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Full text of "The Book of reptiles : class reptilia : with some account of the fossil remains of animals whose species have become extinct"

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THE 

BOOK 



OF 



REPTILES 



(Class REPTILIA.) 



WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF 



THE FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS 

WHOSE SPECIES HAVE BECOME EXTIXCT. 



PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF 

THE eOMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION, 

APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING 

CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. 



THE SECOND EDITION. 

LONDON: 
JOHN W. PARKER, WEST STRAND. 

M.DCCC.XXXVII. 



CONTENTS 



Page 

Introductory Chapter 9 

Of Turtles and Tortoises 17 

THE LAND TORTOISE TRIBE. 

The Common Tortoise 20 

Indian Tortoise 23 

Leopard Tortoise 23 

THE FRESH-WATER TORTOISE TRIBE. 

Tiie Box Tortoise 25 

Green Tortoise 26 

Fresh-water Tortoise of Europe 26 

Painted Tortoise 27 

Snake Tortoise 28 

THE SEA TORTOISE TRIBE. 

The Green Turtle 29 

Imbricated Turtle , 33 

Coriaceous Turtle 34 

Loggerhead, or Hawk'sbill Turtle 35 

THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

The Gavial 38 

Double-crested Crocodile 44 

Common Crocodile 45 

Alligator 47 



209 1 1 5(> 



CONTENTS. 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 

Page 

The Great Dragon 53 

Ameiva 55 

Green Lizard 55 

Gray Lizard 57 

Iguana 58 

Uromastix of Egypt 62 

Spinous Agama 62 

Mitred Basilisk 63 

House Gecko 64 

Chameleon 65 

Flying Dragon 72 

Skink 74 

Frilled Lizard 75 

Two-legged Lizard 76 



THE SNAKE TRIBE. 

The BUnd Womi 80 

THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

The Double Walker 81 

Boa Constrictor 82 

Common Snake 88 

Rattle-Snake 88 

Common Viper 91 

Cerastes, or Horned Viper 93 

Hooded Snake 96 

Hydrus 98 

Haje 99 

Frogs, Toads, Salamanders, 6cc 100 



CONTENTS. 



THE FROG TRIBE. 

Page 

The Green Frog 102 

White-faced Horned Frog 104 

Bull Frog 105 

Tree Frog 106 

Fish-like Tadpole 108 

THE TOAD TRIBE. 

The Common Toad 109 

Obstetric Toad 112 

G reen Toad ••• 113 

Brazilian Toad 113 

Pipa 114 

THE SALAMANDER TRIBE. 

The Salamander 115 

Gigantic Salamander 117 

Proteus 118 



Fossil Remains of Reptiles, and of other Animals, 

which have become extinct 120 

Fossil Mammalia 125 

Fossil Remains of Birds 133 

Fossil Remains of Reptiles 133 

Fossil Remains of Fishes 1 34 



BOOK OF REPTILES. 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 

Most of the animals which will be described in this little 
book have been regarded, by the majority of mankind, 
with terror or disgust. They have been dreaded (in many 
cases) for their supposed malignity, despised for their 
dulness, or hated for their deformity. In the mythology 
of nations unblest with the light, of Christianity, they 
have usually been the emblems of the terrific and re- 
volting. At times, indeed, they were the subjects of a 
kind of worship ; but the feelings by which their adorers 
were moved, were those of fear, not love. The poets 
have contributed their aid to perpetuate and extend 
these impressions; discord, envy, and almost every 
other evil passion, having been symbolized by these pro- 
scribed beings, until, at length, the name o^ reptile itself 
passed into a proverb for all that was base and con- 
temptible. Notwithstanding all this, there are few 
animals more worthy of the attention of a reflecting 
mind, than the Reptiles. Indeed, what worse than pre- 
sumption is it not, to stigmatize any of the works of 
God as revolting, or beneath the attention of man ? His 
divine power is as much manifested in these objects of 
fastidious animadversion, as in the races which he has 
decked with greater beauty, or destined more directly to 
minister to our necessities. 
The Reptiles are remarkable in their forms, curious 

B 



10 INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 

in the diversities of their colours, some of them wonder- 
ful in their metamorphoses, and all interesting in their 
hahits. Contrary to vulgar prejudice, hy far the smaller 
portion of this class is venomous ; many of the species 
furnish wholesome food, and useful productions in the 
arts ; and some, among even the fiercest of them, have 
been tamed. Such is the domination granted to man, 
over the lower animals, by the Author of his being. 

The class ReptiUa contains Frogs, Tortoises, Lizards, 
and Serpents ; and they are all, with but a trifling limit- 
ation of the meaning of the word, produced from eggs. 

The name Reptile, which implies a crawling creature, 
is as suitable to the first three groups as to the last ; for 
though they have feet, they can scarcely be said to use 
them except in creeping. This is the case with Tor- 
toises, Lizards, Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders ; and 
though the last three generally live, and swim well in 
the water, they can also subsist on land. 

Reptiles, in their perfect state, breathe by lungs, but 
their respiration is not so active, nor, consequently, their 
circulation so energetic, as those of birds and quadrupeds : 
hence they are ranked, like the fishes, among cold- 
blooded animals. In general they appear rather to 
vegetate than live, and to be almost insensible to pain ; 
when wounded, or even cut into pieces, they have the 
faculty of renewing several parts, such as the tail or the 
toes, and even the eyes ; and their tenacity of life is 
most surprising. A Tortoise has lived for eighteen days 
after the brain was removed ; a Salamander for several 
months, though almost decapitated by a cord tightened 
round the neck ; and the heart of a viper will beat and 
contract for many hours after it has been taken out of 
the lody. Reptiles are exceedingly sensible of the ap- 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 11 

proacli of storms, and to an electric state of the atmo- 
sphere ; and they seem to foresee, or rather, to feel in 
anticipation, the changes of the weather. This feeling 
is indicated by the croaking of Frogs on the approach of 
rain, &c. 

Reptiles are more limited in intelligence than birds 
or quadrupeds : and although, as said before, capable of 
being tamed, it is difficult, if not impossible, to teach 
them any action that does not depend entirely on the 
appetite for food. 

Respiration may remain suspended for some time in 
Reptiles, without death being produced, or the circulation 
of the blood interrupted. Frogs, Salamanders, and 
Turtles, will dive under water, or bury themselves in 
Kiud for entire days together. In cold weather, these 
animals can remain thus submersed for a longer time, 
without having occasion to breathe the air, for they are 
then in a half-torpid state ; but in warm weather, they 
enjoy a more active existence, and are obliged more 
frequently to breathe the atmospheric air. In conse- 
quence of the construction of their breathing organs 
and heart, the vital air combines with the blood only in 
a small quantity ; from this proceeds the small degree of 
heat possessed by this fluid, in the same manner as we 
have seen that rapidity of breathing in the Birds, pro- 
duces a corresponding degree of heat*. 

This natural coldness of constitution in reptiles will 
account for their almost total disappearance from the 
Polar regions, and the colder latitudes of the North, 
while they abound between the Tropics, where the exter- 
nal heat atones for the sluggishness of their circulation. 

Another consequence of this feeble circulation is, that 

* See Book of Birds, p. 10. 

b2 



12 INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 

the life of reptiles is less rapidly worn out and exhausted. 
Life, in general, is longer in proportion as it is less 
active, unless sudden maladies or accident should inter- 
vene to abridge it. The creatures belonging to this 
Class are therefore supposed to be very long-lived. The 
Crocodile, they say, grows almost as long as it lives, — 
a certain mark of longevity ; for the cessation of growth 
is the indication of approaching age ; and Serpents seem 
to grow young every year, by casting their old skin. 
Reptiles, however, have many enemies, otherwise they 
would soon overrun the earth ; for they are not only 
long-lived, but exceedingly fruitful. 

Reptiles eat but little, and digest their food slowly, — 
another consequence of the inactivity of their respiration 
and circulation. This is another cause of the slowness of 
their growth. Their senses are also inactive ; that of 
feeling is obtuse, from the thickness and hardness of 
their skin ; their sense of taste must be dull, for the 
tongue is either of a substance like gristle, or covered 
with a thick and clammy humour ; their organs of smell 
are very small, which would seem to prove the weakness 
of that sense ; but hearing is more perfect, though the 
ear is destitute of many useful parts found in other 
animals. Sight is the most perfect sense with Reptiles, 
though some few have exceedingly small eyes. The 
brain is remarkably small, and does not fill the cavity 
-of the skull, though that itself is not large. 

Shady and moist tracts of land, and slimy marshes, 
•are, in our climates, the usual habitations of Reptiles. 
In the New World, they inhabit the lakes, savannahs, 
and stagnant and miry waters, which result from the 
overflow of such immense rivers as the Amazon, La 
Plata, and Oronoco, and abound in the immense masses 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 13 

of aquatic vegetation produced in the neighbourhood of 
these waters. In this intermediate sort of situation, 
between land and water, the Reptiles resemble, in habits, 
neither perfect quadrupeds, like the Mammalia, which 
frequent the solid earth, nor true Fishes, like the in- 
habitants of the seas. 

Being comparatively without defence, sometimes even 
without limbs, and, in most cases, moving with difficulty, 
it was necessary that they should be protected by their 
prudence, and live in comparative darkness and obscurity, 
in order to escape the persecution of their foes. The 
Tortoise is protected by its bony covering ; the more 
active Lizard flies into some hole or cavern. The Ser- 
pent, from want of limbs, would find more difficulty in 
evading its enemies ; but the Great Author of Nature 
has provided some of the slower species with a fatal 
weapon, namely, a deadly poison, to repel aggression. It 
is a mistake to suppose that Serpents generally com- 
mence an attack; on the contrary, they are rather timid 
than fierce, more subtle than daring; and have hence 
been considered as emblems of prudence, and instanced 
for their wisdom, even by our Divine Teacher himself. 
They seldom employ their venom, except when they 
despair of escape, or are pressed by the urgent calls of 
hunger. The larger species of Serpents, such as the Boa, 
have no poison, being sufficiently protected by their size 
and strength. 

Some smaller Reptiles, such as Toads, distil from 
their skin a pungent and stinking humour ; which, how- 
ever, (contrary to popular opinion,) constitutes a very 
harmless sort of defence, merely preventing them from 
being seized and sacrificed to the general disgust which 
they excite. In general, indeed, all Reptiles, however 



14 INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 

hideous and disgusting to view, occasion more horror or 
apprehension than real evil, 

The object of their existence, as far as we may presume 
to conjecture, is to clear the impure recesses which they 
inhabit from a multitude of worms, insects, and other 
vermin, which would otherwise render such places still 
more unwholesome and infectious. They themselves, 
again, are prevented from becoming too numerous, by 
quadrupeds which feed upon them, such as the Ichneumon 
and the Swine, and the long-legged water-birds. Thus 
the Ibis, in the slimy deposits left by the Nile in Egypt, 
the Stork in the marshes and stagnant waters of Hol- 
land, and the Cranes in various other places, prevent 
the undue increase of Reptiles. 

It is in warm climates that they multiply most, and 
arrive at an immense size, and that the poison of the 
venomous kinds becomes most active and pernicious. . 

The mammalia are more or less covered with hair, 
birds with feathers or down, but nothing similar is ever 
found among Reptiles. In Frogs and Salamanders the 
skin is naked ; in Lizards and Serpents, scaly ; Torotoises 
and Turtles are, in most instances, covered with a horny 
condensed skin or covering. Those Reptiles which have 
a naked skin absorb a great deal of water through its 
pores ; this is a substitute for drink, of which they never 
partake. 

The Toads and Salamanders, as we have already 
noticed, possess certain glands upon the skin, from which 
a pungent and virulent humour is distilled. A very 
dangerous fluid, of a similar kind, comes from the feet 
of the Lizards called Geckos ; a musky odour exhales 
from certain parts of the Crocodile ; and a nauseous 
humour exudes from beneath the scales of Adders and 



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 15 

Serpents when these creatures are frightened by being 
handled. 

Some species of Reptiles have the property of changing 
colour, under the influence of passion or affection. Of 
these the Chameleon is most popularly known ; but the 
Common Frog, the Green Lizard, and many others, are 
liable to similar changes of colour, though not in so 
great a degree. 

The 'skin of almost all Snakes and Lizards is fur- 
nished with shining scales, which reflect a metallic 
brilliancy, like brass or steel, relieved with gold and 
silver, intermixed with the most brilliant colours. These 
colours are more particularly splendid in spring, after 
the animals have cast their old skins ; with the thick- 
skinned Reptiles this change takes place but once a 
year. The cast skin of Serpents preserves the form of 
the animal ; but the skins of Frogs, &c., are detached in 
shreds. The naked-skinned Reptiles are also closed up 
in this covering, as in a sack, the skin adhering only 
towards the extremities. 

All Reptiles, except Tortoises, which have sharp and 
long gums, are furnished with teeth ; those of the 
Crocodile are very numerous. Venomous Serpents have 
fangs, or poison-teeth, which we shall describe in the 
proper place. The teeth of Frogs, Toads, &c., are very 
short. 

Almost all Reptiles, except some Tortoises, or Turtles, 
which feed on sea-weeds, &c., live on animal substances; 
Frogs, and most Lizards, feed on insects and worms ; 
the larger species, such as Crocodiles, swallow other 
animals. Serpents prey on animals of all species which 
are not too large for them. 

The voices, or sounds, uttered by Reptiles, vary con- 
siderably. The Crocodiles, and the American Alligators 



16 INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER. 

or Caymans^ are said to howl loudly ; the hissing of 
Serpents, and the croaking of Frogs, are well known ; 
the black Toads, towards the desert shores of the Caspian 
and the Volga, make a noise like an assembly of human 
beings laughing loudly ; the sounds of some American 
species are like the tolling of a bell in the night, and 
those of others resemble the noise of cymbals. 

Reptiles do not sit upon their eggs, yet they are not 
altogether destitute of maternal feeling. The female 
Crocodile is said to lay its eggs on a bed of rushes and 
sand, and to cover them over with one or two similar 
beds, to conceal them : the Serpents place their eggs 
in some hole exposed to the sun ; small Lizards have 
been observed to transfer theirs from a cold to some 
warmer place, more suitable for hatching the young; 
but when the latter come forth, they experience no more 
attention from the mother. 

The obscure recesses inhabited by the majority of the 
Reptile tribes, are far from being thoroughly explored. 
How many of these still unknown beings may lie con- 
cealed in the depth of inland waters, of vast and desert 
marshes, and of impervious wilds of vegetation ! How 
many may creep yet unheeded amidst the gorges of the 
Alpine Mountains, of the Alleghanies, and of the Andes ! 

According to the arrangement of Cuvier, the great 
naturalist whose system we are illustrating, the Reptiles 
are divided into four Orders, namely: — 

1. Chelonia, or Tortoises and Turtles, 

2. Sauria, or Crocodiles, Lizards, &c. 

3. Ophidia, or Serpents. 

4. Batrachia, or Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders. 

Under these heads we shall treat separately of the prin- 
cipal and most interesting animals which each contains. 



17 

CLASS REPTILIA. 



OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES. 

(Order Chelonia.) 

The Tortoises in general are very remarkably formed ; 
usually possessed of little activity, or means of offence, 
the Author of Nature has clad them in a strong defen- 
sive armour. The body is protected by a back-plate and 
breast-plate, and there is no skin except on the sides 
between these plates, and on the extremities of the body ; 
this skin is covered with scales, and the whole is so solid 
thj^t the sharpest instruments can scarcely pierce it. 

