Page images

a tedious one, not more so, however, than the preparation of most microscopic objects, and the result will richly compensate one for the pains bestowed,

I have now before me sixteen small boxes, containing as many different kinds of shells, spines, &c., one holding about thirty sorts of corals, many

of exquisite beauty; the whole of these specimens, weighing with those not yet sorted nearly one ounce and a half, were obtained from about one pound weight of chalk. I have also another box of small foraminifera, prepared from a like quantity of chalk; these are equally beautiful, but weigh somewhat less than 3 drachms, and no corals can I find. It must, however, be very poor in fossils, if 2 lb. of chalk do not yield a sufficient quantity to satisfy any microscopic ob

EDWARD H. ROBERTSON. [Note. The woodcuts, Figs. 33 to 36, from Figuier's “World before the Deluge,” were kindly placed at our disposal by Messrs. Chapman & Hall.]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

A SPIDER’S nest of an unusual kind

has been built in a peony bush, this summer in my garden. A descrip

tion of it may possibly interest some of your readers. It is a conical bag of fine close web, nearly four

inches long; the point rested in a crutch of five leaves, two of which, of equal size, about two inches long, were fastened up the back of the bag; the three smaller leaves were attached slightly to the front of the bag only at the bottom of each leaf.

The top, or mouth of the bag, about two inches in diameter, was kept open in a perfect circle by strings of strong web, fastened to leaves an inch or two off. From those leaves

web stretched to leaves or branches, and repeated until the supports, woven sideways, upward, and downward, spread over the bush sixteen inches square or more. When this was finished, a triangular piece of thick web, like the bag, was woven on the top, reaching about one-quarter of the circumference, and stretched and suspended like a beautiful arched canopy over half the mouth of the

bag; when that was completed, another was woven by the side of it, and suspended in the same way : consequently the mouth of the




Fig. 36. Chalk of Cattolica, Sicily. be exercised, and the result will vary, according as the chalk used is prolific of fossils, or otherwise.

bag was so covered that nothing could fall in; but the canopy was not closed down along the front FRESH-WATER STICKLEBACKS IN half of the bag by nearly an inch.

SEA-WATER AQUARIUM. A leaf was then drawn down on the canopy, and woven over about half-way down the leaf ; in like IT is perhaps undoubted that sticklebacks manner five other of the surrounding leaves were (Gasterosteus aculeatus), born and bred in woven down, and made a perfect cover. The edge fresh water, are able to live, apparently without of the canopy was then let down, and woven to the inconvenience, in sea water. It may, however, not other half of the bag. I suppose he had shut him- be uninteresting to some of the readers of SCIENCE self in, for I saw him no more. He used to sit on Gossip, to hear a short account of an endeavour to the edge of the bag, under the canopy, but if I establish fresh-water sticklebacks in a marine stooped or moved a hand toward the nest he darted aquarium. Without fish of some sort, an aquarium instantly to the bottom. Snails used to get under lacks one of its greatest attractions; but to keep the shelter of the nest; I frequently removed them them, it needs not only a well-constituted balance by passing my arm under the bush, but it was not of animal and vegetable life, but also a careful possible to do that without breaking some of his selection of the sorts of animals. As the aquarium ramifications.

of which the following account is written is not After it had been closed about three weeks I cut near the sea, difficulty is found in obtaining saltoff the branch and brought it in-doors, but was

water fish; and the innumerable fresh-water stickleprevented attending to it until the surrounding

backs in the mill-streams near Newport suggested leaves had become dry. When I moved them the the plan of introducing some of them to the society spider lay dead outside the nest : on removing the of their foreign brethren. My aquarium has now three small leaves at the point of the bag there was

been in existence for some fourteen months, and a small hole through which I imagine he must have until the 29th September last without any change of come out. I cut the bag from the point upwards ;

water. In this respect it has been more successful it was quite empty for more than two inches. I than any that I have previously had. I believe that cut another inch and a half, and found a bag fully an

very much depends on obtaining thoroughly pure inch long, and nearly as wide, suspended by twelve

water to begin with, arms of close web to the outer bag or nest. I then

During the last year, I have on several occasions cut the inner bag: it was with difficulty that a placed fresh-water sticklebacks in the aquarium. sharp pair of scissors went through it, it was so

