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- THE DESCENT OF MAN - 60/165 -


Every one who has wandered in a tropical forest must have been astonished at the din made by the male Cicadae. The females are mute; as the Grecian poet Xenarchus says, "Happy the Cicadas live, since they all have voiceless wives." The noise thus made could be plainly heard on board the "Beagle," when anchored at a quarter of a mile from the shore of Brazil; and Captain Hancock says it can be heard at the distance of a mile. The Greeks formerly kept, and the Chinese now keep these insects in cages for the sake of their song, so that it must be pleasing to the ears of some men. (23. These particulars are taken from Westwood's 'Modern Classification of Insects,' vol. ii. 1840, p. 422. See, also, on the Fulgoridae, Kirby and Spence, 'Introduct.' vol. ii. p. 401.) The Cicadidae usually sing during the day, whilst the Fulgoridae appear to be night-songsters. The sound, according to Landois (24. 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft Zoolog.' B. xvii. 1867, ss. 152-158.), is produced by the vibration of the lips of the spiracles, which are set into motion by a current of air emitted from the tracheae; but this view has lately been disputed. Dr. Powell appears to have proved (25. 'Transactions of the New Zealand Institute,' vol. v. 1873, p. 286.) that it is produced by the vibration of a membrane, set into action by a special muscle. In the living insect, whilst stridulating, this membrane can be seen to vibrate; and in the dead insect the proper sound is heard, if the muscle, when a little dried and hardened, is pulled with the point of a pin. In the female the whole complex musical apparatus is present, but is much less developed than in the male, and is never used for producing sound.

With respect to the object of the music, Dr. Hartman, in speaking of the Cicada septemdecim of the United States, says (26. I am indebted to Mr. Walsh for having sent me this extract from 'A Journal of the Doings of Cicada septemdecim,' by Dr. Hartman.), "the drums are now (June 6th and 7th, 1851) heard in all directions. This I believe to be the marital summons from the males. Standing in thick chestnut sprouts about as high as my head, where hundreds were around me, I observed the females coming around the drumming males." He adds, "this season (Aug. 1868) a dwarf pear-tree in my garden produced about fifty larvae of Cic. pruinosa; and I several times noticed the females to alight near a male while he was uttering his clanging notes." Fritz Muller writes to me from S. Brazil that he has often listened to a musical contest between two or three males of a species with a particularly loud voice, seated at a considerable distance from each other: as soon as one had finished his song, another immediately began, and then another. As there is so much rivalry between the males, it is probable that the females not only find them by their sounds, but that, like female birds, they are excited or allured by the male with the most attractive voice.

I have not heard of any well-marked cases of ornamental differences between the sexes of the Homoptera. Mr. Douglas informs me that there are three British species, in which the male is black or marked with black bands, whilst the females are pale-coloured or obscure.

ORDER, ORTHOPTERA (CRICKETS AND GRASSHOPPERS).

The males in the three saltatorial families in this Order are remarkable for their musical powers, namely the Achetidae or crickets, the Locustidae for which there is no equivalent English name, and the Acridiidae or grasshoppers. The stridulation produced by some of the Locustidae is so loud that it can be heard during the night at the distance of a mile (27. L. Guilding, 'Transactions of the Linnean Society,' vol. xv. p. 154.); and that made by certain species is not unmusical even to the human ear, so that the Indians on the Amazons keep them in wicker cages. All observers agree that the sounds serve either to call or excite the mute females. With respect to the migratory locusts of Russia, Korte has given (28. I state this on the authority of Koppen, 'Uber die Heuschrecken in Sudrussland,' 1866, p. 32, for I have in vain endeavoured to procure Korte's work.) an interesting case of selection by the female of a male. The males of this species (Pachytylus migratorius) whilst coupled with the female stridulate from anger or jealousy, if approached by other males. The house-cricket when surprised at night uses its voice to warn its fellows. (29. Gilbert White, 'Natural History of Selborne,' vol. ii. 1825, p. 262.) In North America the Katy-did (Platyphyllum concavum, one of the Locustidae) is described (30. Harris, 'Insects of New England,' 1842, p. 128.) as mounting on the upper branches of a tree, and in the evening beginning "his noisy babble, while rival notes issue from the neighbouring trees, and the groves resound with the call of Katy-did-she- did the live-long night." Mr. Bates, in speaking of the European field- cricket (one of the Achetidae), says "the male has been observed to place himself in the evening at the entrance of his burrow, and stridulate until a female approaches, when the louder notes are succeeded by a more subdued tone, whilst the successful musician caresses with his antennae the mate he has won." (31. 'The Naturalist on the Amazons,' vol. i. 1863, p. 252. Mr. Bates gives a very interesting discussion on the gradations in the musical apparatus of the three families. See also Westwood, 'Modern Classification of Insects,' vol. ii. pp. 445 and 453.) Dr. Scudder was able to excite one of these insects to answer him, by rubbing on a file with a quill. (32. 'Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History,' vol. xi. April 1868.) In both sexes a remarkable auditory apparatus has been discovered by Von Siebold, situated in the front legs. (33. 'Nouveau Manuel d'Anat. Comp.' (French translat.), tom. 1, 1850, p. 567.)

[Fig.11. Gryllus campestris (from Landois). Right-hand figure, under side of part of a wing-nervure, much magnified, showing the teeth, st. Left-hand figure, upper surface of wing-cover, with the projecting, smooth nervure, r, across which the teeth (st) are scraped.

Fig.12. Teeth of Nervure of Gryllus domesticus (from Landois).]

