The Zoologist/4th series, vol 5 (1901)/Issue 721/Editorial Gleanings
At the Meeting of the Zoological Society, held on June 18th, the interesting mammalian discoveries recently made by Sir H.H. Johnston were discussed. A communication was read from Prof. Ray Lankester on the new African mammal lately discovered by Sir Harry Johnston in the forest on the borders of the Congo Free State, of which two skulls and a skin were exhibited. Prof. Lankester fully agreed with Sir Harry as to this mammal belonging to a quite new and most remarkable form allied to the Giraffes, but having some relations to the extinct Helladotherium, and proposed for it the generic name Okapia, from its native name "Okapi." The scientific name of this mammal would therefore be Okapia johnstoni, Mr. Sclater having already given it a specific name based on the pieces of its skin previously received. Sir Harry Johnston, who was himself present, gave an account of the facts connected with his discovery of this animal. Sir Harry also stated that during his last excursion to the north of Mount Elgon he had found large herds of a Giraffe in this country which appeared to be distinct from previously known forms of this mammal in having five bony protuberances on the head, four placed in pairs, and one anterior in the middle line. Four examples of this animal were now on their way home, and would soon be here to settle the validity of this presumed new species.
At a Meeting ot the Linnean Society of New South Wales, held on April 24th last, Mr. Coleman Phillips, a visitor, addressed the meeting on the subject of Rabbit extermination. The speaker, a resident of South Wairarapa, New Zealand, explained that in his district Rabbits are successfully kept in check by the operation of introduced natural enemies (Ferrets, Stoats, and Weasels), and the spread of diseases (bladder-worm, liver-rot, scab, and lice). Trapping, fumigation with bisulphide of carbon, and reliance solely upon poisoning or wire-netting, he considered to be methods altogether wrong in principle. He advocated in preference those which had been successfully tried in New Zealand; and at the same time he expressed his astonishment that in Australia anything like organized effort of the right kind in dealing with so important a matter seemed conspicuously absent.
All who have been in any way connected with our excellent contemporary, the 'Annals and Magazine of Natural History,' will probably have been brought in contact with Mr. Alfred Whitehouse, whose recent death we greatly regret. Mr. Whitehouse, at the time of his decease, was fifty-five years of age, and had been with the well-known firm of Taylor and Francis for forty-one years.
Most students of evolution will remember, and probably possess, a small volume entitled 'Darwinism and other Essays,' by John Fiske, M.A., &c., published in 1879. It was with great regret that we read in the 'Times' of July 6th a notice of the death of the author. From that notice we learn that Mr. Fiske died on the 4th inst. of heat apoplexy at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He was born in 1842, and his original name was Edmund Fiske Greene, but he subsequently adopted the name of his great-grandfather, John Fiske.
The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press have undertaken the publication of an important work on the Fauna and Geography of the Maldive and Laccadive Archipelagoes. This work comprises the results of the first scientific expedition that has visited the Maldives and Laccadives. These groups, over 1000 miles long by 70 broad, and comprising about 1500 islands, were surveyed by Capt. Moresby in 1834, at a time when the natives were still unfriendly. Beyond the published charts there is no detailed information respecting them. The expedition, consisting of Mr. J. Stanley Gardiner, Mr. L.A. Borradaile (Selwyn College), and Mr. C. Forster Cooper (Trinity College), passed eleven months in the two groups, during which an attempt was made to survey the area as thoroughly as possible. The chief object of the expedition was to investigate the interdependence of the physical and biological factors in the formation of atolls and reefs. To this end upwards of three hundred dredgings were taken, a large number of soundings were run, and every group of organisms was carefully collected. As a type atoll, Minikoi was chosen on account of its isolation, almost midway between the main reefs of the two groups. The three months, June to September, of the south-west monsoon were spent here. In the Maldives the land and reef fauna of Hulule atollon was collected for comparison with Minikoi. For the rest, eleven out of seventeen atolls were visited, including about two hundred islands, in a cruise of five months' duration, on a schooner and boats lent by the Sultan. Later a steamer was chartered from Ceylon, and four other atolls, including Suvadiva and Addu, were dredged and surveyed. The work will be published in eight parts, of which the first will appear in October, 1901.
From Cambridge we have received the Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Museums and Lecture Rooms Syndicate. Zoological science is not neglected at Cambridge, and the additions to the collections there seem most important and somewhat prodigious. We have already referred to Mr. Gardiner's expedition to the Maldive and Laccadive Archipelagoes. The collections made by the Skeat expedition to the Malay Peninsula are still being worked out by specialists. Amongst other acquisitions, we read that the collection of specimens dredged by the Royal Indian Survey Ship 'Investigator,' many of them belonging to the deep-sea fauna, is a most valuable addition, for which the special thanks of the Museum are due to the Indian Museum at Calcutta. Dr. Haddon's collection of Actiniaria is a gift the value of which is largely increased by the fact that much of his published work refers to this group of animals. Mr. Budgett's second visit to the Gambia was most successful. He returned to Cambridge in the autumn with some remarkable Teleostean embryos, a complete set of Protopterus embryos, and a larva of Polypterus, all of which are obtained for the first time.
It is with great sorrow that the Superintendent records the death of F.P. Bedford, B.A., scholar of King's College, on Oct. 7th, 1900. He had recently returned from a zoological expedition to Singapore, and some of his collections have been presented to the Museum. A cabinet for the reception of the skins of birds has been given to the Museum by Mrs. Bedford, in memory of her son's interest in zoology.
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