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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/299

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Secretary and Treasurer, Dr. C. W. Dabney, Jr., of North Carolina. Dr. E. H. Jenkins, of Connecticut, and Dr. H. W. Wiley, of Washington, were constituted the Executive Committee. The annual meeting of the Association is to be held on the first Tuesday in September.

 

The Esquimaux and the Cave-Men.—Professor Boyd Dawkins presented before the British Association the considerations in favor of his theory that the Esquimaux are the survivors of the prehistoric "cave-dwellers." Everywhere the Esquimaux are found, he said, along the Arctic coasts of Greenland and America, and into Asia, they are a receding race. Mr. Dall has shown that they formerly dwelt on the west coast of America far south of their present abode, and the speaker has found evidence of their former presence south of their habitat in Asia. They present the appearance of being a distinct race. To find other men like them we have to go back to geologic times, to the cave-men, with whom they show several points of resemblance. Both dressed in skins and wore long gloves, were hunters and fishermen, showed considerable artistic taste and skill, and used implements of stone and bone. The Esquimaux do not bury their dead, and there are many reasons for believing that the cave-men did not. Other speakers questioned the force of Professor Dawkins's arguments. They held that the human remains found with the cave-dwellers' relics, which Professor Dawkins regarded as intrusive, were genuine, and that they represented a different physical structure from that of the Esquimaux; that other traits, insisted upon as common, were not peculiar to these two peoples alone; and that the reason the Esquimaux do not bury their dead is simply because the conditions of the climate do not often allow it. Lieutenant P. H. Ray gave reasons for believing that the Esquimaux had occupied the far north of America from a remote period. Snow-goggles, like those now in use, have been dug up twenty-eight feet below the surface of the ground. Mr. Ray believed the Esquimaux to be a people of the ice, living from extreme antiquity along the ice-border, and following it as it advanced or receded. He considered them distinct from the Indians in physical traits and in character, as well as in language. They were naturally a peaceful people, very superstitious, but without a distinct religion, and without the conception of a future existence. They did not bury their dead because the climate rendered it usually impossible, but merely conveyed the corpse to a distance from the village, and left it to be devoured by the dogs. That, they said, was the end of man. But they had ideas about a superior Being, who had created men and airmails, and believed in an evil spirit.

 


NOTES.

From papers read in the British Association, it appears that the most important coal-fields in the Acadian or St. Lawrence basin are those of Cumberland, Pictou, and Cape Breton. The other coal-regions of the Dominion are one extending from the ninety-seventh parallel to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and one on Vancouver's Island. Of the three fields, the first is in the carboniferous, while the other two belong to the secondary or tertiary formations.

M. V. Magniant writes to the "Revue Scientifique" that he has a cat which shows signs of intelligent reflection. Not only does it look behind the mirror for the cat which it sees reflected in the glass, but it has been caught several times attentively regarding a sculptured cat's head that hangs on the wall. It would get upon the back of a chair, and then stand up and stretch out its paw to touch the image of itself. It has outgrown the sports of kittenhood, but when it is asked in the morning if it is hungry it emits two sounds, that clearly mean yes, with an articulation that is never heard under any other circumstances. It loves flowers, not eating them, but inhaling their perfume with a visible satisfaction.

Mining-Engineer Wenzel Poech, of Austria, has discovered a simple, cheap, and practicable means of preserving mineral coal from deterioration in the open air, where it is liable to crumbling, and oftentimes to spontaneous combustion. It consists principally in treating the coal-pile with steam for the exclusion of the air, and securing a permanent retention of moisture by the coal. The theory of the process is that the deterioration of coal is caused by its absorption of oxygen and other gases, for which the way is opened by the evaporation of the hygroscopic moisture. If the coal is kept full of water, this can not happen.

Professor Archibald stated, in the British Association, that the "Krakatoa committee" had succeeded in collecting much