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This is what R. N. Worth does in his “Guide to rose colour, the wood anemone is sometimes roseS. Devon," same series as “Kent,” published by coloured, and the common yarrow is occasionally Stanford & Co.; they are very good practical guides. red, while the common daisy of our meadows is often I do not know whether the London Flora would fringed with red. The pretty yellow flowers of the include Kent; I should think it would embrace the bird's-foot trefoil have often a nixture of red, and borderland. You may find the following useful :- some are entirely red, while the wild pansy of our Bentham's “ Flora," revised by J. D. Hooker, last cornfields may be found of various colours.-H. G. edition, 1887, ios. 6d. ; Crespigny (C. de E.), “A Ward. New London Flora,” 1877, 55. I do not know of a later edition of this, nor do I know publishers' CHLOROPHYLL AND Light.-At least a brace of names. Any bookseller would order them, or you topics have been recently discussed in SCIENCE-GOSSIP could get them cheaper by writing to Mr. W. that challenge a more than passing comment. One Collins, Scientific Bookseller, 157, Great Portland is the formation of chlorophyll in plants. It seems to Street, London, W., or to Mr. W. Wesley, Scientific be allowed by all the big botanical authorities that Bookseller, 28, Essex Street, Strand, London, W.C., there are exceptions to the law that light is an indisboth of whom I can recommend; Hooker (J. D.), pensable condition for its formation. The germina“Student's Flora of British Isles," Macmillan & Co., ting seeds of many coniferæ, and the fronds of ferns, London, ios. 6d. A revised edition of the above for example, become green even in absolute darkness was, I believe, published about 1887.-F. Leigh, when the temperature is sufficiently high, and a bright
green moss has been fished up out of the Lake of THE VARIATIONS OF COLOURS IN PLANTS.-It Geneva froin a depth of two hundred feet. But let may be interesting to readers of SCIENCE-Gossip to us take care that there be no mistake here. Are we give a few instances of variation in colour of the quite sure that in every instance where a suit of green same species of plants which leave come under my is worn by a plant fabric that the colour is due to notice. Some flowers are more various in colour chlorophyll? If we have got any decent sort of eye than others. For instance, the common wild gera- for colour at all, and endeavour to match the tint of nium may be found of a dark red, and light red of a green gooseberry, for instance, with that of a beech various shades, and is sometimes so pale as to appear leaf, shall we be satisfied ? I fancy not; and wherealmost white. The purple orchis of our meadows fore? Simply because the colouring matter in the are of a very dark purple, others of a lighter hue, one case is not the same as that in the other. By and some of a very pale red colour, while others may personal experiment, I have become convinced that be found of a pure white colour. The flowers green elderberries and even the seed cases of the amongst which we find most examples are those of a sycamore contain no chlorophyll ; and I suspect that blue, red, and purple colour. Among blue flowers the green cotyledons found inside the melons and I have noticed the following variations in colour. likewise that of the lemon, recorded in this journal, The selfheal is generally of a dark blue colour, but contain none either. But how can you tell that? many flowers are lilac, though some may very often what do you know about it? Well, I must appeal to be found of a pure white; and the sweet violet and the evidence of that most scientific of all instruments, milkwort may often be seen of a blue, red, and viz., the spectroscope. An alcoholic solution of the white colour, and now and again a white specimen substance in question, a small spectro, the use of an of the pretty little harebell may be gathered, but the eye and a little brains, and the trick is done, the colour is not a common one among them. We have matter is decided. By reference to a back number of more instances of variation in red and purple flowers SCIENCE-Gossip we learn that a very thin layer of than in any other colour, and I think I shall not be chlorophyll is sufficient to absorb all the orange, blue, far wrong in stating that there are more examples in and violet rays contained in the incident light ; hence the two mentioned colours than in all others put the spectrum ought to show very decided dark absorptogether. The red campion, which is dark red, tion bands in the portions thereof occupied by these may be found of a very pale red colour, or almost rays respectively when white light is transmitted