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The Saint Paul globe. (St. Paul, Minn.) 1896-1905, April 30, 1905, Image 12

Image and text provided by Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90059523/1905-04-30/ed-1/seq-12/

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TTheGr§af Parade of to Join the Extinct
jT (WF short-sighted and improvident in
£ J^ the ruthless slaughter of giant fish,
birds and wild animals is man!
For months scientists have been busy at
the American Museum of Natural History in
New York, carefully fitting together and
mounting the bones of a wonderful zoological
link connecting the present with the prehis~
toric past.
He is known as the brontosaurus, a giant
lizard that roamed the earth probably ages
before man put In appearance. Great rejoicing
in scientific circles followed the discovery of
this skeleton in Wyoming.
And yet, not many years will have elapsed
before the bones of animals and birds now
familiar to men will be sought almost if not
quite as eagerly as curiosities for museums. A
steady procession is on the way to join the
brontosaurus in extinction. Already some of
them have gone.
No longer is seen the beautiful quagga,
only a few years ago so plentiful in Trans
vaal. Gone, too, is the bison from America's
western plains; the romantic sea cozy, from
which the legend of the mermaid came, from
Yvjp'' tnR sturdy Boers first trekked Into the wilds
Transvaal less than a century ago they found
thousands of a strange and beautiful animal
grazing upon its plains.
It was not a wild ass, nor yet a zebra, but partook of
the characteristics and conformation of both. The Boers
thought it a species of wild horse.
From the peculiar braying noise It made they named
it the quagga, and quagga it has been ever since, or was
Until 1565, when the last of a once numerous family dis
appeared from the Orange River section and Cape Colony.
The last specimen known to be alive died in the London
Zoological Gardens in 1872.
Beautifully marked was the quagga, although not so
elaborately as the zebra. Narrow black stripes on a chest
nut ground adorned its head, neck and forcquarters. The
hindquarters were devoid of stripes.
Although tractable and easily broken to harness when
tamed, the quagga was, naturally, the boldest and fiercest
of the whole horse tribe, easily and fearlessly beating oft
attacks of wild dogs and hyenas, and even preying ani
mals of greater size.
For this reason, the Boers never failed to pasture a
number of quagga with their herds of cattle, which were
seldom molested so long as these courageous animals were
on guard.
While the Dutch settlers did not like the flesh of the
quagga, they fed their Hottentot laborers with it.
So richly colored was the animal, and so great did the
demand for its leather become, that pothunters took to
slaughtering it for the hides. And that was tho last of
the quagga. Not a single specimen remains.
Following close upon the heels of the quagga is tho
stately and beautiful giraffe, now almos. a memory. From
most of his former haunts in Africa he has already dis
eppeared, although the whereabouts of two or three herds
far in the interior are said to be known to several hunters.
So rare has the giraffe become that a good specimen
readily brings $10,000 from a showman.
Africa, too. will before long see the last of her ele
phants, although his smaller brother of India, being able
and willing to work, will doubtless long survive.
It is within the memory of man when elephants might
be had in almost any section of Africa. So plentiful waa
he, and so great his appetite, that frequently he destroyed
almost entire forests In a night. Being useful, however,
only as a producer of wonderful tusks, he has already
been driven from his haunts in the far south, and haa
taken refuge, all that remain of him, In the centre of the
continent. Soon, too, he will be driven from there to join
his ancestor, the mammoth, and become only a creature of
the hazy past.
When England began the development of Australia
not so long ago, that land abounded in kangaroos. Now
Bcarcely a kangaroo is to be found there outside of a zoo.
It Is true that a few wild members of that species exist
in the more inaccessible districts, but as the plow and the
mining camps advance, even these are being killed off.
Within the lifetime of persons now upon the earth, the last
jrild kangaroo in Australia will no doubt be gone,
the waters of Alaska and Florida; the South
ern sea lion of Lower California; the great
auk of North America and Great Britain; the
apteryx, that curious wingless bird of New
Zealand; the once swarming Labrador duck.
sAnd all within the memory of men even now
Rapidly disappearing, too, are the musk
ox of the North, the sea otter, sea elephant,
walrus, California vulture,the great Galapagos
tortoise, the graceful giraffe, the fur seal.
Within a few years there will be no African
elephants or Australian kangaroos roaming
their native wilds.
And some of these animals are scarcely
less curious in form and habits than the
giant brontosaurus over whose skeleton scien
tists now rejoice.
Probably the shortest fight against man's commercial
aggressiveness was made by the sea cow, a curious marine
animal, found principally in Alaskan waters, although it
was sometimes seen In the Atlantic. It was from the
sea cow that the legend of the merm: IJ had its origin.
