« AnteriorContinuar »
George is of opinion that it may be a variety of water beetles were kept and liberally fed ; it has been some other Family. Living specimens kindly supplied | observed that an excess of the larger life in a tank by him, disclosed this crucial peculiarity, and substan- | will develop organisms not otherwise attainable. tiate the division of the Group into those possessing Mexican axolotls, the size of young rats, fed once a tuo eyes, the Hygrobatides, and those having four, the week on raw beef, have lived in captivity for several Hydrachnides.
years in a receptacle of very limited dimensions ; the In every exhibition of Microscopic life, such water never changed, but merely replenished, has exclamations as “wonderful," “ beautiful,” “quaint,” always been in all seasons a world of microscopic life. are ordinary and natural forms of expression : so In their perfect condition, the Ilydrachnea are perfect, startling, and novel, are such visions as re predatory, capturing with ease, and living upon vealed by fine instruments, and, conceding this Entomostraca ; they may be preserved for months in sweeping admiration as a condition of the mental a vase with fragments of growing weeds ; but living excitement of a casual observer, most assuredly, to food must occasionally be supplied. They should be the more experienced, rarely are seen gems of anima examined “alive" under such conditions as will tion equal to these creatures when exhibited with subdue and restrict their activity. Mr. George states good illumination from an argand gas flame close to that, if a specimen be isolated in a saucer in a drop the mirror, reflected through a carefully focussed just sufficient to keep it endeavouring to swim, and paraboloid. Under such conditions these dainty mites then deluged with hot water, it will exhibit all its (beyond eccentricity of form) disclose marvellous features, necessarily, in a passive condition. It may beauty of colour: scarlets, azure-blues, browns, greens then be transferred to, and closed in a cell, in the and yellows, of such delicate and subdued transfu same water, and kept sufficiently long to afford prosions, as might teach a lesson in tone to the finest longed examination ; but, as permanent objects for the artist, and beyond this, a vivacity of motion, a cabinet they appear to be failures, the vascularity humour of attitude, that every swirl, every movement rotundity, “rightness,” and delicacy of their integureveals fresh shimmerings of light, and more comical ments seem to defy any known preservative medium ; postures.
“ without pressure,” they collapse, and become In the December, 1882, number of this Journal, wrinkled ; flattened, “under pressure,” their integrity Mr. George states that to convey even an ideal is too impaired, either for accurate observation, or representation of their beauty requires the assist | drawing. ance of “colour.” It may be added, as a matter of Crouch End. experience, that even a mere semblance requires something more ; the highest resources of the palette can never approach “light," and what is the white of drawing paper, or the most delicate resources of the
WINTER BOTANY. lithographer, compared with the glowing hues and
CHILLON WOODS, MONTREUX. blazon of microscopical illumination ? The life- history of the Hydrachnea has been
(DECEMBER 5, 1884.) fairly traced ; they are found in clear ponds, and W E had arrived at our Montreux quarters for slowly running brooks, easily discovered by their V the winter, November 26th. After one or peculiarity of motion and brilliancy; a mustard seed | two days of brilliant sunshine, a heavy snowstorm had in dimensions, a ruby in appearance, routing about set in, fully six inches lying on the ground for the with unmistakable carnivorous instincts; in their next thirty-six hours. This was followed by a rapid earliest stage they require hospitality; at birth the thaw with several very bright sunny mornings. On young swim freely, but eventually become com the morning of December 5th, we determined to remensal, possibly parasitic on some aquatic insect. visit some of our old haunts, choosing a well-known
They then assume a condition of passive content path leading from Territet through the upper village ment, increasing in size, and passing through suc of Veytaux, and climbing the wooded mountain slopes cessive larval stages to a perfect condition, only to descend on the opposite side by the woods and becoming free when ready for reproduction. . This Chillon Castle. In previous years we had found an is supported indirectly by Westwood, who, referring endless wealth of mosses, lichen and fungi, with some to pond beetles, states, “notwithstanding their large few interesting flowers still lingering as late as size, they are subject to the attacks of a minute December. Nor were we disappointed in our farasite," at that time considered to be a perfected search. Even in the snow-covered patches the hardy creature. But it was proved to be the immature state little Gentiana verna had opened its wonderfully blue of an Hydrachna, affixed as a minute oval bag with a corolla under the influence of the genial sun, and we narrow neck to the upper side of the abdomen, counted twenty-four separate plants, at an elevation infesting particularly Dytiscus marginalis, beneath the of 1500 feet above the sea in full vigorous bloom ; elytra. It is possible the Hydrachnea might be they were smaller plants, it is true, than the ordinary developed and reared in a tank in which the larger | spring growth, but equally brilliant in colour. Hard