white. The common knapweed changes in colour, through a prism. When, therefore, an alcoholic and may sometimes be found white, while red clover tincture of, say, grass leaves is presented to the slit may be seen of similar colours. Rest harrow is as of the spectroscope, a very dark, broad, clearly outvarious in the red colour as those just named, and is lined band is seen in the orange next the red, and the frequently white. The scarlet poppy and scarlet whole of the blue-violet portion is blotted out; pimpernel, two flowers of our cornfields, though of sometimes two or three other fainter bands are also so dark a colour, are often light red or even pink. seen in the yellow and the green, but these are not The little field madder and field knautia may be characteristic as the former are. So far as I am found of various red colours, while white specimens aware, there is no distinctive chemical test for of the purple foxglove and heather are of common chlorophyll ; as it is highly probable that it is not occurrence. The lesser convolvulus is white and invariably of the same chemical composition, nor is
it in every case evolved from precisely the same organic constituents in the plant. The physical test now indicated is the only reliable means of detecting its presence; and therefore any solution not yielding the absorption spectrum aforesaid cannot be said to contain chlorophyll. This comment raises a further suggestion as follows. On reading the illustrations of vegetable teratology, so tastefully exhibited by the editor in last year's volume, many examples may be noted where sepals, petals, and other floral parts have been converted into green leaves or green foliar organs, or vice versa. The quandary here is to de. finitely settle the highly interesting and important problem whether these verdant appearances are really due to chlorophyll or not. It is obvious that a decisive solution either one way or the other would tend to eminently fortify or to seriously undermine the famous “Gothic” conception that floral organs (sepals, petals, stamens, &c.) are developed, or are modifications of foliar organs. Any vegetable out. growth whatever, though it be as green as the emerald, and present a foliar aspect and structure, cannot, if destitute of chlorophyll, be regarded as a leaf in any functional sense of the term.-P. Q. Keegan.
in spring burst during the same season. In the natural state the amount of variation on the same plant is very great, extending from a simple tendency to bifurcate at the growing point of the midrib, and hardly visible on the margin, to a distinct separation of the fronds on a common stipe, a simple form of pinnation. This is the most notable case that has come under my own observation ; but I have not as yet observed a sufficient number of plants to be able to say much as to the amount of variation in fronds growing from a single crown. Varieties, when they occur in nature, I find often occur together, and sometimes it requires a careful examination, by digging up the roots, before the fronds can be relegated to the crowns that support them. Although this variety, Lobatum, and its bifurcated and tasselled allies is generally distributed over the neighbourhood of Bristol, it can hardly be said to be common, except in a few favoured localities. Indeed, I have travelled long distances along our Somersetshire and Gloucester. shire lanes without observing a single specimen, Speaking generally, I fancy they are rather more frequent in sheltered situations near the coast; but in returning from Aust to Bristol on the date mentioned, I observed so many that I thought the fact deserving of mention. In a lane running east and west on Keuper soil, near Aust, 90 yards long, with high banks, well shaded by hedges and elms, I counted no fewer than 117 separate plants, varying from simple bifurcation to strong cresting at the opposite extreme, the majority belonging to the intermediate variety Lobatum. These were nearly all strong, growing, handsome plant clusters, which, if divided, would double or treble the above mentioned number. Or the total number of Scolopendrium' plants, normal and abnormal, I should think, at a rough estimate, that the bifurcate and crested kinds must number probably a third. Both sides of the lane are sheltered and shaded by trees, but naturally the south side more than the other. Of the 117, 40 grew on the side facing the sun, and 77 on the other, a difference of nearly a half, and this difference would be true for the normal forms also. In the close vicinity, but on the sides of the main road, I observed several plants of the same variety. Proportionally, however, they were much . scarcer. Both localities have a southern exposure.—T. Stock.
