Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/682

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a society, have been a matter of equal surprise and delight to me, especially considering how fully you are occupied with the ordinary duties of your profession. We hope to enlist the interest of others and bring them into our ranks, to accumulate a library of books bearing on this subject, secure a large number of correspondents from widely separated parts of the continent, and in various other ways stimulate the study which we feel calls for and is worthy of man's earnest attention.[1] I can not close this address without making grateful reference on behalf of this society to the kind manner in which, in many ways. Principal McEachran, and the professors of the Veterinary College, have lent their support to our projects.

 

THE GIANT BIRDS OF NEW ZEALAND.
By HORATIO HALE.

THE discovery of the Dinornis by the illustrious zoölogist, Richard Owen, is famous as one of the most notable feats in the history of science. From a single imperfect bone, a femur broken at both ends, he deduced the fact that an enormous bird of the Struthious order, but far exceeding the ostrich in size, formerly inhabited New Zealand. This discovery, published in 1839, aroused much interest, and led to further inquiry. Four years later, Owen was able to show, from the comparison of many fragments of skeletons which had reached him, that there had been at least six species of these gigantic birds. With additional materials, in 1850, he had increased the number of species to eleven, classed in three genera, and varying in size from a kind no larger than the great bustard (or about five feet high) to one—the Dinornis giganteus—at least ten feet in height. Still later researches have shown that even this stature was in some instances surpassed, and that birds must have existed in New Zealand whose height attained fourteen feet, or twice that of the largest ostrich.

When Owen's first paper on this subject was published, the only white residents in New Zealand were a few missionaries and traders. Since then it has become one of the most flourishing of British colonies, especially distinguished for the educated intelligence of its people. Several scientific associations exist among them, whose members pursue with zeal their researches into the natural history of their

  1. This young society, so far as known, the only one in America for the study of comparative psychology, is composed at present almost entirely of the students and teachers of the School of Comparative (Veterinary) Medicine in Montreal, though its membership is open to all eligible persons. On behalf of the society, the president takes this opportunity of soliciting written accounts of accurate personal observations bearing on the subject, especially on any of the obscure problems treated in this paper.