by, nestling in the thickest bed of moss, and cluster of berries still hung on the boughs of Gueldersheltered by the stump of an old chestnut, the rose (Viburnum Opulus), a shrub or tree not to be ever-green and tough-stemmed mountain Polygala confused with V. Lantanut, the mealy guelder-rose, so chamabuxus was in full flower; the pairs of leaves common to English hedgerows. In rocky crags, closely resemble those of the box-tree, which the above the slopes of brush-wood, a splendid array of varied tints of the petals shade from white to yellow, Asplenium fontanum was in full beauty ; it is an red or brown; a honey-scented plant that grows in evergreen fern, having lacy fronds which would splendid masses in spring, and very frequently in enrich any collection, and is extremely easy to company with Gentiana verna. A strong spike of cultivate. It is said to have been exterminated in Salvia verbenaca, larger in all its parts, and far North Wales, where it once flourished. We would brighter in colour than an English species, was earnestly beg of botanists, not only in England, but growing out of a wall. It had escaped the heavy also in Switzerland, to gather plants and ferns only snows, and we left the plant in the hope that sunny with care and judgment. It is generally so easy days might preserve the handsome coloured stem for both to obtain specimens, and at the same time to the last few weeks of the year. In the dry bed of a leave plenty of a plant for propagation. Unmountain torrent a tall mullein stood upright, fortunately this care is not always exercised, and crowded with golden yellow blossom to the very tip. unscrupulous collectors are doing great harm each The leaves were smooth, slightly clasping the stem ; year in the Alps. So many thousand plants of each flower had a patch of brown in the centre, “ edelweiss,” for example, have been taken recently while purple hairs covered the stamens; the species for trade purposes, that the Swiss authorities have apparently being Verbascum Blattaria ; again we been compelled to publish notices to tourists and had not the heart to cut it down. On every wall would-be collectors, strongly urging care in the the delicate little creeper, Linaria Cymbalaria, with matter of gathering plants. Having been diligent in ivy-shaped leaves and lilac flowers, was out in pro botanical collecting for over fifteen years we must fusion.
emphatically repeat an opinion that it is never Two very striking plants next claimed our necessary to exterminate rare plants, even while obtainattention. Helleborus fætidus, type of the Christmas ing the desired specimens. Asplenium trichomanes roses, filled almost every crevice: the dark leaves and A. viride, we found plentiful in several parts, deeply cut and serrated with the lighter green of the the former, indeed, everywhere. A. Adiantum-nigrum calices, afford a most pleasing variety, especially when is more sparingly scattered through these woods; the sepals have a tinge of reddish purple. Daphne splendid fronds of Polypodium vulgaris we noted, laureola, the second of these evergreen plants, is so large as to make us wonder if it was not a different also plentifully distributed through the Chillon species of polypody. While naming the winter Woods. The leaves are entire, of a dark, shiny ferns, we may remark that Polystichum lonchitis, the green ; the axillary clusters of greenish flowers were holly-fern, grows in woods, the opposite side of in full bud, but hardly open. A little later, or the lake, and Ceterach officinale covers one wall not rather early in the next year, the sweet-scented two miles away from Montreux. The leaves of Mezereon (Daphne Wezereon) will be abundant Chelidonium majus, the greater celandine, were still higher up in these very woods, flowering before the | fresh on many of the stone walls. Out of curiosity young leaves appear. Trailing in a thicket, though we cut through the main stem of a strong-looking not in the woods, we found a large quantity of the plant to see if the yellow sap was still flowing ; there orange scarlet capsules of the Physalis Alkekengi, or was little trace of the colouring matter; the stem winter cherry. Though not indigenous in England, appeared dried up and shrinking away. In February many will be familiar with the orange calyx, which the fresh life will well up into leaves and stems; the fades away, leaving a network surrounding the mysterious power in nature which causes the renewal orange fruit, which is extensively used as an article 1 of vital energy will once more be in activity, and of food in North Italy, at the Cape of Good Hope, the suspended process of growth be continued. In a and other parts of the world. A handsome decora- | corner of a vineyard at Chillon, several deep crimson tion may be made of this plant, which preserves the flowers of Fumaria officinalis attracted the eye. On orange scarlet in a dry state for many weeks after it the grassy slopes two pink-blossomed specimens of is gathered. It is a notable fact that, while the fruit Erythræa centaureum remained, all the leaves faded, of so many genera of this order are deadly poison, and, with a few terminal flowers only; a solitary plant the physalis is harmless. Even the fruit of the of Solanum nigrum, with a cluster of white flowers, potatoe is said to be injurious, and the tubers are we found on a heap of loose stones, having several unwholesome in a raw state.
