The principal difference is in their mode of multiplication by fission. The former is in every way like a bacterium in its mode of self-division. It divides, acquiring for each half a flagellum in division, and then, in its highest vigor, in about four minutes, each half divides again.

The second form does not divide into two, but into many, and thus although the whole process is slower, develops with greater rapidity. But both ultimately multiply - that is, commence new generations - by the equivalent of a sexual process.

These would average about four times the size of Bacterium termo; and when once they gain a place on and about the putrefying tissues, their relatively powerful and incessant action, their enormous multitude, and the manner in which they glide over, under, and beside each other, as they invest the fermenting mass, is worthy of close study. It has been the life history of these organisms, and not their relations as ferment, that has specially occupied my fullest attention; but it would be in a high degree interesting if we could discover, or determine, what besides the vegetative or organic processes of nutrition are being effected by one, or both, of these organisms on the fast yielding mass. Still more would it be of interest to discover what, if any, changes were wrought in the pabulum, or fluid generally. For after some extended observations I have found that it is only after one or other or both, of these organisms have performed their part in the destructive ferment, that subsequent and extremely interesting changes arise.

It is true that in some three or four instances of this saprophytic destruction of organic tissues, I have observed that, after the strong bacterial investment, there has arisen, not the two forms just named, nor either of them, but one or other of the striking forms now called Tetramitus rostratus and Polytoma uvella; but this has been in relatively few instances. The rule is that Cercomonas typica or its congener precedes other forms, that not only succeed them in promoting and carrying to a still further point the putrescence of the fermenting substance, but appear to be aided in the accomplishment of this by mechanical means.

By this time the mass of tissue has ceased to cohere. The mass has largely disintegrated, and there appears among the countless bacterial and monad forms some one, and sometimes even three forms, that while they at first swim and gyrate, and glide about the decomposing matter, which is now much less closely invested by Cercomonas typica, or those organisms that may have acted in its place, they also resort to an entirely new mode of movement.

One of these forms is Heteromita rostrata, which, it will be remembered, in addition to a front flagellum, has also a long fiber or flagellum-like appendage that gracefully trails as it swims. At certain periods of its life they anchor themselves in countless billions all over the fermenting tissues, and as I have described in the life history of this form, they coil their anchored fiber, as does a vorticellan, bringing the body to the level of the point of anchorage, then shoot out the body with lightning-like rapidity, and bring it down like a hammer on some point of the decomposition. It rests here for a second or two, and repeats the process; and this is taking place by what seems almost like rhythmic movement all over the rotting tissue. The results are scarcely visible in the mass. But if a group of these organisms be watched, attached to a small particle of the fermenting tissue, it will be seen to gradually diminish, and at length to disappear.

Now, there are at least two other similar forms, one of which, Heteromita uncinata, is similar in action, and the other of which, Dallingeria drysdali, is much more powerful, being possessed of a double anchor, and springing down upon the decadent mass with relatively far greater power.

Now, it is under the action of these last forms that in a period varying from one month to two or three the entire substance of the organic tissues disappears, and the decomposition has been designated by me "exhausted"; nothing being left in the vessel but slightly noxious and pale gray water, charged with carbonic acid, and a fine, buff colored, impalpable sediment at the bottom.

My purpose is not, by this brief notice, to give an exhaustive, or even a sufficient account, of the progress of fermentative action, by means of saprophytic organisms, on great masses of tissue; my observations have been incidental, but they lead me to the conclusion that the fermentative process is not only not carried through by what are called saprophytic bacteria, but that a series of fermentative organisms arise, which succeed each other, the earlier ones preparing the pabulum or altering the surrounding medium, so as to render it highly favorable to a succeeding form. On the other hand, the succeeding form has a special adaptation for carrying on the fermentative destruction more efficiently from the period at which it arises, and thus ultimately of setting free the chemical elements locked up in dead organic compounds.

That these later organisms are saprophytic, although not bacterial, there can be no doubt. A set of experiments, recorded by me in the proceedings of this society some years since, would go far to establish this (Monthly Microscopical Journal, 1876, p. 288). But it may be readily shown, by extremely simple experiments, that these forms will set up fermentative decomposition rapidly if introduced in either a desiccated or living condition, or in the spore state, into suitable but sterilized pabulum.

Thus while we have specific ferments which bring about definite and specific results, and while even infusions of proteid substances may be exhaustively fermented by saprophytic bacteria, the most important of all ferments, that by which nature's dead organic masses are removed, is one which there is evidence to show is brought about by the successive vital activities of a series of adapted organisms, which are forever at work in every region of the earth.