THE HUMAN SIDE OF ANIMALS
BY ROYAL DIXON AUTHOR OF "THE HUMAN SIDE OF PLANTS," "THE HUMAN SIDE OF TREES,"
"THE HUMAN SIDE OF BIRDS," ETC.
WITH TWO ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLORS AND THIRTY-TWO IN BLACK-AND-WHITE
NEW YORK FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1918, by FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages
MADE IN U. S. A.
TO MARCELLUS E. FOSTER WHO BELIEVED
The author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to his fellow-naturalist and friend, Mr. Franklyn Everett Fitch, for carefully reading the entire manuscript and making many scholarly and valuable criticisms and corrections.
I ANIMALS THAT PRACTISE CAMOUFLAGE 1
II ANIMAL MUSICIANS 18
III ANIMALS AT PLAY 32
IV ARMOUR-BEARING AND MAIL-CLAD ANIMALS 46
V MINERS AND EXCAVATORS 61
VI ANIMAL MATHEMATICIANS 88
VII THE LANGUAGE OF ANIMALS 99
VIII IN THEIR BOUDOIRS, HOSPITALS AND CHURCHES 120
IX SELF-DEFENCE AND HOME-GOVERNMENT 130
X ARCHITECTS, ENGINEERS, AND HOUSE-BUILDERS 150
XI FOOD CONSERVERS 170
XII TOURISTS AND SIGHT-SEERS 181
XIII ANIMAL SCAVENGERS AND CRIMINALS 199
XIV AS THE ALLIES OF MAN 210
XV THE FUTURE LIFE OF ANIMALS 234
Recreation is as common among animals as it is among children (in Colours) Frontispiece
The Indians claim that the mother bison forced her calf to roll often in a puddle of red clay, so that it might be indistinguishable against its clay background 6
The zebra is one of the cleverest of camouflagers. The black-and-white stripes of his body give the effect of sunlight passing through bushes 7
Monkeys are the most musical of all animals. When they congregate for "concerts," as some of the tribes do, the air is filled with weird strains of monkey-music 20
Cats, unlike dogs, are very fond of music. And it has been proved that their music-sense can be developed to a remarkable degree 21
A happy family of polar bears. The young cubs wrestle and tumble, as playfully as two puppies. This play has much to do with their physical and mental development 34
Dryptosaurus. The prehistoric animals, too, undoubtedly had their play time, with games and "setting up" exercises 35
The mother opossum is never happier than when she has her little ones playing hide-and-seek over her back 38
This young fox came from his home in the woods daily to play with a young fox-terrier. He is now resting after a romp 39
Naosaurus and Dimetrodon, two extinct armour-bearers who should have been well able to protect themselves 50
An armour-bearer of prehistoric times whose shield was an effective protection against enemy horns 51
To the polar bear the ice and snow of the Far North means warmth and protection. The mother bear digs herself into a snowbank, where she lives quite comfortably throughout the winter 84
The sharp claws of the ground squirrel are efficacious tools in digging his cosy underground burrow 85
The coyote can readily distinguish whether a herd of sheep is guarded by one or more dogs, and will plan his attack accordingly 94
The zebu, the sacred bull of India, in spite of its domestication, has an agile body and a quick, alert mind 95
Roosevelt's Colobus. These horse-tailed monkeys chatter together in a language exclusively their own, yet they seem to have no difficulty in making themselves understood by other monkey-tribes 112
A tamed deer of Texas, whose constant companion and playmate was a rabbit dog. Between the two, there developed, necessarily, a common language 113
Water-loving animals, like the beavers, seemingly take great pride in their toilets. Their fur is always sleek and clean 122
Great forest pigs of Central Africa. Like the common domesticated hogs, they will seek a clay bath to heal their wounds 123
The Rocky Mountain goat has many means of defence, not the least of which is his agility in climbing to inaccessible places 134
Wild boars are among the most ferocious of animals. By means of their great strength alone they are well able to defend themselves 135
Brontosaurus. The animals that seemed best equipped to defend themselves are the ones that, thousands of years ago, became extinct 144
This prehistoric monster was equipped not only with a pair of strong horns but with a shield back of them as well 145
The beaver is the greatest of all animal architects. His skill is equalled only by his patience (in Colours) 158
The skunk mother tries to keep on hand a good supply of such delicacies as frogs and toads, so that her young may never go hungry 172
The porcupine and the hedgehog have a unique method of collecting food for their young. After shaking down berries or grapes, they roll in them, then hurry home with the food attached to their quills 173
The black bear is not one of the great migrating animals. The thickness of his coat must therefore change with the seasons 188
Rabbits seem to have a well-devised system in their road-building, running their paths in and out of underbrush in a truly ingenious manner 189
The mongoose, a scavenger of the worst type, feeding on rats and mice and snakes, and even poultry 202
Diplodocus. The prehistoric animals, also, undoubtedly had their scavengers and criminals 203
The Esquimo-dog is man's greatest friend in the Far North 218
Chipmunks are among the most easily tamed of man's wild friends, and they even seem fond of human companionship 219
Men cruelly take the lives of these denizens of the wildwood, rejoicing in their slaughter, but the animal soul they cannot kill 244
Two pals. There is between man and dog a kinship of spirit that cannot be denied 245
"And in the lion or the frog— In all the life of moor or fen— In ass and peacock, stork and dog, He read similitudes of men."
More and more science is being taught in a new way. More and more men are beginning to discard the lumber of the brain's workshop to get at real facts, real conclusions. Laboratories, experiments, tables, classifications are all very vital and all very necessary but sometimes their net result is only to befog and confuse. Occasionally it becomes important for us to cast aside all dogmatic restraints and approach the wonders of life from a new angle and with the untrammelled spirit of a little child.
In this book I have attempted to bring together many old and new observations which tend to show the human-like qualities of animals. The treatment is neither formal nor scholastic, in fact I do not always remain within the logical confines of the title. My sole purpose is to make the reader self-active, observative, free from hide-bound prejudice, and reborn as a participant in the wonderful experiences of life which fill the universe. I hope to lead him into a new wonderland of truth, beauty and love, a land where his heart as well as his eyes will be opened.
In attempting to understand the animals I have used a method a great deal like that of the village boy, who when questioned as to how he located the stray horse for which a reward of twenty dollars had been offered, replied, "I just thought what I would do if I were a horse and where I would go—and there I went and found him." In some such way I have tried to think why animals do certain things, I have studied them in many places and under all conditions, and those acts of theirs which, if performed by children, would come under the head of wisdom and intelligence, I have classified as such.
Life is one throughout. The love that fills a mother's heart when she sees her first-born babe, is also felt by the mother bear, only in a different way, when she sees her baby cubs playing before her humble cave dwelling. The sorrow that is felt by the human heart when a beloved one dies is experienced in only a little less degree by an African ape when his mate is shot dead by a Christian missionary. The grandmother sheep that watches her numerous little lamb grandchildren on the hillside, while their mothers are away grazing, is just as mindful of their care as any human grandparent could be. One drop of water is like the ocean; and love is love.
The trouble with science is that too often it leaves out love. If you agree that we cannot treat men like machines, why should we put animals in that class? Why should we fall into the colossal ignorance and conceit of cataloging every human-like action of animals under the word "instinct"? Man delights in thinking of himself as only a little lower than the angels. Then why should he not consider the animals as only a little lower than himself? The poet has truly said that "the beast is the mirror of man as man is the mirror of God." Man had to battle with animals for untold ages before he domesticated and made servants of them. He is just beginning to learn that they were not created solely to furnish material for sermons, nor to serve mankind, but that they also have an existence, a life of their own.
Man has long preached this doctrine that he is not an animal, but a kinsman of the gods. For this reason, he has claimed dominion over animal creation and a right to assert that dominion without restraint. This anthropocentric conceit is the same thing that causes one nation to think it should rule the world, that the sun and moon were made only for the laudable purpose of giving light unto a chosen few, and that young lambs playing on a grassy hillside, near a cool spring, are just so much mutton allowed to wander over man's domain until its flavour is improved.
It is time to remove the barriers, once believed impassable, which man's egotism has used as a screen to separate him from his lower brothers. Our physical bodies are very similar to theirs except that ours are almost always much inferior. Merely because we have a superior intellect which enables us to rule and enslave the animals, shall we deny them all intellect and all feeling? In the words of that remarkable naturalist, William J. Long, "To call a thing intelligence in one creature and reflex action in another, or to speak of the same thing as love or kindness in one and blind impulse in the other, is to be blinder ourselves than the impulse which is supposed to govern animals. Until, therefore, we have some new chemistry that will ignore atoms and the atomic law, and some new psychology that ignores animal intelligence altogether, or regards it as under a radically different law from our own, we must apply what we know of ourselves and our own motives to the smaller and weaker lives that are in some distant way akin to our own."
