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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/273

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ANIMAL ARITHMETIC.

knowledge that it had to turn the spit on Saturday, or the day before its master went to church.

If this period of the seven days of the week does not exceed the intelligence of a dog, the dog should be able easily to measure periods of two or three days. Houzeau says that he tried for three consecutive weeks to repeat the same walk with his dogs, every two days at exactly the same hour. It would have been enough for them to count two to determine the period. On the twentieth day, or the tenth periodical repetition of the excursion, although the dogs enjoyed the excursion exceedingly, he never remarked that they anticipated it spontaneously, or had a thought of it before witnessing his preparations to go. From this, Houzeau concluded that dogs could not count the days. But when actions repeated daily at fixed hours were in question, the dogs knew when the time came. Broderip's dog and the Santo Domingo pelican had learned, in the course of years, that the same succession of events took place every Sunday. It was not, therefore, by an isolated fact, but by an aggregation of facts, that they became aware of the return of that day; for not only did certain things take place regularly in the family, but Sunday noises, like the ringing of the bells, and unusual comings and goings, occurred in the place. After continued experience, the animals acquired knowledge of the succession of the events, and governed their conduct accordingly.

Houzeau also learned that some animals are capable of measuring lapses of time that particularly interest them. He says that female crocodiles abandon their eggs in the sand for ten or fifteen days, according to the species, and return to the spot at the exact time when they are to be hatched. It is easily conceivable that animals have, in general, a more precise measure of periods which concern the needs of their organic or specific life, than of the more artificial periods to which they have become habituated in the domesticated state or in consequence of their relations with man, because an hereditary habit has always more force than habits acquired by education.

Houzeau cites facts showing that some animals can count the number of similar objects or acts, provided the numbers are not too high. When a magpie is watched by a company of hunters, it will not move till they go away. If they go one after another, it can not be deceived by one of them staying behind unless there are more than four of them. Another story of similar bearing is that of the tramway mules at New Orleans, which are relieved and fed after making five trips. They make their trips patiently and quietly till the end of the fifth, when they give evident signs that they expect their usual refreshment. The horses in the coal-mines of Hainault make thirty trips a day, taking their places