National Geographic : 1896 Apr
SERILAND abound. The rattlesnake, scorpion, centipede, and tarantula furnish spice for the fare of the traveler, while rainbow-hued swifts and somber, slow-moving lizards of alleged poisonous bite harbor numerously in the scattered plant colonies. Ground squirrels and kangaroo-rats are common. On some portions of the island the squirrels abound exceedingly, so that the land is laid out in hexagons by their surface trails, while each third or fifth footfall of the pedestrian stops half knee-deep in subsurface burrows. There are ants galore, and myriads of black bugs that apparently fertilize the cacti, but mosquitoes, gnats, and other pernicious insects are apparently unknown. The cooperation of the'vegetation extends unto the animate life of plain and moun tain to the extent that all living things dwell together in singu larly perfect harmony ; but this feature of the life may be passed over. Along the coast the green turtle abounds and forms the chief fare of the Indians, and his shells shingle the more perma nent house-bowers. Fish and crustaceans swarm, edible crabs and oysters and superb lobsters await gathering, and clams sprinkle the coastwise mud flats. The gray pelican breeds on Isla Tassne-the first-formed land of earth as built by the Ancient of Pelicans, in Seri myth,-and his flesh feeds, while his feathered skins clothe, the ever-warring holders of Seriland; and other water-fowl, from swan to snipe and from cormorant to curlew, chatter and scream and croak about the rocky islets and spurs, especially on the fowls' paradise of Isla Tassne. The seal creeps up on the rocks now and then, the shark scavengers the sea as the coyote the land, and the skeleton of a whale fully 80 feet long on the shores of Tiburon records a famous feast of the Seri when for weeks they found no need for hunting and fishing and for months gnawed gradually softening tendon and cartilage. The subdesert fauna of Seriland is meager and peculiar, but the maritime fauna of the coasts is rich and varied. The fierce holders of desert-bound Seriland have protected their inheritance from time immemorial, and since the time of Coronado have written their history in blood. Three of their many interesting characteristics are especially notable: They are isolated in language, belief, custom, and sympathy as in habitat; they are dominated by a moral law under which intermarriage with other peoples is capital crime and under which they attain righteousness by slaying humans of alien blood with only greater avidity than beasts are slain, always save when deterred by fear; and they are of a stature, strength, and endurance befitting their hard and eventful lives.