« PreviousContinue »
RUSSIAN MUSK RAT-SCALOPE—THE MOLE.
for another chance. They dive with much adroit-hasty or rash opinion, without the thorough ness, and can remain under water for the space knowledge of a subject, to defer until after maof a minute. Their fur repels the water from ture investigation, and even then to remember their bodies, as while they are submerged, they the injunction, “ Be not wise in your own conappear to be almost white. When pursued by ceit.” How ready are we to consider the views the weasel, they drop into the water, and pass to and opinions of others erroneous, and even perthe opposite side.”
haps treat them with contempt, thereby, in reThe other species is very similar in habits and ality, convicting ourselves of ignorance and premanners to the preceding, and must be consi- sumption! “ Truly, this man was the Son of dered as a recent addition to our Fauna.
God!” was extorted from the incredulous sol
diers at the crucifixion of our blessed Redeemer ; To the genus Sorex succeeds one termed My- and thus in our days the men of the world, the gale, which includes the Desmans, allied in habits careless and the thoughtless, who are dreaming to the water shrews, but distinguished by a tail, life away, are too apt to consider religion a superscaly and flattened at the sides. One species, stition, and without investigating the subject, deem called the Russian Musk Rat, from its odour, those who profess it, those who are striving for is common along the lakes and rivers of the the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, mere enthusisouthern portion of that empire. Another small asts, to be pitied for their errors, or despised for species is found along the streams of the Pyren- | their folly; while they themselves are in the
Canada produces the SCALOPE, (the type darkness of ignorance, and dead to that knowof the genus Scalops,) to which Linnæus gave ledge which would open new scenes, unfold new the name of Sorex aquaticus ; but which is now hopes, and make them wise unto salvation. Such divided from the true shrews.
a man called out of darkness into light, convict
ed of his former errors, will say, “ Whereas I As our plan is only to prepare the reader for was once blind, now I see.” entering upon a truly scientific mode of studying Although the term “ Mole” occurs in the Scripthis delightful science, we shall be excused for tures, its reference to the present animal is more our discursive mode of proceeding. We cannot, than doubtful, the Mole not being a native of however, before leaving the Insectivora, omit a Syria, and the original word also being variously genus containing an animal whose interesting translated. habits and manners claim our peculiar notice. While most Mammalia enjoy the light of day, We allude to the Common MOLE, (Talpa Euro- and the freedom of earth’s varied surface, revelpæa.)
ling in air and sunshine, this little miner passes The Mole (if not the sole, at least the typical his days, and partakes of all the enjoyments of species of the genus Talpa,) is confined to the existence in darkness and confinement. His hapwestern portions of Europe, where it is exten- piness and his home are limited to the subterrasively spread, with a few single exceptions. The neous galleries which he excavates with admirancient Greeks do not appear to have been ac- able skill and industry. For his appointed lot quainted with it. Aristotle, in his description the providence of his Maker has expressly framed of the Mole found in Greece, and which he calls him, and we can hardly bring forward a more Spalax, (Etalač,) expressly asserts its total de beautiful example of means, exhibited in the mificiency with respect to the organs of vision. nutiæ of animal structure, proclaiming the end Now, as the organs of vision, although small, to be obtained, than is presented by this little buried in the fur, and rudimentary, still exist in creature. The Mole is essentially a miner: the the Mole, (notwithstanding many persons in the fore feet, which are broad and muscular, are present day believe it to be altogether destitute constructed like hands, with an oblique direction, of them,) this great observer of nature has been so as to make the inner edge the lowest part, accused of a gross mistake, which superficial ob- thereby forming more complete paddles for servation would at once have corrected. The throwing the soil behind it; the fingers, scarcely spalax, however, is not the Mole, which, if it divided, are five in number, and armed with ever occurs in Greece, is extremely uncommon; strong flat nails; the arm is short, its muscles but a little subterraneous quadruped, somewhat and those of the shoulders being very powerful; resembling the Mole in its habits, belonging to the hinder limbs are small; the body is round, the order Rodentia, and known to modern natur- cylindrical, and compact; the snout prolonged alists under the name of the mole rat, an animal and pointed; the fur soft, close, and velvety. which, indeed, by its blindness, exonerates Ari- The sense of hearing is very delicate, although stotle from the charge of ignorance: no external there is no external conch to the ears, and the eye is