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Knowledge For The People Or, The Plain Why And Because | by John Timbs



Familiarizing subjects of useful curiosity and amusing research

TitleKnowledge For The People Or, The Plain Why And Because
AuthorJohn Timbs
PublisherHurst, Chance, And Co
Year1831
Copyright1831, John Timbs
AmazonKnowledge for the people: Or, The plain why and because

Knowledge For The People Or, The Plain Why And Because.

Familiarizing Subjects Of Useful Curiosity And Amusing Research.

By John Timbs

Editor of "Laconics:" "Arcana of Science and Art," etc.

"Its beginning is pleasure, its progress knowledge, and its objects truth and utility." - Sir Humphry Davy.

Zoological Series. London:

S Low, Lamb's Conduit Street; Hurst, Chance, And Co.

St. Paul's Church Yard; C. Tilt, Fleet Street;

H. Constable, Edinburgh; Wakeman, Dublin.

MDCCCXXXI.

-Birds. General Economy
Why are birds said to constitute, as it were, an isolated class of beings? Because they are distinguished, by certain characters, from all other animals : their classification does not pass into an...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 2
Why do birds fly? Because they have the largest bones of all animals, in proportion to their weight; and their bones are more hollow than those of animals that do not fly. Air-vessels also enable t...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 3
Why does the plumage of many Northern birds change from a dark colour to a pure White, on the approach of winter? Because such change increases the warmth of the birds ; the white colour reflecting...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 4
Why have birds more varied motion in the neck than quadrupeds? Because in birds the neck has a greater number of bones, and consequently of joints : the contrivance by which the spine of animals is...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 5
Why is it inferred that birds possess some notion of power, and of cause and effect? Because of the various actions which they perform. Thus, for example, we have seen the hooded-crow in Zetland, w...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 6
Why have birds that live on seeds, a crop? Because they swallow the grains unbroken, and the crop, abounding with glands, softens the seeds, which are thence gradually propelled into the stomach. T...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 7
Why do some birds roll themselves in dust ? Because it may free them from annoyances, or prevent the bites of insects. - Knapp. Why has it been asked whether Mahomet and his followers might ...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 8
Why do birds exceed quadrupeds in the quantity of their respiration? Because they have not only a double circulation and an aerial respiration, but they respire also through other cavities besides ...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 9
Why is artificial incubation but seldom successful ? Because of the great difficulties in graduating the heat properly. For a Table of the respective periods, see Brande's Journal, 1829. ...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 10
Why is it reasonable to conclude that the notes used by birds, and the voices of animals, are the same as uttered by the earliest progenitors? Because, could we find a people, from Japan to the Pol...
-Birds. General Economy. Part 11
Why is the plumage of aquatic birds kept dry? Because the small feathers next the bird fall over each other like the tiles of a roof, and thus throw off the water. Paley tells us that the lamin...
-Migration
Why has the existence of migration been denied ? Because of the surprise, how migrating birds could support themselves so long on wing, as to accomplish their journeys, and at the same time live wi...
-Migration. Continued
Why do the periods of the arrival and departure of migrating birds vary in different years? Because they depend entirely on the changes of the seasons. Thus, the meanest rustic, in regard to the su...
-British And European Birds. Eagles
Why has so much confusion arisen in the names of several of the eagle species? Because of the great changes in the colour of the feathers of several of the genus, during their process to maturity. ...
-The Hawk
Why was the practice of hawking discontinued? Because of the introduction of the use of gunpowder. Aristotle, Pliny, and many other ancient writers, speak of the method of catching birds by means o...
-The Hawk. Continued
Why are white owls vulgarly called screech-owls? Because of their horrible screaming as they fly along. This species of owl, some people superstitiously believe, attends the windows of dying person...
-The Shrike
Why is the shrike or butcher-bird, also called by Linnaeus, a sentinel? Because it seldom conceals itself in a bush, but sits perched on some upper spray, or in an open situation, heedful of danger...
-The Woodpecker
Why do woodpeckers tap with their bill the trees on which they sit? Because they may disturb the insects concealed within, so as to seize them when they appear. Why is the white-billed woodp...
-The Kingfisher
Why is the term halcyon used figuratively for quiet? Because the halcyon or kingfisher was feigned by the poets to breed in the sea, and that there was always a calm during her incubation. As firm ...
-The Dottrel
Why is the dottrel every year becoming more and more scarce in the vicinity of Keswick? Because some parts of its plumage are in very great request by the manufacturers of artificial flies for fish...
-Rooks
Why is the rook one of the earliest birds ? Because its principal food is worms, which feed and crawl upon the humid surface of the ground in the dusk, and retire before the light of day ; and, roo...
