Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/30

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moment this relatively scant faculty is fatigued, and we fall back into the hands of the old animal instinct, sensation-memory, which we share with the horse and woodchuck, and we proceed to rattle off the list of the hundreds of times we have seen one of these white patterns, the skunk's or deer's (bright against the ground as man's height makes to be the case). But these white tops are white evidently because concealment from a lower level, for one purpose or another, is the thing most important to the animals so patterned.

Eoosevelt carried into Africa the regulation down-looker's misconception of the subject. And nowhere on all his pages (or in fact on any other man's pages) is to be found the faintest perception that all these white patterns on zebras and antelopes were playing a diametrically opposite part to the eyes of the creeping enemies of these plains-haunting animals.

Colonel Roosevelt, with the best intentions, was fated to put himself on record in the most unfortunate of attacks on our book—an attack which forces us, if we answer it at all, to expose its extraordinary weaknesses. It is the nearest to one hundred per cent, of error that I have ever read, on any subject that I understood.

First, he shows fatal ignorance of the laws of optics on which the whole thing rests, and consequently absolutely misconceives what concealing-coloration is or could be. Secondly, he does not see the joke against all who try to prove that nothing has escaped their sight by telling what they saw. He would be too sagacious to apply such reasoning to practical affiairs—why does he take science less seriously? When I announce to the world the discovery of an almost universal concealing-power, under certain conditions, in animals' costumes, what has it to do with the case to tell of the animals one has seen? Let us apply Roosevelt's method to some practical case. If the police announce the discovery in the garret of some respected citizen of a complete counterfeiting apparatus, with every sign of daily use, what does it avail to testify that you have seen the citizen hundreds of times not counterfeiting? The discovery of the evidence compels an investigation. If the owner of a game preserve discovers in the cellar of some neighbor a supply of freshly used game traps, what does it avail that this neighbor is daily seen not trapping? Again only an investigation will do. What I have discovered is that all these patterns of an animal's costume are potential counterfeiters, of the most perfect kind, ready for action (action in some cases almost constant, in others only at rare, but vital, moments)—each one a most exquisite reproduction of some background typical of the wearer's habitat. An artist is of course the judge of such copies; and it is therefore as an expert that I pronounce on them.

No amount of reiterating that you have seen the poacher not poaching, or the bank-note counterfeiter not counterfeiting, or this new