In the three Families the sounds are differently produced. In the males of the Achetidae both wing-covers have the same apparatus; and this in the field-cricket (see Gryllus campestris, Fig. 11) consists, as described by Landois (34. 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoolog.' B. xvii. 1867, s. 117.), of from 131 to 138 sharp, transverse ridges or teeth (st) on the under side of one of the nervures of the wing-cover. This toothed nervure is rapidly scraped across a projecting, smooth, hard nervure (r) on the upper surface of the opposite wing. First one wing is rubbed over the other, and then the movement is reversed. Both wings are raised a little at the same time, so as to increase the resonance. In some species the wing-covers of the males are furnished at the base with a talc-like plate. (35. Westwood, 'Modern Classification of Insects,' vol. i. p. 440.) I here give a drawing (Fig. 12) of the teeth on the under side of the nervure of another species of Gryllus, viz., G. domesticus. With respect to the formation of these teeth, Dr. Gruber has shewn (36. 'Ueber der Tonapparat der Locustiden, ein Beitrag zum Darwinismus,' 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft. Zoolog.' B. xxii. 1872, p. 100.) that they have been developed by the aid of selection, from the minute scales and hairs with which the wings and body are covered, and I came to the same conclusion with respect to those of the Coleoptera. But Dr. Gruber further shews that their development is in part directly due to the stimulus from the friction of one wing over the other.

[Fig.13. Chlorocoelus Tanana (from Bates). a,b. Lobes of opposite wing-covers.]

In the Locustidae the opposite wing-covers differ from each other in structure (Fig. 13), and the action cannot, as in the last family, be reversed. The left wing, which acts as the bow, lies over the right wing which serves as the fiddle. One of the nervures (a) on the under surface of the former is finely serrated, and is scraped across the prominent nervures on the upper surface of the opposite or right wing. In our British Phasgonura viridissima it appeared to me that the serrated nervure is rubbed against the rounded hind-corner of the opposite wing, the edge of which is thickened, coloured brown, and very sharp. In the right wing, but not in the left, there is a little plate, as transparent as talc, surrounded by nervures, and called the speculum. In Ephippiger vitium, a member of this same family, we have a curious subordinate modification; for the wing-covers are greatly reduced in size, but "the posterior part of the pro-thorax is elevated into a kind of dome over the wing-covers, and which has probably the effect of increasing the sound." (37. Westwood 'Modern Classification of Insects,' vol. i. p. 453.)

We thus see that the musical apparatus is more differentiated or specialised in the Locustidae (which include, I believe, the most powerful performers in the Order), than in the Achetidae, in which both wing-covers have the same structure and the same function. (38. Landois, 'Zeitschrift fur wissenschaft Zoolog.' B. xvii. 1867, ss. 121, 122.) Landois, however, detected in one of the Locustidae, namely in Decticus, a short and narrow row of small teeth, mere rudiments, on the inferior surface of the right wing-cover, which underlies the other and is never used as the bow. I observed the same rudimentary structure on the under side of the right wing-cover in Phasgonura viridissima. Hence we may infer with confidence that the Locustidae are descended from a form, in which, as in the existing Achetidae, both wing-covers had serrated nervures on the under surface, and could be indifferently used as the bow; but that in the Locustidae the two wing-covers gradually became differentiated and perfected, on the principle of the division of labour, the one to act exclusively as the bow, and the other as the fiddle. Dr. Gruber takes the same view, and has shewn that rudimentary teeth are commonly found on the inferior surface of the right wing. By what steps the more simple apparatus in the Achetidae originated, we do not know, but it is probable that the basal portions of the wing- covers originally overlapped each other as they do at present; and that the friction of the nervures produced a grating sound, as is now the case with the wing-covers of the females. (39. Mr. Walsh also informs me that he has noticed that the female of the Platyphyllum concavum, "when captured makes a feeble grating noise by shuffling her wing-covers together.") A grating sound thus occasionally and accidentally made by the males, if it served them ever so little as a love-call to the females, might readily have been intensified through sexual selection, by variations in the roughness of the nervures having been continually preserved.

[Fig.14. Hind-leg of Stenobothrus pratorum: r, the stridulating ridge; lower figure, the teeth forming the ridge, much magnified (from Landois).

Fig.15. Pneumora (from specimens in the British Museum). Upper figure, male; lower figure, female.]

In the last and third family, namely the Acridiidae or grasshoppers, the stridulation is produced in a very different manner, and according to Dr. Scudder, is not so shrill as in the preceding Families. The inner surface of the femur (Fig. 14, r) is furnished with a longitudinal row of minute, elegant, lancet-shaped, elastic teeth, from 85 to 93 in number (40. Landois, ibid. s. 113.); and these are scraped across the sharp, projecting nervures on the wing-covers, which are thus made to vibrate and resound. Harris (41. 'Insects of New England,' 1842, p. 133.) says that when one of the males begins to play, he first "bends the shank of the hind-leg beneath the thigh, where it is lodged in a furrow designed to receive it, and then draws the leg briskly up and down. He does not play both fiddles together, but alternately, first upon one and then on the other." In many species, the base of the abdomen is hollowed out into a great cavity which is believed to act as a resounding board. In Pneumora (Fig. 15), a S. African genus belonging to the same family, we meet with a new and remarkable modification; in the males a small notched ridge projects obliquely from each side of the abdomen, against which the hind femora are rubbed. (42. Westwood, 'Modern Classification,' vol i. p. 462.) As the male is furnished with wings (the female being wingless), it is remarkable that the thighs are not rubbed in the usual manner against the wing-covers; but this may perhaps be accounted for by the unusually small size of the hind-legs. I have not been able to examine the inner surface of the thighs, which, judging from analogy, would be finely serrated. The species of Pneumora have been more profoundly modified for the sake of stridulation than any


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