Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/668

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

terious sense of touch by which a tendril can distinguish a brother tendril from an ordinary twig, and can distinguish the weight of a drop of rain hanging to it from a bit of thread—in short, all the delicate contrivances which place tendril-bearers so eminently at the head of the climbing plants.

There is only one more fact connected with the evolution of climbing plants which must be alluded to, namely, the curious way in which the representatives of the class are scattered throughout the vegetable kingdom. Lindley divided flowering plants into fifty-nine classes, called Alliances, and in no less than thirty-five of these climbing plants are found. This fact shows two things: First, how strong has been the motive power—the search after light—which has driven so many distinct kind of plants to become climbers; secondly, that the power of revolving, which is the first step in the ladder of development of the power of climbing, is present in an undeveloped state in almost every plant in the vegetable series.—Popular Science Review.

 

ÆSTHETIC FEELING IN BIRDS.
By Professor GRANT ALLEN.

THERE is no portion of Mr. Darwin's great superstructure which has been subjected to more searching criticism than his theory of sexual selection—the theory that beauty in animals is dependent, in part at least, upon the choice of brightly colored, ornamented, or musically endowed mates by one or other sex among all the more highly developed classes, such as insects, crustaceans, birds, and mammals. Not only have opponents argued strongly against the existence of such æsthetic tastes in the lower animals as would account for the supposed preference for beautiful partners, but even many of those who accept the evolutionist hypothesis as a whole have declared themselves unable to give in their adhesion to this particular speculation. Professor Mivart has brought forward strong objections to the great naturalist's view, and Mr. A. R. Wallace has raised a counter-theory on the subject of coloration at least, which has done much to convince many wavering biologists, and to insure their rejection of the suggested cause as adequate for the production of that beauty which all alike recognize in the animal world. It seems to me, however, that a little too much stress has been laid upon the notion that comparatively advanced intelligence is necessary for the appreciation of beauty in the opposite sex. It is true that our own highly complex æsthetic feelings are largely composed of elevated intellectual and emotional elements; but it may perhaps be shown that aesthetic tastes quite sufficient for the production of the known results do actually exist in many cases, and consist