visible, but beneath the skin there is to be auditory opening concealed by the fur is small; found a little black grain, a rudiment, as it a valve, capable of being raised or lowered like were, of this organ, which must be quite useless an eyelid, the mechanism of which is evident if as it regards vision, since the skin passes over it the fur be shaved away, closes this aperture at without even becoming thinner, or being in the the will of the animal, so as to exclude any parleast degree deficient of fur. That modern dis-ticles of earth or sand. The eye is exceedingly coveries should prove the truth and accuracy of small, and buried in the fur for protection, but an ancient writer, after much discredit, is a may be uncovered at pleasure, so as to be brought circumstance well deserving record in the ar- into use when needed during its occasional visits chives of science; and an important lesson may to the light of “ our world.” The power of vibe gleaned from it, which to the young is espe-sion is, however, of the most limited degree; for cially valuable; namely, how needful it is to though the optic nerve be present, as Cuvier suspend their judgment, and instead of giving a believes, still as no faculty is bestowed uselessly,
that of vision would not be given in high perfec- food ; feeding under ground and in darkness, tion to a creature which never needs it: in fact, upon this faculty depends its daily existence; it in the Mole this organ is in its lowest stage of is therefore developed to a remarkable degree of development. It is by its keen sense of smell perfection. that the Mole is chiefly directed in its search for
The skeleton of this animal, of which we the muscles for raising the arm at each stroke do give an accurate drawing, is very peculiar, and not so much require strength as celerity, that no justifies our observation, as it regards the adapta- time be lost between each stroke ; now, for this tion of form and structure, as well as of the senses, very purpose are the scapulæ elongated, that the to the allotted mode of life.
muscles for raising the arm may have this requiThe skeleton of every animal, we hardly need site figure. The bones of the fore-arm are very observe, being the basis of its organization, is strong, and the olecranon of the ulna is large and also the index of its habits; and in no instance transverse, for the insertion of immense extensive is this accordance more displayed than in the muscles which act in conjunction with the pecto present. If, then, we look at the skeleton of the ral. The hands are large, broad, and thick, the Mole, we shall find its great development mani-bones being knit firmly and solidly together; the fested in its anterior portion, the pelvis and infe- claws are enormous : these are the organs by rior extremities being small and reduced ; in fact, which it throws up the earth. But the head is the muscular powers, and the framework for sup- also an organ for digging or boring ; it is flattened porting those powers, are thrown as far forward and elongated, and the cartilages of the nose are as possible, so as to concentrate the whole force ossified, so as to form an additional bone ; thus and energy in the anterior portion. The chest, constituted as a borer, to make it still more strongly environed with bone and muscle, is large effective, the ligament of the neck, (ligamentum and capacious, enclosing the vital organs; namely, nucha,) which passes down the spinous processes the heart and lungs, which are of great compara- of the vertebræ, and is in other animals elastic, tive volume, indicating by their development is here bone also, that the power of raising up the energy of the muscular system. From the the head and pushing with the snout may be insternum, or breast-bone, an additional bone pro- creased, and the strain upon the neck better ceeds forwards, having a deep keel, like that of a borne. Through whatever aperture the anterior bird, for the extensive attachment of the enormous parts pass, the hinder must necessarily follow. pectoral muscles. The clavicles, or collar bones, The pelvis is very small
, and, excepting from are thick and short, and the humerus angular, situation, does not merit the name, as, the organs and as broad as it is long, while the scapula, or usually contained in it here pass anterior to its blade bone, on each side long and narrow. pubic portion. The bones of the hind limbs are Now, by this construction of the sternum, the small and slender, and the feet, though furnished shoulders are consequently thrown far forward, with claws, are feeble in comparison with the and for a most important object, namely, in order spadelike hands. The hinder parts, therefore, that the volume of those muscles may be in- offer no impediment to the creature's progress creased, the constant and powerful action of along its narrow galleries, but yet have the which the animals instincts and mode of life requisite degree of strength, so as, on the other require. The space between the humerus and hand, not to be themselves in the way. In short, the ribs, then, is filled up by the immense pec- were we called upon to prove the design and toral muscles; and in consequence of