Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/819

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799
WHY DO WE EAT OUR DINNER?

mens exhibited by M. Rames, whose discoveries are quite recent, is one which, had it been found on the surface of the ground, would never have been called in question.

The weighty facts developed by French investigators received striking confirmation in the Portuguese department of the Exposition. A distinguished savant of Lisbon, Senhor Ribeiro, director of the Geological Bureau of Portugal, sent a collection of flints and quartzites found in the strata of the Middle Tertiary or Miocene and in the Upper Tertiary or Pliocene of the valley of the Tagus. Among these specimens—ninety-five in number—are twenty-two which bear unquestionable traces of intentional chipping. Nine specimens, all of flint, are described as coming from the Miocene. Of the others, purporting to be Pliocene, seven are of flint and six of quartzite. All these specimens are roughly chipped, and nearly all are triangular in form, and not redressed, whether the material be flint or quartzite.

Thus, then, the Anthropological Exposition, important though it was from the point of view of quaternary man, is still more important from the point of view of tertiary man—man's precursor. His existence can no more be denied.

 

WHY DO WE EAT OUR DINNER?
By Professor GRANT ALLEN.

EARLY last year a paragraph went the round of the papers to the effect that a large female anaconda-snake, in the reptile-house at the Zoölogical Gardens, after a fast of a twelvemonth, had at length been induced to kill and swallow a duck. This very touchy and vindictive lady, it appears, had taken such grave offense at her capture in her South American home, and at her subsequent compulsory voyage to Great Britain, that she sulked persistently for a whole year, and invariably refused the keeper's most tempting offers of live rabbits or plump young pigeons. Month after month she lay passive in her cage, with her heart beating, her lungs acting, and all her vital functions proceeding with the usual slow regularity of snake-life; but not a mouthful of food did she attempt to take, and not a single fresh energy did she recruit from without to keep up the working of her animal mechanism. As I read this curious case of a genuine "fasting girl" in my "Times" one morning, the thought struck me forcibly—"Why, after all, should we expect her to feed? Why should she not go on for ever without tasting a morsel? In short, why should we eat our dinner?" And I set myself to work at once to find out what was the general opinion of the unscientific public upon this important though novel question.

Singularly enough, I found that most people were content to eat their dinner in a very unreasoning and empirical way. They had al-