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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/689

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ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE.

and other authors; and two important acclimatizations—that of the merino sheep by Daubenton, and the introduction of the potato to general use by Parmentier—were made or brought to completion in the eighteenth century, but these were isolated circumstances. The systematic, methodical, deliberate thought of looking out in behalf of any country for animals and plants that might be of profit to it, and of making a study of their value and of the means of making them at home in their new abode, was originally conceived by Isidor Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. His studies were first directed to this point in 1829, after which they constantly held the most prominent place in his mind. He founded the Society of Acclimatation, for propagating this idea and giving it practical force, in 1854; and five years later, in 1859, in cooperation with that society, he created the zoological Jardin d'Acclimatation for the purpose of applying the idea to new species, and of studying the conditions under which they could be best made to thrive.

We may divide the history of acclimatation into two periods: one immensely long, beginning with the first domestications of animals and the first migrations of men—a period of practice without science, which was nevertheless fruitful; and the other, which is as yet only a half-century long, of scientific acclimatation. We may also consider the subject with a view to its utility, and to the results that have been achieved in it and the encouragement it offers for the future.

To the first period we owe nearly all our domestic animals and cultivated plants. If we inquire into the origin of our domestic animals, we shall find that twelve of them came from Asia, two from Africa, and three from America, while five are European. If we only had what Europe has furnished us, our list would be reduced to the pigeon, duck, goose, rabbit, and bees. Our farmsteads would then be only modest poultry-yards, and our fields would not be cultivated. It is true that we should not have much occasion to cultivate anything, if we had to leave off from our list of plants all that are not native to Europe. We should be reduced to an unpleasant state indeed if we only had to give up the last imported plant, the potato.

The first importations date from an age long before historic times, and can be determined only from archæological research. The first human inhabitants of Europe, the palæolithic men, had no domestic animals, and depended for their livelihood solely on the natural products of the soil and the fruits of the chase. Centuries after them came the neolithic men, of another race—a pastoral people, bringing witli them certain domestic animals. Our knowledge of the kind of life these races lived is only of the vaguest character. But the knowledge of