The eyes of Tortoises* are generally small, and it 
would appear that their sight is not very acute ; neither 
is their hearing ; they cannot, however, be deaf, for they 
possess that part of the ear called the drum, and an ac- 
companying small internal bone, though it is concealed 
by skin. The opening to their nose consists of two 
oblong holes, and their sense of smell is said to be feeble, 
but this assertion is not borne out by observation ; their 
tongue appears to possess some degree of sensibility, 
from the numerous papillae, or small prominences, with 
which it is covered. 

The neck of the Tortoise can be stretched out very far, 
and is generally covered with small hard scales ; it is, 
however, the most vulnerable part of the animal ; we 
therefore find that the Tortoise very seldom puts it forth 

* In our general observations we use the word Tortoise to signify all 
the animals of this order, whether belonging to the land, to the sea, or the 
fresh watei, though the term is only strictly applicable to the first. The 
other two are called marine SinA fresh-water Tortoises, or Turtles ; but the 
constant repetition of these names would be tiresome. 



18 TURTLES AND TORTOISES. 

from the shell, and withdraws it to so great an extent on 
the slightest appearance of danger, that it can scarcely 
be seen. 

The feet of Tortoises are protected by scales, and 
many can draw them completely within the shell. The 
shortness of their limbs prevents them from turning 
themselves when they are laid on their backs. Though 
their walk is proverbially slow, yet some species can run 
tolerably fast : the fr^sh-water and marine Tortoises, or 
Turtles, swim very well. 

Like other animals with lungs, the Tortoises are 
capable of producing sounds from the throat; some, 
chiefly the Marine Tortoises, send forth hissings, and 
cries more or less sharp. They are also said to snore 
when asleep. 

The circulation of the blood in these animals is very 
slow, and they remain in a state of lethargy during the 
winter; but this is merely a diminution of the vital 
energy, and not a suspension of the faculties, as is the 
case with some other animals that grow torpid in winter. 
They can fast for a long time, with scarcely any loss of 
substance. 

Some marine Tortoises, or Turtles, in the West Indies, 
and in the Galhpago islands, in the South Sea^, are so 
large that fourteen men may stand at once upon their 
backs. A Turtle of this size would be suflScient for the 
repast of a hundred men. 

It is believed, and with much appearance of reason, 
that Tortoises live for a very long time. The differences 
which may exist in this respect, between land, fresh- 
water, and Sea Tortoises is not accurately known. 

When marine and fresh-water Tortoises have been 
out of the water for some time, they find difficulty in 



ORDER CHELONIA. 19 

plunging in again. ■ This is owing to tlieir lungs being 
inflated with an unusual quantity of air, and their 
having lost, by the drying of their shell, at least one- 
sixth of their weight. They are then obliged to dis- 
charge, in bubbles, from the mouth and nostrils, the 
superfluous air, before they can sink to the bottom. 

The brain of these animals is very small, and appears 
to be scarcely necessary to their existence. Redi re- 
moved the brain from a land Tortoise, which, neverthe- 
less, lived six months afterwards. The Tortoises, in 
point of intelligence, must rank very low indeed. Their 
sensations and perceptions do not seem to extend beyond 
■what is absolutely requisite for the purposes of self-pre- 
servation, and the continuance of the species. They never 
attempt to bite or scratch, until they feel the utmost 
degree of pain. When this, however, is the case, they 
bite tremendously, and there are no means of making 
them let go their hold; even if killed, the jaws for a 
time continue their action. If presented with a piece of 
wood, they will bite it, and this will prevent them from 
making any attempt to revenge themselves. 

Tortoises, as we have already hinted, can remain a 
very long time without eating, and appear, after very 
long abstinence, to have lost little of their vital powers, 
A Tortoise, after a voyage of six hundred miles, will 
exist for several days though its head has been removed. 

Marine Tortoises, or Turtles, have been kept on board 
ship for many months, without food, Blasius, a medical 
writer, tells us of a Tortoise that remained at his house 
ten months, without eating. All those which inhabit 
countries north of the line, remain buried in marshes or 
sand-hills, for four or six months of the year ; and, of 
course, eat nothing. They make (like other animals 



20 TURTLES AND TORTOISES, 

that grow torpid in winter,) an immense quantity of fat 
in summer, which supports the body until the return of 
fine weather. 

Children in India and America are fond of mounting 
on the backs of Tortoises ; some of which will carry a 
great number of them, without slackening their pace. 
Their gait, however, is far from pleasant, for they cannot 
lift a foot without raising the corresponding part of the 
shell, and the kind of jolt which results is very apt to 
overturn the riders. 

We are told by Pliny, and other ancient writers, that 
some nations made use of the shells of marine Tor- 
toises for the formation of boats, roofs of huts, &c. At 
the present day they are similarly employed in many 
countries, and in our colonies they are used as vessels 
for various purposes. 



THE LAND TORTOISE TRIBE, 

In this tribe the shell of the back is very strong, arched, 
and extremely solid ; and the toes are united nearly to 
their extremities. 

THE COMMON TORTOISE. 

(Testudo Grceca, L.) 

The common Tortoise has been sometimes called the 
Greek Tortoise, and is very common in all the southern 
parts of Europe. It was well known to the ancient 
Greeks, and placed by Phidias at the foot of the statue 
of Venus, as the emblem of gentleness. It is distin- 
guished by black and yellow spots, or circles, on the 
back ; by its shell, very convex above and flat under- 



ORDER CHELONIA. 21 

neath ; and by its small head, not unlike that of a 
serpent. Its general length is about six or eight inches» 
and it seldom weighs above three pounds. 

This Tortoise is frequently reared in Italy, in gardens, 
where it multiplies, and may live for forty years and 
upwards ; but Shaw informs us that there have been 
well-attested instances of Tortoises having lived more 
than a century. In the year 1663 one was placed in 
the garden of Lambeth Palace, which died in 1753, 
apparently from neglect, and not from age. It is still 
preserved in the library of the palace. 

At the end of October, the common Tortoise buries 
itself in the ground, and does not come forth until April. 
As it does this in the warmer climates, such as Barbary, 
it cannot be merely cold which causes its lethargy. 

This animal prefers woods and high grounds for its 
habitual resort. It feeds on roots, fruits, insects, worms, 
snails, &c., is gentle and easily domesticated, and useful in 
gardens, where it destroys a number of pernicious vermin. 

The common Tortoise lays four or five eggs towards 
the end of June, which are white, and about the size of 
those of a pigeon. They are deposited in a hole, covered 
with sand, and the young, then no larger than a walnut, 
come forth towards the end of September. 

Mr. White, of Selborne, gives us the following pleas, 
ing account of a domesticated land Tortoise : " When 
it first appears in spring, it discovers little inclination 
for food : but in summer, grows voracious ; and then, as 
summer declines, its appetite declines, scarcely eating at 
all in the last weeks of autumn. Milky plants, such as 
lettuces, dandelions, &c., are its principal food. It 
begins to form its winter-retreat in November, scratches 
out the ground with its fore-feet, and throws it over its 



22 THE LAND TORTOISE TRIBE. 

back with the hind ; but the motion of its legs is ridi- 
culously slow, little exceeding the hour-hand of a clock. 
Nothing can be more assiduous than this creature, 
scooping the earth night and day, and forcing its great 
body into the cavity : but as the noons of that season 
when I observed it proved unusually warm, it was con- 
tinually interrupted, and the work remained unfinished 
on the 13th of November. 

" No part of its behaviour struck me more than the 
extreme timidity vhich it expresses with regard to rain ; 
for though it has a shell which would secure it against 
the wheel of a loaded cart, yet does it discover as much 
solicitude about rain, as a lady dressed in her best attire ; 
shuffling away on the first sprinkling, end running its 
head up in a corner. If attended to, it becomes an 
excellent weather-glass ; for as soon as it walks elate, 
and, as it were, on tip-toe, feeding with great earnestness 
in a morning, so sure will it rain before night. It never 
stirs out after dark. 

*' I was much taken with its sagacity in discerning 
those that do it kind offices ; for as soon as the old lady, 
who has waited on it for more than thirty years, 
comes in sight, it hobbles towards its benefactress with 
awkward alacrity, but remains inattentive to strangers. 
This creature not only burrows in winter, but sleeps 
great part of the summer, for it goes to bed in the 
longest days at four in the afternoon, and often does not 
stir in the morning until late ; besides, it retires to rest 
for every shower, and does not move at all in wet days. 

" Though he loves warm weather, he avoids the hot 
sun, because his thick shell, when once heated, would, 
as the poet says of solid armour, ' scald with safety.' 
He therefore spends the more sultry hours under the 



ORDER CHELOlb^IA. 23 

umbrella of a large cabbage-leaf, or amidst the waving 
forests of an asparagus-bed. But as he avoids heat in 
the summer, so in the decline of the year he improves 
the faint autumnal beams by getting within the reliec- 
tion of a fruit-tree wall ; and, though he has never read 
that planes inclining to the horizon receive a greater 
share of warmth, he inclines his shell by setting it 
against the wall, to collect and admit every feeble ray," 

THE INDIAN TORTOISE, {Test. Indica, Lin.) 

This is a veiy large land species ; a specimen taken on 
the coast of Coromandel measured four feet and a half 
from nose to tail, and its height was fourteen inches ; 
the general colour is deep brown. It seems to be the 
largest of the land Tortoises. 

The Dutch navigator, Dampier, saw some Tortoises 
on the GaUipagos Islands that would appear to belong 
to this speeies. Some of these animals weighed a 
hundred and fifty and two hundred pounds, and their 
flesh was of a fine and delicate flavour. Leguat, at the 
island of Rodriguez, in 1692, observed land Tortoises, 
which also probaby belong to this species ; they weighed 
about a hundred pounds each. They were also seen by 
the astronomer Lacaille, in 1761, who adds that these 
animals assemble in large bodies of from two to three 
thousand individuals, and that they are so close together 
that their back-plates touch, and form a kind of pavement 
nearly a hundred paces in extent. 

THE LEOPARD TORTOISE, 

(Testudo pardalis.) 

This pretty specimen of a land Tortoise is a native of 
the Cape of Good Hope; its colour is yellowish, with 



24 



THE LAND TORTOISE TRIBE. 



black spots. The neck of this species is "much longer 
than usual, sufficiently so to allow the head to be raised 
above the level of the back, and thus enable the animal 
to look round on all sides by merely turning it. 




I j<^i«wiy — 'vv V ^* " 

THE LEOPARD TORTOISE, 
1 

A living specimen of this Tortoise was in the possession 
of Mr. Bell, for the whole of one summer, during which 
time it had the range of a small orchard, and fed heartily 
on grass, which it plucked with a movement similar to 
that of a Goose. It is as much as two feet in length 
over the curvature of the upper shell. 



THE FRESH-WATER TORTOISE TRIBE. 

These differ from the Land Tortoises by having the toes 
more separated, and the claws longer. The shell with 
which they are covered is also much flatter. Among 
these we find a singular genus, the Box Tortoises. 



ORDER CHELOXIA. 25 

THE BOX TORTOISE, {Testudo Indica.) 
The peculiarity of the Box Tortoise consists in having 
the breast-plate divided into two lids by a moveable 
articulation, which, when the head and limbs are drawn 




THE BOX TORTOISE. , 

in, can entirely close the opening and conceal those 
members. In some species, however, although the 




UNDERNEATH VIEW OF THE SHELL, SHOWING ITS HINGE. 

same contrivance exists in the shell, the head and limbs 
are too large to be drawn completely in. 

c 



26 THE FRESH-WATER TORTOISE TRIBE. 

THE GREEN TORTOISE, {Chelys viridis.) 




THE GREEN TORTOISE. 



This Tortoise is a native of the Brazils, and belongs to 
the same division of fresh-water Tortoises as the last 
individual. 

THE FRESH-WATER TORTOISE OF EUROPE, 

{Emys Europceus. Shaw.) 

The European Tortoise is seldom more than four or five 
inches in length. The shell is oval, blackish, and 
marked with small yellow specks ; the skin of the neck 
and breast is also spotted in a similar manner ; the feet 
are scaly, and half-webbed. 

This is a very elegant-looking animal, and is a species 
very much extended. It is to be found in all the south 
and east of Europe, as Italy, Sardinia, Prussia, Poland, 
and Hungary ; we are also told that it is to be found in 
America, and on Ascension Island. 

It lives in muddy waters and marshes, feeding upon 
insects, molluscse, small fish, and plants. Its flesh is 
esteemed as food, and in some places, especially in Ger- 



ORDER "CHELONIA. 27 

many, it is sold in the markets. This animal is also 
occasionally kept in ponds, and fed with lettuce-leaves, 
bread, &c. ; it may be even conveniently kept in a cellar 
and fed on oats, which being scattered on the floor, take 
root there, and as they begin to sprout up, afford a whole- 
some nutriment to this Reptile. AVe are told by Wolff 
that the Prussian peasants keep these animals in troughs, 
for a year or two, and fatten them up. 

The eggs of this Tortoise are about the size of pigeons'- 
eggs, but longer : they are deposited in sandy and sunny 
places, in the beginning of spring, and, according to 
some writers, take a year to be hatched. The fresh- 
water Tortoise grows very slowly, and the colour seems 
to vary a little, according to the nature of the climate 
which it inhabits. 

THE PAINTED TORTOISE, {Emys picta.) 

The remarkable colours which decorate the shells of this 
Tortoise, easily distinguish it from all others of the tribe. 
It is five inches and a half in length, four in breadth, 
and one and a half in thickness ; the feet and tail are 
covered with scales, and the former are partly webbed. 

The general colour of the shell is chestnut-brown, 
varying a little in the shades ; the scales into which the 
back-plate is divided are bordered with yellow, so that 
it appears marked above with broad bands which cross 
each other ; the side-plates, or scales, are yellowish, with 
irregular and blackish circles ; the breast-plate is yel- 
lowish-gray ; some spots of yellow are visible on the sides 
of the head and jaws, and the tail is blackish, and 
marked on each side with yellow streaks. 

This fresh-water Tortoise inhabits the rivers of North 
America; it delights in deep and slow streams, and 

C 2 



2S THE FRESH-WATER TORTOISE TRIBE. 

solitary situations. These animals, in clear, sunny 
weather, are reported to assemble in great multitudes, 
and sit upon the fallen trunks of trees, and rocks, in the 
neighbourhood of the water, into which they plunge on 
the slightest disturbance. They swim with considerable 
rapidity, but are bad walkers, and they can continue for 
several hours under water, but will not survive long \ii 
taken out of it. They are extremely voracious, seizing 
young ducks by the feet, and dragging them under 
water to devour them : their flesh is generally regarded 
by the Americans as a wholesome and delicate food. 
After the month of October they conceal themselves in 
marshy places, where they pass the winter. 

THE SNAKE TORTOISE, {Emys serpentina.) 

The Snake Tortoise weighs about fifteen or twenty 
pounds, and its general colour is a dull chestnut-brown, 
lighter, or paler, underneath. It is about four feet long, 
and the back is not unlike that of a Lizard. The neck is 
very long, and from this circumstance, and a hissing 
sound which it utters, its name is derived. In Carolina 
it is also called the Alligator Tortoise, from the length 
of its tail, which is armed on the upper part with a sort 
of toothed or notched ridge. 