the distance attentive care of God, carried through his works, between the short humerus, into the lower part we would go into the fields, and point out the of which they are inserted, and the ribs and habits and manners of this little animal, and the sternum, whence they take their origin, not only fitness and express adaptation of the means with is their volume greater, but their action different which it is provided. from what is seen in other mammalia. The course When the Mole voluntarily emerges from its of their fibres is such as to lead them not to bring subterranean asylum, it is, in general, for the the arms closer to or across the chest, but to draw purpose of seeking a more favourablé soil, in them downwards, and somewhat outwards, the which to construct its halls and winding galleries. action employed in digging. Mass of muscle Rich and cultivated meadows, abounding in worms gives strength ; length, velocity of motion. Now, and other insects, are the localities of its choice,
where it sinks the shafts of its mines, as winter terror of the forest, but formidable to man himsets in, below the line to which the frost pene- self. Some, however, it is true, except when trates. In this season it is not less active than in pressed by hunger, subsist almost entirely upon summer, although the results of its labours are vegetable diet; and, as we have intimated, the less obvious. Night, and the twilight hours of proportion which obtains between the tuberculous morning and evening, are the periods in which it surface and cutting edges of the molar teeth will chiefly exerts itself; and as spring approaches, give a standard by which to calculate the presoftening the earth with showers, and calling the vailing nature of the regimen: for the more snowdrop and crocus from their winter sleep, the completely thrown up into conical points with fresh-thrown hillocks of this “goodman delver” cutting edges the grinding teeth may be, and dot the green surface of the fields, and often so deficient in blunt tubercles studded along their thickly, as to convert the level champaign into a surface, the more exclusively carnivorous is the mimic representation of mountain scenery, where appetite, and bloodthirsty the disposition ; such
Apennine and Pyrennees branch out stupendous are the true Carnivora, the larger species of into distant lands.”
which are thinly scattered, and driven more or The galleries of the Mole have numerous less entirely from the haunts of civilized man. inter-communications; but its nest, where the The necessity of maintaining personal security female nurses her helpless young, from three to by warring against these scourges of their kind, five in number, is formed in a vault, constructed in the earlier ages of men, when “the world was with great care, the centre of many diverging all before them where to choose,” cannot be quespassages, and made soft with leaves, grass, and tioned; and well would it have been for the the scales of bulbous roots. The parents afford a human race had that propensity for destruction, pattern of mutual affection and assistance. which stains our fallen nature, been limited in its
The food of this animal consists of worms, in- exercise to the lion and bear; but, alas, as the sects, and, when it can obtain them, frogs, lizards, earliest records of history prove, man, after subsmall birds, or quadrupeds ; it is impatient of duing the forest to himself, and sprinkling the hunger, and cannot endure a fast of more than plains and hills with leaf-thatched huts, (the first six hours without great exhaustion: an abstinence faint dawnings of arts, agriculture, and commerce,) of twelve hours is said to produce death. The turned his hunting-spear upon his fellow, seMole is an expert swimmer, and will cross flooded vered the bonds of brotherhood, and perpetugrounds, ponds, or rivers, in quest of new and ated causeless wars from generation to generamore attractive hunting grounds, and sometimes tion. even will take to the water for the sake of enjoy- There is something in the human heart in its ment only. It requires to drink frequently, and present fallen state, fearfully akin to the nature of a colony of these animals usually have a common the ferocious brute of the wilderness. The brute run or passage to the nearest ditch or stream. At follows its instinct; but what has man to pleadcertain seasons the males fight desperately, the man, whose reason entails upon him a moral feebler often falling a sacrifice to the more responsibility for every action? What can he powerful. The female breeds in April or May. offer in extenuation of the desolations he has Agriculturists are divided in opinion as to the spread over the earth ? The pages of history benefit or injury which the Mole occasions ; cer. are stained with blood; they portray man in tain it is that it has its uses and its appointed colours of the deepest dye, and few and far bework in the grand scheme of which it forms a tween are those softer touches which ameliorate part.
the harshness of the picture, and on which we
would pause to gaze, were it but to relieve us Passing from the Insectivora, the third family, from the surrounding scenery of woe.
