Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/800

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plish gray. Some of its habits are very extraordinary, while no doubt it has many others as yet unknown. Captivity is but illy borne by it, and it soon perishes in that state, and indeed it is said the species is on the highroad to extinction in its native land. No doubt this will be effected even before we are fully acquainted with all its habits and ways, and man will be responsible for sweeping off the face of the earth forever one of the loveliest forms that has ever graced it or ever will. Dismal indeed will be the forests and Nature's wilds when each and all such graceful creatures, such forms of life and beauty, are completely exterminated. Such work is going on in every quarter of the globe as I pen these lines, and with very marked rapidity. Still, this is but fate and the natural order of things; and we must believe that in the centuries to come the Earth will see the day when man's descendants will be her only inhabitants, with perhaps the merest remnant of any other forms of vertebrate life, and these completely subjected to his will and sway. How much the more,then, does it devolve upon us to fully record in all particulars the biology of those forms now in existence in our midst, and especially those types, the outliers—the connecting links—in all departments of Nature so essential to its understanding, and in order that our heirs and descendants may the more completely comprehend the history of the origin of organic life upon the face of the globe and the manifold mysteries of its evolution.

Regarding the manlike apes as our nearest relatives in the animal world, Dr. R. Lydekker observes, in Knowledge, that the relationship is to be spoken of as one of cousins and not of ancestry; and that we should at once free ourselves from any idea that there is a vestige of direct ancestral kinship between these creatures and ourselves. Such relation as does exist is of a comparatively distant kind; and the common ancestor must have lived ages before the mammoth roamed over the plains and valleys of England, since at that time man was as distinctly differentiated from the apes as he is in the present century. Whether this "missing link" win ever turn up, or in what country it is most likely to have lived, are questions impossible to answer; but from the extreme rarity with which fossil remains of manlike apes are found in countries where they are known to have existed for long ages, and from the probability that the distributional area of the aforesaid "link" was extremely limited, not much hope can be given that the researches of paleontologists will ever be rewarded by such a find.

M. Moissan has found, in his electrical furnace, that quite as distinct chemical actions go on in molten cast iron as those with which the chemist has long been familiar in aqueous solutions at ordinary temperatures. The actions are often very complex, because of the faculty which iron has of retaining many compounds as impurities. The author has precipitated carbon and carbide of iron in fusions by means of boron and silicon; all these substances behaving in the liquid iron precisely as the substances with which we deal in a similar manner behave in water.