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RECOLLECTIONS OF ENGLISH NATURALISTS
of the Entomological Society when he exactly duplicated elsewhere; but in our died. own way and through the means we have, we should in America strive continually to create conditions more favorable for the stimulation of scientific interests. We have indeed some great museums, learned and influential societies, and excellent publications; but the country is vast, and we are only beginning to develop its intellectual possibilities.
Going back to a much earlier date, I count among the most potent sources of my interest in natural history the work of John W. Tavlor and W. Denison Roebuck, of Leeds. A notice appeared stating that a Monograph of the Land and Freshwater Mollusca of the British Isles was to be published in parts. It was to be fully illustrated, and as exhaustive as possible. It would include not only all British species, but all foreign varieties of British species, with full details about distribution, habits, etc., etc. The author, Mr. Taylor, was to be assisted by Mr. Roebuck, who had specialized in the slugs. My brother and I quickly responded to the appeal to send specimens, as material was desired from every locality, and nothing came amiss. Our joy was great when we found that we had discovered an entirely new variety (Helix hortensis variety lilacina Taylor) and another new to Britain. Almost every trip produced something interesting in the way of slugs, for England has a splendid slug fauna. Many preliminary papers appeared, but it was a long time before the first part of the monograph was ready. It is still incomplete and, owing to the war, publication had to be suspended; but we may hope that it will be continued, and that Mr. Tavlor will be able to bring it to completion. I never saw either Taylor or Roebuck, but there are few persons to whom I feel more indebted.
In recording the above details I have been interested to describe some of the influences which, in my experience, tended to develop and mature an incipient interest in natural science. Taken altogether, these influences constituted a potent environment, without which even a strong inborn tendency might have come to nothing. In a measure, they represent the peculiar genius of the English nation, which cannot be
More particularly, I think we should in America regard the amateur, and give him a chance to coöperate in large undertakings. In this period of reconstruction, science must be our guiding star; but in the struggle for wealth and power, science is in peril. Under existing conditions science tends to become commercialized, and economic necessity forces young men into positions where financial gains dominate all other considerations. The State must bid against all this, not by offering larger salaries, but by elevating and dignifying public service and the scientific life.
But even so, it can perhaps count among the faithful only those who have early learned to love research, and to whom science is not merely a means, but an end, the advancement and elevation of human thought. Thus, whether in leisure moments snatched from a busy life, or in the service of the public, naturalists may remain amateurs in the old-time sense of the word, lovers of a mistress whom they could not betray.
Such a spirit may resist even the temptations of business life, and we may see commerce suffused with new motives, as the distinction between public and private purposes becomes obliterated. So much depends upon the mode of approach; and Great Britain, the land of amateurs, will, I think, in this hour of need find in her service a group of men and women whose sincerity and devotion are beyond reproach.
EDWARD W. NELSON
Chief, United States Biological Survey
As a noted American naturalist, for forty years the friend and student of wild bird and mammal life, Mr. Nelson has accompanied or led many expeditions to the western deserts, to Mexico and Central America, and to the Arctic. He served in several capa ties on the staff of the United States Biological Survey and in 1916 was appointed chief. Mr. Nelson's contributions to the technical literature on the North American birds and mammals is very extensive; recently he has enlarged his audience by the publication of a popu lar book, Wild Animals of North America. The value to the layman of this account of our native mammals is increased by an unusually profuse illustra tion, natural color portraits from paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, track sketches by Ernest Thompson Seton, and many photographs. The book was given preliminary publication in the National Geographic Magazine of November, 1916, and May, 1918
Nelson's "Wild Animals of North
By JOEL ASAPH ALLEN
Curator of Birds and Mammals, American Museum; Editor of the American Museum's scientific zoölogical publications (1889 to 1918); Honorary Member of the New York Zoological Society; Foreign Member of the Zoological Society of London
NE of the most valuable of the many important contributions of the National Geographic Society to popular education is Edward W. Nelson's account of the mammals of North America,1 with colored illustrations by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, track illustrations by Ernest Thompson Seton, and half-tone reproductions of photographs of especial interest and pertinence, published, as stated by the editor of the magazine, at a cost of $100,000. The account was originally issued in two parts, "The Larger North American Mammals," in November, 1916, and the "Smaller Mammals of North America," in May, 1918. The two parts are now issued together in book form, greatly facilitating their use as a convenient work of reference, useful alike to the naturalist and the general reader.
Excellent books on North American birds, many of them well illustrated, have long been available, and also a number of magazines exclusively devoted to these easily observed dwellers in our midst, graceful and attractive in form as well as vivacious and songful, their nest building and manner of life open to all observers. It is easy for anyone with the slightest interest in these wonderful creations to know intimately their life habits and to have a fair knowledge of perhaps a hundred species that frequent their home surroundings of field and woodland. On the other On the other hand, it is safe to say that the wild mammals equally well known to them can be counted on the fingers of a single hand, and of only two or three of which will they have more than slight knowledge of their manner of life.
1 Wild Animals of North America: Intimate Studies of Big and Little Creatures of the Mammal Kingdom. By Edward W. Nelson. Published by the National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C., 1918.
Mammals have, as a rule, no vocal powers to attract attention; they are, for the most part, secretive and nocturnal in habits. Of the hundreds of field mice and shrews and moles that inhabit the fields and meadows through which we daily walk only a rare accident may bring even one of them to our ken. Only the hunter and the trapper know the haunts of the fur bearers and the game animals. Only the professional field collector, with his resources of skill and of especially devised traps, has the opportunity and the required knowledge to unveil the mysteries of our smaller mammal life. There is no "color key" or other popular device to aid the amateur in finding out the names and relationships of the forms he may chance to obtain. The recognition of their distinctive features requires more or less technical training on the part of the observer before he can determine the specimen he may chance to have acquired.
