ROYAL SOCIETY OF QUEENSLAND.
THE uaual monthly meeting-of the above society was held in the Museum' library on Friday evening. The president, Mr. L. A. Bornays, F.L.S., occupied the chair, and there
was a numerous attendance of members. The minutea of tho last mooting having been con- firmed, the hon. secretary, Mr. H. Tryon, announced tho measures which had .been adopted to bring the Forbes Expedition Aid Fund boforo the public, and stated that £59 12a. had already been subscribed by twenty nino members or others. Ho also mentioned tho favourable manner in which the Press had uphold the appeal ; that the Rockhampton Natural Hi8tory Society had invited subscrip- tions to the fund j and that Boron Muller had not only offered to contribute towards it but bad declared his intention of raising a separate fund in Molbourno for the same object. The following now members wero elected-namoly, Mr. G. F. Scott, Briabane; Dr. W. Grant Furloy. Briabane; and Mr. A. J. Boyd, Nundah. Numerous donations to the society's library wero announced, and the scientific buaineaa of tho evening inaugurated by Mr. J. W. Potts, who read a paper entitled :
NOTES ON A TRIP TO NEW GUINEA.
Mr. Potts commenced by stating that having been occupied for somo timo since in com- piling a map of New Guinea he hod been naturally desirous of seeing something of that country, aad so left Brisbane on the 10th September last with that object in viow. Arriving at Thursday Island on tho 20th, the Government Resident there placed such infor- mation as he possessed (relating to this pro- jected visit) at his disposal. Prior to leaving for tho mainland of New Guinea, Mr. Potts spent o week at Princo of Woles Island, and waa favourably impressed with the small sandy bays which it contains, and which aro utilised aa stations by the pearl fishers, being protected from the north-western monaoona. This island was found to be volcanic and gene- rally barren, and Mr. Potts was fortunato in discovering the crater of an extinct volcano in the interior of it, somo eight miles from the coast and 298ft. above sea-level. This crater measured 25ft. across, and had a depressed centro quite 100ft. deep from which fiaaurea radiated. It also contained fresh water in which shell-fish abounded. Whilst camped at Princo of Walca Island Mr. Potts mot Admiral Tryon, who was then on his official visit to the Straits, and who alluded to them as affording an important site for a coaling station and general naval commissariat depot. On his rnturn to Port Moresby Mr. Potts, after f>omo delay, char- tered the schooner Elaea, 70 tons, and on the 1st October proceeded on his voyage. Having called at Village Island, ho found there the re- mains of an old settlement. It waa now quite unoccupied. Some of its former inhabitants had left as recruits in tho labour trado and never returned, others had fallan victima to the white man's vices, whilst tho rcmnont hod removed to another island. At Dalrymplo Island a fishing station had been established, which gavo employment to the natives there. Hore two fine ships wore observed high and dry on the reefs-the wrecks of the John da Costa and Fonstantin. Leaving Dalrymple Island, Bramble Bay was passed on 6th Octo- ber, and after soiling through the Gulf of Papua, tho mainland of New Guinea waa made at Capo Possession on the 8th, and Port Moresby reached on the 11th. Having complied with certain formalities, Mr. Potts landed, and was hospitably received by Mrs. Lawes, and afterwards paid an official visit to the Deputy Aasiatant-Commissioner. Port Moresby struck him as being a fine harbour, but ho was more particularly impressed with its northern division, Halifax Harbour, which boa fivo native villages along its shores, and which ia bounded to the north by a plateau of land admirably adapted for tho alto of an Engliah town or city, and better located in this respect than that selected for the proposed capital.