Once I put in, I think, five, and the next morning remarkably tough. As soon as an opening was

only one was to be seen--and that one dead in the made, a young one ran out, but soon returned into arms of an anemone. The same day I put in another the hole, through which you may see a bunch

seven, and afterwards five or six more, and similar of little black things huddled together. Perhaps

numbers at other times, but always with the same they have hatched before the proper time, through result, -none survived the second day, and most of being indoors ; at present they keep quict in the

them disappeared after the first night. After the nest.

new sea-water had been placed in the aquarium, I The old one was what may be called a fierce

obtained five sticklebacks of different sizes, one a repulsive-looking creature (though I do not like to

tiny fish not more than half an inch long, and the call anything so), nearly black legs, strong and

other four varying from one inch to an inch and a hairy, and brilliant eyes.

half; two of these I placed at once into a basin of I saw a nest of the same kind in a bush four or

sea water, and the other three into a basin of fresh five feet from the ground about the year 1816, and

water, to which I gradually added sea water. As have wished to meet with another, but have not

they seemed to be perfectly at ease in their new eleseen one till now; therefore I conclude they are not ment, I transferred them on the second day to the common. No mention is made of it in “Homes aquarium, and I then sat myself down to watch, to without Hands."

see if I could discover the enemy that destroyed Streatham Hill.

H. C. R.

these brilliant little fish.

Within a very few minutes one of two prawns

(Palamon serratus), which were in the aquarium, ANOBIUM. – M. Peignot mentions an instance, came from its hiding-place, and with great eagerness where, in a public library that was but little fre- began searching for the new comers, whose advent quented, twenty-seven folio volumes were perforated was, I suppose, announced to it by a strange and in a straight line by one and the same larva of a delightfully new “fish-like smell.” It soon found small insect (Anobium pertinax, or A. striatum) in one of my little ones, and, seizing it with its nippers, such a manner that on passing a cord through the was carrying it off to kill and eat, or rather, I perfectly round hole made by the insect, these expect, eat and kill, when I came to the rescue of twenty-seven volumes could be raised at once. my pets and sent the crystal dragon jerking away.

[ocr errors]

of 100 young.

It was, however, of little use to stand on guard with my knitting-needle, I could hardly shield the whole

ZOOLOGY. five from harm; and to divert the attention of the enemy I dropped large pieces of meat into its claws,

A PROLIFIC ANEMONE. - In October, 1866, a brief and so for a time succeeded in quieting him. Being paragraph was inserted respecting a prolific anethen called away I could only leave my poor fish

mone, Sagartia Bellis, which I then had in my with too sure a dread that havoc would be made

aquarium. In the paragraph referred to it is stated amongst them soon.

that the anemone had at one birth produced upwards Returning a few hours after, I found that one fish

I have now to state that in the was missing, and although I could not see any

following week it produced about 150 additional; remains of it either in the jaws of the prawn or in

about four weeks after that it added 50 to the the aquarium, I had little doubt now as to the secret

number of its young; and in the month of Decemof the disappearance of it and its predecessors, and

ber it again increased its numerous progeny by giving soon I had conclusive proof. I came suddenly upon

birth to 50; immediately after wbich it sickened Master Prawn greedily eating another of the fish,

and died. It had lived healthy and well in my quite a third of it being already nibbled up. Each aquarium for about four years. T. P. Barkas, day has seen another fish victimized, and this evening

Newcastle-on-Tyne. I could not find the last solitary survivor, and so must conclude that all have vanished in the same

THE EDIBLE BIRD's Nest so much prized by way. I do not believe that a single fish of this last

the Chinese for making soup (and of which I have lot was caught by an anemone, although my anemones

several specimens) resembles a mass of fibrous of each kind have been widely expanded-luxuriating

isinglass matted together, and forming a small in the new water. Even the fish whose body I found

shallow cup which the bird lines with feathers. in the grasp of an anemone was, I think, either

