Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/737

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actually becomes more abundant as population increases in any district; and, if versatility in habits or adaptiveness can be taken as a measure of intelligence, this poor armadillo, a survival of the past, so old on the earth as to have existed contemporaneously with the glyptodon, is the superior of the large-brained cats and canines."


Destruction of Quail and the Plague of Locusts.—The great and fearful increase of locusts in Algeria is ascribed by the French journal L'Éleveur to wholesale destruction of quail by sportsmen. It is estimated that a quail consumes daily from fifty to sixty grammes of food, and that twenty tiny locusts of the size of a hemp-seed go to a gramme. Hence one quail may destroy daily 1,000 locusts, or from 20,000 to 25,000 during the period when the insects are small enough to be swallowed by it. The Tunisian sportsmen who on the 8th of May of last year shipped off 50,000 quails to France are, then, in a great measure to blame for 150,000,000 locusts less than usual having been destroyed by those birds during the year.



The portrait of William Bartram, referred to in the Popular Miscellany department last month, is inserted as the frontispiece of this number of the Monthly. A sketch of John and William Bartram appeared in our number for April, 1892.

A curious series of experiments on the hereditary transmission of mutilations has been made by Dr. C. G. Lockwood. By the in-and-in breeding of white mice for ninety-six generations he obtained a larger and finer animal than the original pair. In order to breed their tails off, he selected a pair and putting them in a cage by themselves and clipping their tails he got a breed of tailless mice in the seventh generation. Then, by taking one with a tail and one without a tail, and alternating the sexes in each generation, he finally again got a breed of all-tail mice.

It results from the researches of Mr. C. M. Pleyte, of the Ethnological Museum at Amsterdam, that the use of the sumpitan, or blow-pipe, and of the bow, is separated by a line corresponding with that which distinguishes between the western and the eastern branches of the Malayo-Polynesian languages. The sumpitan is found nowhere to the east and the bow only sporadically to the west of the boundary. It is ingeniously argued that the blow-pipe was the primitive instrument, from the fact that it survives as a toy where it has ceased to be a weapon.

The debate on the fitness of aluminum to be used in food-vessels is continued, with the report of the experiments of M. Balland. He discredits the representation that it is too readily corroded by many food-substances, and finds that air, water, wine, beer, cider, coffee, milk, oil, butter, fat, etc., saliva, and other substances have less action upon it than on such metals as copper, lead, zinc, and tin. Vinegar and sea-salt attack it, but not violently enough to make its use hazardous.

The works of Prof. Wilhelm Weber, the physicist, are to be published by the Royal Society of Science at Göttingen.

The optically inactive form of tartaric acid, known as racemic acid, has been obtained by M. Gensesse as an eventual product of the action on glyoxalic acid—an acid found in gooseberries, grapes, and other fruits—with nascent hydrogen liberated from a mixture of zinc-dust and acetic acid.

A fund, called the De Laincel fund, has been dedicated to the promotion of the study of the graphic system of the ancient Mayas, by collecting vocabularies and obtaining reproductions of the mural inscriptions of Central America and of their manuscripts. The work will be carried on under the direction of a committee of recognized qualifications; and the explorations will be directed by Dr. Hilborne T. Cresson, of Philadelphia, an experienced ethnologist and a Maya student.

A novel view of the puma, or panther, as it is commonly called, is taken by Mr. W. H. Hudson, in his Naturalist in La Plata, who insists that it never attacks man except in self-defense. In the Pampas, where it is common, the gaucho confidently sleeps on the ground, although he knows that pumas are close by; and it is said that a child may sleep on the plain unprotected in equal security. This is not on account of fear or dislike of man, but of an apparent cat-like fondness for being near him. The gauchos call the animal "the friend of man."

Interest in stilt-walking—concerning which we published an illustrated article several months ago has been revived by a stilt-walking match which was contested on the 27th of May last, under the auspices of the journal La Gironde, of Bordeaux, France. The course, from Bordeaux to Biarritz, 257 kilometres, was passed over by the victorious contestant in 55·30 hours, or at an average speed of 4·650 kilometres per hour. This is not much if any better than could be done by an ordinary walking-match pedestrian.

Remains of a mammoth and other prehistoric animals have been found in Endsleigh Street, London, at a depth of twenty-two feet below the surface. They include two tusks nine or ten feet long, one of which is two