Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/786

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766
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tending much farther east, and stretching south nearly to the Gulf of Mexico. The fauna of this lake-basin indicates a warm temperate climate. The more common mammals are a mastodon, rhinoceros, camels, and horses, the latter being especially abundant.

 

Insect-catching Plants.—Mr. William M. Canby communicates to the American Naturalist some observations on the Drosera filiformis, or thread-leaved sundew, which confirm and supplement the observations of other naturalists on the manner in which the leaves of that plant capture insects. At 7 a. m. he placed bits of the common house-fly on sundry leaves of the drosera, near their apices, and, twelve hours later, not only had the glandular hairs around bent toward and touched the atoms of fly, but also in every case the leaves themselves had bent over them, the inflection being about 17°. There were other leaves in the vicinity which had themselves captured flies: many of these were much more bent, undoubtedly from having held the prey a longer time. In one case the leaf had curled round the prey so as completely to encircle it.

 

Extermination of the Thistle.—The Berlin correspondent of Land and Water publishes a piece of information that will be welcome to many a farmer. "Who ever knew," says he, "of two plants being so inimical to one another as one to kill the other by a mere touch? This, however, seems to be the case when rape grows near the thistle. If a field is infested by thistles, give it a turn of rapeseed, and this plant will altogether starve, suffocate, and chill the thistle out of existence. A trial was being made with different varieties of rapeseed in square plots, when it was found that the whole ground was full of thistles, and nobody believed in the rape having a fair run. But it had, and as it grew the thistle vanished, faded, turned gray, and dried up as soon as the rape-leaves began to touch it. Other trials were then made in flower-pots and garden-beds, and the thistle always had to give in, and was altogether annihilated, whether old and fully developed, or young and tender."

 

Food of the Bongos.—The Bongos, a negro tribe on the Upper Nile, are represented by Schweinfurth as being very indiscriminate feeders. Among them rats and field-mice are esteemed delicacies. The pursuit of these animals is a favorite occupation of the children, who tie them together by the tails in dozens, and carry on a lively barter in them among themselves. But a still greater delicacy is cat-flesh. The children place, in the narrow paths through the tall grass of that region, traps of bamboo, with living field-mice for bait. In these they catch cats. The Bongos, indeed, eat meat of all kinds, except human flesh and the flesh of dogs. They make no objection to meat that is in an advanced state of decomposition; it is then more tender, and, besides, is more nourishing, more strengthening than fresh meat. "Whenever I had cattle slaughtered," says Schweinfurth, "I saw my bearers eagerly contending for the half-digested contents of the stomach, after the manner of Esquimaux, whose only supply of vegetable food seems to come from the contents of the reindeer's paunch. They would even strip off the amphistomous worms which literally live in the stomachs of all cattle in this region, and, without more ado, put them raw into their mouths by the handful. After this, it could no longer surprise me to find that the Bongo reckons as game every thing that creeps or crawls, from rats and mice to snakes, from the carrion vulture to the mangy hyena, from the great fat earth-scorpion to the caterpillar, or the winged termite with its oily, mealworm-like body."

 


NOTES.

Monsieur N. Rauïs, connected with the secrétariat of the Brussels Royal Academy of the Sciences, proposes to publish a "Universal Dictionary of Academies, Learned Societies, Observatories, Universities, Museums, Libraries, Botanic Gardens," etc.—a systematic catalogue of all institutions concerned with the progress of science, letters, and the arts. He requests of the officials of such institutions everywhere to send him information about their establishments under the following heads: 1. Title; 2. Date of foundation; 3. Aims; 4. List of officials (titles only); 5. Location, with the exact address; 6. Prizes, etc., offered; 7. Property owned such as library, archives, mu-