And oh! of Carnassiers presents itself. As the molar teeth how lovely, how beautiful, how doubly beautiful are those by which the food and disposition of appears the character of the peaceful contemplaanimals is most decidedly characterized, we here tive philosopher, the sage of olden times, the man find them, as might be expected, exhibiting an of God, the Christian whose warfare is spiritual, according modification. They are of three sorts : contrasted with those heroes, so falsely called, 1. One or more small pointed teeth on each side, who, in the gratification of mad ambition, have called “ false molars ;" 2. These are followed by left their track through lands once happy and a tooth of large size and great strength, with flourishing, reeking with the blood of slaughter, elevated conical points, having sharp cutting and their name written in gory characters, a edges for lacerating and dividing flesh ; this tooth watchword to succeeding generations; who, in the French emphatically call“ carnassiere,” others the applause bestowed on courage and success, “laniary molar;" 3. Behind this, one or two teeth, forget the ruin of cities blotted out for ever, or varying in size, with flat or tuberculated surfaces, marked only by the “blackness of ashes;" forget forming the back teeth; these are called the the tears of widows and the cries of orphans, and, “tuberculous molars,” and are larger and more impelled as it were by the tiger-spirit “ of the developed as the animal partakes the more of a first-born Cain," echo praises to their warriorvegetable regimen. The edges of the laniary idols, inscribe their titles in the temples, and burn teeth do not come in contact, but pass by each to imitate their example! Of these fearful proother like the blades of a pair of scissors. pensities, and the atrocities to which they lead,
The present assemblage of animals is essentially the reader will find many horrid instances in the ferocious and sanguinary, maintaining a warfare Polynesian Researches,” which painfully show of destruction, more or less unremitting, upon that, amidst the most lovely scenes of nature, their fellow brutes, and many of them gifted with man is vile,” till the light of the gospel has bodily powers which render them not only the shone around him, and the mild spirit of a mer
THE BROWN, BLACK, AND GRIZZLY BEARS.
ciful Saviour has succeeded to his sanguinary The Bear is also hunted by dogs, the men being habits.
armed with spears and rifles. Numbers are also
taken in traps. The flesh is much esteemed as To return to the Carnivora. The first section food, and the hams and paws are great delicacies. we find to be that of the Plantigrades, so called The Bear swims well and fast, and is fond of from their applying the entire sole to the ground, bathing during the heat of summer ; his climbing so as to have the free power of raising themselves powers are well known: all who have visited the on their hinder limbs or haunches, and maintain- gardens of the Zoological Society have witnessed ing with ease an upright position. There is a the feat of mounting the pole for the tempting slowness and heaviness in their motions; their morsel proffered as a reward. In descending a habits are generally nocturnal, and in the northern tree or precipice he always comes down backregions they usually pass the winter in lethargy. wards, much resembling a human being in his The Bears usher in the section, and may be con- actions and cautious mode of proceeding. The sidered as forming the connecting link between habits of this animal are unsocial and solitary: he this family and those of the herbivorous mamma- lives alone, and chooses his retreat in the deeplia; their claws are strong, blunt, and well est gloom or most inaccessible parts of the woods adapted for climbing or digging, but not for or rocks; here, during the severity of a northern lacerating; their molar teeth are obtuse, their winter, in some cleft or cave, or hollow tree, or, tongues smooth, and their general contour thick where these fail, in a moss-lined hut, constructand clumsy.