-Ravens
Why is the raven most common on the shores of harbours, or near great rivers? Because animal substances, its food, are more frequently to be met with there, than in inland places. In Greenland and ...
-The Magpie
Why does the magpie cover its nest with thorns ? Because its eggs may thus be protected from birds ; a danger which it seems to understand, by its feeding on the eggs of others. ...
-The Jay
Why was the jay formerly persecuted through all its retreats? Because the beautiful blue-barred feathers, that form the greater coverts of the wings, distinguish it from every other bird; wherefore...
-The Cuckoo
Why has the cuckoo a broad, hollow back? Because, soon after the young cuckoo is hatched by the hedge-sparrow, the eggs, or the young ones, whichever should happen to be in the nest, are turned out...
-The Missel-Bird
Why is the missel-bird, in Hampshire and Sussex, called the storm-cock? Because it sings early in the spring, in blowing, showery weather. - G. White. ...
-The Lark
Why do the songs of the sky-lark and wood-lark differ ? Because the song of the sky-lark is very sweet, full of harmony, extremely cheerful, and known and admired by all; but the voice of the wood-...
-Swallows
Why is the submersion of swallows during winter, in lakes and rivers, an improbable occurrence? Because swallows are much lighter than water, and could not sink in clusters, as they are represe...
-The Starling
Why do starlings probably migrate to this country alone? Because few other birds could travel so long, and continue such a rapid motion. From some rude observations, it appears probable, that a ...
-The Cross-Bill
Why is the cross-bill so called? Because the mandibles of the beak do not lie upon each other, with their lateral edges in opposition, as in other birds, but cross, or curve to the right and left, ...
-The Bullfinch
Why is a snowy, severe winter, peculiarly destructive to the bullfinch? Because it feeds in this season upon the hips of the dog-rose, which are scarce in hard weather; when they are gone, it see...
-Tit-Lark, Etc
Why do the tit-lark and yellow-hammer sing late? Because they breed late - the latter very late; and Mr. G. White lays it down as a maxim in ornithology, that as long as there is any incubation goi...
-The Bunting
Why is the bunting so destructive in rick-yards? Because, unlike other birds, which burrow into the stack, the bunting deliberately unroofs the rick, by seizing the end of the straw thatching, and ...
-The Chaffinch
Why are chaffinches, in some parts, called twinks and pinks? Because of their constant repetition of one note, when alarmed or in danger. ...
-The Canary-Bird
Why is the Canary-bird so called? Because it was first brought to Europe from the Canary Islands, about the commencement of the sixteenth century ; but has since deviated into many varieties. ...
-The Linnet
Why is the linnet among the least solitary of birds? Because it frequents open commons and gorsy fields, where several pairs, without the least rivalry or contention, will build their nests and rea...
-The Sparrow
Why ought sparrows to be protected? Because a single pair of sparrows, during the time they are feeding their young, will destroy about 4,000 caterpillars weekly. - Bewick,- - They feed their young...
-The Nightingale
Why are not nightingales heard in Devonshire and Cornwall? Because it is presumed that these birds come over to us from the Continent at the narrowest passage, and do not stroll so far westward. Th...
-The Dipper
Why is a certain bird called the dipper? Because it is enabled to sink to the bottom of the water in pools, and walk thereon, like the hippopotamus among quadrupeds. ...
-The Redbreast
Why is it said by Pliny, that the redbreast is only so in winter? Because the robin loses nearly all the characteristic colour from its breast in the summer, when it moults, and only recovers it on...
-The Wheatear
Why is the wheatear highly prized? Because, in an unfortunate hour, it has been called the English ortolan, and is pursued as a delicate morsel through all its inland haunts, when hatching and feed...
-The Martin
Why do house-martins build their nests only in the morning? Because the work of the nest, chiefly of dirt or loam, may not, while it is soft and green, pull itself down by its own weight, but have ...
-The Swift
Why is the swift so called? Because it is almost continually on the wing. It eats, drinks, collects materials for its nest, and even propagates on the wing ; thus appearing to live in the air more ...
-Turtle-Doves
Why are turtle-doves emblematic of faithfulness in love? Because of their adoption by the poets; - as to its highly prized fidelity and chastity, setting aside idle fables, it presents nothing su...
-Pigeons
Why is the carrier-pigeon so called? Because of the service to which it was formerly applied, particularly in the Levant, of carrying letters. It appears that as soon as young pigeons are hatche...
-The Rail
Why is the rail, in Germany, called the King of the Quails? Because it was formerly supposed to head them in their migrations. Why does a partridge sometimes tumble along before a sportsman?...
-The Peacock
Why is it improper to call the long feathers of peacocks a tail? Because the feathers do not grow from the rump, but all up the back. A range of short, brown, stiff feathers, about six inches long,...
