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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

CORRESPONDENCE.
 

DEVELOPING A NEW INSTINCT.

Messrs. Editors:

A COW (half Jersey) ran with others in an orchard, and showed herself exceedingly fond of green, sour apples. So persistently did she "go for them," that it was suggested she would climb the trees yet. But she did not take to climbing; she invented another method: she took to shaking the limbs.

At first she reached directly for the fruit and foliage, but at the same time, no doubt, observed that, when the limb sprang back, apples fell to the ground. This left an impression known as memory; and, at length, keeping hold of the limb with her teeth, she shook it precisely as a man would, jerking it downward a number of times in quick succession, and then letting go her hold to pick up the apples. I once drove her away from a tree which she was relieving of its fruit rather successfully, when she went to another tree, apparently intent on business, seeming to have forgotten that she had previously shaken off all the apples within reach; but, when there, she either observed that there was no fruit to shake off, or else recollected that she had already harvested all that was to be had; at any rate, she did no shaking.

To protect the fruit against her fertile genius, I tied her head to a fore-leg, with about twenty inches interval between them. She would then support herself on three legs, lift up the fourth one and seize with her teeth limbs as much as five feet from the ground, and shake them as skillfully as before.

In this case there is no mistake about the fact. I have witnessed the novel performance many times; and, when not looking, I have heard the peculiar sound of the shaking limb and falling apples, and realized how strikingly suggestive it was of a human presence. The animal is now four years old, and has given exhibitions of her skill the last two summers.

This trick was not learned by witnessing a like act of man or animal. It was independently invented through suggestion, as a human being would independently invent a mechanical process. The animal in question is not any wiser than her comrades in other respects; but, though she invented limb-shaking for herself, they have not taken the first step toward imitating her. Still it would be plausible to suppose that other cattle, especially her own offspring, would come to follow her example by-and-by, and that if they ran constantly in apple-orchards they might become permanently endowed with the limb-shaking instinct—not of miraculous but of purely utilitarian origin.

J. S. Patterson.
Berlin Heights, Ohio, April, 1883.
 

 

THE AGE OF TREES.

Messrs. Editors:

In the December number of "The Popular Science Monthly" I observe an article by A. L. Childs, M.D., stating that the old notion that a person could tell the age of a tree by the number of the concentric rings shown on a cross-section of the timber was a fallacy, and giving some facts to sustain the theory advanced. As the "Monthly" is searching for the truth only on scientific questions, permit me to give a few facts, which tend to support the old theory that Dr. Childs attacks.

When Virginia ceded to the United States the territory northwest of the river Ohio, she reserved all the lands lying between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers, in order to satisfy the bounty lands given by her to her soldiers who had served in the Revolutionary War. The State of Virginia had given lands varying in quantity from one hundred acres to a private soldier, five thousand acres to a colonel, to fifteen thousand acres to a major-general, to all those who had served as such soldiers and officers during the war, and issued what were termed "land-war-rants" to such soldiers and officers for the land to which each was entitled. These parties took the "land-warrants" thus issued to them, and made their own entries of the lands called for on any vacant land in the district, describing the same on the "Book of Entries," and then had these entries surveyed by the surveyor of the district, who marked the boundaries and corners of the several surveys on the growing timber, by hacking the same that happened to be standing along the lines of the surveys or near the corners thereof; and on these surveys being returned by the holder to the General Land-Office, at Washington city, the Government issued a patent for the land thus surveyed to the holder of the warrant, his heirs and assigns. Some of these surveys were made before General Anthony Wayne defeated the Indian tribes in 1794, and others were made as late as 1857. From the fact that parties made their own entries, there were many overlapping and interfering entries and surveys, and very frequently junior entries and surveys obtained the first patent. (Some of the en-