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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/581

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

number of crops that their food is almost entirely confined to oatmeal, and milk, or its products. Under such conditions only the most vigorous children can survive; consequently a natural selection has been going on for centuries, by the operation of which the people have acquired a superior stature and cranial capacity. The legends and traditions go back to a period when the people's ancestors were all brigands, and were at the same time very religious, and when their moral and religious sentiments were wholly independent of each other, or, we might say, contradictory. They were accustomed never to start off on a predatory expedition without invoking God and the saints for. the success of the enterprise, and the legends are full of testimonies of the protection that Heaven accorded to the robbers. The Church of St. Anne, at Nowy Targ, it is said, was built by thieves as a thank-offering for the care the Lord took of them in one of their expeditions! The population appears to have been produced from crosses of the neighboring races, which ceased after it became considerable enough to take care of itself, and it has consolidated its traits under the immediate influences of its environment. The Podolian territory, protected by its inclosure of steep mountains, was in the old times the refuge of the outlaws of the neighboring country, who met there and laid the foundations of the present race. The chief element in the composition was probably furnished by Poles, whom the Podolians resemble in psychological traits and language more than they do their other neighbors. Next in importance, perhaps, were the Slovacks, with whom linguistic affinities are traceable. The mental traits, tastes, and culture of the Podolians are peculiar, and in some respects incongruous with the conditions of their life. They are addicted to letters, music, and poetry, and are very religious. The only one of the races around them that share these tastes is the Ruthenians, but they are at the same time capricious in disposition, and lacking in energy, activity, and perseverance, while the Podolians are the opposite. We must infer, then, that the Podolians derive their refined tastes by inheritance from Ruthenian ancestors, while their more vigorous qualities have been developed under the influence of the struggles which they have had to maintain with the physical conditions of their country. The superior cranial capacity of the Podolians, which is remarkable, is likewise probably owing to the constant draft which circumstances have made upon their resources and the activity of their intelligence.

 

Fossil Insects.—Mr. H. Goss has recently concluded a series of papers reviewing the studies of several paleontologists in fossil insects. The hexapod insects constitute, after the crustaceans, the most numerous class of ancient articulates with which we are acquainted. Remains of their wings, quite distinguishable, are found in the Devonian formations of America and the Carboniferous of Europe. Myriapods appear first in the Trias; and Arachnids had not, until scorpions were recently discovered in the Carboniferous of Scotland, been found below the Jurassic. The two most ancient insects known are two which Mr. Scudder has described from the fern-marked Devonian strata of New Brunswick, one of which is allied with the Neuroptera, or dragon-flies, the other with the Orthoptera. These classes seem to have the field to themselves till the Carboniferous period, when the Hemiptera and Coleoptera (and our Scottish scorpion) first appear. The most common insects of the Palæozoic and Mesozoic epochs appear to be of the family of the cockroaches, which are very abundant in both continents, and which Mr. Scudder has made the subject of a special monograph. Insect remains become more abundant in the Jurassic epoch. A certain limestone of the English Lias is so full of them that it is called the insect limestone. The Coleoptera are most numerous, probably because their horny elytræ better resist decay, but Hymenoptera and Diptera also are found at Solenhofen and Purbeck. The cretaceous and tertiary beds, however, have furnished the largest number of specimens that have been studied by paleontologists, the multiplication of insects having, it seems, been greatly favored by the prevalence of angiospermous vegetation. The Lepidoptera appear last, and are rare, not more than ten authentic types of them having been recognized. Certain beds, such as those of Solenhofen, Aix in Provence,