In thick and level woods, protected from the wind, castings will never be removed as long as the wood lasts; and mould will here tend to accumulate to the depth at which worms can work. I tried to procure evidence as to how much mould is blown, whilst in the state of castings, by our wet southern gales to the north-east, over open and flat land, by looking to the level of the surface on opposite sides of old trees and hedge-rows; but I failed owing to the unequal growth of the roots of trees and to most pasture-land having been formerly ploughed.

On an open plain near Stonehenge, there exist shallow circular trenches, with a low embankment outside, surrounding level spaces 50 yards in diameter. These rings appear very ancient, and are believed to be contemporaneous with the Druidical stones. Castings ejected within these circular spaces, if blown to the north-east by south-west winds would form a layer of mould within the trench, thicker on the north-eastern than on any other side. But the site was not favourable for the action of worms, for the mould over the surrounding Chalk formation with flints, was only 3.37 inches in thickness, from a mean of six observations made at a distance of 10 yards outside the embankment. The thickness of the mould within two of the circular trenches was measured every 5 yards all round, on the inner sides near the bottom. My son Horace protracted these measurements on paper; and though the curved line representing the thickness of the mould was extremely irregular, yet in both diagrams it could be seen to be thicker on the north-eastern side than elsewhere. When a mean of all the measurements in both the trenches was laid down and the line smoothed, it was obvious that the mould was thickest in the quarter of the circle between north- west and north-east; and thinnest in the quarter between south-east and south-west, especially at this latter point. Besides the foregoing measurements, six others were taken near together in one of the circular trenches, on the north-east side; and the mould here had a mean thickness of 2.29 inches; while the mean of six other measurements on the south-west side was only 1.46 inches. These observations indicate that the castings had been blown by the south-west winds from the circular enclosed space into the trench on the north-east side; but many more measurements in other analogous cases would be requisite for a trustworthy result.

The amount of fine earth brought to the surface under the form of castings, and afterwards transported by the winds accompanied by rain, or that which flows and rolls down an inclined surface, no doubt is small in the course of a few scores of years; for otherwise all the inequalities in our pasture fields would be smoothed within a much shorter period than appears to be the case. But the amount which is thus transported in the course of thousands of years cannot fail to be considerable and deserves attention. E. de Beaumont looks at the vegetable mould which everywhere covers the land as a fixed line, from which the amount of denudation may be measured. {79} He ignores the continued formation of fresh mould by the disintegration of the underlying rocks and fragments of rock; and it is curious to find how much more philosophical were the views maintained long ago, by Playfair, who, in 1802, wrote, "In the permanence of a coat of vegetable mould on the surface of the earth, we have a demonstrative proof of the continued destruction of the rocks." {80}

Ancient encampments and tumuli.—E. de Beaumont adduces the present state of many ancient encampments and tumuli and of old ploughed fields, as evidence that the surface of the land undergoes hardly any degradation. But it does not appear that he ever examined the thickness of the mould over different parts of such old remains. He relies chiefly on indirect, but apparently trustworthy, evidence that the slopes of the old embankments are the same as they originally were; and it is obvious that he could know nothing about their original heights. In Knole Park a mound had been thrown up behind the rifle-targets, which appeared to have been formed of earth originally supported by square blocks of turf. The sides sloped, as nearly as I could estimate them, at an angle of 45 degrees or 50 degrees with the horizon, and they were covered, especially on the northern side, with long coarse grass, beneath which many worm-castings were found. These had flowed bodily downwards, and others had rolled down as pellets. Hence it is certain that as long as a mound of this kind is tenanted by worms, its height will be continually lowered. The fine earth which flows or rolls down the sides of such a mound accumulates at its base in the form of a talus. A bed, even a very thin bed, of fine earth is eminently favourable for worms; so that a greater number of castings would tend to be ejected on a talus thus formed than elsewhere; and these would be partially washed away by every heavy shower and be spread over the adjoining level ground. The final result would be the lowering of the whole mound, whilst the inclination of the sides would not be greatly lessened. The same result would assuredly follow with ancient embankments and tumuli; except where they had been formed of gravel or of nearly pure sand, as such matter is unfavourable for worms. Many old fortifications and tumuli are believed to be at least 2000 years old; and we should bear in mind that in many places about one inch of mould is brought to the surface in 5 years or two inches in 10 years. Therefore in so long a period as 2000 years, a large amount of earth will have been repeatedly brought to the surface on most old embankments and tumuli, especially on the talus round their bases, and much of this earth will have been washed completely away. We may therefore conclude that all ancient mounds, when not formed of materials unfavourable to worms, will have been somewhat lowered in the course of centuries, although their inclinations may not have been greatly changed.

