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Contributions to the Natural History of the Alligator, (Croci

dilus Mississippiensis) with a Microscopic Addendum. By Bennet DowLER, M. D.

The New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal of November, 1846 contains an article under this head, which has been reprinted and constitutes a pamphlet of thirty pages, abounding in curious and interesting matter.

We have several times had occasion to notice the labours of Dr. Dowler, and to speak of the strikingly original and pains-taking character of his researches. The present essay, although on a widely different subject from those heretofore noticed, manifests the same independent and investigating spirit, and from the statements it contains in relation to the anatomical structure and habits of the alligator, so different from the history of the animal given by naturalists, must be regarded with much attention by all who feel interested in this branch of natural science. Contrary to what has been asserted, Dr. D. maintains that the alligator is identical with the crocodile ; and that the varieties found on the Nile, the Ganges, the Mississippi, &c., exhibit only the modifications caused by climate.

Speaking of the Alligator, he observes: “The upper jaw is wider than the under, which it overlaps. The latter has forty teeth, none of which are grinders, as asserted by Professor Owen -none are cutting or incisor teeth, as they are described by Goldsmith. The teeth of the upper jaw are similar in number and structure.”

" The form and situation of the dental organs, together with the osteological configuration of the jaws, render grinding operations quite impossible. The animals found in the stomachs of alligators, show that their prey is killed by penetrating bayonet-like wounds, and swallowed without mastication. The crushing and prehensory power of the jaws and teeth is as remarkable as it is unquestionable.

“Herodotus, Pliny, Aristotle, and many more modern savans, including certain French academicians, assert that the upper jaw moves independently of the head, though both are known to constitute a continuous mass of bone, without any flexible articulation. I have for hours forced the jaws assunder by levers, elevating the upper jaw, and with it the head. The cranium, and the superior


maxillary bone constitute a continuous pyramidal mass of osseous matter, the base of which is the skull, and the apex the muzzle."

The author gives a very full and graphic account of the various organs of the animal's body, in which he often differs widely from former historians; and likewise an interesting account of its habits, in which he certainly represents it in a much more amiable light than we have been accustomed to view it.

Hand-Book of Human Anatomy, general, special, and topo

graphical. Translated from the original German of Dr. Alfred Von Behr, and adapted to the use of the English Student. By John Birkett, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and Demonstrator of Anatomy at Guy's Hospital. Demi 8vo. pp. 487. Lindsay and Blakiston, Philadelphia, 1847.

This is a reprint of a recent London publication, and time enough has not yet elapsed since it assumed the English dress to determine the rank it is to hold among the treatises on the same subject now before the profession. As anatomists and experimental physiologists, our German brethren have no superiors at the present day They possess, besides genius, a patient and plodding industry that accomplishes wonders in matters of detail, and consequently it is to them that we are indebted for a large amount of our present advanced knowledge of miscroscopical Anatomy. The present work, although excessively condensed, contains many evidences of the traits we have mentioned. It was not originally published as an isolated volume, but is one of a series entitled “ The Pocket Encyclopædia of the Medical Sciences,” by Dr. Von Behr, and Dr. Minding, and now in course of publication at Erlangen. We cannot say that it is calculated to supersede the more extended treatises on the various subjects it comprises, but as a remembrancer for the physician, and guide to the student while prosecuting his studies in practical anatomy, it appears to us to be exceedingly well adapted.

The American publishers have done credit to the work and to themselves, by the superior manner in which it is brought out. Too often an author is insulted and his book degraded by the beggarly dress in which it is sent forth by the publishers—a charge, we are happy to say, rarely applicable of late years to Philadelphians.

Summary of the Transactions of the College of Physicians of

Philadelphia. Vol. 1. From Nov. 1841 to August 1846. 8 vo.

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pp. 461.

During the last five years it has been the custom of the College of Physicians to publish. quarterly summaries of its proceedings.

These have now become sufficiently extensive to make a good sized volume, and are bound up in that form for the use of the members and such others as may desire to purchase it.

Beside reports on most of the branches of the science, made at stated periods by Committees, these “transactions” contain the discussions of the members on the various interesting points presented before the College, either in the reports or oral communications, and express, generally, the views and experience of the speakers on the doctrines and practice of the day. On various occasions we have enriched our pages with extracts from these quarterly reports, and find that many of our brother journalists have done the same, which is sufficient evidence of the value of the matter they contain.




