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The elephant with pond'rous tread,
Zoological Society once drove her horns through an inch board.*
562. There is another use which may be assigned to the horns. Surrounded as they are with a thick tuft of hair, we are inclined to think that they are used as instruments of feeling. The ox looks down upon the pasture; but with the giraffe, the order is inverted, its food being over and around its head. As the giraffe carries its head beneath and through the branches of the trees, the long hairs upon the erect horns come in contact with the leaves above them, and the animal, without a constant effort to look up-in fact, with its eyes turned downward and backward, to guard against enemies, is able to apprehend its food. Buffaloes, oxen, deer, &c., have similar hairs upon their nostrils; the giraffe is provided with them also upon the points of its horns.
563. Why are the nostrils of the giraffe thickly intersected with stiff hairs ?
Because, while it browses among the branches of trees, it disturbs a great number of insects, whose attacks would cause great annoyance without this defence.
For the same protective purpose, the eyes are surrounded with unusually large eyelashes, and also provided with a third or nictating membrane, which sweeps all foreign matters from their surface.
564. Why are the eyes of the giraffe set prominently near the back of the head ? In that situation they are best adapted to keep watch against
enemies, which usually spring from behind. The chief defence of the giraffe lies in that direction; from the vigour of its muscles, the length of its legs, and the consequent velocity of the hoof, when it comes to the position in which it can take effect, the kick is truly a formidable one, and is said to be sufficient to break the skull of
Maunder's “ Natural History."
“ A herd of goats, each shining morn,
Midst scraggy myrtle, pointed thorn,
565. Why does the lion generally attack the giraffe while the latter is drinking ?
Because, at such times, the head being depressed, the giraffe cannot see the approach of an enemy; and its fore-legs being widely spread, so that its head may reach the water, the animal is then in a very helpless position.
566. The lion lies in wait, usually in the morning, at some place near a stream, and in a situation somewhat elevated over its intended prey. There the lion waits in concealment the approach of his intended victim. As soon as the giraffe puts down its head to drink, all the advantage which its prominent eye gives it when the neck is elevated is gone. In this situation the lion springs, and fastens upon its back; and although the giraffe bounds off with terrific speed, the weight of the lion, and the pain of laceration, bring him to the ground.
567. Why is it imagined that goats, kept in stables with horses, improve the health of the latter ?
This is one of those popular fancies which, seemingly absurd at first, are found upon reflection to have some foundation. All animals are kept in better temper and greater cheerfulness by the presence of a companion, than in solitude ; and the active and good-humoured goat may, in this way, really perform the benefit which has been attributed to it upon mistaken grounds.*
568. Why can goats subsist upon vegetables that are noxious, or even poisonous, to other animals?
This is probably a part of the great creative scheme, to provide . for the comsumption, and the keeping within necessary limits, those species of vegetables which having their special utilities, would acquire an undue preponderance if not kept in check.
569. In feeding, goats are very indiscriminate, and many plants which are not only shunned by other ruminating animals, but act as poison to them, are not only eaten with impunity, but relished by them. There have been instances in which tame goats have chewed tobacco; and, in the wild state, they eat the most bitter and narcotic plants, such as euphorbium, hemlock, henbane, and even digitalis, without
* Bell's “British Quadrupeds."
“ That sheep-cot, which in yonder vale you see
suffering any injury. Few plants are more disrelished by cattle than the common ragweed, and therefore the pastures on those lands in upland and humid situations are very much infested by it; but goats clear it off, if allowed to browse the plants before they come into flower. There are many of the compositæ which are the pests of our pastures, and which are, generally speaking, biennials, making roots the first year, and bearing flowers the next, which might probably be cleared off by pasturing with goats at proper times. The alternation with each other of animals, one set of which can eat the plants that are disliked by another, is an important point in the economy of our grazing districts, though it does not appear to have received that attention to which it is entitled.*
570. Why do sheep make a nodding motion of the head when feeding ?
This motion is owing to the peculiar formation of the jaw and the teeth. Sheep have no teeth in the upper jaw, but the bars or the ridges of the palate thicken as they approach the fore part of the mouth; there is also the dense, fibrous, elastic matter of which they are constructed, which becomes condensed, and forms a cushion or bed that covers the convex extremity of the upper jaw, and occupies the place of the upper incisor or cutting teeth, and partly discharges their functions. The herbage is firmly held between the front teeth in the lower jaw and this pad, and is brought away by a half biting, half tearing action, which occasions the peculiar motion of the head alluded to.
