Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/153

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

animals are gradually becoming rare, but it is through the growth of settlement rather than by the operation of bounties; and Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota have tried to rid their lands of pocket gophers and ground squirrels by offering bounties, "but the effect of the law was far more evident on the county treasuries than on the animals."

 

Ancient Monuments of Ceylon.—An inkling to the character and extent of the ancient cities and architectural monuments buried in the forests of that island is given in Mr. H. W. Cave's book on The Ruined Cities of Ceylon, but yet the author has to confess that he has only touched "the merest fringe of the great subject" The works of which they are examples were comparable with other massive works of antiquity, and such as we could not imagine the modern Ceylonese capable of constructing, and that the ancestors of these people should have been competent to execute them is hard to conceive. They are, however, like other Buddhist art, rather monotonous, repeating the same motives. A single exception to this rule is the crag of Sigiri, where King Kasyapa secured himself as in an impregnable fortress after he had by his crimes made his life among the people unpleasant and dangerous. He carried a spiral stairway around the precipitous sides of the rock to the summit, surrounded it with a strong rampart, collected his wealth and treasure there, and built a palace and offices. There he lived in great luxury. The rock rises abruptly from the plain, and has an artificial lake on its west side. Traces of massive stone walls inclosing about fifty acres are visible around its base; within these terraces, defenses, and the foundations of buildings are marked. Parts of the spiral galleries of ascent are well preserved. On the top of the rock ruins have been found that belong to two periods at least. Only small parts of the ruins of the huge cities of Anadhurapa and Polanaruwa have been recovered from the jungle, and "other remains of a glorious past are scattered here and there all over the island." The "moonstones" are a peculiar feature of Singhalese architecture, and constitute the doorstep to the principal entrance of a building. They are floridly ornamented, and look very much like a door mat laid at the foot of a staircase. The carving of one specimen described by Mr. Cave, not less than sixteen hundred years old, "is as sharp and well defined as if it were just from the sculptor's chisel." Works on a similar scale to those of Ceylon abound in Burma, Java, and Cambodia, and are all attributed to the early Buddhist ancestors of the present common people. Their dynasty ended in Ceylon in the thirteenth century, when Tamil invaders took the capital and laid the whole country waste.

 

Ancestral Survivals in Domesticated Animals.—Dr. Louis Robinson, in a book he has recently published concerning that subject, goes back to their wild ancestry for the origin of nearly all the traits we observe in domesticated animals, giving only a minor place to human selection and human training. Thus, as the Academy says in a review of his book, he suggests that the dog could never have been taught what man has taught him had he been originally a solitary hunter; he was a member of a pack which co-operated for common purposes; which subordinated some individuals to others; which had division of labor and specialized functions. By virtue of this fact, when man took the dog into his company for a partner, the dog continued to fill his accustomed place in the new community. His loyalty to his master and his readiness to defend him when attacked are an echo of his loyalty to his four-footed comrades. His work as pointer or setter is the result of the habit of hunting in company. To dogs man is a very superior dog, a capable leader in the pack to which both belong. The shying of horses is explained by the fact that horses descend from ancestors accustomed to roam over close-cropped pastures, where any tuft of long grass might conceal a snake or other venomous animal. Hence timidity about such objects—transferred now to pieces of loose paper or cabbage leaves in the road—was really in the beginning a preservative trait. The donkey, whose progenitors were mountain beasts living among desert rocks, does not shy. Pigs fatten easily, because their ancestors had to eat mast in autumn against the w inter fast; and when frost lasted long, the fattest wild boar would alone survive to carry on the species. Cows give