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The Naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates

Part 8 out of 9

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turn back. On reaching the edge of the forest, we sat down and
ate our dinners under the shade-- each man having brought a
little bag containing a few handsfull of farinha, and a piece of
fried fish or roast turtle. We expected our companions of the
other division to join us at midday, but after waiting till past
one o'clock without seeing anything of them (in fact, they had
returned to the huts an hour or two previously), we struck off
across the praia towards the encampment. An obstacle here
presented itself on which we had not counted. The sun had shone
all day through a cloudless sky untempered by a breath of wind,
and the sands had become heated by it to a degree that rendered
walking over them with our bare feet impossible. The most
hardened footsoles of the party could not endure the burning
soil. We made several attempts; we tried running, having wrapped
the cool leaves of Heliconiae round our feet, but in no way could
we step forward many yards. There was no means of getting back to
our friends before night, except going round the praia, a circuit
of about four miles, and walking through the water or on the
moist sand. To get to the waterside from the place where we then
stood was not difficult, as a thick bed of a flowering shrub,
called tintarana, an infusion of the leaves of which is used to
dye black, lay on that side of the sand-bank. Footsore and
wearied, burthened with our guns, and walking for miles through
the tepid shallow water under the brain-scorching vertical sun,
we had, as may be imagined, anything but a pleasant time of it. I
did not, however, feel any inconvenience afterwards. Everyone
enjoys the most lusty health while living this free and wild life
on the rivers.

The other hunting trip which I have alluded to was undertaken in
company with three friendly young half-castes. Two of them were
brothers, namely, Joao (John) and Zephyrino Jabuti: Jabuti, or
tortoise, being a nickname which their father had earned for his
slow gait, and which, as is usual in this country, had descended
as the surname of the family. The other was Jose Frazao, a nephew
of Senor Chrysostomo, of Ega, an active, clever, and manly young
fellow, whom I much esteemed. He was almost a white-- his father
being a Portuguese and his mother a Mameluca. We were accompanied
by an Indian named Lino, and a Mulatto boy, whose office was to
carry our game.

Our proposed hunting-ground on this occasion lay across the
water, about fifteen miles distant. We set out in a small
montaria, at four o'clock in the morning, again leaving the
encampment asleep, and travelled at a good pace up the northern
channel of the Solimoens, or that lying between the island Catua
and the left bank of the river. The northern shore of the island
had a broad sandy beach reaching to its western extremity. We
gained our destination a little after daybreak; this was the
banks of the Carapanatuba, [Meaning, in Tupi, the river of many
mosquitoes: from carapana, mosquito, and ituba, many.] a channel
some 150 yards in width, which, like the Anana already mentioned,
communicates with the Cupiyo. To reach this we had to cross the
river, here nearly two miles wide. Just as day dawned we saw a
Cayman seize a large fish, a Tambaki, near the surface; the
reptile seemed to have a difficulty in securing its prey, for it
reared itself above the water, tossing the fish in its jaws and
making a tremendous commotion. I was much struck also by the
singular appearance presented by certain diving birds having very
long and snaky necks (the Plotus Anhinga). Occasionally a long
serpentine form would suddenly wriggle itself to a height of a
foot and a half above the glassy surface of the water, producing
such a deceptive imitation of a snake that at first I had some
difficulty in believing it to be the neck of a bird; it did not
remain long in view, but soon plunged again beneath the stream.

We ran ashore in a most lonely and gloomy place, on a low sand-
bank covered with bushes, secured the montaria to a tree, and
then, after making a very sparing breakfast on fried fish and
mandioca meal, rolled up our trousers and plunged into the thick
forest, which here, as everywhere else, rose like a lofty wall of
foliage from the narrow strip of beach. We made straight for the
heart of the land, John Jabuti leading, and breaking off at every
few steps a branch of the lower trees, so that we might recognise
the path on our return. The district was quite new to all my
companions, and being on a coast almost totally uninhabited by
human beings for some 300 miles, to lose our way would have been
to perish helplessly. I did not think at the time of the risk we
ran of having our canoe stolen by passing Indians, unguarded
montarias being never safe even in the ports of the villages,
Indians apparently considering them common property, and stealing
them without any compunction. No misgivings clouded the lightness
of heart with which we trod forward in warm anticipation of a
good day's sport.

The tract of forest through which we passed was Ygapo, but the
higher parts of the land formed areas which went only a very few
inches under water in the flood season. It consisted of a most
bewildering diversity of grand and beautiful trees, draped,
festooned, corded, matted, and ribboned with climbing plants,
woody and succulent, in endless variety. The most prevalent palm
was the tall Astryocaryum Jauari, whose fallen spines made it
necessary to pick our way carefully over the ground, as we were
all barefooted. There was not much green underwood, except in
places where Bamboos grew; these formed impenetrable thickets of
plumy foliage and thorny, jointed stems, which always compelled
us to make a circuit to avoid them. The earth elsewhere was
encumbered with rotting fruits, gigantic bean-pods, leaves,
limbs, and trunks of trees; fixing the impression of its being
the cemetery as well as the birthplace of the great world of
vegetation overhead. Some of the trees were of prodigious height.
We passed many specimens of the Moratinga, whose cylindrical
trunks, I dare not say how many feet in circumference, towered up
and were lost amidst the crowns of the lower trees, their lower
branches, in some cases, being hidden from our view. Another very
large and remarkable tree was the Assacu (Sapium aucuparium). A
traveller on the Amazons, mingling with the people, is sure to
hear much of the poisonous qualities of the juices of this tree.
Its bark exudes, when hacked with a knife, a milky sap, which is
not only a fatal poison when taken internally, but is said to
cause incurable sores if simply sprinkled on the skin. My
companions always gave the Assacu a wide berth when we passed
one. The tree looks ugly enough to merit a bad name, for the bark
is of a dingy olive colour, and is studded with short and sharp,
venomous-looking spines.

After walking about half a mile we came upon a dry watercourse,
where we observed, first, the old footmarks of a tapir, and, soon
after, on the margin of a curious circular hole full of muddy
water, the fresh tracks of a Jaguar. This latter discovery was
hardly made when a rush was heard amidst the bushes on the top of
a sloping bank on the opposite side of the dried creek. We
bounded forward; it was, however, too late, for the animal had
sped in a few minutes far out of our reach. It was clear we had
disturbed, on our approach, the Jaguar, while quenching his
thirst at the water-hole. A few steps further on we saw the
mangled remains of an alligator (the Jacaretinga). The head,
forequarters, and bony shell were the only parts which remained;
but the meat was quite fresh, and there were many footmarks of
the Jaguar around the carcase-- so that there was no doubt this
had formed the solid part of the animal's breakfast. My
companions now began to search for the alligator's nest, the
presence of the reptile so far from the river being accountable
for on no other ground than its maternal solicitude for its eggs.
We found, in fact, the nest at the distance of a few yards from
the place. It was a conical pile of dead leaves, in the middle of
which twenty eggs were buried. These were of elliptical shape,
considerably larger than those of a duck, and having a hard shell
of the texture of porcelain, but very rough on the outside. They
make a loud sound when rubbed together, and it is said that it is
easy to find a mother alligator in the Ygapo forests by rubbing
together two eggs in this way, she being never far off, and
attracted by the sounds.

I put half-a-dozen of the alligator's eggs in my game-bag for
specimens, and we then continued on our way. Lino, who was now
first, presently made a start backwards, calling out "Jararaca!"
This is the name of a poisonous snake (genus Craspedocephalus),
which is far more dreaded by the natives than Jaguar or
Alligator. The individual seen by Lino lay coiled up at the foot
of a tree, and was scarcely distinguishable, on account of the
colours of its body being assimilated to those of the fallen
leaves. Its hideous, flat triangular head, connected with the
body by a thin neck, was reared and turned towards us: Frazao
killed it with a charge of shot, shattering it completely, and
destroying, to my regret, its value as a specimen. In conversing
on the subject of Jararacas as we walked onwards, every one of
the party was ready to swear that this snake attacks man without
provocation, leaping towards him from a considerable distance
when he approaches. I met, in the course of my daily rambles in
the woods, many Jararacas, and once or twice narrowly very
escaped treading on them, but never saw them attempt to spring.
On some subjects the testimony of the natives of a wild country
is utterly worthless. The bite of the Jararacas is generally
fatal. I knew of four or five instances of death from it, and
only of one clear case of recovery after being bitten; but in
that case the person was lamed for life.

We walked over moderately elevated and dry ground for about a
mile, and then descended (three or four feet only) to the dry bed
of another creek. This was pierced in the same way as the former
water-course, with round holes full of muddy water. They occurred
at intervals of a few yards, and had the appearance of having
been made by the hand of man. The smallest were about two feet,
the largest seven or eight feet in diameter. As we approached the
most extensive of the larger ones, I was startled at seeing a
number of large serpent-like heads bobbing about the surface.
They proved to be those of electric eels, and it now occurred to
me that the round holes were made by these animals working
constantly round and round in the moist, muddy soil. Their depth
(some of them were at least eight feet deep) was doubtless due
also to the movements of the eels in the soft soil, and accounted
for their not drying up, in the fine season, with the rest of the
creek. Thus, while alligators and turtles in this great inundated
forest region retire to the larger pools during the dry season,
the electric eels make for themselves little ponds in which to
pass the season of drought.

My companions now cut each a stout pole, and proceeded to eject
the eels in order to get at the other fishes, with which they had
discovered the ponds to abound. I amused them all very much by
showing how the electric shock from the eels could pass from one
person to another. We joined hands in a line while I touched the
biggest and freshest of the animals on the head with the point of
my hunting-knife. We found that this experiment did not succeed
more than three times with the same eel when out of the water;
for, the fourth time the shock was scarcely perceptible. All the
fishes found in the holes (besides the eels) belonged to one
species, a small kind of Acari, or Loricaria, a group whose
members have a complete bony integument. Lino and the boy strung
them together through the gills with slender sipos, and hung them
on the trees to await our return later in the day.

Leaving the bed of the creek, we marched onwards, always towards
the centre of the land, guided by the sun, which now glimmered
through the thick foliage overhead. About eleven o'clock we saw a
break in the forest before us, and presently emerged on the banks
of a rather large sheet of water. This was one of the interior
pools of which there are so many in this district. The margins
were elevated some few feet, and sloped down to the water, the
ground being hard and dry to the water's edge, and covered with
shrubby vegetation. We passed completely round this pool, finding
the crowns of the trees on its borders tenanted by curassow
birds, whose presence was betrayed as usual by the peculiar note
which they emit. My companions shot two of them. At the further
end of the lake lay a deep watercourse, which we traced for about
half a mile, and found to communicate with another and smaller
pool. This second one evidently swarmed with turtles, as we saw
the snouts of many peering above the surface of the water: the
same had not been seen in the larger lake, probably because we
had made too much noise in hailing our discovery on approaching
its banks. My friends made an arrangement on the spot for
returning to this pool, after the termination of the egg harvest
on Catua.

In recrossing the space between the two pools, we heard the crash
of monkeys in the crowns of trees overhead. The chase of these
occupied us a considerable time. Jose fired at length at one of
the laggards of the troop, and wounded him. He climbed pretty
nimbly towards a denser part of the tree, and a second and third
discharge failed to bring him down. The poor maimed creature then
trailed his limbs to one of the topmost branches, where we
descried him soon after, seated and picking the entrails from a
wound in his abdomen-- a most heart-rending sight. The height
from the ground to the bough on which he was perched could not
have been less than 150 feet, and we could get a glimpse of him
only by standing directly underneath, and straining our eyes
upwards. We killed him at last by loading our best gun with a
careful charge, and resting the barrel against the treetrunk to
steady the aim. A few shots entered his chin, and he then fell
heels over head screaming to the ground. Although it was I who
gave the final shot, this animal did not fall to my lot in
dividing the spoils at the end of the day. I regret now not
having preserved the skin, as it belonged to a very large species
of Cebus, and one which I never met with afterwards.