of the rather large black berries on a second stem. By the side of a trickling mountain stream a few Of the numerous fungi we cannot say more now than solitary flowers of Saponaria officinalis still lingered, to note the size and beauty of the scarlet Peziza though the beauty of the delicate flesh-tinted petals cochinea, which is plentiful in parts of Chillon woods. was somewhat lost. Here and there a crimson It was a strange appearance to be gathering gentians and other flowers in December, but no The fly is about the same size as the house-fly ; is doubt hard frosts will shortly kill the few remaining of a dark sage green colour, rather thickly covered species. We must then wait till February when the with black hair. The wings have a tendency to early “snow flakes” will show their heads, hepaticas, assume a rusty brown hue towards the base; the legs Scilla bifolia, corydalis, the crocus, sweet daphne, are decidedly a dead black. and an endless succession of spring flowers put forth I have selected this creature as the subject of the blossoms.
present sketch, for the reason it may be looked upon To the above list of flowers on December 5, we as a typical example of form-all the teeth being should add Corydalis lutea, out in profusion on an similarly shaped, as in the blow-fly, but differing old stone wall at the upper end of the village of therefrom in the following respect : they terminate Territet.
in three distinct points, having perfectly straight C. PARKINSON, F.G.S. | edges, and therefore differing from Musca domestica
TEETH OF FLIES.
minor. They are very long and narrow, but, nevertheless, very strong instruments, the chitine being quite dark as compared with some creatures.
Three of the central teeth appear to be backed up with indications of a second row (a); but the chitine is very delicate, and if present in the remaining teeth is difficult to make out; each lobe of the proboscis contains eight teeth, and here again is a distinction which often creeps in when the same form is preserved, as will be seen later on.
On the 5th December, Mr. R. Meldola, F.C.S., read a paper at the Geologists' Association, on a “Preliminary Notice of the East Anglian Earthquake" of April 22nd, 1884. Dr. Hicks also gave a paper on “Some Recent Views concerning the Geology of the North-West Highlands.”
the sun rose the entire heavens were filled with a EARLY SUN-GLOWS.
blood-red light, and when the sunbeams shot forth THE remarkable sun-glows of last and the
“liquid fire seemed to rain from the sky.” Again 1 present year having attracted a considerable | people became terribly alarmed, which was further amount of attention among scientists, and being |
increased by the report of a great comet approaching believed by many to be wholly unprecedented in the the earth'; when it finally became visible in the history of the earth, it may be of interest and value to following December, the popular mind was in a state give an account of the occasions on which similar of perfect madness. phenomena have been observed in North Europe, Another aerial phenomenon occurred in Denmark according to the most reliable Scandinavian his. on Shrove Tuesday, 1707. At about seven o'clock two torians.