At this juncture Mr. Potts, amongst the numerous exhibits, drew 'attention to aomo splondid examples of the native pottery of the district--largo spherical carthenwaro pots with short constricted necks and expanded rims. Tho native womon wore busily occupied in the manufacture of such ware at tho timo of his visit, and Mr. Potts alluded to the per- fection which had boon arrived at in the art without the aaaistanco of potter's wheel or any such auxiliary, and to the extent of tho trade which was carried on by means of tho utcnaila made. The chief implements for warliko or other purposes, examples of which were shown, wero referred to, and it was stated that tho stone ago was fast giving way to that of iron. Whilat at Port Moresby Mr. Potta was invited to pro- ceed to tho Koitapu village, the headquarters of au inland tribe, and endeavour to procure, on behalf of the Government, a tract of country for the Mo tua tribe of the coast, who had already shown aomo aigna of alarm at the mannor in which the land about Port Moresby proniiäcd to bo occupied by the whito and other aettiers. Ruatoka, the interpreter for the occasion, started some hours in advanco of tho reat of the party, on foot. After leav- ing Port Moresby, and the comparatively poor country there, and having passed a high lime- stone range, the land presented an undulating appearance,1 and tho soil changed to a light fertile loam. Studded here and thero wera copses of naturalised or indigenous fruit-trocs-sago palms and mangos m full bearing. To tho west a forest country presented itself with cucalypt trees-somo of which reaomblcd tho Moreton Bay aah. Tho native village-the scene of the business transactions-was surrounded by gardens con- taining yams, taro, bananas, and other vege- tables. Concerning the native tenure of land in thia diatrict, Mr. Potta romarked :-" It appears to be peculiar; the land is hold in blocks by each family, and every raembor ia free to cultivato any uncultivated portion thereof, and the crops he raises aro hia own proporty. On his death his children, both Bona and daughters, are allowed also to culti- vato any portion of tho original block not already utilised for this purpose. No member of a family can sell his right to cultivate without the consent of tho whole of the family to any other member in t the tribe, and no family ia allowed to Bell its land without the consent of the tribe. A purchase, there- fore, under such circumatoncoa is no small matter." The negotiations, however, wero, on thia occasion, brought to a successful issuo, but only after much talk and a distinct pro miso that " Britannia's " men should not sottlo on tiio land.
Having returned to Port Moresby, onothor short journey was made inlond to the Laloki, a river which rises in the Owen Stanley moun- tains, and which, after draining a largo extent of country, empties itself into Rcdacar Bay. This river forms the boundary between the territories of the Koitapu tribe and thoso of the Koiari. Mr. Potts remarked that the Koi- tapu and Motua people wero shorter in stoture than those belonging to the Gulf of Papua tribes, and differed again from those of tho Koiari who were thickaet mountaineers. Tho Koiari wero not on very friendly torma with whites at the timo of thia viBit. Mr. Potts stated that somo five years since Mr. Goldie, a trader at Port Moresby, bod leased, from the various tribes interested, a large tract of country having the Laloki Rivor running through it, for a period of twenty-one years, andtbatthe leasewnich ho had inapocted waa properly drawn, signed, and excutedj also that the notives hod inserted in it a proviso in their favour, reserving to themselve8 tho right of hunting over the ground. Returning to Port Moresby the author undertook to deliver despatches to tho loto Sir Potcr Scrotchley, who had gone to Aroma to hoist there the British flag. Accordingly bo sailed to Hula, and thence to Kerepnno-anchoring at the head of Huds Lagoon, whence a short trip was mado in a canoe to tho nativo village of Kalo and rivor of thot name. After thrco days' sailing, in tho teoth of the wind, from Huds Lagoon, the Governor Blackall was met at sea. The courao waa once moro shaped forKcre puna, Hula, and Port Moresby. Tho country between the two former places waa flat and well watered, and the land largely consisted of rich black soil, on which grow largo forests of cocoanut, wattlo, and palms. The forest of cocoanut palms en tho west port of the Kanoipa country had a taboo placed over it, for the purpose of allowing the forest to maturo, and this was religiously observed by all tho nativea interested. On ar- riving once more at Port Moresby, the voyage waa further continued west to Bola. Lilly Island was then visited ; Dclora, in Hall Sound, waa tho next landing place. Mr. Potts spoke favourably of Hall Sound, which ho deacribed aa a splendid harbour, protected by an island -Hale Island ; also, of the soil in tho neigh- bourhood of Dolerá. Ho thon viaitcd the richly-cultivated diatrict of Maiba, and thence proceeded to Motimotu, at the mouth of the
William River. Mr. Potts everywhere collected largely objects of native art, and his paper con- tained many interesting observations concern- ing them, and the tribes from whom they had been derived. In different localities tho greater or lesa extent to which artistic tastoa were manifested was very evident. Whoro tattooing of the person waa practised, he also noticed a
