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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/625

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609
ANIMAL SELF-DEFENSE.

start off, making a series of sharp turns and dives, sometimes over bushes and at others through them. When it conceives that it is observed, it will crouch in the long grass or behind a bush, as though it were going to lie down. This conduct is, however, nothing but a ruse for the purpose of concealing its retreat, as it will then crawl along under the foliage for several yards, and, when it has gone to some distance in this sly manner, it will again bound away."

When a slug or naked snail enters a bee-hive, the bees fall upon him and sting him to death, as a matter of course. But what to do with the carcass then becomes a vital question. And now is exhibited the wonderful intelligence of the social insects. The body is too large for the bees to move; but if left it will breed pestilence. They cover it with wax; they embalm it, as did nations of old their dead. But a shelled snail entering the hive is invulnerable to their weapons, so they cement his shell to the bottom of the hive. It is a sentence of imprisonment for life, with no hope of pardon. Yet such manifestations of thought we call "instinct," because we wish to monopolize "intelligence."

Oddest of all defensive methods is that of snapping off the tail. The blind-worm, or slow-worm, is a little snake-like lizard common in

PSM V21 D625 Blind worm anguis fragilis.jpg
Fig. 12.—Blind-Worm (Anguis fragilis).

the Old World. When alarmed it contracts its muscles in such manner and degree as to break its tail off at a considerable distance from the end. But how can this aid it? The detached tail then dances about very lively, holding the attention of the offender, while the lizard himself slinks away. And for a considerable time the tail retains its capability of twisting and jumping every time it is struck. The lizard will then grow another tail, so as to be prepared for another