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by spreading itself like a plastic
mould over one side of the trunk of its
supporter. It then puts forth from
each side an arm-like branch, which
grows rapidly, and lf>oks as though a
stream of sap were fiowing and hard-
ening as it went This adheres closely
to the trunk of the victim, and the
two arms meet on the opposite side
and blend together. These arms are
put forth at somewhat regular inter-
vals in mounting upward, and the
victim when its strangler is full grown
becomes tightly clasped by a number
of infiexible rings. These rings grad-
ually grow larger as the murderer
fiourishes, rearing its crown of foliage
to the sky mingled with that of its
neighbor, and in course of time they
kill it by stopping the fiow of its sap.
The strange spectacle then remains of
the selfish parasite clasping in its
arms the lifeless and decaying body of
its victim, which had been a help to
its own growth. Its ends have been
served — ^it has flowered and fruited,
reproduced and disseminated its kind ;
and now when the dead trunk moul-
ders away, its own end approaches ;
its support is gone, and itself also
falls.''

The strangling properties of some
of the fig-ti'ee family are indeed very
remarkable, and may be witnessed
not only in South America, but in In-
dia, Ceylon, and Australia. Frazer
observed several kinds of Ficus, more
than 150 feet high, embracing huge
ironbark trees in the forests at More-
ton Bay. The Finis repens, according
to Sir Emerson Tennent, is of^en to be
seen clambering over rocks, like ivy,
turning tlirough heaps of stones, or
ascending some tall tree to the height
of thirty or forty feet, while the tliick-
ness of its own stem does not exceed
a quarter of an inch. The small
plants of this family, of which the
Murdering Liana is one species, grow
and reproduce their kind from seeds



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deposited in the ground ; but the huge
representatiyes of the family^ sach as
Che banjan-tree, whose



\ twigs take root, and danghten grow

▲boat the mother tree ;**

and the Peepul^ or sacred Bo-tree of
the Buddhists {Ficus reltgiosa)^ origi-
nate from seeds carried bj birds to
upper portions of some palm or other
tree. Fig-trees, as Sir £. Tennent
has remarked, are *^ the Thugs of the
vegetable world ; for, though not ne-
eeflsarfly epiphytic, it may be said
that, in point of fftct, no single plant
cornea to perfection or acq&ires even
partial development without the de-
Btmction of some other on which to fix
itself as its supporter." The mode of
growth of these trees is well described
by the excellent writer just mentioned,
and we shall make use of his own lan-
guage:

** The fiuntly generally make their
first appearance as slender roots hang-
ing firom the crown or trunk of some
other tree, generally a palm, among
the moist bases of whose leaves the
seed carried thither by some bird
which had fed upon the fig begins to
germinate. This root, branching as it
descends, envelops the trunk of the
supporting tree with a net-work of
wood, and at length, penetrating the
groond, attains the dimensions of a
stem. But, unlike a stem, it throws
out no buds or flowers ; the true stem,
with its branches, its foliage, and fruit,
springs upward from the crown of the
tree whence the root is seen descend-
ing ; and fit>m it issue the pendulous
rootlets, which on reaching the earth
fix themselves firmly, and form the
marvellous growth for which the ban-
yan is so celebrated. In the depth of
this grove the original tree is incar-
cerated tUl, literally strangled by the
folds and weight of its resistless com-
panion, it dies and leaves the fig in
nndtftinbed possession of its place.***
Bat not trees alone do these vegetable
garrotters embrace in their fatal grasp,
anient monuments are also destroyed



by these formidable assailants. Sir
E.Teunent has given an engraving of
a fig-tree on the ruins at Poilanarrua,
in Ceylon, which had fixed hself on
the walls - -a curious sight, indeed*—
*^ its roots streaming downward over
the rains as if they had once been
fluid, following every sinuosity of
the building and terraces till they
reach the earth.** An extremely iu-
teresting series of drawings is now to
be seen in the Linnean Society's room
at Burlington House, illustrating the
mode of growth of another strangling
or murdering tree, of New Zealand,
belonging to an entirely different order
from that to which the figs belong
{UrHcace(B)j namely, to one of the
m^prtace{B. The association of garrot-
ting habits with those of the stinging
nettle family is apt enough, we may
be inclined to think ; but it is rather
disappointing to meet with these disa-
greeable peculiarities in the case of
the myrtle group; but such is the fact:
the Rata, or Metrosideros robusta — ^as
we believe is the species-— climbs to
the summits of mighty trees of the
forest of Wangaroa, and kills them in
its iron grasp. But, notwithstanding
these unpleasant impressions which
^ the reckless energy of the vegetation
might produce** in the traveller's nund, |
there is plenty in tropical nature to
counteract them :

