|Title||July 1914 National Geographic Magazine Volume XXVI Number One|
|Author||Director and Editor: Gilbert H. Grosvenor|
|Published Date||July 1914|
July 1914 National Geographic Magazine Volume XXVI Number One
Director and Editor: Gilbert H. Grosvenor
Contents: Hunting with the Lens, Young Japan, Explorers of a New Kind, The Need of Conserving the Beauty and Freedom of Nature, The Unique Island of Mount Desert, and
A Book of Monsters by David and Marian Fairchild
Published by the National Geographic Society located in Hubbard Memorial Hall, Washington, D.C.
David Fairchild was on the Board of Managers for the National Geographic Society, 1913-1915, in charge of Agricultural Explorations, Department of Agriculture
"A BOOK OF MONSTERS
BY DAVID AND MARIAN FAIRCHILD
One year ago the GEOGRAPHIC printed a series of remarkable photographs of
The authors tell the life story of each "monster" they present with a fidelity to fact that satisfies the scientist, and at the same time they have invested each "biography" with a charming touch of human interest which takes the reader off into the wonderland of his dooryard and gives an introduction to a new world second only in importance to our own, when measured by the vast effect it has upon human affairs.
The book should be in the hands of every child and adult who would know the wonder world which touches us on every side. As only a limited edition has been printed, those desiring copies should send in their reservations at once on the blank form printed elsewhere in the Magazine.
A BOOK OF MONSTERS
THE pictures of monsters are portraits of creatures which are as much the real inhabitants of the world as we are, and have all the rights of ownership that we have; but, because their own struggle for existence so often crosses ours, many of them are our enemies. Indeed, man's own real struggle for the supremacy of the world is his struggle to control these tiny monsters.
The plague of the Middle Ages, which spread like some mysterious supernatural curse over Europe and carried off millions of people, the yellow fever that has haunted the coasts of South America, the malaria which has strewn the tropics of the world with millions of graves, have been caused by the activities of two monsters so universally present in our homes as to have become almost domesticated creatures-the flea and the mosquito. During these last two decades these have come under our control, and the flies which leave a colony of germs at every footstep will not much longer be tolerated; indeed, every creature that bites and sucks our blood or that crawls over our food and dishes has been placed under suspicion.
Man struggles against these tiny monsters not only for his life and health, but for his food as well. Almost every cultivated plant has its enemy, and some of them have many. The bugs alone, which stick their beaks into all sorts of plants to suck their juices, would starve man out in one or two brief seasons if they in turn were not held in check by enemies of their own. The chinch-bug alone has demonstrated its power to devastate the wheat fields. The bark-beetles that girdle square miles of forest trees, the moths that destroy their foliage, the creatures that burrow into the fruit and fruit trees, the gall-forming flies that form galls on the roots of the grape-vines, able to destroy the revenues of a whole country, the beetle which strips the potato of its leaves, the one which infects with its dirty jaws the melon vines of the South and turns the melon patches brown- these are a few of the vast array of our enemies It would require a book much larger than this one just to enumerate those well known.
It should make every American proud to know that it is the American economic entomologist who has, more than any other, pushed his way into this field and shown mankind how to fight these monsters which destroy his food, his animals, and himself.
But all these fascinating little creatures are not our enemies. We must not forget that man has domesticated certain of the insects, and that gigantic industries depend upon them for their existence.
The honey-bee furnished mankind with sweets during the generations preceding the discovery of the sugar-cane, and the silk-worm furnishes still the most costly raiment with which we clothe ourselves.
The friends we have in the insect world are those which destroy the pests of our cultivated crops, like the Australian lady-bird beetle, which has been sent from one country to the other to keep in check the fluted scale which is so injurious to the orange orchards, and the parasites of the gipsy-moth, which in Europe helps to keep under control this plague of our forest trees, must certainly be counted as our friends.*
Also they are our friends if, like the spiders, they kill such monsters as suck our blood or make our lives unsafe, or, like the great hordes of wasps and hornets, wage unending warfare against the flies, but which, because they attack us personally if we come too near their nests, we kill on sight. Strangely enough, it is often these same stinging insects which help us by fertilizing the blossoms of our fruit trees. Indeed, many plants are so dependent on these littlje creatures that they have lost the power of self-fertilizing, and thousands of species of trees and plants would become extinct in a generation without their friendly aid.
The ancestors of some of the creatures pictured in "The Book of Monsters" were buried in the transparent amber of the Baltic many thousands of years ago, and the fossil remains of others date back a million years or more; but while man has been developing his surroundings from the primitive ones of savagery
* See article by Dr. L. O. Howard, entitled "Explorers of a New Kind," printed on pages 38-67 of this 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 enable 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 comparable to the deadly ones that only poisonous serpents have. If they were larger they would be in fact what legend pictures the dragons to have been.
The unthinkably old germ plasm of these species produces creatures which act with a precision of purpose and a degree of absolute self-sacrifice which cannot 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 sacrifice 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 collection of actual photographs of a few of the small-sized monsters which inhabit
the tall grass, the flower garden and vegetable 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 creatures, whereas those in books on entomology 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 elephant. 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 justice."