« ZurückWeiter »
Note on Amphicoma vulpina, Hentz.-When in East Florida I received a letter from Count Castelneau, in which, amongst other matters relating to Entomology, he informed me that what he considered the most interesting coleopterous insect he had taken in West Florida was an Amphicoma, or rather an insect of a new genus very closely allied to Amphicoma. This, he added, was peculiarly interesting, as this group of the lamellicorns was heretofore supposed to be confined to the Old World, and in a great measure to the shores of the Mediterranean.
When at Cambridge (Mass.) last October, I for the first time saw the insect to which I believe the above remark refers; and there learned from Dr. Harris a few particulars with regard to its history, which, from their being upon the interesting subject of Insect Geography, are of some importance.
This insect is the Amphicoma vulpina of Hentz, but I am not quite sure that his name is more than a manuscript one. Perhaps it ought to form a new genus, and be considered as the American representative of Amphicoma but I have not yet had leisure to examine the only specimen I brought home
Be this as it may, the fact of an insect of this genus, or of one so nearly allied to it, being found in North America, is interesting and important; and not less so is the fact that its range over that vast continent is extremely wide, extending from the hills of New Hampshire to the Upper Mississipi, and across the Rocky Mountains as far as the shores of the Pacific, from all which places Dr. Harris knows of specimens: to these we must add West Florida, as its southern limit, and thus we find that it ranges throughout the whole territory of the United States, from east to west, and from north to south.
A specimen of this insect, which I owe to the kindness of Dr. T. W. Harris, is now in the cabinet of the Entomological Club. It was taken by Dr. Gould of Boston, on the flowers of the American elder, in New Hampshire, I believe in the month of July.
At present we know but little of the geographical distribution of insects; our entomological authors being very careless about defining their exact localities. I have been particularly struck with this carelessness in regard to the insects of the United States. Some European entomologists who have written on the insects of that country, appear to think it quite needless trouble to indicate whether their species are from
Vol. III.—No. 26. n. S.
the snow-clad mountains of the eastern states, the flowery prairies of Illinois, or the orange-groves of East Florida. Whether this fault has originated on this side of the water or on the other, I know not. It may be that the American entomologists themselves, in their remittances of insects to Europe, have neglected to specity their exact localities; or it may be that we are too apt to forget the vast extent of the various republics known as the United States of America.Be this as it may, that such carelessness should exist cannot be too much lamented.—Eduard Doubleday.-Sudbury, 21st Jany. 1839.
On the Fossil Remains of Cetacea.-The philosophical journals both of England and Scotland record instances of the discovery of cetaceous remains in positions to which it is physically impossible the present seas can have reached; and yet the condition of such remains, and their isolated entombinent, added to the fact of their occurrence exclusively in the most superficial strata, have led to a doubt of their fossil character. On the banks of the Forth the bones of an animal 72 feet long were once discovered, imbedded in clay more than 20 feet above the reach of the highest tide of that river. A solitary rertebra was described by Sir George Mackenzie in the 'Edinb. Phil. Trans.' vol. x., p. 105, as obtained from Strathpepper in Rosshire, at an altitude of 12 feet above the present level of the sea. Several bones of a whale were subsequently discovered at Dumore Rock, Stirlingshire, in brick earth, nearly 40 feet above the present level of the sea. Still in all these instances no remains of extinct animals were present with them, nor were there any extinct marine Testacea attached to the bones : so that their fossil character rests upon the inference to be drawn from the condition of the beds in which they were deposited, and from the relative position of their respective mausoleums. The latter, be it observed, are generally on more or less elevated ground, adjacent either to the sea or to tidal rivers. The stratum in which they repose is either without exception what is termed marine diluvium, or the clay beds subordinate to it. It is true moreover that living Cetacea are occasional visitants to the neighbourhood in which the supposed fossil remains are discovered. We must therefore await additional evidence before we can with confidence assign to these remains any degree in the chronological scale higher than that of the recent period of geologists.
To the before-mentioned instances I may add that in the course of the summer of 1837, I obtained twelve vertebræ of a whale, some caudal others dorsal, from the yellow marle or
brick earth of Herne Bay, in Kent. The spot from whence they were taken is not more than 10 feet from the high water mark, and certainly not more than 10 feet above the occasional reach of the sea on that coast. They were the bones of a young animal, since their epihpyses were still unconnected with their bodies, and the bony structure not fully developed. Their specific gravity was little above that of water, and their texture frail, although embedded in tenacious clay. No other animal remains were discoverable in the clay. It is only necessary to remark that the remains in question singularly correspond with their predecessors in position and character, and add their corroborative testimony, by way of accumulation, to whatever view may be taken of cetacean reliquiæ. I send this statement under the impression that your Magazine is ever open to the details of facts in Natural History, bé the evidence to be drawn from these facts what it may.-Wm. Richardson.
Note on the Argonaut.--I have talked with Della Chiaja very much about the argonaut; he states that he has traced the animal from the ovum to the formation of the shell, and he has published plates of the progress of its developement, which are beautifully executed. I think we may place full confidence in his observations; he is animated with the greatest zeal for science,-almost unsupported, and certainly unremunerated.
I am sorry I have not yet been able to get an argonaut; I have requested the fishermen to bring the first they catch to me. They come off this coast only in summer, and are then more in the Gulf of Genoa, and off Baia and Puzzuoli, rather than in our Bay.-J.C. Cox.--Naples, Dec. 28, 1838.