enormous beams of light were seen running from Such purple glows as we have recently admired W.N.W. to N.N.E., which made night for several have been observed in the earliest times, when hours as light as day. Some, however, refer this phepeople believed that they were warnings from heaven nomenon to the aurora borealis, but it is strange that of great coming disasters, as, for instance, war,
it should not have been more widely recognised, as plague, or famine. There appears, however, to be such in that country. no reliable record of such a phenomenon until the But the most recent true sun-glow was observed middle of the sixteenth century. Thus, in the in 1783-exactly a hundred years ago—th summer of 1553, such a glow, or, as it was then Scandinavia. It first became visible in Copencalled, fire-sign, was observed all over Denmark, | hagen, on May 29th, and lasted until the end of Norway, and Sweden, and, strangely enough, a September. This glow is stated also to have been terrible plague visited these countries in the same seen in the whole of Europe, as well as Asia and year. In Copenhagen its ravages were so great that Africa, in that year. The sky was red as blood at the academical lectures at the University had to be sunset and sunrise, but there was one great difference adjourned for several months, and the students left between this phenomenon and the last one, viz., that the capital.
the sun's disk was semi-obscured during the day and The next glow was seen in the year 1636, when almost completely so when rising and setting. In sailors, returning to Copenhagen from voyages in the other respects, as, for instance, temperature, heat and Baltic and the North Sea, reported that for weeks the cold, moisture and drought, the phenomena of 1783 sky seemed on fire after sunset, and also in that year was identical with the last one witnessed. This a plague visited the shores of Sweden and Denmark. glow too caused great consternation in North By these coincidences popular superstition was fur- | Europe the last day being believed to be at hand. ther strengthened, although it was subsequently | It should be mentioned as a point of weighty proved that the purple glow seen in 1636 was caused importance that, in the spring of the same year (the by a terrible eruption of Hekla, the great Iceland exact date is unknown), a frightful eruption of the volcano.
Skapta Jökul, in Iceland, took place. This glow On the night of January 4, 1661, a frightful storm seemed in many respects to have resembled that of broke over North Europe. One whirlwind after the 1636, when Hekla was in terrific activity. other unroofed houses and uprooted trees in hundreds, It will thus be seen that, although English records while the tide rose so high on the coast of Jutland of sun-glows such as the recent ones are limited to one that large districts were flooded. For several days or two instances, the phenomenon has been observed the sky seemed a bath of lurid fire, and a great terror in North Europe, more or less prominently, on was caused amongst the population, most of whom several occasions during the last three centuries. believed that the Day of Judgment had come. The
C. S. celebrated Danish historian, Bishop Jens Birkerod, writes in his diary “that the sky was terrible to behold ; it looked as if on fire ; " while his father, GOSSIP ON CURRENT TOPICS. Professor Jakob Birkerod, asserts that he felt shocks
By W. MATTIEU WILLIAMS, F.R.A.S. of earthquake in the island of Funen. The same authority records that evil prophets predicted the A CURIOUS statement is made in “The Journal last day, and, as the phenomenon passed without m of Science,” of last October, by a correspondisaster, they stated that it had only been postponed dent who states that, “If a workman is allowed to for a period of three years to give sinners time for bring his dog into any manufactory where he is repentance. When August 6, 1664, arrived, great employed, it is astonishing how quickly the animal terror prevailed in Denmark, and all churches were finds out who is who' in the concern. His thronged to suffocation.
profound respect for the head of the establishment, The next phenomenon of this nature was seen and for the managers, foremen, and office-bearers in throughout Denmark, according to the first-named general, forms an amusing contrast to his sauciness authority, on May 22, 1680, at sunrise. Long before I to private workmen." This is an observation well
worthy of experimental verification or refutation, 1 part of the established domestic economy of the newt and the required experiments may be easily made. I during their breeding time, when they live in water. cannot help suspecting that the officer most likely Those I kept some years ago never failed to perform to command the highest degree of canine respect this duty, though well supplied with earthworms, would be the watchman or door-keeper, or whoever their staple food. else had the power of turning the dog out, or allowing The International Conference which decided upon him to come in. If otherwise, a very interesting the adoption of an universal prime meridian, and field of further observation is opened in the determina selected that of Greenwich for the purpose, also tion of the dog's mode of arriving at his conclusions discussed some questions of clock reform, one being concerning official status : whether the tone of the desirability of counting and naming the 24 hours command impresses him, whether he imitates the all round, starting from midnight as 24 o'clock. The bipeds, or how otherwise he is impressed.
