Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/712

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694
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to them. Nevertheless, a comparison of the picture of a real dolphin with an ideal dolphin will show that a bare naturalism could have made much less than art has made out of the animal. But the ancient artists treated the animal world with great freedom, and a large appreciation of its spirit; they only made the real form prominent and mingled the unreal with it, or threw it entirely away, and thus by skillful treatment made a picture agreeable to the eye. This freedom was more justifiable, because the Greeks never had a particular species of dolphin in view; but, as Cuvier has shown, confounded with it the smaller sharks, thus inventing the extreme diversity of forms in which dolphins are depicted. Add to this the unstable element of the water in which the dolphin was always seen sporting, and the impossibility of getting an accurate view of its form under the circumstances, and it is evident that an artistic fancy might readily and legitimately exaggerate the proper form into the most grotesque. It would, of course, be natural for art to represent the animal as always in motion, and its tail with its sickle-shaped fins in the air after the manner in which it always showed itself to the sailors who observed it.—Die Natur.


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THE PARENTAL FORESIGHT OF INSECTS.

IN no manner is the mysterious influence of instinct over the insect world more remarkably manifested than by the care taken by parent insects for the future welfare of offspring which they are destined never to behold. As the human parent upon his death-bed makes the best provision he can for the sustenance and prosperity of his infant children, whom death has decreed that he may not in person watch over, so those insects which Nature has decreed shall be always the parents of orphan children, led by an unerring influence within, do their best to provide for the wants of the coming generation.

The butterfly, after flitting through her short life, seeks out a spot whereon to deposit her numerous eggs, not—as one might expect of a creature devoid of mind—upon any chance plant, or even upon the plant or flower from which she herself has been wont to draw her sustenance, but upon the particular plant which forms the invariable food of the larva? of her species. The various kinds of clothes-moths penetrate into our cupboards, drawers, and everywhere where furs, woolen garments, etc., are stored, that they may there lay their eggs, to hatch into the burrowing: scrubs which are the terror of our house-keepers. The ichneumon tribe, one of Nature's greatest counterpoises to keep down the too rapid increase of the insect world, lay their eggs in the larvas of other insects, which eggs when hatched develop into a devouring brood, which ungratefully turn upon and devour the helpless creature that sheltered them as a nest. The female ichneumon