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Nature volume 31, pages 235236 | Download Citation



LONDON Linnean Society, December 18, 1885.—Sir John Lubbock, Bart., F.R.S., President, in the chair.—The following gentlemen were elected Fellows of the Society:—Liet.-Col. W. R. Lewis, and Messrs. T. B. Blow, H. G. Greenish, A. G. Howard, L. de Niceville, C. B. Plowright, and F. ShrivelL-Mr. H. Ling Roth showed roots of sugar-cane grown in Queensland; the plant appearing to him to possess two sorts, viz. ordinary matted fibrous roots and others of a special kind.—Mr. E. Alf. Heath exhibited a wild cat found dead in a trap in Ben-Armin Deer Forest, Sutherlandshire, where they are still frequently met with.—Mr. W. H. Beeby called attention to examples of bur-reed (Sparganium) obtained at Albury Ponds, Surrey, the plant being quite distinct from the other British species; he proposed for it the name of S. neglectum.—In illustration of ornithological notes, Mr. Trios. E. Gunn showed an interesting series in varied plumage of the somewhat rare British bird, the blue-throated warbler. The examples in question were procured by Mr. G. E. Power at Cley, on the Norfolk coast, in September, 1885. Mr. Gunn also exhibited an immature female little bittern, shot at Broxbourne Bridge, Herts, on October 15 in the same year; as likewise a hybrid between a goldfinch and bullfinch, which possessed the marked characteristics of both parents.—Attention was drawn to Mr. R. Morton Middleton's examples of varieties of Indian corn, (Zea mays, L.) from the United States, Natal, and the borders of the River Danube. The specimens showed marked differences from each other in size, colour, form, and in ornamentation of the seeds.—Mr. Thiselton Dyer exhibited life-size photographs of cones of two species of Encephalartus from South Africa, viz. E. longifolius and E, latifrons, neither hitherto figured in European books. He also showed tubers of Ullucus tuberosus from Venezuela, which, though esteemed as an esculent in South America, proved inedible when grown at Kew.—A paper was read by Mr. Henry O. Forbes, on contrivances for insuring self-fertilisation in some tropical orchids. The author described in detail the structural peculiarities of certain Orchid-aceae which had been made the subject of study by him under favourable circumstances. He arrives at the conclusion that a number of orchids are not fertilised by insects, but are so constructed as to enable them to fertilise themselves. This paper was illustrated by diagrams referring more particularly to such forms as Phajus Bumei, Spathoglottis pli-cata, Arundina speciosa, Eria javensis, and others.—Prof. St. G. Mivart read a paper on the cerebral convolutions of the Carnivora and Pinnipedia, and wherein were described for the first time in detail the brains of Nandinia, Galidia, Cryptoprocta, Bassaricyon (from a cast of the skull), Mellivora, Gatictis, and Grisonia. The author, confirming the views of previous observers, gave additional reasons for a three-fold division of the Carnivora into Cynoidea, Æluroidea, and Arctoidea, though he remarked that amongst the Æluroids the section of Viyerrina formed a very distinct group, judged, by the cerebral characters, He specially called attention to the universal tendency amongst the Arctoidea to the definition of a distinct and conspicuous lozenge-shaped patch of brain substance defined by the crucial and precrucial sulci. This condition, which he found in no single non-arctoid Carnivora, he also found in the brain of Otaria Gillespii, and afterwards in Phoca vitulina, where it is very small and much hidden. This fact he adduced as an important argument in favour of the view that the Pinnipedia were evolved from some Arctoid, probably Ursine, form of land Carnivora.—Mr. F. O. Bower read a paper on apospory in ferns. His microscopical investigations on the growth of sporo-phore generation to the prothallus without the intervention of spores but confirms the statements of Mr. Chas. T. Druery Athyrium Filixfcemina, var. clarissima, previously communicated to the Society. Mr. Bower, moreover, finds the case in point to hold good in certain other ferns, for example, Polystichum angulare, where there is the formation of an expansion of undoubted prothalloid nature bearing sexual organs by a process of purely vegetative outgrowth from the fern plant. That is, there is a transition from the sporophore generation to the oosphore by a vegetable growth, and without any connection either with spores or indeed with sporangia or sori. The author goes on to point out the bearing of these observations and cultures on the general life history of the fern, so far as the modifications of the genetic cycle are concerned; and he further compares this new phenomenon of “apospory” in ferns with similar cases in other plants, while insisting on the importance of the cases at issue.—A communication on the aërial and submerged leaves of Ranunculus lingua, L., was read by Mr. Freeman Roper. He shows from specimens obtained near Eastbourne that the two sets of leaves in question differ so materially from each other that they might not be suspected to belong to the same plant, the submerged being larger, broader, ovate or cordate, and possessing abundance of stomata.

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