Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/727
P OP ULAR MIS CULL ANY.
��ing birds such an ancestral trait has persist- ed. In certain instances where birds lay ex- posed to view either white or light-tinted eggs, or those not otherwise protectively colored, they have the habit of covering the clutch over with leaves, etc., when the in- cubating parent temporarily quits the nest. The eggs of birds, irrespective of the char- acter of the coloration of . their plumage, which habitually lay in inaccessible places, are often either white or light-tinted and ex- posed to view. Both the age of the bird and the physical condition of its constitu- tion at the time of laying an egg have their influence upon the coloration of its shell. Changes in the constitution may be due to external causes, as fright, etc. ; or to inter- nal causes, as disease, etc. The richest-col- ored eggs of any species (that lay other eggs than white ones) are laid by that species at its prime. The positions of th egg as it passes down the oviduct, as well as its mo- tions, affect the pattern of its markings.
The Great Siberian Railway. Of the
'total length of nearly four thousand seven hundred miles of the great Siberian Railway, the rails are already laid over one thousand and six miles, or sixty-eight miles more than one fifth of the whole distance. In this are counted the distances built from the eastern end at Samara to the Irtysh opposite Omsk, and at the western end from Vladivostok along the Usuri River. There was some doubt at first whether the road should fol- low the northern route, where a railroad is already built along the old caravan road, through Ekaterinburg to Tyreman, on the Tura, or on the southern line where the ad- vantages of population and traffic in central Siberia are more tempting. The southern route was chosen, and the railway, starting from Samara, passes through the densely peopled parts of south Siberia to Ufa, at the junction of the Byela and Ufa Rivers, thence to Zlatoust, the center of the great iron and gold mining district of the southern Urals, when it crosses the mountains, and to Chlya- bisk, on the borders of the prairies of south- west Siberia ; thence to Omsk, the present terminus, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Chita, and the southern coast of Lake Baikal. Here a way will have to be cut through the Tocky crags that rise abruptly from the wa-
��ters of the lake ; and between Chita and the Amur a series of parallel ranges will have to be crossed. Owing to the unfavorable char- acter of the region for population, the rail- way between the Amur and the Usuri will probably remain for some time to come a mere strategic line.
Climate of the City of Mexico. A report by the Director of the Meteorological Observ- atory of Mexico, published by the director, Senor M. Barcena, on the climate of that city, gives the mean annual temperature as 59Y, and the monthly means as ranging from 53-6 in December to 64-6 in May. The absolute maxima in the shade vary from 73-4 in December to 88-9 in April, and the absolute minima from 28*9 in December to 46-8 in August and September. The great- est daily range amounted to 41 in the month of March. The mean annual rainfall amounted to 23*8 inches, the wettest months being June and September. The greatest fall in one day was 2 - 5 inches in August, 1888. The prevalent wind is northwest, which blows during most of the year, and that is the coldest and wettest quarter. The strongest wind blows from the northeast. The greatest hourly velocity observed was about fifty-six miles an hour. The report is based upon the hourly observations of the sixteen years, 1877 to 1892.
Lilian Island Snake. Peculiar to the Luchu Islands is the poisonous Trimeresurus snake, called habu by the natives, which is described by Prof. B. H. Chamberlain, of the Imperial University of Japan, as being four or five feet long by two inches in diameter, and u3 an object of universal fear and hatred. It springs out at passers-by from the hedges, where its habits lead it to lie in wait for birds, and actually enters houses, so as to make it perilous during the warm season to walk about the house at night except with a lantern. The general result of bites that do not bring on death is lifelong crippling. Re- wards are offered by the authorities for the bodies of these snakes, dead or alive, and the villagers go out in the woods to secure them. Yet the number does not seem to diminish perceptibly, and at least one case is recorded within recent years of a village hav- ing been abandoned by its inhabitants be-