" There is the incomparable beauty
and variety of the foliage, the vivid
color, the richness and exuberance
everywhere displayed, which make the
richest woodland scenery in northern
Europe a sterile desert in comparison.
But it is especially the enjoyment of
life manifested by individual exist-
ences which compensates for the de-
struction and pain caused by the in-
evitable competition. Although this
competition is nowhere more active,
and the dangers to which each individ-
ual is exposed nowhere more numer-
ous, yet nowhere is this enjoyment
more vividly displayed.**

Mr. Bates mentions a peculiar feat-
ure in some of the colossal trees which
here and there monopolize a large



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space in ttie forests. The height of
some of these giants he estimates at
from 180 to 200 feet, whose ''vast
dome of foliage rises above the other
forest trees as a domed cathedral does
above the other baildings in a city.''
In most of the large drees of different
species is to be seen " a growth of
buttress-shaped projections around the
lower part of their stems. The spaces
between these buttresses — ^which are
generally thin walls of wood — ^form
spacious chambers, and may be com-
pared to stalls in a stable; some of
them are large enough to hold half-a-
dozen persons." What are these but-
tresses, how do they originate, ' and
what is their use ? We have already
seen how great is the competition
amongst the trees of a primeval forest,
and how every square inch is eagerly
battled for by the number of competi-
tors. In consequence of this it is ob-
vious that lateral growth of roots in
the earth is a difficult matter. ^ Ne-
cessity being the mother of inven-
tion,'' the roots, unable to expand lat-
erally, ''raise themselves ridge-like
out of the earth, growing gradually
upward as the increasing height of
the tree required augmented support.**
A beautiful compensation, truly, and
full of deep interest ! As Londoners
add upper stories to their houses
where competition has rendered later-
al additions impossible, so these gigan-
tic trees, in order to sustain the mas-
sive crown and trunk, strengthen their
roots by upper additions.

One of tiie most striking features in
tropical sceneiy is the suddenness
witii which the leaves and blossoms
spring into fiiU beauty. "Some
mornings a single tree would appear
in flower amidst what was the preced-
ing evening a uniform green mass of
foresty— 41 dome of blossom suddenly
created as if by magic** In the early
mornings, soon after dawn, the sky is
always without a cloud, the thermom-
eter marking 72** or 73° Fahr. Now
all nature is fresh, and the birds in
the full enjoyment of their existence,
the "shrill yelping** of the toucans be-



ing frequently heard from their abode
amongst the wild fruit-trees of the for-
est; flocks of parrots appear in dis-
tinct relief against the blue sky, al-
ways two by two, chattering to each
other, the pairs being separated by
regular intervals, too high, hpwever,
to reveal the bright colors of their
plumage. The greatest heat of the
day is about two o'clock, by which
time, the thermometer being 92° or
93° Fahr.,- " every voice of bird or
mammal is hushed ; only in the trees
is heard at intervals the harsh whirr
of a cicada. The leaves, which were
so fresh and moist in early morning,
now become lax and drooping, and
the flowers shed their petals, llie In-
dian and mulatto inhabitants sleep in
their hammocks, or sit on mats in the
shade, too languid even to talk."

Mr. Bates has ^ven a graphic pic-
ture of tropical nature at the approach
of rain:

" First, the cool sea-breeze which
commenced to blow about ten o'clock,
and which had increased in force with
the increasing power of the sun,
would flag and finally die away. The
heat and electric tension of the atmos-
phere would then become almost in-
supportable. Languor and uneasiness
would seize on every one ; even the
denizens of the forest betraying it by
their motions. White clouds would
appear in the east and gather into
cumuli, with an increasing blackness
along their lower portions. The whole
eastern horizon would become almost
suddenly black, and this would spread
upward, the sun at length becoming
obscured. Then the rush of a mighty
wind is heard through the forest,
swaying the tree-tops ; a vivid flash of
lightning bursts forth, then a ci'aah of
thunder, and down streams the delug-
ing rain. Such storms soon cease,
leaving bluish-black motionless clouds
in the sky until night. Meanwhile aH
nature is refreshed; but heaps of
flower petals and fkllen leaves are
seen under the trees. Toward even-
ing life revives again, and the ringing
uproar is resumed frtm bush and tree*



