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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/584

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

from time to time inserting the end of the slender finger into the worm-holes as a surgeon would a probe. At length he came to a part of the branch which evidently gave out an interesting sound, for he began to tear it with his strong teeth. He rapidly stripped off the bark, cut into the wood, and exposed the nest of a grub, which he daintily picked out of its bed with the slender tapping finger and conveyed the luscious morsel to his mouth." The ayeaye is nocturnal, and seldom lets itself be seen in the daytime.

 

Montezuma's Head-dress.—A study was recently published by Mrs. Zelia Nuttall of a rare object in the Imperial Ambras Collection at Vienna which has been variously described as a Mexican head-dress, a garment intended to be worn about the waist as an apron, and a standard. Whatever it may have been, it was supposed to have belonged to some person attached to the court of Montezuma. The author decides that it was a head-dress. As it is now mounted, on a backing of black velvet, it presents a gorgeous appearance. The long, loose fringe of quetzal-feathers exhibits slight evidence of decay, while the other parts have been carefully restored. The fan-shaped base of the feather-piece is composed of harmoniously disposed concentric bands of delicate feather-work studded with thin beaten gold plates of different shapes. The details of the structure and attachment of these plates confirm what the early Spaniards said about the admirable nicety of Mexican industrial art. The loose fringe was composed of about five hundred of the long tail-feathers, of which each male quetzal bird has but two. Next to it the most striking feature of the specimen is the broad turquoise-blue band of feathers on which a design was executed with small gold pieces, originally fourteen hundred in number, disposed, overlapping one another like fish-scales, so as to form a flexible rectilinear pattern suggesting a series of small towers. The blue of this band was edged with a band of scarlet feathers, so disposed that their inner sides, curling outward, formed a projecting ruffled border. Above this were fringes of the small wing-feathers of the quetzal and of the tail-feathers of the cuckoo, whose white tips formed a sharply defined broad line studded with small gold disks. The whole was skillfully worked upon a suitable backing, and secured by a kind of kite-frame. "Manufactured with the utmost care," says Mrs. Nuttall, "of materials most highly esteemed by the Mexicans, uniting the attribute and emblematic color of Huitzilopochotli, fashioned in a shape exclusively used by the herogod's living representatives, the high priest and the war chief, this head-dress could have been appropriately owned and disposed of by Montezuma alone at the time of the conquest, from which period it assuredly dates." It was probably one of the gifts sent to the Emperor Charles V by Cortes in 1519.

 

Influenza and the Weather.—A study of the relations of weather and influenza, so far as they may be illustrated by the registrar-general's reports for London from 1875 to 1890, has been published by Sir Arthur Mitchell and Dr. Buchan. The recurrence of a strongly marked winter maximum and an equally marked summer minimum through the whole forty-five years, with a small secondary maximum running from the middle of March to the middle of April, indicate that the rate of deaths from influenza is inverse to the temperature. The curve showing their distribution is congruent with that for diseases of the breathing organs, with the addition of a slight rise in the spring. But although the epidemics occurred mostly during the cold season, they were not connected with any exceptionally cold weather at that season, but rather with exceptionally warm weather, which manifested itself generally both before and during the epidemic. In no case was any exceptionally cold weather, intercalated in the period of the epidemic, accompanied with an increase of deaths from influenza, or even with an arresting of the downward course of the curve of mortality, if the cold occurred at the time the epidemic was on the wane. Other diseases which appear to have prevailed most extensively during epidemics of influenza are diseases of the breathing organs, phthisis, diseases of the circulatory system, rheumatism, and diseases of the nervous system. The diseases which yielded a mortality un-