Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/152

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140
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The tail of Nasua is quite suggestive of the raccoon; but Nasua's tail is a much handsomer affair—longer, and with rings more numerous and of gayer colors. With admirable intelligence, our pet put this beautiful appendage to a remarkable use. She was tethered by a string to a chair, and an egg was put on the floor at a tantalizing distance. She could just touch it with a paw, and that touch caused the coveted prize to roll out of reach. She then turned her hind-feet toward it, pulling hard so as to stretch her neck; still even with a hind-foot she could not touch it. The logic of events was now, "Get it if you can!" All this Nasua well understood, for she turned tail on the subject altogether—not, however, as did Reynard on the grapes, but strategically. She gathered herself up, and looked at the coveted object with speculative eyes. Then she swung herself round again, pulling hard on the tether by the neck. She then curved the tip of the tail so as to make a little hook. Now she grasps the base of the tail

Fig. 4.
PSM V02 D152 Brown bear.jpg

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos). This cut shows the plantigrade step, in which the entire sole of the foot is put down at once. The same step characterizes the Coati-Mondi and Raccoon. In the Bear this characteristic finds its highest expression.

with one paw, as with a hand, thus stiffening and steadying the organ. She next slowly and cautiously rolled the egg, by the curved tip of the tail, through a section of a circle, until it was brought within reach of one of the front-feet. The egg now seized, sitting on her hind-feet, like a bear, she cracks it, extracts the contents, and neither spills a