Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/153

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141
THE COATI-MONDI AND ITS COUSINS.

drop on the floor, nor so much as soils that wonderful nose; for, among her many gifts, is her soft and extensile tongue. This caudal expedient is sometimes found with the American show-monkey, when a bit of gingerbread is put by the roguish boys at an inconvenient distance; but, as, in such instance, the tail is prehensile, is in fact the monkey's fifth hand, such feat is no great shakes after all, but is quite in keeping with what the organ is cut out for. It is, at most, but little more than that instinct which structural or functional capacity might evolve. But, in Nasua's case, it is animal contrivance, pure and simple. There is, too, a latent fact which peeps out here: for this bending of the caudal tip looks to the faculty possessed by its cousin, the Kinkajou, the extremity of whose tail has a prehensile or grasping faculty of high perfection.

Fig. 5.
PSM V02 D153 Peccary.jpg
White-Upped Peccary (Dicotyles labiatus). Snout hog-like, but flexible.

She showed considerable attachment—her preference being the ladies. She would often, when tied up in the kitchen, sit for many minutes, her little black eyes looking wistfully at the door through which the mistress of the house had passed, and all this time crying pitifully. It was a plaintive cry, in the minor key, and yet a little funny, for it greatly resembled the chirping of a cricket, though not quite so shrill, and the intervals between the notes were a little longer. This tiny cry required for every note a muscular exertion, extending far down the sides of the body, which led to the suggestion that "the plaint came from the depths of the heart."

Though at times somewhat irascible, this little animal was very playful with those who could understand and humor her ways. And her method in play was a good deal like that of a dog. She would take my fingers into her mouth, and make believe to bite, and would roll on her back in manifest glee. It required at first some courage to take part in her gambols. On one occasion, thinking that she gave me too hard a nip with her teeth, I returned her a smart slap in the face. This experience was novel and startling, and caused her to open her mouth and chatter as a terrified monkey does. On one occasion she so far forgot herself as to bite me quite severely. It was but one snap