curious correspondence between the figures so delineated and thoao, employed in ornamenting thcirimplemcnts. Ho remarked, top, tho varying favour in ?vhion different weapons of the chase or of war were held amongst different tribes. At one place it was the dreaded man catcher, or the spear and shield ; at another tho bow and arrow. The personal appearance of tho natives, as duo to their dress or ornamontation, was subject to the sarao variation in different villages. So with the social and individual attainments; and Mr. Potts seems to havo been especially struck with the Maiba natives in this respect. Here tho villages woro well located ; the houses were conveniently arranged, with intervening streets, which, too, were kept well swept and otherwise clean. Of the nouses themselves one large one waa set apart for pur- poses of public uso-here Mr. Potts went to trade-and the ordinary domiciles wero built dog-kennel fashion, and wero of a superior class. These villages were surrounded by variously and well cultivated gardens ; nor was ornamental planting lost sight of. In the abovomentioned streets grow coleus plants with all their wealth of colour, and groves of palms. The people themselves also greatly affected feather ornaments, chaplets, fillets, &c; in fact, birds were kept tamo for the pur- pose of a ready supply of variously coloured feathers, and the . plumes of the Birds of Paradise aro largoly sought for tho samo
Here, too, articles of domestic comfort woro not despised, and Mr. Potts remarked tho pre- sence of mosquito curtains made from some fibre-fabric. The children were carried in nets, much resembling onion bags, and perhaps to
effect what boasted civilisation has not learnt
to disregard, their waists wore confined by a supplo but broad wooden belt, the graceful arabesques on which were executed with much taste and skill. Reverting to the subject of New Guinea Exploration, and in the direction now in voguo, Mr. Potts alluded to the Wil- liams River as affording the readiest route by which to gain the Northern Coast Board. At tho Williams River his New Guinea trip vir- tually ondod. and ho returned thence to Thurs- day Island, having been absent therefrom but
At the conclusion of this papor, and aftor examination of some of tho numerous objects exhibited, the honorary secretary, in the ab- sence of its author-Mr. C. W. Do Vis-read a paper, entitled " Notice of an Apparently New Species of Dcndrolagup."
The author had prefaced his paper by re- marking that our ordinary ideas respecting tho character of locomotion among the kanga- roos did not favour the concoption of ono possessing treo-climbing habits ; however much the practice of the rock wallaby, in its easy Îirogress through precipitous country, might ond colour to such a belief. To ruako way amongst the branches of trees, the dispro fiortion in the size of tho anterior and posterior
imbs would have to bo to a largo extent ob- literated. Yet for all this thoro was no reason in nature why this change should not havo taken place, and treo-kaugaroos did really oxist. Scientific mon had already recognised four species as denizens of tho Papuan region, but until the recent discovery of Dr. Lumholtz, of tho Christiania University, of a fourth in tho mountainous country at the head of the Herbert River, thoy had no preciso in- dication of the presence of ono of these re- markable animals in Australia, although notably in tbo person of Dr. George Bennett, of Sydney - they had expressed a bolief founded on the testimony of colonists, that such an animal existed in this colony. Mr.' Do Vis, in this paper, moroovor referred to a statement made to him some years since by "a man who lived by his know- ledge of the wild animals near Rockhampton," that tree kangaroos were found in that neigh- bourhood, and to a more recent intimation given by the Hon. A. C. Gregory, " that years ago, while engaged in the survey of a road from the Dawson to tua Barcoo, ho recognised in a mountain gorge a trea-climbing as distin- guished from a rock wallaby." The subject of the present paper was a mutilated skin which had bean forwarded to tho musoum by Mr. J. Pink, of the Botanical Gardens, who had re- ceived it from Mr. Smith, a correspondent, who had obtained it on the Daintree River. This l still exhibited the elongated form of tho body and tail, tho great size of tho arms and diminu- tion in that of the legs, characteristic of Den drolagus, and also the peculiar colouration which was thought to distinguish it from all other known species, although no certain conclusion could bo arrived at until a moro
ferfect example of the animal was forthcoming, n colour, this Dcndrolagus was, on the back, blackish brown, suffused with yellowish rod on the mantle, and passing into brick red on the nape and throat, yellowish on the shoulders and foro limbs, and dusky red on the top of tho head. Ita haunches and thighs wero smoky gray, washed with palo yellow, and its belly fur dark ru'oiu brown. Its hands and feet wero black, and its tail dark and parti-coloured. Tho author also alluded in his paper to characters which appeared to distinguish it from previously known species, and expresicd a wish that, should it prove to be a new animal, it might bo dignified by receiving the name of Bennstianus. In conclusion, an endeavour was made to seek a relationship between Dcndrolagus and the saltatory family of the marsupials. Structurally, and especially from a consideration of its den- tition, it was stated to be allied to the kan faroo rats rather than to the rock wallabies,
t was also stated that tho discovery of these peculiar animals in Queensland strengthened the opinion, founded on other grounds, as to \ the dispersion of Australasian marsupials namely, that it was from south to north ; and it was also romarked that romains of Dendro lagus had not yet boen mot with amongst the fossil bones derived from the Darling Downs.