It was about one o'clock in the afternoon when we again reached
the spot where we had first struck the banks of the larger pool.
We hitherto had but poor sport, so after dining on the remains of
our fried fish and farinha, and smoking our cigarettes, the
apparatus for making which, including bamboo tinder-box and steel
and flint for striking a light, being carried by every one always
on these expeditions, we made off in another (westerly) direction
through the forest to try to find better hunting-ground. We
quenched our thirst with water from the pool, which I was rather
surprised to find quite pure. These pools are, of course,
sometimes fouled for a time by the movements of alligators and
other tenants in the fine mud which settles at the bottom, but I
never observed a scum of confervae or traces of oil revealing
animal decomposition on the surface of these waters, nor was
there ever any foul smell perceptible. The whole of this level
land, instead of being covered with unwholesome swamps emitting
malaria, forms in the dry season (and in the wet also) a most
healthy country. How elaborate must be the natural processes of
self-purification in these teeming waters!

On our fresh route we were obliged to cut our way through a long
belt of bamboo underwood, and not being so careful of my steps as
my companions, I trod repeatedly on the flinty thorns which had
fallen from the bushes, finishing by becoming completely lame,
one thorn having entered deeply the sole of my foot. I was
obliged to be left behind-- Lino, the Indian, remaining with me.
The careful fellow cleaned my wounds with his saliva, placed
pieces of isca (the felt-like substance manufactured by ants) on
them to staunch the blood, and bound my feet with tough bast to
serve as shoes, which he cut from the bark of a Monguba tree. He
went about his work in a very gentle way and with much skill, but
was so sparing of speech that I could scarcely get answers to the
questions I put to him. When he had done I was able to limp about
pretty nimbly. An Indian when he performs a service of this kind
never thinks of a reward. I did not find so much
disinterestedness in negro slaves or half-castes. We had to wait
two hours for the return of our companions; during part of this
time I was left quite alone, Lino having started off into the
jungle after a peccary (a kind of wild hog) which had come near
to where we sat, but on seeing us had given a grunt and bounded
off into the thickets. At length our friends hove in sight,
loaded with game; having shot twelve curassows and two cujubims
(Penelope Pipile), a handsome black fowl with a white head, which
is arboreal in its habits like the rest of this group of
Gallinaceous birds inhabiting the South American forests. They
had discovered a third pool containing plenty of turtles. Lino
rejoined us at the same time, having missed the peccary, but in
compensation shot a Quandu, or porcupine. The mulatto boy had
caught alive in the pool a most charming little water-fowl, a
species of grebe. It was somewhat smaller than a pigeon, and had
a pointed beak; its feet were furnished with many intricate folds
or frills of skin instead of webs, and resembled very much those
of the gecko lizards. The bird was kept as a pet in Jabuti's
house at Ega for a long time afterwards, where it became
accustomed to swim about in a common hand-basin full of water,
and was a great favourite with everybody.

We now retraced our steps towards the water-side, a weary walk of
five or six miles, reaching our canoe by half-past five o'clock,
or a little before sunset. It was considered by everyone at Catua
that we had had an unusually good day's sport. I never knew any
small party to take so much game in one day in these forests,
over which animals are everywhere so widely and sparingly
scattered. My companions were greatly elated, and on approaching
the encampment at Catua, made a great commotion with their
paddles to announce their successful return, singing in their
loudest key one of the wild choruses of the Amazonian boatmen.

The excavation of eggs and preparation of the oil being finished,
we left Catua on the 3rd of November. Carepira, who was now
attached to Cardozo's party, had discovered another lake rich in
turtles, about twelve miles distant, in one of his fishing
rambles, and my friend resolved, before returning to Ega, to go
there with his nets and drag it as we had formerly done the
Aningal. Several Mameluco families of Ega begged to accompany us
to share the labours and booty; the Shumana family also joined
the party; we therefore, formed a large body, numbering in all
eight canoes and fifty persons.

The summer season was now breaking up; the river was rising; the
sky was almost constantly clouded, and we had frequent rains. The
mosquitoes also, which we had not felt while encamped on the
sand-banks, now became troublesome. We paddled up the north-
westerly channel, and arrived at a point near the upper end of
Catua at ten o'clock p.m. There was here a very broad beach of
untrodden white sand, which extended quite into the forest, where
it formed rounded hills and hollows like sand dunes, covered with
a peculiar vegetation: harsh, reedy grasses, and low trees matted
together with lianas, and varied with dwarf spiny palms of the
genus Bactris. We encamped for the night on the sands, finding
the place luckily free from mosquitoes. The different portions of
the party made arched coverings with the toldos or maranta-leaf
awnings of their canoes to sleep under, fixing the edges in the
sand. No one, however, seemed inclined to go to sleep, so after
supper we all sat or lay around the large fires and amused
ourselves. We had the fiddler with us, and in the intervals
between the wretched tunes which he played, the usual amusement
of story-telling beguiled the time: tales of hair-breadth escapes
from jaguar, alligator, and so forth. There were amongst us a
father and son who had been the actors, the previous year, in an
alligator adventure on the edge of the praia we had just left.
The son, while bathing, was seized by the thigh and carried under
water-- a cry was raised, and the father, rushing down the bank,
plunged after the rapacious beast, which was diving away with his
victim. It seems almost incredible that a man could overtake and
master the large cayman in his own element; but such was the case
in this instance, for the animal was reached and forced to
release his booty by the man's thrusting his thumb into his eye.
The lad showed us the marks of the alligator's teeth on his
thigh. We sat up until past midnight listening to these stories
and assisting the flow of talk by frequent potations of burnt
rum. A large, shallow dish was filled with the liquor and fired;
when it had burned for a few minutes, the flame was extinguished
and each one helped himself by dipping a tea-cup into the vessel.

One by one the people dropped asleep, and then the quiet murmur
of talk of the few who remained awake was interrupted by the roar
of jaguars in the jungle about a furlong distant. There was not
one only, but several of the animals. The older men showed
considerable alarm and proceeded to light fresh fires around the
outside of our encampment. I had read in books of travel of
tigers coming to warm themselves by the fires of a bivouac, and
thought my strong wish to witness the same sight would have been
gratified tonight. I had not, however,such good fortune, although
I was the last to go to sleep, and my bed was the bare sand under
a little arched covering open at both ends. The jaguars,
nevertheless, must have come very near during the night, for
their fresh footmarks were numerous within a score yards of the
place where we slept. In the morning I had a ramble along the
borders of the jungle, and found the tracks very numerous and
close together on the sandy soil.

We remained in this neighbourhood four days, and succeeded in
obtaining many hundred turtles, but we were obliged to sleep two
nights within the Carapanatuba channel. The first night passed
rather pleasantly, for the weather was fine, and we encamped in
the forest, making large fires and slinging our hammocks between
the trees. The second was one of the most miserable nights I ever
spent. The air was close, and a drizzling rain began to fall
about midnight, lasting until morning. We tried at first to brave
it out under the trees. Several very large fires were made,
lighting up with ruddy gleams the magnificent foliage in the
black shades around our encampment. The heat and smoke had the
desired effect of keeping off pretty well the mosquitoes, but the
rain continued until at length everything was soaked, and we had
no help for it but to bundle off to the canoes with drenched
hammocks and garments. There was not nearly room enough in the
flotilla to accommodate so large a number of persons lying at
full length; moreover the night was pitch dark, and it was quite
impossible in the gloom and confusion to get at a change of
clothing. So there we lay, huddled together in the best way we
could arrange ourselves, exhausted with fatigue and irritated
beyond all conception by clouds of mosquitoes. I slept on a bench
with a sail over me, my wet clothes clinging to my body, and to
increase my discomfort, close beside me lay an Indian girl, one
of Cardozo's domestics, who had a skin disfigured with black
diseased patches, and whose thick clothing, not having been
washed during the whole time we had been out (eighteen days),
gave forth a most vile effluvium.

We spent the night of the 7th of November pleasantly on the
smooth sands, where the jaguars again serenaded us, and on the
succeeding morning we commenced our return voyage to Ega. We
first doubled the upper end of the island of Catua, and then
struck off for the right bank of the Solimoens. The river was
here of immense width, and the current was so strong in the
middle that it required the most strenuous exertions on the part
of our paddlers to prevent us from being carried miles away down
the stream. At night we reached the Juteca, a small river which
enters the Solimoens by a channel so narrow that a man might
almost jump across it, but a furlong inwards expands into a very
pretty lake several miles in circumference. We slept again in the
forest, and again were annoyed by rain and mosquitoes; but this
time Cardozo and I preferred remaining where we were to mingling
with the reeking crowd in the boats. When the grey dawn arose a
steady rain was still falling, and the whole sky had a settled,
leaden appearance, but it was delightfully cool. We took our net
into the lake and gleaned a good supply of delicious fish for
breakfast. I saw at the upper end of this lake the native rice of
this country growing wild.

The weather cleared up at ten o'clock a.m. At three p.m. we
arrived at the mouth of the Cayambe, another tributary stream
much larger than the Juteca. The channel of exit to the Solimoens
was here also very narrow, but the expanded river inside is of
vast dimensions: it forms a lake (I may safely venture to say),
several score miles in circumference. Although prepared for these
surprises, I was quite taken aback in this case. We had been
paddling all day along a monotonous shore, with the dreary
Solimoens before us, here three to four miles broad, heavily
rolling onward its muddy waters. We come to a little gap in the
earthy banks, and find a dark, narrow inlet with a wall of forest
overshadowing it on each side; we enter it, and at a distance of
two or three hundred yards a glorious sheet of water bursts upon
the view. The scenery of Cayambe is very picturesque. The land,
on the two sides visible of the lake, is high, and clothed with
sombre woods, varied here and there with a white-washed house, in
the middle of a green patch of clearing, belonging to settlers.
In striking contrast to these dark, rolling forests, is the
vivid, light green and cheerful foliage of the woods on the
numerous islets which rest like water-gardens on the surface of
the lake. Flocks of ducks, storks, and snow-white herons inhabit
these islets, and a noise of parrots with the tingling chorus of
Tamburi-paras was heard from them as we passed. This has a
cheering effect after the depressing stillness and absence of
life in the woods on the margins of the main river.

Cardozo and I took a small boat and crossed the lake to visit one
of the settlers, and on our return to our canoe, while in the
middle of the lake, a squall suddenly arose in the direction
towards which we were going, so that for a whole hour we were in
great danger of being swamped. The wind blew away the awning and
mats, and lashed the waters into foam, the waves rising to a
great height. Our boat, fortunately, was excellently constructed,
rising well towards the prow, so that with good steering we
managed to head the billows as they arose, and escaped without
shipping much water. We reached our igarite at sunset, and then
made all speed to Curubaru, fifteen miles distant, to encamp for
the night on the sands. We reached the praia at ten o'clock. The
waters were now mounting fast upon the sloping beach, and we
found on dragging the net next morning that fish was beginning to
be scarce. Cardozo and his friends talked quite gloomily at
breakfast time over the departure of the joyous verao, and the
setting in of the dull, hungry winter season.

At nine o'clock in the morning of the 10th of November a light
wind from down river sprang up, and all who had sails hoisted
them. It was the first time during our trip that we had had
occasion to use our sails, so continual is the calm on this upper
river. We bowled along merrily, and soon entered the broad
channel lying between Baria and the mainland on the south bank.
The wind carried us right into the mouth of the Teffe and at four
o'clock p.m. we cast anchor in the port of Ega.



Scarlet-faced Monkeys--Parauacu Monkey--Owl-faced Night-apes--
Marmosets--Jupura--Bats--Birds--Cuvier's Toucan--Curl-crested
Toucan--Insects--Pendulous Cocoons--Foraging Ants--Blind Ants

As may have been gathered from the remarks already made, the
neighbourhood of Ega was a fine field for a Natural History
collector. With the exception of what could be learned from the
few specimens brought home, after transient visits by Spix and
Martius and the Count de Castelnau, whose acquisitions have been
deposited in the public museums of Munich and Paris, very little
was known in Europe of the animal tenants of this region; the
collections that I had the opportunity of making and sending home
attracted, therefore, considerable attention. Indeed, the name of
my favourite village has become quite a household word among a
numerous class of Naturalists, not only in England but abroad, in
consequence of the very large number of new species (upwards of
3000) which they have had to describe, with the locality "Ega"
attached to them. The discovery of new species, however, forms
but a small item in the interest belonging to the study of the
living creation. The structure, habits, instincts, and
geographical distribution of some of the oldest-known forms
supply inexhaustible materials for reflection. The few remarks I
have to make on the animals of Ega will relate to the mammals,
birds, and insects, and will sometimes apply to the productions
of the whole Upper Amazons region. We will begin with the
monkeys, the most interesting, next to man, of all animals.

