Popular Science Monthly/Volume 42/February 1893/Notes


A correspondent of the London Spectator, Violet Davies, tells the following story of "a canine member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals": "Last week a sick dog took up its abode in the field behind our house, and, after seeing the poor thing lying there for some time, I took it food and milk and water. The next day it was still there, and when I was going out to feed it, I saw that a small pug was running about it, so I took a whip out with me to drive it away. The pug planted itself between me and the sick dog, and barked at me savagely, but at last I drove it away, and again gave food and milk and water to my protégé. The little pug watched me for a few moments, and as soon as he felt quite assured that my intentions toward the sick dog were friendly, it ran to me, wagging its tail, leaped up to my shoulder, and licked my face and hands, nor would it touch the water till the invalid had had all it wanted. I suppose that it was satisfied that its companion was in good hands, for it trotted happily away, and did not appear upon the scene again."

The vermilion-spotted newt (Diemyctylus viridescens), as described by Simon H. Gage, has the curious property of changing from the aquatic to the terrestrial life and again to the aquatic, modifying or partially modifying its breathing organs to correspond with each change of medium. It appears that, after having lived on the land, the preparation for reproduction requires the terrestrial forms to enter the water, when the life becomes for a greater or less time once more partially aquatic, and that "the surroundings of larval" life and the necessity for respiration brought about by the prolonged stay under water required for fertilization and ovulation recall by a kind of organic memory the mode by which respiration was accomplished in larval life. The tree-toad and the yellow-spotted salamander are likewise capable of partially returning to an aquatic mode of respiration; and the siren, after having had its gills so far absorbed as to be mere stubs, returns to the water and reacquires them.

An extraordinary grotto was recently revealed at Tavernay, Fiance, by an explosion during the progress of the ordinary work in a quarry. This subterranean gallery, with walls polished as if by water, is about 1,500 feet long, and ends in a chamber about 40 feet in diameter and six feet high.

The expedition sent in 1891 from Bowdoin College to Labrador has confirmed the truth of the reports that have been vaguely current for many years of the existence of a great cataract in Labrador. The stream forming the falls and rapids rises in the plateau known as "the Height of the Land." The spray of the falls was visible to the explorers when twenty miles away. The river, rushing through a gorge hardly more than 150 feet wide, makes a sheer plunge of 200 feet. Below the falls are rapids, which prolong the whole descent to quite 500 feet. The explorers sailed down the river for 300 miles below the falls.

At the last anniversary meeting of the Royal Society the Copley medal was awarded to Prof. Rudolph Virchow for his services in natural history, morbid anatomy, histology, pathology, and ethnological and archæological science; the Rumford medal to Nils C. Dunér, of the University of Lund, Sweden, for his work in spectroscopic astronomy; Royal medals to Prof. Charles Pritchard, of Oxford, for photographic investigations in astronomy, and J. N. Langley for physiological researches; the Davy medal to Prof. François Marie Raoult for his researches on the freezing-point of solutions and on the vapor pressures of solutions; and the Darwin medal to Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker.

Among the Laos of the Siamese dominions, according to an article in the Kew Bulletin, tea leaves are not used for making an infusion as in other countries, but are prepared wholly for the purpose of chewing. They are steamed and then tied up in bundles and buried in the ground for about fifteen days. Leaves thus prepared, which are called mieng, are said to keep two years or more. The habit of chewing mieng is nearly universal among the Laos, and is said to be almost indispensable to men engaged in hard work.

Experiments on the suitability of aluminum for horseshoes made in a Russian regiment of Finnish dragoons have resulted favorably. The horses were shod with three iron shoes and one aluminum shoe. When it was time to renew the shoeing, the shoes of aluminum were found to have worn as well as those of iron. None of them were broken, none showed any traces of rust. Among the advantages anticipated from the use of aluminum in horseshoes are greater facility in forging and a reduction of the load to be carried by the horse's feet.

The American Microscopical Society has funds supplied it, from which it offers two prizes of fifty dollars each for the best papers giving results of original investigations relating to animal and to plant life respectively; two prizes of twenty-five dollars each for the second best papers on these subjects; a prize of thirty dollars for the best six photomicrographs on some subject in animal or vegetable histology; a prize of thirty dollars for the best collection of six mounted slides illustrating some biological subject; and two prizes of fifteen dollars each for the second best collections of photomicrographs and slides. The papers should be submitted to the committee on or before July 1, 1893 (W. H. Seaman, Secretary, Washington, D. C). All photographs and slides for which prizes are given are to become the property of the society. The object of the prizes is to stimulate and encourage original investigation in the biology of North America.

Dr. Alcock, of the Marine Survey of India, has observed in the structure in the nippers and arm of the red cycopod crab of the shores a regular fiddling apparatus like the stridulating apparatus of many insects. Its music is heard when the crab's burrow is threatened by an intruder, and gradually rises in loudness and shrillness and frequency if the presence of the intruder is continued, until it becomes a tumultuous low-pitched whirr or high-pitched growl, the burrow acting as a resonator. Crabs of the same species will not enter one another's burrows unless they are forced to, whence Dr. Alcock infers that the use of the stridulating apparatus is to warn others against crowding upon its hole.

Mr. F. W. Doughty, of Brooklyn, claims, in a pamphlet which he has published on the subject, to have discovered in the Glacial drift at different places in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and on Staten Island and in the city of Brooklyn, evidences of man's work, testifying that the human race was old at the Glacial period. The evidences consist of representations of the human head cut in various kinds of stone or modeled in clay, flat tablets of clay bearing portraits of men and women and of existing and extinct animal forms, together with objects of primitive symbolism, such as occur on the most ancient coins, and clay molds and stone seals. His pamphlet contains a number of illustrations of these objects, which are curious, to say the least.

The committee of the American Association to which the subject was referred, approve the resolutions of the Australasian Association concerning an international committee on biological nomenclature, advise that the French and Italian biologists be invited to appoint branch committees to act with the others, and make some suggestions respecting the underlying principles that should govern biological terminology. Thus the committee recommend that the names of organs and parts and the terms indicating position and direction should be single, designating words, so far as possible, rather than descriptive phrases; that morphological terms should be etymologically correct and derived from Greek or Latin, and each term should have a Latin form; that terms relating to position and direction in an organism should be intrinsic and not extrinsic—that is, should refer to the organism itself rather than to the external world; that in addition to its proper Latin form each of the technical words should have a form that shall make it conform to the genius of the various languages, or that a paronym be made for each technical word.