Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/264

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velously rich in every South American product of value. Its eastern and central parts, the Bolivian provinces of Cordillera, Chiquitos, and Beni, were first settled by the Jesuits, who penetrated northward from their settlements in the valley of the Rio de la Plata, and organized numerous "reductions" of the native tribes, and founded many prosperous towns. These, however, were always either on the banks of navigable streams, or within easy reach of them. In the extreme eastern part of the Madeira Valley is the Brazilian province of Matto Grosso, abounding in valuable agricultural products, and gold and diamond washings. Owing to its inaccessibility, it is very thinly populated, but no doubt, in the future, will be one of the most prosperous states of the Brazilian Empire. At present, it is one of the most unprotected frontiers of that country, being almost at the mercy of the states of the La Plata Valley in case of war.

Ascending the upper central and western rivers of the Madeira Valley, we come to the richest of all the slopes of the Andes, well populated by the Spanish race, mixed with Quichua and Aymara Indians, the Indian element being probably the best on the American Continent. The Bolivian part of the valley contains about 2,500,000 people, the Indian blood slightly predominating. At the date of Bolivian independence, 1825, the population was under 1,000,000. The country in which they live is, without exception, the richest on the globe, in every thing that Nature gives to man. Its mineral wealth cannot be matched within an equal area on the Western Continent. The number of silver-mines opened there during Spanish rule might appear fabulous, were they not registered in the archives of the state: they exceed 10,000! From the banks of the little streams which feed the Beni branch of the Madeira, gold may be washed almost anywhere. In fact, the whole slope of the Andes, in an immense sweep of 1,000 miles, extending from Cuzco to Matto Grosso, is a vast gold-placer.


A Rare Species of Rabbit.—In Prof. Hayden's "Report of the Geological Survey of the Territories" for 1872, Mr. C. H. Merriam describes a very rare species of rabbit (Lepus Bairdii) inhabiting the pine-regions about the head-waters of the Wind and Yellowstone Rivers, in Wyoming. Mr. Merriam secured five specimens of this animal, which, with the exception of one placed in the Smithsonian collection by Prof. Hayden, in 1860, are the first individuals of the species that have been brought before the scientific world. One very curious fact relating to Baird's rabbit is, that all the males have teats, and take part in suckling the young! Four out of the five specimens were adult males, and they all had large teats full of milk; and the hair around the nipple was wet, and stuck to it, showing that, when taken, they had just been engaged in nursing their young. As no females were found, Mr. Merriam thought this might be an hermaphrodite form; so he and Dr. Josiah Curtis dissected a large male, which was found to contain the usual male genital organs, but no uterus, ovaries, or other female organs. Another old male was dissected, with the same result.


Steel Bars for Bells.—An item has long been on its travels both in England and this country, announcing steel bars as a cheap and efficient substitute for bells in churches, factories, etc. To numerous letters of inquiry on the subject, we have been obliged to reply that we knew nothing of the kind either here or abroad. The London Builder, having been similarly questioned, has lately taken the trouble to examine the matter, and the following is the only foundation for the statement it has been able to discover:

On the 28th of July, 1873, a provisional specification only was granted by the English Patent-Office to Ferdinand Rahles and James Dixon Mackenzie, for new or improved bells, or bar-bells and apparatus connected therewith. This invention consists of sounding instruments made from bars of steel, or other metal compositions, of a straight or curved form, producing musical notes or sounds. These bars are made of any suitable weight or dimensions, according to the power of sound desired. They are intended to be a substitute for ordinary cast bells, for use in churches or other places, and are suspended and carried in or on frames perpendicularly or otherwise, the sounds being produced from them by con-