Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/733

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



and looking well out before him, with the palpi of his lips slightly vibrating. In this expectant mood he allows himself to be coaxed with the finger, merely staggering back a pace or two, and fixing his goggle-eyes upon the biped who vouchsafes this personal attention. If he lights upon a perpendicular window or wall when in this vein of 'religious' ecstasy, he seems to remain for hours together without motion, but all the while he mounts imperceptibly up and up until he reaches the ceiling or roof which limits the chamber in the upward direction. The closest watching does not show how this most gradual of all climbings is accomplished. Not a limb can be seen to move, yet up, minute after minute, he glides. It is while he is in these fits of expectant ecstasy that he seizes his prey. He is essentially a carnivorous feeder, and pounces stealthily upon any unwary insect that settles within convenient reach, seizing the victim between his upraised legs, and fixing it there between the row of spikelets with which these prehensile limbs are fringed. After a deliberate inspection of the morsel held in this position, he goes to work with his jaws....

"It was the author's fate upon one auspicious occasion," writes Dr. Mann, "to watch one of these 'religious' insects engaged in a remarkably appropriate occupation. A dignitary of the Natal Church, who has since made some noise in the world (Bishop Colenso), was, one warm summer evening, with all the windows and doors of his chapel open to the refreshing breeze, preaching by candle-light, when a huge green mantis whizzed into the assembly and perched himself upon the preacher's white neckerchief; and, first folding his arms into the prayerful attitude, he raised his chest and shoulders into rapt attention, turning his goggles from side to side, and following responsively each motion of the spectacles, that glanced, now on this hand and now on that, from above. He remained fixed in this convenient position until properly dismissed with the rest of the congregation at the close of the sermon, and he did not even then depart at once, being puzzled and staggered, in all probability, by some of the novel doctrines he had been listening to."



YEAR by year the word "Evolution" becomes diffused more widely through our literature, and the central idea which it implies grows familiar to an ever-increasing multitude of readers. We have witnessed within the last few years a marvelous awakening of interest in the minds of the public generally to questions of science, and it so happens that a discussion of the doctrine of Evolution has