The requisites of an author who could successfully prepare a volume like the present one are numerous and varied. Fortunately, Mr. Nelson, chief of the United States Biological Survey, is the possessor of them all in a high degree. Inspired with a love of the wild and, above all, with the spirit of research and discovery, his natural history explorations have taken him throughout the continent from the Arctic tundras of Alaska to the jungles of tropical Mexico, and have made him familiar alike with the life of the desert and the forest. While an ardent ornithologist, he is equally an ardent mammalogist and a broadly trained naturalist able to impart his experiences and observations with sympathy and directness. He has lived with the animals
of which he writes and has studied them in their homes; on the technical side he is a monographer of many of the groups of which he so tersely and clearly sets forth the life histories.
The forms (species and local races) of mammals now recorded from continental North America number nearly 2500, yet they are reducible, so far as their distinctive traits are concerned, to a few hundred types. As North America, in the sense of the present work, is mainly the continent north of the tropics, Nelson's biographies of about 120 groups comprise all of the types of this large area which are of primary interest, from the large game and fur-bearing animals to the bats, shrews, mice, and squirrels. Thus, the hares and rabbits, numbering approximately one hundred local forms that are considered worth distinguishing under the "higher criticism" of modern days, are treated as constituting six groups, each illustrated in color, and the distinctive external characteristics and habits of the constituents of each are clearly and satisfactorily presented. Never before has the general reader had placed before him in a connected and well balanced summary so much essential information about North American hares and rabbits. And the same is true of all the other biographies.
Mr. Nelson, in his introductory pages, contrasts the early days of the settlement of North America with present conditions in respect to the larger mammalian life of the continent-the abundance in the seventeenth and eighteenth century times and the pitiful remnants that now remain-and makes a strong appeal for the conservation of wild life. In the introduction to the second part, the "Smaller Mammals of North America," a dozen pages are given to the generalities of the subject, which are condensed under such suggestive subheadings as "Animals that learned to dig in,'" "A departure for every need," "Strange adaptations to
meet conditions of environment and competition," "Geography and color," "Gnawers most numerous of mammals," "Good housekeeping in rodent land," "The ebb and flow of antagonistic species," "Countless beasts that roam the night," "Animals that put themselves in cold storage," "Defensive and offensive animal alliances," etc. Under these captions are presented a wide range of general statements and philosophic deductions, as the evident close relationship of certain northern forms to Old World types, and the presence on our southern border of a similar affiliation. with tropical American types, while others still are distinctly of North American origin with no close relationship to groups found elsewhere.
The special adaptations of species to their particular environments, and to very diverse conditions of life, as arboreal, subterranean, aquatic and aërial, and the modifying effect of climatic conditions, resulting in the development of geographic races in species which have a wide range, are also among the topics presented. The ability of desert inhabiting species to live without drinking, "through chemical action of their digestive tracts, whereby some of the starchy parts of their food. are changed into water," is also noted; also the storing of food for winter use by some species, while others pass the winter in a torpid condition and thus do not require food. Molting, or the seasonal change of the coat, is also the subject of comment, and likewise the concurrent change of color from brown to white in autumn and the reverse in spring in many northern animals as a protective provision against enemies. In this connection a misapprehension of former days in respect to how the change in color is brought about is, let us hope, finally given its quietus by this statement of the now known facts of the case: "It was formerly considered that the change of mammals from the brown of summer to the white winter
coat in the fall, and from the white to the brown in spring, was due to a change in the color of the hairs, but it is now known that it is entirely due to molt. The time of these changes depends on the season, and this varies several weeks, according to whether the fall or spring is late."
Mr. Seton's illustrations and descriptions of the footprints of a large number of different kinds of mammals, when walking and when running, add a novel and interesting feature from a field that he has made practically his own. The subjects range from bears, coyotes, and other carnivores to deer, moose, and caribou among the larger mammals, and from jack rabbits and squirrels to field mice and shrews. They will vividly recall to many readers the imprints seen by them in newly fallen snow during many a winter walk
in the country. In these sketches, entitled "Footprints of Nature's Wild Folk," Mr. Seton tells us he "usually gives the track of a normal adult animal in about one inch of snow, that being ideal for tracking. Some of the smaller kinds are shown in fine dust. The trail goes up or across the page at the ordinary gait of the animal. . . . While there are endless variants in each kind, I aim to give the reader at least one typical set of each." There are nearly sixty of these sketches, which represent the leading types of mammals. over a wide range of country.
Mr. Fuertes' colored illustrations are of course of the highest excellence, and give the reader a vivid conception of the varied forms of mammal life in North America. Our foremost bird draftsman may now be awarded equal honor in another field.
Copyright National Geographic Magazine, 1918.
The American bison once roamed the central plains and forests of North America as sole monarch, supplying the basis for some of our most picturesque Indian cultures. Even as late as 1870 it was estimated that five and a half million head still survived west of the Mississippi, but today there are not more than 4000 and these are gathered in Canadian and American preserves. Under primitive conditions the buffalo herds migrated northward and southward with the seasons, always following the same trails which were consequently worn into permanent landmarks. Indeed some of our highways and railways follow in the footsteps of these wild travelers