50 Years Ago
Life of Mammals by L. Harrison Matthews — This second volume of Dr Matthews’s account of various aspects of mammalian life reviews the orders and families of mammals with the exception of the Primates … It is impossible not to share with Dr Matthews his delight in observing living mammals and in collecting information and first hand accounts on their habits. He discusses whether it is true that hedgehogs carry off fruit by impaling it on their spines and comments on their resistance to wasp stings and strikes by adders. We learn how moon rats can be caught in traps baited with bananas and how the pygmy anteater gives a peculiar little sneeze when startled. Many of the curious behavioural manifestations of living mammals are commented upon in a lucid, lively and informative style. The account is, however, by no means limited to a “believe it or not” description of mammalian antics. There is much solid comparative anatomy … and … consideration of functional aspects such as antler shedding, delayed implantation, and constipation in sloths. Dr Matthews also adds much on dentitions but is at a loss to ascribe a function to a narwhal’s tusk.
100 Years Ago
Prof. Gardiner in Nature of May 19 … writes of the difficulty of obtaining Continental publications, whilst the complaint from Central Europe is all about the difficulty of getting English scientific literature. Perhaps something can be done by exchange. There are probably readers of Die Naturwissenschaften and of the Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift willing and eager to exchange with Nature and the Electrician. Second-hand books with pages cut and owners’ names inscribed would probably follow the analogy of worn clothes and be exempt from the interest of Customs officials. A year ago the Swiss bookshops in Berne seemed to carry a heavy stock of recent German scientific literature. Travellers returning from the Alps may wish to inspect these. For exchange of transactions of learned societies the mediation of the Anglo-American Library (hon. secretary, Mr. B. M. Headicar, School of Economics, Clare Street, London, W.C.2) might be invoked.