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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/633

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613
MY PET SCORPION.

of cemented sand or clay, under which they travel securely. Unfortunately, too, they do not always confine their ravages to dead wood. Every orange grower fears them, and if they once get a foothold the tree that they attack is often destroyed before anything is suspected to be the matter. They "love darkness rather than light," and "their deeds are evil." And it is these miserable pests that my little-appreciated and much-slandered Thelyphonus has been all her life fighting! And those big, strong claws of hers, that look so formidable, what are they for but to tear down and break in pieces the hard, honeycombed structures in which her food is hidden? It was all plain enough now!

I confess, when I first discovered these facts which turn popular natural history so completely topsy-turvy, I felt like taking off my hat and making my profoundest bow to my little captive, and in the name of justice and humanity asking pardon for all the slanders and indignities heaped upon her race.

Since writing the above, a private note from Prof. L. O. Howard, chief of the Division of Entomology in the United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C, furnishes important additional testimony upon the question of the harmlessness of this arachnid. Professor Howard says, "The Thelyphonus is not poisonous."

Perhaps a way of reconciling at least some of the conflicting statements that have been made on the subject may be found in the facts revealed by modern bacteriological investigations. It is well known that under special conditions the bite of the most harmless animal may convey to the human system pathogenic germs which will speedily prove fatal. Most of the deaths reported in the newspapers from the bite of the Thelyphonus are no doubt imaginary, or due entirely to other causes. Any well-authenticated case—if such there has been—is probably to be explained in the manner above indicated. This theory, too, helps to "let down easy" some prominent naturalists whose great names have served to give countenance to one of the most widespread and persistent errors in current natural history.

 


 
In a memorial address of the late Dr. James Hall, made at the recent meeting of the Geological Society of America, Secretary H. L. Fairchild referred to Dr. Hall's development as almost coeval with that of the science of geology in America, and his sixty-two years of activity as connecting the work of the self-taught pioneers in this branch with the widespread field of activity of to-day. Dr. Hall's accuracy and well-balanced observation had made his first work, a report on the Geology of Western New York, a classic of the science to-day.