It is possible to explain away all the marvellous things the animals do, but after you have finished, there will still remain something over and above, which quite defies all mechanistic interpretation. An old war horse, for instance, lives over and over his battles in his dreams. He neighs and paws, just as he did in real battle; and cavalrymen tell us that they can sometimes understand from their horses when they are dreaming just what command they are trying to obey. This is only one of the myriads of animal phenomena which man does not understand. If you doubt it, try to explain the striking phenomena of luminescence, hybridization, of eels surviving desiccation for fourteen years, post-matrimonial cannibalism, Nature's vast chain of unities, the suicide of lemmings, why water animals cannot get wet, transparency of animals, why the horned toad shoots a stream of blood from his eye when angry. If you are able to explain these things to humanity, you will be classed second only to Solomon. Yet the average scientist explains them away, with the ignorance and loquaciousness of a fisher hag.
By a thorough application of psychological principles, it is possible to show that man himself is merely a machine to be explained in terms of neurones and nervous impulses, heredity and environment and reactions to outside stimuli. But who is there who does not believe that there is more to a man than that?
Animals have demonstrated long ago that they not only have as many talents as human beings, but that under the influence of the same environment, they form the same kinds of combinations to defend themselves against enemies; to shelter themselves against heat and cold; to build homes; to lay up a supply of food for the hard seasons. In fact, all through the ages man has been imitating the animals in burrowing through the earth, penetrating the waters, and now, at last, flying through the air.
When a skunk bites through the brains of frogs, paralysing but not killing them, in order that he may store them away in his nursery-pantry so that his babes may have fresh food; when a mole decapitates earth-worms for the same reason and stores them near the cold surface of the ground so that the heads will not regrow, as they would under normal conditions, only a deeply prejudiced man can claim that no elements of intelligence have been employed.
There are also numerous signs, sounds and motions by which animals communicate with each other, though to man these symbols of language may not always be understandable. Dogs give barks indicating surprise, pleasure and all other emotions. Cows will bellow for days when mourning for their dead. The mother bear will bury her dead cub and silently guard its grave for weeks to prevent its being desecrated. The mother sheep will bleat most pitifully when her lamb strays away. Foxes utter expressive cries which their children know full well. The chamois, when frightened, whistle; they might be termed the policemen of the animal world. The sentinel will continue a long, drawn-out whistle, as long as he can without taking a breath. He then stops for a brief moment, looks in all directions, and begins blowing again. If the danger comes too near, he scampers away.
In their ability to take care of their wounded bodies, in their reading of the weather and in all forms of woodcraft, animals undoubtedly possess superhuman powers. Even squirrels can prophesy an unusually long and severe winter and thus make adequate preparations. Some animals act as both barometers and thermometers. It is claimed that while frogs remain yellow, only fair weather may be expected, but if their colour changes to brown, ill weather is coming.
There is no limit to the marvellous things animals do. Elephants, for example, carry leafy palms in their trunks to shade themselves from the hot sun. The ape or baboon who puts a stone in the open oyster to prevent it from closing, or lifts stones to crack nuts, or beats his fellows with sticks, or throws heavy cocoanuts from trees upon his enemies, or builds a fire in the forest, shows more than a glimmer of intelligence. In the sly fox that puts out fish heads to bait hawks, or suddenly plunges in the water and immerses himself to escape hunters, or holds a branch of a bush over his head and actually runs with it to hide himself; in the wolverine who catches deer by dropping moss, and suddenly springing upon them and clawing their eyes out; in the bear, who, as told in the account of Cook's third voyage, "rolls down pieces of rock to crush stags; in the rat when he leads his blind brother with a stick" is actual reasoning. Indeed, there is nothing which man makes with all his ingenious use of tools and instruments, of which some suggestion may not be seen in animal creation.
Great thinkers of all ages are not wanting who believe that animals have a portion of that same reason which is the pride of man. Montaigne admitted that they had both thought and reason, and Pope believed that even a cat may consider a man made for his service. Humboldt, Helvitius, Darwin and Smellie claimed that animals act as a definite result of actual reasoning. Lord Brougham pertinently observes, "I know not why so much unwillingness should be shown by some excellent philosophers to allow intelligent faculties and a share of reason to the lower animals, as if our own superiority was not quite sufficiently established to leave all jealousy out of view by the immeasurably higher place which we occupy in the scale of being."
From the facts enumerated in this book I find that animals are possessed of love, hate, joy, grief, courage, revenge, pain, pleasure, want and satisfaction—that all things that go to make up man's life are also found in them. In the attempt to establish this thesis I have been led mentally and physically into some of Nature's most fascinating highways and hedges, where I have had many occasions to wonder and adore. I will be happy if I have at least added something to the depth of love and appreciation with which most men look upon the animal world.
New York, April, 1918.
THE HUMAN SIDE OF ANIMALS
ANIMALS THAT PRACTISE CAMOUFLAGE
"She was a gordian shape of dazzling line, Vermilion-spotted, golden, green and blue; Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard, Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd, And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed, Dissolved, or brighter shone, or interwreathed Their lustres with the glorious tapestries...."
—KEATS (on Lamia, the snake).
The art of concealment or camouflage is one of the newest and most highly developed techniques of modern warfare. But the animals have been masters of it for ages. The lives of most of them are passed in constant conflict. Those which have enemies from which they cannot escape by rapidity of motion must be able to hide or disguise themselves. Those which hunt for a living must be able to approach their prey without unnecessary noise or attention to themselves. It is very remarkable how Nature helps the wild creatures to disguise themselves by colouring them with various shades and tints best calculated to enable them to escape enemies or to entrap prey.
The animals of each locality are usually coloured according to their habitat, but good reasons make some exceptions advisable. Many of the most striking examples of this protective resemblance among animals are the result of their very intimate association with the surrounding flora and natural scenery. There is no part of a tree, including flowers, fruits, bark and roots, that is not in some way copied and imitated by these clever creatures. Often this imitation is astonishing in its faithfulness of detail. Bunches of cocoanuts are portrayed by sleeping monkeys, while even the leaves are copied by certain tree-toads, and many flowers are represented by monkeys and lizards. The winding roots of huge trees are copied by snakes that twist themselves together at the foot of the tree.
In the art of camouflage—an art which affects the form, colour, and attitude of animals—Nature has worked along two different roads. One is easy and direct, the other circuitous and difficult. The easy way is that of protective resemblance pure and simple, where the animal's colour, form, or attitude becomes like that of its habitat. In which case the animal becomes one with its environment and thus is enabled to go about unnoticed by its enemies or by its prey. The other way is that of bluff, and it includes all inoffensive animals which are capable of assuming attitudes and colours that terrify and frighten. The colours in some cases are really of warning pattern, yet they cannot be considered mimetic unless they are thought to resemble the patterns of some extinct model of which we know nothing; and since they are not found in present-day animals with unpleasant qualities, they are not, strictly speaking, warning colours.
Desert animals are in most cases desert-coloured. The lion, for example, is almost invisible when crouched among the rocks and streams of the African wastes. Antelopes are tinted like the landscape over which they roam, while the camel seems actually to blend with the desert sands. The kangaroos of Australia at a little distance seem to disappear into the soil of their respective localities, while the cat of the Pampas accurately reflects his surroundings in his fur.
The tiger is made so invisible by his wonderful colour that, when he crouches in the bright sunlight amid the tall brown grass, it is almost impossible to see him. But the zebra and the giraffe are the kings of all camouflagers! So deceptive are the large blotch-spots of the giraffe and his weird head and horns, like scrubby limbs, that his concealment is perfect. Even the cleverest natives often mistake a herd of giraffes for a clump of trees. The camouflage of zebras is equally deceptive. Drummond says that he once found himself in a forest, looking at what he thought to be a lone zebra, when to his astonishment he suddenly realised that he was facing an entire herd which were invisible until they became frightened and moved. Evidently the zebra is well aware that the black-and-white stripes of his coat take away the sense of solid body, and that the two colours blend into a light gray, and thus at close range the effect is that of rays of sunlight passing through bushes.
The arctic animals, with few exceptions, are remarkable for imitating their surroundings; their colour of white blends perfectly with the snow around them. The polar bear is the only white bear, and his home is always among the snow and ice. The arctic fox, alpine hare, and ermine change to white in winter only, because during the other seasons white would be too conspicuous. The American arctic hare is always white because he always lives among the white expanses of the Far North. Both foxes and stoats are carnivorous and feed upon ptarmigan and hares, and they must be protectively coloured that they may catch their prey. On the other hand, Nature aids the prey by providing them with colours that enable them to escape the attention of their enemies.
The young of many of the arctic animals are covered with fluffy white hair, so that while they are too young to swim they may lie with safety upon the ground and escape the attention of polar bears; but in the antarctic regions, where there are few enemies to fear, the young seals, for instance, are exactly the colour of their parents.
The most remarkable exception of mimetic colouring among the animals of the polar regions is the sable. Throughout the long Siberian winter he retains his coat of rich brown fur. His habits, however, are such that he does not need the protection of colour, for he is so active that he can easily catch wild birds, and he can also subsist upon wild berries. The woodchuck of North America retains his coat of dark-brown fur throughout the long, cold winters. The matter of his obtaining food, however, is easy, for he lives in burrows, near streams where he can catch fish and small animals that live in or near the water.
A number of the old-school naturalists believed that when an animal's colouring assumed the snowy-white coat of its arctic surroundings, this was due to the natural tendency on the part of its hair and fur to assume the colourings and tints of their habitat. This, however, is absolutely false; and no better proof of it can be offered than the case of the arctic musk-ox, who is far more polar in his haunts than even the polar bear, and is therefore exposed to the whitening influence of the wintry regions more than the bear. Yet he never turns white, but is always brown. The only enemy of this northern-dweller is the arctic wolf, and against this enemy he is protected by powerful hoofs, thick hair, and immense horns. He does not need to conceal himself, and therefore does not simulate the colour of his surroundings.
Mimetic resemblances are worked out with great difficulty, except in such cases as the nocturnal animals, which simply become one with their surroundings. Mice, rats, moles, and bats wear overcoats that are very inconspicuous, and when suddenly approached they appear almost invisible. Some of the North American Indians claimed that buffaloes made their calves wallow in the red clay to prevent them from being seen when they were lying down in the red soil.
The kinds of protection from these mimetic resemblances are many and varied: the lion, because of his sandy-colouring, is able to conceal himself by merely crouching down upon the desert sands; the striped tiger hides among the tufts of grass and bamboos of the tropics, the stripes of his body so blending with the vertical stems as to prevent even the natives from seeing him in this position. The kudu, one of the handsomest of the antelopes, is a remarkable animal in several ways. His camouflage is so perfect that it gives him magnificent courage. With his spiral horns, white face, and striped coat tinted in pale blue, he is almost invisible when hiding in a thicket. The perfect harmony of his horns with the twisted vines and branches, and the white colourings with blue tints in the reflected sunlight conceal him entirely.
The snow-leopard, which inhabits Central Asia, is stony-grey, with large annular spots to match the rocks among which he lives. This colouration conceals him from the sheep, upon which he preys; while the spotted and blotchy pattern of the so-called clouded tiger, and the peculiarly-barred skin of the ocelot, imitate the rugged bark of trees, upon which these animals live.
One of the most unusual and skilled mimics is the Indian sloth, whose colour pattern and unique eclipsing effects seem almost incredible to those unfamiliar with the real facts. His home is in the trees, and he has a deep, orange-coloured spot on his back, which would make him very conspicuous if seen out of his home surroundings. But he is very clever, and clings to the moss-draped trees, where the effect of the orange-coloured spot is exactly like the scar on the tree, while his hair resembles the withered moss so strikingly that even naturalists are deceived.
Henry Drummond must have known the animal world rather well when he remarked that "Carlisle in his blackest visions of 'shams and humbugs' among humanity never saw anything so finished in hypocrisy as the naturalist now finds in every tropical forest. There are to be seen creatures, not singly, but in tens of thousands, whose every appearance, down to the minutest spot and wrinkle, is an affront to truth, whose every attitude is a pose for a purpose, and whose whole life is a sustained lie. Before these masterpieces of deception the most ingenious of human impositions are vulgar and transparent. Fraud is not only the great rule of life in a tropical forest, but the one condition of it."
Many of the larger cats live in trees, and most of them have spotted or oscillated skins, which aid them in hiding among foliage plants. The puma who wears a brown coat is an exception, but it must be remembered that he does not need the kind of coat his fellow friends wear. He clings so closely to the body of a tree while waiting for his prey as to be almost invisible.
This phenomenon is true throughout the animal world. Everywhere does Nature aid in escape and capture. Only those skilled in the ways of the wild fully realise how conspicuous amidst foliage, for instance, would be a uniform colouration. A parti-coloured pattern is extremely deceptive and thus protective, and for this reason one seldom sees in Nature a background of one colour; and since the large majority of animals need concealment, it is necessary for them to be clothed in patterns that vary.
These variations are especially noticeable in young animals, and furnish them with a mantle that is practically invisible to predatory enemies during the time they are left unprotected by their parents. These protective mantles often differ strikingly in pattern and colouration from those of their parents, and indicate that the young animals present the colouration and pattern of their remote forbears. It might even be said that "the skins of the fathers are thrust upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generation!" In fact, it is quite probable that they give through this varying colouration the "life-history" of their family.
In all hoofed animals—antelope, deer, horses—the protective colouration is also adapted to habitat and environment. Most deer belong to the forest, carefully avoiding the open deserts and staying near water. They live chiefly in the jungle or scrub, and are usually spotted with red and white in such a way as to be almost invisible to a casual observer; some, however, that live in the very shady places are uniformly dark so as to harmonise with their surroundings. The wild horses and asses of Central Asia are dun-coloured—corresponding exactly to their sandy habitat.
The Shakesperian conception of the human world as a stage may be paralleled in the animal world. Animals, like human beings, have all a definite role to play in the drama of life. Each is given certain equipment in form, colour, voice, demeanour, ambitions, desires, and natural habitat. Some are given much, others but little. Many have succeeded well in the art of camouflage while endeavouring to make a success in life. This success has brought the desired opportunity of mating, rearing young, bequeathing to them their special gifts and living in ease and comfort.
One of the most successful and striking cases of protective colouration in young animals is found in wild swine. Here there is longitudinal striping which marks them from head to tail in broad white bands, over a background of reddish dark brown. The tapirs have a most unique form of marking. It is similar in the young of the South American and Malayan species. Their bodies are exquisitely marked in snow-white bars. At their extremities these bars are broken up into small dots which tend to overlap each other. During the daytime these young animals seek the shade of the bushes and as the spots of sunlight fall upon the ground they appear so nearly one with their environment as to pass unnoticed by their enemies. The adults, however, vary greatly one from another in colouration. The American species is self-coloured, while the Malayan has the most unique pattern known to the animal world. The fore-quarters, the head, and the hind-legs are black, while the rest of the body from the shoulders backwards is of a dirt-white colour.
It has been observed by all students of Nature that bold and gaudy animals usually have means of defending themselves that make them very disagreeable to their enemies. They either have poisonous fangs, sharp spines, ferocious claws, or disagreeable odours. There are still others that escape destruction because of the bad company with which they are associated by their enemies.
The reptiles offer us many good examples of mimicry. Most arboreal lizards wear the colour of the leaves upon which they feed; the same is true of the whip-snakes and the tiny green tree-frogs. A striking example of successful camouflage is found in the case of a North American frog whose home is on lichen-covered rocks and walls, which he so closely imitates in colour and pattern as to pass unnoticed so long as he remains quiet. I have seen an immense frog, whose home was in a damp cave, with large green and black spots over his body precisely like the spots on the sides of his home.
Author Note: The word "mimicry" as used here implies a particular kind of resemblance only, a resemblance in external appearance, never internal, a resemblance that deceives. It does not imply voluntary imitation. Both the words "mimicry" and "imitation" are used to imply outward likeness. The object of the outward likeness or resemblance is to cause a harmless or unprotected animal to be mistaken for the dangerous one which he oftentimes imitates; or to aid the unprotected animal in escaping unnoticed among the surroundings he may simulate.
A splendid example of pure bluff is shown in the case of the harmless Australian lizard, known scientifically under the name of chlamydosaurus kingii. When he is undisturbed he seems perfectly inoffensive, but when he becomes angry, he becomes a veritable fiend-like reptile. In this condition he stands up on his hind legs, opens his gaping mouth, showing the most terrible teeth, which, by the way, have never been known to bite anything. Besides this forbidding display he further adds to his terrible appearance by raising the most extraordinary frill which is exquisitely decorated in grey, yellow, scarlet, and blue. This he uses like an umbrella, and if in this way he does not succeed in frightening away his enemy, he rushes at him, and lashes him with his saw-like tail. Even dogs are terrified at such camouflage and leave the successful bluffer alone.
In all parts of the tropics are tree-snakes that lie concealed among the boughs and shrubs. Most of them are green, and some have richly coloured bands around their bodies which look not unlike gaily coloured flowers, and which, no doubt, attract flower-seeking insects and birds. Among these may be mentioned the deadly-poisonous snakes of the genus elaps of South America. They are so brilliantly provided with bright red and black bands trimmed with yellow rings that it is not uncommon for a plant collector to attempt to pick them up for rare orchids!
Wherever these snakes are found, are also found a number of perfectly harmless snakes, absolutely unlike the dangerous ones in habit and life, yet coloured precisely the same. The elaps fulvius, for example, a deadly venomous snake of Guatemala, has a body trimmed in simple black bands on a coral-red ground, and in the same country and always with him is found a quite harmless snake, which is coloured and banded in the same identical manner. The terrible and much-feared elaps lemnicatus has the peculiar black bands divided into divisions of three by narrow yellow rings, thus exactly mimicking a harmless snake, the pliocerus elapoides, both of which live in Mexico. Presumably, the deadly variety assumes the colouring of the harmless kind in order to deceive intended victims as to his ferocity.
Surely this is sufficient evidence that colouration and pattern-design is a useful camouflage device of the great struggle for existence. And it is safe to assert that any animal that has enemies and still does not resort to protective colouration or mimicry in some form is entirely able to protect itself either by its size, strength, ferocity, or by resorting to safety in numbers. Elephants and rhinoceroses, for example, are too powerful to be molested when grown, except in the rarest cases, and are furthermore thoroughly capable of protecting their young. Hippopotamuses are protected by their immense heads, and are capable of defending their young from crocodiles even when in the water.
The bison and buffalo, which were once so powerful on the plains of North America, were protected by their gregarious habits, which terrorised their enemies—the wolves. Their nurseries were a feature of their wisdom. These were circular pens where the tall grass was tramped down by expectant mothers for the protection of their young. This natural nursery was protected from the inside by sentinels who went round and round the pen constantly guarding the young not only from the attack of wolves but also from venturing forth alone too early into the open unprotected plains. In a similar way the snow-pens of the moose of the Far North serve to protect them from the hungry hordes of wolves of which they live in constant danger. This indicates that the annihilation of the bison and buffalo was due, not to lack of wisdom, but to man's inhumanity; for, taking advantage of their nurseries, the men crouched near and concealing themselves in the grass killed not only the mothers for food but even the young in their savage sport.
The large majority of monkeys are protectively coloured with some shade of brown or grey, with specially marked faces. Entire packs of Ceylonese species will, at the slightest alarm, become invisible by crouching on a palm-tree. One of the most strikingly coloured African monkeys is jet black with a white bushy tail, and a face surrounded by a white ring, or mantle of long silky hair. He thus simulates so strikingly the hanging white lichens upon the trees that he is rarely seen by his enemies.
A book might be written upon the various ways that animals, when closely associated with other animals or human beings, imitate them. Darwin says that "two species of wolves, which had been reared by dogs, learned to bark, as does sometimes the jackall," and it is well known that certain dogs, when reared by cats, imitate their habits, even to the licking of their feet and the washing of their faces. If a mongrel dog associates with a trained dog for any period of time it is remarkable the progress he will make. For this same reason young dogs are carried on hunting trips with trained dogs that they may learn by imitation the art of hunting.
In the whole realm of Nature there is nothing more wonderful than this matter of protective colouration. Animals do not monopolise the art. It extends through the whole world of living creatures. The fact that individual animals have no voluntary control over their own colour is eloquent testimony as to the existence of mysterious life forces and racial evolutions which are still far beyond the grasp of man's understanding. To see a tiny chameleon adapt his colouring to his environment, be it red, green, or yellow, in the twinkling of an eye, is to have seen an argument for God Himself.
"Nay, what is Nature's self, But an endless strife towards Music, euphony, rhyme?"
The great thinkers of the age believe that the world is one marvellous blending of innumerable and varied voices. This unison of sound forms the great music of the spheres, which the poets and philosophers have written so much about. Even from a purely scientific point of view, there is no denying that this music exists. Aviators tell us that when they listen from a distance to the myriads of noises and sounds that arise over a great city, these are all apparently lost in a modulated hum precisely like the vibrations of an immense tuning-fork, and appearing as but a single tone. Thus the immense noise going from our world is musically digested into one tone, and the aviator soaring above the earth hears only the one sound—the music of the spheres.
The deep appreciation that animals have for music is becoming a generally known fact among those who have studied them closely. Every one must admit that there is much truth in the old saying that "music hath charms to soothe the savage breast." Music is composed of vibrations, which act with great power upon the nervous system of men and animals alike. Each is affected according to his particular physical and mental development.
Professor Tarchanoff has made a careful study of the influence of music upon men and animals. He has demonstrated, by means of a machine which carefully registers the various activities of the hands and fingers, that when the hands are so tired and fatigued that they cannot make any marks except a straight line on the cylinder which registers the movements, music will so stimulate the nerves as to cause all fatigue to disappear. And as soon as the fingers again touch the cylinder, they begin to draw lines of various kinds and heights, thus proving that the music had rested the fingers and placed them under control. Various kinds of music were used: that of a melancholy nature had precisely the opposite effect to that of a lively, cheerful character; the nerves of the hands could either be contracted or expanded according to the nature of the music.
Like all real scientists, Professor Tarchanoff does not claim to give any positive explanation of these facts. He believes, however, that the voluntary muscles act in the same relation to the music as the heart—that is, that cheerful, happy music affects the excito-motor nerves, sets up a vibration in those nerves which produces cheer and good feeling; while sad, morbid music plays along the depressant nerves and produces sadness and depression.
In view of these facts, it is easy to see how animals, with their nervous temperaments and ready response to outside stimuli, are greatly influenced by various kinds of music. It is scientifically recognised that music tends to increase the elimination of carbonic acid and increases not only the consumption of oxygen, but even the activities of the skin. There is no doubt that good music at meal time aids the digestion.
Cats have a species of unbeautiful music all their own, generally produced at late hours of the night on the house tops, garden walls, and in the alleys of our dwellings. Miss Cat's songs are far too chromatic to be appreciated by human ears; as a result her concertos and solos are rarely spoken of by human critics. However, Nature does sometimes produce a Tetrazzini, Alice Neilson, or Caruso, in the form of a cat, which really delights in harmonious combinations of sound. I know, for instance, of a cat called "Nordica" owned by Presson Miller, who apparently takes the greatest delight in hearing good vocal and instrumental music. Another well-educated musical cat belongs to a friend who plays a guitar. This cat delights in touching the strings with his dainty, soft paws, and springs with delight as the notes are produced.
The Animal World speaks of five musical cats, which were carried to various parts of the world and exhibited as "bell-ringers," and their owner made a fortune out of their concerts. Five bells were suspended from a hoop, which hung above the stage, and to each bell was attached a small rope. At a given signal, each cat would seize a bell and give it a pull. This was done with such perfect time and spirit that one might well believe it was the work of human musicians and not of cats.
Cows are responsive to certain kinds of music. A funeral march makes them sad, and ragtime so disturbs them that they give but little milk. The newspapers claim that Charles W. Ward, who owns a ranch near Eureka, California, says that the right kind of music will increase the production of milk, and that he uses a phonograph in the dairy barn.
A friend, who has travelled much, tells the story of a musical cow. He, in company with two other friends, was coming up a river in a small boat singing. Just as they turned a bend, they saw a small brown cow, suckling her calf, along with several other cows in a nearby pasture. The cow seemed so fascinated with the music that she plunged into the water and waded up to her head trying to reach the boat. As they rowed along, she ran up and down the bank, cutting capers in a most astonishing manner and lowing and bellowing in testimony of her delight in the music. She would leap, skip, roll on the grass, paw up the earth, like an angry bull, and chase off like a playful kitten, always with a low plaintive bellow as a final farewell. These friends often rowed up the river just to see if the musical cow was there, and she always greeted them in the usual appreciative manner.
Lions and tigers are proverbially fond of music. Professional trainers tell us that these animals, when tamed, will not do their stunts without the accompaniment of music. The story is told of a group of tigers which recently refused to perform, because the musicians, while the performance was going on, went on a strike. At once when the music ceased, the animals returned to their respective seats and no amount of encouragement would induce them to continue their performance. No amount of threats would induce them to work without music. The trainer dared not punish them too severely, yet he feared that if they were not forced to perform, they might continue to strike. But such was not the case, for on the morrow when the musicians returned they acted as never before.
Sheep, both tame and wild, are exceedingly fond of music, and the shepherds of Scotland have used it with their sheep for ages. When the shepherd plays upon his flute or bagpipe, they gather around him and listen apparently with great satisfaction; when the music ceases, they wander out to feed, and in the evening he leads them home by the single strains of his flute.
Circus horses are not only fond of music, but are partial to certain tunes, and demand that these be played while they are doing their turn. If for any reason the band changes the tune during a performance, they immediately refuse to go on with their stunts.
The original fountain of all music was based on the various voices and sounds of animals—and each musical instrument was originally devised to imitate these sounds. For all instruments—the bass drum, flute, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, violin, and even pipe organ—an animal may be mentioned that owns the fundamental tones in its voice, and which man has imitated. Castanets, for example, were imitations of the rattlesnakes; the first musical instruments of any savage tribe of men are made so as to represent the voices of the chief animals of that particular locality.
Every animal of the higher order, with the exception of a few mute dogs that belong to very hot or cold climates, is possessed of some sort of musical tone, expressive of pain or joy, and by means of which he can express certain emotions. Darwin claimed that the voice of the gibbon, while extremely loud, was very musical; and Waterhouse said that this musician sang the scale with considerable accuracy, at least sufficiently well for a trained violinist to accompany him.
Often when dogs hear music they howl, or attempt to sing. Some show a decided preference for certain kinds of music, and actually try to imitate it. Gross tells of a friend of his who had a dog with which he often gave performances. The dog would accompany his master, when he sang in falsetto, with howls that were unmistakably attempts at singing, and which readily adapted themselves to the pitch of the tone. This was a musical accomplishment of which he was very proud.
On a subject of which so little is known, there are, of course, diverse opinions. Scheitlin believed that music is actually disagreeable to a dog, but he says that it may be questioned whether or not the dog does not in some way accompany it. And Romanes, the great animal authority, thought the same thing. He had a terrier, which accompanied him when he sang, and actually succeeded in following the prolonged notes of the human voice with a certain approximation to unison. Dr. Higgins, a musician, claimed that his large mastiff could sing to the accompaniment of the organ.
Alix gives such positive examples that they are really marvellous: "Pere Pardies cites the case of two dogs that had been taught to sing, one of them taking a part with his master. Pierquin de Gembloux also speaks of a poodle that could run the scale in tune and sing very agreeably a fine composition of Mozart's My Heart It Sings at Eve." All the scientists in Paris, according to the same authority, went to see the dog belonging to Dr. Bennati, and hear it sing the scale, which it could do perfectly.
Monkeys and apes most nearly approximate human musicians. In central Africa these animal tribes have musical centres where they congregate regularly for "concerts." Prof. Richard S. Garner, the noted authority on apes and monkeys, believes that the time has already come for the establishment of a school for their education. He would have the courses beginning with a kindergarten and advancing through as many grades as the students required. Prof. Garner furthermore believes that we have little understanding of the gorilla, and points out that these animals have a very happy and harmonious home life, the father being highly domestic and delighting in the company of his wife and children. It is not uncommon to find five or six generations in a certain district of the jungle.
Their near kin, the chimpanzees, are equally clannish, but more musical. They come down from the branches of the trees, seating themselves on the dry leaves and assembling like an orchestra. After all are ready, they begin beating the leaves with their hands, at first very slowly, like the quiet prelude to a symphony, and gradually increasing in tempo until the grand crescendo is reached. Then, as if by the direction of an invisible leader, the music suddenly ceases. To deny that this is to them a real concert would lead us into extreme absurdities. In this connection it is interesting to note that when a baby is expected in the village, all music ceases until after its birth, when they again resume their periodic musical festivals. Hensel verifies this observation, and tells us of having seen apes come from their shelter in the early morning and congregate for a musical concert. "They repair," he says, "to the shelter of some gigantic monarch of the forest whose limbs offer facilities for walking exercises. The head of the family appropriates one of these branches and advances along it seriously, with elevated tail, while the others group themselves about him. Soon he gives forth soft single notes, as the lion likes to do when he tests the capacity of his lungs. This sound, which seems to be made by drawing the breath in and out, becomes deeper and in more rapid succession as the excitement of the singer increases. At last, when the highest pitch is reached, the intervals cease and the sound becomes a continuous roar, and at this point all the others, male and female, join in, and for fully ten seconds at a time the awful chorus sounds through the quiet forest. At the close the leader begins again with the detached sounds."
Perhaps the most remarkable evidence of animals showing a comprehensive intelligence of musical pitch is demonstrated by cavalry horses. That they thoroughly understand it is clearly demonstrated by the fact that they will obey the calls of the bugle for cavalry evolutions without a moment's hesitation and with no suggestion from outside sources. These bugle calls are produced by a combination of four notes, each of a different pitch, and it is rarer to find a horse making a mistake in the musical orders given than it is for their masters.
Rats and mice have a decided liking for music, as is attested by the fact that they appear as uninvited guests and also come as near the performer as possible. Mice, one would believe, love church music, for they often build their nests in pipe organs, thus being able to rear their children in both a musical and religious atmosphere! There is more truth than imagination in the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, which illustrates how they respond to the simple charms of music.
Even donkeys betray tendencies toward musical efforts, and seem to be aroused by music at least temporarily to a higher mental plane than Balaam was inclined to ascribe to his wise ass. Not all of them sing equally well, but in Arizona the donkey is known as the "desert canary." If you were to spend a few glorious days in the Hopi village of Araibi, you would hear through the still, silent night their long nasal bray or song, and you would be convinced that the term is quite appropriate. You may not exactly like the tune, but you will concede that they sing!
Society is just awakening to the joy and the significance of community art. This is everywhere indicated by the great growing group of people who come together for a common music, either as a chorus or an orchestra or both. But in this field man has not yet attained such unity of communal effort as have the frogs. In the great swamps of the world myriads of them gather from miles around, conscious of one purpose, and by a marvellous understanding and co-operation create for themselves a symphony with beauties and harmonies of its own, and such as to stand unrivalled in man's musical world. In the great chorus are voices from the lowest bass of the croaking bullfrog, squatting in the marshes, to the myriads of tiny green tree tenors, between which are millions of altos, contraltos, sopranos, coloraturas and other voices not yet in our musical vocabulary. These are accompanied by all the sounds of our orchestra and innumerable others of such delicate shades and gradations as to defy the ear of man. If we listen to one of these concerts, we will quickly recognise the tones of every familiar instrument, such as the drum, pipe, horn, trombone, oboe, piccolo, 'cello, and violin. The greatest of these musical festivals directly precedes the mating season, and is a dramatic instance of a manifestation of an inner rhythm which corresponds to an external periodicity.
Among the oldest traditions of the Eastern world are those of snake-charming by means of music. I have long been interested in this strange phenomenon of Nature, and in company with a brilliant young violinist visited a zoological park recently, and after securing permission from the head keeper, entered the snake-house. The violinist began by playing a few most sympathetic chords, first delicate and soft, then sad, then gay, slow or tremulous. Near us, coiled in his immense cage, was a large cobra—the snake which all legend claims is most easily influenced by music. Almost immediately after the music began, the cobra raised himself in a listening attitude, steadily gazed at us as though he were viewing the future, spread his immense hood, and slowly began to shake his head from side to side, as if he were trying to keep time to the music. As soon as the music would change, his attitude changed accordingly. Only after the music had ceased did he resume his normal position.
The Indians agree that under the influence of various musical instruments, especially bagpipes, snake-charmers are able to get the snakes to come out from their homes among the old rocks and walls, and when they appear they seem perfectly dazed so that they can be easily captured.
It is not well to have any kind of musical instrument played, when in a forest at night where there are dangerous snakes, lest they come to hear it. Snake-hunters always carry with them some kind of musical instrument, depending upon the kind of snakes they wish to capture. It seems that all are not equally fascinated by it. I have experimented with little effect upon a large rattler; it may have been that he was deaf. But he gave little evidence of being interested.
We need not feel humiliated, then, for our animal kinspeople with their primitive music: we were monkeys, and before them we were reptiles, birds, fishes, even worms. But that was ages ago, and we have grown up and become better musicians. Evolution has chosen us as its favourites and given us every advantage in the struggle up the ladder of life. Our musical rivals of yesterday are as chorus people compared to Metropolitan Opera stars, with us. On this earth we reign supreme, we have conquered the earth, air, and water, annihilating time and distance. What more is there for us to learn of Nature's secrets? Only an understanding of our lower brothers, the animals.
ANIMALS AT PLAY
_"... _About them frisking, played All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase In wood or wilderness, forest or den; Sporting the lion romped, and in his paw Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards, Gambled before them; the unwieldy elephant, To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed His light proboscis."_
That "one touch of Nature makes the whole world kin" is shown in no clearer way than by the games and play of animals. Recreation is as common among them as it is among our own children; and they seem always to be artistic and even skilled in their play. Young goats and lambs skip, jump, run races, throw flips in the air, and gambol; calves have interesting frolics; young colts and mules have biting and kicking games; bears wrestle and tumble; puppies delight in biting and tussling; while kittens chase everything from spools of thread to their own tails.
But animal children grow up, and stop playing to a certain extent as age advances, precisely as human children do. Each settles down into a more practical condition of life. They dislike to have their games and play disturbed, and if the mother dog growls because her playful son has continuously tumbled over her while she was sleeping, or the cat-mother slaps her kitten because he plays with her tail—it is a display of the same kind of emotion that prompts a human mother to rebuke her child in the nursery for making too much noise, or for throwing toys out of the window. Animals, like ourselves, feel every sensation of joy, happiness, surprise, disappointment, love, hope, ambition, and through their youthful games an entire index of their future lives may be obtained.
This play has much to do with the physical and mental development of the animals; and it is strange indeed that so few writers have considered the subject of play in the animal world. Most of those who have noticed the subject at all, drop it with a few remarks, to the effect that it is "highly amusing," or "very funny," or "unbelievable," or "so like the play of children," without even a word of explanation of the whys and wherefores of it.
All animals have some kinds of play. Plutarch speaks of a trained elephant that often practised her steps when she thought no one was looking. No one who has ever visited a zoological park and seen the crowded monkey and baboon cages can have failed to note the wonderful play of these animals. Seals seem never to tire of chasing one another through the water; while even the clumsy hippopotamuses have diving games.
Kittens begin to tumble and play before they are two weeks old. They will roll and toss a ball, hunting it from the dark corners, lay in silent wait for each other, and suddenly spring upon an unsuspecting fellow-cat-baby's back, just as they will do later in life, when seeking their prey. I have seen them play with a catnip mouse for hours at a time, just as the mother cat plays with a real mouse.
Brehm says that this is noticed in their earliest kittenhood, and that the mother cat encourages it in all ways possible, even to becoming a child with her children from love of them, as a human mother does in the nursery with her child. The mother cat begins the play by slowly moving her tail. Gesner considered her tail as the indicator of her moods. The kittens, while they may not understand what this means, are greatly excited by the movement, their eyes sparkle, their ears stand erect, and slowly one after another clutches after the moving tail. Suddenly, one springs over the mother's back, another grabs at her feet, while a third playfully slaps her in the face with his tiny, soft, cushioned paw. She, patiently and mother-like, lovingly submits to all this treatment, as it is only play.
Many scientists have claimed that this so-called instinct should not be classed as real play. However, such an authority as Darwin thought it was play, and Scheitlin said that the cat let the mouse loose many times in order that she might have the experience of catching it each time. No mercy is shown the helpless mouse, which is the same to her as the toy ball—in the same way as a real beetle and a toy beetle are the same to a small child. Evidently the cat does not play with the mouse for the delight in torturing it, but purely for practice that she may become skilled in the art of catching it. The cat also exercises in springing movements, and by studying the mouse's probable movements, learns to acquire a knowledge and skill in mouse-ways otherwise impossible.
The same cruel practice is found among leopards, panthers, and wild cats. Brehm verifies the observation that many members of the cat family practise torturing their victims in a horrible manner, pretending to liberate them, until the poor creatures at last die from their wounds. Lenz tells of a marten that would play with its prey for hours when not hungry. Especially was this true when marmots chanced to be his victims, and around these he would leap and spring, dealing them terrific blows first with one paw and then with the other. When hungry, however, he proceeded differently, devouring them at once from teeth to tail.
All the cat family, it seems, are fond of human companionship, and take almost as much delight in playing with human beings as with their own kind. This is especially true of the puma. Brehm tells of a tame one that delighted in hiding at the approach of his master and springing out unexpectedly, just as the lion does. Hudson claimed that the puma, with the exception of the monkey, was possibly the most playful of all animals. Travellers tell many interesting tales of the play of these animals, especially on the Pampas of South America.
Gross relates the experience of an Englishman who was compelled to spend the night outdoors on the Pampas of the La Plata. At about nine o'clock, on a bright moonlight night, he saw four pumas coming toward him, two adult animals and two young ones. He well knew that these animals would not attack him, so he quietly waited. In a short time they approached him, chasing one another and playing hide-and-seek like little kittens; and finally leaped directly over the man several times. The mother cat would run ahead, calling to the little ones to follow her. But she never disturbed him.
At times an animal at play with another uses the same tactics and methods employed on its prey. Of course, the value of such practice for the tasks of later-life is evident. Dogs play hide-and-seek, tag, and various chasing games for hours without resting. Among the negroes of the South it is not uncommon to see a hound playing hide-and-seek with the little pickaninnies. I have seen a hound peeping in and out among a pile of brush to discover where the little ones were hiding, and at the first sight of a little black face, he would lay low in anticipation of a playful spring, or a sudden dash-away, with the expectation of being chased by his friends. At times he would suddenly disappear toward his home, and slyly slip around and approach the playground from an opposite direction.
Every one who has owned fox terriers knows how they will crouch in the open grass and remain motionless, with quivering expectation for the other playfellow to arrive, and when the one in ambush sees the other coming he springs toward him, as though he were going to destroy him! And when the two come together, they attempt to seize each other by the necks, as they would do in a real conflict. A wrestle and tussle ensues and when utterly exhausted from this play, the tired dogs, like two fatigued children, run to their homes.
Dogs are fond of playing ball, and will readily bring a ball or stick to their master when he has thrown it. They will also go into the water to bring out sticks that may have been tossed in for amusement. Eugene Zimmerman had a young fox terrier that would set a ball in motion, when there was no one to pitch it for him, by seizing it in his mouth and tossing it up in the air. Monkeys and jaguars will also play ball, and tame bears take great delight in wrestling, playing ball, and fighting mock battles.
Beckmann wonderfully describes the play of a badger, whose only playmate was an exceptionally clever dog, who from his earliest youth had been taught to live with different kinds of animals. "Together they went through a series of gymnastic exercises on pleasant afternoons, and their four-footed friends came from far and near to witness the performance. The essentials of the game were that the badger, roaring and shaking his head like a wild boar, should charge upon the dog, as it stood about fifteen paces off, and strike him in the side with its head; the dog, leaping dexterously entirely over the badger, awaited a second and third attack, and then made his antagonist chase him all round the garden. If the badger managed to snap the dog's hindquarters, an angry tussle ensued, but never resulted in a real fight. If Caspar, the badger, lost his temper, he drew off without turning round, and got up snorting and shaking and with bristling hair, and strutted about like an inflated turkey-cock. After a few moments his hair would smooth down, and with some head-shaking and good-natured grunts the mad play would begin again."
Young animals are strikingly like children in their craving for amusement. A young bear will lie on his back and play with his feet and toes by the hour, while a young pup can have a great game with only a dry bone, or by chasing his shadow on the wall. Rabbits come out in evenings on the sand-hills to play hide-and-seek with their young, and squirrels never weary of this universally popular game. I know of a young fox that used to come from a nearby woods every evening to play with a young fox-terrier. They became great friends and were often seen in the woods together.
A friend who owns a ranch in Texas once raised two young wolves that romped and played with the neighbour's dogs just as if they were dogs themselves. There are other animals, like the weasels, that will also play with strange friends. But they prefer their own kind as playmates. They take the greatest delight in playing with their parents, and nothing is more beautiful or strange than to see several of them playing in a valley on a sunny day. Out pops one little head, with twinkling eyes glancing from side to side, and then as if from nowhere, the little brothers and sisters begin to appear, chasing each other as though they were playing tag. These exercises give them much agility which they will need in later life.
I once owned a tame raccoon, and often kept him chained in the back yard. When he could not find a young chicken or duck to torment, he devised all kinds of schemes to relieve the monotonous hours. He would pile up a number of small stones, and carefully await his chance to fling one into a group of young chickens. He seemed to understand that he was more apt to make a hit when he threw into a crowd than when aiming at a single chick. At other times he would lie on his back, madly waving his tail as though he were signalling for some one to come near. If we chanced to pass by without speaking, he would growl or whine in some way to attract attention. After hours of self-amusement he would lie down as if life were useless, and wait until something or somebody came along to amuse him. His greatest delight was in fishing things out of a pan of water, and he would wash every pebble or plaything that he owned and carefully lay it out to dry. One day he pounced upon a rooster who insulted him by drinking from his water vessel, and plucked a long feather from his tail so quickly that we could hardly realise what had taken place. He then had great fun in attempting to stick the feather in his head or by planting it upright in the ground. Another day, in winter, he broke his chain and made straight for the kitchen, where he found a snug warm place in old Aunt Moriah's kitchen oven. The old negress came to cook dinner and when the raccoon suddenly sprang out of her oven, she vowed, "I'se nevah gwine to cook in dis heah kitchen again; dis place is hoodooed fo' life!"
Once we gave him a pail of hot milk, and it was evidently hotter than we realised; he started to drink it, and suddenly stopped, and in anger grabbed at a very young puppy that was following us, and before we could stop him, dipped the puppy's head into the hot milk. Fortunately, however, the milk was not hot enough to injure the puppy. But the raccoon had taken his revenge out on the little animal, and was evidently satisfied.
It is interesting to note that all animals seem to play games and take exercises that will be especially helpful to them in later life. Badgers, for example, delight in turning somersaults; deer like to jump and leap; foxes and raccoons practise stealing upon one unnoticed; tapirs and crocodiles play in the water as night approaches; mountain goats, sheep, horses and mules run, leap, jump, and play follow-leader. Animals that live in the high mountains practise all kinds of high-jumps, which would be unnecessary if they lived on level ground, but are highly essential in mountainous countries.
Brehm claims that in summer the chamois climb up to the everlasting snow and take much delight in playing in it. They will drop into a crouching position on the top of a very steep mountain, work their four legs with a swimming motion, and slide down on the surface of the snow for a hundred and fifty metres. As they slide down the snow flies over them like a fine powder. As soon as they reach the bottom, they jump to their feet, and slowly climb up the mountain-side again, while many of their comrades silently stand by and watch their coasting approvingly, first one and then another joining in the sport, like human coasters would do. It is not uncommon for a number of them to tumble together at the bottom, like romping children. This coasting is very remarkable, and through skill in it, no doubt, the lives of many chamois are saved from frightful accidents later in life. Alix tells us that dogs of mountainous countries are also often skilled in the art of coasting.
Our tame fawn used to delight in playing with our old rabbit-dog, Nimrod. They were the best of friends, and the fawn would begin the chase by approaching Nimrod as though he were going to stamp him into the earth, and then suddenly leaping quickly and safely over the dog, he would run away. At this signal for a game, if Nimrod was in the mood, he chased the fawn, who would delight in jumping over fences and hedges and waiting for poor Nimrod to get over or under just in time to see his playmate leap to the other side.
Wolves, if taken when quite young, have a most unique way of showing their affection at the appearance of their master. They will spring into the air, tumbling over, with whinnying cries of delight, falling to the ground they pretend to bite and snap at everything, until their friend finally comes very near them.
Prairie dogs are fond of all kinds of races and jumping games; they will each appear at the entrance to their underground homes, and will play a simple form of prisoners'-base for long periods of time. With defiant calls at each other, one finally approaches the home of the other, which is a signal for the third to attempt to slip into the entrance to the second one's home before he can return. Many join in the game and it usually ends in a regular roll-and-tumble for their respective homes.
Perhaps the strangest of all forms of play is that in which young duckbills indulge. They are slightly like puppies in their methods of roll-and-tumble, but the way in which they grab one another with their strange bills, as they strike with their fore-paws is quite original. They seem to have an unusually good disposition, and if one little playfellow falls in the game, and desires to scratch himself before arising, the other patiently waits until he arises, when the mock battle begins anew.
Antelopes have chase and marching games which are beautiful. They seem rapidly to follow an invisible leader over the plains, suddenly forming themselves into pairs, fours, eights, sixteens, until the entire herd thus form one line, like an army of soldiers marching. While this game is progressing, certain of their number stand as sentinels and spectators, and the slightest approach of an enemy is the signal for all play to cease, and for them to disappear over the plains.
When we witness these abundant evidences of the need and prevalence of recreation in the animal world, we are confronted with one more argument for the existence of real mental and moral faculties among our four-footed friends.
ARMOUR-BEARING AND MAIL-CLAD ANIMALS
"The spectacle of Nature is always new, for she is always renewing the spectators. Life is her most exquisite invention; and death is her expert contrivance to get plenty of life."
—GOETHE'S Aphorisms (trans. by HUXLEY).
Civilised nations throughout the world at different times in their country's history have protected their soldiers and warriors with coats of armour or mail. This practice prevailed extensively during the Middle Ages; but it has almost entirely disappeared. The German breastplates of to-day are an attempted revival. The coats of mail of the ancient warriors underwent an evolutionary process, until they were indeed brought to a high pitch of perfection and beauty. It was at this period that they were abandoned as too burdensome to be of practical value.
This protective form of armour has been used by animals since time immemorial, and was copied by man from them; and among the various forms of it are found examples of every kind of armour used in the human world, from the rough leather shields of hide which the savages use, to the ornamental suits of mail, like those used by the knights of the fifteenth century. Indeed, some animals have carried the art of protection to such an extent that they are veritable movable forts, or "tanks!"
In the early part of the earth's history, animals needed greater protection from powerful enemies than they do at present, and they developed a coat of mail, exquisite in appearance and even more efficient than that used by man. Yet, like mankind, they have found newer and more efficient methods of protection, and as a result of changed conditions and enemies, have discarded, at least most of them, their coats of mail and armour. Most of those who have held to the old-fashioned ways of fighting and facing the world, have, like unprogressive peoples, perished; and to-day only a few armour-bearing animals exist. These classes, however, have never been very large, and consist of two small families; the pangolins and the armadillos. The former live in southern Asia and Africa, while the latter are inhabitants of South America.
These animals have a great advantage over man, for their armour grows upon their bodies and is a part of them, while man must put his on and take it off and continually replace the worn-out parts. Again, while there are only three distinct kinds of human armour—the chain, scale and plate armour—there are many kinds of animal armour. What wonderful opportunities exist to-day in the great museums for studying the different kinds of animal armour, for those who are interested!
The scaly ant-eater, who is at home in Africa and Asia, is one of the most unusual and original types of mail-clad animals. He might be compared to a wolf in outline, covered from head to tail in huge, horny plates, which look like immense finger-nails overlapping each other. His head sharpens out into a long, narrow snout, which contains a sticky, worm-like tongue, and this he can use with great rapidity and effect in raiding an ant-hill. He drops his tongue over the entrance, and the ants attempt to crawl over it and are glued to it. He walks in a very unique way by going upon the backs of his feet. This preserves his wonderful claws for bursting open ants' nests, as his chief food consists of these tiny insects and their eggs.
A cousin of the scaly ant-eater, the great ant-eater of South America, has the same general habits of his near-kinsman. He has an immense bushy tail with which some naturalists claim he sweeps up ants. This is not true, however; he uses his tail, when he lies down, to cover himself. The hairs of the tail part in such a manner as to fall over the body like a thatched roof, protecting it from rain and storm alike.
A part of the head and under portion of this ant-eater's body are unprotected, and this is why he rolls himself up like a ball when danger is near. In this position, his scales stand out in such a way as to make a complete row of sharp points, as uninviting as the wires on a barbed wire fence. Yet, it is claimed that certain of his enemies, like the leopard, know his one great weakness—a terror of being wet—and often make him uncoil by rolling him into the water. His coat of hard covering is really compact masses of hardened hair drawn out to sharp dagger points, and might be likened to pine cones endued with power. Through ages of experience, the scaly ant-eater has learned that even his powerful coat of protection is not altogether a success in life's battles, and from time to time his armour has been made lighter and lighter, and because he has been so slow in making the necessary changes, he is to-day very scarce, and able only by the greatest caution to drag out a dull existence as a nocturnal and burrowing animal. It would seem that with such powerful protection as he originally had, he would have outlived the puny armadillos, but his fast disappearance proves that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.
Among the animals which have discarded their old-fashioned coats of mail, and have successfully protected themselves against all enemies, may be mentioned the frogs, newts, and their kinspeople, the reptiles. These latter, the learned, with their delight in multiplying terms, have classed as amphibians. During the period when the coal forests were growing over what we now know as England, there were innumerable amphibians, and even to-day their petrified footmarks are found in sandstone. The underside of their chests were covered with large bony plates, and in some cases the rest of the body was covered with scale-like bones. Yet, all the newts and frogs of to-day have wisely discarded the old coats of armour used by their forefathers.
The armadillo has an armour of quite another kind, notwithstanding the fact that pangolins and armadillos belong to the same great family, and each eats ants. Their plates of armour, or shields, have nothing at all to do with the hair, nor do they have anything to do with the exo-skeleton; they are formed of bone material, which appears in the true skin in the form of tiny shields, and each shield is itself covered with a hard plate which grows in the outer skin. The actual formation of these shields differs largely in the various species of armadillo.
It is well to remember that the pangolins and armadillos are the last survivors of a great and ancient family of armour-bearers. Many of their remote ancestors have been found in the rocks and hills of South America, and all of their representatives of to-day are small animals—the last of a doomed race—creatures of yesterday. The glyptodon is known to have been more than eleven feet in length, and his near-kinsman, the chlamydothere, was even larger. He was nearly the size of our present-day rhinoceros. These extinct giants carried on their backs huge domes of bony plates, that must have rivalled our much-feared tanks, of trench war fame. One would think they were invulnerable, yet the glyptodon and the chlamydothere, with many other equally well protected creatures, have long ago disappeared from the earth, but how and why nobody knows. This total disappearance of these marvellously protected giants, which seemed capable of defending themselves against any and all kinds of enemies that might have arisen, is one of the strangest and most unsolvable problems of science.
Another mail-clad animal of importance is the armadillo of the tropical and temperate regions of South America. He is nocturnal in habits, sleeping in his underground home during the day, and coming out at night to seek for food. This underground home is rather large, and the nursery is well protected from enemies by its location. In it the mother armadillo rears her young until they are large enough to care for themselves.
All species of the armadillos are powerful burrowers, and they are well equipped for their tunnelling in the earth with strong fore limbs. They feed upon all kinds of insects and animal substances. It is claimed that the giant armadillo is a veritable grave-robber and sometimes digs up dead bodies for the purpose of eating them.
These animals are plentiful upon the savannas of South America, and they feast upon the bodies of dead cattle. So hard are their coats of armour that the Gauchos sharpen their Spanish knives, which they always carry, upon them. Should the armadillo be attacked by a man on horseback, he will burrow so rapidly that only by the quickest movements of the man can he be caught; and if he is, watch out for his terrible claws!
No animal is better protected by nature from its enemies than the pichiciago, whose scientific name is chlamyphorus truncatus. This strange little mantle-bearer wears a coat of mail which is as flexible as the human-made coats of armour of olden times, and he is as safe under its cover, which allows him perfect freedom, as if he were under the ground. He is about the size of the ordinary mole, and his general habits are not unlike those of the mole. He is an underground-dweller, with enormous fore-paws, palm-shaped, upon which are five powerful claws. These he uses to great advantage in digging in the earth for insects and for building his home. He has a small snout, reminding one of that of a pig; while his piercing little eyes are deeply hidden in his fur. He is a native of Chile, and because of his shy nature and subterranean habits is rarely seen.
The most interesting feature about this little creature is the cuirass which so perfectly protects his body. Its formation and arrangement is quite unusual; it appears like a number of squared plates of horn, tightly united to short strips of tape, which are sewed together. The cuirass is not connected with the entire body of the animal, but only on the top of the head and along the spine. It covers the entire back, and when it reaches the tail, turns downward, forming a perfect flap, which protects the hindquarters.
The various species of manis are famed for their powerful coats of armour. They, also, belong to the great group of burrowers, and their coats of mail assume both offensive and defensive characters. These mail-bearers are covered with numerous sharp-edged scales, like miniature horns, which entirely overlap one another, like shingles on a house. They are of great hardness, and form a belt which no animal of their regions can penetrate. A revolver shot will produce not the slightest effect upon the body of this iron-protected animal.
These animals are plentiful in India, and when they are molested, they deliberately wind themselves up, coil their tails over their bodies, and remain in conscious security against the fruitless blows of their enemies, who soon weary of the wounds caused from the prickly scales of impenetrable armour.
Instead of wearing heavy coats of mail, certain animals, such as the hedgehog and porcupine, prefer to wear coats covered with needles and pins. Of course, a coat of spines is used purely for protection. And against the attacks of such enemies as dogs, it proves all-sufficient, but it is a well-known fact that pumas and leopards will kill and eat porcupines at all times, paying small attention to their spines, as is shown by the number which are sometimes found sticking in the body of a porcupine-eating animal.
There are several species of this great spine-bearing family; and many of them, especially the true porcupines and the echidnas, have burrows in the ground and thus have a double means of protecting themselves. But others, such as the hedgehog, depend for their protection upon their ability to roll up into a ball, thus presenting a barbed wire protection. Still others live largely in the trees and seek by other means to protect themselves.
One of the most interesting coats of armour is that worn by the porcupine ant-eater—oft-times erroneously called porcupine or hedgehog. He is a native of Australia, and is a powerful burrower. He is marvellously protected by means of a coat of needles or spines which inflict painful wounds on the dog or other enemy that ventures to attack him. In case of danger, he curls himself up into a ball, and defies any one to come near. Not only does he possess the coat of prickles with which he defends himself, but he also has a large perforated claw or spur on each hind foot through which pours an ill-smelling liquid, and these also aid in protecting him. There are several varieties of porcupines which inhabit Asia, Africa, Southern Europe and America.
When a porcupine wishes to attack an enemy, he rushes at it backwards, and usually leaves the enemy literally covered, like a living pin-cushion, with his spines. These animals have convex skulls, short tails, and live chiefly in the warmer regions of the Old World. Those of America are different in one particular—the soles of their feet are covered with hard, bone-like tubercles, instead of being soft and smooth; there are also a number of hairs that are intermingled with the spines. The Canada porcupine has more hairs than the American, and a shorter and stumpier tail.
Another animal whose methods of defence are by means of his spines, is the hedgehog. His spines do not terminate in sharp points, like those of the porcupine, but end in tiny knobs. These are placed beneath the skin, and are like pins stuck through a cushion. The hedgehog, like the porcupine, rolls himself into a ball when attacked by enemies, and he has the additional ability of throwing himself down a hillside, like a rolling ball, and thus escaping his enemies without injury to himself. It would seem that the hedgehog, rolled into a ball and covered with prickles, would be protected from all enemies. But this is not true, for the clever fox knows just how to make him unroll. This one secret of the hedgehog's weakness very often causes his loss of life. His weakness is a terror of being wet or dropped into water; and when the fox finds him all rolled up, he carefully rolls him into a pond of water and, when he unrolls, quickly drowns him. Notwithstanding the shortness of the hedgehog's spines, he is the most highly specialised of all spine-bearing animals. In the lower order of animals there are spiny mice and spiny rats, and even the horned toad uses his horns as a means of protection against his enemies.
One of the most peculiarly armoured animals is the horned lizard, commonly known as the "horned toad" of America. His body is covered with small spiny scales, while the chisel-shaped head has a circlet of miniature horns. These he uses when attacked by enemies to shield himself against bites and knocks. The Indians claim that if a snake swallows the horned lizard whole, the lizard will immediately work his way through the snake. This would not be without a parallel, however, for it is generally known that box-fishes, when swallowed by sharks, bite their way out!
Nature has been especially kind to horned lizards, and that is the reason there are so many of them. They well know the secret of the Gyges ring, and can put on the garment of invisibility in a very short time. They especially frequent the desert regions of the South and West; and those that dwell in black sandy regions are black; those of red clay regions are red; those of grey regions, grey; those from the variously coloured regions of blue and red are precisely the colour of the earth. But not satisfied with all their protections of armour and camouflage, they actually, when hard-pressed by an enemy, feign death, like an opossum! And if the enemy persists in his attack, and Mr. Lizard cannot escape, as a final effort he spurts tears of blood from his eyes. The Mexicans call him the "sacred toad." The phenomenon of blood-shooting has been explained in various ways, all of which seem equally unsatisfactory. So far it is one of Nature's secrets. Perhaps some day we may understand it.