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185



The following morning tbe son again
rises in a cloudless sky, and so the cy-
cle is completed ; spring, summer, and
autumn, as it were, in one tropical
day.**

With regard to animal life in the
Amazonian forests, it appears that
there is a great yariety of mammals,
birds, and reptiles, but Uiey are veiy
shy, and widely scattered. Brazil is
poor in terrestrial aninuds, and the
species are of small size. ^ The hunts-
man would be disappointed who ex-
pected to find here flocks of animals
similar to the bufialo herds of North
America, or tbe swarms of antelopes
and herds of ponderous pachyderms
of southern Africa.''

It has already been observed that
the mammals of Brazil are, for the
most part, arboreal in their habits;
this is especially the case with the
monkeys, or Oehida, a family of quad-
mmanous animals peculiar to the new
world. The reader may observe the
habits of some species of this group in
the monkey-house of the Zoological
Society's Gardens in Regent* s Park.
The strong muscular tail, with its
naked pafan under the tip, which many
of the CebidiB possess, renders them
peculiarly well adapted to a forest
life. Mr. Bates states that thirty-
eight species of this family of monkey
inhabit the Amazon region, and con-
siders the Goaitds, or spider-monkeys,
" as the extreme development of the
American type of apes." The flesh
of one species of Coaitd is much es-
teemed as an article of food by the
natives in some parts of the country.
The Indians, we are told, are very
fbnd of Coaitds as pets.

Some of our readers are doubtless
acquainted with the name of Madame
Maria Sibylla Merian, a Grcrman lady
who was bom about the middle of the
seventeenth century. She was much
devoted to the study of natural his-
tory, and travelled to Surinatn for the
purpose q( making drawings of its ani-
mal productions ; many of these draw-
ings are now in the British Museum.
This estimable lady, amongst other



curiosities of natural history, affirmed
the two following ones :— 1. The lan-
tern-fly {Fulgora lantemaria) emits
so strong a light from its body as to
enable a person in the night-time to
read a newspaper by it. 2. The large
spider {MygciU) enters the nests of £e
little humming-birds, and destroys the
inmates. It would occupy too much
time to tell of the mass of evidence
which was adduced ia denial of
these recorded facts, but, suffice it to
say that Madame Merian was set
down as an arch-heretic and inventor,
and that no credit was attached to her
statements. With regard to the firsts
named heresy, the opinion of modem
zoologists is, that there is nothing
at aU improbable in the circumstance
of the Fulgora emitting a strong Hght,
as luminous properties are known to
exist in other insects, but that the fact
has been rather over-colored by the
imagination of the worthy lady. As
to the second question, about the bird-
destroying propensities of the Mygale,
let us hear the testimony of so thor-
oughly tmstworthy a witness as Mr
Bates :

" In the course of our walk" (be-
tween the Tocantins and Cameta) ^ I
chanced to verify a fact relating to
the habits of a large hairy spider of
the genus Mygale, in a manner worth
recording. The species was M* avic'
tUaria, or one very closely allied to it;
the individual was nearly two inches
in length of body, but the legs expand-
ed seven inches, and the entire body
and legs wesft covered with coarse
grey and reddish hairs. I was at-
tracted by a movement of the monster
on a tree-tmnk ; it was close beneath
a deep crevice in the tree, across
which was stretched a dense white
web. The lower part of the web jyaa
broken, and two small birds, finches,
were entangled in the pieces ; they
were ab6ut the size of the English sis-
kin, and I judged the two to be male
and female. One of them was quite
dead, the other lay under the body of
the spider not quite dead, and was
. smeared with the filthy liquor or sali-



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Gkamngi from the NuOural Mitary of the Tropics.