NOTE SCOLOPENDRIUM VULGARE, LOBATUM, AND ITS ALLIES.-During a recent walk (5th March) from Aust, Gloucester to Bristol, I found the roadsides, owing to the absence of other vegetation, very favourable to the observation of ferns. In sheltered places, notwithstanding the severity of the past winter, I noticed some fine specimens, chiefly of the common hart's-tongue, as green as at midsumnier. The majority showed, by their semi-withered state, the advanced time of year ; but, as a whole, I should be inclined to think that the excessive and long.continued cold has not unfavourably affected them. I was fortunate in finding two or three good, and, I hope, constant varieties, which I have yet to name or get named, and a very large number of specimens of the variety above mentioned. In look. ing at Swayne's old work on the Botany of the neighbourhood, I find but a single variety recorded, and that from the neighbourhood of Ashton ; but, of course, very much more must be known since the date of the publication of that book ; but I regret that I am unable to refer your readers to these sources of information. The Botanical Secretary of the Bristol Naturalists' Society is editiog in its Proceedings a very valuable record of the local flora ; but I expect that the cryptograms have not as yet been dealt with. The variety Lobatum may be looked upon as occupy. ing a middle place between the simply bisurcated fronds and those which are much dissected and tasselled; all of them are undoubtedly related, and very inconstant, especially when transplanted, revert. ir.g almost invariably to the specific form. This fact has always been known to collectors and growers of British ferns. Ferns gathered with dormant fronds
ANNIVERSARY ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY.-Dr. A Geikie delivered the above address on February 20th. He dealt with the history of volcanic action in Britain during the earlier ages of geological time. He proposed to confine the term “ Archæan" to the most ancient gneisses and their accompaniments, and showed that these rocks, so far as we know them in this country, are
essentially of eruptive origin, though no trace bas Will that have any effect in checking the fungus? yet been found of the original discharge of any
am told that carbolic acid is preferable to camphor,
as the latter tends to produce dampness. Will portion of them at the surface. Passing to the lasan
the common brown acid do, or must it be the refined younger crystalline schists, which he classes under
kind that is used ?- T. Brown. the term “ Dalradian," he pointed to the evidence of
LOCAL CONCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY.-Being anxious included volcanic products in them throughout the
to discover if there are any Conchologists in Exeter Central Highlands of Scotland and the North of
and neighbourhood who would join myself and friends Ireland. The Uriconian series of Dr. Callaway he here in establishing a local society, I should feel regarded as a volcanic group, probably much older
grateful if you would kindly allow me a few lines in
your much read and widely circulated magazine for than the recognised fossiliferous Cambrian rocks of
Collectors in this part of England this country. The Cambrian system he showed to labour under disadvantages unknown to those living be eminently marked by contemporaneous volcanic in the more favoured north. Every little piece of materials; and he discussed, at sonie length, the so
knowledge has to be painfully acquired. There are
no well-known specialists to apply to; no museums called pre-Cambrian rocks of North Wales. He
with good local collections to which we can refer reviewed the successive phases of eruptivity during when difficulties arise. A walk through the Exeter the Arenig and Bala periods, and described the Museum quickly shows how little general interest is extraordinary group of volcanoes in northern
taken in Conchology and Entomology in this county.
There is certainly an attempt at a local collection of Anglesey during the latter time. The volcanoes of
land and fresh-water shells, but to my knowledge the Lake District were next treated of, and reference it has not been added to, or re-arranged for years, was made to the recent discovery by the Geological and several of even the commoner local forms are Survey that an important volcanic group underlies
misrepresented. A few persons interested in the
science, who would co-operate and meet together most of the visible Lower Silurian rocks in the South
from time to time for mutual encouragement and of Scotland. The last portion of the address was instruction, would undoubtedly very soon succeed in devoted to an account of the volcanoes of Silurian rendering this a less "dark" district, and if time in Ireland, and it was shown that during the
thoroughly worked I am very sure it would soon
prove itself a very rich one, as with but few oppor. Bala period a chain of submarine volcanic vents
iunities for collecting I have already found several existed along the cast of Ireland from county Down species not in the county list.-L. 3. S., Topsham,
S. Devon. to beyond the shores of Waterford ; while in UpperSilurian time there were at least two active centres of The Great YARMOUTH NATURAL HISTORY eruption in the extreme west of Kerry and in Mayo.
Society held their annual meeting at the Free Library on Tuesday evening, January 27th.
