Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/360

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which the surface is thickly beset, of various size, and most pointed where they are least exposed. Their disposition is in horizontal zones, seeming to correspond more or less with the comb tiers. While at the top of the nest they are comparatively few, gradually the numbers increase toward the lower end, and on the bottom they are so numerous that one's finger can scarcely be laid between them. Like the envelope, they are made up of several papery layers so closely blended as to be hardly distinguishable, forming a substance astonishingly thick, hard, and firm, in color of a dull dark brown, and of very coarse texture. Of what use they are it is difficult to decide; they may be simply

PSM V45 D360 Interior of a myrapetra scutellaris nest.jpg
Fig. 5.—View of Interior of Nest of Myrapetra scutellaris.

freaks of Nature. Although their tips are not acute, they may defend the abode against the attacks of tigers, jaguars, kuguars, and other mammalia partial to honey and the grubs of the hive. The nest always hangs low, seldom more than three or four feet from the ground, and protection would appear much needed. It seems hardly possible to deny that they are for the double purpose of concealing and of sheltering the entrances, which are invisible when the nest is looked at from above. Examination reveals them beneath a row of the projections, which overhang them and keep off the rains like the eaves of a house; the passages are also intricately twisted, so as to prevent the ingress of