Popular Science Monthly/Volume 51/July 1897/Minor Paragraphs


According to Curator Duerden, of the Museum of the Jamaica Institute, as cited by Robert T. Hill in Science, a turn of the tide has come in the life of the mongoose in Jamaica. This animal was imported there to rid the island of rats. Having disposed of these, it turned upon the other small animals and nearly exterminated them. Consequently the ticks and chigoes, in the absence of the lizards and snakes which had eaten them, throve enormously, and became nearly as veritable pests as the rats had been. Within the past few years, however, the mongooses have seemed to decline in numbers, and, when caught, to be suffering from the attacks of ticks. Birds and snakes and lizards are becoming more numerous, poultry and domestic animals suffer less from depredations, numerous crocodile's eggs are found, bevies of quails are occasionally seen, and the rats are appearing again.

The researches of Alfred Goldsborough Mayer on the color and color-patterns of moths and butterflies have resulted in the demonstration of several results believed to be new to science, among which are the prevalence of a surprisingly large percentage of black in the great majority of the colors of Lepidoptera, the composite character of the colors as distinguished from simple colors, and the derivation of the pigments of the scales by various chemical processes from the blood, or hæmolymph, of the pupa. While the number of species of Papilio in South America is nine times as great as in North America, the number of colors which they display is only twice as great. Hence the greater number of colors displayed by the tropical forms may be due simply to the far greater number of species, and not to any direct influence of climate. The scales in Lepidoptera do not strengthen the wing or aid the insects in flight. The vast majority of the scales are merely color-bearing organs which have been developed under the influence of natural selection.

According to a communication of M. Albert Gauttard to the French Ethnographic Society, the efforts which the Japanese have been making since the revolution of 1868 to adapt themselves to European civilization and modes of life have resulted in surprising transformations of their national type. Some of them are losing the eccentricity of their eyes and the prominence of their cheek bones; children born recently have less flattened noses than their ancestors, and a skin not so yellow. On the other hand, Europeans residing permanently in Japan lose the rosy color of their skin and tend to acquire an eccentricity in the eye. M. Adhemar Leclère, French resident at Kratié, said that he had observed that some of the French residing in Cambodia began in a short time to acquire the type and the gait of the natives.

In the use of the Iroquois wampum belts, his studies of which have already been noticed in the Monthly, the facts associated, and other features in the Indian life of both American continents, Mr. Horatio Hale believed that evidence was found that the Indians enjoyed systems of government and forms of civilization that evinced intellectual and moral faculties of no mean order—a real money, elements of a written language widely diffused and employed in preserving the memory of treaties of peace and alliance, established institutions working well, and a good degree of generally diffused comfort.