The December number of this Journal contains the farewell address of its Editor, in which he announces that “ The SELECT MEDICAL LIBRARY and THE BULLETIN OF MEDICAL Science will cease to be published after this date.” 6. These instruments,” says the Editor, “through which we have long discoursed with our professional brethren, will no more give utterance to our exhortation, our praises, our monitions and rebukes : our voice, henceforth, comes down to the key and pitch of those who may have, hitherto, listened with some attention, not unmixed, perhaps, with some deference.” Those who, like ourselves, have long been in the practice of reading

the productions of his ever ready and well pointed pen, will regret that any circumstances should render it necessary for the able and estimable Editor to retire from a position which education and habit so peculiarly qualified him to fill. His personal friends, however, of which number for nearly a quarter of a century we have had the pleasure of considering ourselves one, recollecting his late severe indisposition, and the causes of it, will hope from the change for a longer continuance of his useful labors, than could have been reason. ably expected under the excessive mental occupation to which he was exposed. No one probably enjoyed the pleasures that pertain to an Editors position more than Dr. Bell, or better knew its labours and responsibilities, so graphically sketched in the following extraci.

“But if, in thus descending from our high estate,' we divest our. selves of the appendages of office, and cease to enjoy its honors, its emoluments, and its collateral advantages, we, at the same time, cast off heavy responsibility and ever-recurring anxieties. Those engaged in the busy walks of life have little conception of the toilsome efforts, and the many trying hours encountered by the occupant of the editorial sanctum,-in the task of selection and arrangement of contemporary materials, and of interweaving them with the learning of the past, so as still to preserve a philosophic texture,—a careful analysis and an impartial adjudication of conflicting claims of discovery and improvement, -the support of modest merit,--and the rebuke of arrogant pretensions."

" Ten years have elapsed since the first publication of the Select Medical Library ; during which time, it has been the good fortune of its Editor to make it a vehicle for the dissemination, throughout the length and breadth of the land, of works, many of which adorn our medical literature and have contributed, not a little, to the practical instruction of our medical men, at the same time that they have inspired them with more curiosity, and a desire for a still wider circle of reading and research."

The business relations of Dr. Bell and the publishers, Messrs. Barrington and Haswell, are 10 be continued, and hereafter his labours, instead of being partly occupied with the journal, will be wholly employed on works destined—we hope--to be of a less ephemeral character.


In our Record department we have given the names of the gentlemen who have been appointed to represent the Medical Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Medical Society, in the Convention to be held in this city in May next; in all twenty-seven. If all the other medical societies and institutions throughout the country shall be represented in an equal ratio, it will certainly be a large assemblage.

As the period at which the Convention is to take place grows nearer, we discover a more general interest manifested in the subject, and a freer expression of opinion as to the feasibility or otherwise of the various schemes likely to be proposed. On another page we have treated cursorily of some points which it is probable will be mooted and may perhaps advert to the subject again on some future occasion; in the meanwhile we shall be happy to receive from any of our correspondents, temperate arguments on the questions expected to be raised, and especially those to be reported on by committees appointed at the late Convention, held in the city of New York.


This preparation, it appears, explodes at a temperature as low as 140° of Fahrenheit, which renders it much more dangerous to handle than gunpowder. We have heard of some serious accidents happening to persons of skill and prudence, while engaged with it. In one instance, a letter containing a small portion was blown to atoms, from the heat of the wax used in sealing it. In another case, a chemist, whilst drying a few ounces of it in a current of warm air, not exceeding the temperature of 140 degrees, was badly burnt by its explosion.

This circumstance, together with its comparative costliness, renders it probable that, notwithstanding its tremendous power, it will not supersede the old material for ordinary explosive purposes.

NEW MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. We are gratified to learn that a number of the physicians residing in the northern section of Philadelphia, embracing Spring Garden, Northern Liberties, Kensington, Germantown, and Frankford, are about forming themselves into an association for literary and scientific improvement, and the promotion of good fellowship and sound medical ethics among the members. It is intended to admit none as members but graduates in medicine, excluding all who are practising VOL. X.


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