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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/878

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860
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ease and for productiveness. Dividing the first twelve years of the fourteen into periods of four years each, he obtained for the first period an average of sixteen tubers from each single best seed-tuber; for the second period, nineteen; and for the third period, twenty-seven, or nearly double the yield of the first period. This plan of selection is on trial, in India, for cotton, and the reports so far received show already a marked difference in its favor.

 

The Mound-Builders in Mexico.—Mr. F. F. Hilder, in a paper on "The Archæology of Missouri," summarizes the results of the efforts of Mr. S. B. Evans to follow the works of the mound-builders down the Mississippi Valley, and connect them with the ancient works in Mexico. Beginning in Minnesota, Mr. Evans has, by personal survey, found an unbroken chain of these works along the great river to the Gulf, with colonies on the principal tributaries traversing the States that border on that stream. "Mounds were found along the entire route, and on the shores of the Gulf. Crossing into Mexico, the chain, dropped in the sea at Galveston, was recovered near Vera Cruz. On the plain of Cholula is a mound that, if transferred to Cahokia, would fit the landscape, and appear in general keeping with the works. On the other hand, if the great mound of Cahokia were brought in presence of Popocatepetl, it would not be abashed, but would be a fit companion of the pyramid. The pyramids of the sun and moon at Teotlihuacan would be mounds in Virginia and Ohio; and the great mounds of Grave Creek and Selzertown might embellish the 'ancient city of the gods.' Excavations were made in Mexican mounds, as they were made in the United States, and substantially the results were the same."

 

Elephant-Service in Africa.—Mr. L. K. Rankin, of the Belgian Elephant Expedition in Africa, has made a statement of the probable value of the practical service that may be expected from elephants if their introduction as carriers is attempted in that continent. When the expedition reached Mpwapwa, a report was drawn up to be sent to the King of the Belgians, which stated that "the elephant expedition has now been proved a complete success." This assertion was justified by Carter, the head of the expedition, now deceased, on the three counts of—1. The immunity of the elephants against the tsetse-fly after twenty-three days of exposure to that insect; 2. Their maintenance during one month mostly upon the uncultivated food of the country, and therefore at little cost (only about twenty-five rupees, or fifteen dollars, for four); and, 3. Their ability to march over all kinds of ground, soft, stony, sandy, boggy; to conquer all eccentricities of topography—hill and dale, river and jungle—while laboring under double their due weight of baggage, some fifteen hundred instead of seven hundred pounds; and this in a style that no other beast of burden could hope to emulate. This brilliant forecast received a seeming bitter contradiction in less than a week, when the largest and most valuable elephant, returning from a day's expedition, in apparently good health, suddenly lay down and died. Mr. Rankin believes that the death, which was followed shortly afterward by that of another elephant, was caused by exhaustion brought on by imposing too heavy loads and too severe labors upon the animal, combined with too great a change from the strong food it had enjoyed in India to the wild grasses of Africa. The animals had been stall-fed in India, "on the fat of the land," while in Africa they were turned out to forage for themselves, and very little corn and rice was bought for them. Whereas, according to Sanderson, seven hundred pounds is the limit-weight an elephant should carry on flat ground for a prolonged time, these animals bore at first twelve hundred, then fifteen hundred, and at one time seventeen hundred pounds; while they daily climbed the most tremendous hills. These views are enforced by the fact that, while the elephants were fat and round at starting, they had lost so much flesh by the time they reached Mpwapwa, that their backbones stood up six or seven inches from their flanks! These facts resulted from faults in management, in insufficiency of preparations for the expedition, and mistaken views of economy, and should not be allowed to prevail against the competency of elephants, under good management, to endure reasonable service, on which hardly any doubt is thrown. Dearly bought