Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/47

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37
THE PROBLEMS OF COMPARATIVE PSYCHOLOGY.

followed with, its head and eyes the movements of a fly twelve inches distant; and about ten minutes later "made a vigorous dart at the fly, . . . seized and swallowed it at the first stroke." When placed within sight and call of a hen, "it started off toward the hen, displaying as keen a perception of the qualities of the outer world as it was ever likely to possess in after-life. . . . This, let it be remembered, was the first time it had ever walked by sight." The young of mammals, though not as independent as chicks, show quite a remarkable series of powers ready at birth. A pig in one of Mr. Spalding's experiments, blindfolded at birth, went about freely, though stumbling against things. When the blinder was removed the next day, it "went round and round as if it had had sight and suddenly lost it. In ten minutes it was scarcely distinguishable from one that had had sight all along." And Mr. Fiske tells us that "all mammals and most birds have thus a period of babyhood that is not very long, but is, on the whole, longest with the most intelligent creatures. It is especially long with the higher monkeys, and among the man-like apes it becomes so long as to be strikingly suggestive." Mr. Wallace observed an orang-outang three months old, perfectly helpless, unable to feed or walk without assistance, or to grasp objects well, and of these creatures Mr. Huxley says that they "remain unusually long under their mother's protection," and are probably not adult until ten or fifteen years old.

The extreme divergence between the state in which the individual enters the world and the powers attainable during life appears without question in the human species. A more complete condition of helplessness than appears in the human infant can scarcely be conceived: only such senses and movements as are immediately necessary to nutrition are present; although sensitiveness to light, and after some days to sound also, appear, accurate perception by these senses is impossible for several months. While the newly hatched chick sees a grain of corn and accurately seizes it, the human infant in the presence of a desired object, even after months of practice, performs a host of uncoordinated, useless movements, obtaining the object as much by accident as by design. On the other hand, we should not forget the marked educability of the higher animals. An old bird does and avoids much that is impossible to the young one; the kitten and cat, the pup and dog, show still greater differences. As a single illustration from the vast testimony on this point, Dr. Eimer's observations with a trap for catching sparrows may be cited. At the first setting he caught a dozen sparrows; at the second setting, nine were caught; but all these "were young birds, hatched the same spring, and therefore of little experience. Not a single old sparrow had entered the trap." The following spring "a curious spectacle