Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/214

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202
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

existence in the Eocene period. They have no horns or tusks or weapons of offense, such as grow up in the savage battles of the males among dominant races; and their very docility and gentleness of demeanor result in the last resort from this undeveloped character of their entire class; for non-fighting animals are always timid, patient, and inoffensive, though often obstinate and self-willed to a noteworthy degree, as the camel can be whenever he chooses. Their virtues themselves thus tell against them; they betray the stupidity and the archaic, unprogressive character of the whole type. The camelidæ, as a group, in short, are surviving specimens of the raw material from which, by natural and sexual selection, the higher ruminants, in diverging lines, have been slowly evolved through innumerable ages.

But of this antique and unspecialized type, the camel itself is in certain ways a highly modified and peculiarly adapted desert offshoot. Retaining still in its internal structure the marks of its early undeveloped character, it nevertheless presents in external configuration and functional peculiarities a remarkable instance of special adaptation to a restricted environment. While as a ruminant it is extremely low, as a desert animal it is at the very top of the tree. And it is this early adaptation to a very unusual mode of life that has enabled the camel, lowly as it is in general organization and in intellectual grade, to hold its own successfully against all later comers, and to preserve for us still in the great central Eurasiafrican continent a type of life otherwise extinct save in a single outlying and practically insulated district of the old South American life-region.—Longman's Magazine.

 

BELIEFS ABOUT THE SOUL.
By R. A. OAKES.

FROM the standpoint of primitive man it seems impossible for him to escape the conviction of a plurality of souls or the belief of their survival after death. Troubled by no psychical problems, accepting all things with an unreasoning faith, the phenomena of dreams, of coma attending swoons, of apoplexy, and of kindred afflictions, are explicable only on the supposition of a plural soul. He lies down on his rude couch, closes his eyes, and in an instant is living over the scenes of his daily life. He visits again far-distant hunting-grounds, renews once more the joys and fatigues of the chase, indulges in his savage warfare, and encounters adventures at once weird and abnormal. The dead—those who have for years been moldering in the earth—come back and speak to him, and renew once more the pleasures of his social