Fields formerly ploughed.—From a very remote period and in many countries, land has been ploughed, so that convex beds, called crowns or ridges, usually about 8 feet across and separated by furrows, have been thrown up. The furrows are directed so as to carry off the surface water. In my attempts to ascertain how long a time these crowns and furrows last, when ploughed land has been converted into pasture, obstacles of many kinds were encountered. It is rarely known when a field was last ploughed; and some fields which were thought to have been in pasture from time immemorial were afterwards discovered to have been ploughed only 50 or 60 years before. During the early part of the present century, when the price of corn was very high, land of all kinds seems to have been ploughed in Britain. There is, however, no reason to doubt that in many cases the old crowns and furrows have been preserved from a very ancient period. {81} That they should have been preserved for very unequal lengths of time would naturally follow from the crowns, when first thrown up, having differed much in height in different districts, as is now the case with recently ploughed land.

In old pasture fields, the mould, wherever measurements were made, was found to be from 0.5 to 2 inches thicker in the furrows than on the crowns; but this would naturally follow from the finer earth having been washed from the crowns into the furrows before the land was well clothed with turf; and it is impossible to tell what part worms may have played in the work. Nevertheless from what we have seen, castings would certainly tend to flow and to be washed during heavy rain from the crowns into the furrows. But as soon as a bed of fine earth had by any means been accumulated in the furrows, it would be more favourable for worms than the other parts, and a greater number of castings would be thrown up here than elsewhere; and as the furrows on sloping land are usually directed so as to carry off the surface water, some of the finest earth would be washed from the castings which had been here ejected and be carried completely away. The result would be that the furrows would be filled up very slowly, while the crowns would be lowered perhaps still more slowly by the flowing and rolling of the castings down their gentle inclinations into the furrows.

Nevertheless it might be expected that old furrows, especially those on a sloping surface, would in the course of time be filled up and disappear. Some careful observers, however, who examined fields for me in Gloucestershire and Staffordshire could not detect any difference in the state of the furrows in the upper and lower parts of sloping fields, supposed to have been long in pasture; and they came to the conclusion that the crowns and furrows would last for an almost endless number of centuries. On the other hand the process of obliteration seems to have commenced in some places. Thus in a grass field in North Wales, known to have been ploughed about 65 years ago, which sloped at an angle of 15 degrees to the north-east, the depth of the furrows (only 7 feet apart) was carefully measured, and was found to be about 4.5 inches in the upper part of the slope, and only 1 inch near the base, where they could be traced with difficulty. On another field sloping at about the same angle to the south-west, the furrows were scarcely perceptible in the lower part; although these same furrows when followed on to some adjoining level ground were from 2.5 to 3.5 inches in depth. A third and closely similar case was observed. In a fourth case, the mould in a furrow in the upper part of a sloping field was 2.5 inches, and in the lower part 4.5 inches in thickness.

On the Chalk Downs at about a mile distance from Stonehenge, my son William examined a grass-covered, furrowed surface, sloping at from 8 degrees to 10 degrees, which an old shepherd said had not been ploughed within the memory of man. The depth of one furrow was measured at 16 points in a length of 68 paces, and was found to be deeper where the slope was greatest and where less earth would naturally tend to accumulate, and at the base it almost disappeared. The thickness of the mould in this furrow in the upper part was 2.5 inches, which increased to 5 inches, a little above the steepest part of the slope; and at the base, in the middle of the narrow valley, at a point which the furrow if continued would have struck, it amounted to 7 inches. On the opposite side of the valley, there were very faint, almost obliterated, traces of furrows. Another analogous but not so decided a case was observed at a few miles' distance from Stonehenge. On the whole it appears that the crowns and furrows on land formerly ploughed, but now covered with grass, tend slowly to disappear when the surface is inclined; and this is probably in large part due to the action of worms; but that the crowns and furrows last for a very long time when the surface is nearly level.

Formation and amount of mould over the Chalk Formation.—Worm- castings are often ejected in extraordinary numbers on steep, grass-covered slopes, where the Chalk comes close to the surface, as my son William observed near Winchester and elsewhere. If such castings are largely washed away during heavy rains, it is difficult to understand at first how any mould can still remain on our Downs, as there does not appear any evident means for supplying the loss. There is, moreover, another cause of loss, namely, in the percolation of the finer particles of earth into the fissures in the chalk and into the chalk itself. These considerations led me to doubt for a time whether I had not exaggerated the amount of fine earth which flows or rolls down grass-covered slopes under the form of castings; and I sought for additional information. In some places, the castings on Chalk Downs consist largely of calcareous matter, and here the supply is of course unlimited. But in other places, for instance on a part of Teg Down near Winchester, the castings were all black and did not effervesce with acids. The mould over the chalk was here only from 3 to 4 inches in thickness. So again on the plain near Stonehenge, the mould, apparently free from calcareous matter, averaged rather less than 3.5 inches in thickness. Why worms should penetrate and bring up chalk in some places and not in others I do not know.

