Mr. C. W. Whymper has just brought to notice a curious point with regard to the position of the ear in the woodcock. The snipe, it may be remembered, are remarkable for the fact that the external ear is placed under, instead of behind, the' eye, as in other birds; but in the woodcock it is placed in front of the eye, and more so on one side of the head than on the other. This asymmetry, furthermore, extends to the shape of the aperture, which is slightly different on the two sides of the head. A method of preserving meat has been brought out in France by H. De Lapparent which seems to have met with considerable success. It can be also applied on a small scale for household purposes. The principle consists in exposing the meat to sulphurous acid fumes. By burning a small amount of sulphur in a receptacle containing the meat hung up in place, it can be preserved for several days, even in summer. There is no taste left from the sulphur fumes and there seems to be no danger to health. Such a method can be used also on a large scale for preserving meat for army use, as it is quite simple and easy to apply in practice. From experiments made on a large scale it appears that the meat fumigated with sulphur did not contain more than 22 grammes (340 grains) of sulphurous acid gas per 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds) of meat, which is on the order of ten thousandths. The meat should be fumigated as soon as possible after killing and preferably on parts which have no cut bones. Lean meat is found to keep best. To preserve it for several months, meat can be inclosed in vessels full of carbonic acid gas. It has the appearance of fresh meat and its taste is not changed after cooking. In England, Mr. Lascelles Scott proposed a method which consists in immersing the meat in a solution of bisulphite of lime. The possibilities of certain grasses being utilized for the purpose of fertilizing, and thereby reclaiming for- cultivation, waste stretches such as sand dunes, has been strikingly demonstrated upon King Island, which is situated between the coasts of Tasmania and the Australian mainland. This island has always been an arid waste of sand and other non-arable soil. Some few years ago however a vessel was wrecked off the island, and when broken up under the force of the waves a number of the sailors' mattresses, which were stuffed with the yellow-flowered clover, a kind of grass, were washed ashore. A certain quantity of seed was contained among the stuffing, and in due course these took root, and owing to their prolific growth, in the space of a few years covered the sandy stretches with rich verdure. It is a long- establisfled fact that clover and other leguminous plants have the peculiar capacity of fertilizing a waste soil, owing principally to the action of bacteria, thereby enabling the plants to draw nitrogen directly from the atmosphere. In the case of King Island, owing to the properties of this yellow-flowered clover, what was previously a waste stretch of sand is now one of the richest grazing districts in the Australian continent. The growth of the plant completely changes the character and color of the soil from a dirty white to a rich dark brown or black loamy nature.
This article was originally published with the title "Science Notes" in SA Supplements 64, 1650supp, 115 (August 1907)