The Secretary Fossil FISH IN LOWER SILURIAN ROCKS.-A read the annual report which showed the Society remarkable discovery is announced from America.
was financially better than last year. Notes were
read on the black-headed gull, and long-eared bat, *The enormous number of fishes which so suddenly
a living specimen of which was exhibited. Letters make their appearance in the Old Red Sandstone or from the President, Sir James Paget, Rev. M. C. H. Devonian, have always staggered evolutionists. The Bird, and Rev. E. N. Bloomfield, with which the “the imperfection of the geological
latter gentleman enclosed a copy of his “ Lepidoponly reply was
tera of Suffolk," and "Moss Flora, and Hepaticæ," of record”-the failure to come upon the rocks con- the same county. The papers read at the ordinary taining those experiments of nature which would meetings were as follows: * Bird Mortality,” “The supply the missing links. These, however, have now
Little Gull,” “The Sole,” “The Great Sirex,' been discovered in western America. In the Lower
"Skulls of Birds,” “Microscopic Fungi,” “The
Black Rat,” “Bees and Bee-keeping, Silurian sandstones near Cañon City, Colorado, there bearded Rockling,” “Fifteen-spined Stickleback," have been found hosts of fishes of a lower type than “The great Water Beetle,” &c. those in the Upper Silurian or Devonian. They are Cuckoo's EGG IN A GREENFINCH'S NEST.-It also the oldest backboned animals as yet known, and is not, I think, a very frequent occurrence to find a indicate that when the still more ancient Cambrian cuckoo's egg in the nest of a hard-billed bird, being fully investigated transition between the vertebrate
mostly found in the nest of the hedge-sparrow, and in
the nest of other warblers. It may be interesting to and the invertebrate groups may be unearthed.
some to know that a cuckoo's egg was discovered here in the spring of 1887 in a greenfinch's nest, which contained four eggs of the greenfinch.-11. G. Ward,
North Marston. NOTES AND QUERIES.
The following interesting occurrence, which was FUNGUS GROWTH ON Eggs.-Can any reader of told to my cousin, who •related it to me, may perhaps SCIENCE-Gossip suggest a remedy for a fungus that be interesting to readers of SCIENCE-Gossip. In a has got into my collection of eggs. It can be rubbed hedgerow around this village a blackbird built its easily off coloured eggs, but leaves a dark mark on nest last winter and laid five eggs, which were white eggs. The collection is kept in a thoroughly eventually hatched, and the young ones flew away. dry room, in drawers, covered with glass. All the The young man who knew the nest, used, it seems, to specimens of my own collecting were well washed out. visit it occasionally to see how the young ones were What can have caused the fungus ? I intend putting getting on. In one of his visits he found that the .carbolic acid in each drawer to keep off moths. young ones had flown, and was greatly surprised to
find three more eggs laid in the old nest. I should theories may sometimes blind men to facts; but a be pleased if readers would record any similar scientist of the calibre of Professor Weissman does instance which might have come under their notice. not adopt his theories without some foundation in -H. G. Ward, North Marston.
fact. The transmission of acquired characters is by
no means essential to Darwinism. The essence of THE Two SIDES
MEDAL.-Mrs. Darwinism is the principle of natural selection, and Bodington, in a not altogether novel parable, urges this must stand as a vera causa, and as one prime us to look on both sides of the medal, but gives little factor in the process of evolution, whatever the other evidence of viewing more than one side of it herself. factors may ultimately be proved to be.—7. W. She is apparently more a follower of Spencer than of Baylis, 56, Vine Street, Liverpool. Darwin, but while she twits Wallace for not being abreast of the march of science, she herself clings to COLOURS OF EGGS.—It is a curious fact that, while some of the most doubtsul of Darwin's assumptions. we have more or less plausible reasons by which we Of Wallace, she writes : “He believes in natural account for the varied colours of birds, beasts, selection pure and simple, with its odd theory of insects, and flowers, we seem to have no clue whatconstant variations occurring without any reason, and ever to the reason for the equally beautiful and owing their origin to nothing in particular.” Well, wonderfully-varied tints of birds eggs. It is true, to what do these variations owe their origin in Mrs. certain generalisations have been attempted. The Bodington's opinion? They are due to the “law of basis of many of these is that the colours bear some the action of the environment upon irritable proto- relation to the environment, a protective function plasms ”—an explanation highly abstract and more being assigned to them. M. Glöger, a German metaphysical than biological. True, probably, as far naturalist, many years ago followed this fancy to a as it goes, but not going very closely to the point. considerable extent, and it is frequently still proNow, Wallace, without thinking it worth while to pounded in popular articles in various journals. give this account of the origin of variations, has According to these theorists, eggs are divisible into placed the theory of natural selection on a much two classes : self-coloured, and spotted. Simple stronger basis than that on which Darwin built it. whites, blues, greens, and yellows, are considered to Wallace has shown that variations are, as a matter of be most conspicuous, and therefore most dangerous, fact, numerous in all directions.