-The Heron
Why do herons, in flying, seem encumbered with too much sail for their light bodies? Because of their vast hollow wings, which are necessary in carrying burdens, such as large fishes, etc. - G. Whi...
-The Curlew
Why is the stone-curlew so called? Because, when hatched, the young run immediately from the egg, like partridges, etc.; and are withdrawn to some flinty field by the dam, where they skulk among th...
-Woodcocks
Why do poachers light fires on the coasts to catch woodcocks? Because woodcocks, migrating during the night, and being attracted by the light, bend their course thither; in which manner great numbe...
-The Ruff
Why is a certain bird called the Ruff ? Because the neck and ear feathers are much produced in the breeding season, in the males, the heads of which are in part naked. - Fleming. ...
-The Petrel
Why were petrels, in past times, thought to predict a storm? Because they seem to repose in a common breeze, but, upon the approach, or during the continuation, of a gale, they surround a ship, and...
-The Swan
Why has the swan the epithet of mute ? Because it utters no sound except its hissing. Why has a Swan with Two Necks been adopted as a tavern-sign? Because, it appears, from the roll of...
-Ducks
Why is the finest down of the eider-duck called live down? Because it is found in the nest: that which is plucked from the dead bird is little esteemed. Eider-down is imported chiefly from Ic...
-Foreign Birds
Why has it been thought that the tropical regions are deficient in birds of song? Because, from the abundance of the piece tribe, such as parrots, and some others of harsh note, it is probable that...
-Vultures
Why was the vulture held sacred by the Egyptians ? Because it was extremely serviceable in destroying mice, lizards, etc.; whence they have frequently represented it in the hieroglyphics on their o...
-Parrots
Why have parrots, in general, striking peculiarities in their manners? Because they have the power of using their feet almost like hands; as for carrying food to their mouths, scratching behind the...
-The Toucan
Why is the toucan also called the Egg-sucker ? Because it chiefly feeds on the eggs found in other birds' nests. Why has the toucan a broad and long bill, covered with branches of nerves?...
-Woodpecker
Why is the downy woodpecker so destructive to the orchards of North America? Because it makes one hole close to another, in a horizontal line, till it has completed a circle of holes all round the ...
-Red-Creeper
Why is the hook-billed red-creeper so highly prized in the Sandwich Isles? Because the ingenious natives manufacture various articles of ornament and dress, as helmets, and even entire mantles, wit...
-Humming-Bird
Why are humming-birds so called? Because they are almost continually on the wing, fluttering like bees, and making a humming noise. They are so small as to be worn as ear-rings by the Indian ladies...
-American Crow
Why does the carrion-crow of America differ materially from the bird so common in England? Because of its greater rapacity as well as tameness. Thus, in the cities where they are protected, they en...
-Bird Of Paradise
Why were birds of paradise formerly thought to be without feet? Because they were and are worn as ornaments in India, on account of their beautiful plumage; and when sold for this pu...
-Indicator
Why is the indicator also called the honey-cuckoo ? Because, like the honey-bear,* it obtains its food from the nests of the wild bees. See Quadrupeds, p. 18. Why is the indicator prot...
-Loxia
Why is the pensile loxia of the Cape and Madagascar so called? Because it builds a remarkable nest, in the vicinity of water, in shape almost like a retort, with a depending neck for ingress and eg...
-Mocking-Bird
Why is the mocking-bird so called? Because, in addition to the fulness and melody of his original notes, he has the faculty of imitating the notes of all other birds, from the humming-bird to the e...
-Snow-Bunting
Why is the snow-bunting so called ? Because it is the only living creature that is found at the height of 2000 feet above the limit of perpetual snow. The snow-finch is found on Caucasus and the Eu...
-Fly-Catcher
Why is the red-eyed fly-catcher in the West Indies called Tom Kelly? Because his notes are in short emphatic bars of two, three, or four syllables; and on listening to his song, you may fancy you...
-Tailor-Bird
Whp is the tailor-bird so called? Because of the art with which it makes its nest; - sewing some dry-leaves to a green one at the extremity of a twig, and thus forming a hollow cone, which it after...
-Gull-Teazer
Why is the sea-sivallow also called the gull-teazer ? Because it is frequently seen to pursue and persecute the lesser gulls, till they disgorge their food, which it dextrously catches before it...
-American Pigeon
Why are the wild pigeons of America so celebrated ? Because of their great power of flight, which enables them, when in need, to survey and pass over an astonishing extent of country in a very shor...
-The Whip-Poor-Will
Why is a certain American bird called the Whip-poor-Will? Because its notes seem pretty plainly to articulate the words ivhip-poor-will; the first and last syllables being uttered with great emph...
-Negro-Fowl
Why is the negro-fowl so called? Because it has a black skin. It is principally from St. Jago, in the Cape de Verd Islands, where other species of birds are said to present the same peculiarity. - ...
-Curassow
Why is the curassow improperly so called ? Because it has been corrupted from Curacoa, the name of an island where the bird is found in great abundance. ...
-The Ostrich
Why is the ostrich enabled to run with such celerity ? Because his bones, like those of other birds, are hollow ; he has also air vesicles similar to other birds, which, notwithstanding he cannot l...
-Cassowary
Why is the Neiv Holland cassowary hunted? Because it abounds with oil, which is used for leather, etc. Its flesh, when cooked, more resembles beef than fowl. It is hunted with dogs, the scull, or t...
-Spoonbill
Why is the spoonbill so called? Because of its singular bill having the shape of a spoon. Its singularity does not, however, consist merely in its shape, but also in its structure: for it is not ha...
-Horned Screamer
Why has the horned screamer two spurs on each wing ? Because it may defend itself against some noxious animals which infest the native regions of this bird - the fenny and marshy parts of South Ame...
-Bittern
Why does the great American bittern emit a strong light from its breast? Because the light, which is equal to that of a common torch, may illuminate the water, so as to enable the bird to discover ...
-Ibis
Why was the ibis so famed among the ancient Egyptians? Because it was the symbol of the overflowing of the Nile, from its arrival, breeding season, and departure, coinciding with the commencement, ...
-Trumpeter
Why is the trumpeter so called? Because of its harsh, uncommon cry, not unlike a child's trumpet, with which it follows people through the streets, in Brazil and Guinea, so that it is difficult to ...
-Darter
Why is the darter of Brazil so called? Because it has a very long neck, which the animal can roll up spirally, and by that means dart its head at the fish it wishes to seize. ...
-Tropic Bird
Why is the tropic bird so called? Because it lives in the open seas between the tropics, chiefly on the flying fish. ...
-Hornbills
Why is the flesh of the Indian hornbill peculiarly aromatic? Because it feeds on wild nutmegs, which grow abundantly in its native place, the Molucca Islands. Why is another species of the a...
-Sociable Nest
Why is the sociable grossbeak so called ? Because it lives in vast tribes, from 800 to 1000 at times, under one common roof, containing their several nests, which are built on a large species of mi...
-Indian Grossbeak
Why is it popularly believed in India that the baya, or grossbeak lights the chambers of his nest with firefiles, which he catches alive at night, and confines with moist clay or cow-dung? Because ...
-Faithful Jacana
Why has the jacana the epithet of faithful ? Because it is kept by the natives of South America to wander with the poultry, and defend them from birds of prey, which it does by the spurs on its ...
-Bell-Bird
Why is the variegated chatterer of South America also called the bell-bird? Because its voice is, for about six weeks only, in December and January, like the noise of a cracked bell. The carunculat...
-Sawing Bird
Why is the Chilian sawing bird so called ? Because, with its straight, and serrate, or notched bill, it cuts down fresh vegetables, as with a saw. ...
-Cat Bird
Why is the cat bird so called? Because it mews like a cat, or rather, like a young kitten. It also imitates the notes of other birds, and attacks snakes. - Wilson. ...
-Rice Bird
Why is the rice bird so called ? Because, in Cuba, it is found in great numbers during the season of the rice crop ; but no sooner is the rice gathered, than it removes to Carolina, and meets the s...
-Coolies
Why do coolies differ from other birds? Because they do not perch, nor leap from branch to branch, nor do they even walk nimbly; for, resting on the whole length of the leg, they drag the belly aft...
-The Booby
Why is the booby so called? Because it is an indolent, senseless, and cowardly bird, submitting to all sorts of depredations upon its happiness with indolent imbecility ; yet it is occasionally, wh...
-The Pelican
Why has the pelican a pouch attached to her bill? Because it answers the purpose of a crop, and is used by the bird to contain food both for herself and her young, which, when hatched, are fed with...
-The Cormorant
Why has the cormorant a small sabre-shaped bone at the back of its vertex? Because this bone may serve as a lever in throwing back the head, when the animal tosses the fishes which it has taken int...
-The Ornithoryncus
Why is the ornithoryncus said to form the connecting link between the bird and beast? Because it has a bill like a duck and paws webbed similar to that bird, but legs and body like thos...
-The Ornithoryncus. Part 2
Why have some birds more air-cells' than others ? Because the quantity of air which they individually contain, is proportioned to the influence which they exert on the locomotion of the body. Thus,...
-The Ornithoryncus. Part 3
Why is the body of a newly hatched bird covered with hair instead of feathers? Because little tufts of hair, produced from one common bulb, are the rudiment of the future feather. In a few days a b...
