Ailsa's Section

Sometimes in our literature surveys we stumble upon great comments from our predecessors. It seems the restrictions of peer reviewed papers these days limits some philosophizing, solemnizing and the inevitable snide remark. But look back a few years and you may find some good quips. Occasionally we also come across the artistic inclusion of the beloved echinoderm in the 'civilian' literature while enjoying some leisure reading. Keep on the lookout!


Contributed by J.M. Lawrence

Haeckel, E. 1876. The history of creation: or the development of the earth and its inhabitants by the action of natural causes. A popular exposition of the doctrine of evolution in general, and of that of Darwin, Goethe, and Larmarck in particular.

     "Every Star-fish consists of a central, small, body-disc, all round the circumference of which are attached five or several long articulated arms. Each arm of the Star-fish essentially corresponds in its organization with an articulated worm of the class of Ring-worms, or Annelida. I therefore consider the Star-fish as a genuine stock or cormus1 of five or more articulated worms, which have arisen by the star-wise growth of a number of buds out of a central mother-worm. The connected members, thus grouped like the rays of a star, have inherited from the mother-worm the common opening of the mouth, and the common digestive cavity (stomach) lying in the central body-disc. The end by which they have grown together, and which fuses in the common central disc, probably corresponds to the posterior end of the original independent worms...The most important proofs, however, of the truth of my hypothesis are furnished by the ontogeny or the individual development of the Echinoderma." "The fully developed Echinoderm arises by a very remarkable process of budding in the interior of the "nurse", or which it retains little more than the stomach. The nurse, erroneously called the "larva," of the Echinoderm, must accordingly be regarded as a solitary worm, which by internal buddying produces a second generation, in the form of a stock of star-shaped and connected worms. The whole of this process is a genuine alternation of generations, or metagenesis, not a "metamorphosis," as is generally though erroneously stated. A similar alternation of generations also occurs in many other worms, especially in some star worms (Sipunculidę), and cord worms (Nemertinę). Now if, bearing in mind, the fundamental law of biogeny, we refer the ontogeny of Echinoderma to their phylogeny, then the whole historical development of the Star-fishes suddenly becomes clear and intelligible to us, whereas without this hypothesis it remains an insoluble mystery."

    1A cormus is a colony.

Contributed by J.M. Lawrence

Immer, A. 2000. Nine wine myths. Esquire. May. p. 46.

     "Anyone who has gotten into the bold, fullbodied genre of superintense California chardonnay knows these wines clobber fish. And the only fish I have ever had that did not work with (other) red wine was sea urchin."

Contributed by J.M. Lawrence

Clancy, T., and M. Greenberg. 1999. Power Plays: Shadow Watch.

    "Rick said, "The eagles prefer eating fish to anything else, but when they're really hungry or nursing a brood, they'll make a meal out of whatever they can sink their talons into...She shot a glance across the table at him. "How about urchins?" Rick smiled a little. "Them too," he said...Either of you ever hear about urchin diving?" "Pete?" Ricci said. "Only that urchins are a specialty item in foreign seafood markets. I'd assume they can bring good money."...Megan looked at him. "If somebody had told me that when I was ten, I'd be worth millions today. My big brother and I would walk along the beach and collect them off the jetties in our plastic buckets. Then we'd fill the buckets with ocean water and try to convince our parents to let us bring them home as pets. My dad would tell me to get those damned sea porcupines out of the house."..."Most of the oldtime lobstermen still refer to them as whore's eggs because they mess up their traps. Clog the vents, eat the bait, even chew through the headings and lathe to get at the bait. The nasty little buggers have some sharp teeth to go with their spines."..."The urchins are found in colonies, usually in subtidal kelp beds. Once upon a time they practically carpeted the bottom of the Penobscot from the shoreline on out, so you could scoop them up without dunking your head." He paused. "Past few years have been slim pickings. Overharvesting's driven the value of the catch up into the stratosphere, and made people so protective of their zones they're baring their teeth and beating their chests if you come anywhere close to them."

Contributed by Malcolm Shick

Ackroyd, Peter. LONDON: THE BIOGRAPHY, Nan A.  Talese/Doubleday, New York, 2001, p. 6.

    "If you were to touch the plinth upon which the equestrian statue of  King Charles I is placed, at Charing Cross, your fingers might rest upon the projecting fossils of sea lilies, starfish or sea urchins."