Изображения страниц

statoblasts, closely resembling Allman's figure of Plumatella emarginata; the other was unlike any figure in that gentleman's monograph.

According to Dr. Fritz Müller ("Archiv fur Naturgesch." 1860, p. 312), there exists in some of the marine members of this group a colonial nervous system, in addition to the individual nervous system alluded to above. By means of this colonial system the movements of the general body are controlled. It is quite probable that careful microscopic examination may result in the discovery of a similar organization in Cristatella, and other fresh-water species.


PLATE XIII.-Figs. 1 and 2. Plan of a Polyzoon: (1) exserted, (2) retracted. Fig. 1. a, mouth and tentacles; b, alimentary canal; c, anus; d, nervous ganglion; e, investing sac; f, f', reproductive organs; g, retractor muscle.

Fig. 3. Cristatella Mucedo.

Fig. 4. Plan of an Ascidian Tunicate. a, triple investing sac; g, respiratory apparatus; n, mouth; o, œsophagus; p, stomach; q, intestine; r, anus; u, nervous ganglion; v, heart.

Fig. 5. Plan of a Fresh-water Polyzoon, showing homologous parts with Fig. 4. For explanation, see Fig. 1. Figs. 1, 2, 4, 5, after Allman. PLATE XIV-a, Plumatella repens, attached to a stone (natural size); b, statoblast of ditto; c, ditto of P. fruticosa; d, ditto of Cristatella; e, ditto of Fredericella Sultana; (all magnified).


Translated by the Editor.

[ocr errors]

THE HE title of this Journal has induced me to lay before its readers a few observations on an interesting subject in natural history, the treatment of which might perhaps be deemed too popular for any of the scientific periodicals which have higher pretensions than it puts forth to erudition and abstruse investigations; and I trust that these remarks may be the means of calling more general attention to the history of that noblest of creatures, the Lion, than it has hitherto enjoyed in this country.

My observations possess, at least, one advantage,—not an unimportant one in these book-making days,—namely, that of originality for they are not merely a narrative of what others have seen, or a repetition of what my predecessors have written, but are the results of my own personal experience. My knowledge of the lion's natural history has been acquired in those wilds of which he is the sovereign ruler. I have met him face to face as he approached the encampments of the unfortunate Arabs in search of his nightly meal, have tracked him to his lair on his return from his depredations.

These adventures I have described elsewhere, in a form more suitable for the general reader ;* but it is now my intention, as far as the limited space allotted to me will admit, to recall a little of the more solid information which I have obtained during my hazardous expeditions, for the benefit of those who read rather for instruction than for amusement.

Let me first mention, that the result of my observations has led me to conclude that the race of lions inhabiting the northern portions of the continent of Africa is superior to those which are met with in the western and central parts of that continent.

Whether this superiority be inherent,-that is to say, an original quality of the animal,-or whether it is due to the conditions by which the creature is surrounded, I shall not venture to say; but shall be content to substantiate the truth of this assertion by illustrations of its superiority, leaving it to the consideration of better-informed naturalists to fathom the cause.

"Le Tueur de Lions." Paris: J. Vermot.

The western, central, and eastern portions of Africa have each a variety of lion. The first, which is found between the borders of the Great Desert as its northern limit, and down to the lower basin of the Niger in the south, is a maneless creature, of an elongated form, and whose height is about that of the tiger, with which animal, moreover, it has many points of resemblance.

This variety is a hunter; that is to say, it procures its nourishment by chasing game. For this purpose its instinct teaches it to combine with its congeners in the pursuit of its prey, which is effected under the direction of a veteran leader, who allots to all their proper posts and duties: to the most active and best armed the places of danger, whilst the lionesses and young ones are detached for the purpose of beating the game. By combined action,-nay, it might almost be said by a strategic movement,-the lionesses and their young forward in an unbroken rank; and, just as in a battue, they drive before them all the animals within their circuit in the direction of the hunting party, their movements being accompanied with a loud clamour. When the prey arrives at the passages guarded by the elders, these spring upon and slaughter it with great rapidity, and probably with little suffering to the victims. Should, however, a rhinoceros or an adult elephant form a portion of the quarry, it is either allowed to pass unmolested, or is brought to the ground by the united attack of several lions. The battue ended, each hunter takes his share of the booty; not, however, without some slight privileges in favour of superior might, which in the lion-world also (in this instance, at least,) constitutes right.

When, for example, the chase has been successful, and a great number of animals are slain, no disputes arise concerning the division of prey; but should it happen that there is not sufficient to satisfy the appetites of all, the arrival of the lionesses is awaited, and these are first served: then comes the turn of the males; and lastly, upon the remnants-should there be any-the young people are permitted to regale themselves.