This species is also an inhabitant of the rivers of 
North America. It is rare, and in great esteem for the 
excellence of its flesh. It is a most mischievous and 
voracious animal, destroying young ducks and fishes, 
and it does not even hesitate to attack individuals of 
its own species. Concealing itself in muddy waters, and 
leaving out only a part of its back, which looks like a 
stone, or some other inanimate object, it deceives its 
victims by its appearance, on the nearer approach of 



ORDER CHELONIA. 29 

which it suddenly rises on its hind-legs, and stretches 
out its neck with great rapidity. When irritated, it is 
said to bite with so much violence, that it is scarcely 
possible to make it let go its hold. It will occasionally 
remove to a considerable distance from the water ; 
Schcepff, who was the first to give a figure of this 
species, brought up a number of individuals belonging 
to it in a chamber. They always sought the most ob- 
scure corners, and hid themselves among the ashes of 
the fire-place, or wherever else they could find any 
rubbish. 



THE SEA TORTOISE TRIBE, (Turtles.^ 

We now come to the Marine Tortoises, or Turtles. 
These are all natives of the seas of warm climates, in- 
habiting the Torrid Zone, and aa far as the fifteenth 
degree of latitude. There is a single species, belonging 
to Japan, that lives in the fresh water. 

THE GREEN TURTLE, (Testudo Mydas.) 

This celebrated species is so named, according to Dr. 
Shaw, from the green tinge of its fat when in the 
highest state of perfection. This is supposed to be 
caused by the vegetable substances on which the animal 
feeds, and more especially by the plant called Turtle- 
grass, of which it is remarkably fond. This name, how- 
ever, may arise from the colour which the back-plate 
assumes when in the water, namely, a dark-green : out 
of the water, their colour is a dull palish-brown, more or 
less variegated with waves of a deeper hue. " This 



30 



THE SEA TORTOISE TRIBE. 



Turtle," says Dr. Cloquet, *♦ exceeds all others in size 
and weight, being six or seven feet long, and weighing 
seven or eight hundred pounds." There is another 
species, however, which appears to be larger, the Log- 
gerhead. 




THE GREEN TUllTLE. 



We are told by Lemaire, in his Voyage to the Canary 
Islands, that the Turtles are so large, that the back-plate 
is not less than fifteen feet in circumference, and that 
the tiesh of one of them would suffice for thirty men. 

The green Turtles are abundant on the low, dry, and 
sandy shores of both the old and new continents, but 
are never caught far northwards, unless driven thither 
by tempests. Some of these wanderers have been taken 
towards the mouth of the Loire, and even near Dieppe, 
in Normandy. They generally frequent the neighbour- 
hood of islands, and deserted coasts, seldom coming to 
land, and remaining there but a very short time; at cer- 
tain periods they quit the deep seas, and repair in mul- 
titudes towards the mouths of rivers. 



ORDER CHELONIA. 31 

In the month of April the females deposit their eggs 
on the shore, in a dry situation. They quit the water 
very cautiously, after sun-set, to find out a convenient 
place, but return directly, on the slightest alarm. Should 
no disturbance take place, they go beyond the highest 
tide, hollow out the sand with their feet, and deposit 
their eggs in the hole which they have made, some- 
times as many as one hundred in a single night. While 
engaged in this operation, they may be turned over and 
caught with great facility. In this manner, at intervals 
of two or three weeks, they lay three sets of eggs suc- 
cessively, and having covered them with sand, return to 
the ocean. On the coast of Africa, one of these Turtles, 
it is said, will lay two hundred and fifty eggs, and more. 
These eggs are round, like tennis-balls, and covered 
with a skin like parchment ; they are cooked like 
those of a hen, being excellent eating, and in high request. 

The little Turtles, when they come forth from the 
egg, rush headlong into the sea. Their pace is much 
quicker at this age, than when they have increased in 
bulk ; but many of them are devoured by the larger 
sea-fowl, sharks, and other inhabitants of the deep. 

The English market is chiefly supplied with the 
Green Turtles from the West India Islands, particularly 
Jamaica, where they are preserved at times in parks ; 
and although so expensive a luxury in this country, 
they are sold in shops at a less price than beef or 
mutton. 

The inhabitants of the Bahama Islands, by frequent 
practice, are very expert at catching Turtles, parti- 
cularly the Green Turtles. In April they go in little 
boats to Cuba, and other neighbouring islands, where, 
in the evening, and especially on moonlight nights. 



32 THE SEA TORTOISE TRIBE. 

they watch the going and returning of the Turtle to 
and from their nests, at which time they turn them on 
their back, and leave them for a time, without fear of 
their escape, for they cannot get on their feet again 
when once turned, and some are so large that it re- 
quires three men to turn them. 

The method of taking the Turtle commonly resorted 
to in the Bahama Islands, is by striking them with a 
small iron peg of two inches long, fixed in a socket at 
the end of a stalf twelve feet long. Two men usually 
set out for this work in a small light boat or canoe, one 
to row or gently steer the boat, while the other stands 
at the end of it with his striker. The Turtle are 
sometimes discovered by their swimming with their 
head and back out of the water, but they are more 
frequently seen lying at the bottom, a fathom ov more 
deep. If a Turtle finds he is discovered, he starts 
up to make his escape ; the men in the boat pursuing 
him, endeavour to keep sight of him, which they often 
lose, but recover again by the Turtle putting his nose 
out of the water to breathe ; thus they pursue him, one 
paddling and rowing, and the other standing ready with 
his striker. It is sometimes half an hour before he is 
tired, he then sinks at once to the bottom, which gives 
them an opportunity of striking him, when he is pierced 
by the iron peg which slips out of the socket, but is fas- 
tened by a string to the pole. If he is spent and tired 
by a long pursuit, he tamely submits, when struck, to be 
taken into the boat or hauled ashore. 

Turtle seems to have been first introduced into Eng- 
land as a luxury about the middle of the eighteenth 
century. 



ORDER CHELONIA. 33 

THE IMBRICATED TURTLE, {Testudo 
imbricafa.) 

This species seldom attains the size of the Green Turtle, 
and as an article of food it is useless, its flesh being dis- 
agreeable and unwholesome ; its eggs, however, are 
considered excellent eating. It is a native of the Ame- 
rican, and also of the Asiatic seas, and has at times 
been found in the Mediterranean. But if this species 
is useless as food, it amply recompenses us by pro- 
ducing that beautiful article of commerce and art* 
tortoiseshell. This production of the imbricated Turtle 
was known and highly valued by the ancients, who em- 
ployed it to a great extent in the decoration of all their 
most costly furniture. At present, we all know the use 
to which it is applied in the lining of cabinet-work, but 
more particularly in the formation of those beautiful 
combs which decorate the head-dress of females. 
The shell is not considered of much value unless 
taken from a large Turtle, weighing at least one 
hundred and fifty pounds. The ancients, although they 
employed tortoiseshell to a great extent, were ignorant of 
the means of separating the different layers of shell from 
each other, so that the only plan adopted by them was 
that of sawing the plates into thin leaves or veneers ; 
the modern method of separating these plates is by 
applying heat to the inner part of the shell, when they start 
from each other, and are easily detached from the bone. 
Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention ; 
and it is curious to see the plan employed in the 
manufacture of Combs, for the purpose of economizing 
this valuable product. It would be naturally supposed 
that to form a comb six inches in length and one inch in 



34 



THE SEA TORTOISE TRIBE. 



width, it would be necessary to have a piece of shell of 
the same dimensions ; and if one comb only were made 
that would really be the case ; but by adopting the 
following simple plan, a piece of shell only very little 
larger is sufficient to make two combs of the same 
size instead of one. The annexed diagram will illus- 
trate this subject. A circular saw is used to cut the 

shell, as represented, in 
the zigzag lines, so that 
when the sawing is com- 
pleted it can be pulled 
in tv/o ; the teeth of the 
combs will thus be cut 

out of each other, and the solid extremities remain to 
form the backs. 

THE CORIACEOUS TURTLE, 

(Testudo coriaceus.) 
The Coriaceous (leathery) Turtle is so called from its 
covering, instead of being a solid or horny substance. 





THE CORIACEOUS TURTLE. 



resembling leather. It is a large species of its tribe, 
and a native of the Mediterranean Sea, although it 



ORDER CHELONIA. 



35 



has at times wandered so far as to have been taken on 
the Cornish coast, where one weighing eight hundred 
pounds, and measuring six feet in length, was captured 
in July 1756. Its flesh is eatable, but considered coarse 
and unpleasant. 

THE LOGGERHEAD, OR HAWK'SBILL 
TURTLE, {Testudo caretta.) 

The habits and haunts of this species are nearly the 
same as those of the Green Turtle, but its flesh appears 
to be of no value, and its shell is equally useless. The 
Loggerhead Turtles are said to be the boldest and 




THE LOGGERHEAD TURTLE. 



most voracious of all other kinds. Their flesh is rank, 
and therefore little sought for ; this occasions them to 
be more numerous than any other kind. They range 
the ocean over ; and feed mostly on shell-fish, the 
strength of their beaks enabling them to break very 
large shells. 



37 

THE SAURIAN REPTILES. (Order Sauria.) 

The Saurians may be popularly divided into Crocodiles 
and Lizards, The different tribes vary much in 
form and habits ; some are extremely slow in their 
movements, while others move with great agility. 
Some frequent the waters, and always remain in their 
neighbourhood, while others, such as the Common 
Lizard, are found basking in the sun on barren heaths, 
near some friendly stone, under which they dart for 
shelter on the approach of danger. They all, without 
exception, have teeth of some description, and toes pro- 
vided with claws. 

THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

Nature, says Lacepede, has granted to the Eagle the 
higher regions of the atmosphere ; has given to the 
Lion for his domain the boundless deserts of the hot 
climates of the world, and has abandoned to the Crocodile 
the shores of the sea, and the mighty rivers of the torrid 
zones. These enormous animals, living equally upon 
the inhabitants of the sea, and on those which the earth 
nourishes, exceed in size every other creature of their 
own order. They divide their prey neither with the 
Vulture like the Eagle, nor with the Tiger as the Lion, 
but exercise a domination greater than that of either 
of those formidable creatures. Their empire also is 
more enduring, since from the circumstance of their 
habits inducing them to frequent equally the land and 
water, they can the more readily avoid any snares that 
may be laid for them. The low temperature of their 
blood renders less nourishment necessary, and as 
they can endure hunger for a considerable length of 



38 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

time, they are not so frequently under the necessity of 
braving danger for the sake of satisfying their appetite. 
The Crocodiles of the same species vary so much in 
their distinctive marks, as to render their arrange- 
ment doubtful: they may, however, be popularly arranged 
in three tribes ; the Gavial of India, the Crocodile of 
Africa, and the Alligator of America. 

THE GAVIAL, (Crodilus Gangeticus.) 

The Gavial inhabits the borders of the Ganges ; it 
differs from the Crocodiles of Egypt by having the jaws 
much narrower, and much more lengthened, so as to 
appear, considering the size of the head, very much like 
a beak ; the teeth also are much smaller, and more 
numerous ; like the rest of its genus, it sometimes 
attains a very large size, as much, it is said, as thirty 
feet. Much has been said of the ferocity and tenacity 
of life of these Reptiles, but, according to Tavernier, 
little difficulty was experienced in destroying several, of 
this species at least. This traveller perceived, on the 
borders of the Ganges, a very great number of these 
animals lying on the shore ; he fired his musket among 
them, and the shot took effect in the jaws of a very 
large one ; the blood flowed from the wound, but the 
animal itself retired into the river. The next day 
Tavernier, still descending the Ganges, saw another 
group in the same situation ; he fired twice at two of 
these creatures, his gun being loaded with bullets, they 
immediately turned on their backs, opened their mouths, 
and expired. 

The Gavial is, notwithstanding this, a very formidable 
brute, and, at times, commits great havoc among the 



ORDER SAURIA. 39 

natives, who come from considerable distances to bathe in, 
what they conceive to be, the sacred waters of the Ganges. 
It is the custom also to commit the bodies of their deceased 
relatives to the stream, and on these the Gavials are in the 
habit of feeding ; this fact is'alluded to by a recent traveller. 
" A beautiful specimen of a Gavial's head was 
given by Mr. Alexander to Lord Combermere. He was 
rather a distinguished monster, having carried off, on 
different occasions, six or eight brace of men from an 
indigo-factory in the neighbourhood. A native, who had 
long laid wait for him, at length succeeded in slaying 
him with poisoned arrows. One of those notoriously 
ghaut-frequenting creatures is well-nigh as rich a prize 
to the poor native who is fortunate enough to capture 
him, as a Spanish galleon is to a British frigate ; for, on 
ripping open his stomach, and overhauling its freight, it 
is not unfrequently found to contain a choice assortment, 
as the Calcutta advertisers have it, of gold, silver, or 
brass, bangles and anklets, which have not been so ex- 
peditiously digested as their fair owners, victims of the 
monster's voracity. Horrific legends, such as the above, 
together with a great deal of valuable advice on the 
subject, were quite thrown away upon me ; for 90° of 
Fahrenheit, and the enticing blueness of the water, 
generally betrayed me into a plunge every evening 
during my Gangetic voyage." 

The hunting, or rather attacking and destroying, the 
Gavial, (or Asiatic Alligator,) seems to be a favourite 
sport in the island of Ceylon : the following spirited 
description is abridged from the works of Captain Basil 
Hall. The hunt was got up for the amusement of the 
Admiral, Sir S. Hood, and performed by a corps of 
Malays in the British service. 



40 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

Very early in the morning, the party were summoned 
from their beds, to set forth on the expedition, and the 
day had scarcely begun to dawn, when we all cantered 
up to the scene of action. 

The ground lay as flat as a marsh for many leagues, 
and was spotted with small stagnant lakes, connected 
by sluggish streams, scarcely moving over beds of mud, 
between banks fringed with a rank crop of draggled 
weeds. The whole regiment had stripped off their 
uniform, and every other stitch of clothing, save a pair 
of short trousers, and a kind of sandal. In place of a 
firelock, each man bore in his hand a slender pole, 
about six feet in length, to the extremity of which wa& 
attached the bayonet of his musket. His only other 
weapon was the formidable Malay crease, a sort of 
dagger, or small two-edged sword. 

The regiment was divided into two main parties, and 
a body of reserves. The principal columns, facing, one 
to the right, the other to the left, proceeded to occupy 
different points in one of the sluggish canals, connecting 
the pools scattered over the plain. These detachments 
being stationed about a mile from one another, enclosed 
an interval where, from some peculiar circumstances 
known only to the Malays, who are passionately fond of 
the sport, the Alligators were sure to be found in great 
numbers. The troops formed themselves across the 
canals, in three parallel lines, ten or twelve feet apart ; 
but the men in each line stood side by side, merely 
leaving room enough to wield their pikes. The canal 
may have been about four or five feet deep, in the middle 
of the stream, if stream it can be called, which scarcely 
moved at all. 

On every thing being reported ready, the soldiers 



ORDER SAURIA. 41 

planted their pikes before them in the mud, each man 
crossing his neighbour's weapon, and at the word 
" March," away they all started in full cry, sending 
forth a shout, or war-whoop, sufficient to curdle the 
blood of those on land, whatever effect it may have had 
on the inhabitants of the deep. As the two divisions 
of the invading army gradually approached each other 
in pretty close column, screaming, and yelling, and 
striking their pikes deep in the slime before them, the 
startled animals naturally retired towards the unoccu- 
pied centre. Generally speaking, they had sense enough 
to turn their long tails upon their assailants, and to 
scuttle off, as fast as they could, towards the middle part 
of the canal. But every now and then, one of the ter- 
rified monsters floundered backwards, and, by retreating 
in the wrong direction, broke through the first, second, 
and even third line of pikes. This was the perfection 
of sport to the delighted Malays. A double circle of 
soldiers was speedily formed round the wretched aquatic 
who had presumed to pass the barrier. By means of 
well-directed thrusts with numberless bayonets, and the 
pressure of some dozens of feet, the poor brute was 
often fairly driven beneath his native mud. When once 
there, his enemies half-choked and half-spitted him, till 
at last, they put an end to his miserable days, in regions 
quite out of sight, and in a manner as inglorious as can 
well be conceived. 