In many districts where the land is nearly level, a bed several feet in thickness of red clay full of unworn flints overlies the Upper Chalk. This overlying matter, the surface of which has been converted into mould, consists of the undissolved residue from the chalk. It may be well here to recall the case of the fragments of chalk buried beneath worm-castings on one of my fields, the angles of which were so completely rounded in the course of 29 years that the fragments now resembled water-worn pebbles. This must have been effected by the carbonic acid in the rain and in the ground, by the humus-acids, and by the corroding power of living roots. Why a thick mass of residue has not been left on the Chalk, wherever the land is nearly level, may perhaps be accounted for by the percolation of the fine particles into the fissures, which are often present in the chalk and are either open or are filled up with impure chalk, or into the solid chalk itself. That such percolation occurs can hardly be doubted. My son collected some powdered and fragmentary chalk beneath the turf near Winchester; the former was found by Colonel Parsons, R. E., to contain 10 per cent., and the fragments 8 per cent. of earthy matter. On the flanks of the escarpment near Abinger in Surrey, some chalk close beneath a layer of flints, 2 inches in thickness and covered by 8 inches of mould, yielded a residue of 3.7 per cent. of earthy matter. On the other hand the Upper Chalk properly contains, as I was informed by the late David Forbes who had made many analyses, only from 1 to 2 per cent. of earthy matter; and two samples from pits near my house contained 1.3 and 0.6 per cent. I mention these latter cases because, from the thickness of the overlying bed of red clay with flints, I had imagined that the underlying chalk might here be less pure than elsewhere. The cause of the residue accumulating more in some places than in others, may be attributed to a layer of argillaceous matter having been left at an early period on the chalk, and this would check the subsequent percolation of earthy matter into it.

From the facts now given we may conclude that castings ejected on our Chalk Downs suffer some loss by the percolation of their finer matter into the chalk. But such impure superficial chalk, when dissolved, would leave a larger supply of earthy matter to be added to the mould than in the case of pure chalk. Besides the loss caused by percolation, some fine earth is certainly washed down the sloping grass-covered surfaces of our Downs. The washing-down process, however, will be checked in the course of time; for although I do not know how thin a layer of mould suffices to support worms, yet a limit must at last be reached; and then their castings would cease to be ejected or would become scanty.

The following cases show that a considerable quantity of fine earth is washed down. The thickness of the mould was measured at points 12 yards apart across a small valley in the Chalk near Winchester. The sides sloped gently at first; then became inclined at about 20 degrees; then more gently to near the bottom, which transversely was almost level and about 50 yards across. In the bottom, the mean thickness of the mould from five measurements was 8.3 inches; whilst on the sides of the valley, where the inclination varied between 14 degrees and 20 degrees, its mean thickness was rather less than 3.5 inches. As the turf-covered bottom of the valley sloped at an angle of only between 2 degrees and 3 degrees, it is probable that most of the 8.3-inch layer of mould had been washed down from the flanks of the valley, and not from the upper part. But as a shepherd said that he had seen water flowing in this valley after the sudden thawing of snow, it is possible that some earth may have been brought down from the upper part; or, on the other hand, that some may have been carried further down the valley. Closely similar results, with respect to the thickness of the mould, were obtained in a neighbouring valley.

St. Catherine's Hill, near Winchester, is 327 feet in height, and consists of a steep cone of chalk about 0.25 of a mile in diameter. The upper part was converted by the Romans, or, as some think, by the ancient Britons, into an encampment, by the excavation of a deep and broad ditch all round it. Most of the chalk removed during the work was thrown upwards, by which a projecting bank was formed; and this effectually prevents worm-castings (which are numerous in parts), stones, and other objects from being washed or rolled into the ditch. The mould on the upper and fortified part of the hill was found to be in most places only from 2.5 to 3.5 inches in thickness; whereas it had accumulated at the foot of the embankment above the ditch to a thickness in most places of from 8 to 9.5 inches. On the embankment itself the mould was only 1 to 1.5 inch in thickness; and within the ditch at the bottom it varied from 2.5 to 3.5, but was in one spot 6 inches in thickness. On the north-west side of the hill, either no embankment had ever been thrown up above the ditch, or it had subsequently been removed; so that here there was nothing to prevent worm-castings, earth and stones being washed into the ditch, at the bottom of which the mould formed a layer from 11 to 22 inches in thickness. It should however be stated that here and on other parts of the slope, the bed of mould often contained fragments of chalk and flint which had obviously rolled down at different times from above. The interstices in the underlying fragmentary chalk were also filled up with mould.

My son examined the surface of this hill to its base in a south- west direction. Beneath the great ditch, where the slope was about 24 degrees, the mould was very thin, namely, from 1.5 to 2.5 inches; whilst near the base, where the slope was only 3 degrees to 4 degrees, it increased to between 8 and 9 inches in thickness. We may therefore conclude that on this artificially modified hill, as well as in the natural valleys of the neighbouring Chalk Downs, some fine earth, probably derived in large part from worm-castings, is washed down, and accumulates in the lower parts, notwithstanding the percolation of an unknown quantity into the underlying chalk; a supply of fresh earthy matter being afforded by the dissolution of the chalk through atmospheric and other agencies.


