National Geographic : 1914 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE to the almost inconceivably complicated ones of civilized life, these creatures, most of them at least, seem to be leading essentially the same kind of lives that they led hundreds of thousands of years ago. They have powers which neither man nor any other mammal ever dreamed of having. Some have powers of flight which en able them to sail a thousand miles before the wind. Others can jump a hundred times their own length. One of these monsters can manufacture a liquid rope as easily as mammals produce milk, and with it weave aerial nets to trap their pray, or by attaching it can drop from the dizziest heights without danger, and when the rope has served its purpose they eat it up. Their weapons of defense are compar able to the deadly ones that only poison ous serpents have. If they were larger they would be in fact what legend pic tures the dragons to have been. The unthinkably old germ plasm of these species produces creatures which act with a precision of purpose and a de gree of absolute self-sacrifice which can not fail to stagger the most conscientious of the human race. They might even make one wonder whether the fulfillment of biological life does not consist in sac rifice of the individual for the good of the species to which it belongs. Certain it is that human thought is now drifting away from the consideration of the individual and is coming to pay more attention to the species and the things which affect its development. This is a picture-book produced in the playtime hours of two busy people. It is a collec tion of actual photographs of a few of the small-sized monsters which inhabit the tall grass, the flower garden and veg etable garden, the pines and oaks of a place in the woods of Maryland. If it should show to others a world of new and fascinating things it would be simply doing for them what the taking of the photographs has done for us opened the door into a realm of real life, of a terrible struggle to live, which is as full of fascination as the dragon tales of old Japan. At the same time it makes us realize what vast and yet untouched fields of material value lie in the efforts man is making to outwit and circumvent, and even perhaps to exterminate, such of the monsters as encroach upon his own environment. If you compare these photographs with those to be found in most books on insects you will find that they differ in several particulars. They are all either front views or side views of the crea tures, whereas those in books on ento mology are generally views from above. Imagine a book on the horse in which only top views were shown, or a guide to a zoological garden illustrated with the various wild beasts photographed from above. It is true that, being so much larger, we generally look down at these monsters; but a mouse also generally runs along the floor or under our feet, and yet a zoologist pictures it from the same point of view that he does an ele phant. Crows look down upon us, yet I imagine that no one will admit that the crow's impression of human beings is as correct or as interesting as that which we have of ourselves. Every creature has a right to be portrayed from its own level, and the reason these photographs are unusual is because they carry out this principle and do each creature jus tice.