When Bering was returning from a voyage of ex
ploration in 1741, he found large numbers of sea cows on
the Commander group of islands off Alaska, and especially
upon the Island that now bears his name.
No such creature had ever been seen before, and ac
counts of its discovery aroused world-wide interest. The
sea cow was from ten to twenty feet long and somewhat
resembled the walrus, but without the latters tusks.
It had no teeth, horny plates covering the palate and
the opposing surface of the lower Jaw. From this fact it
is supposed it fed entirely upon soft sea weed. Stupid,
sluggish, almost helpless from the fact that it had no
hind limbs, and was unable to dive, it fell an easy prey
to man. The Indians ate its flesh; white men slaughtered
it for its hice. In 1765, twenty-seven years after its dis
covery, the sea cow had disappeared from Northern
Remains of this animal have been found at the mouths
of rivers in Florida and other Southern States. Natural
ists believe that a few specimens are still living in the
fastnesses of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, although
they are not sure.
Seen usually at the mouths of rivers, basking upon
rocks or the shore, with its sleek coat glistening in the
sun, ancient nav'gators, viewing it at a distance, Invested
it with romantic invention as being partly human, and so
the legend of the mermaid was evolved.
A cousin of the sea cow is the dugong, which even
now is hunted on the Barrier Reef of Australia and in
Philippine Island waters. It, however, survives only in
those two localities, and even there is very rare.
Almost extinct, too, is the sea elephant, or elephant
seal, now the largest of known animals. At one time the
sea elephant was so plentiful that he almost covered entire
islands in the southern Pacific. Upon Heard's Island, 200
miles south of Desolation Island, off Patagonia, one may
see even now miles of land covered with its bones.
It was plentiful, toe, in Patagonia, but has been ex
terminated there.
From twenty-four to thirty feet long, and sometimes
eighteen feet in circumference, the sea elephant resembles
en enormous seal, with a big and peculiar-looking pro
boscis, from which it derived its name.
Found in fresh-water lakes and swamps, as well as the
sea, this animal has been relentlessly slaughtered, an
adult male furnishing as much as seventy gallons of dear,
scentless oil.
Like seals, sea elephants are polygamous, each bull
lording It over a number t>f wives. As long as the head of
the family remains unhurt, the females cluster around
him. For that reason hunters always attack the females
first and readily kill them one by cne, reserving thes master
until the last.
A« late as 1882 the gTeat American bison roamed the
Western plains in countless throngs. With the young graaa
-Wrap—oj^ xk***a m-Ui/ife —wmruHrr. ArttiL. 3i>. iy()s
In the spring he appeared, traveling steadily from the
South, on. on to Canada. So plentiful and so stupid was
he that passengers on trains shot him from car windows.
Hunters killed him by the thousand for his hide and bones
alone. Whites and Indians alike believed that his species
would last forever. But already, alas! he is gone. The
story is too well known to tell again.
The lesson learned from the extermination of the
bison now is being repeated with his cousin of the North.
Once the musk ox roamed the world. He was found in
France, Germany. Russia, England, Siberia, Greenland
and far south In North America.
Now he survives only in Greenland and in Arctlo
America. From, all other lands he is gone.
Until a few years ago northern Canada thronged with
musk oxen. About two-thirds the size of i\ bison, he
somewhat resembles that animaL His powerful body is
covered by long, straight, coarse, dark-brown hair. Hair
even covers the bottoms of his hoofs, so that he may not
slip on icy rocks.
As the Western hunter coveted the bison's hide and
bones, so the Hudson Bay Company took to coveting the
hide of the musk ox. In the wlnter^it hunted him with
trained dogs; In the summer, it surrounded him and drove
him into lakes and slaughtered him, unresisting, there. In
1891 the Hudson Bay Company's harvest of musk oxen
skins was reduced from many thousands to 1358 skins. For
these it received $30 each.
Now, gradually hunted by man, dragged down by
wolves, the few musk oxen that remain are retreating
above the Arctic Circle, to live there on lichens and on
It is said that two herds of musk oxen are yet to be
found in Greenland; they were seen there two years ago.
About the same time, however, a band of wolves appeared,
and it Is dojbtful if many of them survive.
In ISSS the perfect skin of a full-grown sea otter could
be had for $100; now good specimens bring as much as
$1125 each. This tells the tale of the passing of that animal.
There is no rest, nor does there seem any refuge for
the sea otter. Netted in the sea, clubbed or shot to death
on shore, its chosen haunts made untenable, it haa be
come a marine Ishraael against whom every man's hand
Is set.
