Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/613

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QUEER PHASES OF ANIMAL LIFE.

the dark-colored clusters of the feather-mistletoe (Viscum rubrum) which frequents the tree-tops of this mountain-region. Closely resembling clusters of feathery leaves and feathery hair are often seen side by side on the same branch. Which of them is the animated one? A load of buckshot may fail to settle the point. I have seen a troop of

PSM V22 D613 Martyrs to free inquiry antics of wild monkeys.jpg
Fig. 3.—Martyrs to Free Inquiry.

idle soldiers bombarding a sloth-tree for half an hour with the heaviest available missiles without being able to force the stronghold of the occupant, who only tightened his grip when a well-aimed stone crushed his head visibly and audibly. But with a good rifle you may dislodge the most tenacious tardo by hitting his branch somewhere below his foot-hold, for a fractured caucho-stick will snap like a cabbage-stalk. Thus displanted, the falling sloth clutches at the empty air or snaps off twig after twig in his headlong descent, but generally manages to fetch up on one of the stout lower branches, and at once hugs it with all the energy of his prehensile organs; and there he hangs, within easy reach of your arm, perhaps, but without betraying the slightest concern at your approach. The human voice has no terrors for the stoic tardigrade; menacing gestures fail to impress him. A blank cartridge exploded under his nose will hardly make him wink, unless the powder