Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/665

This page has been validated.
645
MICROSCOPIC ARCHITECTS.

ica, the evidence of the intermediate link will never be furnished. Let it be remembered that the present home of the anthropoid apes is almost entirely unknown in a paleontological point of view. When Africa or Asia shall have been half as well explored as Europe, or even America, it may then be time to predict that such evidence will never be forthcoming. But it is not likely, either, that the intermediate link will be of very recent origin; it may be found to have lived in the same epoch as did the Oreodonts and Titanotheres of America, or (exact synchronism is of no account here), as the antelopes and Helladotheres which ranged in miocene days the plains where now Athens stands; possibly even then the anthropoid Pithecoid had developed far into the pithecoid Anthropoid.

But, however this may be, the anthropologist who expects to find the evidences of man in a much less specialized condition than he now exhibits, in any very recent formation, in either Europe or America, must base his speculations on something else than known facts, and even in the face of zoological and paleontological evidence. Nor is it at all likely that the being who could fabricate tools and hunt with weapons the animals that were his contemporaries could have been very much less man-like than existing man. But we are now passing the border-line of induction from facts to speculation.

 

MICROSCOPIC ARCHITECTS.
By Mrs. MARY TREAT.

THERE is a world of hidden beauty of which we can form no conception without the aid of the microscope. This instrument reveals a real fairy-land, of which we may sometimes have dreamed; but our wildest fancy is more than realized by the glimpses it affords of wonderfully beautiful plants and animals. Here is a world teeming with life and animation, whose inhabitants seem to possess skill and intelligence, and have worked on, unnoticed, for ages and ages.

Some of these tiny animals are architects of no mean order, building their abodes of separate bricks or pellets, laying them in tiers, as a mason or bricklayer would build a house. One of the most beautiful of these animals is the Brickmaker [Melicerta ringens). Fig. 1 represents it as seen with a magnifying power of 160 diameters. It was known to Leuwenhoek nearly two hundred years ago, or about the beginning of the eighteenth century. A few years later Linnæus mentions the marvelous beauty of this tiny workman, and comments upon the regularity and beauty of the house in which it dwells. If these early observers found so much to admire, with the imperfect instruments of that day, how much more are we enabled to see clearly