Scarlet-faced Monkeys--Early one sunny morning, in the year 1855,
I saw in the streets of Ega a number of Indians, carrying on
their shoulders down to the port, to be embarked on the Upper
Amazons steamer, a large cage made of strong lianas, some twelve
feet in length and five in height, containing a dozen monkeys of
the most grotesque appearance. Their bodies (about eighteen
inches in height, exclusive of limbs) were clothed from neck to
tail with very long, straight, and shining whitish hair; their
heads were nearly bald, owing to the very short crop of thin grey
hairs, and their faces glowed with the most vivid scarlet hue. As
a finish to their striking physiognomy, they had bushy whiskers
of a sandy colour, meeting under the chin, and reddish-yellow
eyes. These red-faced apes belonged to a species called by the
Indians Uakari, which is peculiar to the Ega district, and the
cage with its contents was being sent as a present by Senor
Chrysostomo, the Director of Indians of the Japura, to one of the
Government officials at Rio Janeiro, in acknowledgment of having
been made colonel of the new National Guard. They had been
obtained with great difficulty in the forests which cover the
lowlands near the principal mouth of the Japura, about thirty
miles from Ega. It was the first time I had seen this most
curious of all the South American monkeys, and one that appears
to have escaped the notice of Spix and Martius. I afterwards made
a journey to the district inhabited by it, but did not then
succeed in obtaining specimens; before leaving the country,
however, I acquired two individuals, one of which lived in my
house for several weeks.

The scarlet-faced monkey belongs, in all essential points of
structure, to the same family (Cebidae) as the rest of the large-
sized American species; but it differs from all its relatives in
having only the rudiment of a tail, a member which reaches in
some allied kinds the highest grade of development known in the
order. It was so unusual to see a nearly tailless monkey from
America, that naturalists thought, when the first specimens
arrived in Europe, that the member had been shortened
artificially. Nevertheless, the Uakari is not quite isolated from
its related species of the same family, several other kinds, also
found on the Amazons, forming a graduated passage between the
extreme forms as regards the tail. The appendage reaches its
perfection in those genera (the Howlers, the Lagothrix and the
Spider monkeys) in which it presents on its under-surface near
the tip a naked palm, which makes it sensitive and useful as a
fifth hand in climbing. In the rest of the genera of Cebidae
(seven in number, containing thirty-eight species), the tail is
weaker in structure, entirely covered with hair, and of little or
no service in climbing, a few species nearly related to our
Uakari having it much shorter than usual. All the Cebidae, both
long-tailed and short-tailed, are equally dwellers in trees. The
scarlet-faced monkey lives in forests, which are inundated during
great part of the year, and is never known to descend to the
ground; the shortness of its tail is, therefore, no sign of
terrestrial habits, as it is in the Macaques and Baboons of the
Old World. It differs a little from the typical Cebidae in its
teeth, the incisors being oblique and, in the upper jaw,
converging, so as to leave a gap between the outermost and the
canine teeth. Like all the rest of its family, it differs from
the monkeys of the Old World, and from man, in having an
additional grinding-tooth (premolar) in each side of both jaws,
making the complete set thirty-six instead of thirty-two in

The white Uakari (Brachyurus calvus), seems to be found in no
other part of America than the district just mentioned, namely,
the banks of the Japura, near its principal mouth; and even there
it is confined, as far I could learn, to the western side of the
river. It lives in small troops among the crowns of the lofty
trees, subsisting on fruits of various kinds. Hunters say it is
pretty nimble in its motions, but is not much given to leaping,
preferring to run up and down the larger boughs in travelling
from tree to tree. The mother, as in other species of the monkey
order, carries her young on her back. Individuals are obtained
alive by shooting them with the blow-pipe and arrows tipped with
diluted Urari poison. They run a considerable distance after
being pierced, and it requires an experienced hunter to track
them. He is considered the most expert who can keep pace with a
wounded one, and catch it in his arms when it falls exhausted. A
pinch of salt, the antidote to the poison, is then put in its
mouth, and the creature revives. The species is rare, even in the
limited district which it inhabits. Senor Chrysostomo sent six of
his most skillful Indians, who were absent three weeks before
they obtained the twelve specimens which formed his unique and
princely gift. When an independent hunter obtains one, a very
high price (thirty to forty milreis) [Three pounds seven
shillings to four pounds thirteen shillings] is asked, these
monkeys being in great demand for presents to persons of
influence down the river.

Adult Uakaris, caught in the way just described, very rarely
become tame. They are peevish and sulky, resisting all attempts
to coax them, and biting anyone who ventures within reach. They
have no particular cry, even when in their native woods; in
captivity they are quite silent. In the course of a few days or
weeks, if not very carefully attended to, they fall into a
listless condition, refuse food, and die. Many of them succumb to
a disease which I suppose from the symptoms to be inflammation of
the chest or lungs. The one which I kept as a pet died of this
disorder after I had had it about three weeks. It lost its
appetite in a very few days, although kept in an airy verandah;
its coat, which was originally long, smooth, and glossy, became
dingy and ragged like that of the specimens seen in museums, and
the bright scarlet colour of its face changed to a duller hue.
This colour, in health, is spread over the features up to the
roots of the hair on the forehead and temples, and down to the
neck, including the flabby cheeks which hang down below the jaws.
The animal, in this condition, looks at a short distance as
though some one had laid a thick coat of red paint on its
countenance. The death of my pet was slow; during the last
twenty-four hours it lay prostrate, breathing quickly, its chest
strongly heaving; the colour of its face became gradually paler,
but was still red when it expired. As the hue did not quite
disappear until two or three hours after the animal was quite
dead, I judged that it was not exclusively due to the blood, but
partly to a pigment beneath the skin which would probably retain
its colour a short time after the circulation had ceased.

After seeing much of the morose disposition of the Uakari, I was
not a little surprised one day at a friend's house to find an
extremely lively and familiar individual of this species. It ran
from an inner chamber straight towards me after I had sat down on
a chair, climbed my legs and nestled in my lap, turning round and
looking up with the usual monkey's grin, after it had made itself
comfortable. It was a young animal which had been taken when its
mother was shot with a poisoned arrow; its teeth were incomplete,
and the face was pale and mottled, the glowing scarlet hue not
supervening in these animals before mature age; it had also a few
long black hairs on the eyebrows and lips. The frisky little
fellow had been reared in the house amongst the children, and
allowed to run about freely, and take its meals with the rest of
the household. There are few animals which the Brazilians of
these villages have not succeeded in taming. I have even seen
young jaguars running loose about a house, and treated as pets.
The animals that I had rarely became familiar, however long they
might remain in my possession, a circumstance due no doubt to
their being kept always tied up.

The Uakari is one of the many species of animals which are
classified by the Brazilians as "mortal," or of delicate
constitution, in contradistinction to those which are "duro," or
hardy. A large proportion of the specimens sent from Ega die
before arriving at Para, and scarcely one in a dozen succeeds in
reaching Rip Janeiro alive. The difficulty it has of
accommodating itself to changed conditions probably has some
connection with the very limited range or confined sphere of life
of the species in its natural state, its native home being an
area of swampy woods, not more than about sixty square miles in
extent, although no permanent barrier exists to cheek its
dispersal, except towards the south, over a much wider space.
When I descended the river in 1859, we had with us a tame adult
Uakari, which was allowed to ramble about the vessel, a large
schooner. When we reached the mouth of the Rio Negro, we had to
wait four days while the custom-house officials at Barra, ten
miles distant, made out the passports for our crew, and during
this time the schooner lay close to the shore, with its bowsprit
secured to the trees on the bank. Well, one morning, scarlet-face
was missing, having made his escape into the forest. Two men were
sent in search of him, but returned after several hours' absence
without having caught sight of the runaway. We gave up the monkey
for lost, until the following day, when he re-appeared on the
skirts of the forest, and marched quietly down the bowsprit to
his usual place on deck. He had evidently found the forests of
the Rio Negro very different from those of the delta lands of the
Japura, and preferred captivity to freedom in a place that was so
uncongenial to him.

The Parauacu Monkey.--Another Ega monkey, nearly related to the
Uakaris, is the Parauacu (Pithecia hirsuta), a timid inoffensive
creature with a long bear-like coat of harsh speckled-grey hair.
The long fur hangs over the head, half concealing the pleasing
diminutive face, and clothes also the tail to the tip, which
member is well developed, being eighteen inches in length, or
longer than the body. The Parauacu is found on the "terra firma"
lands of the north shore of the Solimoens from Tunantins to Peru.
It exists also on the south side of the river, namely, on the
banks of the Teffe, but there under a changed form, which differs
a little from its type in colours. This form has been described
by Dr. Gray as a distinct species, under the name of Pithecia
albicans. The Parauacu is also a very delicate animal, rarely
living many weeks in captivity; but any one who succeeds in
keeping it alive for a month or two, gains by it a most
affectionate pet. One of the specimens of Pithecia albicans now
in the British Museum was, when living, the property of a young
Frenchman, a neighbour of mine at Ega. It became so tame in the
course of a few weeks that it followed him about the streets like
a dog. My friend was a tailor, and the little pet used to spend
the greater part of the day seated on his shoulder, while he was
at work on his board. Nevertheless,it showed great dislike to
strangers, and was not on good terms with any other member of my
friend's household than himself. I saw no monkey that showed so
strong a personal attachment as this gentle, timid, silent,
little creature. The eager and passionate Cebi seem to take the
lead of all the South American monkeys in intelligence and
docility, and the Coaita has perhaps the most gentle and
impressible disposition; but the Parauacu, although a dull,
cheerless animal, excels all in this quality of capability of
attachment to individuals of our own species. It is not wanting,
however, in intelligence as well as moral goodness, proof of
which was furnished one day by an act of our little pet. My
neighbour had quitted his house in the morning without taking
Parauacu with him, and the little creature having missed its
friend, and concluded, as it seemed, that he would be sure to
come to me, both being in the habit of paying me a daily visit
together, came straight to my dwelling, taking a short cut over
gardens, trees, and thickets, instead of going the roundabout way
of the street. It had never done this before, and we knew the
route it had taken only from a neighbour having watched its
movements. On arriving at my house and not finding its master, it
climbed to the top of my table, and sat with an air of quiet
resignation waiting for him. Shortly afterwards my friend
entered, and the gladdened pet then jumped to its usual perch on
his shoulder.

Owl-laced Night Apes--A third interesting genus of monkeys found
near Ega, are the Nyctipitheci, or night apes, called Ei-a by the
Indians. Of these I found two species, closely related to each
other but nevertheless quite distinct, as both inhabit the same
forests, namely, those of the higher and drier lands, without
mingling with each other or intercrossing. They sleep all day
long in hollow trees, and come forth to prey on insects and eat
fruits only in the night. They are of small size, the body being
about a foot long, and the tall fourteen inches, and are thickly
clothed with soft grey and brown fur, similar in substance to
that of the rabbit. Their physiognomy reminds one of an owl, or
tiger-cat: the face is round and encircled by a ruff of whitish
fur. the muzzle is not at all prominent; the mouth and chin are
small; the cars are very short, scarcely appearing above the hair
of the head; and the eyes are large and yellowish in colour,
imparting the staring expression of nocturnal animals of prey.
The forehead is whitish, and decorated with three black stripes,
which in one of the species (Nyctipithecus trivirgatus) continue
to the crown; and in the other (N. felinus), meet on the top of
the forehead. N. trivirgatus was first described by Humboldt, who
discovered it on the banks of the Cassiquiare, near the head
waters of the Rio Negro.

