Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/721

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LITERARY NOTICES.

that will facilitate the work of the student. We believe that the volume will become a popular text-book on the subject.

A History of Crustacea. Recent Malacostraca. By Rev. Thomas R. R. Stebbing, M. A. With Numerous Illustrations. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1893. Pp. 466. Price, .92. Being No. 71 of the International Scientific Series.

In the preface to this work the author says that his ambition was to prepare a volume "to which beginners in the subject will have recourse, and one which experienced observers may willingly keep at hand for refreshment of the memory and ready reference." He has succeeded eminently well in carrying out that project; for, besides giving the classification, physiology, habits, and description of some thousands of Crustacea, Mr. Stebbing has added several new species to the already voluminous list of crustaceans, and made interesting reading of what students and beginners so often find dreary and unentertaining.

The chapter entitled "Specimens" contains some very useful information on the collection of Crustacea for examination, and the author rather humorously points out that even at the breakfast table examples of three very distinct orders can be obtained "in a dishful of prawns." In the same chapter he explains the best methods of capturing Crustacea, and tells of some new genera which are found at the enormous depth of three thousand and fifty feet.

The chapters on the various tribes, legions, and families of the suborders Macrura and Brachyura, which contain among them the edible crab, lobster, shrimp, etc., are full of interesting and valuable information, and the author has in many instances corrected the errors of former natural historians who named certain members of the smaller crustaceans before they had properly developed from the larval stage. Mr. Stebbing also bemoans "the hard fate of natural historians," particularly beginners, for he says that the confusion of names would sometimes deter a timid person from pursuing the study. He believes in the simplest possible nomenclature, and he has himself endeavored to simplify his work by making it easily understood by those who are inexperienced. The chapters on the habits of the cocoanut crab (Birgos) and of the various kinds of land crabs will be read with very great interest by all classes of people, apart from those who are engaged in the study of the Crustacea. As a matter of fact, the entertaining manner in which the author tells of the curious habits of these most curious animals, of their strangely developed instincts, and of their general modes of living, makes more interesting reading than is generally found in such exhaustive scientific works.

The vexed question of the position and existence of eyes in some of the crustaceans is finally set at rest in this work. Mr. Stebbing also proves beyond question that the crab uses the bases of his walking legs as mandibles—a fact which has heretofore been accepted only in theory by a few scientists. In describing the latter peculiarity of the edible and other species of crab, the author humorously remarks that, although it may seem as strange for a crab to use his feet for the purpose of mastication as it would be for a human being to have his teeth upon his elbow for a similar purpose, it is nevertheless a fact indisputably proved. Over three thousand species of crustaceans are defined in this volume, which can not fail to interest the general reader, as well as being of much importance to the student and as a book of reference.

Electricity and Magnetism. By Edwin J. Houston. Pp. 306. Electrical Measurements. By Edwin J. Houston. Pp. 429. Price, $1 New York: The W. J. Johnston Co., 1893.

There are already so many elementary books on electrical subjects, addressed either to the student or the general public, that a new book must needs have distinctive merit to justify its publication. This is possessed in an eminent degree by the above collection of primers from the pen of Prof. Houston. He has the gift of lucid exposition, and is, moreover, thoroughly familiar with his subject. Not the least of the merit of his exposition is his interpretation of the phenomena in the light of more recent electric theory, which has undergone marked changes in the past few years. Each book consists of a collection of chapters complete in itself, which the author terms a primer, the closing chapter being a brief review of all the oth-