Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20).

On November 26th, 1825, a live toad—­kept for some time previously to insure its being healthy—­was placed in each of the twenty-four cells.  The largest specimen weighed 1185 grains, and the smallest 115 grains.  The stones and the immured toads were buried on the day mentioned, three feet deep, in Dr. Buckland’s garden.  There they lay until December 10th, 1826, when they were disinterred and their tenants examined.  All the toads in the smaller cells of the sandstone block were dead, and from the progress of decomposition it was inferred that they had succumbed long before the date of disinterment.  The majority of the toads in the limestone block were alive, and, curiously enough, one or two had actually increased in weight.  Thus, No. 5, which at the commencement of its captivity had weighed 1185 grains, had increased to 1265 grains; but the glass cover of No. 5’s cell was found to be cracked.  Insects and air must therefore have obtained admittance and have afforded nourishment to the imprisoned toad; this supposition being rendered the more likely by the discovery that in one of the cells, the covers of which were also cracked and the tenant of which was dead, numerous insects were found.  No. 9, weighing originally 988 grains, had increased during its incarceration to 1116 grains; but No. 1, which in the year 1825 had weighed 924 grains, was found in December, 1826, to have decreased to 698 grains; and No. 11, originally weighing 936 grains, had likewise disagreed with the imprisonment, weighing only 652 grains when examined in 1826.

At the period when the blocks of stone were thus prepared, four toads were pinned up in holes five inches deep and three inches in diameter, cut in the, stem of an apple-tree; the holes being firmly plugged with tightly fitting wooden plugs.  These four toads were found to be dead when examined along with the others in 1826; and of four others enclosed in basins made of plaster of Paris, and which were also buried in Dr. Buckland’s garden, two were found to be dead at the end of a year, their comrades being alive, but looking starved and meagre.  The toads which were found alive in the limestone block in December, 1826, were again immured and buried, but were found to be dead, without leaving a single survivor, at the end of the second year of their imprisonment.

These experiments may fairly be said to prove two points.  They firstly show that under circumstances even of a favorable kind when compared with the condition popularly believed in—­namely, that of being enclosed in a solid rock—­the limit of the toad’s life may be assumed to be within two years; this period being no doubt capable of being extended when the animal gains a slight advantage, exemplified by the admission of air and insect-food.  Secondly, we may reasonably argue that these experiments show that toads when rigorously treated, like other animals, become starved and meagre, and by no means resemble the lively, well-fed animals reported as having emerged from an imprisonment extending, in popular estimation, through periods of inconceivable duration.

Project Gutenberg
Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook