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LALL KIGHTS RESERVED.) I HER…

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THE WAR

ITIBET MISSION

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NATURE KOTES. j

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NATURE KOTES. j ROOK BUILDERS. These little builders do their work solidly, and it is still going on. They labour at the bottom of the deep sea, which though it was once thought to be devoid of life, is now found to be a populous empire, thronged with active life and strange forms. By means of dredging-bags specimens are brought from a depth of three miles, and they report the bottom of the sea all alive-a sticky mud, composed of little balls of gelatinous flesh. Under the microscope it is also found to be full of their minute shells, which form chalk. Thus even the crayons we use in drawing are museums of natural history. The Laurentian hills are the work of these little builders. FRUIT TREE BLOSSOMS. When flowering fruit trees are grown out of doors, and branches are cut at intervals for decora- tive purposes indoors, it is always better to place them in opaque vessels. A good reason for this cannot at present be given, says the County Gentleman," but the fact remains that branches of flowering fruit trees cut in the orthodox way to place in vases last twice as long in a metal or china receptacle as they do in a glass one. SINGS WHILE SWIMMING. One of the prettiest companions of the angler in early spring is the dipper, or water-ouzel, as lip, is called in books, though the almost universal name for the bird in the North is the water-crow." At this time it is in full song, and very pretty the notes are. Part of the song is rather like that of the wren, but at the conclusion of its performance it utters several notes almost as rich (says the County Gentleman") as those of the nightingale. It can fly under water, as well as run along the bottom, and it can also float and swim. It some- times swims when singing, and is the only bird which does so. THE UNSHELLED ORAB. Professor Miall, lecturing at the Royal Institu- tion in London on the transformations of animals, took as typical examples the crab and the bar- nacle. Till quite recent times, he said, it was not suspected that these sober crustaceans enjoyed a preliminary existence as free sea-rovers. The crab in its swimming trim had long been known to zoology as the zoea when by accident it came in a transition stage under the eye of a naturalist. The motive for the trans- formation, Professor Miall said, was obvious. On no part of the earth's surface is competition so keen as in the shallow sea, and nowhere are the dangers to which an unprotected animal is exposed so great. If it is to browse there in security the crab must put on armour. THE BIOGRAPHY OF A BARNACLE. The life history of the barnacle is most interest- ing. It has two states of existence as a swimming creature before it settles down for good. When in due time it runs its head against a solid object a sort of cement exudes from its long feelers, and in a moment its free existence is at an end. Pro- fessor Miall has described infascin ating detail the changes which the new mode of life entails. No longer necessary, the head degenerates, while the middle part of the body develops and becomes the centre of life. And so the barnacle shows itself to be a true crustacean and free of the reproach, under which it remained so long, of being merely a kind of mollusc. THE OrTER AND HIS ENEMIES. The evasive silence and nocturnal habits of most "mammals" in Britain cause them, no doubt (says a writer in the "Daily Graphic") to be overlooked and neglected, and we should all pro- bably be surprised to discover how unsuspectedly numerous, in some parts of the country, such creatures as the badger and the polecat, supposed to be approaching extinction, still remain. The otter, again, manifestly keeps up its numbers in most of its haunts, and is always ready to colonise new waters where circumstances permit. In some small streams they reappear every spring almost as regularly as the swallows, and are as regularly killed by the gamekeepers. For the otter has now almost as bad a reputation in game preserves and fowlyards as the stoat or fox, while in the trout stream he has a sphere of "mischief" all his own. here seems, too, to be some understood connec- tion between a village inn-parlour and a stuffed otter in a glass case; so the beasts chances of establishing itself in new water is usually small. IN THE HEIGHTS OF TIBET. An article upon the route of the Tibet Mission, by the special correspondent of the Times," contains an interesting record of temperatures and conditions of life at high altitudes. The mission has necessitated the continued exposure of a very large number of untried men to life at altitudes ranging between 10,000ft; and 15,700ft., and the general results are of considerable value. The lowest temperature reached on the route has been-26deg. F. at Chuggia, on the Tnng-la, which was, however, only an encampment. Of actual nightly exposure to cold of men and animals Tuna probably holds the record with — 17deg, F. ButPharihas repeatedly reached— deg.F., and Kamparah; nine miles dis- tance from Phari, might—if continual registration had been possible there—show a lower figure than either. The normal height minimum is probably 10deg. F. for 15,000it. warming to 7deg. F. for 10,000ft. Mountain sickness has been closely observed by the medical men accompanying the mission. Indigestion has been common on account of the eating of imperfectly-cooked food. At 15,000ft. water boils at a temperature about 3Cdeg. F. lower than at sea-level, and the normal amount of cooking is therefore quite inadequate. At 15,000ft. it is almost impossible to boil rice pro- perly. Dal-the common red lentil of India-affords a curious example of the difficulty of cooking at high elevations. Of the live different kinds of dal supplied to the troops—Mussoor, Urad, Arhar, Moong, and Chenna—only the first is capable of being cooked at all heights above 10,000ft. It is difficult to make the native understand these aberrations of gastrology, and a great deal of insufficient cooking has been the natural result. MEERKATS AT THE ZOC- A corner of the beavers' enclosure in the gardens of the Zoological Society of London has been set apart for those interesting little South African creatures, the meerkats. These animals, known indifferently as suricates, belong to the civet family, which includes hot only the true civets, but the genets, paradoxures, and ichneumons. This species is small, of slender build, and has a tail about half as long as its body. The colour of its soft and rather long fur is grizzled, and the hinder part of the back is transversely marked with black stripes. The new cage is divided into two compartments, and is so constructed that the animals can burrow in the siiidy soil. ARTFUL RATS. How do you think a rat managed to transport a big potato to his home ? Lying on his back, he. placed the potato on his breast and held it there with his paws, while his mate dragged him along by the tail like a sledge until they came to a hole in the floor. Down this hole the potato was rolled, and the rats went tumbling after! However, we must not do the rats an injustice. There is no doubt that in many cases they behave very kindly one to another. Here is a pleasing example of such affection. A poor blind old rat has acquired a great liking for cod-liver oil (doesn't this prove that they are sensible beings as well as thievish, and cunning, and kind ?)—a fondness which had probably grown upon him before he lost his sight. Of course he was unable without help to gratify this taste of his, but a young rat, pitying his forlorn state, used to lead him to the oil-flasks. Now, when a rat wants anything out of a bottle, he does not knock the vessel over and break it; that would be clumsy and No; he simply slips his tail into the liquid and then licks,his tail. Well, when the young condtictor arrived at the cod-liver oil, he dipped bit tail into the bottle, and allowed his ▼eoen&lg friend to liok the oil off. This done, the ea&r4i«ii carefully conveyed his bHnd charge back £ » his lodging. This little dodge WM repeated opes