Summary of the part which worms have played in the history of the world—Their aid in the disintegration of rocks—In the denudation of the land—In the preservation of ancient remains—In the preparation of the soil for the growth of plants—Mental powers of worms—Conclusion.

Worms have played a more important part in the history of the world than most persons would at first suppose. In almost all humid countries they are extraordinarily numerous, and for their size possess great muscular power. In many parts of England a weight of more than ten tons (10,516 kilogrammes) of dry earth annually passes through their bodies and is brought to the surface on each acre of land; so that the whole superficial bed of vegetable mould passes through their bodies in the course of every few years. From the collapsing of the old burrows the mould is in constant though slow movement, and the particles composing it are thus rubbed together. By these means fresh surfaces are continually exposed to the action of the carbonic acid in the soil, and of the humus-acids which appear to be still more efficient in the decomposition of rocks. The generation of the humus-acids is probably hastened during the digestion of the many half-decayed leaves which worms consume. Thus the particles of earth, forming the superficial mould, are subjected to conditions eminently favourable for their decomposition and disintegration. Moreover, the particles of the softer rocks suffer some amount of mechanical trituration in the muscular gizzards of worms, in which small stones serve as mill- stones.

The finely levigated castings, when brought to the surface in a moist condition, flow during rainy weather down any moderate slope; and the smaller particles are washed far down even a gently inclined surface. Castings when dry often crumble into small pellets and these are apt to roll down any sloping surface. Where the land is quite level and is covered with herbage, and where the climate is humid so that much dust cannot be blown away, it appears at first sight impossible that there should be any appreciable amount of sub-aerial denudation; but worm-castings are blown, especially whilst moist and viscid, in one uniform direction by the prevalent winds which are accompanied by rain. By these several means the superficial mould is prevented from accumulating to a great thickness; and a thick bed of mould checks in many ways the disintegration of the underlying rocks and fragments of rock.

The removal of worm-castings by the above means leads to results which are far from insignificant. It has been shown that a layer of earth, 0.2 of an inch in thickness, is in many places annually brought to the surface; and if a small part of this amount flows, or rolls, or is washed, even for a short distance, down every inclined surface, or is repeatedly blown in one direction, a great effect will be produced in the course of ages. It was found by measurements and calculations that on a surface with a mean inclination of 9 degrees 26 seconds, 2.4 cubic inches of earth which had been ejected by worms crossed, in the course of a year, a horizontal line one yard in length; so that 240 cubic inches would cross a line 100 yards in length. This latter amount in a damp state would weigh 11.5 pounds. Thus a considerable weight of earth is continually moving down each side of every valley, and will in time reach its bed. Finally this earth will be transported by the streams flowing in the valleys into the ocean, the great receptacle for all matter denuded from the land. It is known from the amount of sediment annually delivered into the sea by the Mississippi, that its enormous drainage-area must on an average be lowered .00263 of an inch each year; and this would suffice in four and half million years to lower the whole drainage-area to the level of the sea-shore. So that, if a small fraction of the layer of fine earth, 0.2 of an inch in thickness, which is annually brought to the surface by worms, is carried away, a great result cannot fail to be produced within a period which no geologist considers extremely long.

Archaeologists ought to be grateful to worms, as they protect and preserve for an indefinitely long period every object, not liable to decay, which is dropped on the surface of the land, by burying it beneath their castings. Thus, also, many elegant and curious tesselated pavements and other ancient remains have been preserved; though no doubt the worms have in these cases been largely aided by earth washed and blown from the adjoining land, especially when cultivated. The old tesselated pavements have, however, often suffered by having subsided unequally from being unequally undermined by the worms. Even old massive walls may be undermined and subside; and no building is in this respect safe, unless the foundations lie 6 or 7 feet beneath the surface, at a depth at which worms cannot work. It is probable that many monoliths and some old walls have fallen down from having been undermined by worms.

Worms prepare the ground {82} in an excellent manner for the growth of fibrous-rooted plants and for seedlings of all kinds. They periodically expose the mould to the air, and sift it so that no stones larger than the particles which they can swallow are left in it. They mingle the whole intimately together, like a gardener who prepares fine soil for his choicest plants. In this state it is well fitted to retain moisture and to absorb all soluble substances, as well as for the process of nitrification. The bones of dead animals, the harder parts of insects, the shells of land- molluscs, leaves, twigs, &c., are before long all buried beneath the accumulated castings of worms, and are thus brought in a more or less decayed state within reach of the roots of plants. Worms likewise drag an infinite number of dead leaves and other parts of plants into their burrows, partly for the sake of plugging them up and partly as food.