The intermediate space was now pretty well crowded 
with Alligators, swimming about in the utmost terror, at 
times diving below, and anon showing their noses above 
the surface of the dirty stream ; or occasionally making 
a furious bolt, in sheer despair, right at the phalanx of 
Malays. On these occasions, half-a-dozen of the soldiers 



42 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

were often upset, and their pikes either broken or 
twisted out of their hands, to the infinite amusement of 
their companions, who speedily closed up the broken 
ranks. There were none killed, but many wounded ; 
yet no man flinched in the least. 

The perfection of the sport appeared to consist in de- 
taching a single Alligator from the rest, surrounding and 
attacking him separately, and spearing him till he was 
almost dead. The Malays, then, by main strength, 
forked him aloft, over their heads, on the end of a dozen 
pikes, and, by a sudden jerk, pitched the conquered 
monster far on the shore. As the Alhgators are amphi- 
bious, they kept to the water no longer than they found 
they had an advantage in that element ; but on the two 
columns of their enemy closing up, the monsters lost all 
discipline", floundered up the weedy banks, scuttling 
away to the right and left, helter-skelter. " Sauve qui 
peut !' seemed to be the fatal watch-word for their total 
rout. That prudent cry would, no doubt, have saved 
many of them, had not the Malays judiciously placed 
beforehand their reserve on each side of the river, to 
receive the distracted fugitives, who, bathed in mud, 
and half-dead with terror, but still in a prodigious fury, 
dashed off at right angles from the canal, in hopes of 
gaining the shelter of a swampy pool, overgrown with 
reeds and bulrushes, but which most of the poor beasts 
were never doomed to reach. 

The concluding battle between these retreating and 
desperate Alligators and the Malays of the reserve, was 
formidable enough. Indeed, had not the one party been 
fresh, the other exhausted ; one confident, the other 
broken in spirit ; it is quite possible that the Crocodiles 
might have worsted the Malays. It was diflacult, indeed, 



ORDER SAURIA. 43 

to say which of the two looked at that moment the more 
savage ; the triumphant natives, or the flying troop of 
Alhgators walloping away from the water. Many on 
both sides were wounded, and all covered with slime and 
weeds. There could not have been fewer than thirty 
or forty Alligators killed. The largest measured ten 
feet in length, and four feet girth, the head being 
exactly two feet long. Besides these great fellows, a 
multitude of little ones, nine inches long, were caught 
alive, many of which, being carried on board, became 
great favourites amongst the sailors, who have a queer 
taste in the choice of pets. 

The Editor of the Oriental Annual relates the fol- 
lowing anecdote ; it occurred at Ceylon. 

"The morning after our landing, we made the best 
of our way to Columbo, though our spirit of adventure 
was somewhat checked by a circumstance which had 
lately taken place. An English lady sent a mes- 
senger a few miles into the interior with a letter, but 
as he did not return at the time expected, she began to 
apprehend that some accident had happened to him ; 
she consequently sent a party in quest of the man, but 
they could obtain no tidings of him. At length, in 
crossing a stream, on their return from an unsuccessful 
search, they saw a dead Alligator (gavial) up the bank, 
with its jaws extended, as if it had suffered a violent 
death. Upon examining the creature more closely, they 
found that it had been choked, as the throat was 
considerably distended. This they immediately pro- 
ceeded to cut open, in order to ascertain the cause of a 
strangulation so very unusual, when the head of the 
unfortunate messenger was found completely choking up 
the passage. The animal had been evidently unable 

d2 



44 



THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 



to swallow it, and had, in consequence, died of suffo- 
cation. The turban was still on the man's head, and 
upon taking off the skull-cap, the answer to the lady's 
letter was found under it perfectly uninjured. It was 
presumed that the poor fellow had attempted to swim 
across the stream, having first deposited the letter under 
his turban, but was arrested and destroyed by the 
reptile, before he could reach the opposite shore." 

THE DOUBLE-CRESTED CROCODILE, 

( Crocodilus hifurcatiis,) 

Is a species of the Gavial kind, and common in all the 
rivers which lead to the Indian ocean. It is said to be 
the general opinion at Java, that this animal never 




THE DOUBLE-CRtbTtD CROCODILE. 



devours its prey on the spot, but buries it in the mud or 
sand, where it suffers it to remain untouched for three 
or four days. 



ORDER SAURIA. 45 

THE COMMON CROCODILE, 

( Crocodilus vulgaris.) 

This is the species so well known as frequenting the 
rivers of Africa, particularly the Nile, and is an ex- 
tremely formidable creature ; but, although so much 
feared by the larger animals, a little creature, the Ich- 
neumon, about the size and form of a ferret, fearlessly 
approaches its haunts, discovers its eggs with great dex- 
terity, and destroys them. 

In the central parts of Africa the Crocodiles attain a 
very large size, in many instances being found as much 
as thirty feet in length. Their principal places of resort 
are the banks of rivers, swampy grounds overgrown 
with weeds, and inland lakes ; but they never enter 
the salt water. The natives who inhabit these districts 
are in constant fear of these enormous creatures, yet 
although their power of doing mischief is extremely 
great, their natural timidity, and the low state of their 
instinctive faculties, allow them, comparatively, but few 
opportunities of exerting it. 

Many strange tales have been told of their peculiari- 
ties, which later observations have proved to be un- 
founded ; among other errors, it was supposed that they 
possessed the faculty, known in no other animal, of 
moving the upper instead of the lower jaw. The peculiar 
manner in which the lower jaw is attached to the upper 
has been the cause of this error. In quadrupeds, the point 
at which the bones are jointed is always on the under 
part of the skull, but in the crocodile that point is behind, 
and, in consequence of the shortness of its legs, and the 
great length of its jaw, the reptile is compelled to throw 
back its head before it can open its mouth ; an operation 



46 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

which produces, in a certcain degree, the appearance of 
moving the upper jaw. Its movements, though, in par- 
ticular cases, very rapid, are, in others, much hmited ; 
in a straight line, it can run with considerable speed ; 
but its power of motion sideways is much restricted, 
from the little pliability of the joints of the back, and 
the thickness of its external covering. The swiftness, 
however, with which the head is turned, is very great ; 
and this, in addition to its sideway movement, would 
render it rather unsafe to any enemy placed by its side, 
unless at a considerable distance. 

The general opinion respecting these creatures is, that 
their ferocity and intractability are so great as to render 
them perfectly untameable ; but experience in other 
classes of the animal creation ought to have taught us 
that every animal, under proper management, must 
bend to the mental superiority of man. We have also 
many instances on record which prove the fact. 

The priests of the temple of Memphis, in Egypt, in 
the celebration of their heathen mysteries, were in the 
habit of introducing tame Crocodiles, as objects of worship 
to the deluded multitude. They were fed from the 
hands of their conductors, and decorated with jewels 
and wreaths of flowers. It is also reported by the tra- 
veller Bruce, that the children in Abyssinia frequently 
amuse themselves by riding on the backs of these 
reptiles with perfect impunity. They have been also 
employed for the purpose of defence. The fortifications 
of the Dutch, in the island of Java, are surrounded 
by water; and to prevent the desertion of their 
soldiers, or the approach of theu* enemies, they placed 
Crocodiles in the ditches, to deter either from crossing 
them. 



ORDER SAURIA. 47 

The age to which Crocodiles live must be very great, 
from the slowness of their growth, and the large size they 
attain. The eggs from which they are produced are 
not larger than those of a goose, which, considering the 
magnitude of the full-grown animal, is another surprising 
fact. 

The Crocodile swallows its prey whole, and feeds in- 
differently on fish or small quadrupeds; the upper 
teeth, instead of resting with their points upon the 
under when the mouth is closed, enter between them, 
and thus prevent all chance of escape. It but rarely 
attacks mankind. On either side of the under part of 
the lower jaw, a small opening is found, from which the 
creature can force, at will, a liquid possessing the smell 
of musk. This property has been lately noticed by Mr. 
Thomas Bell, in a paper inserted in the Transactions of 
the Royal Society of London, and, in his opinion, the 
reptile employs it for the purpose of attracting fish into 
the places it haunts. 

THE ALLIGATOR, (Crocodilus lucius, Cuv.) 

The engraving at the beginning of this order, which 
has been reduced from the original of Madame Merian, 
the German naturalist, represents this formidable reptile 
in the act of seizing a serpent engaged in the destruc- 
tion of the Alligator s eggs. The greatest enemies to 
the increase of these terrific creatures are serpents of 
all descriptions, which abound in the hot climates where 
the Alligator is found, and break and devour great 
quantities of their eggs. The number of eggs produced 
by them is so great, that if they were not subject to 
many casualties, the countries they inhabit would be 



48 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

completely overrun with them. The Alligator itself is 
also said to lessen the number of its progeny, by destroy- 
ing many when very young. 

Of the Alligator there are many species which, as yet, 
are not well known ; but the habits of these American 
Crocodiles have been more attended to than those of 
Africa and Asia, as they have more frequently come 
under the observation of Europeans. 

In Louisiana, says an American author, all our 
lagoons, bayous, creeks, ponds, lakes, and rivers, are 
well stocked with them : they are found wherever there 
is a sufficient quantity of water to hide them, or to 
furnish them with food; and they continue thus, in 
great numbers, as high as the mouth of the Arkansas 
river, extending east to North Carohna, and as far west 
as I have penetrated. On the Red River, before it was 
navigated by steam-vessels, they were so extremely 
abundant, that to see hundreds at a time along the 
shores, or on the immense rafts of floating or stranded 
timber, was quite a common occurrence, the smaller on 
the backs of the larger, groaning and uttering their 
bellowing noise, like thousands of irritated bulls about 
to meet in fight, but all so careless of man, that, unless 
shot at, or positively disturbed, they remained motionless, 
suffering boats and canoes to pass within a few yards of 
them, without noticing them in the least. The shores 
are yet trampled by them in such a manner, that their 
large tracks are seen as plentiful as those of sheep in a 
fold. It was on that river particularly, thousands of 
large ones were killed, while the mania of having shoes, 
boots, or saddle-seats, made of their hides, lasted. It 
had become an article of trade, and many of the squatters 
and strolling Indians followed for a time no other 



ORDER SAURIA. 49 

business. The discovery that their skins are not suffi- 
ciently firm and close-grained to resist water or damp- 
ness long, put a"stop to their general destruction, which 
had already become very apparent. The leather pre- 
pared from these skins was handsome and very pliant, 
exhibiting all the regular lozenges of the scales, and 
susceptible of the highest degree of polish and finishing. 

When Alligators are fishing, the flapping of their 
tails about the water may be heard at the distance of 
half a mile ; but, to describe this in a more graphic way, 
suffer me to take you along with me, in one of my 
hunting excursions, accompanied by friends and negroes. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of Bayou-Sarah, on 
the Mississippi, are extensive shallow lakes, and mo- 
rasses ; they are yearly overflowed by the dreadful floods 
of that river, and supplied with myriads of fishes, of 
many kinds, amongst which trout are most abundant, 
white perch, 'cat-fish, and alligator gars, or devil-fish. 
Thither, in the early part of autumn, when the heat of 
a southern sun has evaporated much 'of the water, the 
squatter, the planter, the hunter, all go in search of 
sport. The lakes then are about two feet deep, having 
a fine sandy bottom ; frequently much grass grows in 
them, bearing crops of seed, for which multitudes of 
water-fowl resort to those places. The edges of these 
lakes are deep swamps, muddy for some distance, over- 
grown with heavy large timber, principally cypress, hung 
with Spanish beard, and tangled with different vines, 
creeping 'plants, and cane, so as to render them almost 
dark during the day. Here and there in the lakes are 
small islands,' with clusters of the same trees, on which 
flocks of snake-birds, wood-ducks, and different species 
of herons, build their nests. Fishing-lines, guns, and 



50 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

rifles, some salt, and some water, are all the hunters 
take. Two negroes precede them, the woods are 
crossed — the scampering deer is seen — the racoon and 
the opossum cross before you — the black, the gray, and 
the fox-squirrel, are heard barking. As you proceed 
further on, the Hunk, hunk, of the lesser ibis is heard 
from different parts, as they rise from the puddles that 
supply them with crayfishes. At last, the opening of 
the lake is seen : it has now become necessary to drag 
oneself along the deep mud, making the best of the way, 
with the head bent, through the small bushy growth, 
caring about nought but the lock of your gun. 

The long narrow Indian canoe, kept to hunt these 
lakes, and taken into them during the fresh, is soon 
launched, and the party, seated in the bottom, is paddled 
or poled in search of water-game. There, on a sudden, 
hundreds of Alligators are seen dispersed all over the 
lake, their head and all the upper part of their body 
floating like a log, and, in many instances, so resem- 
bling one, that it requires to be accustomed to see them, 
to know the distinction. Millions of the large wood-ibis 
are seen wading through the water, mudding it up, and 
striking deadly blows with their bills on the fish within. 
Here are a horde of blue herons, the sand-hill crane 
rises with hoarse note, the snake-birds are perched here 
and there on the dead timber of the trees, the cormorants 
are fishing, buzzards and carrion-crows exhibit a mourn- 
ing train, patiently waiting for the water to dry and 
leave food for them, and far in the horizon the eagle 
overtakes a devoted wood-duck, singled from the clouded 
flocks ^that have been bred there. It is then that you 
see and hear the Alligator at his work ; each lake has a 
spot deeper than the rest, rendered so by those animals 



ORDER SAURIA. 51 

who work at it, and always situated at the lower end of 
the lake, near the connecting bayous, which, as drainers, 
pass through all these lakes, and discharge sometimes 
many miles below where the water had made its 
entrance above; thereby ensuring themselves water, as 
long as any will remain. This is called by the hunters, 
the Ahigators' hole. You see them there lying close 
together. The fish that are already dying by thousands, 
through the insulFerable heat and stench of the water, 
and the wounds of the different winged enemies 
constantly in pursuit of them, resort to the Alligators 
hole to receive refreshment, with a hope of finding 
security also, and follow down the little currents, flowing 
though the connecting sluices : but no ! for, as the 
water recedes in the lake, they are here confined. The 
AUigators thrash them, and devour them whenever they 
feel hungry, while the ibis destroys all that make 
towards the shore. 

By looking attentively on this spot, you plainly see 
the tails of the Alligators moving to and fro, splashing, 
and now and then, when missing a fish, throwing it up 
in the air. The hunter, anxious to prove the value of 
his rifle, marks one of the eyes of the largest Alligator, 
and as the hair-trigger is touched, the Alligator dies. 
Should the ball strike one inch astray from the eye, the 
animal flounces, rolls over and over, beating furiously 
about him with his tail, frightening all his companions, 
who sink immediately, whilst the fishes, like blades of 
burnished metal, leap in all directions out of the water, 
so terrified are they at this uproar. Another and 
another receives the shot in the eye, and expires ; yet 
those that do not feel the fatal bullet, pay no attention 
to the death of their companions, till the hunter 



02 THE CROCODILE TRIBE. 

approaches very close, when they hide themselves for a 
few moments, by sinking backwards. 

