Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/147

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The Esquimaux.—Dr. John Rae, in giving an account of his Arctic explorations before the American Association at its recent meeting, spoke of the Esquimaux as a generous and polite people, who had carefully preserved the tradition of events that happened twenty years ago. They believe they came from the West; and they seem to Dr. Rae physically like the Chinese. They build their huts and boats in a similar way with the Siberian natives, but appear very short in stature on account of the shortness of their legs. Dr. Flam, of London, had said that the skeleton of an Esquimau in his museum had thirty-five vertebrœ, or one more than the average number. They are not to be regarded as gluttonous, for the large quantities of meat they consume seem to be required by the climate.

Apparent Size of Magnified Objects.—Professor W. H. Brewer reported to the American Association concerning some experiments he had made upon the estimation by different persons of the size of images of objects seen through the microscope. More than one hundred persons, of all ages, classes, and occupations, gave very many different estimates. A common louse was used as the test-object, and the magnified image was projected at ten inches. By far the larger number of persons underestimated the size value theoretically given the image by scientific microscopists, which was about 4.66 inches. Two estimates were of only an inch; several were of more than a foot. One student likened the figure to a cockroach, another to a lobster. Mechanics and artisans generally overestimate. A draughtsman, who was accustomed to measure and draw all his work, after careful examination said the image was at least five feet long! A professor of physics said he could make the image look of any size he wished.

Fossil Human Foot-prints in Nevada.—Several communications have lately been made to the California Academy of Sciences respecting what seem to be foot-prints of men which have been discovered in a sandstone hill in the yard of the State Prison at Carson City, Nevada. The hill is about sixty feet high, and stands at an elevation of 4,592 feet above the sea. It appears to have been formed by the deposition and drifting of sand upon what was the bed of an ancient lake. A surface of about three quarters of an acre has been cleared by quarrying to a depth of from fifteen to thirty feet, and down to the layer of arenaceous shale beneath the sandstone, which is supposed to represent the bottom of the lake. The tracks are in this shale. According to the description of Dr. Harkness, they are accompanied by the tracks of several animals—the mammoth, the deer, the wolf, the horse, and some birds—and are in six series of from eight to seventeen foot-prints each, in regular order, and each showing more or less plainly the imprint of a sandal. The first series, consisting of sixteen tracks, "were evidently made in a layer of sediment of, perhaps, two inches in depth, for below this layer we find the compact sandstone. In each instance the mud had been raised by the pressure of the foot into a ridge which entirely surrounded it." No single impression affords complete evidence that it was produced by a sandal," but when we study them as a whole," says Dr. Harkness, "we find that what is wanting in one is furnished by others which follow." These tracks measure nineteen inches in length, by eight inches in breadth at the ball and six inches at the heel. The average length of the stride is two feet three inches. The distance between the feet, or the straddle, is eighteen inches. A second series of tracks was observed, made by an individual who was walking in deeper mud, which clung to and closed in and upon the foot. In another part of the area are four other series, at a level a few inches lower than those of the first series, smaller, and possibly made by moccasins. The toes of the tracks of the first series turned outward; "number two," says Mr. Gibbes, curator of mineralogy, in his account, "toed the mark, and walked as straight as a surveyor running a line. Series number three presents more irregular steps with toes turned out, possibly those of a woman bearing a heavy burden." Within the same area are the immense tracks of a mammoth, quite as plainly marked as the others, and, in another part of it, marks which Engineer Scupham, of the Central Pacific Railroad, describes as "confused tracks of a man and some large animal.