« AnteriorContinuar »
ertheless belong to one family (the weasel family, Mustelide), and are more or less valued for their fur. Almost all are characterized by a fetid odor, especially the skunk, which is notoriously offensive, and in consequence is avoided by all other animals.
The dog family is represented by several widely distributed varieties of the red fox (Vulpes pennsylvanicus) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereo-argentatus), and by the coyotes
Fig. 137.—Silver fox (Vulpes pennsylvanicus, var. argentatus).
by W. K. FISHER,
(Canis latrans) and wolves (Canis nubilus). The domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is probably the descendant of the wolf, and owing to man's careful breeding during thousands of years has formed several widely differing varieties.
The cat family, comprising the most powerful, savage, and keenest-scented carnivora, is represented by the lion, tiger, jaguar, and hyena. In this country the group is represented by the lynx (Lynx canadensis), the wildcat (Lynx rufus), and the panther or puma (Felis concolor), which attains the length of nearly five feet. The domestic cat has, like the dog, been domesticated for centuries, and has possibly descended from an African species (Felis
caffra), which was held sacred by the Egyptians, who embalmed them by thousands.
230. Man-like mammals (Primates).—The last and highest order of mammals, the Primates, includes the lemurs, monkeys, and man. The first of these are strange squirrel-like forms living chiefly in trees in Madagascar and neighboring regions where they feed on insects. The apes and monkeys are divided into Old and New World forms, which differ widely from each other. The American species are marked by flat noses, with the nostrils far apart. All are arboreal, many have long prehensile tails, and the digits bear nails, not claws. Among them are several species of marmosets, the howling monkeys (Myocetes), the-spider-monkeys (Ateles), and the capuchins (Cebus), all of which are more or less common in captivity. In the Old World apes, on the other hand, the nostrils are close together and are directed downward, the tail is never prehensile, and in some cases is rudimentary,and may even disappear. The lowest species (the dog-like apes) include the large, clumsy baboons, among them the familiar blue-nosed mandrill (Cynocephalus maimon) and several other species of lighter frame, such as the longtailed monkey (Cercopithecus) (Fig. 140), the tailless Macacus, common in menageries, and the Barbary ape, inhabiting northern Africa and extending over into Spain. Fig. 139.—Baby orang-utan. From life.
The remaining anthropoid or man-like apes include the gibbons (Hylobates), orangutan (Simia), gorilla (Gorilla), and chimpanzee (Anthropo
pithecus). The gibbons, inhabiting southeastern Asia, possess arms of such length that they are able to touch their hands to the ground as they stand erect. They are thus adapted for a life in the trees, where they spend most of their time feeding on fruit, leaves, and insects. In the same district the orang occurs, walking when on the ground on its knuckles and the sides of its feet. It prefers the life in the trees, however, in which it builds nests serving for rest and concealment. The gorilla (Fig. 140), the largest of apes, attaining a height of over five feet and a weight of two hundred pounds, is a native of Africa, where it lives in families and subsists on fruits. The same region is the home of the chimpanzee, which in its various characteristics approaches most nearly to man. Man (Homo sapi
Fig. 141.—Gorilla (Gorilla). ens) is distinguished by the inability to oppose the big toe as he does his thumba feature associated with his erect position—and by the relatively enormous size of the brain. Even in an average fouryear-old child or an Australian bushman the brain is twice as large as in the gorilla. With this relatively great development of the nervous system is correlated superior mental faculties, which together with social habits and powers of speech exalt man to a position far above the highest ape.