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HE reign of Winter No: the Winter is no dead time for the collector-
in the having neither insects to arrange nor plants to world around him, begins mount, still do not wish to lose altogether the to find a diminution in memory of the enjoyment of their country walks. their number. Not that They know too little to enable them to appreciate nothing is lef
scientific works, and Natural History books which his attention. Myriads of are at once cheap and good are “ few and far Fungi, of bright and varied between;" and yet they would like to keep up and hues, spring up in the wood add to the little information they have already and on the hedgebank; gained, so that another season may find them more a few hardy Wild Flowers prepared to observe and admire. The question, brave the inclement season ; then, is: Can we provide a means by which inforand underground, many an mation may be pleasantly gained at a time unfavourInsect is awaiting the re- able for the examination of natural objects in their turn of genial weather to most perfect state ? In answer, it may be said that, assume its perfect state. to a certain extent, this is possible; and the follow
To such naturalists as are ing suggestions for so doing are offered in the hope also collectors, the want of active employment in that they may prove useful to at least a few of our searching after additions to their store is often a readers. most welcome “rest from their labours." The In many of our larger towns, and in not a few Botanist delights in a long winter evening, when he villages, there exists a Natural History Society, the can bring out his treasured specimens from their members of which meet during the summer months various hiding-places in music-books or old news- for rambles in different parts of their district, with papers, to transfer them neatly to their destined a view to increasing their knowledge of the natural foolscap; and the Entomologist has always his objects which it contains. It is gratifying to learn insects to arrange or re-arrange, to select specimens that such societies are greatly on the increase; but for "exchange," or fight his battles over again, it is to be regretted that many of them confine their in describing to a correspondent how he captured investigations to the summer months, remaining Edusa flying over a clover-field, or how his supposed (like many of the objects of their study) dormant Cabbage Butterfly proved to be a Bath White ! during the winter. Where such a society is fairly No. 25.
more than I can tell, but this I know, she dislikes in, and altogether does the unbridled bachelorto hear them, and I feel sure it is often an open mind, I do not say husband; I tremble to think question with mamma-terrier whether to abandon or what might befall me were I to commit myself to bite the "noisy chits is the better plan of pro- so rash a statement. ceeding
Now if these tiny bears came into the world Why the cubs of the Bear family (for the same larger and more fully developed, would it not fact holds good in its application to the entire probably happen that, with erratic and disobedient race as it does to the Polar Bear) should be so habits, always inherent in young animals, they remarkably diminutive in proportion to the parent would incautiously quit their nursery too soon, and is a matter worthy of serious consideration. I can- get starved to death by cold and hunger ? More than not help thinking the remarkably small size of the this, the most pressing desire for food would hardly cubs accounts for the fact, and fact I know from tempt the female bear to quit them whilst in a helplong experience it is, viz., that hunters very rarely less condition; but if she found her cubs could kill a female bear in cub. Now it occurs to follow her before the snow was gone or food obtainme, having seen these infant Polars, that female able, might she not be tempted to sally forth from bears may be frequently killed in this interesting her snug den too soon, and by so doing imperil the condition, and the embryo be so small as to escape safety of her offspring ? But being so small at a hunter's observation; and at or near to the time birth, and withal so utterly helpless, it becomes of birth the female bear hides, and does not re- absolutely necessary that many months should pass appear until from two to three months after the away before the possibility arrives of their being cubs are born, during which time she neither eats able to follow the mother. nor drinks, but suckles her cubs whilst in a quasi- Twice only in my long experience as hunter and state of hybernation. She lives during that period trapper has it fallen to my lot to see a bear killed in upon the material supplied her by the absorption of cub. So rarely does it happen even to Indians who her own fat and tissues.
