Image from page 102 of "A naturalist in the Transvaal" (1892)
Authors: Distant, William Lucas, 1845-1922
Publisher: London, R.H. Porter
Contributing Library: Smithsonian Libraries
Digitizing Sponsor: Smithsonian Libraries
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geological change in the surface condition of theearth, that those varieties of plants and animals onlysurvived which could in some way pass the severity of acompetitive examination by natural selection. Hence wemust not always expect to find a philosophical explanationof the bizarre colours of animals and plants by simplyconsidering their present conditions of life. If it isdifficult to trace the evolution of a civilized communityof mankind, with its customs and superstitions, to itsprimordial elements, many of which belong to a pre-historic period, how gigantic is the task to attempt to gobehind the very evolution of man himself! and yet it wasat that time when the small birds and insignificantinsects obtained the maximum of their colour-markings,not to add to the beauty of the scene, but to enable themto survive an eliminating process which took place in thegreat struggle for existence. Many of these gorgeousliving forms are to my mind fossils, of a past epochwhich we cannot read.
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THE MONITOR (Varanus niloticus). CHAPTER V. THROUGH WATERBERG. Scarcity of timber in the Transvaal.—Leave Pretoria fur Waterberg.—Waterless region of the Flats.— The Warm Baths.—Beautiful scenery.—Euphorbias and their poisonous qualities.—Fe^er districts.—TheMassacre at Makapans Poort.-—Sanguinary retribution at MakapansCave. — A fine orthopterous insect. — The Prospector.— Reptiles.—Ravages of the Australian Bug. — Majuba day. — Mimickinginsects. EARLY in the month of February I made a journeythrough the Waterberg district, to procure a supply andestimate the quantity that could be obtained of the besttanning-material of the country, the leaf of the tree Ihave already referred to (Colpoon compressinn}. As theindustry of the Transvaal progresses, an investigationof its tanning-products will doubtless be undertaken,for it can scarcely be credited that the few vegetablematerials now only known as available for a trade thatmust have a future adequately represe
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