Types of Animal Life

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IT is reported of a negro preacher that, having omitted to note the source of his text, he counselled his hearers to search diligently for it, assuring them that in doing so they would find many other texts which would be for their souls' good. We are reminded of this anecdote in reading Prof. Mivart's new book on popular natural history. In our search for the types given in the table of contents we have been rewarded by finding a pleasing description of a goodly number of the higher animals. At the beginning of the fourth chapter we are told that the bull-frog has been selected as one type of animal life in order to introduce the group of Batrachia. Very little is said, however, about the bull-frog himself, though there is a figure of him in a deprecating attitude suggestive of some appreciation on the part of the artist of the somewhat shabby treatment this Batrachian elect has received. But there is much interesting matter concerning amphibians of all kinds, illustrated by reference to, or short descriptions of, some twenty genera. The first chapter is headed “Monkeys”; and similar headings would, we think, have been more appropriate throughout. As it is, the animal named is, in each case, merely a convenient starting-point for the consideration of the group to which it belongs. We do not know whether the chapters embodied in the book have already done service in any form in America, but the animals selected suggest that such may have been the case. We have the opossum, the turkey, the bull-frog,the rattlesnake, the Carolina bat, the American bison, the racoon, the sloth, and the sea-lion; while the chapter which deals with, or starts with, the last-named animal begins thus:— “The sea-lion is a beast the sight of which must be familiar to very many Americans.” The term “animal life” of the title of the work is shown by the contents to be applied to the dactylate vertebrata only, three-fourths of the volume being devoted to mammals, or beasts as the author prefers to call them.

Types of Animal Life.

By St. George Mivart (London: Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., 1893.)

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M., C. Types of Animal Life. Nature 48, 148 (1893) doi:10.1038/048148a0

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