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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/150

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parents, he found that in the greater number of cases causes of idiocy could be discovered in addition to or independently of consanguinity. This is in harmony with the conclusion published by Dr. C. F. Withington, that morbid inheritance rather than specific degenerative tendency will account for all the infirmities met with in the offspring of cousins. We may therefore assume that "the great danger in the intermarriage of cousins lies in the circumstance that when there is a neurotic inheritance, there are two certain morbid factors to contend with rather than a possible one." On the whole, "the balance of evidence would appear to be in favor of the conclusion that where a close scrutiny fails to discover any heritable weakness, neurotic or otherwise, consanguineous marriage per se is not necessarily a thing to be prohibited."


The Senses of Animals.—In a lecture on "The Sense and Senses of Animals," Sir John Lubbock, after relating his experiments in teaching his dog to read, and another experiment from which he concluded that the dog could not distinguish color, said that he had always felt a great longing to know how the world appeared to the lower animals. It was still a doubtful point whether ants were able to hear. He had concluded, from his experiments, that they had not the power of addressing each other. His impression, on the whole, was that bees and ants were not deaf, but that they heard sounds so shrill as to be beyond our hearing. There was no doubt about insects seeing. The colors of objects must present a very different impression upon insects from that on human beings. The world to them might be full of music which we could not hear, colors we could not see, and sensations which we could not feel.


The History of a New Britain Papuan.—The Rev. George Brown, a missionary, gave in the British Association an account of the life-history of a native of the island of New Britain. When a child is born to the Papuan people of the country, a warm banana-leaf is wrapped around his body, and he is fed with the expressed juice of the cocoanut; ever after which he is left to be "dressed in pure sunshine." On the occasion of the marriage of the youth, there is an interchange of goods and a distinct payment for the wife. Presents are also given by the women to the bride, and by the men to the husband—a broom to the former and a spear to the latter—after which a stick is given to the man. The spear means that the husband must protect his wife, the broom that with it she must do her household work, and the stick is the symbol of the man's authority. In case of a death, the dead person is appealed to to come back, and is expostulated with for having left his friends, and entreated to say how his friends have offended him. The people have a definite idea of a future state, and of the punishment of one offender, the niggardly man. When an old man is about to die, he is placed upon a litter and carried round to see the scenes among which he has passed his life, and is then taken back to wait his time. After death the body is placed in a sitting posture and taken into the public square, with the man's weapons by his side, and the people place offerings of goods and money before it.


The Brazilian Barrancas.—Some of the upland regions of Brazil, especially near the city of Barbacena, are marked by the appearance of great rugged hollows in the sides and slopes of many of the rolling, grass-covered hills. They are land-slips, caused by the existence of springs, and present an appearance picturesque in the extreme. Their sides are worn into every imaginable shape, of pinnacles, domes, pointed towers, buttresses, and cavities, with ravines narrow, deep, and precipitous, or wide, open spaces, surrounded by lofty perpendicular walls, riven by creeks, and ready to fall. But their great charm lies in their color. The prevailing tint is a deep Indian red, which, combined with the green hills and the blue sky, bearing its glistening white clouds, constitutes a charming combination of tones. Any one of these barrancas, as they are called, offers excellent opportunities to the geologist. In many of them are found lying upon beds of sandstone, near the floor of the hollow, extensive deposits of fine laminated clays, varying in thickness, but frequently divided into layers like sheets of paper, with varieties of colors,