The leaves which are dragged into the burrows as food, after being torn into the finest shreds, partially digested, and saturated with the intestinal and urinary secretions, are commingled with much earth. This earth forms the dark coloured, rich humus which almost everywhere covers the surface of the land with a fairly well- defined layer or mantle. Hensen {83} placed two worms in a vessel 18 inches in diameter, which was filled with sand, on which fallen leaves were strewed; and these were soon dragged into their burrows to a depth of 3 inches. After about 6 weeks an almost uniform layer of sand, a centimeter (0.4 inch) in thickness, was converted into humus by having passed through the alimentary canals of these two worms. It is believed by some persons that worm-burrows, which often penetrate the ground almost perpendicularly to a depth of 5 or 6 feet, materially aid in its drainage; notwithstanding that the viscid castings piled over the mouths of the burrows prevent or check the rain-water directly entering them. They allow the air to penetrate deeply into the ground. They also greatly facilitate the downward passage of roots of moderate size; and these will be nourished by the humus with which the burrows are lined. Many seeds owe their germination to having been covered by castings; and others buried to a considerable depth beneath accumulated castings lie dormant, until at some future time they are accidentally uncovered and germinate.

Worms are poorly provided with sense-organs, for they cannot be said to see, although they can just distinguish between light and darkness; they are completely deaf, and have only a feeble power of smell; the sense of touch alone is well developed. They can therefore learn but little about the outside world, and it is surprising that they should exhibit some skill in lining their burrows with their castings and with leaves, and in the case of some species in piling up their castings into tower-like constructions. But it is far more surprising that they should apparently exhibit some degrees of intelligence instead of a mere blind instinctive impulse, in their manner of plugging up the mouths of their burrows. They act in nearly the same manner as would a man, who had to close a cylindrical tube with different kinds of leaves, petioles, triangles of paper, &c., for they commonly seize such objects by their pointed ends. But with thin objects a certain number are drawn in by their broader ends. They do not act in the same unvarying manner in all cases, as do most of the lower animals; for instance, they do not drag in leaves by their foot-stalks, unless the basal part of the blade is as narrow as the apex, or narrower than it.

When we behold a wide, turf-covered expanse, we should remember that its smoothness, on which so much of its beauty depends, is mainly due to all the inequalities having been slowly levelled by worms. It is a marvellous reflection that the whole of the superficial mould over any such expanse has passed, and will again pass, every few years through the bodies of worms. The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed, and still continues to be thus ploughed by earth-worms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures. Some other animals, however, still more lowly organized, namely corals, have done far more conspicuous work in having constructed innumerable reefs and islands in the great oceans; but these are almost confined to the tropical zones.


{1} 'Lecons de Geologie Pratique,' tom. i. 1845, p. 140.

{2} 'Transactions Geolog. Soc.' vol. v. p. 505. Read November 1, 1837.

{3} 'Histoire des progres de la Geologie,' tom. i. 1847, p. 224.

{4} 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoologie,' B. xxviii. 1877, p. 361.

{5} 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' April 17, 1869, p. 418.

{6} Mr. Darwin's attention was called by Professor Hensen to P. E. Muller's work on Humus in 'Tidsskrift for Skovbrug,' Band iii. Heft 1 and 2, Copenhagen, 1878. He had, however, no opportunity of consulting Muller's work. Dr. Muller published a second paper in 1884 in the same periodical—a Danish journal of forestry. His results have also been published in German, in a volume entitled 'Studien uber die naturlichen Humusformen, unter deren Einwirkung auf Vegetation und Boden,' 8vo., Berlin, 1887.

{7} 'Bidrag till Skandinaviens Oligochaetfauna,' 1871.

{8} 'Die bis jetzt bekannten Arten aus der Familie der Regenwurmer,' 1845.

{9} There is even some reason to believe that pressure is actually favourable to the growth of grasses, for Professor Buckman, who made many observations on their growth in the experimental gardens of the Royal Agricultural College, remarks ('Gardeners' Chronicle,' 1854, p. 619): "Another circumstance in the cultivation of grasses in the separate form or small patches, is the impossibility of rolling or treading them firmly, without which no pasture can continue good."

{10} I shall have occasion often to refer to M. Perrier's admirable memoir, 'Organisation des Lombriciens terrestres' in 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' tom. iii. 1874, p. 372. C. F. Morren ('De Lumbrici terrestris Hist. Nat.' 1829, p. 14) found that worms endured immersion for fifteen to twenty days in summer, but that in winter they died when thus treated.

{11} Morren, 'De Lumbrici terrestris Hist. Nat.' &c., 1829, p. 67.

{12} 'De Lumbrici terrestris Hist. Nat.' &c., p. 14.

{13} Histolog. Untersuchungen uber die Regenwurmer. 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoologie,' B. xix., 1869, p. 611.

{14} For instance, Mr. Bridgman and Mr. Newman ('The Zoologist,' vol. vii. 1849, p. 2576), and some friends who observed worms for me.

{15} 'Familie der Regenwurmer,' 1845, p. 18.

{16} 'The Zoologist,' vol. vii. 1849, p. 2576.

