Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/520

This page has been validated.

been dealt with, and strenuously urging the necessity of oyster-culture, calls attention to the fact that "civilized races have long recognized the fact that the true remedy is not to limit the demand, but rather to increase the supply of food, by rearing domestic sheep and cattle and poultry in place of wild deer and buffaloes and turkeys, and by cultivating the ground instead of searching for natural fruits and seeds of the forests and swamps."

Mr. Ernest Ingersoll,[1] author of the "Report on the Oyster-Industry," tenth United States census, has, in an address before the Geographical Society of New York, a striking sketch of the effect of the white man on the wild animals of North America, showing that, had the Indians remained in possession, little if any change would have taken place. The Indian, like the predaceous animals, hunts only for food, and shows even in this habit a wholesome self-restraint, never killing wantonly. He called attention to the survival of a number of small birds about the dwellings of man as the result of favorable conditions, such as a constant supply of food, etc. He shows that the contact of man in the main has been disastrous. His remarks on the oyster are timely; he shows its extermination along the coast by man's agency. "Hardly more than a century has elapsed since men believed that the oyster-beds of New York were inexhaustible, and that a small measure of legal protection, feebly maintained, was quite enough to sustain them against any chance of decay. So they thought in Massachusetts, where the oysters have not only disappeared but have been forgotten. So they think now in Maryland and Virginia, where their fond expectations are destined to equal downfall."

Professor William H. Brewer,[2] in a paper on the "Evolution of the American Trotting-Horse," shows that the trotter is an American product, and that it is still in process of evolution. He gives a column of figures to show the speed that has been attained in this new form of motion, from a speed of three minutes in 1818 down to two minutes ten and a quarter seconds in 1881. The materials for a curve is offered to mathematicians, and Professor Francis E. Nipher,[3] in a mathematical article on the subject, shows that a definite time of ninety-one seconds will ultimately be attained by the American trotter! Mr. W. H. Pickering,[4] however, urges some objections to the deductions of Professor Nipher.

In drawing to a close this very imperfect summary of what American zoölogists have accomplished for evolution many other distinguished contributors might have been mentioned. The work of eminent physiologists and paleontologists has hardly been considered,

  1. "Bulletin of the American Geographical Society," 1885, No. 1.
  2. "American Journal of Science and Arts," vol. xxv, p. 299.
  3. "St. Louis Academy of Sciences," May 7, 1883; also "American Journal of Science and Arts," vol. xxvi, p. 20.
  4. "American Journal of Science and Arts," vol. xxvi, p. 378.