Mr. A NORTON, M.L.A., then read an inte- resting paper on the
DECADENCE OF AUSTRALIAN FORESTS.
The destruction of our forest timber by man's agency, including the practico of indiscrimi- nate ring-barking, adopted in many districts in the supposed interesta of pastoral pursuits, having, amongst other considerations, given prominence to the fact that the supply of native timber available for tho purposes of trade was not an unlimited one, it waa re- marked that any inquiry into causes deter- mining the decadence of our forests, especially by natural processes, was not without interest. Accordingly the author thought good to follow the example sot by members of scientific bodies in the other colonies who had already dealt with the subject. Various causes had been assigned as contributing to this decadence the destruction of the foUagc in some dis- tricts, owing to the undue increase of opossums by reason of the lessened numbers of the blacks and their other enemies ; tho deprodations of leaf-eating and wood-boring insects, an exces- sive rainfall, too little rain, or, again, too much cold. As factors contributing to tho above result, these agencies wore perhaps not ineffi- cient ; to what extent each was responsible it waa difficult to estimate. The author thought, however, there wore still further reasons that might be alleged in explanation of this deca- dence, and which seem to have especial weight in tho instances of it which had come promi- nently undor his observation.
On the Europambela run, in the New Eng- land district, in 1857, over thousanda of acres the trees were quite dead, and it seemed as though a plague had carried death throughout tho forest, which the unobservant thought had been blasted by lightning, though no indica- tions of this agent could be recognised. This state of things was especially noticeable in such a district as Now England, where the shadc-yiolding quality of the forest vegetation, which at that time was a very marksd feature, contrasted with the limited development of that of the trees of the dry Western districts of New South Wales and the warmer coast country of Queensland. Again, somo time after 1857, on the Bergen-op-Zoom run, near the township of Walcha, the peppermint gums (Eucalyptus dcalbata), occupying exclusively the flits in- tervening between the ridges, died on many hundreds of acres completely out. A few years later, a large patch of trees-from 3000 to 4000 acres-on the western slope of a low range on the Tia run perished in a similar manner. Other like instances might be quoted. In addition to this sudden and uni- versal decay over large areas of one kind of tree, a general lack of vitality in several kinds might bo observed which was also of seasonal occurrence. ThiR might be observed in the Now England district now where, in addition to the largo areas over which the forest has been destroyed by ring-barking, trees seem to havo passed their prime; tho foliago is scanty as compared with its former wealth ; dead trees occur here and there more frequently than before, and others in the con- spicuous possession of dead branches evinco in- dications of their premature decay. In seeking an explanation for this state of things, Mr. Norton, not having from his own observations found sufficient evidence in support of tho view that it was due to an inoreased development of opossums or insects, was inclined to look to causes to bo found in climatic conditions, espo ciaUy when assisted in their operation by the changea induced in the country by man's con- tinued occupancy of the land. In the climate
of New Englond we meet with rmddori- apd» severe changes of temperature-a'rainfallimobr frequont in its occurrence than in districts' situated at a losa elevation-and yot'lonp* periods of comparative drought. As a result of the latter circumstances the ground is either perpetually damp or excessively dry; and so tho trecB aro exuberant in thoir vegetation, presont a largo evaporative surface of foliage, and ore consequently ill-adopted to cope with a dry -season, for they are then unable, from the diminished quantity of moisture which thoir rootlots con obtain, to supply the usual, and much leas an increased, demand'on their evaporative surface, »nd BO what was beforo the evidence of their vigour becomes tho cause of their decay. Or