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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/635

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VARIATION IN THE HABITS OF ANIMALS.

every city. The American fireman is to-day equipped with the finest apparatus in the world for extinguishing fires and. saving life, but he is badly handicapped by the town and city governments on every hand, who will not modify loose building laws or strengthen slight fire restrictions.[1]

 

VARIATION IN THE HABITS OF ANIMALS.
By GERTRUDE GROTTY DAVENPORT.

IN the introduction to his Animal Life as Affected by the Natural Conditions of Existence, Carl Semper wrote, in 1879: "It appears to me that of all the properties of the animal organism, Variability is that which may first and most easily be traced by exact investigation to its efficient causes; and, as it is beyond a doubt the subject around which at the present moment the strife of opinion is most violent, it is that which will be most likely to repay the trouble of closer research."

Among other sorts of variability discussed by Semper, that which concerns the change of food habits of animals receives consideration, and several examples illustrating such changes—polyphagy—are cited. For instance, on page 62 the story of the New Zealand parrot (Nestor mirabilis) is told. This parrot, which formerly fed upon the juices of plants and flowers, has acquired the habit of sipping the blood of newly slaughtered sheep, and thereby has come to develop such a love for the taste of blood that it will now alight upon living sheep and peck at the "most minute wounds." Another case is told of two horses in Chili which had developed the habit of eating young pigeons and chickens.

A great many other interesting cases of variability in food habits might be collected by a little observation and by compilation. Two such cases at least have come under my own observation. On a farm in Coffey County, Kansas, a few years ago, there


  1. In compiling the data for this article the writer wishes to acknowledge the services rendered by all the manufacturers of fire apparatus, especially the American Eire Engine Company, the La France Fire Engine Company, S. F. Hayward & Company, and the Gleason & Bailey Manufacturing Company. Also the personal assistance of the chiefs of the Bangor, Boston, Hartford, New York, and Louisville Fire Departments; Mr. James R. Newhall, the Lynn historian; Mr. Arthur W. Brayley, author of the History of the Boston Fire Department; Mr. Albert C. Winsor, Secretary of the Providence Veteran Fire Association; Mr. Amos Perry, Secretary of the Rhode Island Historical Society; Mr. A. D. Nickerson, Pawtucket; Mr. William Cowles, of the Cowles Engineering Company; Mr. Talcott Williams, of the Philadelphia Press; Mr. Abner Greenleaf, of Baltimore; and Mr. E. Steck, Superintendent of the Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company, of Chicago.