Large quantities of these nests are collected in Java, driven to its fate by the pursuing prawn or was

the coasts of Papua, and the islands towards the dropped dead into its clutches. I account for the

north end of Australia. The material with which

the bird builds this nest has always been a mystery more rapid destruction of my previous lots of fish by the fact that there were then nine or ten prawns

to Euro peans. Charles Waterton would not in the aquarium.

venture to hazard a conjecture whence the bird I have given thus full an account of my trials and

obtains it. I can however set the matter at rest. failures, because to my mind two things are pretty

Some years ago, when passing northwards through well proved-first, that sticklebacks will live and

Torres' Straits, the (ship was daily anchored soon thrive in sea water; but, second, that if you wish

after noon, as the sun's light then began to fall on to keep them, you must either not have prawns with

the submerged coral reefs at such an angle as to them, or else select very young prawns, and stickle

obscure them, and render the navigation dangerous. backs of a superior size and strength to them. I Landing on the reefs and islets in search of shells, I should be very sorry to banish prawns from my

found at low water great numbers of the hideous aquarium, as they are both handsome and useful,

looking mollusc called “Trepang,” and “Beche-dehandsome in their varied movements, and in their

mer;" it looks like a gigantic slug, varying from 2 to amber crystal bodies heightened with gold and

5 feet in length, and is as thick as my wrist; it is brown at the joints, and exceedingly useful as

collected and smoke-dried for the China market, to scavengers.

be made into soup. On taking up one of these Before concluding, I should like to ask if any

animals it is found to be covered with a very philosophical or other reason has been found out

tenacious slime, like white birdlime, which however wherefore some few fresh-water fish will do well in

readily comes off the animal's skin, and floats up to sea water, whilst the greater number, I believe,

the beach in long streaks with the froth of the perish almost instantaneously.

F. S.

rising tide. One afternoon my attention was attracted to a flock of little brownish, ash-coloured

birds, who were busily engaged all along the edge THE BEREAVED Dog.-A poor disconsolate dog of the rising water, and as they were very tame, I has been wandering about the scene of the late approached to within a few feet of them to see what catastrophe in Regent's Park, disdaining all food, they were doing; and could distinctly see them and refusing to be comforted. His late master was gathering with their beaks the white slime thrown undoubtedly one of the drowned, but hitherto the off by the “Trepang;” numbers of them flying off animal has owned no one, and is owned by none. with it on their beaks, and new-comers twittering He excites pity from all who are led by curiosity to and settling down at the edge of the water. The the spot, not only on account of his faithfulness, bird is a diminutive martin, and builds its nest but from his intelligent appreciation of his loss, and against the face of the rock, just as the English the manifestations of his grief.

martin constructs its mud nest under the eaves of

our houses. As these little martins, with all the black head and a pair of horns protruding from one swallow tribe, are insectivorous, they were no doubt of the shells which I bad supposed to be empty. collecting the exuviæ of the Trepang, not for food, Presently the animal entirely emerged, and walked but as the material wherewith to construct their about in as lively a manner as when first picked up. nests, the slime being moist and plastic, when first The ordinary period of their torpidity is, I believe, thrown off, and hardening into a kind of dry isin- about six or seven months, but I am aware of an glass when put into shape by the bird.-H. Kelsall, instance in which a supposed empty shell had been M.D.

glued down to a block in one of the table cases in

the British Museum for two years, when the unsusAn EAGLE IN HYLANDS PARK.-On Thursday,

pected tenant made its appearance. But my prian eagle made its appearance in Hylands Park,

soner had never been removed from the box in causing great consternation among the rooks and

which it had been first placed for three years and a other birds. It was seen again the next day, and

quarter! Is not this a remarkable instance, or was observed to leave the ice-house clump. The

have any of the readers of SCIENCE Gossip known keepers, expecting the rare visitor to roost in the

it to be exceeded ?-W. J. Sterland. high trees of the clump, posted themselves with guns towards dusk on each side of the ice-house, The Poisonous SPIDER OF Russia.—We have and had scarcely taken up their position when he received the following account of a poisonous black came soaring over, and was knocked down by one spider, which has of late years made its appearance of the keepers, and, with some difficulty, secured in Russia. We are indebted for the information to alive. It proves to be a white-tailed, or cinereous

a traveller, who passed the greater part of last year eagle (Haliætus albicilla). It is a bird of this

in the province of Berdiansk. The appearance of year in fine plumage, and measures 7 feet across the

this insect amongst the wheat at harvest time, wings. On the 11th it was alive and likely to re- created for a few days a panic among the labouring cover from its wound, which appears to be only in classes, and, indeed, one of so threatening a chathe wing. I should like to know if this species is racter, that wages rose to double their ordinary common on the Eastern coast.-H. Wiglesworth.

rate, and it was with difficulty that the labourers

could be induced to work. More than 300 persons NEST OF THE TRAPDOOR SPIDER.---New-comers

were bitten by this venomous insect, but only three into the country which the Trapdoor Spider inhabits are often surprised by seeing the ground open, a

cases are reported to have proved fatal, and these little lid lifted up, and a rather formidable spider

deaths, it is supposed, are not to be attributed peer about, as if to reconnoitre the position before

solely to the bite of the spider. Fortunately, this leaving its fortress. At the least movement on the

visitation was restricted to one part of the town part of the spectator, back pops the spider, like the lands, otherwise the consequences might have been

very serious. The bite of this insect was indicated cuckoo on a clock, clapping its little door after it quite as smartly as the wooden bird, and in most

by a hard, white spot. The first sym oms excases succeeds in evading the search of the astonished

perienced were alternate violent heat and cold, observer, the soil being apparently unbroken, without

shortness of breath, bordering on suffocation, and a trace of the curious little door that had been so

increased pulsation of the heart, and pains in the quickly shut.--Rev. J. G. Wood's Homes without

chest and back, then weakness in the legs, and Hands."

dizziness in the head. After a few hours these

symptoms diminished, and in two days the patient TORPIDITY OF THE SNAIL. — The following in- was able to resume his work. The general remedy stance of prolonged torpidity in Helix nemoralis is employed was to cup the poisoned part, and liberally so remarkable that I think it worth putting on wash it with cold water. Some cauterized the record. In August, 1863, I was staying for a few place; but this remedy was not so efficacious, and weeks at Swanage, in Dorsetshire, and in one of my it created besides a fresh wound. The first time walks on the road between Swanage and Studland, this spider was seen at Berdiansk, was in 1864; but I picked up some very pretty specimens of this a very few persons were bitten by it. Last year, species. These I put into a chip box and brought however, it increased to a most alarming extent. It home, placing them in a drawer of my cabinet, was remarked that the spider was very active in where they were forgotten until about a fortnight | killing locusts, on which it seemed principally to since. On opening the box I found them dead, the feed, and it was only when disturbed that it stung bodies being dried up and shrivelled, in some in- persons. The majority of the persons bitten did stances having fallen out into the box, in others not know the cause of their illness, and it was only remaining in the mouth of the shells. I picked out the same symptoms in each case that proved it to all these, and placed the empty shells in my cabinet. be the sting of the spider. This poisonous insect Having occasion to look at them yesterday bas again visited Russia this year, but we under(Nov. 28th, 1866), I saw, to my intense surprise, a stand it has done but little mischief.— Technologist. CROCODILES NEAR LONDON. - A circumstance in a chaffinch's nest; I also found a litter in a came under my notice the other day, which may

be blackbird's nest; and last year, whilst looking for interesting as having some bearing on the question. the nest of a tree-sparrow, I found two mice, proSome time after seeing Mr. Wright's paper in The bably a male and a female, in the deserted nest of a Gentleman's Magazine, I happened to go into the hedge-sparrow. When I suddenly withdrew my Welsh Harp Hotel, in the Edgware Road, where hand, they ran along the branches of the bawthorns there are a good many preserved specimens of with as much ease as if they had been used to it natural history; among these I observed a case all their lives.John Ranson, Linton-on-Ouse. containing a reptile, very similar in appearance to that described by Mr. Wright. I at once inquired