It is said, that at some points of this dismal river. 
Crocodiles are so abundant as to add the terror of their 
attacks to the other sufferings of a dwelling there. We 
were told a story of a squatter, who, having "located" 
himself close to the river's edge, proceeded to build his 
cabin. This operation is soon performed, for social feel- 
ing, and the love of whiskey, bring all the scanty neigh- 
bourhood round a new comer, to aid him in cutting 
down trees, and in rolling up the logs, till the mansion 
is complete. This was done ; the wife and five young 
children were put in possession of their new home, and 
slept soundly after a long march. Towards day-break 
the husband and father was awakened by a faint cry, 
and looking up beheld the relics of three of his children 
scattered over the floor, and an enormous Crocodile, with- 
several young ones around her, occupied in devouring 
the remnants of their horrid meal. He looked round 
for a weapon, but finding none, and aware that unarmed 
he could do nothing, he raised himself gently on his 
bed, and contrived to crawl from thence through a 
window, hoping that his wife, whom he left sleeping, 
might, with the remaining children, rest undiscovered 
till his return. He flew to his nearest neighbour, and 
besought his aid; in less than half an hour two men 
returned with him, all three well armed; but alas! they 
were too late ! the wife and her two babes lay mangled 
on their bloody bed. The gorged reptiles fell an easy 
prey to their assailants, who, upon examining the place, 
found the hut had been constructed close to the mouth 
of a large hole, almost a cavern, in which the monsters 
hateful brood had been hatched. 




THE AGAMA. 



THK UROMASTIX. 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 

The remainder of the Saurian reptiles may be properly 
classed under the head of the Lizard tribes ; they differ 
from the Crocodiles in many parts of their anatomy, and 
in general are perfectly harmless. In the Crocodiles, the 
tongue is firmly fixed in the mouth, and quite incapable 
of motion ; but among the Lizards, this organ is free, 
and in many cases capable of being extended to a con- 
siderable length. The Lizards are, with few exceptions, 
of inconsiderable size. The largest, and the only genus 
that in any degree approaches in magnitude to the 
Crocodiles, is that of the Monitors. 

THE GREAT DRAGON, {Monitor Crocodilinus.) 
The Great Dragon is in form considerably like the 
Crocodiles ; like those monstrous reptiles its throat is 
capacious, and its back provided with rows of spines or 
tubercles, its tail is flattened, and in size it is some- 



54 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 



times equal to a yomior Alligator. Its colour also, which 
is a deep reddish-} ellow clouded with green, bears a 
great resemblance to that of the Crocodile : on this 
account, the natives of the eastern coasts of South 
America believe it to be a species of that tribe. But 
the Dragon differs materially from the true Crocodile. 
In the first place, its feet are not webbed and adapted to 
swimming, its toes being entirely free. Its tongue is 
extensive and forked, like that of many of the serpent 
tribes ; and its toes are armed with strong nails, which 
enable it to climb with considerable agility. Its eyes 
are large and brilliant, and the opening to ^he ear 




THE GREAT DUAGON 



capacious, and surrounded by a margin of scales. Being 
capable of moving its tail with great violence and 
rapidity, it has in some places obtained the name of 
ivhip-tail. This reptile is chiefly found in South 
America, but it is taken with considerable difficulty ; 
concealing itself in burrows, and biting with great 
severity; its flesh is eaten, and considered no small 
delicacy. The eggs, of which each female lays several 
dozen at a time, are also in high estimation at Cayenne, 



ORDER SAURIA. 



55 



THE AMEIVA, {Teyus ameiva.) 

The Ameiva is a native of Guiana and the Antilles : 
considerable obscurity appears to exist as to the history 
of this lizard ; its colour varying much, according to its 
sex, country, age, and the heat of the climate ; hut it is 




■HE AMEIVA. 



generally greenish or grayish, more or less variegated 
with spots or rays of more lively tints. A specimen 
described by Lacepede was twenty-one inches in length ; 
but its usual length is about a foot. 



THE GREEN LIZARD, (Lacerta agilis.) 

This beautiful creature is thus described by Lacepede : 
" Nature, in forming the green lizards, appears to have 
adopted the same proportions as in the case of the gray 
species, but on a larger scale; in fact, she has merely- 
enlarged the gray lizard, and covered it with a more 
beautiful dress." 

It is in the first days of Spring that the Green Lizard 



56 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 



shines in all its beauty : when, having cast its old skin, 
it exposes its body to the sun, enamelled with the most 
lively colours. The rays which are reflected from the 
upper part of its scales, gild them with undulating 
reflections; they shine with the brilliancy of the emerald, 
and if they are not transparent like crystals, the reflection 
of a beautiful sun, adorning the shining and polished 
scales, compensates for the absence of transparency, by 
a new display of the power of light. The eye is never 
tired with the beautiful green of the lizard we are now 
describing. 




THE GREEN MZARD, 



The colour of this reptile is subject to variation, 
and at some periods of the year it is less brilliant 
than at others. In hot climates its colours are so 
bright as to rival gold and precious stones. The 
beauty which it possesses, has been the occasion of many 
good qualities being attributed to it. It is said, when 
met by a human being, to stop and gaze intently, as if 
wishing to display its gaudy coat. Attracted by its 
beauty, children are in the habit of capturing it, and 
rendering it familiar. Its principal food consists of 



ORDER SAURIA. 57 

worms and insects; it also feeds on the eggs of small 
birds, which it seeks for in trees, climbing with great 
quickness. Although seldom a conqueror, it attacks, 
with great apparent courage, the smaller kind of serpents ; 
but this behaviour is, in effect, merely the courage of 
despair, and arises more from fear than bravery. The 
Green Lizard is distributed over nearly the whole surface 
of the globe, varying only in size and colour. In many- 
parts of the world, the natives consider its flesh as 
excellent food. The bite of this reptile was formerly 
supposed to be venomous; but this belief is entirely 
without foundation. 

THE GRAY LIZARD, (Lacerta muralis.) 
The Gray Lizard is much less than the green species, 
and has no pretensions to the beauty of colour of its 
congener. It is a pretty, quiet, and inoffensive little 
creature, and is very abundant over the whole of the 
Continent, particularly in the neighbourhood of Vienna. 
The movements of the Gray Lizard are so rapid, that 
the eye can no more follow them than it can the flight 
of a bird. It is fond of basking in the sunshine, and 
seeks situations sheltered from the wind. On a fine 
day it may be seen basking at the foot of a wall, 
receiving the benefit of the reflected, as well as the 
direct rays of the sun. If quietly approached, it appears 
but little alarmed, yet at the slightest noise precipitates 
itself from its elevation, and disappears in an instant ; it 
soon, however, peeps from its hiding-place, but again 
quickly retreats, and is a considerable time before it 
recovers from its panic. 

The Gray Lizard is generally five or six inches in 
length, and half an inch in width. What an enormous 



58 THE LIZARD TRIBE. 

difference between this reptile and a Crocodile ! The 
latter inspires terror into the minds of all who see it, while 
the innocent gambols of the Gray Lizard are looked on 
with pleasure. It is not easily captured, but when taken, 
makes no attempt to bite. Children in France are in 
the habit of playing with this reptile, and so gentle is 
its disposition, that it soon becomes familiar. 

" The ancients," says a foreign author, " called it the 
friend of man ; they should rather have called it the friend 
of childhood: but childhood, often ungrateful, or at 
least inconstant, does not always render kindness for 
kindness to this little animal, but frequently mutilates 
its unhappy playmate, whose frame is so delicate as not 
to be proof against rough usage." It lives chiefly on 
insects, such as flies, grasshoppers, worms, &c., and on 
that account is a very useful assistant in a flower-garden. 

In seizing their prey the Gray Lizards dart forth, with 
astonishing rapidity, a reddish-coloured forked tongue, 
covered with little asperities sufficient for the purpose of 
securing their feeble prey. This animal passes its 
time during the Winter in a state of torpor at the 
bottom of its retreat, and only makes its re-appearance 
with the returning warmth of Spring. The female pays 
great attention to her eggs, moving them about from 
one sunny place to another until they are hatched ; 
these eggs are round, and about a quarter of a inch in 
diameter. 

THE IGUANA, {Iguana tuberculata.) 
The Iguana, or eatable lizard, is common on the 
marshy lands and in the immense forests which border 
the large rivers of South America. The Iguana is easily 
distinguished from other lizards by the large pocket-like 



ORDER SAURIA. 



59 



appendage attached to its neck, and also by the ridge 
of tooth-hke scales which form a ridge from the head to 
the extremity of the tail. The length of this reptile 
is sometimes as much as five or six feet. 




THE IGUANA, OR EATABLE LIZARD. 

The head is compressed at the sides and flattened at 
the top ; like the Monitors, this great lizard has the toes 
perfectly separated, and is consequently an indifferent 
swimmer. Although provided with powerful teeth, and 
capable of defending itself from an enemy, the Iguana, 
unless irritated, is harmless ; but when excited to anger, 
its aspect becomes frightful, it lashes its tail, elevates its 
scales, inflates its throat-pouch, and utters loud hissings. 
The female is generally smaller than the male, and 
her colours are more lively. About the end of the 
second month of Spring, the females descend from the 
mountains, or leave the woods, for the purpose of deposit- 
ing their eggs in the sand on the sea-shore. The number 
of these eggs is said, most likely erroneously, to be 

£ 2 



60 THE LIZARD TRIBE. 

almost always odd, from thirteen to twenty-five; they 
are longer but not larger than pigeons' eggs ; the shell 
is soft like that of the egg of a tortoise. Travellers in 
South America say they are excellent eating, and of 
more value than hens' eggs. 

The mild disposition, or rather the torpid 'nature, of 
these creatures, renders their capture an easy task. They 
are in the habit of sitting on the branches of trees, facing 
the sun, with only the front part of their head exposed. 
On these occasions the following method is resorted to by 
the huntsman. He approaches gently, whistling as he 
advances ; this attracts the attention of the reptile, and 
appears to please it, for it advances its head further 
from its retreat. When the huntsman has come suffi- 
ciently near, he gently rubs the end of his pole against 
the sides and throat of the Iguana, who not only suff*ers 
this sort of caress without resistance, but appears 
to return and enjoy it. The huntsman continuing to 
employ these means, induces his victim to expose its 
head sufficiently to allow him to pass a loop, which Js 
fastened to the end of his pole, over the head and round 
the neck of the reptile, and, this accomplished, he 
brings it to the ground with a violent jerk, and places 
his foot on its body. The Iguana now proves itself 
less passive than usual, for when it finds its confidence 
deceived, and itself captured, it exerts itself with violence, 
rolls its sparkling eyes, and inflates its throat ; but 
such efforts are useless, the huntsman manages to tie its 
fore-feet together, and to secure them under the crea- 
ture's throat, so that it can neither fly nor fight. If 
taken alive, it appears at first sullen and intractable, but 
after a time becomes domesticated, and runs about the 
house and garden with as much confidence as a cat. 



ORDER SAURIA. 61 

Being considered, in the countries which it inhabits, 
as very dehcate food, it is much sought after by the 
natives. 

It is curious to trace the prejudices and preferences 
of mankind for different sorts of food, and to observe, 
fiomthe facts discovered, how much influence mental 
antipathies have over our bodily feelings. The re- 
freshing, and almost universally approved beverage, 
tea, when offered by some European travellers to the 
Turkish ladies, was rejected as insipid and valueless. 
We find in some old English dramas, "corvorants 
and soland geese" reckoned among the dainties of the 
table. At the present time, crabs, lobsters, and other 
shell-fish are, in this and other countries, considered 
as delicacies, while the inhabitants of the eastern parts 
of Europe turn from them with disgust, to make a 
meal off locusts scorched over a fire. Bread dipped in 
train-oil is greedily devoured by the Laplanders, and 
even by the more civilized Russians ; and Captain Parry, 
when on his voyage of discovery to the North Pole, con- 
trived to keep a restless Esquimaux in his chair, while 
his likeness was taken, by treating him at interv-als with 
tallow-candles. If we look nearer home, we find the 
lower orders in Scotland, in many cases, refusing eels as 
food, while on this side the border they are considered 
a delicious dish. 

The Iguanas are very common at Surinam, as well as 
in the woods of Guiana, the environs of Cayenne, and 
New Spain. They are not so abundant in the Antilles, 
a great number having been destroyed, on account of 
the estimation in which their flesh is held. 



62 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 



THE UROMASTIX OF EGYPT, 

{Stellio spinipes.) 

This reptile, so singular from the large pointed scales 
with which its tail is covered, is found commonly in 
Egypt, frequenting ruins and heaps of stones, where it 
forms a kind of nest, or burrow, for its retreat : it has 
nothing remarkable in its history, living, like other small 
lizards, on insects and worms. 

THE SPINOUS AGAMA, (Affama spinosa.) 
The Agama is a native of South America and the 
West Indian Islands ; in Jamaica it is well known, 
frequenting moist places, and never issuing from its 




THK AGAMA. 



hiding-place until the evening. In general the whole 
of the Agamse have the body thick and covered with a 
loose skin, which can be inflated at the will of the 
animal, and which is covered throughout its whole extent 
with small tuberculous scales of various shapes, and 
more or less prominent. The tongue is not extensible, 
and the gullet is without teeth. The figure represented 



ORDER SAURIA. 



63 



in the engraving is from a specimen in the British 
Museum, and the colour is uniformly of a yellowish- 
green. 

THE MITRED BASILISK, {Basilicus mitratus.) 
The word Basilisk has been applied by old writers on 
natural history to a fabulous animal, which was supposed 
to possess the power of striking dead whatever being 
was rash enough to look upon it. The Basilisk Lizard 
inhabits South America, and is readily distinguished 
from most others by a crest, or ridge, which extends 
from the head along the back, and the whole extent 
of the tail : this ridge is formed of rays something 




THE MITRED BASILISK. 



like the fin of a fish. It has also a prominence re- 
sembling a small cap on the summit of its head, and 
this being supposed to bear some resemblance to a 
crown, gave the name to the reptile, the Greek word 
Basilikos meaning royal. It sometimes reaches the 
length of three feet, including the tail ; it lives among 
trees, and like most other lizards whose toes are divided, 
is able to climb with ease. It is not only a quick runner. 



64 THE LIZARD TRIBE. 

but, after filling its little cap with air, extending its 
ridge as much as possible, and inflating its body, so as 
to render itself specifically lighter, it springs from branch 
^0 branch with great agility. It is not, however, con- 
fined to woods, but is frequently found in the neigh- 
bourhood of waters, swimming well, and with great 
swiftness. Far from killing by its looks, like the fabulous 
animal whose name it bears, it may be looked upon with 
pleasure. When animating the solitude of the immense 
forests of America, it darts rapidly from branch to 
branch, or when reposing from its gambols, it appears 
pleased at being noticed, testifying its pleasure by 
various movements, inflating its crown, and producing 
gentle undulations in its beautiful ridge. 

THE HOUSE GECKO, {Lacerta gecko.) 

The Geckos, from their bloated and disagreeable appear- 
ance, have had many bad quahties attributed to them 
which they do not deserve. Their bite is said to 
cause a most virulent and incurable species of leprosy ; 
some say this disease is produced by eating provisions 
over which this reptile has walked. The truth is, that 
the only unpleasant quality they possess resides in the 
tubercles which line the inner part of their thighs, and 
which secrete an acrid humour, sufficiently powerful to 
produce a redness, or slight inflammation, on the skin, 
if the Gecko is allowed to walk over the hand. 

The Gecko has received its name from a peculiar 
cry which it utters, resembling that word. It is found 
in Egypt, India, the Molucca Islands, &c. The 
species we are describing is frequently found in houses, 
"where it creates great alarm among the inmates, from 
its supposed poisonous quahties. Cuvier says, "their 



ORDER SAURIA. 65 

walk is heavy and creeping, their eyes are very large, 
and the pupil contracts from the influence of light, like 
that of the cats: this constitutes thera nocturnal animals, 
and during dayhght they remain in obscure places/' 




THE HOUSE GECKO, 



Their eyelids, remarkably short, are withdrawn between 
the eye and the orbit, which gives their physiognomy a 
different appearance to that of the rest of the Saurians. 
The tail has naturally circular folds, but w4ien it has 
been broken off, it shoots again without folds, and even 
without tubercles, although the reptile was furnished 
with them in the first instance ; this has caused thj 
species sometimes to be multiplied. 