-The Ornithoryncus. Part 4
Why are falcons distinguished as noble and ignoble? Because the noble falcons seize their prey in the air during flight; for they never devour what has been killed or wounded by other birds ; they ...
-Amphibia. General Economy
Why are the bones of reptiles and fishes softer than those of quadrupeds and birds? Because the former contain much less earthy matter than the latter. In some fishes, the earthy matter is so small...
-Amphibia. General Economy. Part 2
Why are amphibia considered slow in growth ? Because, for example, the frogs of these climates are incapable of producing until their fourth year; and yet reach what must be considered in proportio...
-Amphibia. General Economy. Part 3
Why do reptiles crawl? Because the limbs are placed perpendicular to the mesial line ; and, in the progressive motion, the body is dragged along the ground, as the flexion and extension of the limb...
-Reptiles. Tortoise Tribe
Why are tortoises enabled to bear such immense weights? Because most of them are covered with a firm long-shell, the upper part of which is connected with the spine and ribs, and is covered by the ...
-Frogs And Toads
Why have certain frogs been fabulously said to change into fishes? Because their larva is almost a span long, and then much larger than the perfectly formed animal. The animal also retains its tail...
-Frogs And Toads. Part 2
Why is star-shot jelly so often seen floating on ponds, etc.? Because frogs are then spawning, and this consists of the glaire which surrounds the eggs, brought into this state by a frog having b...
-Frogs And Toads. Part 3
Why does the alligator differ from the crocodile? Because the body and tail are more round and smooth than the true crocodile; it is also smaller, and has smaller eggs. Like it, however, it has fiv...
-Chameleon
Why does the chameleon change colour ? Because of the circulation of the blood of the reptile, in increased temperature, either of the ambient air or of its own body, producing all the variations o...
-Gecko
Why is the gecko so dangerous a reptile in houses? Because it has a poisonous fluid between its scaly toes, which it communicates to the eatables over which it passes. It is common in Egypt, the Ea...
-The Proteus
Why has the classificatio?i of the protcus animal been so much controverted among naturalists? Because its characteristics are equally those of a lizard and a fish. Sir Humphry Davy, in his Cons...
-Serpents
Why may the ventral, or belly-plates, or scales of serpents, be considered as their feet? Because these scales slide under each other by a kind of inclusion, so as to permit the ventral surface to ...
-Serpents. Part 2
Why are scales of different colours? Because they derive their colours from the mucus web on which they are placed, and this differs in various animals. The composition of scales, observes Dr. F...
-Serpents. Part 3
Why are dragons represented in fable with ringed bodies? Because they originated in the ringed snake, which, even in Europe, has been found ten feet in length and upwards. Its colour is steel-grey,...
-The Rattlesnake
Why is the rattlesnake so called? Because it has a series of cups appended to its tail; which cups, when the serpent moves its body, likewise move one upon another, and make a rattling noise, not u...
-The Sea-Serpent
Why is the existence of the American sea-serpent no longer credited? Because of the following exposure of its fraud, as related by Professor Silliman. The first sea-serpent was a steam-boat, whi...
-Fishes. General Economy
Why does swimming resemble flying? Because the organs which are employed for both purposes, resemble the oars of a boat in their mode of action; and, in general, possess a considerable extent of su...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 2
Why do fishes, when dead, float on the surface of the water, with the belly uppermost? Because the body being no longer balanced by the fins of the belly, the broad muscular back preponderates by i...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 3
Why do medusa swim, although they have no fins, or oars? Because they vary the form of the body by alternate contractile and expansive movements. We may here observe, that the motions in water c...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 4
Why is the gullet remarkably short in fishes ? Because they have no neck. In some, indeed, the stomach seems to open directly into the mouth. The gullet is, however, capable of great extension, and...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 5
Why have some fish a sucker? Because, it is supposed, by its means the fish attaches itself to the sides of other fishes, or to the bottoms of ships, when it is carried forward without any exertion...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 6
Why do fishes materially increase in size, previous to the approach of the spawning season? Because they may be the better enabled to undergo the fatigues and fastings by which spawning is accompan...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 7
Why are anglers recommended to fish early and late in the summer months? Because, generally, fish do not then feed in the middle of the day, unless the weather be very dark and gloomy - during driz...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 8
Why have so many absurd stories been told of showers of fishes? Because it sometimes happens that vivacious fishes, or those capable of surviving a long time out of water, are conveyed to a distanc...
-Fishes. General Economy. Part 9
Why is the reproduction of fishes involved in great obscurity? Because the element in which they reside conceals from us the actions which they perform, so that we are unable to point out, with cer...
-Ray-Fish
Why do the ray genus appear to have contributed to the fable of Sirens? Because of a certain similarity of the lower part of their head to the human face. Many species have also been dried, and met...