I kept a pet animal of the N. trivirgatus for many months, a
young one having been given to me by an Indian compadre, as a
present from my newly-baptised godson. These monkeys, although
sleeping by day, are aroused by the least noise; so that, when a
person passes by a tree in which a number of them are concealed,
he is startled by the sudden apparition of a group of little
striped faces crowding a hole in the trunk. It was in this way
that my compadre discovered the colony from which the one given
to me was taken. I was obliged to keep my pet chained up; it
therefore, never became thoroughly familiar. I once saw, however,
an individual of the other species (N. felinus) which was most
amusingly tame. It was as lively and nimble as the Cebi, but not
so mischievous and far more confiding in its disposition,
delighting to be caressed by all persons who came into the house.
But its owner, the Municipal Judge of Ega, Dr. Carlos Mariana,
had treated it for many weeks with the greatest kindness,
allowing it to sleep with him at night in his hammock, and to
nestle in his bosom half the day as he lay reading. It was a
great favourite with everyone, from the cleanliness of its habits
to the prettiness of its features and ways. My own pet was kept
in a box, in which was placed a broad-mouthed glass jar; into
this it would dive, head foremost, when any one entered the room,
turning round inside, and thrusting forth its inquisitive face an
instant afterwards to stare at the intruder. It was very active
at night, venting at frequent intervals a hoarse cry, like the
suppressed barking of a dog, and scampering about the room, to
the length of its tether, after cockroaches and spiders. In
climbing between the box and the wall, it straddled the space,
resting its hands on the palms and tips of the out-stretched
fingers with the knuckles bent at an acute angle, and thus
mounted to the top with the greatest facility. Although seeming
to prefer insects, it ate all kinds of fruit, but would not touch
raw or cooked meat, and was very seldom thirsty. I was told by
persons who had kept these monkeys loose about the house, that
they cleared the chambers of bats as well as insect vermin. When
approached gently my Ei-a allowed itself to be caressed; but when
handled roughly, it always took alarm, biting severely, striking
out its little hands, and making a hissing noise like a cat. As
already related, my pet was killed by a jealous Caiarara monkey,
which was kept in the house at the same time.

Barrigudo Monkeys.--Ten other species of monkeys were found, in
addition to those already mentioned, in the forests of the Upper
Amazons. All were strictly arboreal and diurnal in their habits,
and lived in flocks, travelling from tree to tree, the mothers
with their children on their backs-- leading, in fact, a life
similar to that of the Pararauate Indians, and, like them,
occasionally plundering the plantations which lie near their line
of march. Some of them were found also on the Lower Amazons, and
have been noticed in former chapters of this narrative. Of the
remainder, the most remarkable is the Macaco barrigudo, or bag-
bellied monkey of the Portuguese colonists, a species of
Lagothrix. The genus is closely allied to the Coaitas, or spider
monkeys, having, like them, exceedingly strong and flexible
tails, which are furnished underneath with a naked palm like a
hand, for grasping. The Barrigudos, however, are very bulky
animals, while the spider monkeys are remarkable for the
slenderness of their bodies and limbs. I obtained specimens of
what have been considered two species, one (L. olivaceus of
Spix?) having the head clothed with grey, the other (L.
Humboldtii) with black fur. They both live together in the same
places, and are probably only differently-coloured individuals of
one and the same species. I sent home a very large male of one of
these kinds, which measured twenty-seven inches in length of
trunk, the tail being twenty-six inches long; it was the largest
monkey I saw in America, with the exception of a black Howler,
whose body was twenty-eight inches in height. The skin of the
face in the Barrigudo is black and wrinkled, the forehead is low,
with the eyebrows projecting, and, in short, the features
altogether resemble in a striking manner those of an old negro.
In the forests, the Barrigudo is not a very active animal; it
lives exclusively on fruits, and is much persecuted by the
Indians, on account of the excellence of its flesh as food. From
information given me by a collector of birds and mammals, whom I
employed, and who resided a long time among the Tucuna Indians
near Tabatinga, I calculated that one horde of this tribe, 200 in
number, destroyed 1200 of these monkeys annually for food. The
species is very numerous in the forests of the higher lands, but,
owing to long persecution, it is now seldom seen in the
neighbourhood of the larger villages. It is not found at all on
the Lower Amazons. Its manners in captivity are grave, and its
temper mild and confiding, like that of the Coaitas, owing to
these traits, the Barrigudo is much sought after for pets; but it
is not hardy like the Coaitas, and seldom survives a passage down
the river to Para.

Marmosets.-It now only remains to notice the Marmosets, which
form the second family of American monkeys. Our old friend Midas
ursulus, of Para and the Lower Amazons, is not found on the Upper
river, but in its stead a closely-allied species presents itself,
which appears to be the Midas rufoniger of Gervais, whose mouth
is bordered with longish white hairs. The habits of this species
are the same as those of the M. ursulus, indeed it seems probable
that it is a form or race of the same stock, modified to suit the
altered local conditions under which it lives. One day, while
walking along a forest pathway, I saw one of these lively little
fellows miss his grasp as he was passing from one tree to another
along with his troop. He fell head foremost, from a height of at
least fifty feet, but managed cleverly to alight on his legs in
the pathway, quickly turning around, gave me a good stare for a
few moments, and then bounded off gaily to climb another tree. At
Tunantins, I shot a pair of a very handsome species of Marmoset,
the M. rufiventer, I believe, of zoologists. Its coat was very
glossy and smooth, the back deep brown, and the underside of the
body of rich black and reddish hues. A third species (found at
Tabatinga, 200 miles further west) is of a deep black colour,
with the exception of a patch of white hair around its mouth. The
little animal, at a short distance, looks as though it held a
ball of snow-white cotton in its teeth. The last I shall mention
is the Hapale pygmaeus, one of the most diminutive forms of the
monkey order, three full-grown specimens of which, measuring only
seven inches in length of body, I obtained near St. Paulo. The
pretty Lilliputian face is furnished with long brown whiskers,
which are naturally brushed back over the cars. The general
colour of the animal is brownish-tawny, but the tail is elegantly
barred with black. I was surprised, on my return to England, to
learn from specimens in the British Museum, that the pigmy
Marmoset was found also in Mexico-- no other Amazonian monkey
being known to wander far from the great river plain. Thus, the
smallest and apparently the feeblest, species of the whole order,
is one which has, by some means, become the most widely

The Jupura.--A curious animal, known to naturalists as the
Kinkajou, but called Jupura by the Indians of the Amazons, and
considered by them as a kind of monkey, may be mentioned in this
place. It is the Cercoleptes caudivolvus of zoologists, and has
been considered by some authors as an intermediate form between
the Lemur family of apes and the plantigrade Carnivora, or Bear
family. It has decidedly no close relation ship to either of the
groups of American monkeys, having six cutting teeth to each jaw,
and long claws instead of nails, with extremities of the usual
shape of paws instead of hands. Its muzzle is conical and
pointed, like that of many Lemurs of Madagascar; the expression
of its countenance, and its habits and actions, are also very
similar to those of Lemurs. Its tail is very flexible towards the
tip, and is used to twine round branches in climbing. I did not
see or hear anything of this animal while residing on the Lower
Amazons, but on the banks of the Upper river, from the Teffe to
Peru, it appeared to be rather common. It is nocturnal in its
habits, like the owl-faced monkeys, although, unlike them, it has
a bright, dark eye. I once saw it in considerable numbers, when
on an excursion with an Indian companion along the low Ygapo
shores of the Teffe, about twenty miles above Ega. We slept one
night at the house of a native family living in the thick of the
forest where a festival was going on and, there being no room to
hang our hammocks under shelter. on account of the number of
visitors, we lay down on a mat in the open air, near a shed which
stood in the midst of a grove of fruit-trees and pupunha palms.
Past midnight, when all became still, after the uproar of
holidaymaking, as I was listening to the dull, fanning sound made
by the wings of impish hosts of vampire bats crowding round the
Caju trees, a rustle commenced from the side of the woods, and a
troop of slender, long-tailed animals were seen against the clear
moonlit sky, taking flying leaps from branch to branch through
the grove. Many of them stopped at the pupunha trees, and the
hustling, twittering, and screaming, with sounds of falling
fruits, showed how they were employed. I thought, at first, they
were Nyctipitheci, but they proved to be Jupuras, for the owner
of the house early next morning caught a young one, and gave it
to me. I kept this as a pet animal for several weeks, feeding it
on bananas and mandioca-meal mixed with treacle. It became tame
in a very short time, allowing itself to be caressed, but making
a distinction in the degree of confidence it showed between
myself and strangers. My pet was unfortunately killed by a
neighbour's dog, which entered the room where it was kept. The
animal is so difficult to obtain alive, its place of retreat in
the daytime not being known to the natives, that I was unable to
procure a second living specimen.

Bats--The only other mammals that I shall mention are the bats,
which exist in very considerable numbers and variety in the
forest, as well as in the buildings of the villages. Many small
and curious species, living in the woods, conceal themselves by
day under the broad leaf-blades of Heliconiae and other plants
which grow in shady places; others cling to the trunks of trees.
While walking through the forest in the daytime, especially along
gloomy ravines, one is almost sure to startle bats from their
sleeping-places; and at night they are often seen in great
numbers flitting about the trees on the shady margins of narrow
channels. I captured altogether, without giving especial
attention to bats, sixteen different species at Ega.

The Vampire Bat.--The little grey blood-sucking Phyllostoma,
mentioned in a former chapter as found in my chamber at Caripi,
was not uncommon at Ega, where everyone believes it to visit
sleepers and bleed them in the night. But the vampire was here by
far the most abundant of the family of leaf-nosed bats. It is the
largest of all the South American species, measuring twenty-eight
inches in expanse of wing. Nothing in animal physiognomy can be
more hideous than the countenance of this creature when viewed
from the front; the large, leathery ears standing out from the
sides and top of the head, the erect spear-shaped appendage on
the tip of the nose, the grin and the glistening black eye, all
combining to make up a figure that reminds one of some mocking
imp of fable. No wonder that imaginative people have inferred
diabolical instincts on the part of so ugly an animal. The
vampire, however, is the most harmless of all bats, and its
inoffensive character is well known to residents on the banks of
the Amazons. I found two distinct species of it, one having the
fur of a blackish colour, the other of a ruddy hue, and
ascertained that both feed chiefly on fruits. The church at Ega
was the headquarters of both kinds, I used to see them, as I sat
at my door during the short evening twilights, trooping forth by
scores from a large open window at the back of the altar,
twittering cheerfully as they sped off to the borders of the
forest. They sometimes enter houses; the first time I saw one in
my chamber, wheeling heavily round and round, I mistook it for a
pigeon, thinking that a tame one had escaped from the premises of
one of my neighbours. I opened the stomachs of several of these
bats, and found them to contain a mass of pulp and seeds of
fruits, mingled with a few remains of insects. The natives say
they devour ripe cajus and guavas on trees in the gardens, but on
comparing the seeds taken from their stomachs with those of all
cultivated trees at Ega, I found they were unlike any of them; it
is therefore, probable that they generally resort to the forest
to feed, coming to the village in the morning to sleep, because
they find it more secure from animals of prey than their natural
abides in the woods.

Birds.--I have already had occasion to mention several of the
more interesting birds found in the Ega district. The first thing
that would strike a newcomer in the forests of the Upper Amazons
would be the general scarcity of birds; indeed, it often happened
that I did not meet with a single bird during a whole day's
ramble in the richest and most varied parts of the woods. Yet the
country is tenanted by many hundred species, many of which are,
in reality, abundant, and some of them conspicuous from their
brilliant plumage. The cause of their apparent rarity is to be
sought in the sameness and density of the thousand miles of
forest which constitute their dwelling-place. The birds of the
country are gregarious, at least during the season when they are
most readily found; but the frugivorous kinds are to be met with
only when certain wild fruits are ripe, and to know the exact
localities of the trees requires months of experience. It would
not be supposed that the insectivorous birds are also gregarious,
but they are so-- numbers of distinct species, belonging to many
different families, joining together in the chase or search of
food. The proceedings of these associated bands of insect-hunters
are not a little curious, and merit a few remarks.