{17} 'Familie der Regenwurmer,' p. 13. Dr. Sturtevant states in the 'New York Weekly Tribune' (May 19, 1880) that he kept three worms in a pot, which was allowed to become extremely dry; and these worms were found "all entwined together, forming a round mass and in good condition."

{18} 'De Lumbrici terrestris Hist. Nat.' p. 19.

{19} 'Archives de Zoologie experimentale,' tom. vii. 1878, p. 394. When I wrote the above passage, I was not aware that Krukenberg ('Untersuchungen a. d. physiol. Inst. d. Univ. Heidelberg,' Bd. ii. p. 37, 1877) had previously investigated the digestive juice of Lumbricus. He states that it contains a peptic, and diastatic, as well as a tryptic ferment.

{20} On the action of the pancreatic ferment, see 'A Text-Book of Physiology,' by Michael Foster, 2nd edit. pp. 198-203. 1878.

{21} Schmulewitsch, 'Action des Sucs digestifs sur la Cellulose.' Bull. de l'Acad. Imp. de St. Petersbourg, tom. xxv. p. 549. 1879.

{22} Claparede doubts whether saliva is secreted by worms: see 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoologie,' B. xix. 1869, p. 601.

{23} Perrier, 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' July, 1874, pp. 416, 419.

{24} 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoologie,' B. xix, 1869, pp. 603-606.

{25} De Vries, 'Landwirth. Jahrbucher,' 1881, p. 77.

{26} M. Foster, 'A Text-Book of Physiology,' 2nd edit. 1878, p. 243.

{27} M. Foster, ut sup. p. 200.

{28} Claparede remarks ('Zeitschrift fur wisseuschaft. Zoolog.' B. 19, 1869, p. 602) that the pharynx appears from its structure to be adapted for suction.

{29} An account of her observations is given in the 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' March 28th, 1868, p. 324.

{30} London's 'Gard. Mag.' xvii. p. 216, as quoted in the 'Catalogue of the British Museum Worms,' 1865, p. 327.

{31} 'Familie der Regenwurmer,' p. 19.

{32} In these narrow triangles the apical angle is 9 degrees 34 seconds, and the basal angles 85 degrees 13 seconds. In the broader triangles the apical angle is 19 degrees 10 seconds and the basal angles 80 degrees 25 seconds.

{33} See his interesting work, 'Souvenirs entomologiques,' 1879, pp. 168-177.

{34} Mobius, 'Die Bewegungen der Thiere,' &c., 1873, p. 111.

{35} 'Annals and Mag. of N. History,' series ii. vol. ix. 1852, p. 333.

{36} 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' tom. iii. 1874, p. 405.

{37} I state this on the authority of Semper, 'Reisen im Archipel der Philippinen,' Th. ii. 1877, p. 30.

{38} Dr. King gave me some worms collected near Nice, which, as he believes, had constructed these castings. They were sent to M. Perrier, who with great kindness examined and named them for me: they consisted of Perichaeta affinis, a native of Cochin China and of the Philippines; P. Luzonica, a native of Luzon in the Philippines; and P. Houlleti, which lives near Calcutta. M. Perrier informs me that species of Perichaeta have been naturalized in the gardens near Montpellier and in Algiers. Before I had any reason to suspect that the tower-like castings from Nice had been formed by worms not endemic in the country, I was greatly surprised to see how closely they resembled castings sent to me from near Calcutta, where it is known that species of Perichaeta abound.

{39} 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoolog.' B. xxviii. 1877, p. 364.

{40} 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoolog.' B. xxviii. 1877, p. 356.

{41} Perrier, 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' tom. 3, p. 378, 1874.

{42} This case is given in a postscript to my paper in the 'Transact. Geolog. Soc.' (Vol. v. p. 505), and contains a serious error, as in the account received I mistook the figure 30 for 80. The tenant, moreover, formerly said that he had marled the field thirty years before, but was now positive that this was done in 1809, that is twenty-eight years before the first examination of the field by my friend. The error, as far as the figure 80 is concerned, was corrected in an article by me, in the 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' 1844, p. 218.

