The childhood of animals - (1912) PDF by Peter Chalmers Mitchell

The childhood of animals with Illustrations

The childhood of animals with Illustrations
The childhood of animals

For students and general readers

In December and January of 1911-1912, I delivered the Christmas Course of Lectures, " adapted to a Juvenile Auditory," at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and took as my subject " The Childhood of Animals." The six lectures were not written; they shaped themselves as the course proceeded, partly in relation to the set of lantern slides, specimens and having animals that I was able to bring, and partly in accordance with the advice of my kind and experienced friend Sir James Dewar. 

This book is not a printed version of the lectures, although it tells the same story in a different fashion. A lecture must be as direct and as little cumbered with detail as may be; the leaves of a book can be turned backwards and forwards, and its lines skipped or re-read. I have therefore been able to include many details that I had to omit when I was speaking, and to cover my canvas in a different way. In particular, I am no longer trying to address a juvenile auditory; I have attempted to avoid the use of terms familiar only to students of zoology and to refrain from anatomical detail, but at the same time to refrain from the irritating habit of assuming that my readers have no knowledge, no dictionaries and no other books. 

My object has been to bring together observations old and new that seemed to throw light on the nature of the period in the life history of animals between birth and maturity, rather than to write a formal treatise on the subject. I have not found it possible, nor have I tried to keep strictly within the logical confines of the title. Where the subject seemed to lead, there I have followed cheerfully, remembering that I am not preparing readers for an examination where no marks will be assigned to the extraneous matter. It has been pleasant to collect the material, pleasanter when it seemed possible to arrange it so as to display a rational interpretation, perhaps most pleasant when the unruly facts refused to conform with theory. Although it may be true, as Lord Morley once wrote, that the universe will never cease to be "a sovereign wonder of superhuman fixedness of law," it is at least a mitigating 


I. Childhood and Youth 1
II. Larvae and Metamorphoses 17
III. The Duration of Youth in Mammals 37
IV. The Duration of Youth in Birds and Lower Animals 49
V. Colour and Pattern in Animals 62
VI. Colours and Patterns of Young Mammals 81
VII. Colours and Patterns of Young Birds 97
VIII. Limitation of Families 115
IX. Brood-care and Limitation of Families in Lower Vertebrates 134
X. Brood-care in Birds 142
XI. Brood-care among Mammals 163
XII. The Food of Young Animals 183
XIII. The Taming of Young Animals 204
XIV. The Purpose of Youth 222
XV. Education 239

Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell was a Scottish zoologist who was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1903 to 1935. During this time, he directed the policy of the Zoological Gardens of London and created the world's first open zoological park, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Download PDF book 8.4 MB - 340 Pages 


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