are always bear-hunting to destroy a female in cub, The habits of the Polar Bear, apart from its that they hold doing it in superstitious dread, and aquatic and carnivorous propensities, differ entirely firmly believe and maintain that he who so destroys a from those of the North American, Brown, and pregnant female bear will die before the end of a year. Black Bears. The latter hybernate during the Once during the marking the Boundary line in North colder months of winter ; the former, although West America it occurred that a bear was killed in subject to perpetual Arctic cold, never does. The cub; and in this case the hunter who shot Madam female Polar Bear when in cub retires about Bear was an Indian, in the employ of the Commission. the month of November, and hides in a cave, Of course his comrades thought him doomed; but or in some secure retreat deep beneath the snow; as it was not very clear in what manner harm could in December, so say the Esquimaux, she brings befall him, the matter passed away, and I had forth two cubs. This, as far as dates are concerned, almost forgotten it, when, strange to say, the very tallies nearly with the birth I have just recorded in Indian who killed the bear was shot dead in a fray the Zoological Gardens. Thus concealed, and with. with some gold-washers - a coincidence that the out tasting food of any description, the Mamma more firmly established in the red-skins' mind the Bear carries on her maternal duties until the month truth of their belief. of April in the year following; she then quits her The time a she-bear carries her young is about nursery, thin, savage, and terribly exhausted, but seven months, and I have never seen a bear with running at her heels are two cubs, by this time as more than two cubs. I am indebted to Mr. Bartlett, large as good-sized dogs. These, her children, she the able superintendent of the Zoological Gardens, teaches to feed on seal and fish, to swim, to hunt, for the knowledge of the singular arrangement and to become fitted for and presentable to the best observable in the mammæ or teats of the female society in bear-land. This duty accomplished, the bear. There are six in all; but four of them are mother drives them off to live by their own claws placed at the posterior part of the abdomen, and and teeth as best they can.
two on the anterior, the latter two being separated Papa Polar Bear, during the retirement of his from the posterior four by a wide interval,'to all vife, leads that disreputable, roaming, ne'er-do-well appearance unprovided with any lacteal glands. sort of life the lord of creation is always accused There is some reason for this, but what that may of indulging in--whether deservedly or not, let him be, a more intimate acquaintance with the habits of so stigmatised answer--when cast loose upon the the beast can only determine. world, freed from the protecting guidance of the Fear of occupying space that can be more profitfair. He keeps no regular hours, sleeps anywhere, ably employed forbids my writing a tithe of what dines when it suits his humour, flirts with un- I should like to write concerning this, to me married lady Polars, indulges in a fight now and most interesting subject. I have, however, been again, just, as the Hibernian says, to keep his hand | tempted to offer these somewhat crude speculations in the pages of SCIENCE GOSSIP in the hope of mities of the wings, preyed on' fish along the coast inducing some other naturalists or hunters to give of Norfolk. On all the downs from the British us their theories, or experiences-which is much Channel to Yorkshire, bustards strayed in troops of better-about bears and their cubs.
fifty or sixty, and were often hunted with greyhounds. I left the baby Polars with a hearty wish, that The marshes of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire during their babyhood "good digestion might wait were covered during some months of every year by on appetite, and health on both.”
immeuse crowds of cranes. Some of these races JOHN KEAST LORD, F.Z.S. the progress of cultivation has extirpated. Of
others, the numbers are so much diminished that
men crowd to gaze at a specimen as at a Bengal THE WHITE DODO.
tiger or a polar bear."* The most remarkable T is an interesting though melancholy matter of
illustration of the changes which have been menIT observation to the natural historian and the
tioned is that singular bird the Dodo (Didus ineptus),
which in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was philosopher, to witness the gradual diminution and ultimate extinction of various living races from the
numerous in the islands of Mauritius, Rodriguez, surface of the globe. Man himself, the lord of the
and Bourbon, but is now totally extinct. creation, is not exempt from this destiny; but in
Indeed until very recently, a few disjointed and some one or other of the numerous branches of the decaying relics in the British Museum, and in the human family is obliged to yield to the mighty and
Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, a painting in oil in various (though, perhaps, little regarded) causes
the former, and a few rude pictorial representations which are producing such striking results. The
in the journals of the early Dutch voyagers, were tribes of Red Indians which inhabited Newfound
nearly all that remained to attest their past exland have entirely disappeared within the last fifty
istence. The disappearance of this species is the years, and are now only known in the records of the
more remarkable from its having been comparatively past; while their co-genitors of the adjacent conti
recent, for from one of the Sloane MSS. in the
British Museum, there is every reason to believe nent are as gradually, though as surely, diminishing before the progress of the backwoodsman of the
that, in 1639, a living dodo was exhibited in England. 'far west.” In Australia, also, the same results
Yet until the discovery of the head and foot in a are visible; for her aboriginal inhabitants are yearly
lumber-room in the Museum at Oxford, so mystedecreasing, while in Tasmania not one remains.