While hunting along the narrow pathways that are made through the
forest in the neighbourhood of houses and villages, one may pass
several days without seeing many birds; but now and then the
surrounding bushes and trees appear suddenly to swarm with them.
There are scores, probably hundreds of birds, all moving about
with the greatest activity--woodpeckers and Dendrocolaptidae
(from species no larger than a sparrow to others the size of a
crow) running up the tree trunks; tanagers, ant-thrushes,
hummingbirds, fly-catchers, and barbets flitting about the leaves
and lower branches. The bustling crowd loses no time, and
although moving in concert, each bird is occupied, on its own
account, in searching bark or leaf or twig; the barbets visit
every clayey nest of termites on the trees which lie in the line
of march. In a few minutes the host is gone, and the forest path
remains deserted and silent as before. I became, in course of
time, so accustomed to this habit of birds in the woods near Ega,
that I could generally find the flock of associated marauders
whenever I wanted it. There appeared to be only one of these
flocks in each small district; and, as it traversed chiefly a
limited tract of woods of second growth, I used to try different
paths until I came up with it.

The Indians have noticed these miscellaneous hunting parties of
birds, but appear not to have observed that they are occupied in
searching for insects. They have supplied their want of
knowledge, in the usual way of half-civilised people, by a theory
which has degenerated into a myth, to the effect that the onward
moving bands are led by a little grey bird, called the Uira-para,
which fascinates all the rest, and leads them a weary dance
through the thickets. There is certainly some appearance of truth
in this explanation, for sometimes stray birds encountered in the
line of march, are seen to be drawn into the throng, and purely
frugivorous birds are now and then found mixed up with the rest,
as though led away by some will-o'-the-wisp. The native women,
even the white and half-caste inhabitants of the towns, attach a
superstitious value to the skin and feathers of the Uira-para,
believing that if they keep them in their clothes' chest, the
relics will have the effect of attracting for the happy
possessors a train of lovers and followers. These birds are
consequently in great demand in some places, the hunters selling
them at a high price to the foolish girls, who preserve the
bodies by drying flesh and feathers together in the sun. I could
never get a sight of this famous little bird in the forest. I
once employed Indians to obtain specimens for me; but, after the
same man (who was a noted woodsman) brought me, at different
times, three distinct species of birds as the Uira-para, I gave
up the story as a piece of humbug. The simplest explanation
appears to be this: the birds associate in flocks from the
instinct of self-preservation in order to be a less easy prey to
hawks, snakes, and other enemies than they would be if feeding

Toucans--Cuvier's Toucan--Of this family of birds, so conspicuous
from the great size and light structure of their beaks, and so
characteristic of tropical American forests, five species inhabit
the woods of Ega. The commonest is Cuvier's Toucan, a large bird,
distinguished from its nearest relatives by the feathers at the
bottom of the back being of a saffron hue instead of red. It is
found more or less numerously throughout the year, as it breeds
in the neighbourhood, laying its eggs in holes of trees, at a
great height from the ground. During most months of the year, it
is met with in single individuals or small flocks, and the birds
are then very wary. Sometimes one of these little bands of four
or five is seen perched, for hours together, among the topmost
branches of high trees, giving vent to their remarkably loud,
shrill, yelping cries, one bird, mounted higher than the rest,
acting, apparently, as leader of the inharmonious chorus; but two
of them are often heard yelping alternately, and in different
notes. These cries have a vague resemblance to the syllables
Tocano, Tocano, and hence, the Indian name of this genus of
birds. At these times it is difficult to get a shot at Toucans,
for their senses are so sharpened that they descry the hunter
before he gets near the tree on which they are perched, although
he may be half-concealed among the underwood, 150 feet below
them. They stretch their necks downwards to look beneath, and on
espying the least movement among the foliage, fly off to the more
inaccessible parts of the forest. Solitary Toucans are sometimes
met with at the same season, hopping silently up and down the
larger boughs, and peering into crevices of the tree-trunks. They
moult in the months from March to June, some individuals earlier,
others later. This season of enforced quiet being passed, they
make their appearance suddenly in the dry forest, near Ega, in
large flocks, probably assemblages of birds gathered together
from the neighbouring Ygapo forests, which are then flooded and
cold. The birds have now become exceedingly tame, and the troops
travel with heavy laborious flight from bough to bough among the
lower trees. They thus become an easy prey to hunters, and
everyone at Ega who can get a gun of any sort and a few charges
of powder and shot, or a blow-pipe, goes daily to the woods to
kill a few brace for dinner; for, as already observed, the people
of Ega live almost exclusively on stewed and roasted Toucans
during the months of June and July, the birds being then very fat
and the meat exceedingly sweet and tender.

No one, on seeing a Toucan, can help asking what is the use of
the enormous bill, which, in some species, attains a length of
seven inches, and a width of more than two inches. A few remarks
on this subject may be here introduced. The early naturalists,
having seen only the bill of a Toucan, which was esteemed as a
marvellous production by the virtuosi of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, concluded that the bird must have belonged
to the aquatic and web-footed order, as this contains so many
species of remarkable development of beak, adapted for seizing
fish. Some travvellers also related fabulous stories of Toucans
resorting to the banks of rivers to feed on fish, and these
accounts also encouraged the erroneous views of the habits of the
birds which for a long time prevailed. Toucans, however, are now
well known to be eminently arboreal birds, and to belong to a
group including trogons, parrots, and barbets [Capitoninae, G. R.
Gray.]-- all of whose members are fruit-eaters. On the Amazons,
where these birds are very common, no one pretends ever to have
seen a Toucan walking on the ground in its natural state, much
less acting the part of a swimming or wading bird. Professor Owen
found, on dissection, that the gizzard in Toucans is not so well
adapted for the trituration of food as it is in other vegetable
feeders, and concluded, therefore, as Broderip had observed the
habit of chewing the cud in a tame bird, that the great toothed
bill was useful in holding and remasticating the food. The bill
can scarcely be said to be a very good contrivance for seizing
and crushing small birds, or taking them from their nests in
crevices of trees, habits which have been imputed to Toucans by
some writers. The hollow, cellular structure of the interior of
the bill, its curved and clumsy shape, and the deficiency of
force and precision when it is used to seize objects, suggest a
want of fitness, if this be the function of the member. But fruit
is undoubtedly the chief food of Toucans, and it is in reference
to their mode of obtaining it that the use of their uncouth bills
is to be sought. Flowers and fruit on the crowns of the large
trees of South American forests grow, principally, towards the
end of slender twigs, which will not bear any considerable
weight; all animals, therefore, which feed upon fruit, or on
insects contained in flowers, must, of course, have some means of
reaching the ends of the stalks from a distance. Monkeys obtain
their food by stretching forth their long arms and, in some
instances, their tails, to bring the fruit near to their mouths.
Hummingbirds are endowed with highly perfected organs of flight
with corresponding muscular development by which they are enabled
to sustain themselves on the wing before blossoms whilst rifling
them of their contents. These strong-flying creatures, however,
will, whenever they can get near enough, remain on their perches
while probing neighbouring flowers for insects. Trogons have
feeble wings, and a dull, inactive temperament. Their mode of
obtaining food is to station themselves quietly on low branches
in the gloomy shades of the forest, and eye the fruits on the
surrounding trees-- darting off, as if with an effort, every time
they wish to seize a mouthful, and returning to the same perch.
Barbets (Capitoninae) seem to have no especial endowment, either
of habits or structure, to enable them to seize fruits; and in
this respect they are similar to the Toucans, if we leave the
bill out of question, both tribes having heavy bodies, with
feeble organs of flight, so that they are disabled from taking
their food on the wing. The purpose of the enormous bill here
becomes evident; it is to enable the Toucan to reach and devour
fruit whil remaining seated, and thus to counterbalance the
disadvantage which its heavy body and gluttonous appetite would
otherwise give it in the competition with allied groups of birds.
The relation between the extraordinarily lengthened bill of the
Toucan and its mode of obtaining food, is therefore precisely
similar to that between the long neck and lips of the Giraffe and
the mode of browsing of the animal. The bill of the Toucan can
scarcely be considered a very perfectly-formed instrument for the
end to which it is applied, as here explained; but nature appears
not to invent organs at once for the functions to which they are
now adapted, but avails herself, here of one already-existing
structure or instinct, there of another, according as they are
handy when need for their further modification arises.

One day, whil walking along the principal pathway in the woods
near Ega, I saw one of these Toucans seated gravely on a low
branch close to the road, and had no difficulty in seizing it
with my hand. It turned out to be a runaway pet bird; no one,
however, came to own it, although I kept it in my house for
several months. The bird was in a half-starved and sickly
condition, but after a few days of good living it recovered
health and spirits, and became one of the most amusing pets
imaginable. Many excellent accounts of the habits of tame Toucans
have been published, and therefore, I need not describe them in
detail, but I do not recollect to have seen any notice of their
intelligence and confiding disposition under domestication, in
which qualities my pet seemed to be almost equal to parrots. I
allowed Tocano to go free about the house, contrary to my usual
practice with pet animals, he never, however, mounted my working-
table after a smart correction which he received the first time
he did it. He used to sleep on the top of a box in a corner of
the room, in the usual position of these birds, namely, with the
long tail laid right over on the back, and the beak thrust
underneath the wing. He ate of everything that we eat; beef,
turtle, fish, farinha, fruit, and was a constant attendant at our
table--a cloth spread on a mat. His appetite was most ravenous,
and his powers of digestion quite wonderful. He got to know the
meal hours to a nicety, and we found it very difficult, after the
first week or two, to keep him away from the dining-room, where
he had become very impudent and troublesome. We tried to shut him
out by enclosing him in the backyard, which was separated by a
high fence from the street on which our front door opened, but he
used to climb the fence and hop round by a long circuit to the
dining-room, making his appearance with the greatest punctuality
as the meal was placed on the table. He acquired the habit,
afterwards, of rambling about the street near our house, and one
day he was stolen, so we gave him up for lost. But two days
afterwards he stepped through the open doorway at dinner hour,
with his old gait, and sly magpie-like expression, having escaped
from the house where he had been guarded by the person who had
stolen him, and which was situated at the further end of the

The Curl-crested Toucan (Pteroglossus Beauharnaisii).--Of the
four smaller Toucans, or Arassaris, found near Ega, the
Pteroglossus flavirostris is perhaps the most beautiful in
colours, its breast being adorned with broad belts of rich
crimson and black; but the most curious species, by far, is the
Curl-crested, or Beauharnais Toucan. The feathers on the head of
this singular bird are transformed into thin, horny plates, of a
lustrous black colour, curled up at the ends, and resembling
shavings of steel or ebony-wood: the curly crest being arranged
on the crown in the form of a wig. Mr. Wallace and I first met
with this species, on ascending the Amazons, at the mouth of the
Solimoens; from that point it continues as a rather common bird
on the terra firma, at least on the south side of the river as
far as Fonte Boa, but I did not hear of its being found further
to the west. It appears in large flocks in the forests near Ega
in May and June, when it has completed its moult. I did not find
these bands congregated at fruit-trees, but always wandering
through the forest, hopping from branch to branch among the lower
trees, and partly concealed among the foliage. None of the
Arassaris, to my knowledge, make a yelping noise like that
uttered by the larger Toucans (Ramphastos); the notes of the
curl-crested species are very singular, resembling the croaking
of frogs. I had an amusing adventure one day with these birds. I
had shot one from a rather high tree in a dark glen in the
forest, and entered the thicket where the bird had fallen to
secure my booty. It was only wounded, and on my attempting to
seize it, set up a loud scream. In an instant, as if by magic,
the shady nook seemed alive with these birds, although there was
certainly none visible when I entered the jungle. They descended
towards me, hopping from bough to bough, some of them swinging on
the loops and cables of woody lianas, and all croaking and
fluttering their wings like so many furies. If I had had a long
stick in my hand I could have knocked several of them over. After
killing the wounded one, I began to prepare for obtaining more
specimens and punishing the viragos for their boldness; but the
screaming of their companion having ceased, they remounted the
trees, and before I could reload, every one of them had

Insects.--Upwards of 7000 species of insects were found in the
neighbourhood of Ega. I must confine myself in this place to a
few remarks on the order Lepidoptera, and on the ants, several
kinds of which, found chiefly on the Upper Amazons, exhibit the
most extraordinary instincts.