and these are said to be therefore hidden in hollows organism has a normal or average form and size for or covered nests; the colours of speckled eggs are all its parts, both internal and external, yet no supposed to blend with the shades of surrounding individual exactly hits this average, but all vary, in objects, or with the lining material of the nest. Of all their parts more or less, from the average form course these theories have no foundation in fact, and and size. For instance, suppose a bird has a wing in every case the exceptions are as numerous as the of a certain length, and it would be to its advantage examples adduced. Any schoolboy who has gone to have a somewhat longer wing. ,. Now about half bird-nesting could produce abundant evidence the individuals of the species must always have a to rerute these notions of cabinet theorists. Dr. little more than the average length of wing, while Darwin ascribed the colours of eggs to the objects the other half have a little less than the average. amongst which the mother-bird lives, acting upon The former will tend to prosper and propagate their the shell through the medium of the eye. Others. kind, while the latter will decrease. The process have surmised that there may be some relation begins at once. There is no waiting for fortuitous between the colour of the plumage and that of the variation, as Darwin thought. Now, as for the eggs. Perhaps the plumage of our domestic fowls transmission of acquired characters, when we find varies more than that of any other birds, yet they lay two men so widely apart in their general views as simple white or yellowish eggs, singularly unliable to Wallace and Weissman unite in repudiating that vary. Chemists have recently brought their science doctrine, we must at least believe that a great deal to bear on the subject, and their investigations have can be said against it, and that the question cannot led, I believe, to the discovery of two new combe settled so simply as Mrs. Bodington imagines. pounds in the pigment of the egg of the emu, these From the off-hand way in which she settles the were detected by means of the spectroscope, matter, it is evident indeed that she does not clearly Abnormal varieties of eggs are worth recording ; and understand the question at all. She confounds the I notice, with pleasure, that several of your readers doctrine of inheritance of acquired characters with are acting in accord with Mr. Nunn's suggestion, heredity in general. She strangely quotes the trans- and forwarding to you reports of such variations asmission of the peculiarity of supernumerary fingers as they have met with. As in botany, so in this departthe transmission of an acquired character. She also ment, what were once called monstrosities may act refers to the transmission to offspring of phthisis and as guides to the past history of the species, and some insanity; but the whole question hinges upon clue may be found which will enable us to unravel whether these disorders were acquired or congenital. what is at present an inscrutable mystery in zoology. As a great authority stated recently, the actual In my own experience I have met with some evidence in favour of the transmission of characters interesting varieties.
White forms of normally really acquired in the individual's lifetime amounts deeper-tinted or spotted eggs are by no means rare. only to a few scattered anecdotes. I will only say in The robin often lays a pure white egg in a clutch of conclusion that Professor Weissman's theory of the normal ones, and in two instances I have met with continuity of the germ plasma is far from being as the entire clutch pure white ; the guillemot very baseless in fact as Mrs. Bodington supposes. In frequently lays eggs almost devoid of spots, but numerous cases it is demonstrable that the repro- absolutely spotless specimens, although they do ductive cells or the rudiments of sexual organs are occur, are rare. Other wbite varieties I have met set apart at an early stage, in the development of the are those of the sparrow-hawk, greenfinch, canary, embryo. “They thus include some of the original jackdaw, linnet, house-sparrow, and wren. But the capital of the fertilised parent ovum intact, they most interesting case in this direction was a clutch of continue the protoplasmic tradition unaltered, eggs of the red grouse, these were all pure white and when liberated in turn they naturally enough except one, which was slightly clouded with the develop as the parent ovum did.” Preconceived faintest approach to coloration. Normally-spotted
mentions the peculiar canter of Shetland ponies as being due to the boggy nature of the ground across which they run wild so long. At a loan exhibition held here, I was amazed at the small size of a pair of Chinese women's shoes exhibited. They were more like shoes for a six-months’-old baby in this country, or for a doll, than for any adult.-7. Shaw.