Not so many years ago sea otter were to be found in
great numbers on the northern Pacific and Alaskan
water?, both on the American and Siberian sides. On the
North American coast, it was seen a3 far south as Cali
fornia; Kamchatka was its principal habitat on the other
Shorter and thicker than the ordinary land otter, the
sea otter is pwimtil of a broad muzzle, though of
scarcely any neck. Its feet are webbed and lengthened
and expanded, and so are employed almost exclusively as
paddles. Covering a skin fitted as loosely over the body
as a pillowcase fits a pillow, the fur is a rich dark brown,
unrivaled in its softness.
Instead of being a»fish-eater like its land brother, the
sea otter grinds up sea urchins, clams and mussels and
gulps them down, shells and aIL
It was while upon shore In search of such f-od and a
place to sleep that thousands of them were slaughtered.
Now it has taken to slumbering in floating sea weed and"
feeding in water thirty fathoms deep.
Duiing the decade between 1873 and ISB3, from 2500 to
4000 Bca otters were captured every year around Alaska
alone. In 1896 the captures had dwindled to 724, and now
scarcely any are to be found.
Going to Join the brontosaurus, too, is the once numer
ous tribe of the walrus, with its long ivory tusks and
scarred and wrinkled face.
.Formerly plentiful along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts
of North America, and especially in Pacific waters, the
rush of this animal toward extinction has been rapid. In
three years—lßßo to ISS3—the value of a walrus tusk roso
from $1 to $4.50
Now the ones in California waters are protected by
law, and a small but contented colony may be seen Just
within the Golden Gate.
White hunters kill the walrus principally for its tusks,
which yield an ivory that, although inferior to elephant
ivory in many ways, retains its whiteness considerably
longer. To the Eskimo the animal is a moving store
house of treasure. They sell the ivory, eat the flesh, use
the blubber for lights and fuel, and clothe themselves
with the skin. But even in the Arctic the walrus is being
hunted into oblivion.
Time was, and not so long ago at that, when vessels
returning from the South Pacific created more than a
little curiosity by exhibiting the enormous sholl of the
Galapagos tortoise, if not a living specimen of that slant
In fact, the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecua
dor, would scarcely be known were it not for their tor
toises. So plentiful were they that droves numbering from
2000 to 3000 apiece frequently were seen, each member
weighing from 700 to 800 pounds, but when it was found
that market could be had for the oil they contained, they
were slaughtered right and left. In 1573 Captain Cookson,
calling at the islands, found seven men there making a
systematic business of killing tortoise. They gathered as
much as 3000 gallons of oil a year. As the average yield
Is one gallon per tortoise, the extent of the slaughter can
be appreciated. Hundreds of the ycung reptiles, too, v.ere
killed by dogs.
And yet the Galapagos tortoise has proved the salva
tion of many a mariner. Upon long voyages, whalers were
wont to refill their water casks upon the islands that dot
the cruising grounds.
Frequently the Galapagos Islands were visited for this
purpose. Upon one occasion some thirsty sailors could
find no water except in the stomach of a tortoise. Since
that time seamen have frequently replenished their 6hips'
supply of water from the stomachs of tortoises. No won
der the epecies is about extinct.
Four other species of giant tortoise are now also about
gone. They lived in the Marcarene group of islands, in
Mauritius and in Rodenguez Islands, in the Indian Ocean.
But the becsts that live on land and sea are not alone
In going to join the brontosaurus as a creature of the
past. Birds are going also.
"Within the past fifty years has the great auk disap
peared. The last of their kind were a,stately male and
female on one of the Orkney Islands. They were known
as the king and queen of the auks.
Even brevet royalty did not render these lonely de
scendants of a once-prosperous line immune. They were
hunted repeatedly, but, like the others of their species,
were so agile and swift in the water that they eluded their
fate for years.
Finally a well-directed shot brought down the queen,
but the bereaved king lived several weeks longer. At one
time he was chased upon the sea for several hours, but
twain faster than six men could row a boat. Now his
mounted body stands beside that of his queen in the
British Museum.
This was In 1844. The last of the great auks in America
had disappeared four years before.
Upon this side the Atlantic the habitat of the crrcat
auk was Labrador, although It is thought the birds at one
time lived as far south as Florida. Skeletons have also
been found in Iceland and Scotland.
Resembling a penguin, the great auk always stood
majestically erect, and was nearly three feet tall. Its
eggs were popular as food. Only two eggs are now known
to be in America. One of these is in the Academy of
Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
Among the strangest of all birds In appearance and
habits was the apteryx of New Zealand. Called tha
"wingless" bird because it had scarcely a trace of wings,
it depended upon fleetness of foot for safety. During the
day it usually lay concealed.