-Sharks
Why have most of the sharks very numerous teeth? Because they may supply such as may be lost. The white shark has more than 200, lying on each other in rows, almost like the leaves of an artichoke....
-Eels
Why has the economy of the eel so long exercised the ingenuity of naturalists? Because they have hitherto been unable to establish their mode of generation. Lacepede, the French naturalist, asserts...
-Electrical Fish
Why is not a benumbing sensation always felt when these fish are touched? Because the animal appears only to excite it when irritated or otherwise disturbed. Then the fish is observed to twist its ...
-The Dory
Why is the fish doree so called? Because, while living, the colour is very resplendent, and as if d'oree, or gilt; but Sir Joseph Banks used to say it should be adoree, and that it was the most val...
-The Perch, Etc
Why is the perch better armed against the attacks of its enemies than most fresh-water fishes? Because its spines, when it attains any considerable PART VIII. F size, protect it from the voracit...
-The Mullet
Why were large red mullets so highly prized by the Roman epicures? Because they were more difficult to be got; not that the larger fish were more delicate. Juvenal says, The lavish slave Six tho...
-Salmon
Why do salmon, which begin to approach the coast and enter the rivers as stragglers about February, increase in numbers towards May and June? Because the drought and heat of summer render the strea...
-The Grayling
Why was the grayling called by St. Ambrose, the flower of fishes .? Because of its agreeable odour, and brilliant colours. A fine specimen is thus described: - The belly is silvery, with yellow; ...
-The Pike
Why is the pike considered one of the most voracious of fishes ? Because it devours not only fish, but also amphibia of all kinds, toads, etc; many aquatic birds, small quadrupeds, and even crabs. ...
-The Herring, Barbel, Etc
Why is the herring a most important animal in the northern world? Because, though attacked by man, and many animals, as the grampus, gulls, etc, it multiplies with astonishing rapidity. Its great a...
-Angling
Why is a river better for fishing, after a flood from rain? Because it brings the fish up, who know when rain is coming; and likewise brings down food, and makes the fish feed. But when the water i...
-Worms. General Economy
Why are certain animals called invertebral ? Because they are destitute of skull and vertebral column, for the protection of the brain and the spinal marrow. Why are these animals furnished ...
-The Earth-Worm
Why is the earth-worm so called? Because it swallows the soil or earth, from which, in its passage through the intestines, it extracts its nourishment.* Mr. Leon Dufour has recently determined the ...
-The Leech
Why does the leech advance faster than other worms ? Because the organs of adhesion are double, one at each extremity, the mouth adhering to one part of the surface, while the tail is brought up to...
-Snails
Why do snails carry their shells with so much ease? Because they are bound to the shells by two muscles, which arise from the pillar, and having penetrated the body below its spiral part, run forwa...
-Snails. Continued
Why is the snail found in greater numbers, and thriving better, in chalky districts than elsewhere? Because chalk is the snail's best food, and the food is the source of the lime of which it forms ...
-The Man-Of-War
Why is a certain worm called the man-of-war ? Because it has the skill and knowledge of an experienced navigator, and is in itself a little ship. Its evolutions are according to the winds; it raise...
-Cuttle-Fish
Why does the cuttle-fish differ in structure from other mollusca? Because it has three hearts - two of which are placed at the root of the two branchiae ; they receive the blood from the body, and ...
-Testacea. Shells
Why is the study of shells much more important than some would represent? Because, being found in abundance, in a great variety of rocks and positions, they constitute the medals of the ancient wor...
-The Pierce-Stone
Why is a certain worm called the pierce-stone ? Because it bores passages in rocks, even in the hardest marble, in the steins of coral, oyster-shells, the bottoms of ships, etc. and excavates a hab...
-The Oyster
Why is the shell of the oyster termed fixed? Because it has one valve cemented to the rock; and though the oyster itself has a heart, blood-vessels, brain, gills, and stomach, it depends on the ...
-The Mussel
Why is the common mussel enveloped in a thread-like substance termed byssus? Because these threads are united in the body to a secreting gland, furnished with powerful muscles, and, at the other ex...
-Pearls
Why are pearls found in the oyster? Because they consist of the morbid secretions of the fish, situated either in the body, or lying loose between, it and shell; or, lastly, fixed to the latter by ...
-The Nautilus
Why is the Paper Nautilus also called the Argonaut? Because of its origin from Argonautes, the companions of Jason, in the celebrated Ship Argo, and from the Latin naus, a ship; the shells of all t...