RAT STORIES.—The following stories of rats were communicated to me by a person living at Cushendall, co. Antrim. A farmer living near the village had a cask full of pickle for curing meat. This cask was placed near a shelf on which was a dish where three large crabs had been placed ; one of them was boiled, the other two were alive. A rat prowling for food smelt the cooked fish, and had just commenced his meal when one of the crabs seized him by one of the forelegs and held such a grip that both tumbled over into the pickle. The farmer coming next day to get the crabs, wondered extremely what had become of one of them, and thought it was stolen, and after searching about discovered it and the rat at the bottom of the cask, the crab still holding on firmly. Both were drowned. Another rat was observed by a farmer in the month of April, when rats leave the rick-yards for the fields, to be assisted on his journey by two rats, one on each side, supporting him by a stick which the maimed rat held in his mouth. This rat had evidently been caught in a trap, as both his forelegs were broken. This, I think, shows reasoning.-S. A. Brenan.
CLASSIFICATORY POSITION OF THE MOLLUSCA.Can anybody state, as succinctly as possible, the precise reasons why the Mollusca have been placed in a higher position the scheme of animal classification than the Annulosa ?-P, Q. K.
eggs frequently occur without markings, as in the song-thrush and many others (including in one case the rook). On the other hand, self-coloured eggs but rarely become accidentally maculated. I have seen eggs of the domestic fowl slightly spotted, and one particular hen during the whole of her laying career, produced somewhat heavily-dappled eggs, approaching in colour to those of the turkey. Eggs of the stonechat and whinchat seem to have dotted and undotted eggs with almost equal frequency, so that neither can be called decidedly the normal state. A pair of dark chestnut-mottled eggs of the green woodpecker were taken near Kipling, in Yorkshire, in 1881. These were exceedingly richly-coloured. Variations in the ground colours of eggs are less frequent than those of the markings. White jackdaw eggs with black markings are frequent in Cleveland, and are very handsome when heavily. spotted. The partridge-egg, with the small end green, described by Mr. Hewitt, and which I have seen, is a very remarkable freak. The markings themselves of eggs perhaps afford the most examples of aberration from the normal, but of these I cannot now treat, but will try to describe a few I have met with in a future note.-7. A. Wheldon, 32, Langham Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.
BATRACHOMYOMACHIA.—So far I know, before the days of Homer, no battle between frogs and mice and rats has been recorded. The blind bard gives us the origin of the famous contest he describes; but those which I am about to relate appear to have been brought about in a different manner. Some little time ago a friend living at Comptom, Sussex, witnessed a singular spectacle ; in this case toads instead of frogs had fallen victims in an engagement. A legion of rats had assailed a small army of toads and rent them limb from limb, as their mutilated carcases testified. They did not appear to have devoured many of the toads. Perhaps, having tasted them, they did not like them. Last week a strange combat took place at Chichester, of which I extract the following account from the “West Sussex Gazette”: A rat and a frog were found near the stables of Dr. Buckell, East Pallant, having met their death in mortal duel. The rat had seized the frog's head, and its teeth protruded through the eye; the frog had also taken a firm grip of its opponent. Both declining to release their hold, or perhaps being unable to do so : they had probably died of starvation. This strange couple are to be preserved for the Chichester Museum. What could have caused this quarrel ? The rat was of Hanoverian or German extraction, and the frog possibly of French origin, which would at once account for it ; but, as there is no evidence as to the latter, perhaps a different reason may be assigned. correspondent know of similar battles recently ?F. H. Arnold.
MOUNTING Shells.- I have collected shells for some years, and have used gelatine (that sold at the confectioners in pellets) to fasten them on card tablets, melting it like glue in a vapour bath, but on floating some of the shells off I find a mark where the gelatine has been, and am afraid it injures the shells. Can any reader advise me on the matter ?Mary Priest.
HEREDITY.-In the great discussion now going on as to whether any modifications acquired during the life of the parent are transmitted to the offspring, can any one give any information as to the size of feet of Chinese babies, after fashion for centuries has crushed in the feet of the mothers? Darwin, I think,
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