Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/149

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

wood. The specimen is that of a snake called the jararaca, one of the most venomous reptiles of the province of Matto Grosso, in Brazil, which, having crept into a crack in the bark of a tree, has died there, and afterward become lignified. As the cut shows, but less plainly than the specimen itself, the head, neck, and other parts of the animal are clearly delineated, and the most delicate details of the organization are plainly visible in many regions—as in the nostrils and the eye-cavities, and in the disposition of the scales and the cephalic plate on a whole half of the surface of the head. And the identity of the figure with the little jararaca of Brazil has been acknowledged to be evident by persons who are acquainted with that reptile. M. Louis Olivier, of the Botanical Society of France, who has made an anatomical examination of the figure, reports that he has found it to be composed of cells and fibers like those of the secondary wood which surrounds it. "The formation," he says, "can not be explained by saying that it has resulted from the deposition of the elements in a hollow, which, having been traversed by the animal, has preserved its form; for not only the contour of the serpent, but the whole relief of his form, is recognizable in the wood.

PSM V22 D149 A lignified snake of matto grosso.jpg
The Lignified Snake of Matto grosso (one half size of nature).

The entire body of the animal has been thus lignified, except the center, where the constituent elements of the animal still exist. Following the line of the projection of the head may be seen a cylindrical figure, also in relief, which seems to represent the larva of an insect. The deduction is therefore drawn that the reptile, pursuing the insect into a crack in the tree, had insinuated itself between the wood and the bark, or into the zone of the cambium, out of which the wood and inner bark are formed. Having died there, it went through the process of decay, in the course of which each animal particle as it was dissolved was replaced by a particle of woody tissue deposited by the cambium. The specimen was exhibited to the Botanical Society of France on the 9th of April last, when, as we learn from a note from M. Olivier to Senhor Netto, there were present M. Bonnet, President; M. Chatin, General Secretary, etc.; M. Duchartre, Professor in