rious and sudden had been its extinction from the But it is not our present purpose to enter on the
islands where it was alleged to have been found, discussion .of the changes which have affected the.
that it was almost considered to have been a fabuhuman family. In the lower orders of animals these
lous creature. The admirable memoir by Dr. Melchanges are equally marked, and their results,
ville, and the late Mr. Strickland, has, however, perhaps, are the more striking because they are
thrown much light on the subject, proving not only entirely effected by external and unnoticed agencies;
their existence, but that they belonged, notwithand it is seldom, until a species has become nearly standing their large size and unwieldly flightless extinct, that our attention is called to the matter.
character, to the family of the Columbidæ, or Nor need we go far to seek for these changes, for
Pigeons, and somewhat allied to the genus Treron. in England itself they are rapidly going on.
The MS. note to which we have alluded, is by Sir Macaulay, speaking of the state of the country in
H. Lestrange, and is as follows :-"About 1639, as
I walked London streets, I saw the picture of a the seventeenth century, says, " The red deer were then as common in Gloucestershire and Hampshire
strange fowle hong out upon a cloth, and myself, as they now are among the Grampian Hills. On
with one or two more in company, went in to see it. one occasion, Queen Anne on her way to Portsmouth
It was kept in a chamber, and was a great fowle, saw a herd of no less than five hundred. The wild
somewhat bigger than the largest turkey cock, and bull, with his white mane, was still to be found
so legged and footed, but stouter and thicker, and wandering in a few of the southern forests. The
of a more erected shape, coloured before like the badger made his dark and tortuous hole on the side
breast of a young cock fesan, and on the back of of every hill where the copsewood grew thick. The
dunn or deare colour. The keeper' called it a wild cats were frequently heard by night wailing
Dodo.” It seems most probable that this very bird round the lodges of the rangers of Whittlebury and
was bought by Tradescant, and on its death was Needwood. The yellow-breasted marten was still placed in his museum, for when the latter was prepursued in Cranboume Chase for his fur, reputed
sented to the University of Oxford, by Ashmole, it inferior only to that of the sable. Sea eagles,
contained a perfect stuffed Dodo. There it remeasuring more than nine feet between the extre
mained, having become decayed from neglect, until Vice-Chancellor and his co-trustees to be burnt ! general resemblance to it. Its appearance is so So disappeared the last of the Dodos, the head and singular, that I should at once have supposed it to foot, now in the Ashmolean Museum, being by be the creature of the artist's imagination, had it accident saved from destruction.
January 8, 1755, on which day it was ordered by the * My wish was not realized. Since the above went to press the baby bears have died.
*“ History of England." Vol. 1, p. 312.