THE CHAMELEON, (Chamceleo vulgaris.) 

There are, perhaps, no animals whose names and attri- 
buted qualities have given rise to more fabulous stories, 
or have been more frequently used in comparison or 
allegory, than the Chameleon, the Dragon, the Basilisk, 
and the Salamander. TheChamelons, like the Agamse, 



66 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 



differ from the true Lizards by not having their bodies 
covered with scales. Their eyes have, as it were, but a 
single eyelid, and can be moved in any direction, inde- 
pendently of each other, so that one eye may be looking 
forwards while the other is directed backwards. Its eyes 
also are in continued action, while the vivacity of their 
motion, and their extreme brilliancy, is a strong contrast 
to the stupid look and sluggish movements of this cele- 
brated reptile. 




THE CHAMELEON. 



The tongue of this reptile is extremely singular in its 
formation ; it is capable of being lengthened to a great 
extent, for the purpose of seizing its prey, an object 
which the sluggish motions of the reptile would render 
impossible by any other means. The engravings repre- 
sent this organ in its contracted and in its extended 
state. The following account of its construction, and of 
the method in which it captures its prey, is extracted 
from a paper in the Transactions of the Irish Society : 



ORDER SAIIRIA. 



67 



When a fly so maimed as not to be able to 
escape, but still sufficiently vigorous to move 
its legs and wings, was so placed that its 
fluttering might attract the Chameleon's atten- 
tion, the animal advanced slowly until within 
tongue's reach of it, then steadying itself like 
a pointer, sometimes stretching out its tail, 
sometimes fixing it against an adjacent body, 
and directing both eyes steadfastly on the 
prey, it slowly opened its mouth, and suddenly 
darted forth its tongue, which advancing in a 
straight line, seldom failed of striking, with its 
glutinous cupped extremity, the object aimed 
at. Near the point of the tongue there is a 
small gland, which secretes a glutinous fluid : 
but even when the point happened to err, the 
prey did not always escape, sometimes ad- 
hering to the sides of the tongue. The tongue, 
thus laden, then retired into the mouth, but 
somewhat more tardily than in its advance. 
When projected the tongue acquired a thick- 
ness equal to the largest swan-quill, and a 
length not less sometimes than six or seven 
inches. Its consistence I attempted on one 
occasion to ascertain, by catching it between 
my fingers, when it imparted the feel of an 
elastic body, yielding slightly when pressed 
on, and springing back instantly to its former 
state, as soon as the pressure was removed. 
The experiment only caused a short delay in 
its progress, but neither altered its form or 
course, nor unfastened the prey from its 
extremity. 



68 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 




The tongue is probably the sole agent of the Cha- 
meleon in obtaining its food. Flies have often rested on 
its body, and though it has looked wistfully at thera, it 
has had no means of taking them. I 
have frequently observed them on its 
very lips, without any attempt being 
made to seize them. Even when 
placed before it, if not sufhciently 
distant to afford room for the neces- 
sary evolution of the tongue, the 
Chameleon was under the necessity 
of retiring for the purpose. 

If the tiy happened to be on a flat 
surface, so placed as to oblige the 
creature to direct its tongue perpendicularly against the 
surface, the cupped extremity would adhere, for a short 
time, in the same manner as a child's leather sucker 
does to a stone. But the animal seemed most annoyed 
when seizing its prey on the sides of its cage, which 
was made of paper, the down of the paper sticking to 
the mucus on the tongue. On one occasion when two 
Chameleons attempted, at the same moment, to catch a 
fly placed between them, their tongues struck against 
each other, and remained connected for a short time. 

As it is. natural to expect in animals, natives of warm 
climates, the presence of heat and sunshine seemed 
necessary to render them sufficiently active to secure 
their prey ; when cold or sickly they seemed unequal to 
the effort. When irritated, and the reptile was very 
subject to anger, its tongue, as well as its skin, gave 
evidence of the same excitement, and it swelled out 
prodigiously in the throat. 

It was formerly supposed that the Chameleon's tongue 



ORDER SAURIA. 69 

was directed to its prey by the action of a series of 
muscles; but the dissections of Mr. Houlston, the author 
of the above account, show that the cause of its extension 
is the injection. of a quantity of blood into the organ, 
and not, as in the case of the tongue of the Woodpecker 
by the direct aid of muscular cords. 

The toes on the feet of the Chameleon are opposed to 
each other, two being directed backwards and three 
forwards, so as to enable the creature to take a firm 
hold of the branch of the tree on which it is crawling. 
Its movements, from their slow and cautious character, 
are almost ludicrous, for it never lifts one foot to proceed 
in advance, before it has cautiously ascertained that the 
other three have a secure hold ; it then, with a slowness 
like that of the hand of a clock, carefully puts forth one 
of its awkward legs, and grasps a portion of the branch 
a little in advance. It does not, like Lizards of a more 
active nature, seek for its prey, but remains seated, for 
days together, on the same branch, patiently waiting 
for any insect that may come within its reach; from the 
small quantity of food it seems to devour, and its great 
inactivity, the fabulous story of its living on air has 
arisen. 

But the most singular stories which have been told of 
this reptile, relate to its supposed power of changing the 
colour of its skin, according to that of the object on 
which it is resting. That many changes take place in 
its colour is undoubtedly true ; but it is an error to sup- 
pose that they have any reference to the colours of the 
objects near which they are placed. The Chameleon, 
like many other reptiles, has the power of inflating its 
body considerably; this it does when alarmed or irri- 
tated ; at this time, its skin becomes so far distended as 



70 THE LIZ\RD TRIBE. 

to be nearly transparent; and its lungs being formed 
of very large cells, the rush of blood to or from this 
organ is plainly visible through the serai-transparent 
skin. 

In its natural state, and when not disquieted, its colour 
is a fine green, with the exception of some parts, which 
present a reddish-brown or grayish-white; when in anger, 
its colour passes to a deep blue-green, to a yellow-green, or 
to a gray, more or less dark. If it is unwell, its colour 
becomes yellowish-gray, or that sort of yellow which we 
see in dead leaves; this is the colour of almost all 
Chameleons which are brought into cold countries, and 
all of which very speedily die. In general, the colours 
of Chameleons are more lively and variable when the 
■weather is warm, or the sun shines with great brilliancy. 
This change in their hue has been made the foundation 
of a well-known fable, which tends to show the folly of 
what we call positiveness in conversation. 

Two travellers of such a cast. 
As o'er Arabia's wilds they past. 
And on their way in friendly chat 
Now talked of this, and then of that. 
Discoursed awhile, 'mongst other matter, 
Of the Chameleon's form and nature. 
" A stranger animal," cries one, 
"Sure never lived beneath the sun : 
A lizard's body lean and long, 
A fish's head, a serpent's tongue. 
Its tooth with triple claw disjoined ; 
And what a length of tail behind! 
How slow its pace ! and then its hue — 
Who ever saw so fine a blue ?" 

" Hold there," the other quick replies, 
" Tis green— I saw it with these eyes, 



"^ ORDER SAURIA. 71 

As late with open mouth it lay. 
And warmed it in the sunny ray ; 
Stretched at its ease the beast I viewed, 
And saw it eat the air for food." 

"I've seen it, Sir, as well as you, 
And must again affirm it blue ; 
At leisure I the beast surveyed 
Extended in the cooling shade." 

" 'Tis green, 'tis green, Sir, I assure ye ;" 
" Green !" cries the other in a fury — 
" Why, Sir— d'ye think I've lost my eyesl" 
" 'Twere no great loss," the friend replies ; 
" For if they always serve you thus. 
You'll find them of but little use." 

So high at last the contest rose. 
From words they almost came to blows : 
When luckily came by a third ; 
To him the question they referred ; 
And begged he'd tell 'em, if he knew, 
Whether the thing was green or blue. 

"Sirs," cries the umpire, " cease your pother— 
The creature's neither one nor t'other. 
I caught the animal last night. 
And viewed it o'er by candle-light : 
I marked it well— 'twas black as jet — 
You stare— but, Sirs, I've got it yet. 
And can produce it." " Pray, Sir, do : 
I'll lay my life the thing is blue." 
"And I'll be sworn that when you've seen 
The reptile you'll pronounce him green." 
" Well then, at once to ease the doubt," 
Replies the man, " I'll turn him out : 
And when before your eyes I've set him. 
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him." 

He said ; then full before their sight 
Produced the beast, and, lo !— 'twas white '. 
Both stared, the man looked wond'rous wise— 
** My children," the Chameleon cries, 



72 THE LIZA.RD TRIBE. 

(Then first the creature found a tongue,) 
"You all are right, and all are wrong : 
When next you talk of what you view. 
Think others see as well as you : 
Nor wonder, if you find that none 
Prefers your eye-sight to his own." 

THE FLYING DRAGON, (Draco volans.) 

From early associations, the word Dragon produces in 
the mind an idea of a creature of great power, and of 
some monstrous form. The ancients and the moderns 
have all spoken of the Dragon. Among the earlier 
idolatrous nations it became an object of worship, and 
formed part of their mythology, the minister of the will 
of their gods, and the guardian of their treasures. It 
has been celebrated by poets, and represented by them 
in extraordinary colours. It has even been mentioned 
seriously in historical works, described by all, every, 
where celebrated, everywhere feared, shown in various^ 
forms, but always invested with great power, uniting in 
one body1;he rapid flight of the eagle, the strength of 
the lion, and the magnitude of the largest serpents. 
The tales of its marvellous powers amused the leisure 
of those who wished to see truth adorned with the orna- 
ments of an agreeable fiction. But, instead of a being 
of this terrific and fantastic nature, what do we find it in 
reality ? * An animal as small as it is weak ; an inno- 
cent and quiet Lizard, possessing less power of doing 
harm than any of its tribe, furnished simply with the 
means of moving with great agility, and springing from 
branch to branch in the forests it inhabits. 

The formidable name given to this reptile arises from 
a fanciful resemblance to its fabulous namesake, by its 



ORDER SAURIA. 



73 



possessing a species of winigs, with a lizard's body, and 
on account of its habits agreeing, in some measure, with 
those of a serpent. The wings are formed of six carti- 
laginous rays, fixed horizontally on each side of the 
spine of the back. The membrane with which these 
rays, as well as its whole body, are covered, is provided 
with scales. These wings are formed something like 
the fins of fishes, and enable the reptile to break its fall 
when leaping from a considerable height. The Dragon 
is also remarkable for three lengthened and pointed 
pouches which decorate the under-part of the throat, 
and which it can enlarge at will. 




THE FLYING DKAOON-. 

Very unlike the Dragon of fable, it passes its life 
innocently on trees, flitting from branch to branch in 



74 



THE LIZARD TRIBE. 



search of ants, flies, and other insects, on which it feeds. 
When springing from one tree to another, it strikes the 
air with its wings, so as to produce a very distinct sound, 
and it sometimes will clear a space of thirty yards at a 
leap. Species nearly resembling each other are found 
in Europe, Asia, and America. In the water this crea- 
ture also avails itself of its wings for the purpose of 
swimming, and its tail compressed sideways assists it in 
this act. 

THE SKINK, iScincus officinalis.) 

This lizard was formerly famous for the medicinal 
virtues which it was supposed to possess. The common 
Skink is about six or eight inches in length, and is 
found in Nubia, Syria, and the adjoining countries ; it 
is found also on the coast of Barbary, and on seme of 




THE SKINK. 



the Grecian Islands. When alarmed, according to 
Bruce, it digs itself a hole in the sand with so much 
promptitude, that one would think it rather found the 
opportunity of disappearing in a retreat already existing, 
than the means of preparing one for itself. 

The Arabian physicians and their followers considered 
it a sovereign remedy for many disorders. Pliny attri- 



ORDER SAURIA. 



75 



buted to it the power of curing the wounds made by- 
poisoned arrows, and it is still recommended by phy- 
sicians in the East, for cutaneous diseases. On this 
account it is sought with great eagerness by the in- 
habitants of the deserts that surround Egypt, who, after 
drying it, send it to Cairo and Alexandria as an article 
of merchandise. 

THE FRILLED LIZARD. 

{Clamydosaurus Kingii.) ■ 

This singular creature was brought from New Holland 
by the expedition under the command of Captain King; 
it is engraved from a specimen in the British Museum : 
nothing whatever is known of its habits, and we have 




THE FRILLED LIZARD. 



introduced it here, merely to show the mfinite variety 
of forms assumed by animated nature, the reason of 
which, in many cases, is inscrutable to our understand- 
ings, but all of which were, no doubt, ordered by a kind 
Providence for the benefit of the individual. 

f2 



76 THE LIZARD TRIBE. 

THE TWO-LEGGED LIZARD, 

(Lacerta bipes.) 

This is the last of the Lizard tribes we intend to notice. 
In its figure, and in its possessing but two short fore-legs. 




THE TWO-LKOGED LIZARD. 



it approaches the Snakes, which form the next order~of 
reptiles . Most of these remarkable creatures are found 
in New Holland and South America. 



' SERPENTS. Older Ophidia. 




A CARELESS glance at the form of a Serpent, while 
stretched on the ground and in a state of inactivity, 
would induce a beholder to believe, that the reptile, being 
•unprovided with limbs of any description, was conse- 
quently unable to move, except with extreme difficulty. 
No animal, however, is equally quick in its movements, 
or can transport itself from place to place with so much 
rapidity as a Serpent ; when in motion it seems indeed 
scarcely to touch the ground over which it glides. If it 
wishes to raise itself from the surface, it attains, without 
difficulty, the summit of the highest trees, twining 
round the trunk, and gliding upwards with so much 
quickness, that the eye can scarcely follow it. 



78 SERPENTS. 

The ancients employed the figure of the Serpent in 
many of their emblematical representations of the attri- 
butes of their divinities. Its supposed healing power, 
or its wisdom, caused it to be employed as a symbol of 
Esculapius, who presided over medicine. Two Serpents 
and two wings (cunning and swiftness,) formed the 
caduceus of Mercury, the messenger of the pagan 
deities. A Serpent, with its tail in its mouth in the 
form of a ring, was emblematical of eternity, on account 
of the long life of the reptile, and the form of the circle, 
which has neither beginning nor ending. 

The Serpents seem to hold an intermediate place 
between the Lizards and Fishes ; some of the Snakes 
resembling, both in habits and in form, the eels and the 
muriBnse. Quickly, however, as a Serpent glances, as it 
were, over the surface of the earth, many parts of its 
body are constantly in contact with the ground, even 
when it seems scarcely to touch it ; so that the name of 
reptile is properly more applicable to the animals of this 
order, than to any other creatures of the same class. 
The total absence of feet, or limbs of any kind, to assist 
their movements, and the peculiar form of the Serpents, 
causes them to be readily distnguislied, even by their 
outward appearance, from any other vertebral animals. 

The species are very numerous, and we shall be only 
able to notice a few of the most prominent. Some reach 
an enormous size, as much as thirty or even forty feet 
in length ; they are all covered with scales or scale-like 
tubercles, which vary much in form and size. The dif- 
ferent species have various combinations of these scales ; 
some have four kinds, some three, others again but two, 
and there are others in which the scales are of one sort 
over the whole body. From the different numbers and 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 79 

various combinations of these scales, we are enabled to 
distinguish genera, and even species, from each other. 
Serpents are easily killed, if firmly seized immediately 
behind the skiill, as, from the peculiar formation of the 
bones of the head, the spinal marrow is at that spot not 
well protected. 