Ornithological Notes.—Seeing from time to time lists of birds shot in different counties, it has occurred to me that if such lists were procured from all parts of the kingdom, it would be as useful an index to collectors of British birds as could be formed. These lists might be much abridged by leaving out such species as are common to all parts of the country, they would greatly aid the British ornithologist, for innumerable are the difficulties which he has to encounter, and after all his exertions but very few are the birds he can procure with his own gun. He will hare to contend with the unprincipled conduct and exorbitant demands of those who call themselves “naturalists.” For alas for the rare birds of Britain! whenever a harmless and interesting stranger makes its appearance, some ruthless eye is immediately upon it, and it is generally murdered in mere wantonness: for I believe but few of the rarities taken are preserved; they are just handed about for a day or two, to gratify the stare of stupid wonder, or else nailed against a barn, as a trophy of cruelty.
But few of these rarities have come under my own observation. A fine male honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus) was shot here last June; it was exceedingly tame. The goshawk (Astur palumbarius) has been taken here, and the kite (Milvus ictinus), though formerly plentiful, has now, through
the ruthlessness of the gamekeepers, almost disappeared. The scops owl (Scops Aldrovandi) was taken some years ago, and I have no doubt would have continued with us, but for the same cause, for the aforesaid gentry never trouble themselves to inquire whether such visitors may not do as much or more good than harın, it is enough for them to know that they are not game, and of course must be exterminated.
Amongst other birds which I have known taken is the ash-coloured shrike (Lanius ercubitor). That very interesting little bird the pied fly-catcher (Muscicapa luctuosa); the chatterer (Bombycivora garrula), the finest case I ever saw of which were purchased of a boy who was feeding his ferrets with them, for one penny each; in fact most of these things are destroyed to no purpose, as soon as seen. The grey-headed wagtail (Motacilla neglecta) was once obtained from a boy. Next comes the poor little crossbill (Loxia currirostra), of which we have lately had numbers, and which, by a cessation of hostilities, might be induced to take up its abode and increase among us; but no sooner is it heard, (and its note being a peculiar one is the herald of its own destruction), than it is driven from plantation to plantation, and, like the dove from the ark, can find no rest for the sole of its foot.
The little busy barred woodpecker meets with no encouragement here, and is obliged to seek a habitation elsewhere. The stock dove (Columba Ænas) has become scarce of late ; and the large bustard (Otis tarda) is all but exterminated. A fine female was sold in Cambridge market last February for £2. 25.; it was shot between Cambridge and Lynn. A male was killed near this place seven or eight years ago, and hawked about for halfa-crown. The little bustard (Otis tetrax) was taken last year in this county. The little sandpiper (Tringa pusilla), the little auk (Mergulus melanoleucos), and the fulmar (Procellaria glacialis), have also, singularly enough, been taken here; as well as the fork-tailed petrel (Thalassidroma Bullockii). Some of the above are preserved in the Museum of this town, but I am sorry to say not the whole of them.
But I have not yet stated the chief difficulties the naturalist has to contend with; these are the jealousies and envyings which seem to pervade the breasts of men of all classes in the different branches of science. This to me is unaccountable. When all are animated by a common object, mutual assistance ought to be cheerfully rendered, especially when all are working for the public good. Creation is full of beauties for the naturalist to admire. In the lively and interesting feathered race, the well-adapted and graceful figures of quadrupeds, the infinitely diversified forms of the insect tribes, and in the beauty and variety of the surrounding vegetation,—there is nothing to excite envy, but everything to induce an opposite frame of mind. Everything was intended for our enjoyment and instruction; everything is beautiful and happy; and
"All save the spirit of man is divine:" and but for that spirit the earth would be a paradise.—Joseph Clarke.Saffron Walden, Nov. 24th,
Mr. James F. Stephens, author of the Illustrations of British Insects, is preparing for publication a series of Manuals descriptive of all the species of British Insects. The first volume, containing the whole of the British Beetles, is nearly ready.
Art. I.-Observations on the Poulp of the Argonaut. By MADAME
JEANNETTE POWER.? Having for many years past devoted to natural science, and to enriching my cabinet with marine objects, the few hours to be spared from domestic cares, for in fact few are the moments that one of my sex and condition can enjoy in study, the poulp of the argonaut specially fixed my attention, from so much having been said on the subject by naturalists. I have since been enabled to follow up a series of observations upon this cephalopod, which other naturalists could not perhaps have done, for want of those opportunities and means with which I have been fully supplied. I therefore deemed it incumbent upon me to make careful inquiries on the most disputed points which regard the physiological condition of the animal, and consequently devoted myself for some years to an uninterrupted course of observations; and after repeated experiments, I have at last been able to obtain data which lead to very important results : first, by assuring myself that this mollusc is the constructor of the shell which it inhabits; secondly, by clearing up doubts with regard to the first developement of its eggs; and, finally, by making known many new facts respecting its habits. I will therefore present to you, Gentlemen, after a short sketch of the state of zoological knowledge as regarded the Argonauta Argo when I commenced my experiments, an account of the method followed by me in my researches, and the physiological inferences deduced from them.
1“ Osservazione fisiche sopra il polpo dell' Argonauta Argo, della Socia Correspondente Madame Jeannette Power.” Read at the Meeting of 26th November, 1836. From the xii. vol. of the Academy, Catania.
Vol. III.-No. 27. n. S.