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system, and thus enables it to resist the agency of the frost. The man who wears a white hat acts upon this principle; for such a covering conducts less of the solar heat to the head than the black hat, which often produces serious consequences to its wearer in hot weather. Man adopts white clothing in summer, that the external heat may not be conducted into his already excited system; Arctic animals are provided with a similar covering in winter, that the internal heat of their bodies may not be conducted outwards.
The fox has a bad name; not, however, from any extensive injuries committed, but from a series of petty depredations, which keep up a constant animosity towards the race. His watchfulness in the neighbourhood of a hen-roost, and the quiet cunning by which he bears off first one and then another fat pullet, procures him no admiration from the dame who counts, with useless anger, her diminished brood. Reynard's proceedings doubtless merit capital punishment, for, not content with snatching off one chicken, and satisfying himself with his delicate morsel, he hides the prey, returns to the same place, inakes another capture, deposits that in a secluded spot, and so repeatedly pursues his nocturnal plunder until the alarm spreads through the farm-yard, when the stealthy burglar makes a speedy escape. It cannot, under these circumstances, be matter for surprise, if the housewife, who has just carried six chickens to market instead of twelve, rejoices at the sound of the fox-hounds, and refuses shelter to the bardpressed thief when chased by the fierce pack from his last cover.
We now turn from the fox to contemplate an animal which approaches much nearer to the true dog than the fox; but which Englishmen have no opportunity of seeing in their own country, except in zoological collections. The absence of jackals from England, and indeed from Europe, will not be regretted by the reader when he becomes aware of their disgusting voracity. They are abundant in Asia and Africa, where their long and dismal howling banishes sleep from the traveller. In these regions the jackals are, however, of great use, joining with the vulture in consuming all decaying matter, and thus discharging an important part in keeping the
air free from noxious exhalations. But this service does not render the jackal a favourite in his native regions, where the operations of their large packs prove a pest to the inhabitants, whose flocks are worried and destroyed by these marauding troops. When a band of jackals scent their prey, the pursuit begins by a combined scream, which, echoing over the ruins of ancient cities, sounds dismally amid the silence of the night. This sudden and melancholy howl is no sooner uttered by one pack, than it is taken up and prolonged by every jackal within hearing, so that from a dozen points the scream startles the Arab in his tent, and rouses the lion from his lair. The king of beasts no sooner hears the jackal's yell, than, darting in the direction of the cries, he hastens to secure the prey which they have started. From this circumstance, the jackal has been considered a friend of the lion; and some have even considered that the two animals hunt together by a species of agreement, the jackal starting, and the lion killing the prey. The simple fact is, that the lion knows by instinct the ineaning of the jackal's cry, which intimates that the pack is engaged in hunting, and of course rushes forwards to secure the victim for himself.
This animal follows armies, and feasts upon the bodies of those who are either left unburied, or laid in shallow graves, whence the ravenous creatures tear the half-buried corpses. They are even said to attack burial-places, and there feed, in horrible silence, on the dead.
These jackals are, it must be confessed, the most repulsive of all the Canis family, possessing nothing of the noble qualities belonging to the dog, and exhibiting all the displeasing properties of the carnivora. As we usually gaze upon the warlike eagle with pleasure, and upon the vulture with dislike, so we cannot avoid contrasting the generous bearing of the dog with the skulking cruelty of the jackal. Perhaps all this kind of feeling is wrong; for as every animal has its allotted task appointed by the Creator, so none should be regarded as unsuitable tenants of our globe.
The savage habits of the carnivorous tribes have been bestowed upon such beasts to fit them for their destined mode of life ; and however we may be shocked at the cruelty of the tiger, or disgusted by the properties of the jackal, these animals are necessary to the present constitution of things. The wolf cannot help following his ferocious propensities, which have been bestowed upon him by the same Being who has gifted men and angels with all the high attributes of a spiritual nature. Whilst, then, we indulge our natural feeling, by loathing some animals and caressing others, let us also remember that the most dreaded of the former have their especial uses in the great scheme of the creation.
The forms of these animals are probably known to the reader, as several of the varieties are exhibited in the gardens of the Zoological Society, Regent's Park. There may be seen specimens of the striped, spotted, and laughing hyenas; and a few minutes careful observation will place before the spectator most of the peculiarities of this tribe.
The excitability of the animals is shewn by their unwillingness to remain at rest in their dens, moving constantly from side to side, as if seeking, with irrepressible pertinacity, for some outlet into the bright fields beyond their prisons. The writer, whilst recently passing their habitation, was struck by the contrast between the hyenas and other beasts of prey in their neighbourhood. The latter were for the most part reposing; even the leopards seemed occupied in a sort of quiet speculation on their past lives, whilst the lions and bears had forgotten their troubles in sleep: but not so the hyenas; these were raging to and fro, as if determined to wage a perpetual strife with their destiny.