I found about 550 distinct species of butterflies at Ega. Those
who know a little of Entomology will be able to form some idea of
the riches of the place in this department, when I mention that
eighteen species of true Papilio (the swallow-tail genus) were
found within ten minutes' walk of my house. No fact could speak
more plainly for the surpassing exuberance of the vegetation, the
varied nature of the land, the perennial warmth and humidity of
the climate. But no description can convey an adequate notion of
the beauty and diversity in form and colour of this class of
insects in the neighbourhood of Ega. I paid special attention to
them, having found that this tribe was better adapted than almost
any other group of animals or plants to furnish facts in
illustration of the modifications which all species undergo in
nature, under changed local conditions. This accidental
superiority is owing partly to the simplicity and distinctness of
the specific character of the insects, and partly to the facility
with which very copious series of specimens can be collected and
placed side by side for comparison. The distinctness of the
specific characters is due probably to the fact that all the
superficial signs of change in the organisation are exaggerated,
and made unusually plain by affecting the framework, shape, and
colour of the wings, which, as many anatomists believe, are
magnified extensions of the skin around the breathing orifices of
the thorax of the insects. These expansions are clothed with
minute feathers or scales, coloured in regular patterns, which
vary in accordance with the slightest change in the conditions to
which the species are exposed. It may be said, therefore, that on
these expanded membranes Nature writes, as on a tablet, the story
of the modifications of species, so truly do all changes of the
organisation register themselves thereon. Moreover, the same
colour-patterns of the wings generally show, with great
regularity, the degrees of blood-relationship of the species. As
the laws of Nature must be the same for all beings, the
conclusions furnished by this group of insects must be applicable
to the whole organic world; therefore, the study of butterflies--
creatures selected as the types of airiness and frivolity--
instead of being despised, will some day be valued as one of the
most important branches of Biological science.

Before proceeding to describe the ants, a few remarks may be made
on the singular cases and cocoons woven by the caterpillars of
certain moths found at Ega. The first that may be mentioned is
one of the most beautiful examples of insect workmanship I ever
saw. It is a cocoon, about the size of a sparrow's egg, woven by
a caterpillar in broad meshes of either buff or rose-coloured
silk, and is frequently seen in the narrow alleys of the forest,
suspended from the extreme tip of an outstanding leaf by a strong
silken thread five or six inches in length. It forms a very
conspicuous object, hanging thus in mid-air. The glossy threads
with which it is knitted are stout, and the structure is
therefore, not liable to be torn by the beaks of insectivorous
birds, while its pendulous position makes it doubly secure
against their attacks, the apparatus giving way when they peck at
it. There is a small orifice at each end of the egg-shaped bag,
to admit of the escape of the moth when it changes from the
little chrysalis which sleeps tranquilly in its airy cage. The
moth is of a dull slatey colour, and belongs to the Lithosiide
group of the silk-worm family (Bombycidae). When the caterpillar
begins its work, it lets itself down from the tip of the leaf
which it has chosen by spinning a thread of silk, the thickness
of which it slowly increases as it descends. Having given the
proper length to the cord, it proceeds to weave its elegant bag,
placing itself in the centre and spinning rings of silk at
regular intervals, connecting them at the same time by means of
cross threads - so that the whole, when finished, forms a loose
web, with quadrangular meshes of nearly equal size throughout.
The task occupies about four days: when finished, the enclosed
caterpillar becomes sluggish, its skin shrivels and cracks, and
there then remains a motionless chrysalis of narrow shape,
leaning against the sides of its silken cage.

Many other kinds are found at Ega belonging to the same cocoon-
weaving family, some of which differ from the rest in their
caterpillars possessing the art of fabricating cases with
fragments of wood or leaves, in which they live secure from all
enemies while they are feeding and growing. I saw many species of
these; some of them knitted together, with fine silken threads,
small bits of stick, and so made tubes similar to those of
caddice-worms; others (Saccophora) chose leaves for the same
purpose, forming with them an elongated bag open at both ends,
and having the inside lined with a thick web. The tubes of full-
grown caterpillars of Saccophora are two inches in length, and it
is at this stage of growth that I have generally seen them. They
feed on the leaves of Melastoniae, and as in crawling, the weight
of so large a dwelling would be greater than the contained
caterpillar could sustain, the insect attaches the case by one or
more threads to the leaves or twigs near which it is feeding.

Foraging Ants--Many confused statements have been published in
books of travel, and copied in Natural History works, regarding
these ants, which appear to have been confounded with the Sauba,
a sketch of whose habits has been given in the first chapter of
this work. The Sauba is a vegetable feeder, and does not attack
other animals; the accounts that have been published regarding
carnivorous ants which hunt in vast armies, exciting terror
wherever they go, apply only to the Ecitons, or foraging ants, a
totally different group of this tribe of insects. The Ecitons are
called Tauoca by the Indians, who are always on the look-out for
their armies when they traverse the forest, so as to avoid being
attacked. I met with ten distinct species of them, nearly all of
which have a different system of marching; eight were new to
science when I sent them to England. Some are found commonly in
every part of the country, and one is peculiar to the open campos
of Santarem; but, as nearly all the species are found together at
Ega, where the forest swarmed with their armies, I have left an
account of the habits of the whole genus for this part of my
narrative. The Ecitons resemble, in their habits, the Driver ants
of Tropical Africa; but they have no close relationship with them
in structure, and indeed belong to quite another sub-group of the

Like many other ants, the communities of Ecitons are composed,
besides males and females, of two classes of workers, a large-
headed (worker-major) and a small-headed (worker-minor) class.
the large-heads have, in some species, greatly lengthened jaws,
the small-heads have jaws always of the ordinary shape; but the
two classes are not sharply-defined in structure and function,
except in two of the species. There is in all of them a little
difference among the workers regarding the size of the head; but
in some species this is not sufficient to cause a separation into
classes, with division of labour; in others, the jaws are so
monstrously lengthened in the worker-majors, that they are
incapacitated from taking part in the labours which the worker-
minors perform; and again, in others the difference is so great
that the distinction of classes becomes complete, one acting the
part of soldiers, and the other that of workers. The peculiar
feature in the habits of the Eciton genus is their hunting for
prey in regular bodies, or armies. It is this which chiefly
distinguishes them from the genus of common red stinging-ants,
several species of which inhabit England, whose habit is to
search for food in the usual irregular manner. All the Ecitons
hunt in large organised bodies; but almost every species has its
own special manner of hunting.

Eciton rapax.--One of the foragers, Eciton rapax, the giant of
its genus, whose worker-majors are half-an-inch in length, hunts
in single file through the forest. There is no division into
classes amongst its workers, although the difference in size is
very great, some being scarcely one-half the length of others.
The head and jaws, however, are always of the same shape, and a
gradation in size is presented from the largest to the smallest,
so that all are able to take part in the common labours of the
colony. The chief employment of the species seems to be
plundering the nests of a large and defenseless ant of another
genus (Formica), whose mangled bodies I have often seen in their
possession as they were marching away. The armies of Eciton rapax
are never very numerous.

Eciton legionis.--Another species, E. legionis, agrees with E.
rapax in having workers not rigidly divisible into two classes;
but it is much smaller in size, not differing greatly, in this
respect, from our common English red ant (Myrmica rubra), which
it also resembles in colour. The Eciton legionis lives in open
places, and was seen only on the sandy campos of Santarem. The
movement of its hosts were, therefore, much more easy to observe
than those of all other kinds, which inhabit solely the densest
thickets; its sting and bite, also, were less formidable than
those of other species. The armies of E. legionis consist of many
thousands of individuals, and move in rather broad columns. They
are just as quick to break line, on being disturbed, and attack
hurriedly and furiously any intruding object, as the other
Ecitons. The species is not a common one, and I seldom had good
opportunities to watch its habits. The first time I saw an army
was one evening near sunset. The column consisted of two trains
of ants, moving in opposite directions; one train empty-handed,
the other laden with the mangled remains of insects, chiefly
larvae and pupae of other ants. I had no difficulty in tracing
the line to the spot from which they were conveying their booty:
this was a low thicket; the Ecitons were moving rapidly about a
heap of dead leaves; but as the short tropical twilight was
deepening rapidly, and I had no wish to be benighted on the
lonely campos, I deferred further examination until the next day.

On the following morning, no trace of ants could be found near
the place where I had seen them the preceding day, nor were there
signs of insects of any description in the thicket, but at the
distance of eighty or one hundred yards, I came upon the same
army, engaged, evidently, on a razzia of a similar kind to that
of the previous evening, but requiring other resources of their
instinct, owing to the nature of the wound. They were eagerly
occupied on the face of an inclined bank of light earth, in
excavating mines, whence, from a depth of eight or ten inches,
they were extracting the bodies of a bulky species of ant, of the
genus Formica. It was curious to see them crowding around the
orifices of the mines, some assisting their comrades to lift out
the bodies of the Formicae, and others tearing them in pieces, on
account of their weight being too great for a single Eciton-- a
number of carriers seizing each a fragment, and carrying it off
down the slope. On digging into the earth with a small trowel
near the entrances of the mines, I found the nests of the
Formicae, with grubs and cocoons, which the Ecitons were thus
invading, at a depth of about eight inches from the surface. The
eager freebooters rushed in as fast as I excavated, and seized
the ants in my fingers as I picked them out, so that I had some
difficulty in rescuing a few intact for specimens. In digging the
numerous mines to get at their prey, the little Ecitons seemed to
be divided into parties, one set excavating, and another set
carrying away the grains of earth. When the shafts became rather
deep, the mining parties had to climb up the sides each time they
wished to cast out a pellet of earth; but their work was
lightened for them by comrades, who stationed themselves at the
mouth of the shaft, and relieved them of their burthens, carrying
the particles, with an appearance of foresight which quite
staggered me, a sufficient distance from the edge of the hole to
prevent them from rolling in again. All the work seemed thus to
be performed by intelligent cooperation among the host of eager
little creatures, but still there was not a rigid division of
labour, for some of them, whose proceedings I watched, acted at
one time as carriers of pellets, and at another as miners, and
all shortly afterwards assumed the office of conveyors of the

In about two hours, all the nests of Formicae were rifled, though
not completely, of their contents, and I turned towards the army
of Ecitons, which were carrying away the mutilated remains. For
some distance there were many separate lines of them moving along
the slope of the bank-- but a short distance off, these all
converged, and then formed one close and broad column, which
continued for some sixty or seventy yards, and terminated at one
of those large termitariums or hillocks of white ants which are
constructed of cemented material as hard as stone. The broad and
compact column of ants moved up the steep sides of the hillock in
a continued stream; many, which had hitherto trotted along empty-
handed, now turned to assist their comrades with their heavy
loads, and the whole descended into a spacious gallery or mine,
opening on the top of the termitarium. I did not try to reach the
nest, which I supposed to lie at the bottom of the broad mine,
and therefore, in the middle of the base of the stony hillock.

Eciton drepanophora.--The commonest species of foraging ants are
the Eciton hamata and E. drepanophora, two kinds which resemble
each other so closely that it requires attentive examination to
distinguish them; yet their armies never intermingle, although
moving in the same woods and often crossing each other's tracks.
The two classes of workers look, at first sight, quite distinct,
on account of the wonderful amount of difference between the
largest individuals of the one, and the smallest of the other.
There are dwarfs not more than one-fifth of an inch in length,
with small heads and jaws, and giants half an inch in length with
monstrously enlarged head and jaws, all belonging to the same
brood. There is not, however, a distinct separation of classes,
individuals existing which connect together the two extremes.
These Ecitons are seen in the pathways of the forest at all
places on the banks of the Amazons, travelling in dense columns
of countless thousands. One or other of them is sure to be met
with in a woodland ramble, and it is to them, probably, that the
stories we read in books on South America apply, of ants clearing
houses of vermin, although I heard of no instance of their
entering houses, their ravages being confined to the thickest
parts of the forest.

When the pedestrian falls in with a train of these ants, the
first signal given him is a twittering and restless movement of
small flocks of plain-coloured birds (ant-thrushes) in the
jungle. If this be disregarded until he advances a few steps
farther, he is sure to fall into trouble, and find himself
suddenly attacked by numbers of the ferocious little creatures.
They swarm up his legs with incredible rapidity, each one driving
his pincer-like jaws into his skin, and with the purchase thus
obtained, doubling in its tail, and stinging with all its might.
There is no course left but to run for it; if he is accompanied
by natives they will be sure to give the alarm, crying "Tauoca!"
and scampering at full speed to the other end of the column of
ants. The tenacious insects who have secured themselves to his
legs then have to be plucked off one by one, a task which is
generally not accomplished without pulling them in twain, and
leaving heads and jaws sticking in the wounds.

The errand of the vast ant-armies is plunder, as in the case of
Eciton legionis; but from their moving always amongst dense
thickets, their proceedings are not so easy to observe as in that
species. Wherever they move, the whole animal world is set in
commotion, and every creature tries to get out of their way. But
it is especially the various tribes of wingless insects that have
cause for fear, such as heavy-bodied spiders, ants of other
species, maggots, caterpillars, larvae of cockroaches and so
forth, all of which live under fallen leaves, or in decaying
wood. The Ecitons do not mount very high on trees, and therefore
the nestlings of birds are not much incommoded by them. The mode
of operation of these armies, which I ascertained only after
long-continued observation, is as follows: the main column, from
four to six deep, moves forward in a given direction, clearing
the ground of all animal matter dead or alive, and throwing off
here and there a thinner column to forage for a short time on the
flanks of the main army, and re-enter it again after their task
is accomplished. If some very rich place be encountered anywhere
near the line of march, for example, a mass of rotten wood
abounding in insect larvae, a delay takes place, and a very
strong force of ants is concentrated upon it. The excited
creatures search every cranny and tear in pieces all the large
grubs they drag to light. It is curious to see them attack wasps'
nests, which are sometimes built on low shrubs. They gnaw away
the papery covering to get at the larvae, pupae, and newly-
hatched wasps, and cut everything to tatters, regardless of the
infuriated owners which are flying about them. In bearing off
their spoil in fragments, the pieces are apportioned to the
carriers with some degree of regard to fairness of load: the
dwarfs taking the smallest pieces, and the strongest fellows with
small heads the heaviest portions. Sometimes two ants join
together in carrying one piece, but the worker-majors, with their
unwieldy and distorted jaws, are incapacitated from taking any
part in the labour. The armies never march far on a beaten path,
but seem to prefer the entangled thickets where it is seldom
possible to follow them. I have traced an army sometimes for half
a mile or more, but was never able to find one that had finished
its day's course and returned to its hive. Indeed, I never met
with a hive; whenever the Ecitons were seen, they were always on
the march.

I thought one day, at Villa Nova, that I had come upon a
migratory horde of this indefatigable ant. The place was a tract
of open ground near the river side, just outside the edge of the
forest, and surrounded by rocks and shrubbery. A dense column of
Ecitons was seen extending from the rocks on one side of the
little haven, traversing the open space, and ascending the
opposite declivity. The length of the procession was from sixty
to seventy yards, and yet neither van nor rear was visible. All
were moving in one and the same direction, except a few
individuals on the outside of the column, which were running
rearward, trotting along for a short distance, and then turning
again to follow the same course as the main body. But these
rearward movements were going on continually from one end to the
other of the line, and there was every appearance of there being
a means of keeping up a common understanding amongst all the
members of the army, for the retrograding ants stopped very often
for a moment to touch one or other of their onward-moving
comrades with their antennae-- a proceeding which has been
noticed in other ants, and supposed to be their mode of conveying
intelligence. When I interfered with the column or abstracted an
individual from it, news of the disturbance was very quickly
communicated to a distance of several yards towards the rear, and
the column at that point commenced retreating. All the small-
headed workers carried in their jaws a little cluster of white
maggots, which I thought at the time, might be young larvae of
their own colony, but afterwards found reason to conclude were
the grubs of some other species whose nests they had been
plundering, the procession being most likely not a migration, but
a column on a marauding expedition.

The position of the large-headed individuals in the marching
column was rather curious. There was one of these extraordinary
fellows to about a score of the smaller class. None of them
carried anything in their mouths, but all trotted along empty-
handed and outside the column, at pretty regular intervals from
each other, like subaltern officers in a marching regiment of
soldiers. It was easy to be tolerably exact in this observation,
for their shining white heads made them very conspicuous amongst
the rest, bobbing up and down as the column passed over the
inequalities of the road. I did not see them change their
position, or take any notice of their small-headed comrades
marching in the column, and when I disturbed the line, they did
not prance forth or show fight so eagerly as the others. These
large-headed members of the community have been considered by
some authors as a soldier class, like the similarly-armed caste
in termites -- but I found no proof of this, at least in the
present species, as they always seemed to be rather less
pugnacious than the worker-minors, and their distorted jaws
disabled them from fastening on a plane surface like the skin of
an attacking animal. I am inclined, however, to think that they
may act, in a less direct way, as protectors of the community,
namely, as indigestible morsels to the flocks of ant-thrushes
which follow the marching columns of these Ecitons, and are the
most formidable enemies of the species. It is possible that the
hooked and twisted jaws of the large-headed class may be
effective weapons of annoyance when in the gizzards or stomachs
of these birds, but I unfortunately omitted to ascertain whether
this was really the fact.

The life of these Ecitons is not all work, for I frequently saw
them very leisurely employed in a way that looked like
recreation. When this happened, the place was always a sunny nook
in the forest. The main column of the army and the branch
columns, at these times, were in their ordinary relative
positions; but, instead of pressing forward eagerly, and
plundering right and left, they seemed to have been all smitten
with a sudden fit of laziness. Some were walking slowly about,
others were brushing their antennae with their forefeet; but the
drollest sight was their cleaning one another. Here and there an
ant was seen stretching forth first one leg and then another, to
be brushed or washed by one or more of its comrades, who
performed the task by passing the limb between the jaws and the
tongue,and finishing by giving the antennae a friendly wipe. It
was a curious spectacle, and one well calculated to increase
one's amazement at the similarity between the instinctive actions
of ants and the acts of rational beings, a similarity which must
have been brought about by two different processes of development
of the primary qualities of mind. The actions of these ants
looked like simple indulgence in idle amusement. Have these
little creatures, then, an excess of energy beyond what is
required for labours absolutely necessary to the welfare of their
species, and do they thus expend it in mere sportiveness, like
young lambs or kittens, or in idle whims like rational beings? It
is probable that these hours of relaxation and cleaning may be
indispensable to the effective performance of their harder
labours, but while looking at them, the conclusion that the ants
were engaged merely in play was irresistible.

Eciton praedator.--This is a small dark-reddish species, very
similar to the common red stinging-ant of England. It differs
from all other Ecitons in its habit of hunting, not in columns,
but in dense phalanxes consisting of myriads of individuals, and
was first met with at Ega, where it is very common. Nothing in
insect movements is more striking than the rapid march of these
large and compact bodies. Wherever they pass all the rest of the
animal world is thrown into a state of alarm. They stream along
the ground and climb to the summits of all the lower trees,
searching every leaf to its apex, and whenever they encounter a
mass of decaying vegetable matter, where booty is plentiful, they
concentrate, like other Ecitons, all their forces upon it, the
dense phalanx of shining and quickly-moving bodies, as it spreads
over the surface, looking like a flood of dark-red liquid. They
soon penetrate every part of the confused heap, and then,
gathering together again in marching order, onward they move. All
soft-bodied and inactive insects fall an easy prey to them, and,
like other Ecitons, they tear their victims in pieces for
facility of carriage. A phalanx of this species, when passing
over a tract of smooth ground, occupies a space of from four to
six square yards; on examining the ants closely they are seen to
move, not altogether in one straightforward direction, but in
variously spreading contiguous columns, now separating a little
from the general mass, now re-uniting with it. The margins of the
phalanx spread out at times like a cloud of skirmishers from the
flanks of an army. I was never able to find the hive of this

Blind Ecitons.--I will now give a short account of the blind
species of Eciton. None of the foregoing kinds have eyes of the
facetted or compound structure such as are usual in insects, and
which ordinary ants (Formica) are furnished with, but all are
provided with organs of vision composed each of a single lens.
Connecting them with the utterly blind species of the genus, is a
very stout-limbed Eciton, the E. crassicornis, whose eyes are
sunk in rather deep sockets. This ant goes on foraging
expeditions like the rest of its tribe, and attacks even the
nests of other stinging species (Myrmica), but it avoids the
light, moving always in concealment under leaves and fallen
branches. When its columns have to cross a cleared space, the
ants construct a temporary covered way with granules of earth,
arched over, and holding together mechanically; under this, the
procession passes in secret, the indefatigable creatures
repairing their arcade as fast as breaches are made in it.

Next in order comes the Eciton vastator, which has no eyes,
although the collapsed sockets are plainly visible; and, lastly,
the Eciton erratica, in which both sockets and eyes have
disappeared, leaving only a faint ring to mark the place where
they are usually situated. The armies of E. vastator and E.
erratica move, as far as I could learn, wholly under covered
roads-- the ants constructing them gradually but rapidly as they
advance. The column of foragers pushes forward step by step under
the protection of these covered passages, through the thickets,
and upon reaching a rotting log, or other promising hunting-
ground, pour into the crevices in search of booty. I have traced
their arcades, occasionally, for a distance of one or two hundred
yards; the grains of earth are taken from the soil over which the
column is passing, and are fitted together without cement. It is
this last-mentioned feature that distinguishes them from the
similar covered roads made by Termites, who use their glutinous
saliva to cement the grains together. The blind Ecitons, working
in numbers, build up simultaneously the sides of their convex
arcades, and contrive, in a surprising manner, to approximate
them and fit in the key-stones without letting the loose
uncemented structure fall to pieces. There was a very clear
division of labour between the two classes of neuters in these
blind species. The large-headed class, although not possessing
monstrously-lengthened jaws like the worker-majors in E. hamata
and E. drepanophora, are rigidly defined in structure from the
small-headed class, and act as soldiers, defending the working
community (like soldier Termites) against all comers. Whenever I
made a breach in one of their covered ways, all the ants
underneath were set in commotion, but the worker-minors remained
behind to repair the damage, while the large-heads issued forth
in a most menacing manner, rearing their heads and snapping their
jaws with an expression of the fiercest rage and defiance.



Steamboat Travelling on the Amazons--Passengers--Tunantins--
Caishana Indians--The Jutahi--The Sapo--Maraua Indians--Fonte
Boa--Journey to St. Paulo--Tucuna Indians--Illness--Descent to
Para--Changes at Para--Departure for England

November 7th, 1856-Embarked on the Upper Amazons steamer, the
Tabatinga, for an excursion to Tunantins, a small semi-Indian
settlement, lying 240 miles beyond Ega. The Tabatinga is an iron
boat of about 170 tons burthen, built at Rio de Janeiro, and
fitted with engines of fifty horse-power. The saloon, with berths
on each side for twenty passengers, is above deck, and open at
both ends to admit a free current of air. The captain or
"commandante," was a lieutenant in the Brazilian navy, a man of
polished, sailor-like address, and a rigid disciplinarian-- his
name, Senor Nunes Mello Cardozo. I was obliged, as usual, to take
with me a stock of all articles of food, except meat and fish,
for the time I intended to be absent (three months); and the
luggage, including hammocks, cooking utensils, crockery, and so
forth, formed fifteen large packages. One bundle consisted of a
mosquito tent, an article I had not yet had occasion to use on
the river, but which was indispensable in all excursions beyond
Ega, every person, man, woman and child, requiring one, as
without it existence would be scarcely possible. My tent was
about eight feet long and five feet broad, and was made of coarse
calico in an oblong shape, with sleeves at each end through which
to pass the cords of a hammock. Under this shelter, which is
fixed up every evening before sundown, one can read and write, or
swing in one's hammock during the long hours which intervene
before bedtime, and feel one's sense of comfort increased by
having cheated the thirsty swarms of mosquitoes which fill the

We were four days on the road. The pilot, a Mameluco of Ega, whom
I knew very well, exhibited a knowledge of the river and powers
of endurance which were quite remarkable. He stood all this time
at his post, with the exception of three or four hours in the
middle of each day, when he was relieved by a young man who
served as apprentice, and he knew the breadth and windings of the
channel, and the extent of all the yearly-shifting shoals from
the Rio Negro to Loreto, a distance of more than a thousand
miles. There was no slackening of speed at night, except during
the brief but violent storms which occasionally broke upon us,
and then the engines were stopped by the command of Lieutenant
Nunes, sometimes against the wish of the pilot. The nights were
often so dark that we passengers on the poop deck could not
discern the hardy fellow on the bridge, but the steamer drove on
at full speed, men being stationed on the look-out at the prow,
to watch for floating logs, and one man placed to pass orders to
the helmsman; the keel scraped against a sand-bank only once
during the passage.

