Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/394

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380
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

how," he continues, "as we now know that monkeys have the habit of turning their hinder ends toward other monkeys, it ceases to be at all surprising that it should have been this part of their bodies that has been more or less decorated. The fact that it is only the monkeys thus characterized which, as far as at present known, act in this manner as a greeting toward other monkeys, renders it doubtful whether the habit was first acquired from some independent cause, and that afterward the parts in question were colored as a sexual ornament; or whether the coloring and habit of turning round were first acquired through variation and sexual selection, and that afterward the habit was retained as a sign of pleasure or as a greeting, through the principle of inherited association."

 

The Transmission of Habit.—A correspondent of Nature, resident in New Zealand, communicates to that journal several instances of the transmission of habits to offspring in animals. One instance is that of a mare which would wander away from the "mob" of horses to which she belonged—always seeking one particular creek. When released from work she would make off to her favorite feeding-ground by herself. One of her progeny some years after showed a similar liking for solitude. Again, a valuable mare was an incorrigible kicker; she transmitted her special vice to her offspring. Peculiarity in the form of the hoof has been transmitted to generation after generation. The same writer states that a particular strain of Dorking fowls which he has had in his possession for thirty years always show a restless desire for rambling, and this, too, under the difficulty of meeting with much persecution when straying beyond their range.

 

Efforts to stop the Locust-Plague.—In October a convention of the Governors of several Western States and Territories was held at Omaha, to devise means of withstanding the plague of locusts. Besides the Governors, there were present at the meeting a number of prominent farmers and scientific men. A memorial to Congress was adopted, setting forth the serious injury done to agriculture by the locust, and asking for the appointment of a commission to investigate the "history and haunts of this insect; also all possible means of its extermination, and remedial agencies which may be used against it." Prof. Riley, of St. Louis, delivered an address, in which he briefly narrated the habits and history of the Rocky Mountain locust. He considered that there were two main questions before the conference: 1. How best to deal with the young insects that threaten to hatch out over a vast extent of the country next spring; and, 2. The investigation of the insect in its native home, with a view of preventing its migrations into the country to the southeast. Prof. C. D. Wilber, of Nebraska, gave an account of the various means adopted in different parts of the West to counteract this plague. Governor Pillsbury, of Minnesota, gave a history of locust-ravages in various countries. Governor Pennington, of Dakota, offered a series of resolutions "respectfully but earnestly urging that all our people in the States and Territories afflicted by the locust-plague, of all denominations and sects, offer up special prayers in their respective churches for deliverance from this great enemy."

 

Insect Fertilization of Plants.—For a year Mr. Thomas Meehan has been making observations and experiments to determine whether insects are of material aid to plants in fertilization. His results, which are published in the Penn Monthly, appear to favor a decision of the question in the negative. That insects sometimes fertilize and cross-fertilize flowers, he admits, but he holds that these cases are less frequent than they are supposed to be, and that, when they do occur, they have no bearing on the general welfare of the race. The chief arguments for the necessity of insect fertilization, says Mr. Meehan, are drawn from structure and not from facts of observation. Thus it is stated that Iris, Campanula, dandelion, oxeye daisy, garden pea, Lobelia, clover, and many other plants, are so arranged that they cannot fertilize themselves without insect aid. But the author has inclosed flowers of all of these in fine gauze bags, and found that they produced seeds as well as other flowers that were exposed. And yet Iris Virginica and Campanula are common