Sometimes, when he grows old, the lion of this district turns misanthrope, and flees from the company of his congeners. In such cases, not being able to take a part in the battues of the community, nor to provide himself with sufficient nourishment by hunting the animals of the forest alone, he becomes a maneater. Taking up his quarters in the thick brushwood bordering on some village, he seizes the natives in their passage to the fields; and it is not at all uncommon for the traveller to find villages in the basin of the Gambia and Niger abandoned by their inhabitants from this cause.

In these habits, then, and in its elongated shape, the mane.

less lion of Africa manifests a resemblance to the tiger, and more especially to that of Bengal.

The lion of Central Africa with which we are acquainted appears to belong to the same variety found even as far south as the immediate vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope. It is adorned with a beautiful mane, the disposition of which, falling as it does far over the animal's forehead, detracts greatly from its appearance. This defect, and the elongated form of its jaws, deprive the animal of that majestic air which characterizes its congener in Northern Africa.

The third variety appertains to Eastern Abyssinia, Sennaar, and Upper Egypt, and is distinguishable by its form and colour. With a body thick-set as that of a bull-dog, and fierce and sullen as the latter, this lion would be dangerous in the extreme if it were endowed with strength proportionate to its other qualities. Fortunately for the natives, however, he is small, and possesses nothing formidable beyond his red covering and his vicious disposition.

Dismissing these three varieties of the lion with the foregoing brief comments upon their appearance and habits, I shall now ask my readers to accompany me over the orthodox geographical route across the Great Desert to Northern Africa-a journey more easily accomplished in the reader's company, and on paper, than over the burning sands and under the tropical sun of Africa. This expedition will enable us to make the assertion that the "Lion of the Desert," which has been so frequently described, has no actual existence; and it requires but little consideration to show why the animal is not to be found in that locality. Three things are indispensable to its existence-fresh meat, pure water, and shade for repose. Now, from Timbuctoo to the first oases which are found north of Soudan, there is a distance of not less than 400 or 500 miles to be traversed without the existence of this threefold condition of life for the lion; and the country east and west along its whole length is of precisely the same character. It will therefore be easily understood that no lion could penetrate into, much less establish itself permanently in these desert regions. Beyond this sea of sand, however, and the few fertile islands, the verdant oases which are scattered over it, we come to the great chain of Mount Atlas, which, with its magnificent ramifications, is nobly peopled with denizens of the animal kingdom. Here it is that we find the African lion par excellence—the lion of Numidia.

Kazouïni and Dameïri, two Arab authors anterior to Buffon, have described the lion of Northern Africa in glowing colours. Their account commences with the titles of nobility of these large-headed sovereigns of the wilds. He is the "great," the

generous," the "magnificent," the "formidable," the "conqueror," the "irresistible," the "gallant," the "superb," the "invincible," the "devourer," the "courageous," the "intrepid," the "roaring," and eighty-nine other attributes in his praise, being but one short of the number which they accord to the Almighty.

Dameïri subsequently describes a conflict in which he took part between a host of Arab warriors and a single lion. In this affray more than one hundred men and as many horses were placed hors de combat, and the lion, pierced with wounds, remained master of the battle-field, the king having given way before so noble and courageous an animal.

This high estimate of the Numidian lion, published many centuries back, accords with the facts which I have collected, and my own observations at the present day.

I have, however, found in Numidia, not one, but three wellmarked varieties of lion; and I presume it is in honour of the most formidable of these that the Arab chronicler has recited his narrative. The three varieties of this interesting family known to me are the fawn-coloured, the grey, and the black. Amongst the Arabs they are known as "el Asfar," "el Zarzouri," "el Adraa." The fawn-coloured and grey varieties are bold animals, far superior in external form and muscular strength to their other African congeners, and also dissimilar in their habits.

These great lords hold the principle that to hunt game is a fit employment only for poachers and peasants; and, after the manner of certain barons of the middle ages, they deem it more dignified and convenient to support themselves at the expense of their vassals. Every man, therefore, who stands possessed of a herd of oxen, a flock of sheep, or of a few horses, is, in their opinion, amenable to the levy of tithe and tribute.

Starting upon this axiom (still uncontroverted), the lion just referred to awakes at sunset, and coolly proceeds to some rock in the vicinity of his lair to perform his toilet; and from whence, looking down upon his territories, he can survey the whole surrounding plain, and perceive the various flocks and herds returning to the fold.

When night has fairly set in, he rises to his feet, roars for the first time, and swaying his enormous head from side to side as he proceeds, makes his way with measured pace towards the encampment which is to furnish him his supper.

The very roar of the lion in its wild state, which is a music that even the most fastidious would deem worthy of being listened to, is truly magnificent. His first note, when he commences to roar, is a low sound emitted from the chest and nostrils; but it is audible from a great distance. This is a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »