Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/611

This page has been validated.

and the ardor of the chase does not prevent him from being constantly on guard. This is because the snake, finding himself nearly overtaken, suddenly turns round, ready to use his defensive weapons. The bird stops, and turns in one of his wings to protect the lower parts of his body. A real duel then begins. The snake throws himself on his enemy, who at each stroke parries with the end of his wing; the fangs are buried in the great feathers which terminate it, and there leave their poison without producing any effect. All this time with the other wing the secretary repeatedly strikes the reptile, who is at last stunned, and

PSM V44 D611 Fight between a secretary bird and a snake.jpg
Fig. 1.—Fight between the Secretary Bird and a Snake.

rolls over on the earth. The conqueror rapidly thrusts his beak into his skull, throws his victim into the air, and swallows him.

Hunting with Projectiles.—It has often been repeated that man is the only creature sufficiently intelligent to utilize as weapons exterior objects like a stone or a stick; in a much greater degree, therefore, it was said, was he the only creature capable of striking from afar with a projectile. Nevertheless, creatures so inferior as fish exhibit extreme skill in the art of reaching their prey at a distance. Several act in this way. There is first the Toxotes jaculator, which lives in the rivers of India. His principal food is formed by the insects who wander over the leaves of aquatic plants. To wait until they fell into the water would naturally result in but meager fare. To leap at them with one bound is