The Zoologist/4th series, vol 5 (1901)/Issue 719/Notices of New Books

Notices of New Books (May, 1901)
editor W.L. Distant
3846154Notices of New BooksMay, 1901editor W.L. Distant


American Hydroids. Part I. The Plumularidæ. By Charles Cleveland Nutting.Washington: Government Printing Office.

This is the first part of a folio publication devoted to these lowly but most interesting forms of animal life. It appears that the great concourse of Plumularian life in American waters was almost unknown to the earlier workers who studied the group. In 1862 the elder Agassiz, in his 'Contributions to the Natural History of the United States,' included only three species of Plumularidæ; three years later his son, Alexander Agassiz, recognized six species; Prof. Allman, in studying the material secured by Pourtalès in the Gulf Stream, enumerated or described no fewer than twenty-six species; and, irrespective of the contributions of other workers, "at the time of the inception of the present work, it is doubtful if more than fifty species of Plumularidæ were known to occur in American waters." Prof. Nutting gives descriptions and figures of some one hundred and twenty-one species, and remarks:—"It is now evident that the West Indian region is the richest in Plumularian life of any area of equal size in the world. Not even the Australian region, hitherto regarded as by far the most prolific in these exceedingly graceful organisms, can equal our own southern waters in profusion of genera and species." From a study of all the data obtainable, Prof. Nutting inclines to the conclusion that Plumularian life increases in species down to a depth of 500 fathoms. Below that depth the data are insufficient to warrant any deductions. This publication is embellished with thirty-four excellent plates, and again attests the excellent and exhaustive manner in which zoology is fostered in the United States of America.

Zoological Results based on Material from New Britain, New Guinea, Loyalty Islands, and elsewhere. Collected during the years 1895-97. By Arthur Willey, D.Sc, Lond., &c. Parts III., IV., and V.Cambridge: at the University Press.

Parts I. and II. of this truly biological publication were noticed in 'The Zoologist' for 1899 (p. 90). Since that time three more parts have appeared, and have maintained the standard which the authors of the first instalments so well initiated. It is difficult indeed to adequately draw attention to Parts III., IV., and V. The authors are many, the subjects numerous, and, we may add, relate to animals unfortunately caviare to most of our readers. Thus the Enteropneusta, described by Dr. Willey, represent a group scarcely recognized by many zoologists of other special studies, and their position in animal life understood by still fewer; and yet inspire a communication that really makes for a knowledge of organic evolution. Evolution to-day is the talk of the man in the street; though its principles are understood by so few, that it is practically—so far as technical knowledge is concerned—confined to the consideration of experts. The most popular doctrines are generally those least understood outside the circle of serious students. In Part IV. ornithologists will find "A contribution towards our knowledge of the pterylography of the Megapodii," by Mr. Pycraft; while the Robber Crab (Birgus latro), too often considered as having its young born resembling the parent, is well described and illustrated in Part V. by Mr. Borradaile as producing its young in the zoæa stage. These short notices give no proper digest of the contents of these last published parts; but, for the reasons given above, further review is beyond our space. It is a work for consultation rather than for quotation, and it is a sign of the times that several of the contributors are ladies.

First on the Antarctic Continent, being an Account of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1898-1900. By C.E. Borchgrevink, F.R.G.S.George Newnes, Limited.

A knowledge of the Antarctic regions is as much desired by zoologists as by geographers. Many problems in zoo-geography were considered as of probable solution when the fauna of these frigid wastes was studied, and we are indebted to the generous enterprise of a private citizen, Sir George Newnes, that this expedition was made possible. It was accompanied by Nikolai Hanson, an accomplished zoological collector, who had already done good work for both the British and Christiania Museums, but who unfortunately succumbed to disease, and was buried on this lone continent.

The zoological results which will interest most of our readers are to be found in Chapter VII.—"Among the Penguins"—Eudyptes adeliae being the dominant species; and the question was solved as to the black-throated and white-throated Penguins being one species at different stages of plumage. The worst enemy of these Penguins is a Skua (Lestris), "which constantly soared over their nests, watching for an opportunity when they might steal an egg or catch a young one." The author claims, by the discovery of species of insects and members of the shallow-water fauna, to have further proved the existence of bipolarity, and we may expect to hear more of this expedition when the whole of the biological collections have been worked out.

Text-Book of Zoology, treated from a Biological Standpoint. By Dr. Otto Schmeil. Translated from the German by Rudolph Rosenstock, M.A.; edited by J.T. Cunningham, M.A. Part II. Birds, Reptiles, Fishes. Part III. Invertebrates.Adam & Charles Black.

Last year a notice of Part I. of this publication appeared in our pages; we have now received Parts II. and III., completing the work. We then appraised this 'Text-Book' as supplying a want in introductory Zoology to school children, to whom zoology is not an end, but a part of a liberal education. We still hold that opinion despite many lacunæ, and a general absence of progressive nomenclature and classification. But to impart that information is not the aim of the publication; it is rather designed to describe an animal as it is, more than its evolutionary position in the organic series, or under its more modern cognomen in advanced scientific literature. It is suggestive rather than profound, and perhaps that is a merit when we consider the hands into which it is likely to fall. Of faulty treatment, we may instance the section devoted to the Crocodilia as an example. We have no distribution of the Crocodiles described, and as the only species referred to is C. niloticus, a youthful enquirer might consider that the Crocodiles were confined to Africa. Moreover, the Garial and the Alligator are given as "Allied Species," when it would clearly have been more exact to write allied genera. But the book still fulfils a purpose of its own, and we know of no other that will make a child think more of the animals described; while, if the teacher is really capable of his or her implied function, some healthy commentation may be made, and some likely misconceptions be avoided.

The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Edited by W.T. Blanford. Arachnida, by R.I. Pocock.Taylor & Francis.

Since the publication a few years previously of Thorell's 'Spiders of Burma,' this is the most important work on the Eastern Arachnida that has appeared, and it altogether supplements Thorell's 'Monograph' by treating the Arachnida as a whole, including the Scorpiones (Scorpions), the Uropygi, and the interesting Solifugæ. Altogether three hundred and forty-three species are fully described—the Araneæ, probably owing to the exigencies of space, having a shorter diagnosis than the preceding orders—and the families and genera clearly characterized. The illustrations are not so numerous as in some other volumes of the series, but those given are apt, and of a structural description. The volume is a distinct addition to our knowledge of Indian zoology, and forms a worthy contribution to an excellent and much needed faunistic monograph relating to the Oriental Region.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse