Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/877

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

lel groups coming synchronously. And the later in order may be tvpes of a character of development, or they may be specializations of a group whose normal forms belonged to an earlier season. In their blooming season the more perfect succeed the more simple; the aberrant, the normal; the specialized, the generalized. But with the general observation arise certain modifying conditions"—which are mentioned.

 

Unsanitary Positions.—In a paper on Some Derangements of the Heart and Stomach produced by the Unusual Position of Children in School, read before the Académie de Médecine of Paris, Dr. Motais pointed out the effects of that attitude in which the pupil seats himself on the ischial tuberosity, supporting himself by leaning on the left elbow and stooping forward, so that the trunk of the body then develops an antero-lateral curvature. The result is, firstly, that by the lateral inclination the border of the false ribs on the left side descends until it is in contact with the iliac crest. The larger curvature of the stomach is thus pressed upon the spleen and general mass of the intestines; secondly, by bending the body so much anteriorly a fold is formed at the upper part of the abdominal wall, and the anterior surface of the stomach follows the curve. These conditions produce a mechanical hindrance to the movements of the cardiac stomach. The function of the thoracic viscera is equally interfered with by means of the anterior curvature owing to the drawing together of the ribs and also by the descent of the left half of the diaphragm toward the upper border of the stomach. The difficulty thus afforded to respiration reacts on the heart, the contractions of which are, moreover, mechanically hindered by the distortion of the thoracic cavity. The neck is necessarily somewhat twisted, and the large vessels at the root, therefore, are submitted to a certain amount of torsion. The effect of the attitude described above is especially marked when an organic affection of the heart exists. Dr. Motais is also of the opinion that this position is a strong pathogenic element protracting the duration of dyspepsia. He has found that if children who suffer from this complaint are made to assume a correct posture while in school the symptoms subside more rapidly than when such a precaution is not taken. The same observations are applicable to adults engaged in sedentary occupations, and Dr. Motais laid great stress on the point that the medical man, when treating cases of chronic heart or gastric disease, should give his patients directions as to the posture to be assumed when much sitting is necessary.

 

Australian Dingoes.—A colony of dingoes or Australian wild dogs recently bred in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris, and two of the brood of four lived. This animal has very dense hair, which is thicker in winter than in summer, erect and mobile ears, long and pointed muzzle, and tufted tail, which hangs down when the animal is at rest and is carried curled over the back when its attention is attracted by any noise. It has well-developed senses of hearing and smell. Its average height is perhaps about twenty inches, but different specimens vary greatly in size. Its hair is usually red on the back and head, growing lighter and lighter on the inside of the thighs and limbs. Some individuals are of uniform color; others have white on the paws and the end of the tail. The dingo inhabits the forests, heather, and steppes of the whole Australian continent, where it lives upon kangaroos and whatever other animals offer to its greedy appetite; and it plays havoc with the flocks of the colonists, who war upon it without mercy. Dingoes are frequently domesticated, but, according to Bohm, they retain all their wild instincts in that condition, and readily attack any animal that comes within reach of them. The two puppies in the Jardin d'Acclimatation were cared for with much solicitude by their mother, who did not leave them, but permitted the attendants to change their litter and handle them without objection. She refused all food but raw meat, but occasionally drank milk. She played freely with the other dogs around the kennel, some of which were of fine breeds; and when any conflict arose with regard to food, knew perfectly well how to defend herself. When the young were a month old, the mother, finding they did not require her constant attention, gave way to her vagabond habits. She made her way out of the box in which the little ones were confined, and