{43} These pits or pipes are still in process of formation. During the last forty years I have seen or heard of five cases, in which a circular space, several feet in diameter, suddenly fell in, leaving on the field an open hole with perpendicular sides, some feet in depth. This occurred in one of my own fields, whilst it was being rolled, and the hinder quarters of the shaft horse fell in; two or three cart-loads of rubbish were required to fill up the hole. The subsidence occurred where there was a broad depression, as if the surface had fallen in at several former periods. I heard of a hole which must have been suddenly formed at the bottom of a small shallow pool, where sheep had been washed during many years, and into which a man thus occupied fell to his great terror. The rain-water over this whole district sinks perpendicularly into the ground, but the chalk is more porous in certain places than in others. Thus the drainage from the overlying clay is directed to certain points, where a greater amount of calcareous matter is dissolved than elsewhere. Even narrow open channels are sometimes formed in the solid chalk. As the chalk is slowly dissolved over the whole country, but more in some parts than in others, the undissolved residue—that is the overlying mass of red clay with flints,—likewise sinks slowly down, and tends to fill up the pipes or cavities. But the upper part of the red clay holds together, aided probably by the roots of plants, for a longer time than the lower parts, and thus forms a roof, which sooner or later falls in, as in the above mentioned five cases. The downward movement of the clay may be compared with that of a glacier, but is incomparably slower; and this movement accounts for a singular fact, namely, that the much elongated flints which are embedded in the chalk in a nearly horizontal position, are commonly found standing nearly or quite upright in the red clay. This fact is so common that the workmen assured me that this was their natural position. I roughly measured one which stood vertically, and it was of the same length and of the same relative thickness as one of my arms. These elongated flints must get placed in their upright position, on the same principle that a trunk of a tree left on a glacier assumes a position parallel to the line of motion. The flints in the clay which form almost half its bulk, are very often broken, though not rolled or abraded; and this may he accounted for by their mutual pressure, whilst the whole mass is subsiding. I may add that the chalk here appears to have been originally covered in parts by a thin bed of fine sand with some perfectly rounded flint pebbles, probably of Tertiary age; for such sand often partly fills up the deeper pits or cavities in the chalk.

{44} S. W. Johnson, 'How Crops Feed,' 1870, p. 139.

{45} 'Nature,' November 1877, p. 28.

{46} 'Proc. Phil. Soc.' of Manchester, 1877, p. 247.

{47} 'Trans. of the New Zealand Institute,' vol. xii., 1880, p. 152.

{48} Mr. Lindsay Carnagie, in a letter (June 1838) to Sir C. Lyell, remarks that Scotch farmers are afraid of putting lime on ploughed land until just before it is laid down for pasture, from a belief that it has some tendency to sink. He adds: "Some years since, in autumn, I laid lime on an oat-stubble and ploughed it down; thus bringing it into immediate contact with the dead vegetable matter, and securing its thorough mixture through the means of all the subsequent operations of fallow. In consequence of the above prejudice, I was considered to have committed a great fault; but the result was eminently successful, and the practice was partially followed. By means of Mr. Darwin's observations, I think the prejudice will be removed."

{49} This conclusion, which, as we shall immediately see, is fully justified, is of some little importance, as the so-called bench- stones, which surveyors fix in the ground as a record of their levels, may in time become false standards. My son Horace intends at some future period to ascertain how far this has occurred.

{50} Mr. R. Mallet remarks ('Quarterly Journal of Geolog. Soc.' vol. xxxiii., 1877, p. 745) that "the extent to which the ground beneath the foundations of ponderous architectural structures, such as cathedral towers, has been known to become compressed, is as remarkable as it is instructive and curious. The amount of depression in some cases may be measured by feet." He instances the Tower of Pisa, but adds that it was founded on "dense clay."

{51} 'Zeitschrift fur wissensch. Zoolog.' Bd. xxviii., 1877, p. 360.

{52} See Mr. Dancer's paper in 'Proc. Phil. Soc. of Manchester,' 1877, p. 248.

{53} 'Lecons de Geologie pratique,' 1845, p. 142.

{54} A short account of this discovery was published in 'The Times' of January 2, 1878; and a fuller account in 'The Builder,' January 5, 1878.

{55} Several accounts of these ruins have been published; the best is by Mr. James Farrer in 'Proc. Soc. of Antiquaries of Scotland,' vol. vi., Part II., 1867, p. 278. Also J. W. Grover, 'Journal of the British Arch. Assoc.' June 1866. Professor Buckman has likewise published a pamphlet, 'Notes on the Roman Villa at Chedworth,' 2nd edit. 1873 Cirencester.

{56} These details are taken from the 'Penny Cyclopaedia,' article Hampshire.

{57} "On the denudation of South Wales," &c., 'Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain,' vol. 1., p. 297, 1846.

{58} 'Geological Magazine,' October and November, 1867, vol. iv. pp. 447 and 483. Copious references on the subject are given in this remarkable memoir.

{59} A. Tylor "On changes of the sea-level," &c., ' Philosophical Mag.' (Ser. 4th) vol. v., 1853, p. 258. Archibald Geikie, Transactions Geolog. Soc. of Glasgow, vol. iii., p. 153 (read March, 1868). Croll "On Geological Time," 'Philosophical Mag.,' May, August, and November, 1868. See also Croll, 'Climate and Time,' 1875, Chap. XX. For some recent information on the amount of sediment brought down by rivers, see 'Nature,' Sept. 23rd, 1880. Mr. T. Mellard Reade has published some interesting articles on the astonishing amount of matter brought down in solution by rivers. See Address, Geolog. Soc., Liverpool, 1876-77.

{60} "An account of the fine dust which often falls on Vessels in the Atlantic Ocean," Proc. Geolog. Soc. of London, June 4th, 1845.

