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The Naturalist In Nicaragua
by Thomas Belt, Contrib. By Anthony Belt
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Sometimes.we would fall in with a troop of the white-faced cebus monkey, rapidly running away, throwing themselves from tree to tree. This monkey feeds also partly on fruit, but is incessantly on the look-out for insects, examining the crevices in trees and withered leaves, seizing the largest beetles and munching them up with great relish. -from Chapter VIII This masterpiece of scientific reportage and travel storytelling, first published in 1874, is a captivating narrative of the journeys of mining engineer Thomas Belt through the tropical rivers, valleys, forests, and lakes of Nicaragua. Replete with vivid descriptions of the animals and plants he encountered and full of ruminations on the geology of the region that were dismissed as fanciful at the time but have since been vindicated as true, this is "the best of all natural history journals which have ever been published," according to no less an authority than Charles Darwin. English engineer THOMAS BELT (1832-1878) traveled the world working mines from Australia to Colorado and producing numerous papers on topics ranging from geology to paleontology. The Naturalist in Nicaragua is considered his greatest work.
But--and here comes in the principle to which the term "mimicry" is now restricted--if warning colours are helpful to noxious animals, then defenceless animals acquiring these colours will share in the protection afforded by them. And so we find a deceptive similarity between animals occurring in the same district, but not closely related, in which the mimicked form is unpalatable or has an odour repulsive to birds and lizards. It must, of course, be understood that the mimicry is unconscious, the result, as in the cases of cryptic resemblance, having been brought about by natural selection--the less perfect the mimicry the more liable are the individuals to be attacked, and the less chance have they of reproducing their kind.
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About the Author
English engineer THOMAS BELT (1832-1878) traveled the world working mines from Australia to Colorado and producing numerous papers on topics ranging from geology to paleontology. The Naturalist in Nicaragua is considered his greatest work.
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