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Water-Flea

WATER-FLEA, a name given by the earlier microscopists (Swammerdam, 1669) to certain minute aquatic Crustacea of the order Cladocera, but often applied also to other members of the division Entomostraca (?..). The Cladocera are abundant everywhere in fresh water. One of the commonest species, Daphnia pulex, found in ponds and ditches, is less than onetenth of an inch in length and has the body enclosed in a transparent bivalved shell. The head, projecting in front of the shell, bears a pair of branched feathery antennae which are the chief swimming organs and propel the animal, in a succession of rapid bounds, through the water. There is a single large black eye. In the living animal five pairs of leaf-like limbs acting as gills can be observed in constant motion between the valves of the shell, and the pulsating heart may be seen near the dorsal surface, a little way behind the head. The body ends behind in a kind of tail Parker and HaswetPs Text-Book of Zojloty, by permission of Macmillan & Co.

Daphnia (after Claus). ant. I. antennule. d.gl. Digestive ant. 2. Antenna. eland.

with a double curved daw br Brain f _ Swimming- which can be protruded br.p. Brood- feet, from the shell. The female pouch, ht. Heart, carries the eggs in a brood- E - Eve - sh -&- Shell-gland, chamber between the back of the body and the shell until hatching takes place. Throughout the greater part of the year only females occur and the eggs develop " parthenogenetically," without fertilization. When the small males appear, generally in the autumn, fertilized " winter " or " resting eggs " are produced which are cast adrift in a case of " ephippium " formed by a specially modified part of the shell. These resting eggs enable the race to survive the cold of winter or the drying up of the water. For a fuller account of the Cladocera and of other organisms which sometimes share with them the name of " water-fleas," see the article ENTOMOSTRACA. (W. T. CA.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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