even if tho trees aro only weakened in tho progresa of these changea, they are then less able to copo with, an excessive winter or the ravages of an un- usual storm. That the exclusive and universal cause of tho decadence of our foreat trees waa to be sought in theae considerations alone, the author thought not, since instances in which the effect of such agencies could be traced were few and far between. And this fact had led him to invoko the assistance also " of another and non-climatic cause. Owing to the large extent to which the country was being stocked, and the limits of its capacity in this respect, more neorly reached than formerly the surface of the land in, pastoral districts Buch as New England became more and moro trampled on, the soil rendered more and more compact, and so unablo to absorb as much moisture, and often more impervious to it than before, Tho trees then felt the
diminished supply of moisture which the soil! contained, and under the new circum- stances sickened and died, The flats on the Bergon-op-Zoom run, where, a» above mentioned, the peppermint gums died, was an interesting testimony to the influence of this class of change, t Here the surface soil was formerly a scanty vegetable loam, which. was closely underlain by a poor pipeclay. By the continued trampling of stock m numbers increased from year to year thia loam was forced beneath and the pipeclay brought to the aurface, further trodden on and hardened. The peppermint gums wero thus gradually de- prived of their usual aupply of moiature by this impervious coat of clay, which robbed, the Burface roots, on which they so greatly depend for their support, not being deeply rooted %. and by reason of this and other causes the trees died. In conclusion, Mr. Norton alluded to tho difficulties connected with a proper study of the subject, how almost impossible it waa to fix the time when trees firdt became affected, and to ascertain the character of the seasons antecedent to these changes ; and ex- pressed a hope that as his theories wer» rounded on observation, even if they did not provo to bo correct, they might stimulate others to observe and arrive at sounder conclu* siona. , < <
Mr. H. Tryon then read a paper on the
VERTEBRATE FAUNA OF CHARLEVILLE.
This paper had been compiled from notes made by the zoological collector to the museum, Mr, Kendall Broadbent, and after an examination of the specimens which he col- lected in the above district, The period embraced by his observations was the latter end of August, 1885, and two succeeding months, and whilst the country was still suf- fering from a long and severe drought. In a few prefatory remarks an attempt was made to pourtray the physical features of the dis- trict and the nature of its vegetation, and to trace the effect of dry weather upon both, and so its influence in determining the particular phase of animal life described. The limits of particular classes of vegetation were also given, and any birds restricted to them mentioned. The arrival or departure of migratory birds in the district was pointed out, and which were its permanent residents. Amongst mammals the most interesting was the Bilbie, a species of kangaroo rat (Hypsyprymnus Greyi) which had the unusual habit of making extensive burrows in the sandhills, and which, from its nocturnal habits, is seldom seen, and difficult to procure except by trapping. Mr. Broadbent also heard of the occurrence in the diatrict of what he took to be the kangaroo rabbit, Lagor- chestes sp. The birds enumerated amounted to ninety-six species, of most of which speci- mens were procured, and the most interesting referred to were :-Aquila morphnoides, the little eagle ; Elanus acriptus, the letter-winged kite ; Halcyon pyrrhopygiua, the red-backed kingfisher, tbo common Kingfisher of tho dis- trict; PardalotuB rubricatua, the red-lored diamond bird ; P. molanocophalus, the black headed diamond bird, western variety ; Ptero podocy8 phaaionella, the ground graucalus, a curious bird which runs quickly along the ground like a plover and can only with diffi- culty be made to rise ; Gerygono Marstersii, a fly-catcher whioh Mr. Broadbent first dis- covered at Kimberley; Petrcoca Goodenovii, the red-capped robin ; Malurus molonotus, Gld., perhaps tho most beautiful of the bine wrens, and frequontinir