Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/135

This page has been validated.

Fossil Horses.—In the American Naturalist for May, Prof. O. C. Marsh has an article on "Fossil Horses in America," in which he says that the remains of equine mammals hitherto found in the Tertiary and Quaternary deposits of this country represent more than double the number of genera and species occurring in the strata of the Eastern Hemisphere. It is in ancient lake-basins of Wyoming and Utah that the oldest equine remains have been found. These belong to the genus Orohippus, and are of diminutive size, hardly larger than a fox. The skeleton of these animals resembled that of the horse in many respects, but, instead of a single toe on each foot, the various species of Orohippus had four toes before and three behind, all of them reaching the ground. Of Orohippus Prof. Marsh has found four distinct species. The genus Miohippus makes its first appearance in the Oregon basin. It is distinguished from the Orohippus chiefly in that it has only three toes in the fore-foot, as well as behind. In this genus all the toes reached the ground. In the same deposits the genus Anchitherium occurs, being represented by a single species. The animals of these two genera are all larger than Orohippus, some of them exceeding a sheep in size. Of the Pliocene genera more than twenty species have been described, all apparently larger than their Miocene relatives just mentioned, but all smaller than the present horse. In the Upper Pliocene, or more probably in the transition beds above, there first appears a true Equus, and in the Quaternary, remains of this genus are not uncommon. Thus there is a continuous development in the direction of the modern horse, and it seems very strange that none of the species should have survived.


Tidal Influence on Vegetable and Animal Life.—The following dispatch was sent by A. N. Duffre, United States consul at Cadiz, Spain, and communicated to the Department of Agriculture by the Secretary of State:

A Madrid paper, entitled La Epoca, has published an article signed by Don Luis Alvarez Alvistur, on the influence of the tides on vegetation, in which the writer announces a new theory, based on the results obtained during fourteen years devoted to experimental research, by an enlightened landed proprietor of Lorca, in the province of Murcia.

The theory adopted was the direct influence of the tide on the circulation of the sap, and its experimental application, after determining the meridian of the estate, and tabulating the corresponding hours of ebb and flow, has been the felling and lopping of forest-trees solely during the hours pertaining to the ebbing tide. The results are stated to have been conclusive, the decay annually observable formerly in some portion of the timber having ceased completely in the many years that have elapsed during the application of the new principle. The system was then applied to an olive-grove, the yield of which had ceased to cover the annual costs of culture, by removing every dried portion of the trees exclusively during ebb-tide. The result is stated to have been the complete transformation of the grove, a great development of foliage, and abundant crops.

Equally admirable results ensued from the similar treatment of orange, lime, and other fruit-trees, which were thenceforth unaffected by larvæ or other plagues which smote adjoining orchards; and, finally, the vineyard of the Lorca landlord, though surrounded by those of other proprietors which were devastated by the oidium, a microscopic fungus which appeared in the district at the period when the new system was first essayed, has never exhibited the faintest trace of the presence of the malady.

It is likewise asserted that experiments, made with equal sets of silk-worms, respectively fed on leaves of trees treated by the ordinary and by the new system, the leaves under the new plan being gathered exclusively at the hours corresponding to the ebb-tide, resulted most decidedly in favor of the latter.


How the Fuegians keep warm.—In "A Memoir of Richard Williams," an English missionary to Patagonia, occurs the following passage:

"When clothing is scanty, by the same providential management which coats the whale in frozen seas with oil, the Fuegian