THE ANCHOVY (Engraulis encrasicholus).- I have its history, and ascertained from the persons in the

just received a specimen of this fish, above 61 inches house, who were anxious to give me every informa

long, caught with the sprats on the Lincolnshire tion, that it was a young alligator, brought over to

coast, near Boston. According to Mr. Yarrell, this this country by Heenan, the well-known American

fish is very rare on that coast, although well known prize-fighter; that it was presented to the landlord

in the West of England. Yarrell says (vol. ii., p. alive, and that it lived with them for six months :

219), “In a series of notes on the occurrence of indeed, as they said, it might have been alive still,

rare fish at Yarmouth, and its vicinity, with which I had it not come to an untimely end at the hand of

have been favoured by Dawson Turner, Esq., there some evil-disposed angler, who, seeing it on the

is mention of a specimen of the Anchovy taken on bank of the reservoir, terminated its existence with

the beach, which measured six inches and a half in a blow from the butt-end of his fishing-rod. From

length. Mr. Couch says he has seen it in the their account it appeared to have been tolerably

Cornish seas of the length of seven inches and a tame, as although when it first came into their pos.

half, additional proofs of the large size acquired session it was kept confined, it was after a time

by this fish on our shores.”C. Adcock, Birmingham. allowed to go at large, when it used to crawl about ALAS! POOR ATROPOS !—In a recent communicathe margin of the large reservoir at the rear of the tion to the Ent. Mag. (pp. 180), Mr. McLachlan house, returning regularly for its meals to its old proposes that Atropos pulsatoria should henceforth quarters; and they further said that it was well be called Atropos divinatoria, and denies it the known to all who frequented the house. The little power of making a noise. He says, “That various creature was not well preserved, and it was there- species of Anobium cause this sound, is proved fore very difficult to get a correct estimate of its beyond doubt; but that a creature with a body so proportions. As far as I could judge, however, it soft that the least touch annihilates it can in any seemed to be about a third size larger than the way produce a noise sensible to human cars, seems crocodile described by Mr. Wright. It seems to me to me impossible. I look upon it as a perpetuated clear from the history of this alligator, and from its superstition commenced centuries ago, at a time when having existed for some months in a semi-wild state the human mind was peculiarly sensitive to impresin this country, that there can be no difficulty in sions of the supernatural, and having its origin in believing that a creature of similar habits and orga- the habitat of the creature; the real producers of nisation might also exist under the same or the like the sound, species of Anobium, were not seen or conditions, although it would seem that the high / suspected, and Atropos, as being the only insect authority of Professor Owen is against this view of supposed to frequent the spots whence the sounds the subject.The Gentleman's Magazine.

proceeded, was naturally accused. The apprehen

sions excited by what is only the love-call of a MICE AS DESTROYERS OF BIRDS' EGGS.--In my small beetle, still exist with the uneducated.” experience as a bird-nester, I have frequently found On this subject see prior communications (S.G., the eggs of birds broken in the nest, and this

vol. ii., pp. 77 and 251). destruction of eggs I have attributed to the weasel. I have a cat, a noted bird-destroyer ; but I never

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Picus major).knew her to take young ones out of the nest, nor

Perhaps you may be interested to know that on to destroy the eggs; but several times she has Monday, the 31st of December, I shot a female grievously disappointed me by destroying the old

specimen of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. I birds on the nest. I have frequently, at the latter

killed it in an open country, away from any wood.end of the breeding season, found mice in nests;

J.R. B. Maxfield, Stone, Staffordshire. but I never could find, though I have diligently REIN-DEER Bot.-At a recent meeting of the looked for them, any traces of the eggs, which I Zoological Society, Dr. J. Murie read a notice of should unquestionably have done, had the mice been the occurrence of Estrus tarandi in a Reindeer in the destroyers. I am of opinion that deserted nests the Society's Gardens, and made some remarks on are frequently taken possession of by mice, and used the summer dress of the Llama and Alpaca as by them as homes. I found four young mice (blind) exhibited in the Gardens during the past summer.

« EelmineJätka »