ed by himself of branches and leaves, he slum
bers away the days in a state of almost lethargy, The BROWN BEAR, (Ursus arctos) (see Engrav- without food, and supported by the absorption of ing, No. 10,) formerly common in England, as well fat accumulated during the summer. When as over the whole of the European continent, is spring returns, lean, gaunt, and famished, he now confined to its more inaccessible and thinly issues from his den, and, ravenous for food, is inhabited regions, where rocks, glens, and forests then especially to be dreaded. still afford him a precarious abode. Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Poland, are the countries in America presents us with several species of which he is still plentiful; among the Alps, also, . Bear: the BLACK, (Ursus Americanus ;) the CINthe thinly scattered remnants of his race, once NAMON, most probably a variety; and the GRIZZLY, numerous there, still linger. In the dense and (Ursus ferox.) gloomy forests of Scandinavia, the Bear attains
enormous size. Mr. Lloyd states, in his The BLACK BEAR is smaller than the Euro“ Field Sports of the North,” that he has killed pean species, lighter in its make, and with one of the weight of four hundred and sixty shorter and more glossy fur, which is much pounds; but they have been known occasionally sought after as an article of commerce. In the to exceed seven hundred. The diet of the Bear year 1783, we learn that“ ten thousand five hunconsists of roots, leaves, succulent plants, and dred bear-skins were imported into England various wild berries, with corn, honey, and ants, from the northern parts of America ; and the of which 'he is very fond.
number gradually increased until 1803, when it Although often discovered taking up his quar- reached twenty-five thousand, the average value ters in the proximity of flocks and herds, he by no of each skin being estimated at forty shillings.” means proves so generally destructive a neigh- This destruction has thinned the species, which, bour as might be expected: and Mr. Falk affirms, once common over North America, is on the that Bears may reside for years in the neighbour- eastern side now confined to the higher regions hood of cattle without doing them any injury; of Canada and the Rocky Mountains, but on the though he adds, that “they will sometimes visit western coast is still abundant as far south as Caherds solely from the desire of prey;" and instances lifornia. have been known of their climbing the roofs of Independent of the fur and general figure, the cowhouses, which they have torn off in order to skull presents another ground of distinction begain admittance to the poor animals confined tween this and its European relative, being much within; these, after the slaughter, they have narrower, the line of the forehead convex, and managed to carry away, by shoving or lifting continued regularly without any break from the through the aperture by which they themselves upper part of the head, and ending in a longer had entered. Their strength is indeed astonish- and more pointed muzzle. ingly great, as the fact attested by Mr. Nilsson proves, who asserts, that “a Bear has been seen The GRIZZLY BEAR is the most formidable walking on his hinder feet along a small tree that and ferocious of the tribe, exceeding in size our stretched across a river, bearing a dead horse in European species. He is a native of the state of his fore-paws.” Hunting the Bear is a favourite Missouri and the Rocky Mountains; his hair is amusement in the north, though by no means un- long, harsh, and grizzled ; his feet and paws are attended with danger. In Sweden it is usual for of enormous magnitude, and his strength is prodi. the hunters to form a ring, or cordon, surrounding gious. The terror of the native tribes, he dwells a certain extent of country. The number of the solitary monarch of his chosen ravine or dell, men engaged is often fifteen hundred, and the and bold must be the hunter that will venture circumference of the space enclosed sixty miles. to attack him in his strong-hold. Singularly The circle is then gradually contracted, escape tenacious of life, he has been known to receive being permitted for other animals, by which five balls through the lungs and five through the means the Bears are driven into a narrower and body, not only without expiring on the spot, narrower compass, till the slaughter commences. but swimming to a considerable distance, and
THE GRIZZLY, MALAY, TIBET, SLOTH, AND POLAR BEARS.
surviving twenty minutes. Although his food is two fine specimens exist in the gardens of the partly roots and vegetable substances, still his | Zoological Society. It is a rough clumsy animal, appetite is ravenous for flesh. He will slay the distinguished by the singular power of protrudhuge and shaggy bison, and drag the body to his ing or contracting the lips, which have great den, there to satiate his appetite, or dig a pit mobility, and are used for reaching or collecting for its reception, as a store of food for another its food, consisting, it is said, of white ants, hoday.
