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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/58

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

We have only to omit the nasal bones and nostrils, to continue this forward extrusion of the olfactory nerves and their bulbs and branches, to coat them with suitable sheaths provided with muscles for mobility, and we have the antennæ of insects. I submit this view of the comparative anatomy of these organs as my own speculation, to be taken for what it is worth.

There is no doubt that the antennæ of these creatures are connected by nerve-stalks with the anterior part of their supra-œsophageal ganglia—i. e., the nervous centers corresponding to our brain.

But what kind and degree of power must such olfactory organs possess? The dog has, relatively to the rest of his brain, a much greater development of the olfactory nerves and ganglia than man has. His powers of smell are so much greater than ours that we find it difficult to conceive the possibility of what we actually see him do. As an example, I may describe an experiment I made upon a blood-hound of the famous Cuban breed. He belonged to a friend whose house is situated on an eminence commanding an extensive view. I started from the garden and wandered about a mile away, crossed several fields by sinuous courses, climbing over stiles and jumping ditches, always keeping the house in view; I then returned by quite a different track. The blood-hound was set upon the beginning of my track. I watched him from a window galloping rapidly, and following all its windings without the least halting or hesitation. It was as clear to his nose as a graveled path or a luminous streak would be to our eyes. On his return I went down to him, and without approaching nearer than five or six yards he recognized me as the object of his search, proving this by circling round me, baying deeply and savagely though harmlessly, as he always kept at about the same distance.

If the difference of development between the human and canine internal antennæ produces all this difference of function, what a gulf may there be between our powers of perceiving material emanations and those possessed by insects! If my anatomical hypothesis is correct, some insects have protruding nasal organs or out-thrust olfactory nerves as long as all the rest of their bodies. The power of movement of these in all directions affords the means of sensory communication over a corresponding range, instead of being limited merely to the direction of the nostril-openings. In some insects, such as the plumed gnat, the antennæ do not appear to be thus movable, but this want of mobility is more than compensated by the multitude of branchings of these wonderful organs whereby they are simultaneously exposed in every direction. This structure is analogous to the fixed but multiplied eyes of insects, which, by seeing all round at once, compensate for the want of that mobility possessed by others that have but a single eyeball mounted on a flexible and mobile stalk; that of the spider, for example.

Such an extension of such a sensory function is equivalent to liv-