Mr. Potts, of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, observes that the order Spongidæ has many more representatives in our fresh waters than has generally been supposed. He recently described to the Academy three species of Spongilla which he found in a small stream near Philadelphia. Since then he has found the Spongilla fragilis of Leidy plentifully in the Schuylkill below the dam, and a lacustrine form above the dam, and has obtained a very slender green species which appears creeping along stems of Sphagnum, etc., in a swamp near Absecum, New Jersey; a beautiful species from the Adirondack lakes; another lacustrine form from the lake near the Catskill Mountain House; and four species from an old cellar at Lehigh Gap, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Edward R. Alston, a British working naturalist of growing reputation, died in London, March 7th. He contributed articles to "The Zoölogist" and other journals, chiefly on mammals and birds, published an account of a journey to Archangel and of the birds he observed there, was engaged in the compilation of the part of the " Record" relating to mammals, and of the new edition (1874) of Bell's "British Mammals," published a revision of the genera of the Rodentia (1876), and "Memoirs on the Mammals of Asia Minor" (1877 and 1880), and prepared the "Mammals" of Salvin and Godman's "Biologia Centrali-Americana" (1879 and 1880).
Honor to American Science.—Professor John W. Draper has been elected one of the twelve honorary members of the Physical Society of London, under the presidency of Sir William Thomson.
Professor S. Calvin, of the University of Iowa, not R. S. Calvin, as it was erroneously printed, is the author of the article entitled "A Piece of Coal," published in the March number of the "Monthly."
Dr. James Lewis, a well-known American conchologist, died at his home in Mohawk, New York, February 23d.
"Land and Water" has a curious account of a rat which, feeding upon the oysters in an oyster-cellar in London, was caught by one of the mollusks and held fast by the tail. It adds: "We have seen several instances of mice being caught by oysters. In the collection of the late Frank Buckland were several specimens, but in all these instances the mice were caught by their heads. In one case, two mice had fallen victims to an oyster."
Mr. John B. Hansler has made a study of the source of the drift-ice which accumulates in the harbor of New York during the severe weather of winter, and has traced the principal part of it to the Tappan Zee and Haverstraw Bay. In order to prevent future obstruction of the harbor, he proposes to confine the ice to the waters in which it is formed, by stretching cable netting across the river at the narrows below the Tappan Zee. The cost of the structures needed to effect the object would be, he believes, less than the amount of damage now frequently suffered from ice in a single season. The presumption that his plan would be sufficient is strengthened by the fact that the bridge of the Central Railroad of New Jersey over Newark Bay has wholly stopped the drifting of ice from that water through the Kill van Kull.
M. de Molon has obtained from the peats of Brittany, by means of suitable reagents, benzine, paraffine, fatty oils, phenols, resinous matters, acetic acid, and seventeen or eighteen per cent. of a waxy substance analogous to the resins, which in distillation furnishes enough paraffine to make the preparation profitable. The same peat affords an illuminating gas superior to that obtained from coal, and one third cheaper.
M. Bourdon has devised a system of drainage by means of which the underground atmosphere of a whole vineyard may be uniformly and effectively impregnated with sulphuret of carbon for the prevention of phylloxera. The expense of setting the system in operation is great, but after this a saving may be realized of four fifths of the material it has hitherto been necessary to use.
M. F. Zurcher has contributed a new element to the discussion of the question of the relation between the number of sunspots and the rainfall. He has made a comparison of the maximum heights of the inundation of the Nile and of the numbers of sun-spots as indicated by Wolf, for forty-five years, from 1825 to 1870. The curves representing the two values show a parallelism throughout that is remarkable, if nothing more.
M. Gaston Bonnier has found, from investigations recently made in Austria and Hungary, that the intensity in the color of flowers of the same species increases with the altitude, though in a less marked degree than the deepening of color that corresponds with a greater height of latitude. The fact has been made clear to him in many cases by the comparison of colors in two, three, four, and sometimes five places of increasing altitude, in which the hues showed a gradation of intensity. A microscopical examination disclosed that the change was not occasioned by a new disposition of the coloring matter, but by an increase in the number of grains of pigment on a given surface.