va exuded hy the monster. I drove
away the spider and took the birdfl,
but the second one soon died. The
fact of^ species of Mjgale sallying
forth at night, mounting trees^ and
sucking the eggs and young of hum-
ming-birds, has been recorded long
ago by Madame Merian and Palisot
de Beauvois; but, in the absence of
any confirmation, it has come to be dis-
ci edited. From the way the fact has
been rekited it would appear that it
had been merely derived from the re-
port of natives, and had not been wit*
nessed by the narrators. Count
Langsdorn, in his 'Expedition into
the Interior of Brazil,' states that he
totally disbelieved the story. I found
^e cii'cumstance to be quite a novelty
to the residents here about The My-
gales are quite common insects ; some
species make their cells under stones,
others form artistical tunnels in the
earth, and some build their dens in
the thatch of houses. The natives
call them Aranhcts carangueijetras, or
crab spiders. The hairs with which
they are clothed come off when touch-
ed, and cause a peculiar and almost
maddening irritation. The first speci-
men that I killed and prepared was
handled incautiously, and I suffered
terribly for three days afterward. I
think this is not owing to any poison-
ous quality residing in the hairs, but
to their bemg short and hard, and thus
getting into the fine creases of the
skin. Some Mygales are of immense
size. One day I saw the children be-
longing to an Indian who collected for
me with one of these monsters secured
by a cord round its waist, by which
they were leading it about the house as
they would a dog."

The name of " ant" has only to be
mentioned, and the strange habits of
the various species immediately sug-
gest themselves to the mind of the
naturalist, who is always interested in,
and amply repaid by, watching these
insects with the closest scrutiny.
Brazil abounds in ants, one species of
which, the Dinoponera grandis, is an
inch and a quarter in length ; but by



far the most interesting to the natural-
ist, as well as one of the most destruc-
tive to the cultivated trees of the coun-
try, is the leaf-carrying ant {^codoma
cephalotei). In some districts, we are
told, it is so abundant that agriculture
is almost impossible, and everywhere
complaints are heard of the terrible
pest. This insect derives its specific
name o£cephalotes from the extraordi-
nary size of the heads belonging to twd
of the orders, which, with a third
kind, constitute the colony. The for-
micarian establishment consists of: 1.
Worker minors; 2. Worker majors;
3. Subterranean workers. The first-
named kind alone does the real active
work. The two last contain the indi-
viduab with the enormous heads ;
their functions are not clearly ascer-
tained. In color they are a pale red-
dish-brown, and the thorax of the true
worker, which is the smallest of the
orders, is armed with three pairs of
sharp spines ; the head is provided
with a pair of similar spines proceed-
ing from the cheeks behind. This ant,
known by the native name of Saliba,
has long been celebrated for its habit
of clipping of[^ and carrying away,
large quantities of leaves :

" When employed in this work,"
Mr. Bates says, << their processions
look like a multitude of animated
leaves on the march. In some places
I found an accumulation of such
leaves, all circular pieces, about the
size of a sixpence, lying on the path-
way, unattended by the ants, and at
some distance from any colony. Such
heaps are always found to be removed
when the pUvce is revisited next day.
In course of time I had plenty of op-
portunities of seeing them at work.
They mount the tree in multitudes,
the individuals being all worker min-
ors. Each one places itself on the
surface of a leaf, and cuts with its
sharp scissor-like jaws, and by a sharp
jerk detaches the piece. Sometimes
they let the leaf drop to the ground,
where a little heap accumulates until
carried off by another relay of work-
ers ; but generally each marches off



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187



with the piece it has operated upoot
and as all take the same road to Uieir
oolonj, the path thej follow becomes
in a ehort time smooth and bare,
looking like the impression of a cart-
wheel throagh the herbage/'

The Saiiba ant is peculiar to tropi-
cal America, and, thoi^gh it is injuria
out to the wild native trees of the
coontry, it seems to have a preference
to the coffee and orange trees and
other imported plants. The leaves
mhifh the Sattba cuts and carries
awaj are used to ^ thatch the domes
which cover the entrances to their
Sttbterianean dwellings, thereby pro-
tecting from the deluging rains the
young broods in the nests beneath/'
The insects proceed according to a
most orderly method, 'Uhe heavily-
laden workers, each carrying its seg-
ment of leaf vertically, the lower edge
Mcured in its mandibles, troop up, and
cast their burdens on the hillock ; an-
other body of laborers place the leaves
in po»don, covering them with a
layer of earthy granules, which are
brought one by one from the soil be-
neath." The labors of this curious
insect are immense, and no obstacles
stop their excavations. An allied
species of Rio de Janeiro worked a
lonnei under the bed of the river Para-
hyba, at a place where it ia as broad
as ^e Thames at Iiondon Bridge.
These ants are sad rogues, being
household plunderers and robbers of
the farmha, or mandioca meal, of the
poor inhabitants of Brazil ; and Mr.
Bates was obliged' to lay trains of gun-
powder along their line of march to
blow them up, which in the end re-
sulted in scaring the burglars away.
Wie have already alluded to the mas-
sire heads possessed by the migor tmd
subterranean kinds of neuters, and
stated that the work is done by the
worker minor or small-headed kind.
With regard to the function of the
large-headed worker m%jor, Mr. Bates
was unable to satisfy himself:

" They are not the soldiers or de-
fenders of the working portion of the
community, like the armed dass in the



termites^ or white ants, for they never
fighL The species has no sting, and
does not display active resistance
when interfered with. I once imagined
they exercised a sort of superintend-
ence over the others; but this fuucr
tion is entirely unnecessary in a com-
munity where all work with a preci-
sion and regularity resembling the
subordinate parts of a piece of ma-
chinery. I came to the conclusion, at
last, that they have no very precisely
defined i^nction. They cannot, how-
ever, be entirely useless to the commu-
nity, for the sustenance of an idle
class of such bulky individuals would
be too heavy a charge for the species
to sustain. I think they serve in
some sort as passive instruments of
protection to the real workers. Their
enormously large, hard, and indestruc-
tible heads may be of use in protect-
ing them against the attacks of insec-
tivorous animals. They would be, on
this view, a kind of pieces dc resist
cmcBj serving as a foil against on-
slaughts made on the main body of
workers.**

But the third order, the subtext
ranean kind, we are told, is the most
curious of all :

" If the top of a small, fresh hillook,
one in which the thatching process is
going on, be taken off, a broad cylin-
drical shadt is disclosed, at a depUi
about two feet from the surface. If
this be probed with a stick, which
may be done to the extent of three or
four feet without touching bottom, a
small number of colossal fellows wiU
slowly begin to make their way up the
smooth sides of the mine. Their
heads are of the same size as those of
the other class (worker m^or) ; but
the front is clothed with hairs instead
of being polished, and they have in
the middle of the forehead a twin
ocellus, or simple eye, of quite differ-
ent structure from the ordinary com-
pound eyes on the side of the head.
This frontal eye is totally wanting in
the other workers, and is not known
in any other kind of ant. The appari-
tion of these strange creatures from



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GhaningB from the JSfaharal Mstory of the TVopies.



the caTemous depths of the mine re-
minded one, when I first observed
them, of the Cyclopes of Homerie
fable. They were not very pugna-
cious, as I feared they would be, and
I had no difficulty in securing a few
with my fingers. I never saw them
under any circumstances than those
here related, and what their special
fimctions may be I cannot divine."

The naturalist traveller, in the
midst of much that interests and de-
lights him, has to put up with a great
deal that is annoying, and Mr. Bates
proved no exception to the rule. The
first few nights when at Caripf, he
was much troubled with bats; the
room where he sleptthad not been oc-
cupied for several months, and the
roof was open to the tiles and rafters :

" On one night,'' he says, " I was
aroused about midnight by the rushing
noise made by vast hosts of bats
sweeping about the room. The air
was alive with them; they had put
out the lamp, and when I relighted it,
the place appeared blackened with
the impish multitudes that were whirl-
ing round and round. After I had
lain about well with a stick for a few
minutes they disappeared amongst the
tiles, but when all was still again they
returned, and once more extinguished
the light I took no further notice of
them and went to sleep. The next
night several got into my hammock ;
I seized them as they were crawling
over me, and dashed them against the
wall. The next morning I found a
wound, evidently caused by a bat, on
my hip."

Bats remind us of the vampire, a
native of South America, concerning
whose blood-sucking properties so
much discussion has been ^m time to
time raised. The vampire bat was
very common at £ga ; it is the largest
of the South American species. Of
this bat Mr. Bates writes :

<< Nothing in animal physiognomy
can be more hideous than the counte-
nauce of thb creature when viewed
from the front ; the large leathery ears
standing out from the sides and



top of the head, the erect, spear-ehiqied
appendage on the tip of the nose, the
grin, and glistening black eyes, aU
combining to make up a figure that
reminds one of some mocking imp of
fable. No wonder that imaginative
people have inferred diabolical in-
stincts on the part of so ugly an ani-
mal The vampire, however, is the
most harmless of all bats, and its ino^



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