{61} For La Plata, see my 'Journal of Researches,' during the voyage of the Beagle, 1845, p. 133. Elie de Beaumont has given ('Lecons de Geolog. pratique,' tom. I. 1845, p. 183) an excellent account of the enormous quantity of dust which is transported in some countries. I cannot but think that Mr. Proctor has somewhat exaggerated ('Pleasant Ways in Science,' 1879, p. 379) the agency of dust in a humid country like Great Britain. James Geikie has given ('Prehistoric Europe,' 1880, p. 165) a full abstract of Richthofen's views, which, however, he disputes.

{62} These statements are taken from Hensen in 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoologie.' Bd. xxviii., 1877, p. 360. Those with respect to peat are taken from Mr. A. A. Julien in 'Proc. American Assoc. Science,' 1879, p. 354.

{63} I have given some facts on the climate necessary or favourable for the formation of peat, in my 'Journal of Researches,' 1845, p. 287.

{64} A. A. Julien "On the Geological action of the Humus-acids," 'Proc. American Assoc. Science,' vol. xxviii., 1879, p. 311. Also on "Chemical erosion on Mountain Summits;" 'New York Academy of Sciences,' Oct. 14, 1878, as quoted in the 'American Naturalist.' See also, on this subject, S. W. Johnson, 'How Crops Feed,' 1870, p. 138.

{65} See, for references on this subject, S. W. Johnson, 'How Crops Feed,' 1870, p. 326.

{66} This statement is taken from Mr. Julien, 'Proc. American Assoc. Science,' vol. xxviii., 1879, p. 330.

{67} The preservative power of a layer of mould and turf is often shown by the perfect state of the glacial scratches on rocks when first uncovered. Mr. J. Geikie maintains, in his last very interesting work ('Prehistoric Europe,' 1881), that the more perfect scratches are probably due to the last access of cold and increase of ice, during the long-continued, intermittent glacial period.

{68} Many geologists have felt much surprise at the complete disappearance of flints over wide and nearly level areas, from which the chalk has been removed by subaerial denudation. But the surface of every flint is coated by an opaque modified layer, which will just yield to a steel point, whilst the freshly fractured, translucent surface will not thus yield. The removal by atmospheric agencies of the outer modified surfaces of freely exposed flints, though no doubt excessively slow, together with the modification travelling inwards, will, as may be suspected, ultimately lead to their complete disintegration, notwithstanding that they appear to be so extremely durable.

{69} 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' tom. iii. 1874, p. 409.

{70} 'Nouvelles Archives du Museum,' tom. viii. 1872, pp. 95, 131.

{71} Morren, in speaking of the earth in the alimentary canals of worms, says, "praesepe cum lapillis commixtam vidi:" 'De Lumbrici terrestris Hist. Nat.' &c., 1829, p. 16.

{72} Perrier, 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' tom. iii. 1874, p. 419.

{73} Morren, 'De Lumbrici terrestris Hist. Nat.' &c., p. 16.

{74} 'Archives de Zoolog. exper.' tom. iii. 1874, p. 418.

{75} This conclusion reminds me of the vast amount of extremely fine chalky mud which is found within the lagoons of many atolls, where the sea is tranquil and waves cannot triturate the blocks of coral. This mud must, as I believe ('The Structure and Distribution of Coral-Reefs,' 2nd edit. 1874, p. 19), be attributed to the innumerable annelids and other animals which burrow into the dead coral, and to the fishes, Holothurians, &c., which browse on the living corals.

{76} Anniversary Address: 'The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Soc.' May 1880, p. 59.

{77} Mr. James Wallace has pointed out that it is necessary to take into consideration the possibility of burrows being made at right angles to the surface instead of vertically down, in which case the lateral displacement of the soil would be increased.

{78} 'Elements of Geology,' 1865, p. 20.

{79} 'Lecons de Geologie pratique, 1845; cinquieme Lecon. All Elie de Beaumont's arguments are admirably controverted by Prof. A. Geikie in his essay in Transact. Geolog. Soc. of Glasgow, vol. iii. p. 153, 1868.

{80} 'Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth,' p. 107.

{81} Mr. E. Tylor in his Presidential address ('Journal of the Anthropological Institute,' May 1880, p. 451) remarks: "It appears from several papers of the Berlin Society as to the German 'high- fields' or 'heathen-fields' (Hochacker, and Heidenacker) that they correspond much in their situation on hills and wastes with the 'elf-furrows' of Scotland, which popular mythology accounts for by the story of the fields having been put under a Papal interdict, so that people took to cultivating the hills. There seems reason to suppose that, like the tilled plots in the Swedish forest which tradition ascribes to the old 'hackers,' the German heathen-fields represent tillage by an ancient and barbaric population."

{82} White of Selborne has some good remarks on the service performed by worms in loosening, &c., the soil. Edit, by L. Jenyns, 1843, p. 281.

{83} 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoolog.' B. xxviii. 1877, p. 360.


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