Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/581

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565
LITERARY NOTICES.

hand; reports his observations on climatology and seasonal phenomena; draws the lessons to be learned from a ramble in "an old road"; exalts the man "behind the eye" rather than the eye as the important factor in observation, and the mental attitude in "taking a walk"; and presents studies of mountain scenes, "butterfly psychology," and the means by which the partridge executes his "drumming." (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., $1.25.)

The Anatomy of Astrangia Danæ, published in quarto form by the Smithsonian Institution, comprises six lithographs from drawings made by A. Sonrel, under the direction of Prof. Agassiz in 1849, illustrating the structure of that madrepore, the only representative of the family in shallow New England waters, with text explaining the plates by J. Walter Fewkes. Although there has been a great advance in histological methods since the figures were drawn, it has hardly extended to the minute anatomy of these creatures; so that the representations are nearly as fresh as if they had been drawn to-day. Whatever may be lacking to bring them up to the present state of knowledge is supplied in Mr. Fewkes's descriptions, which are based on studies of living specimens.

Studies of the Macrochires, Morphological and otherwise, with the View of indicating their Relationships and defining their Several Positions in the System, by R. W. Shufeldt, M. D., bear upon the comparative anatomy and place of the swifts, whip-poor-wills, and humming-birds. The author had already proposed a separate order for the Trochili, or humming-birds, and is more than ever convinced of the correctness of his scheme. In the present essay he proposes a new group or order—that of Cypseli—for the swifts. This order, were it represented by a circle, would be found just outside the passerine circle, "but tangent to a point in its periphery opposite the swallows.

In a monograph on The World's Supply of Fuel, Prof. W J McGee describes rock gas and its occurrence; accounts for its formation by the decomposition of the organic matter contained in sediments; answers in the affirmative the question whether it is still forming, and adds that it will probably continue to form indefinitely, though at a decreasing rate; and predicts that it is destined to be, after the coal has been exhausted, the world's unfailing supply of fuel and light.

The address of Prof. Charles A. White, as Vice-President of the Geological Section of the American Association, is devoted to the survey and definition of The North American Mesozoic, particularly of the formation called Triassic. There are doubts about the correspondence of this with European formations; and this and certain other facts give occasion for the expression, with some fullness, of the opinion that we must not expect to discover a precise correspondence, either in time or character, in the geological history of our own and other continents, or an exact identity of formations in them. Hence, with all respect to European classification and names, which may still be used tentatively in each of the great divisions of the earth, and with reference to the ultimate establishment of a universal system, it is for North American geologists to elaborate a scheme for the formations of our own continent.

In a pair of papers on Meteorites and what they teach us, Dr. H. Hensoldt summarizes what has been learned about meteorites, and declares his own theory as to their origin. This theory is based on the presence of liquid carbonic acid in the cavities of these bodies. The fluid is ascertained to be carbonic acid by the instantaneous change of form which it undergoes between 30º and 31º C, which is characteristic of that substance. Now, carbonic acid can not be liquefied except under a pressure which exists in nature only deep in the earth. Hence the meteorites must have been at some time subjected to such a pressure. It is therefore concluded that they have come from the interior of some planetary body which has been rent by an explosion.

Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, Vol. XXIV, contains the reports of the society and its proceedings, with the papers read, from May, 1888, to May, 1889. Prof. Hyatt's report as curator of the museum shows that that institution is growing at a healthy rate, and the arrangement of its collections is going forward. The papers relate to various topics of biology, geology,