Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/393

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MISCELLANY.

plantain-stalks, each ornamented with flowers. After this, let the doctor make an offering of nine silver coins, nine handfuls of rice, nine ceri-leaves, and nine betel-nuts, placing a set of each on the several floats, in honor of the teacher of medicine. Then he is to launch the floats into the river, mould his paste composition into slugs, gild the slugs, and apply them to the wound." Another way of treating snakebites is the use of enchantments for calling the snake which gave the wound to suck the poison out. "For this purpose, fill three bottles with proof-spirits, then let the doctor repeat the form of incantation, drinking one of the bottles of spirits up, while he enchants over it. If the snake does not come, the doctor is to drink a second bottle, proceeding in the same way; and if, on consuming the third bottle, the serpent still declines to appear, the patient must die. But, should the snake present himself, let the doctor take three cowries in his hand, and seven times rehearse a set form of incantation till he has charmed the snake to come to his left side. Then the poison is to be brushed from the wound with a handful of meyon-leaves seven times, and the patient, if he can be got to eat a betel, will recover." Civilized practice, it may be observed, does not stop with three bottles of spirits, but continues the drinking till the snakes appear!

 

Fossil Remains of the Moa.—According to the Melbourne Argus, a number of bones of the moa have been discovered near Hamilton, New Zealand. The moa has never been seen alive since about the year 1650. Tradition describes it as a stupid, fat, indolent bird, living in forests and mountain-fastnesses, and feeding on vegetable food. The moa seems to have been extirpated for the sake of its flesh, feathers, and bones. The natives used the bones for making fish-hooks, and the skull was employed as a receptacle for holding tattooing-powder. Captain Hutton, the provincial geologist, has lately visited the locality where the bones were discovered, and ascertained from personal observation that an accumulation of these bones exists, in a tolerable state of preservation, in a swamp about a mile and a half east of Hamilton. Mixed with the moa-bones were found skeletons of the aptornis, a large bird, resembling a swan. There are also the bones of some smaller birds, and these will prove of peculiar value, as hitherto paleontological research has not offered much information as to the kind of small birds which were contemporaneous with the moa. It is estimated that about five or six wagon-loads of bones lie in the swamp at Hamilton.

 

The Pitcher-Plant.—In a paper read at the American Association, Prof. C. V. Riley gives the following description of the pitcher-plant (Sarracenia): The leaf of this plant is a trumpet-shaped tube, with an arched lid, covering more or less completely the mouth. The inside is furnished with a perfect chevaux-de-frise of retrorse bristles, commencing suddenly about an inch from the base; thence decreasing in size until, about the middle to the mouth, they are so short, dense, and compact, as to form a decurved pubescence, which is perfectly smooth and velvety to the touch, especially as the finger passes downward. Running up the front of the trumpet is a broad wing, with a hardened border, parting at the top and extending around the rim of the pitcher. Along this border, but especially for a short distance within the mouth, and less conspicuously within the lid, there exude drops of a sweetened, viscid fluid, which, as the leaf matures, is replaced by a white, papery, tasteless sediment, or efflorescence, while at the smooth bottom of the pitcher is a limpid fluid, possessing toxic qualities. The insects which perish in this liquid are numerous, and of all orders, but ants are the principal victims. The plant, however, is omnivorous as regards insects, and Prof. Riley has found in the fluid, at the bottom of the pitcher, katydids, locusts, crickets, cockroaches, flies, moths, and even butterflies, in a more or less recognizable condition.

 

Effects of the Glacial Epoch on the Distribution of Insects.—In a paper entitled "On Allied Species of Noctuidæ inhabiting Europe and America," Buffalo, October, 1874, Mr. Grote says: "For the origin of certain species we shall have to go backward to the Pleistocene, and consider the