not been surrounded by a number of other figures Unwieldly as this bird was, yet it seemed per- of well-known species; and it is certainly not a fectly fitted for the position in which it existed. The little odd that one purely ideal bird should be introisland of Mauritius, when the Dutch took possession duced amongst a group of real ones. I should be of it in 1598, was covered with dense forests of glad if any of your ornithological correspondents palms and other fruit trees. Professor Reinhardt can throw any light on the matter. The bird figured well remarks, “A bird adapted to feed on the fruits in company with this nondescript is an inhabitant produced by these forests, would, in that equable of northern latitudes; but as it is a bird of passage, climate, have no occasion to migrate to distant with an extensive range, this does not prove that lands; it would revel in the perpetual luxuriance of the artist intended to intimate that his Dodo was tropical vegetation, and would have but little need also a northern bird, though it must have probably of locomotion. Why, then, should it have the means been an inhabitant of a much cooler climate than of flying ? Such a bird might wander from tree to his congener of the Isle of Bourbon. tree, tearing with its powerful beak the fruits which
Hortley Lodge, Parkstern. WM. W. COKER.” strewed the ground, and digesting their stony kernels with its powerful gizzard, enjoying tran- The drawing of the two birds was sent to Mr. quillity and abundance, until the arrival of man Gould, the ornithologist, who made the following destroyed the balance of animal life, and put a term remarks respecting it :-"The drawing which you to its existence. Such, in my opinion, was the have sent for my inspection is not without interest. Dodo, a colossal, brevipennate, frugivorous pigeon.” The front figure is a good representation of the
Its flesh does not appear to have been very pala- Anser ruficollis ; the other appears to me to have table, for the Dutch sailors called the bird Walck- been taken from an Albino, or white variety of the rögels, or disgusting birds, from their toughness. Dodo. Now, as everything pertaining to this extinct
Much interest has been excited by the discovery bird is regarded with great interest, I think it deof numerous bones of the Dodo, by Mr. Clark, in a sirable that a drawing of the same size should be marsh, on the estate of M. de Bissy, in Mauritius. published in the Illustrated London News. The This was made so recently as October, 1865, and Anser doubtless sometimes visits Persia; but I strongly proves the truth of the narratives of the should suppose that the artist had made his sketch Dutch navigators as to the numbers of the birds of the Dodo from a Mauritius or Bourbon specimen, which they found. The Mauritius Commercial for we have no evidence that this bird was ever Gazette gives an interesting account of Mr. Clark's found elsewhere.” discovery, stating that all the bones have been I have lately bad an opportunity of examining the found except the toes. Some of these have been original drawing alluded to, and possess a photosent to Professor Owen, and are now in the British graph of it. It is most carefully and minutely Museum, where our readers may see them.
drawn, and coloured in body colours. Besides the And now for the evidence respecting the existence two birds which have been mentioned, the drawing of a white Dodo. In the Illustrated London News, contains figures of six others, amongst which are of September, 1856, an engraving appeared of a the Tufted Duck (Fuligula cristuta), a Spoonbill, white Dodo, and a red-necked goose, accompanied and a Merganser. To me they are evidently drawn by the following information :-“When I was stay- from life, as all are in most life-like attitudes. In ing with a friend a few days ago, he showed me the left-hand corner of the drawing is the artist's some old drawings, which he told me were made by monogram, “P. W.," which a friend has ascertained an artist in Persia, representing birds of that to be that of Pierre Witthoos, who died at Amstercountry. Amongst them was one containing five or dam in 1693. The question arises, did the artist six species of waterfowl, all of them common to the make his drawing in Persia as Mr. Coker's friend north of Europe and Asia, well drawn, and accu- supposes, or was it not more likely to have been rately coloured, although somewhat faded by age. made by Witthoos from menagerie specimens in The two birds, of which I send you an accurate copy
Holland? It seems undoubted that living specimens of the same size as the original, are in the fore- of the Dodo were taken to Holland by the Dutch ground. They represent the Anser ruficollis (as any navigators, and there is every reason to believe that ornithologist will at once recognise), and an unknown the oil painting in the British Museum was painted species of Dodo, differing considerably from that from life. Why not the dra of the White Dodo which formerly inhabited the Isles of Bourbon and in question ? As Mr. Gould remarks, it is a subMauritius, in the form and colour of the beak, ject of much interest, and makes us long to know wings, and tail plumes, as well as in the texture something more of the mysterious bird than a mere aud colour of the plumage, but still bearing a strong glance at its portrait.
W. J. STERLAND.