The skeleton of the Serpent is more simple than that 
of any other animal with a vertebral column, having no 
provision for feet, as in the mammalia ; for wings, as in 
birds ; or for fins, as in fishes. It is composed entirely 
of a series of vertebrse, reaching from the skull to the 
extremity orf the tail, and these vertebrae are so formed 
as to allow the animal to twist its body in every direction 
without difficulty ; the ribs also, in many species, are 
extremely numerous, and extend nearly the whole length 
of the body. The flat scales which are placed on the 
belly of the Serpents, are each provided with a peculiar set 
of muscles, by which they can be moved singly, so that, 
when brought into action, they act like so many feet. 

But Serpents have another and more powerful means 
of motion ; by forming a part of their body into the are 

of a circle, thus, — p%/v/^^^ they can, by suddenly 
straightening it, and keeping one end of the arch firmly 
against the ground, dart forward a considerable distance 
with great force. Some kinds of Serpents, when intend- 
ing to spring from one point to another, or to dart upon 
their prey, roll themselves up in a spiral form, with the 
head elevated, and suddenly uncoihng, spring forward 
with astonishing force. 

Like other reptiles, the animals belonging to this 
class are most abundant in hot climates, and are fond 
of frequenting impervious woods and marshy lands. 



80 ' THE SNAKE TRIBE. 



THE SNAKE TRIBE. 

THE BLIND WORM, {Anguis fragilis.) 

The Snakes differ in their anatomy from the rest of 
this order, in having, in some species, a rudimentary indi- 
cation of the bones of the shoulder, thus showing their 
connexion with the Lizards, and on this account^ the 
Snakes are placed at the head of this order. 

The Blind Worm is one of this division, and is very 
well known in all the countries of the old continent, 
from Sweden even to the Cape of Good Hope. The 
upper part of the head is covered with nine . • .^ 
scales, arranged in four rows, in the following order • I • 
The scales with which it is covered, both on the upper 
and under side of the body, are extremely small, and 
this distinguishes the Snakes from the true Serpents: 
the eyes of the Blind Worm are extremely small, but 
very bright. 

It was formerly believed that the bite of this reptile 
was poisonous, but far from this being the case, it has 
been proved by experiment, that no endeavours to irri- 
tate it will induce the creature even to open its mouth. 
When alarmed, it contracts its muscles violently, and 
stiffens its body to such an extent, as to be easily broken 
by a fall, or a blow from a stick ; from this it takes its 
name, Anguis fragilis y the Brittle Snake. It feeds on 
worms, beetles, frogs, and young rats. It appears to be 
one of the hardiest of the Serpent kind, and has some- 
times been seen raising its head above the surface of the 
snow in the winter season. In length, it varies from 
twelve to eighteen inches. 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 



81 



THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

"The family of the true Serpents," says Cuvier, "which 
is hy far the most numerous, comprehends the genera 
without sternum, (breast-bone,) or even the vestige of 
shoulder, but whose ribs surround a great part of the 
circumference of the trunk ; many of them have under 
the skin the indication of a hinder limb, the extremity 
of which even appears in some externally, in the form 
of a little crook." To give some general idea of the ar- 
rangement of the true Serpents, we may separate them 
into^^Double Walkers, Boas, and Vipers. 

THE DOUBLE WALKER, (Amphisb(snaalba.) 







AMHHISB.TEXA FULIGIXOSA. 



In the Amphisbsense the scales are of a square form, 
and arranged in circles round the body. The head and 
tail of these creatures are so much alike, in some species, 
that it is difficult to distinguish the one from the other, 
and the peculiar arrangement of the scales enables them 
to move either backwards or forwards with equal ease. 
Their appearance, and their peculiar manner of moving. 



82 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

occasioned a belief that they had two heads. Many 
other ridiculous things were also believed of their power 
of uniting after being cut in pieces, and even after 
these parts had been dried in the sun, provided they 
were exposed to a shower of rain. They are generally 
natives of South America, and the great islands in the 
neighbouring seas. 

THE BOA, (Boa constrictor.) 
The Boas may be said to include all those Serpents in 
which the upper part of the body and the tail are furnished 
with transverse scaly bands of a single piece, and 
which have neither spur nor rattle at the end of the tail, 
although the word boa is commonly used only in refer- 
ence to the larger species. The Boa Constrictor is among 
Serpents, what the Elephant and the Lion are among 
quadrupeds. Like the former, it surpasses in size all 
the rest of its order, and equals the latter in strength ; 
it generally reaches the length of twenty feet, and if we 
are to believe the accounts of travellers, it has been seen 
as much as forty or fifty feet long. 

The Serpent that Pliny speaks of as having retarded 
the march of the Roman army on the northern shores 
of Africa, is supposed to have belonged to this genus. 
According to the Roman naturalist, this Serpent was 
120 feet in length, but although there is reason to 
believe that there is some error in the account of its 
size, we must still be obliged to acknowledge the 
existence of an enormous Serpent, which, pressed by 
hunger, attacked the Roman soldiers when they wan- 
dered from their camp, and which these conquerors of 
the world found themselves unable to destroy, without 
employing the engines of war with which they over- 
turned the walls of their enemies. 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 



83 



The head of the Boa is extremely grand, the crown 
of the skull being wide, the front elevated and divided by 
a longitudinal groove, the orbits of the eyes prominent, 
and the eyes themselves extremely large. The opening 
to the throat is capacious, and the teeth long and sharp, 
but the creature is without poison-fangs. It is distin 
guished as much by the beauty of its scales, as by its 
immense length. 




Looking at the great size of the Boa, we need not be 
astonished at its prodigious strength. We may easily 
conceive how an animal thirty feet in length, may 
suffocate, and crush within the multiplied folds of its 



84 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

body, animals of the largest size. Its great power, 
dreadful strength, and gigantic size, together with the 
brilliancy of its scales, and the beauty of its colours, 
have filled uncivilized nations with a kind of admiration 
mixed with awe, and we therefore frequently find it the 
object of their worship. 

In attacking its prey, the Boa precipitates itself 
suddenly on its victim, and, twining round it in 
enormous folds, compresses it with such force, that the 
bones are instantly crushed, and it is soon suffocated 
by the enormous reptile. If the size of the animal 
is too great to allow the Boa to swallow it, in spite 
of its enormous throat, the facility with which it can 
enlarge its jaws, and the power of extension with which 
nearly the whole of its body is endued, it endeavours, by 
further efforts, to reduce it to a proper size, and, failing 
in this, drags its prey to the foot of some large tree, 
round the trunk of which it entwines itself, and placing 
its victim between the tree and its own body, redoubles 
its efforts, and soon succeeds in moulding it, as it were, 
into a proper form. Then untwining its folds, it proceeds 
to swallow its meal at leisure. To prepare for this, and 
also to make it slip down its throat more easily, it covers 
the whole body over with a slimy substance, which at 
this time is secreted in great abundance. Occasionally 
the morsel is too large to be entirely swallowed, until 
the part which first entered the monster s mouth is 
digested ; at this time, gorged to repletion, it falls an 
easy prey to its pursuers. Many dreadful accounts are on 
record of the ravages committed by these large snakes. 

A circumstance once occurred to an English officer 
commanding a small out-station in the East Indies, 
which may be considered not undeserving of record. 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 85 

He was early one morning taking his customary 'ramble, 
before the sun had attained a sufficient elevation in the 
heavens to drink up the freshness of the dews which 
glittered around, when, upon passing a small ruined 
building, his attention was suddenly arrested by the ap- 
pearance of something with which his eye did not seem 
to be at all familiar, moving in a deep recess of the ruin. 
He approached it cautiously, fearing, as he could not dis- 
tinguish the object very clearly, that it might be a tiger, 
or some other animal equally dangerous. Upon closer 
inspection, he discovered it to be an immense Snake, 
filling, with its voluminous folds, the whole recess. De- 
termined at once on its destruction, but knowing that he 
could do nothing single-handed, against a creature at once 
so active and powerful, he made the best of his way to the 
guard-house, and ordered half a dozen soldiers to the 
spot, armed with their muskets, and having their 
bayonets fixed. They were six strong, determined 
Englishmen. They made no objection to encounter so 
unusual an enemy ; on the contrary, they were pleased 
at the thought of the sport, and, being formed in line, 
advanced steadily to the attack as soon as the word of 
command was given, and simultaneously transfixed the 
monster with their bayonets, firmly pinning it against 
the wall. Being so roughly disturbed from its slumbers, 
the enormous creature uncoiled itself in a few seconds, 
and such was its prodigious strength, that, with one 
mighty sweep of its tail, it dashed five of its assailants 
to the earth. The sixth, who was near to its head, 
maintained his position, and still kept his terrific adver- 
sary against the wall, adroitly avoiding the lashings of 
its ponderous tail, by stooping or dodging as circum- 
stances required, until the animal, exhausted with pain 



86 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

and exertion, lay extended at full length upon the earth, 
almost motionless. By this time, the five soldiers who 
had been struck "down, having recovered their feet, 
wounded the vanquished snake with the butt-end of their 
muskets upon the extremity of the tail, where the 
inosculation of the vertebrae is less firm, thus disabling 
it so completely that it was soon despatched. It measured 
upwards of fifty feet in length, and was, full three in 
circumference. 

In a letter printed in the German Ephemerides, we 
have an account of a combat between an enormous 
Serpent and a buffalo, by a person who assures us he 
was himself a spectator. The Serpent had for some time 
been waiting near the brink of a pool in expectation of 
its prey, when a buff'alo was the first that offered. 
Having darted upon the affrighted animal, it instantly 
began to wrap itself round with its voluminous twistings, 
and at every twist, the bones of the buff'alo were heard 
to crack with a loud report. It was in vain the poor 
animal bellowed and struggled ; its enormous enemy 
entwined it too closely to allow it to get free, till at 
length every bone in its frame was completely crushed; 
it then proceeded to swallow it in the manner we have 
already related. 

In the Dutch colonies of the East Indies, Andre 
Cleyer purchased of the hunters of the country an 
enormous Serpent, in the body of which he found a deer 
of middle age, altogether entire, with its skin unbroken. 
In another individual of this species, examined by the 
same traveller, a wild goat was found with its horns, 
and another had swallowed a porcupine with its quills. 

The Adders, a division of the Serpent tribe, compre- 
hend, according to Cuvier, all Serpents, venomous or 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 87 

not, in which the plates on the under- part of the tail 
are divided into two ; that is to say, ranged in pairs. 
Independently of the separation of venomous species, 
their number is so enormous, that recourse has been 
had to various characters to subdivide them. The 
Python, the Great Adder of the Sunda Islands, is 
one of this group ; it nearly attains the size of the 
Boa. 

We cannot better describe the characters of the 
venomous Serpents, than by employing the words of 
Cuvier. "The true venomous Serpents, or those with 
isolated fangs, have a very peculiar construction in some 
of the bones of their jaws. The bones of the upper 
jaw are small, and supported on a long foot-stalk, and 
are, at the same time, very moveable. In these bones 
is fixed a sharp tooth, pierced by a small canal, which 
gives issue to a liquor, secreted by a considerable gland, 
situated under the eye. It is this fluid, poured into the 
wound by the tooth, which carries destruction into the 
bodies of animals, and produces eflfects more or less 
fatal, according to the species of the Serpent from which 
it comes. This tooth is concealed in a fold of the gum 
when the Serpent does not choose to make use of it; 
and there are behind it several germs, or young teeth, 
destined to replace it, if it should be broken in a wound. 
Naturalists have named these teeth moveable fangs, but 
it is, more properly speaking, the bones in which they 
are fixed which move. All these venomous species, 
whose habits are well known, produce their young alive, 
because the eggs disclose them before they are laid. 
This it is that has caused them to receive the general 
name of vipers, a contraction of the word viviparous." 
The venomous Serpents have generally the head very 



88 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

wide behind ; and this causes the neck to appear much 
smaller than it really is. 

THE COMMON SNAKE, (Coluber natn'x.) 

This is the largest of English serpents, and sometimes 
exceeds four feet in length ; it is perfectly harmless, 
but possesses a means of defence which is very annoy- 
ing, when unexpectedly resorted to. If irritated or 
alarmed, a most foetid humour exudes from beneath its 
scales. The Snake preys upon frogs, insects, worms, 
mice, and young birds, and is said to be particularly 
fond of milk. Several instances are on record of its 
ha\ing been, to a certain extent, tamed, that is, so far 
as to come from its hiding-place at the call of its 
master. In some countries it is eaten, and is considered 
exceedingly savoury. The fat is also used as an out- 
ward application in some cases of disease, and soups 
and broths made from its flesh are reckoned useful in 
cases of scrofula, &c. It has sometimes been called 
the Water-Snake, from its frequenting the banks of 
streams. 

THE RATTLE-SNAKE, (Crotalus horridus.) 

This terrific reptile is found in great abundance on the 
continent of America, and, if its instincts induced it to 
make use of the dreadful means of destruction and self- 
defence which it possesses, it would become so great a 
scourge as to render the country in which it is found 
almost uninhabitable ; but, except when violently irri- 
tated, or for the purpose of self-preservation, it seldom 
employs the fatal power bestowed upon it. The venom 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 



89 



of the Rattle-snake is, perhaps, more virulent than that 
of any other creature of the same class, but experience 
teaches us that its effects are modified by several cir- 
cumstances, particularly the heat of the climate, and the 
season of the year. In all hot countries, the bite of 
Serpents is found to be much more dangerous than in 
more temperate regions; and much depends upon the 
time that has elapsed since the reptile last employed its 
poison-fangs. 




THE RATTLE-SNAKE. 



The power said to be possessed by the Rattle-snake 
of fascinating its prey, has been the theme of many an 
astonishing tale, and the possession of this faculty is 
still believed by many. There is no doubt that the 
smaller animals on which the reptile subsists are alarmed 
in the presence of their known enemy, and that fear may 
cause them to lose their self-possession, and thus they 
are more readily seized by their cunning opponent. 

The Rattle-snake, in general, flies from the sight of 
man ; but, if this was not the case, it could with ease be 

G 



90 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

avoided, for, unlike the harmless Snake of England, its 
movements are extremely sluggish. If, however, the 
creature is alarmed, and sufficiently near to reach the 
intruder at one spring, much caution may be requisite 
to avoid the attack. 

The name Rattle-snake is given to it on account of 
the very surprising apparatus with which the extremity 
of its tail is furnished. This consists in a series of 
hollow horn-like substances, placed loosely one behind 
the other, in such a manner as to produce a kind of rat- 
tling noise, when the tail is shaken ; and as the animal 
whenever it is enraged always carries its tail raised up, 
and produces at the same time a tremulous motion in it, 
this provision of nature gives timely notice of its 
dangerous approach. It is said that the number of 
pieces of which this rattle is formed points out the age 
of the possessor, who acquires a fresh piece every year. 
Some specimens have been found with as many as from 
forty to fifty, thus indicating a great age ; and, as the 
animal is very slow in its growth, it is a fact we should 
be led to expect, for the same rule holds good through- 
out all nature. 

The duration of life in an animal always bears a 
certain proportion to the time required for its attaining 
maturity. The age of the enormous whale is said to 
extend to one thousand years. It is the same, also, in 
the vegetable world : the oak does not arrive at maturity 
till it has weathered a hundred winters; and in the 
first year of its growth, it scarcely attains the height of 
three inches, while, on the other hand, the short-lived 
gourd grows to the length of thirty feet in a few months. 

