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The Formation of Vegetable Mould

Charles Darwin

Book Overview: 

Charles Darwin LL.B F.R.S was the discoverer of evolution and argued the role of "natural selection" in directing the evolution of species. Darwin also had an interest in the formation of soils (moulds) that began relatively early in his life, with a paper "On the Formation of Vegetable Moulds" delivered to the Geological Society of London.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . the lime, which had fallen off the trees and had been partly dragged into worm-burrows.  It is known that with fallen leaves the starch-grains are preserved in the guard-cells of the stomata.  Now in several cases the starch had partially or wholly disappeared from these cells, in the parts which had been moistened by the secretion; while it was still well preserved in the other parts of the same leaves.  Sometimes the starch was dissolved out of only one of the two guard-cells.  The nucleus in one case had disappeared, together with the starch-granules.  The mere burying of lime-leaves in damp earth for nine days did not cause the destruction of the starch-granules.  On the other hand, the immersion of fresh lime and cherry leaves for eighteen hours in artificial pancreatic fluid, led to the dissolution of the starch-granules in the guard-cells as well as in the other cells.

From the secretion with which the leaves are moistened being alkaline, an. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Solucanlar hakkında yazılan en önemli hem deneysel hem de akademik bir kitap. Solucanlar dünyanın en önemli canlılarından birisi. Alışkanlıkları, Toprak ile ilişkisi, jeoloji-arkeoloji ile ilişkisi gibi konuları detaylıca anlatıyor Darwin. Biyoloji merakı, solucan merakı olanların okuması tavsiye ed

Worms have always fascinated me, but I haven’t read anything on them. I was just a casual obsessive, and did my best to make their lives great in my yard. That said, I really loved this.

Lastige woordenschat maar heel leuk om te lezen, zeer aandoenlijke experimenten.

Darwin’s little book on earthworms was the last of his scientific works, published in the year before his death in 1882 and more than 20 years after the great work, On the Origin of Species. The Formation of Vegetable Mould has an autumnal feeling; much of it is based on observations and experiments

The patience of this man was incredible! I'm not a scientist at all, but I am fascinated by Darwin's collaborations, experiments, & ceaseless measuring.

I learnt about this work from R. Dawkins and was quite courious what Darwin had to tell us about those ubiquitous creatures: earth-worms. Darwin was an expert on long-term phenomena: he discovered evolution and was fascinated by tectonics. This is another phenomenon: worms forming mould, changing ro

Charles Darwin describing an earthworm taking a crap:
A worm after swallowing earth, whether for making its burrow or for food, soon comes to the surface to empty its body. The ejected earth is thoroughly mingled with the intestinal secretions, and is thus rendered viscid. After being dried it sets h

This is one of Darwin's more obscure works, and as such I think it gives a special measure of the man's calibre as a scientist and observer. On the one hand, it is all of a piece with his Lyellian gradualism to show what lowly earthworms can achieve across millennia of small-scale vomiting. On the o

I like Darwin (viz my interest in Stephen Jay Gould), and I found this, the first of his books I've read, enjoyable in spite of what I confess as the tediousness of scientific precision - tiresome to read, but entirely admirable in conscientious thoroughness. Also a tribute to the loyalty and dedica

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