The Zoologist/4th series, vol 1 (1897)/Issue 668/Editorial Gleanings

Editorial Gleanings  (February, 1897) 
editor W.L. Distant

Published in: The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 1, issues 668 (February, 1897), p. 95–96


With the object of clearing up certain doubtful points as to the relation of Palæolithic Man to the glacial epoch, a Committee, under the presidency of Sir John Evans, was appointed at the Ipswich meeting of the British Association in 1895. Its report, drawn up by the Secretary, Mr. Clement Reid, was presented to the Liverpool Meeting of the British Association, 1896.

Work was commenced at Hoxne. A pit was sunk to a depth of 20 feet, and a boring continued 22 feet lower, when the glacial sand (underlying the boulder clay) was reached. This represented a depth of about 51 feet from the surface which existed before the brickyard was worked in which the investigations were made. A chain of borings east and west of this trial pit was also effected.

Mr. T.V. Holmes, in summarising this report in the pages of the 'Essex Naturalist,' writes:—"The explorers think that long after the disappearance of the ice which deposited the chalky boulder clay (the latest glacial deposit of East Anglia) the land was somewhat higher than at present, so that the silted-up channel could be excavated to a depth slightly greater than that of the present channel of the Waveney. Then gradual subsidence turned this channel into a shallow fresh-water lake. After the lake became silted up it was grown over by a temperate flora. Then lacustrine conditions again prevailed, and a colder climate, resulting in the deposition of bed C (black loam with leaves of arctic plants). Then followed the floods, during which the palæolithic beds B (gravel and carbonaceous loam) (no implements at this spot) and A (brick-earth with fresh-water shells, wood, and palæolithic implements) were deposited. The palæolithic deposits at Hoxne are therefore, as Mr. Reid remarks, not only later than the boulder clay of East Anglia, but are separated from it by two climatic waves, with corresponding changes of the flora."

At the January meeting of the Zoological Society of London, Mr. Sclater exhibited a photograph of a young Anteater, Myrmecophaga jubata, two days' old, born in the Zoological Garden of Herr Adolf Nill, at Stuttgart. Mr. Sclater remarked that this was the first instance, so far as he knew, of this animal having bred in captivity.

At a meeting of the Linnean Society of London held Dec. 17th, Mr. J.E. Harting exhibited a supposed hybrid between the Common Brown Hare, Lepus timidus, and the Irish Hare, L. variabilis, recently obtained in Carnarvonshire, where the latter species had been introduced in 1878. He compared the specimen in question with examples of both the above-named species, and contrasted their distinguishing peculiarities, pointing out the intermediate characters exhibited by the supposed hybrid. His remarks were criticised by the President (Dr. A. Günther), who thought that too much stress should not be laid upon external appearance and colour; that the question of hybridity should rather be determined by comparing the relative measurements of the leg-bones; and that the Irish Hare should be compared in detail with the Hare of Southern Europe, L. meridionalis or mediterraneus. Prof. Howes drew attention to Nathusius's observations upon the Peyer's patches of the Leporines, and pointed to the necessity for examination of the viscera. Mr. Barrett Hamilton, who was present as a visitor, was inclined to regard the supposed hybrid as an example of the ordinary Brown Hare turning white in winter, hitherto unnoticed in this country. Mr. Thomas Christy enquired what position the so-called Belgian Hare or Leporine occupied in relation to the question of hybridity; and was answered that the popular notion of that animal being a hybrid between Hare and Rabbit was fallacious, since it was nothing more than an overgrown tame Rabbit coloured like a Hare.

The 'Daily News' of Jan. 27th gives a forecast of the Commissioners' Report on the Behring Sea Seal Fisheries, from which we extract the following particulars:—Mr. Gerald Barrett Hamilton, one of the two British Commissioners, returned recently to London, having been preceded by Prof. D'Arcy Thompson. After spending six weeks on the Commander Islands and visiting Robben Island, Mr. Hamilton joined Prof. Thompson on the Pribyloff, and remained until the end of October. The Canadian and United States Commissioners, Messrs. McCoun and Clarke, were also on the Pribyloffs at the time. Owing to the powers given to the American Commissioners by their Government, they were able to do more than had been previously accomplished in the study of the question. Among other things a census—the first ever made—of every Seal on the islands was taken. This showed that there were 143,000 breeding females on the Pribyloffs, and proved that the American estimates of the total number of Seals on the islands were much below the mark. Another important piece of work was the counting of dead pups. The Americans claimed that, owing to the killing at sea of breeding females, vast numbers of pups were left to starve on the islands. They claimed that as many as 30,000 perished in this way. It was therefore highly important to know actually how many dead pups there were. Twenty thousand dead pups were counted, but it was proved that 10,000 of these had been killed by overcrowding before the commencement of pelagic sealing. The remaining 10,000 had died later in the season.