In appearance the apteryx was like a wingless wood
cock of giant size, standing nearly a foot high. Its long
bill was used to nah worms from their nlilng place.
Its curiously shaped flat feathers terminated at the
ends and edges In a sort of hair, arid the skins were in
great demand by native chiefs for state mantles. Persons
of Inferior rank were not permitted to wear them. Cats
and dogs were largely responsible for the extermination
of this bird.
Gone, too, Is the Labrador duck. This black and white
bird, which was about the size of nn ordinary duck, could
be seen in great numbers along the Labrador coast down
to the early fifties. Then It suddenly disappeared, and no
one appears to have fathomed the secret of its extinction.
The last specimen was taken in 1878.
Another bird that Is nearing its end is the California
vulture, which disputes with the condor the distinction of
being the largest and strongest winged Inhabitant of
More plainly attired than the condor, this brownish
black bird formerly ranged over almost the entire Pacific
slope from British Columbia to southern California. So
powerful la the California vulture that four of them have
been known to lift and carry away the body of a small
bear. As many as one hundred and fifty have been seen
about the carcass of an antelope.
The scavenger propensity of this vulture led to its
undoing, as it was killed in large numbers by poison,
which cattle ranch owners set about to destroy wolves and
coyotes. Only a few now remain in southern California.
And how long will it be before the grizzly bear, the
mountain lion and the mountain sheep are only memories?
The sovereign who reigns over the smallest monarchy
In the world Is the King of the Cocos. a group of islands
near Sumatra. These islands were discovered about 300
years ago by the captain of the Keeling, but v.ti.
paratlvely little known until 1825, when Mr. Ross, an Kng
lishman, visited them, was struck by their beauty, and
took up h's abode there. It is his grandson, M. G^oigo
Reiss, who now holds sway over the Cucos.
On the apex of the Prince of Wales' crown, which he
wears on special occasions, is a curious feather, or rat I. r
a tuft of perlwak feathers, the top of which is adorned
with a gold thread. This feather is said to be worth
$50,000, and has the distinction of being the only one of
Its kind in the world. It took twenty years to procure it,
and it caused the death of more than v dozen hunters.
The reason the pursuit of the perhvak Is so dangerous is
because it inhabits the jungles and other haunts of . rs.
Rev. Mr Mattlson, who died recently, was curate o£
Patterdale. England, nearly sixty years. For many years
of that time his income was only SCO, and never exceeded
$90 a year, and yet be died, at tht; age of 96, worth $50<jU.
He married, lived comfortably and had four children; he
buried his mother; he married his father and buried his
father; ho christened his wife and published his own
banns of marriage in the church; he christened and mar
ried all his own children, and he educated his son until
lie was .'it for college.
* • • ♦ •
Paris has the monopoly of ihe manufacture cf tho
visiting cards of nearly all the sovereigns of E
M. Loubet uses several tens of thousands of can:
year, but the cards that King Edward distributes in the
came time must be reckoned by hundreds of thousands
After the British sovereign, who is said to hold the record
in this cDnn'?ction, comes the Emperor of Russia. The
German Emperor and the Kmperor of Austria ;ire" moro
economical. The visiting card of the Emperor Francis
Joseph contains a list of v.o fewer than twenty titles.
Hiram Maxim was once asked how he came to think
of the idea of the automatic gun that marie him wealthy
and his name famous. "The idea was kicked into me '"
he replied. "Socn after the end of the Civil War I was
induced to fire one of the old-fashioned Spriiißiield rifles
There was tremendous energy in the recoil, and my
shoulder was so sore afterward that I set about finding
some way to utilize the superfluous power." The British
Government ordered the first gun, stipulating that "it
should weigh not more than 100 pounds, and that it -
fire 4'jO rounds In one minute, and GOO rounds in two min
utes. Mr. Maxim furnished an engine of death weighing
forty pounds, and capable of firing 6uO cartridges within
one minute, or 2wO within three minutes.
••• • •
The story of the Czar's betrothal is quite interesting
Although the §reat question had been planned and
thought out for the royal couple by their respective par
ents, they vcre both determined to have a say in the mat
ter. That they were in love with each other every one
knew, and between themselves a mutual understanding
had been arrived at in the summer house of York Cot
tage; but, as Czarevitch, the future Czar had to make tho
formal and old-fashioned offer of his hand. "The Era
neror, my father," he said, addressing the blushing bride
to-be, "has commanded me to make you the >ffer of lay
hand ard heart." "My grandmother, the Queen," replied
ihe present Czarina, "has commanded me to accept the
offer of your hand"—she broke into a rippling lnugh-»
"and your heart I take of my own free will."

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