-Insects. General Economy
Why are insects so called? Because they have a separation in the middle of their bodies, whereby they are cut (insectus, cut or notched, Lat.) into two parts, joined by a small ligature, as in the ...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 2
Why is the third order called Lepidoptera? Because they have wings covered with very fine scales: (lepis, a scale - pteron, a wing;) as the butterfly : - 2,570 species. Why is the fo...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 3
Why are insects important in the arts? Because of the ready adaptation of their labours to many of the conveniences of life. Thus, mead is prepared in many parts of Europe from the honey of bees; s...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 4
Why have insects antenna or feelers? Because the organ of touch is not generally distributed over the body, and the antennae are considered as appropriated to this sense. These organs are two or mo...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 5
Why have insects without jaws long tubular tongues? Because they derive their nourishment chiefly from liquids, which they get from animal or vegetable substances by means of this spiral or tubular...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 6
Why do insects live, and (so far as we can perceive) feel comparatively little pain from the loss of their limbs? Because, though possessed of nerves, they have nothing similar to our brain and spi...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 7
Why are not the spines and hairs of insects easily rubbed off? Because they are merely elongations of the skin. It is otherwise with scales. Some of these are inserted into the skin at one end and ...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 8
Why were insects and worms formerly called bloodless animals? Because they are distinguished from the preceding classes by the absence of red blood, in place of which they have a white fluid. In re...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 9
Why do certain larvae form an exterior covering or cocoon? Because the pupa may be lodged with greater safety. This covering is in some composed of threads of silk. Sometimes only one or two thread...
-Insects. General Economy. Part 10
Why are insects generally considered unsocial? Because only a few of them afford mutual assistance in their labours. The greater number follow their pursuits singly ; many, as spiders, live in soci...
-Coleoptera. Beetles
Why are insects of this tribe so often eaten by fishes? Because all such as are abundant in summer are frequently blown into the water, where they become easy prey. Thus, the brown beetle, or cockc...
-Coleoptera. Beetles. Continued
Why is the dorr beetle thought to counterfeit death to preserve its life? Because when flying with an apparent fearlessness of harm, if touched, or interrupted, though in no way injured, it will im...
-Dermestes
Why is a species of Dermestes so formidable to the pine forests of Germany? Because it lodges in such numbers in the alburnum of the pine, that 80,000 of its larvae have been counted in a tree of m...
-The Death-Watch
Why is a certain insect called the Death- Watch ? Because of its clicking noise, chiefly in the latter end of spring, which may be considered analogous to the call of birds. This is caused by beati...
-Water-Flea
Why is the water-flea so called? Because his abode is in quiet, still water; though, in mild weather, we see him gamboling upon the surface of the sheltered pool, in his shining black jacket. Retir...
-Lady-Bird
Why is the lady-bird so beneficial to the gardener and husbandman? Because all the species, both in the larva and the perfect state, feed exclusively on aphides, and never touch vegetable substance...
-The Weevil
Why is the larva of the weevil prized in India ? Because it feeds on the pith of sago, and is eaten itself as a delicacy. Why are weevils so destructive to wheat in granaries ? Because of...
-The Glow-Worm
Why do the females of the glow-worm occasionally conceal or eclipse their light? Because they may secure themselves from becoming the prey of the nightingale or other nocturnal birds. Mr. White, in...
-The Glow-Worm. Continued
Why is the larva of the glow-worm proverbial for its cleanliness? Because it has an instrument at the tail consisting of white cartilaginous rays, disposed in a circle, one row within another, and ...
-The Skipper
Why is the skipper so called? Because of the singular dexterity with which, when lying on its back, it throws itself into the air, and falls on its feet. Why is the light of the skipper supe...
-The Earwig
Why is the earwig so called? Because of its supposed predilection for entering the human ear. Whether or not they ever did enter the human ear is doubtful, - that they might endeavour to do so, und...
-Hemiptera. The Mantis
Why are certain insects termed walking leaves ? Because their wing-cases, not only in colour, but in texture, and even in veining, are so exactly like leaves, from the fresh green of those newly ex...
-The Cricket
Why do we use the simile, merry as a cricket? Because, quitting its summer abode, about the end of August, and fixing its residence by the fireside of kitchens or cottages, the cricket is as mer...
-Locusts
Why are locusts the scourge of oriental countries ? Because their devastations are so formidable, as sometimes to cause general scarcity and famine. They have likewise swarmed in Europe. In 1748 th...
-The Lantern Fly
Why is the lantern fly so called? Because it emits a strong light from a horny bladder on the head, almost as large as the whole body, so that the natives of Guinea use them as lanterns. The light,...
-The Froth Worm
Why is white froth so frequently seen in summer on willows, rose-trees, grass, etc.? Because it is thrown up by the larva of the cuckoo-spit frog-hopper, as a protection from the sun, the creature ...
