Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/583

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567
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

posits beneath it, and a total thickness for the whole system in this region of nearly 400 feet; indeed, Dr. Smith, the State geologist, states that there are good grounds for supposing that tertiary beds exist in the northern part of the State, whose position would be 150 to 180 feet below the Wood's Bluff marl-bed, which is near the base of the Tombigbee beds. The Claibornian bed would then be placed in a position near the top of the series, a position almost precisely similar to that occupied by the Calcaire Grossier (Parisian) of France, and more properly Upper than Middle Eocene. The Alabama Eocene deposits are arranged on this scheme by Mr. Heilprin as follows: 4. "White Limestone" (Jacksonian), but exhibited at Claiborne (upper part of bluff) and at St. Stephen's on the Tombigbee (lower half of bluff), not very abundant in fossils, 50 or more feet; 3. The fossiliferous arenaceous deposit (Claibornian), but shown at Claiborne—subaqueous at St. Stephen's—very rich in fossils, and of the age of the "Calcaire Grossier" of France, 17 feet; 2. Buhrstone (siliceous Claiborne of Hilgard), comprising siliceous clay-stones densely charged with fossils or their impressions, laminated clays, sands, and calcareous deposits, about 250 or more feet; 1. The Wood's Bluff and Bashia deposits (with Cane and Knight's Bluff branches) (Eo-lignite), consisting of alternating dark clays, greenish and buff sands, and numerous seams of lignite, partly very rich in fossils, and, as far as is yet positively known, the oldest tertiary deposits of the State, 50 or more feet. The author intends to discuss in a future paper the relations of these deposits to those of other parts of the United States, and to correlate them, if possible, with the typical Eocene deposits of Europe.

 

Australian Snakes.—A correspondent of "Land and Water" relates some interesting particulars concerning Australian snakes and their peculiarities. Among the largest is the carpet-snake, or boa, which grows to be ten or a dozen, even eighteen feet long, and as thick as a man's leg, is destructive to poultry, sluggish by day, nocturnal in its habits, and of harmless bite. Most of the black snakes are highly venomous, and one, with a scarlet belly, is very handsome and active. The color of snakes depends upon the season when they change their skins. During the hot season the reptile is far brighter in tint, and far more active and poisonous, than when the temperature is low. The color also varies much with the habitat. Thus, the death-adder is nearly red in a red soil country, black and gray in black soil, and brown on sand, and is exceedingly sluggish, trusting to the adaptation of his color to the ground he crawls upon for safety. Nothing is more remarkable about snakes than their extraordinary faculty of making themselves invisible. A large carpet-snake can hardly be seen, as he lies along a branch or coiled motionless in the fork of a tree whose bark exactly matches his skin in color. The green tree-snakes are invisible among foliage. "Take your eye for a moment from a snake among bushes or grass, and you will hardly ever see him again." Two yellow snakes lived in the correspondent's house, among the rafters or in the linings of the walls, where their presence was known by the casts of their skins which they left, for two years, without being seen or heard. Evidence of the existence of great numbers of unseen snakes is afforded by the multitude of tracks, which may be seen in the dust of a road following along a water-course. Snakes seldom advance to attack a man, but generally try to get away from him, and go toward him only when he is between them and their place of refuge. The Australian snakes, even the most venomous, can not fairly be called dangerous. The correspondent never knew personally of a case of a bite fatal to human life, though he has often seen the reptiles coil themselves round the legs of horses and bullocks, "with strong presumption in every case of a bite," but never knew of any injurious result. Many cats and dogs, however, learn to kill snakes, "but almost always end by missing their tip once, and fall victims to over-confidence in themselves"; and the blacks eat all sorts, whether venomous or not, provided they kill the former kind themselves.

 

Hawaiian Leprosy.—Dr. A. W. Saxe has lately made a report to the California State Medical Society on leprosy in the Hawaiian