Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/339

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325
NEW GUINEA AND ITS PEOPLE.

There are no large quadrupeds in this part of New Guinea. The largest known at present is the pig. This is found wild in the bush, and is also domesticated. Fat pork is to the natives of New Guinea a dish deemed worthy of the gods, but not often conceded to mortals. We introduced a new species of hog, which is greatly prized.

Many of the birds are of Australian species—such as the "magpie," "laughing jackass," and "leatherhead," of the Australian colonists, which are very common everywhere along the coast, and parrots, paroquets, and cockatoos are very numerous. There are other birds, however, peculiar to the island. New Guinea is particularly rich in birds-of-paradise, of which beautiful and characteristic group no fewer than twenty different species have been found. Only two are, however, known in the Port Moresby district. One of these, the Paradisea Raggiana, is comparatively new, and peculiar to the south coast; while the other, the king bird-of-paradise, has been long known to naturalists. They are very shy, difficult to see, and more so to shoot. I have had the honor of making and eating bird-of-paradise soup. It is very unparadisaical in its flavor. The cry of the bird-of-paradise is something between the quacking of a duck and the cawing of a crow. The mound-building fowl and the bush-turkey are common, and so on the river-banks is the magnificent crowned pigeon, the Goura coronata. This is not to be despised by the sportsman. The bird is as large as a small turkey, and the flesh white and delicate in flavor. The bower-bird is peculiar, making a bower to play in and adorning it every morning. Other birds are the hornbills, which make a great noise while flying, and the cassowaries, which are the fleetest and strongest animals the natives axe acquainted with.

The climate has hitherto been very trying, both to Europeans and Polynesians. The average maximum temperature for the year at Port Moresby was 86.71°. Foreigners suffer from malarial fevers, but the natives are healthy, though suffering slightly from fever, and wonderfully free from European diseases, except the small-pox.

Although Mr. Wallace has spoken of the natives as one race, those who have seen the inhabitants in the southeast find greater difficulty in classifying them. All agree in testifying to the great variety of physiognomy and the apparent difference in shape of skull in almost every district. Whatever the true typical Papuan may be, I have seen natives who possess many of the characteristics said to be distinctive, with others quite at variance with them. In a letter I recently received from Professor Giglioli of Florence, he speaks of having seen the large collection of skulls made by Signor D'Albertis in his voyage up the Fly River, and says: "The great variety in the shape of the crania of some of the inland natives has sorely puzzled me. Indeed, the only feasible explanation is, that there has been a great mingling of races in that great island."

The difference in color is very marked. To the west, black natives