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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/54

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

our human point of view is that of supposing human intelligence to be the only kind of intelligence in existence. The fact is, that what we call the lower animals have special intelligence of their own as far transcending our intelligence as our peculiar reasoning intelligence exceeds theirs. We are as incapable of following the track of a friend by the smell of his footsteps as a dog is of writing a metaphysical treatise.

So with insects. They are probably acquainted with a whole world of physical facts of which we are utterly ignorant. Our auditory apparatus supplies us with a knowledge of sounds. What are these sounds? They are vibrations of matter which are capable of producing corresponding or sympathetic vibrations of the drums of our ears or the bones of our skull. When we carefully examine the subject, and count the number of vibrations that produce our world of sounds of varying pitch, we find that the human ear can only respond to a limited range of such vibrations. If they exceed three thousand per second, the sound becomes too shrill for average people to hear it, though some exceptional ears can take up pulsations, or waves, that succeed each other more rapidly than this.

Reasoning from the analogy of stretched strings and membranes, and of air vibrating in tubes, etc., we are justified in concluding that the smaller the drum or tube the higher will be the note it produces when agitated, and the smaller and the more rapid the aërial wave to which it will respond. The drums of insect-ears, and the tubes, etc., connected with them, are so minute that their world of sounds probably begins where ours ceases; that what appears to us as a continuous sound is to them a series of separated blows, just as vibrations of ten or twelve per second appear separated to us. We begin to hear such vibrations as continuous sounds when they amount to about thirty per second. The insect's continuous sound probably begins beyond three thousand. The blue-bottle may thus enjoy a whole world of exquisite music of which we know nothing.

There is another very suggestive peculiarity in the auditory apparatus of insects. Its structure and position are something between those of an ear and of an eye. Careful examination of the head of one of our domestic companions—the common cockroach or black beetle—will reveal two round white points, somewhat higher than the base of the long outer antennæ, and a little nearer to the middle line of the head. These white projecting spots are formed by the outer transparent membrane of a bag or ball filled with fluid, which ball or bag rests inside another cavity in the head. It resembles our own eye in having this external transparent tough membrane which corresponds to the cornea; which, like the cornea, is backed by the fluid in the ear-ball corresponding to our eyeball, and the back of this ear-ball appears to receive the outspreadings of a nerve, just as the back of our eye is lined with the outspread of the optic nerve forming the