advantages of this, especially in railway time-tables, Further observations are also demanded in reference would be very great, and the chief objections I have to a curious statement made by M. G. Rafin, in a heard is that which is founded on the mere indolence communication to the French Academy of Sciences. that shrinks from all innovation. But this is really no He states that a large wood fire having been kindled | innovation, excepting as to the time of fixing the near an ant hill in the Island of St. Thomas, the 24 o'clock. I spent a few months in Rome in 1842–3 ants precipitated themselves into it by thousands, when the time was reckoned in 24 hours as a matter until it was completely extinguished, and he of course ; all public announcements of time were proposes to name this species of ant the Formica | made accordingly, but for the benefit of foreigners ignivora. The first impulse on reading this account the time of opening certain theatres, &c., was further of the fire-eating ants is one of incredulity, but explained by adding the “tempo francese,” or “French further reflection on well-known facts modifies this time ” as they called the 12-hour enumeration. The impression. The fascination of a bright light on “ tempo italiano" was counted from the chiaroscuro, insects effects a wonderful amount of suicide. When or twilight, a very clumsy device, seeing that the I lived in the neighbourhood of Twickenham 24 o'clock had to be shifted every month. Some of (towards Fulwell), I observed during three successive the public clocks had (and possibly still have) a double summers that the bottom glass of the road lamps was set of figures. Referring to an old play-bill of the <larkened by a deposit of very small flies that had Teatro Alibert, I find that the performance on the flung themselves into the flame and perished ; and 25th January, 1843, was announced to commence that the ground around the lamps was strewn with “alle ore due di notte," at two o'clock at night, i.e., ihousands of their bodies. A multitude of similar two hours after the chiaroscuro. In this play-bill no instances may be named. Possibly the fire exerted a tempo francese is given. similar fascination upon the ants.
When will science be decently represented in the A correspondent to this journal (page 262) inquires organization of the British Government in such a concerning the food of tortoises. I found the same manner that its scientific expenditure shall be wisely difficulty as he describes in feeding some that I had, controlled and distributed ? The pitiful anti-climax but afterwards was very successful by simply placing
of the “Challenger” Expedition brings forth this them on a garden lawn under an inverted packing question most glaringly. Here was lavish expenditure case, in the bottom of which was an opening covered in the sumptuous equipment of a magnificent yacht; with wire gauze, or left open to supply light. They every conceivable luxury was generously provided for fed heartily on the clover leaves, and also ate some the selected few who were paid for taking a charming grass. The patches where they had been were holiday cruise, the avowed object of which was the distinctly displayed by their industrious mowing. By obtaining of certain scientific information for the cutting away about 'three-quarters of an inch of the enlightenment of mankind at large, and the British edges of opposite sides of the packing case, where it nation in particular. By the aid of some genuine rested on the grass, the tortoises were enabled to shift workers at home, the crude materials of the yachtsmen their prison, and did so in their endeavours to burrow have been arranged and edited to form volumes of under the raised edges. They thus supplied them- | reference. These volumes contain all the fruits of selves with fresh pasture during the summer, but died | the expedition (except the pay and personal recreation in the winter. Their mode of eating shows that it is supplied to the aforesaid holiday-makers); all that can scarcely possible for them to feed upon loose ready- | come to the nation that “paid the piper" is in these gathered leaves. They do not bite the leaf through, volumes. All the cost of finding and arranging but simply pinch it between their horny jaws, then materials, of engraving and setting-up the volumes break it by a jerk of the head, but, for this to be done has been incurred, and a few copies actually printed successfully, the leaf must firmly be fixed by roots or at a total prime cost of many thousands of pounds for otherwise.
getting up each volume. This having been done, the The practice of swallowing their own cast-off skins multiplication of copies would cost about ninepence observed by another correspondent seems to be a per pound for paper and press-work on the sheets,