The passengers were chiefly Peruvians, mostly thin, anxious,
Yankee-looking men, who were returning home to the cities of
Moyobamba and Chachapoyas, on the Andes, after a trading trip to
the Brazilian towns on the Atlantic seaboard, whither they had
gone six months previously, with cargoes of Panama hats to
exchange for European wares. These hats are made of the young
leaflets of a palm tree, by the Indians and half-caste people who
inhabit the eastern parts of Peru. They form almost the only
article of export from Peru by way of the Amazons, but the money
value is very great compared with the bulk of the goods, as the
hats are generally of very fine quality, and cost from twelve
shillings to six pounds sterling each; some traders bring down
two or three thousand pounds' worth, folded into small compass in
their trunks. The return cargoes consist of hardware, crockery,
glass, and other bulky or heavy goods, but not of cloth, which,
being of light weight, can be carried across the Andes from the
ports on the Pacific to the eastern parts of Peru. All kinds of
European cloth can be obtained at a much cheaper rate by this
route than by the more direct way of the Amazons, the import
duties of Peru being, as I was told, lower than those of Brazil,
and the difference not being counter-balanced by increased
expense of transit, on account of weight, over the passes of the

There was a great lack of amusement on board. The table was very
well served, professed cooks being employed in these Amazonian
steamers, and fresh meat insured by keeping on deck a supply of
live bullocks and fowls, which are purchased whenever there is an
opportunity on the road. The river scenery was similar to that
already described as presented between the Rio Negro and Ega:
long reaches of similar aspect, with two long, low lines of
forest, varied sometimes with cliffs of red clay, appearing one
after the other. an horizon of water and sky on some days
limiting the view both up stream and down. We travelled, however,
always near the bank, and, for my part, I was never weary of
admiring the picturesque grouping and variety of trees, and the
varied mantles of creeping plants which clothed the green wall of
forest every step of the way. With the exception of a small
village called Fonte Boa, retired from the main river, where we
stopped to take in firewood, and which I shall have to speak of
presently, we saw no human habitation the whole of the distance.
The mornings were delightfully cool; coffee was served at
sunrise, and a bountiful breakfast at ten o'clock; after that
hour the heat rapidly increased until it became almost
unbearable. How the engine-drivers and firemen stood it without
exhaustion I cannot tell; it diminished after four o'clock in the
afternoon, about which time dinner-bell rung, and the evenings
were always pleasant.

November 11th to 30th.--The Tunantins is a sluggish black-water
stream, about sixty miles in length, and towards its mouth from
100 to 200 yards in breadth. The vegetation on its banks has a
similar aspect to that of the Rio Negro, the trees having small
foliage of a sombre hue, and the dark piles of greenery resting
on the surface of the inky water. The village is situated on the
left bank, about a mile from the mouth of the river, and contains
twenty habitations, nearly all of which are merely hovels, built
of lath-work and mud. The short streets, after rain, are almost
impassable on account of the many puddles, and are choked up with
weeds--leguminous shrubs, and scarlet-flowered asclepias. The
atmosphere in such a place, hedged in as it is by the lofty
forest, and surrounded by swamps, is always close, warm, and
reeking; and the hum and chirp of insects and birds cause a
continual din. The small patch of weedy ground around the village
swarms with plovers, sandpipers, striped herons, and scissor-
tailed fly-catchers; and alligators are always seen floating
lazily on the surface of the river in front of the houses.

On landing, I presented myself to Senor Paulo Bitancourt, a good-
natured half-caste, director of Indians of the neighbouring river
Issa, who quickly ordered a small house to be cleared for me.
This exhilarating abode contained only one room, the walls of
which were disfigured by large and ugly patches of mud, the work
of white ants. The floor was the bare earth, dirty and damp, the
wretched chamber was darkened by a sheet of calico being
stretched over the windows, a plan adopted here to keep out the
Pium-flies, which float about in all shady places like thin
clouds of smoke, rendering all repose impossible in the daytime
wherever they can effect an entrance. My baggage was soon landed,
and before the steamer departed I had taken gun, insect-net, and
game-bag, to make a preliminary exploration of my new locality.

I remained here nineteen days, and, considering the shortness of
the time, made a very good collection of monkeys, birds, and
insects. A considerable number of the species (especially of
insects) were different from those of the four other stations,
which I examined on the south side of the Solimoens, and as many
of these were "representative forms" [Species or races which take
the place of other allied species or races.] of others found on
the opposite banks of the broad river, I concluded that there
could have been no land connection between the two shores during,
at least, the recent geological period. This conclusion is
confirmed by the case of the Uakari monkeys, described in the
last chapter. All these strongly modified local races of insects
confined to one side of the Solimoens (like the Uakaris), are
such as have not been able to cross a wide treeless space such as
a river. The acquisition which pleased me most, in this place,
was a new species of butterfly (a Catagramma), which has since
been named C. excelsior, owing to its surpassing in size and
beauty all the previously-known species of its singularly
beautiful genus. The upper surface of the wings is of the richest
blue, varying in shade with the play of light, and on each side
is a broad curved stripe of an orange colour. It is a bold flyer,
and is not confined, as I afterwards found, to, the northern side
of the river, for I once saw a specimen amidst a number of
richly-coloured butterflies, flying about the deck of the steamer
when we were anchored off Fonte Boa, 200 miles, lower down the

With the exception of three Mameluco families and a stray
Portuguese trader, all the inhabitants of the village and
neighbourhood are semi-civilised Indians of the Shumana and Passe
tribes. The forests of the Tunantins, however, are inhabited by a
tribe of wild Indians called Caishanas, who resemble much, in
their social condition and manners, the debased Muras of the
Lower Amazons, and have, like them, shown no aptitude for
civilised life in any shape. Their huts commence at the distance
of an hour's walk from the village, along gloomy and narrow
forest paths. My first and only visit to a Caishana dwelling was
accidental. One day, having extended my walk further than usual,
and followed one of the forest-roads until it became a mere
picada, or hunters' track, I came suddenly upon a well-trodden
pathway, bordered on each side with Lycopodia of the most elegant
shapes, the tips of the fronds stretching almost like tendrils
down the little earthy slopes which formed the edge of the path.
The road, though smooth, was narrow and dark, and in many places
blocked up by trunks of felled trees, which had been apparently
thrown across by the timid Indians on purpose to obstruct the way
to their habitations. Half-a-mile of this shady road brought me
to a small open space on the banks of a brook or creek, on the
skirts of which stood a conical hut with a very low doorway.
There was also an open shed, with stages made of split palm-
stems, and a number of large wooden troughs. Two or three dark-
skinned children, with a man and woman, were in the shed; but,
immediately on espying me, all of them ran to the hut, bolting
through the little doorway like so many wild animals scared into
their burrows. A few moments after, the man put his head out with
a look of great distrust; but, on my making the most friendly
gestures I could think of, he came forth with the children. They
were all smeared with black mud and paint; the only clothing of
the elders was a kind of apron made of the inner bark of the
sapucaya-tree, and the savage aspect of the man was heightened by
his hair hanging over his forehead to the eyes. I stayed about
two hours in the neighbourhood, the children gaining sufficient
confidence to come and help me to search for insects. The only
weapon used by the Caishanas is the blow-gun, and this is
employed only in shooting animals for food. They are not a
warlike people, like most of the neighbouring tribes on the
Japura and Issa.

The whole tribe of Caishanas does not exceed 400 souls in number.
None of them are baptised Indians, and they do not dwell in
villages, like the more advanced sections of the Tupi stock; but
each family has its own solitary hut. They are quite harmless, do
not practise tattooing, or perforate their ears and noses in any
way. Their social condition is of a low type, very little
removed, indeed, from that of the brutes living in the same
forests. They do not appear to obey any common chief, and I could
not make out that they had Pajes, or medicine-men, those rudest
beginnings of a priest class. Symbolical or masked dances, and
ceremonies in honour of the Jurupari, or demon, customs which
prevail among all the surrounding tribes, are unknown to the
Caishanas. There is among them a trace of festival keeping; but
the only ceremony used is the drinking of cashiri beer, and
fermented liquors made of Indian-corn, bananas, and so forth.
These affairs, however, are conducted in a degenerate style, for
they do not drink to intoxication, or sustain the orgies for
several days and nights in succession, like the Juris Passes, and
Tucunas. The men play a musical instrument, made of pieces of
stem of the arrow-grass cut in different lengths and arranged
like Pan-pipes. With this they wile away whole hours, lolling in
ragged, bast hammocks slung in their dark, smoky huts. The
Tunantins people say that the Caishanas have persecuted the wild
animals and birds to such an extent near their settlements that
there is now quite a scarcity of animal food. If they kill a
Toucan, it is considered an important event, and the bird is made
to serve as a meal for a score or more persons. They boil the
meat in earthenware kettles filled with Tucupi sauce, and eat it
with beiju, or mandioca-cakes. The women are not allowed to taste
of the meat, but forced to content themselves with sopping pieces
of cake in the liquor.

November 30th--I left Tunantins in a trading schooner of eighty
tons burthen belonging to Senor Batalha, a tradesman of Ega,
which had been out all the summer collecting produce, and was
commanded by a friend of mine, a young Paraense, named Francisco
Raiol. We arrived, on the 3rd of December, at the mouth of the
Jutahi, a considerable stream about half a mile broad, and
flowing with a very sluggish current. This is one of the series
of six rivers, from 400 to 1000 miles in length, which flow from
the southwest through unknown lands lying between Bolivia and the
Upper Amazons, and enter this latter river between the Madeira
and the Ucayali. We remained at anchor four days within the mouth
of the Sapo, a small tributary of the Jutahi flowing from the
southeast; Senor Raiol having to send an igarite to the Cupatana,
a large tributary some few miles farther up the river, to fetch a
cargo of salt-fish. During this time we made several excursions
in the montaria to various places in the neighbourhood. Our
longest trip was to some Indian houses, a distance of fifteen or
eighteen miles up the Sapo, a journey made with one Indian
paddler, and occupying a whole day. The stream is not more than
forty or fifty yards broad; its waters are darker in colour than
those of the Jutahi, and flow, as in all these small rivers,
partly under shade between two lofty walls of forest. We passed,
in ascending, seven habitations, most of them hidden in the
luxuriant foliage of the banks; their sites being known only by
small openings in the compact wall of forest, and the presence of
a canoe or two tied up in little shady ports. The inhabitants are
chiefly Indians of the Maraua tribe, whose original territory
comprised all the small by-streams lying between the Jutahi and
the Jurua, near the mouths of both these great tributaries. They
live in separate families or small hordes, have no common chief,
and are considered as a tribe little disposed to adopt civilised
customs or be friendly with the whites. One of the houses
belonged to a Juri family, and we saw the owner, an erect, noble-
looking old fellow, tattooed, as customary with his tribe, in a
large patch over the middle of his face, fishing under the shade
of a colossal tree in his port with hook and line. He saluted us
in the usual grave and courteous manner of the better sort of
Indians as we passed by.

We reached the last house, or rather two houses, about ten
o'clock, and spent several hours there during the great heat of
midday. The houses, which stood. on a high clayey bank, were of
quadrangular shape, partly open like sheds, and partly enclosed
with rude mud-walls, forming one or more chambers. The
inhabitants, a few families of Marauas, comprising about thirty
persons, received us in a frank, smiling manner-- a reception
which may have been due to Senor Raiol being an old acquaintance
and somewhat of a favourite. None of them were tattooed; but the

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