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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/440

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

indicative of disappointment, then return to deliberately 'beat' and 'quarter' the ground aërially speaking, with all the tact and persevering sagacity of their canine compeers." Gosse relates an instance that occurred in Jamaica, where vultures circled around a house in which some meat had been allowed to spoil, though they could detect nothing by sight. The smelling power which enables them thus to detect their prey must be very delicate; for Mr. Rhoads could not detect any taint in the atmosphere while he was working over the burial-place. Doubtless the birds also use their eyes, but these instances prove that the olfactory sense alone is sufficient to guide them.

 

Pond-Mad as a Diarrhœa-Breeder.—A fact is related in the report of the State Board of Health of Connecticut that illustrates the effect upon health of exposing the bottom of a pond. A small village in the town of Union was situated close upon the borders of a pond that was drawn down entirely during the summer and fall, for several years in succession, in order to get the water from another pond lying above it and communicating with it. "When the pond was first drawn down, while the decaying materials at its bottom, which probably extended over twenty or thirty acres at least, were drying, offensive odors were complained of, and it was stated that they caused nausea and vomiting; and diarrhœal and dysenteric troubles were stated to be unusually frequent. But no cases of malaria were reported as having originated in any part of the town. Several large ponds between Palmer, Massachusetts, and Union, have been completely drawn down and had their beds exposed, without any cases of malaria being known to have originated in the region.

 

Pigs as Wine-Bibbers.—Mr. W. Mattieu Williams says that he once witnessed a display of drunkenness among three hundred pigs, which had been given a barrel of spoiled elderberry-wine all at once with their swill. "Their behavior was intensely human, exhibiting all the usual manifestations of jolly good-fellowship, including that advanced stage where a group were rolling over each other and grunting affectionately in tones that were distinctly expressive of swearing good-fellowship all around. Their reeling and staggering, and the expression of their features, all indicated that alcohol had the same effect on pigs as on men; that under its influence both stood precisely on the same zoölogical level." He quotes also MM. Dujardin-Beaumetz and Audigé's account to the French Academy of Sciences of their experiments during three years on the effects of alcoholic diet on pigs. "Eighteen of these animals were treated sumptuously, according to old-fashioned notions of hospitality, by mixing various alcohols with their food, in proportions about corresponding to a modest half-pint of wine at dinner. The alcohols that we drink in wine, malt-liquors, whisky, hollands, brandy, etc., invariably produced sleep, prostration, and general lassitude, while absinthe (included as another variety of alcohol) produced an excitation resembling epilepsy. Some of the animals died from the effects of alcoholic poison. The survivors were killed, and subjected to post-mortem examination. All were found to be injured, but the mischief was greatest when crude spirit was used, less when it was carefully redistilled and purified.

 

Food-Fishes of Lake Erie.—In a paper read before the Buffalo Naturalists' Field Club it is stated that Lake Erie and the Niagara River furnish thirty-seven marketable varieties of fish. But their numbers are becoming rapidly reduced in those waters, owing in great measure to so many fish being taken when they are full of roe. Some fish spawn late in the fall; the eastern salmon, salmon-trout, whitefish, brook-trout, and lake-herring, belong to this class, but the majority spawn in April, May, or early June. Black bass choose a place for their spawn-beds where the water is shallow and the bottom is a sandy gravel. They leave their winter quarters in deep water a month or six weeks previous to spawning. The eggs hatch in from one to two weeks, according to the temperature. Bass are very prolific, yielding fully one fourth their weight of spawn. The bass and the muskallonge (Esox nobilior) are the recognized game-fish of the lakes. Whitefish do not take the bait readily, but are caught in gill-nets, and can be taken in great numbers