the Mulga country in company with the diminutivo wren, Acanthiza uropygialis; Ptcrcodus rufescona, a lark-like bird with semi-arboreal habit; Cinclosoma cinnamomcuru, PIcctorhyncha, lanceolata, Gld., and Acanthogenys rufogularis, ( the spiny-cheeked honey-eater (besides theae two spccioa only two other of the smaller honey - caters proper were met with) ï Melithreptus gularis, the black - headed honey-eater; Olimacteris sp. a dark colnured tree-creeper, with conspicuously mottled underparts, allied to C. melanotus, Gld.; Eolophua roaeicapilla, the rose-breasted cockatoo; Platycercua Barnardi, Barnard'» parroquet, and Psephotus bomatonotus, the red rumped parroquet, all common birds in the diatrict. Amongst the different groups, the birds of prey were represented by fourteen species ; tho kingfiahers by three ; the wood swallows by five ; tbo finchos by two species only; the double-barred and spotted-aided finches ; the honey-eoters, including the leather-hcads, by eight ; the treo-creepers by three ; the parrot family by five ; the honey eating parrots were entirely absent: the pigeons and doves by four ; ibis and ducks, in- cluding geese, both by two species only.
Amongst the exhibits, in addition to 'the objects illustrating the several papers, the hon. secretory, in the abaenco of Mr. De Vis, drew attention to a diminutive fish, Centoiscus vellarius, which had been collected on the main beach, near Southport, and which was interest- ing, as helping to ex the range of this species: of Pallas, and on account of ita belonging to a small and remarkable group containing, besides this typical genus, the few species of Ámphisile (specimens of which genus were exhibited), remarkable scaleless fish having compressed semi-tranaporent body, protected by a large dorsal cuirass, and having also a small tail, not terminal, as in most fish.
A SPECIAL meeting of the Burna Club witt bo held at Sloss's Rooms, Queen-street, to- morrow night to decide upon the form of celebrating the birthday of the poet.
THE committee of the Dorunda Relief Fund! are requested to meet in the Mayor's Room, Town Hall, to-morrow morning.
TENDERS are invited by the Department of Public Instruction for the erection of State School buildings, Budcrum mountains, and for improvements, &c, at the Dalby State School.
THE particulars of a novel duel in the Indian Territory were lately publi8hed in America. The affair came off at Tiahamingo, in the Choctaw Nation, lost Friday. Tiahamingo is a small village where the Indians do their trading, and is the frequent resort of hard characters from Texas and other parts of the United States. That region ia full of outlaws» Among a dozen or more outlawa and Indians sitting in a saloon on Fridoy waa a tall Texan named Chalmers. An Indian police officer named Brown entered the saloon, and Chalmer» insisted on treating. As they wero about to* drink Brown managed to spill Chalmers's liquor on the floor, telling him he had enough. Thia enraged the Texan, who demanded blood, and pulled hia revolver with one hand and his dirk with the other. Brown also drew his weapon,
and a fight was about to open when the speetators interfered and attempted to aettle the matter. Nothing would satisfy the wounded honour of Chalmers but blood, and so the other white men and Indians fixed up a light on the follow- ing torms -.-The two men were to Btand back to back in the middle of the floor. At a given signal each man was to run out of the room, the Indian through the front door and the Texan by the back door. They were to turn in the same direction after clearing the doors, and begin firing promiscuously. Both principals' agreed to these terms and took their positions. The signal waa given, and both started from the house, pistola in hand. They faced each other on the northside of the house and opened at almost the same instant. Three romads were fired in quick succession. Then the Indian began to stagger, and, running toward Chalmers with a drawn knife, plunged it into the Texan's breast just as the latter fired his last bullet, which penetrated the Indian's heart, killing him instantly. Chalmers died half an hour after his antagonist. Over fifty Indians and whites witnessed the duel. Among the whites was Fred Fischer, a well-known cattle buyer, who vouches for the authenticity
of these facts.