571. The stalks of the common herhage of the field, bitten closely as they are by sheep, are harder and more fibrous than the portions that are divided and cropped by cattle: and not only so, but some breeds of sheep are destined to live, in part at least, on harder food than falls to the lot of cattle--as the different kinds of heath, or substances almost as difficult to be hroken off as the branches of heath. The incisor teeth are evidently formed for browsing on these tough productions of the soil, which would otherwise be altogether useless and lost. The part of the tooth above the gum is not only, as in other animals, covered with enamel to enable it to bear and to preserve a sharpened edge, but the enamel on the upper part rises from the bone of the tooth nearly a quarter of an inch; and, presenting a convex surface outwards, and a concave one within, forms a little scoop or gouge, capable of wonderful exccution. He who will take the trouble to compare the incisor teeth of cattle and of sheep—both ruminants-both by means of the half cutting and half tearing action, having the stomach, in which the process
* Partington's "Cyclopædia."
“ First, with assiduous care, from winter keep
Well foddered in the stalls, thy tender sheer;
of maceration is going forward, abundantly supplied with absorbent or alkaline earth-the one, however, destined to crop little more than the summit of the grass, and the other to go almost close to the roots, and occasionally to browse on harder food-will have an interesting illustration of the manner in which every part of every animal is adapted to the situation in which he is placed, and the destiny he has to fulfil. The pad, also, is firmer and denser than in cattle, yet sufficiently elastic, so that it is in no danger of injury from the sharp chisels below, while the interposed substance is cut through with the greatest ease.
572. Why will sheep follow each other even into evident danger ?
For two reasons. From the strength of their social instinct, which leads them to move together in flocks, and seldom if ever singly, or in an isolated manner. Secondly, there is no animal in which the faculty of imitation of the movements of their own species is so strong as in sheep.
573. These instincts appear to have been wisely implanted in one of the most valuable and defenceless of domesticated animals, in order that they might be taken advantage of by the intelligence of man.
The leaders of the flock having been instructed and rendered manageable, the obedience of the rest is secured. Every one has seen an illustration of this, where a butcher has succeeded in housing a large number of sheep by simply dragging in one of them. So great is their dislike of solitude, that if an individual is thus kept, it pines and very soon dies.
574. Why is the upper lip of the sheep divided ?
Because it is thereby enabled to bite the herbage at a point nearer to the roots than it otherwise would.
The sheep bites closer than the ox, and is enabled to follow the latter, and to procure a sufficient sustenance where the latter would starve. Two purposes are answered by this : all the nutriment that the land produces is gathered from it, and the pasture is made to produce more herbage than by any other means.
575. Why is there less difference between wild and cultivated sheep than between wild and tame cattle of the ox kind ?
Because sheep, however highly cultivated, seldom or ever
* For very many interesting questions respecting the economy of sheep, cattle, &c., see “The Reason Why: Gardening and Farming."
“ To his woundes worken, that with louely dart
Dinting his breast had bred his restlesse paine,
become thoroughly tame, and are consequently less amenable to the laws which accompany domestication.
576. Sheep, however domesticated, never evince any attachment to their keepers. When food is presented to them they come to that, but do not heed the person who is in the habit of feeding them unless the food is shown. They require the care of a shepherd to conduct them, and lead the flock to where it may be wanted; for, although they keep together, the whole would wander off, and never return to the fold, unless conducted.
577. Why is the order Cetacea so named ?
From the Greek word ketos, and latin cete, signifying a whale. The cetaceous animals include the genera Monodon (one tooth), of which the narwhal is an example ; Balena, or whalebone whale ; Physeter, or spermaceti whale and Delphinus, or dolphins, which include the porpoise and grampus.
578. They have no gills, but are furnished with an aperture for respiration on the top of the head; and they have a flat or horizontal tail. Their habits are in general predacious, that is, they subsist by preying upon other animals. The whale tribe, however, has been broadly divided into herbivorous and carnivorous cetacea. The teeth of the herbivorous whales have a flat crown which determines their character. These accordingly often leave the water to creep and feed upon the land, and are without the distinguishing mark of the carnivorous cetacea, namely, the singular apparatus by which they cast up jets of water.
579. Why has the order of Cetacea been separated from the classification of fishes ?
Because, although their outward shape bears considerable resemblance to the fish tribe, their anatomical conformation, joined with various other characteristics, proclaim them to be true aquatic mammalia.
580. True fishes breathe by means of gills, in which the blood is sufficiently acted on by the air that is contained in the water around them : on the other hand, the cetacea breathe by means of lungs, which require to be filled with air from the