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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/620

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Excepting from man, the birds and beasts of prey have little to fear. Their offensive weapons are terribly effective. And, besides teeth and claws, the lion and tiger can strike such blows with their paws as will kill a buffalo at a stroke. The cud-chewing mammals have horns which may, with even the most timid, be efficient as a desperate resort. These are of various kinds as regards form, structure, growth, and duration. The principal kinds are represented by those of the deer, giraffe, antelope, and ox. The efficiency of these natural weapons is greater than would be imagined from a knowledge simply of our domestic animals. The water-buffalo of India (to quote from Wood) "is a most fierce and dangerous animal, savage to a marvelous degree, and not hesitating to charge any animal that may arouse its ready ire. An angry buffalo has been known to attack a tolerably sized elephant, and, by a vigorous charge in the ribs, to prostrate its huge foe. Even the tiger is found to quail before the buffalo, and displays the greatest uneasiness in its presence." Of the gaur, Wood says, "These herds ... in their own domains bear supreme rule, neither tiger, rhinoceros, nor elephant daring to attack them." Some antelopes are on occasion quite a match for the lion.

The horn of the rhinoceros is very different from those of the ruminants. Its peculiar situation on the nose makes it a very ugly and efficient weapon. It is placed on the middle of an arch of bone, the latter being free at one end so as to give elasticity. Many animals, particularly the horse tribe, make excellent use of the feet. Of the use of the hind-feet, the mule is a striking but somewhat threadbare illustration. The elk and related animals strike with the fore-feet, and are able to cope with a dog or wolf.

The ostrich and the secretary-bird also kick; and the latter, as is also true of many birds, gives heavy blows with its wing.

The kangaroo uses his hind-feet less to kick than to cut and disembowel his antagonist. The bear employs much the same tactics. He hugs and crushes his antagonist with his fore-legs, and strikes and tears with either foot.

The elephant uses his great weight to literally crush his foe. But his weapon is his elongated nose.

Another example of the nose used as a weapon is found in the sword-fish. Here the bones of the skull are produced to form a thick beak, or sword, which points forward directly in a line with the body. With this lance, five or six feet long, the fish is able to pierce even through a ship's bottom. The British Museum is said to contain a sword imbedded in the planking of a ship. Accounts have been given of the sword-fish attacking and even killing the whale.

The saw-fish, a sort of shark, has a similar beak, not sharp pointed, however, but blunt and armed with teeth on either edge. It can be used as a lance, and has been deeply driven into a ship's timbers. It is used mainly for striking, and, if the animal attacked is moving, the