Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/129

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119
MISCELLANY.

rant these conclusions. We give them as stated briefly in the American Journal of Science:

"The depth between Britain and Iceland mostly does not exceed 100 fathoms, and nowhere exceeds 1,000; one tract of sea, extending in a straight line from the eastern coast of Greenland, via Iceland and Faroe, to Scotland, does not exceed 500 fathoms. The depth of the sea in the English Channel is only about 20 fathoms, and the average depth of the German Ocean is not over 40 fathoms. The depth between Britain and Greenland is small compared with the average depth of the Atlantic. According to the author, one of the oscillations of level, such as have occurred over the earth's surface, had the effect to unite Britain and Northern Europe with Greenland and the arctic regions, to give the polar ice-fields access to Europe, to divert the course of the Gulf Stream and free Northwestern Europe from its influence, and, in conjunction probably with some diminution in the influence of the sun, to produce a glacial epoch."
 

Pet Snakes.—Frank Buckland communicates to Land and Water a very interesting notice of "Cleo," a pet boa-constrictor. This animal was of the kind called "painted boa," and had come from Brazil. Its length was seven feet five inches, and its weight nine pounds. Cleo came into the possession of Mr. Mann, a friend of Mr. Buckland's, in 1870, and from that time till its death was his constant companion. Her food consisted of pigeons, of which she took on the average one a week. If a pigeon were offered to her when she was not hungry, she would take but little notice of it. If the two were left together for a while, they became friends. Neither pigeons nor any other animal ever showed any fear of this serpent.

She always "killed her bird" instantaneously, seizing it by the beak, and breaking its neck by a rapid movement. She never crushed her prey to death, but invariably waited to see that it was motionless before laying her coils upon it. The constricting power was reserved for mastication, and was very sufficient for that purpose.

"We have, in traveling," writes Mr. Mann, "carried her about with us, both in railway-carriages and hotels, unsuspected by others, and no amount of inconvenience or discomfort appeared to distress her so long as we were near. She thoroughly understood the joke of keeping concealed when strangers were present. It was only when we were alone, or with our own family, that she came forth of her own accord to join the conversation. She never avoided children, but would allow them to take liberties which she would never have borne from any other stranger. When offended in any way, she simply walked off to some inaccessible corner, and waited the departure of the offender.
"I do not remember any young child showing the slightest fear when Cleo came to make acquaintance.
"The manner of Cleo' s death was so much in accordance with her character that few of her friends will be surprised at what I have to tell.
"During last autumn I was laid up with a very serious illness. At first Cleo appeared to enjoy my being at home all day long, but soon began to understand, principally from my wife's anxiety, that there was something the matter, and she refused food. One night she came to my bed to talk to me as usual, but I was too ill to take any notice of her (indeed, I could neither move nor speak). She tried in vain to make me respond to her caresses, and, after a while, returned to her own bed, refused not only food, but water, and died within a day or two. To any one that knew her it was visible that she was suffering grief, as a dog is sometimes known to do under similar circumstances."
 

The Northerly Winds of California.—In a paper on the northerly winds of the great central valley of California, Mr. J. H. C. Bonte attributes to the prevalence of these winds the peculiar dry and moderately exhilarating climate of that region. Further, he asserts that without the north winds, and with the consequent increase of moist heat, the vegetation now cultivated in the valley would be crowded out by dense tropical growths. It is reasonable to believe that the desiccating power of the north wind, by preventing and dissipating the noxious exhalations of animal matter, acts as a preventive of disease. The north winds, following the rainy season, by drying and baking the soil, dissolve and pulverize its particles, thus freeing its productive powers. Fineness of fibre and concentrated nutriment are imparted to all the vegetable growths of the valley by the north wind, and it is possible that the grapes and strawberries of California may receive their delicate flavor from the same source. Cereal grains are made solid and flinty by this influence, and thus enabled to resist the damaging effects of moisture. The comparative exemption of the valley of California from the ravages of the weevil doubtless arises from the desiccating