ney, and vegetables, for which it digs. Its claws An animal of this species, distinguished by his are long and powerful ; and with these it excaenormous size and ferocity, once formed an at- vates holes or dens for its retirement. tractive object in the gardens of the Zoological Society; and although he had been in contine- In closing our sketch of this race, we shall prement twenty years in the Tower of London, (to sent our readers with that celebrated species, a the collection of which he formerly belonged,) native of the polar regions, which, on the floating and continued attempts had been made to coax icebergs of a sea where the whale and “ snorting him into a gentler mood, his morose and indomit- sea-horse” flounder, secure from the weapons of able temper remained as unaltered as if he had man, and over interminable wastes of snow, been still at large, surrounded by the savage rocks braves the utmost intensity of cold, and dwells and dark pine-trees of his native region. the stern and savage ruler of a stern and savage
The Bear is often adverted to in the Scriptures, realm. and with great force and beauty. When Saul discouraged David from the combat with the POLAR BEAR. (Ursus maritimus.) (See EngravPhilistine, David, in reply, informed the monarch ing, No.11.) The accounts of older navigators are that he had encountered and slain a Bear which full of the marvellous and extravagant with reravaged his father's fold, and, with a feeling of gard to the dimensions and ferocity of this anitrue piety, he ascribes his success, not to his own mal; but after every allowance for the magnifyprowess and courage, but to God alone, who, as ing effects of fear and novelty, the Polar Bear is he had delivered him out of the paw of the Bear, a tremendous and formidable beast.
Its average would, he trusted, deliver him out of the hand length, when full grown, appears to vary from of the Philistine. Confiding in that God whose six feet to seven; there are, however, instances protection he had experienced, and which he on record of a much greater magnitude; for openly acknowledges, he goes forth, not in his example, the specimen in the British Muown strength, but in the assurance of faith, and seum, brought home by Captain Ross from his conquers. And so must the Christian. The northern expedition, measures seven feet eight Bear is a rugged and powerful adversary; so are inches; and its weight, after losing, it is calcuthe enemies with whom the Christian has to lated, thirty pounds of blood, was eleven hundred contend ; and in the outset of his pilgrimage, as and thirty-one pounds: and another individual if in trial, he will be called to numerous conflicts : is described by Captain Lyon as measuring eight he is just emerging from the world, and the feet seven inches and a half, its weight being world will not let him go without a struggle. sixteen hundred pounds. Sin will also endeavour to retain him with a The first and most striking character of the murderous gripe, temptations will beset him, and Polar Bear, which distinguishes it to the eye of his own passions will league against him; but the non-scientific observer, is its colour, which through God he will overcome all : and then, is of a uniform white, with a tinge of straw coshould future trials come, or other and severer lour more or less prevailing. In its figure, though conflicts await him, looking back upon the past, the limbs have the massive thickness peculiar to he will be able to say, as David when about to its race, there may be easily traced striking meet the Philistine champion, “ The Lord hath distinction, referable, no doubt, to its almost aquadelivered me out of the paw of the lion and the tic mode of life. The contour of the body is Bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this elongated; the head flattened, with a straight Philistine.”
profile; the muzzle broad, but the mouth pecuThe young should especially remember the de- liarly small. The neck, which forms a most restruction of the forty-two 'profane youths of markable feature, is continued twice as long and Bethel, by the two she Bears. They mocked the as thick, if not thicker, than the head, which is prophet of God, and so insulted the Most High, thus thrown out far from the shoulders, so as to who thus punished their daring crime, 2 Kings give it a poking air. The paws are of huge diii. 23.
mensions, and covered on the under side with The Persian monarchy is figured as a Bear, coarse hair, whence it derives security in walking (Dan. vii. 5,) rough, shapeless, savage, and vo- over the smooth and slippery ice. The fur is racious.
long and woolly, except about the head and
neck, but of fine texture, and considerable value. India produces several species of Bear, as the On the inhospitable shores where the Polar MALAY, TIBET, etc., agreeing with the rest of Bear resides there are no forests to shelter him the tribe in general habits, but of less size, with in their recesses ; he makes the margin of the short close fur, and claws remarkably long and sea or the craggy iceberg his home, and digs curved, which, in conjunction with a lighter his lair in the snows of ages. His habitat may form of body, enable them to climb with greater be considered as bounded by the arctic circle, befacility.
low which he does not willingly pass; the north
ern and western winds, however, often drift From the mountains of India is also brought numbers on floating islands of ice to the coast of the Sloth BEAR, (Prochilus labiatus,) of which Siberia and the shores of Nova Zembla. On