-Aphides
Why do aphides or plant lice increase so rapidly? Because one impregnation not only renders fertile the eggs of the individual, but the animals produced from these, and the eggs of these again, unt...
-Kermes And Lac
Why is the kermes so highly prized? Because, in the south of Europe, where it is found, on holly, carmine is prepared by sprinkling vinegar on the berry or gall-shaped nests of this animal's eggs. ...
-Cochineal Insect
Why was the cochineal insect originally supposed to be a grain or seed? Because, during the whole term of its life, it remains fixed to the spot where it first settled, and to the vegetable nipple ...
-Lepidoptera. Butterflies And Moths
Why do butterflies often fly circuitously ? Because one sex pursues through the air the track of the other. - Butterflies also migrate in immense swarms. M. Hubert relates the flight of a column of...
-The Silkworm
Why does the silkworm spin a silky cocoon ? Because it may therein change from the caterpillar to the pupa state in greater safety. This cocoon it prepares from a gum or tenacious fluid contained i...
-The Silkworm. Continued
Why has it been inferred that silk is a vegetable, not an animal product? Because part of the interior of the white mulberry, upon which silkworms thrive best, is composed of a tissue of beautiful ...
-The Cossus
Why is the cossus so destructive to the trees on which it lives? Because it exists as a caterpillar three years previous to its changing into the pupa state. It is so tenacious of life, that it wil...
-Neuroptera. The Dragon-Fly
Why are the larger dragon-flies usually called horse-stingers? Because they are supposed to have a propensity to sting horses, and (it may be presumed) any other animal which may irritate them. But...
-The Day-Fly
Why is the ephemera or day-fly so called? Because it lives but a very short time in its perfect state ; often only for a few hours. Day-flies live in water some years as larvae. After that time, in...
-The Caddis
Why does the caddis-worm, or larva of the water-moth, encase itself with shells, stems, leaves, straws, etc.? Because its form is but little adapted for swimming: its long body, encumbered with six...
-Hemorobius
Why does the hemorobius perla fasten its eggs to the leaves of trees, upon upright bristle-like points? Because the aphis has previously laid its eggs upon these leaves, and the young aphides would...
-Ant-Lion
Why is the ant-lion so called? Because, when in its larva state, it digs, with its leg for a shovel, a funnel-shaped pit in the sand, and covers itself up to the neck, laying wait for and destroyin...
-Hymenoptera. Gall Insects
Why are apples produced on oak-trees? Because the female gall-fly lays her eggs in the buds, which consequently swell, and the excrescences serve for the abode of the larva until it has complete...
-The Ichneumon Fly
Why do ichneumon flies materially contribute to the destruction of caterpillars, spiders, etc.? Because they lay their eggs in living caterpillars, which consequently become diseased, and die eithe...
-The Wasp
Why are there usually two holes in the outer walls of of a wasp's nest? Because they may serve as the gates of the city; according to Reaumur, one of them is for ingress and the other for egress; a...
-The Hornet
Why is the hornet so fatal to wasps? Because it not only seizes the wasps while feeding, but hawks after them when on the wing. Having captured them, the first operation is to snip off the head, th...
-Bees
Why are bees the most persecuted of insects ? Because every living thing, from man down to an ephemeral insect, pursues the bee to its destruction for the sake of the honey that is deposited in its...
-Bees. Part 2
Why do bees build their cells of a six-sided form ? Because it is one of the only three figures by which a space can be filled with cells, without leaving any space between them ; and is the most c...
-Bees. Part 3
Why is it evident that all the operations of a swarm of bees are dictated by previous concert and the most systematic arrangement? Because of their precaution in reconnoitring the situation where t...
-Ants
Why is the alleged providence of ants more valuable as a moral lesson than for its fidelity to nature? Because, so far from ants storing up corn for winter provision, no species of them even eat gr...
-Diptera. The House-Fly
Why are flies continually brushing themselves with their feet and legs? Because by this means they rub off the dust, and clean their eyes, head, corslet, and wings, - and to enable them to do this,...
-Aptera. The Flea
Why has the flea been quoted as an instance of insects excelling in muscular power , in proportion to their diminutiveness? Because it has been known to draw 70 or 80 times its own weight, resist t...
-Spiders
Why do some spiders rest in the centre of their webs? Because the outstretched cordage may warn them of the temporary entanglement of their prey, on which they instantly rush, and devour, after the...
-The Scorpion
Why does the scorpion carry its young on the back ? Because they are there protected and defended by the tail, at the extremity of which is the sting. Scorpions have frequent battles with ants, whi...
-Crab, Lobster, Etc
Why do not the crab and lobster appear thin when ill fed? Because the stomach is formed on a bony apparatus, in short, a species of skeleton ; and does not therefore collapse when empty. Hence th...









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