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BIOLOGICAL NOTES

    Abstract

    DECORATIVE COLOURING IN FRESHWATER FLEAS.—There is something essentially comic in the notion of a freshwater flea—a species of the entomostracous crustaceous Daphnoidæ—becoming beautifully ornamented with patches of scarlet and blue, for the purpose of seducing the affections of the opposite sex. If a scarlet coat is appreciated by the females of the very fleas of this great family to which we all belong, we ought not to be surprised at hereditary predispositions in favour of this colour, and should conclude on this ground, as on many others, that the civilian male Anthropini of western Europe have taken a foolish and unnatural step, within the last hundred years, in abandoning the use of brilliantly-coloured clothing, and giving over the exceptional advantages which it confers to soldiers and huntsmen. The figures given by Prof. August Weismann, in the Zeitschr. wiss. Zoologie (1878, Supplement 1), show us the water-fleas, Polyphemus and Latona, most gorgeously got up in blue and scarlet. Goethe, though he never saw them, foretold their appearance:—

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