Some naturalists have placed these animals in the same class with the dog; but most dissent from this arrangement, and regard the hyena as distinct from all the canine family. The teeth of the latter are usually forty-two in number, whilst those of the hyena are but thirty-two; a difference which in itself would suffice to separate the two genera. The teeth and jaws are also remarkable for the crushing force with which they break the largest bones—a power which renders the bite of the hyena peculiarly dangerous. Their habits correspond with this organisation, as they manifest the greatest delight in gnawing and grinding bones, rather than in tearing solid Aesh. This fact has enabled modern geologists to detect the ancient habitations of hyenas in those singular caverns which have been opened by the research of scientific men. Thus, in various parts of England, such as Kirkdale in Yorkshire, Yealm Bridge near Plymouth, the rocks near Swansea, and the gravel deposits near Rugby, fossil' bories are discovered, marked by the teeth of hyenas. Such animals, in all probability, inhabited this country in those remote ages when perhaps the whole of Britain was covered by dense forests and wide-spreading marshes; when man was a stranger to the wild region, and the ground on which London stands was the haunt of now extinct races of reptiles. In those times it seems likely that the fierce hyenas tenanted the caverns where, after so many ages, the bones which they gnawed and broke are found by the Bucklands or Sedgwicks of our times. What a strange book is thus opened to the study of men from the fragments of broken bones left by the hyenas some thousand years ago!' The tendency of the hyena to luxuriate over a bone is necessary to render the animal an efficient consumer of dead animal matter in hot regions. When the vultures have torn the flesh from the exposed skeleton, the hyenas follow to finish the work by devouring the very bones themselves, or so gnawing them that nothing remains to taint the heated air. Thus, in the great field of nature, we see a succession of causes at work, all tending to one great end. The lion, tiger, and eagle kill, and so prevent the injurious increase of many an animal. The vulture and jackals succeed in clearing the putrifying fragments from the earth, whilst the hyena follows to complete the total consumption. The advantage to human health in hot regions from these operations exceeds the appreciation of the whole College of Physicians. Hence we must not forget how closely even the savage hyena is connected with our interests, or those of our fellow-men in remote lands.
1 A term used to designate the remains of animals or vegetables dug from the earth after being buried for many ages. The word is from the Latin fossilis, which may be derived from fossa, a ditch or excavation.
But we must now turn to some of the carnivorous peculiarities of the hyena. Few travellers will ever have the opportunity of making that close acquaintance with a hyena which Bruce records, who was startled one night by observing two flashing eyes fixed upon him; and fewer still will have the honour of killing the visitor. But the following cases will prove that the hyena is a formidable animal when a large troop makes its abode in the neighbourhood of some Hottentot camp. A gentleman, well acquainted with Africa, after describing some ravages of these creatures, says: “ The first I shall mention is the attack upon a grandson of Dupas, a boy about ten years of age. The hyena had previously seized a younger brother, and torn away part of his face. Another night he came into the house, and took a second, carrying him completely off, nothing more than a small fragment being found. On his third visit, he seized the lad first mentioned by the left shoulder. The little fellow, awakened by this grasp, struck him with his hand; the hyena let go his hold, and, seizing him on the opposite side, broke his collar-bone. The poor boy
| The Kirkdale cave is a limestone recess not far from the ancient church. On the floor, buried beneath a layer of mud and spar, the bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, bear, hippopotamus, and hyena have been found, the most abundant belonging to these last-mentioned animals.
still fought with his left hand, and his antagonist letting go his hold a second time, grasped him by the fleshy part of his thigh, and ran off with his prey; nor was it until he had carried him a quarter of a mile that he could be made to drop him, when, biting away the precious mouthful, he left the little sufferer with his thigh half severed; but fortunately the bone was not broken. The second instance is of a little girl, about eight years of age, who was reclining on the ground, in the cool of the day, when four of these monsters rushed upon the place; one of them seized the little creature by the head, a second by the shoulder, and the other two by the thighs. The people of the kraal flew to her help with all possible speed, and succeeded in releasing her, but apparently too late.” She was brought to the station at Mamboland with fourteen large wounds, and the mouth torn open to the ear; but, notwithstanding these severe injuries, the child finally recovered.
Many maintain that the hyena prefers human to other flesh; and instances have occurred in which these animals have passed by, and even through, a herd of flocks, to reach the spot where the family of the settler is sleeping. Whether such cases prove the preference just mentioned, it is not necessary to inquire; but the former belief is firmly held by the inhabitants of the hyena countries.
The most usual varieties are the striped and spotted hyenas ; the first inhabiting Morocco, Egypt, and Persia; the second infesting the southern regions of Africa, and especially making its unwelcome home amongst the Caffres and Hottentots. Dr. Buckland's remarks on the strength of jaw displayed by an animal of the former species may not be unacceptable to the reader.
“I was enabled,” says Dr. Buckland,“ to observe the animal's mode of proceeding in the destruction of bones. The shin-bone of an ox being presented to this hyena, he began to bite off with bis molar teeth large fragments from its upper extremity, and swallowed them whole as fast as they were broken off; on his reaching the medullary cavity, the bone split into angular fragments, many of which he caught up greedily and swallowed entire. He went on cracking it till he had extracted all the marrow, licking out the lowest portion of it with his tongue; this done, he left untouched the lower condyle, which contains no marrow, and is very hard. I
gave the animal successively three shin-bones of a sheep; he snapped them asunder in a moment, dividing each in two parts only, which he swallowed entire without the smallest mastication. On the keeper putting a spar of wood two inches in diameter into his den, he cracked it in pieces as if it had been touchwood, and in a minute the whole was reduced to a mass of splinters. The power of his jaw far exceeded any animal force of the kind I ever saw exerted, and reminded me of nothing so