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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/117

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107
FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

races against which prejudice is strong, and the growing habit of parents expecting their children to be restored to them when their services become profitable. Placing out street waifs and neglected and dependent children in the homes of private families, the report says, has been sadly abused. The degradation and moral corruption of the condition of such children are apt to make them so refractory and unsusceptible to the wholesome influences of family life that an abrupt transfer is liable to be attended with failure and disaster. The children should therefore be previously brought under the restraining and reformatory influences of a training school. At the best, a placing-out work can not be exempt from serious contingencies. "The second decade, the adolescent age, under most favorable conditions, is the period when the will is apt to be wholly dominated by the emotions, and unless the environment is peculiarly favorable, guardianship becomes a difficult function. With an indenturing system that prolongs the term of apprenticeship for boys throughout their minority, both apprentice and guardian must possess an extraordinary measure of amiable qualities to insure a continuance of their relation through an extended period." When the boy is old enough to earn wages from strangers the temptation to leave and go out for hire is very strong, and must be met by a corresponding degree of tact and liberality; and even when interests are happily adjusted "a placing-out system ought to take account of the tastes and aptitudes of young people, and leave the way open for the deserving at a suitable age to start upon a new career."

 

Animals Helping One Another.—While the ruminant animals as a rule do not seem to have made any further advance toward forming communal groups than to post sentinels while pasturing together, a few marked cases are found in which a division of labor and some system of assistance seem to have been given effect. One such instance is cited in the London Spectator as having been observed by Lord Lovat in the Highland deer, where large stags have smaller stags to attend them and serve them very much as the English school bully is attended and served by his fag. Lord Lovat tells another story of compassion manifested and help afforded by a stag to a younger animal. Of three stags on the move, two jumped the wire fence, and the third, a two-year-old, halted and would not venture the leap. The two waited for some time while the little fellow ran along the fence, till the larger of them came back to coax him, and "actually kissed him several times." Finally, the animal gave up and went on, after which the little stag took courage and made the jump. The social organization is very far advanced with the beavers, and is quite elaborate with the rabbits, which excavate common and interlacing burrows, and with insects like ants and bees.

 

Geological Formations and Forests in New Jersey.—From a study of the relation between forestry and geology in New Jersey, Arthur Hollick finds that two distinctly defined forest zones have long been recognized in the State—a deciduous and a coniferous—the contrast between the two being so obvious as to attract the attention even of superficial observers. While the deciduous zone is roughly confined to the northern part of the State and the coniferous to the southern part, yet when the line of demarcation is carefully followed up across the State and beyond its confines it is found not to coincide with any parallel of latitude or isothermal line, and not to be entirely dependent either on topography or the physiographic conditions. "If, however, a geological map of the region be examined, the line of demarcation between the two zones will be found to follow the trend of the geologic formations whose outcrops extend in a northeast direction across the State and southward beyond. A coincidence was suggested, and it became more apparent, as the investigations proceeded, that the two classes of angiosperms and gymnosperms were severally identified with certain geological formations, and also that the distribution of many species within each of the zones was capable of. being similarly associated, and their limits of being more or less accurately defined. The deciduous zone is roughly located as lying north of a line between Woodbridge and Trenton, and the conif-