The poison of the Rattle-snake preserves its power, 
after the death of the animal which has secreted it, and 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 91 

fixes in linen with considerable energy. It is said even 
to remain active after the linen has been washed. It 
equally retains its properties in the fangs after the death 
of the reptile. 

A man was bitten through his boots by a Rattle- 
snake, and very quickly died of the bite ; these boots 
were sold successively to two other 'persons, who also 
died, because the extremity of one of the venomous 
fangs had remained in the leather. However extraordi- 
naiy such a fact may appear, its possibility has been 
confirmed by experiment. 

THE COMMON VIPER, {Coluber verus.) 

The Common Viper is the only venomous reptile 
with which Great Britain is infested, and, notwith- 
standing the high state of cultivation in this country, 
which always tends to the extermination of wild 
animals, it is still far from uncommon. The usual 
length of this reptile is about two feet. The poison- 
fangs of the Viper resemble those of the Rattle-snake 
in every thing except size. Lacepede, describing the 
Common Viper, says, " As if it felt the dreadful power 
of the poison it secretes, its looks are bold ; when irritated 
its eyes sparkle brightly, its action is animated, and 
opening its mouth, it darts forth its tongue, which is 
commonly of a gray colour, cleft in twain, and composed 
of two little fleshy cylinders adhering to each other for 
nearly two-thirds of their length ; the animal's agitated 
movements are so rapid, that it sparkles, as it were, and 
appears like a phosphorescent body." 

The tongue was formerly considered as a kind of dart 
with which the Viper pierced its prey, and the venom 

g2 



92 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

being supposed to lie at its extremity, it was, on this 
account, compared to a poisoned arrow. This error arose 
from the Viper always moving its tongue rapidly when 
about to inflict a wound. The Viper, like the Rattle- 
snake and most other Serpents, is able to enlarge its 
throat considerably, when swallowing its food. During 
severe frosts, Vipers are found in considerable numbers 
twisted or knotted together, beneath stones, in holes in 
ancient walls, and other sheltered places. The Vipers 
seldom attain their full size until after the lapse of six 
or seven years. 

The fatal properties of this reptile's bite have been 
much exaggerated. Fontana, who made more than six 
thousand experiments, proved that the bite of a single 
Viper was sufficient to kill a mouse, a pigeon, or other 
small animal; but many repeated bites were necessary 
to cause the death of an ox or a horse. The power of 
the venom also varies according to the greater or less 
heat of the climate, and several other causes. 

Although the poison of a Viper, when introduced 
directly into the blood by a wound, produces serious 
effects, yet it is perfectly innoxious if merely swallowed, 
supposing no fracture of the skin to exist, which in fact 
would be equivalent to a wound. This fact appears to 
have been known to the ancients, and several romantic 
tales of affection are told, in which the life of persons 
bitten by Serpents has been saved ; the poison being 
.extracted from the wound by the mouth of some attached 
friend or relative. In the Pharsalia of LuCAN, the 
same behef is acted on : 

And now with fiercer heat the desert glows. 
And mid-day beams now aggravate their woes; 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 93 

When lo ! a spring, amid the sandy plain, 
Shows its clear mouth to cheer the fainting train ; 
But round the guarded brink in thick array 
Dire Aspics rolled their congregated way, 
While in mid-wave the horrid Dipsas lay. 
Blank horror seized their veins, and, at the view. 
Back from the fount the troops recoiling flew; 
When, wise above the crowd, by fear unquelled, 
Their awful leader thus their dread dispelled, — 
' Let not vain terrors thus your minds enslave. 
Nor dream the serpent-brood can taint the wave : 
Urged by the fatal fang their poison kills, 
But mixes harmless with the bubbling rills.' 
Dauntless he spoke, and bending as he stood. 
Drank with cool courage the suspected flood. 

As to the effect of the bite of a Viper on the human 
frame, it may be safely said, that very few cases occur 
in which it terminates in death. The fatal effects of a 
Serpent's bite are not so constant as it is imagined, even 
in the case of other species of venomous reptiles. In 
1827, at a sitting of the Academy of Sciences, Professor 
Box declared, that he had seen the cases of more than 
thirty persons who had been bitten by Rattle-snakes, 
not a single one of whom had died in consequence. 

THE CERASTES, or HORNED VIPER, ^ 

( Coluber cerastes.) 
This Viper is common in Egypt and Abyssinia; it is 
of a grayish colour, keeps itself concealed in the sand, 
and is easily distinguished by a small pointed bone 
over each eyebrow. It attains the length of about 
two feet. The singularly-horned head of this Serpent, 
and the danger of its bite, caused it to be noticed by the 
ancients in very early times. The best modern account 
of this reptile is that given by Bruce. The Cerastes 



94 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

he notices as being extremely fond of heat, *'for though 
the sun was burning hot all day, when we made a fire 
at night, by digging a hole and burning wood and char- 
coal therein, it was seldom we had fewer than half a 
dozen of these Vipers, who burn' themselves to death 
by approaching the embers." 

" The Cerastes moves with great rapidity, and in all 
directions, forward, backward, and sideways. When it 
intends to surprise any one who is at too great a dis- 
tance, it creeps with its side towards the person, and 
its head averted, till, judging the distance, it turns 
round, springs forward, and fastens on the nearest part 
of the victim's body ; for it is not true that the Cerastes 
does not leap or spring." A great many anecdotes are 
given by the same writer, of a property said to be pos- 
sessed by some of the natives of these countries, of 
handling with impunity this very dangerous reptile, and 
of even allowing themselves to be bitten. At present, 
the cause of this is quite unexplained ; although there 
is little doubt there was at least some juggling in the 
transactions. We shall give two anecdotes in the 
author's own words. " I will not hesitate to aver, that 
I have seen at Cairo (and this may be seen daily with- 
out trouble or expense,) a man who came from above the 
Catacombs, where the pits of the mummy-birds are 
found, who has taken a Cerastes in his naked hand, from 
a number of others lying at the bottom of a tub, has 
put it upon his bare head, covered it with the common 
red cap he wears, then taken it out, put it in his breast, 
and tied it about his neck like a necklace ; it has then 
been applied to a hen, which it has bitten, and which has 
died in a few minutes ; and to complete the experiment, 
the man has taken it by the neck, and beginning at the 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 05 

tail, has eaten it as one would do a carrot, or a stick of 
celery, without any seeming repugnance." 

"I saw a Cerastes at Cairo, in the house of Julian 
de Rosa, crawl up the side of a box, in which there 
were many others, and there lie still, as if hiding itself, 
till one of the people who brought them to us came 
near it, and though in a very disadvantageous posture, 
sticking as it were perpendicular to the side of the box, 
it leaped nearly the distance of three feet, and fastened 
between the man's fore-finger and thumb, so as to bring 
the blood ; the fellow showed no signs either of pain or 
fear, and we kept him with us full four hours,^without 
his applying any sort of remedy, or seeming inclined to 
do so. To satisfy myself that the animal was in its 
perfect state, I made the man hold it by the neck, so as 
to force it to open its mouth and lacerate the thigh of a 
pelican, a bird I had tamed, as big as a swan. The 
bird died in about thirteen minutes, though it was appa- 
rently affected in about fifty seconds, and we cannot 
think this a fair trial, because a few minutes before it 
had bitten the man, and so discharged a part of its 
poison, and it was made to scratch the pelican by force, 
without any irritation or action of its own." 

These tales are really very wonderful, and no doubt 
the facts appeared as Bruce has related them, but it is a 
pity he had not been a systematic naturalist, as he then 
could have seen whether the poison-fangs had been really 
removed or not, and he might possibly have detected 
some other trick. We are naturally disinclined to 
believe the possession of such peculiar faculties, and 
if the effects are the result of scientific research, or 
of some antidote, it certainly does appear strange, that 
the possessors of the secret should be satisfied with a. 



96 



THE SERPENT TRIBE. 



miserable pittance and the life of vagabonds, when they 
might obtain by its disclosure a princely reward. 

THE HOODED SNAKE, iColubernaja.) 
The Cobra di Capelloy or Hooded Snake, is a native of 
the East Indies, and one of the most venomous reptiles 
of its class, its bite generally proving mortal in less than 
an hour. It is called the Hooded Snake, from being 
enabled to inflate the skin of the head to such an extent, 
as to cause it to appear something like a hood. It has 




THE HOODED SNAKE. 



also received the name of the Spectacled Snake, from a 
mark resembling a pair of spectacles on the back of its 
head. These are the Snakes called in India Dancing 
Snakes, and they are carried about in baskets through- 
out Hindoostan, and procure a maintenance for a set of 
people who play a few simple notes on the flute, with 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 97 

which the Snakes seem much delighted, and keep time 
by a graceful motion of the head ; raising about half 
their length from the ground, and following the music 
with gentle curves, like the undulating lines of a Swans 
neck. 

Forbes, in his Oriental Memoirs, says, " It is a 
well-attested fact, that when a house is infested with 
these Snakes, and some others of the same genus, which 
destroy poultry and small domestic animals, these musi- 
cians are sent for ; who, by playing on a flageolet, find 
out their hiding-places, and charm them to destruction ; 
for no sooner do the Snakes hear the music, than they 
come softly from their retreat, and are easily taken. I 
imagine that these musical Snakes were known in 
Palestine, from the Psalmist comparing 'the ungodly to 
the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears, and refuseth to 
hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely/ 

*' When the music ceases, the Snakes appear motion- 
less : but if not immediately covered up in the basket, 
the spectators are subject to fatal accidents. Among 
my drawings is that of a Cobra di Capello, which danced 
for an hour on the table while I painted it ; during 
which time I frequently handled it, to observe the beauty 
of its spots, and especially the spectacles on the hood, 
not doubting but that its venomous fangs had been 
previously extracted. But the next morning, my upper 
servant, who was a zealous Mussulman, came to me in 
great haste, and desired I would instantly retire, and 
praise the Almighty for my good fortune : not under- 
standing his meaning, I told him, I had already per- 
formed my devotions, and had not so many stated prayers 
as the followers of his prophet. Mahomet then informed 
me, that while purchasing some fruit at the bazaar, he 



98 THE SERPENT TRIBE. 

observed the man who had been with me the preceding 
evening, entertaining the country people with his dancing 
snakes : they, according to their usual custom, sat on the 
ground around him ; when, either from the music stop- 
ping too suddenly, or from some other cause irritating 
the vicious reptile which I had so often handled, it 
darted at the throat of a young woman, and inflicted a 
wound of which she died in half an hour. Mahomet 
once more repeated his advice for praise and thanks- 
giving to Alia, and recorded me in his calendar as a 
lucky man." 

THE HYDRUS, {Hydrus hydrophis.) 

The Hydri, or Water-Snakes, of which the Hydrus 
Hydrophis is the common species, are more adapted for 
swimming than any of the other tribes of Serpents. 




THE HYDKUS. 



The hinder part of the body of these reptiles is flattened, 
so as to make it more like the tail of an Eel ; this forma- 
tion assists them materially in their movements in the 
water. They appear to be all natives of India and the 
Indian Islands. 



ORDER OPHIDIA. 99 

THE HAJE, {Coluber Haje.) 

This Snake is found in Egypt, and is there employed 
by the jugglers of that country in the same manner as 
the Cobra di Capello by the Hindoos. The habit which 
the Haje has of raising itself upright when approached, 
made the ancient Egyptians believe that it guarded the 
fields which it inhabited. They made it the emblem of 
the protecting divinity of the world, and sculptured it 
on the portals of their temples, on the two sides of a 
globe. " It is," says Cuvier, " incontestably the Serpent 
which the ancients have described under the name of 
the Aspic of Cleopatra," &c. 

The Naked Serpents comprehend but one very sin- 
gular genus, the Csecilia, so called from the small size of 
their eyes. The different species are natives either of 
Brazil or the East Indies ; they are distinguished from 
the rest of the Serpents by being without scales, with a 
smooth and usually slimy skin, furrowed with folds, or 
annular wrinkles. They possess, however, a kind of 
rudiment of scales underneath the skin. In many parts 
of their anatomy they resemble the Frogs, and have, by 
some naturalists, been placed in that order: they are, in 
appearance, a kind of connecting link between the Snakes 
and Fishes and the Snakes and Frogs. These curious 
reptiles attain at times the length of six feet. Very little 
• is known of their habits, but their food is supposed to be 
small insects and worms. 




THE OIGANTIC SALAMANPER, 



RAZII.IAN TOAD. 



FROGS, TOADS, SALAMANDERS, &c. 

(Order Batrachia.) 

This order contains all reptiles with naked bodies, and 
without scales ; the head without any distinct neck or 
division, and the toes without nails. In general they 
undergo some kind of metamorphosis ; that is, on their 
first appearance from the egg, their organization differs 
from that of the perfect animal. 

The Batrachians are produced from eggs, with a 
membranous covering, which must remain in water 
while the young are excluded ; the animal which pro- 
ceeds from this egg has the structure, and in some 
respects the form, of a fish. The eggs appear in the 
water Uke small round masses of jelly, with a black 
speck in the centre ; these in the case of the Frogs are 
deposited in large masses, while those of the Toad are 
in long strings, like the beads of a necklace. 

We cannot better illustrate the different stages in the 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 101 

growth of these animals than by describing the various 
alterations of form which take place in the growth of a 
common Frog or Toad. We have already said that in the 
centre of the egg of both animals a black speck is visible. 
This black speck enlarges, and becomes at length of the 
size of a pea, with a black thread, like a tail, attached 
to it. The jelly-like covering becomes gradually thin- 
ner, and at length bursts, and the young Toad begins its 
life in the water, in the form of a Tadpole. When it 
has first left the egg, that part which forms the head has 
small black fringes attached to either side, and with these 
it is supposed to breathe ; these fringes soon disappear, 
and it then breathes by means of gills, in the same man- 
ner as a fish; it remains in this form for several weeks, 
feeding, as most fishes do, upon any animal substances 
that come within its reach : it is soon, however, destined 
to undergo another and most extraordinary change. At 
the hinder part of the black mass that looks like its 
head, two legs appear, and, if carefully examined, two 
others may be seen in front, but underneath the skin ; 
the tail also becomes shorter, and at last disappears ; 
the fore-legs are set at liberty ; a horny beak, which, till 
now, had covered the extremity of the nose, falls off, the 
opening of the gills is closed, and the perfect animal 
appears ; it is no longer able to breathe while under 
water, it refuses all dead animal substances, and seeks 
the land, to hunt insects for its living, I 

The number of eggs laid by one of these creatures 
amounts to as many as from six to twelve hundred yearly, 
so that if it was not for the variety of enemies which 
feed upon their spawn, and upon the perfect animals 
themselves, they would multiply to a fearful extent. In 
former times, when France was covered with forests and 



102 ■ THE FROG TRIBE. 

numberless chateaux, their numbers were so great, that 
the feudal retainers were engaged during the mornings, 
in the summer season, in agitating the pools with sticks, 
to prevent the croakings of the Frogs disturbing the 
slumber of their masters. 

These reptiles, at the approach of winter, improve in 
condition, and retire into the mud or to some deep hole, 
where they remain dormant for the cold season. As the 
time for their hybernation approaches, their appetite, 
which till then was voracious, begins gradually to fall off, 
till at length they leave off feeding entirely. We have 
already noticed that all reptiles can bear great abstinence, 
and submit to mutilations of many kinds, without 
appearing to suffer to any great extent; but Frogs can 
endure with impunity immersion in water at a con- 
siderable degree of heat: they have been found in hot 
springs in which the water was of considerable heat. 



THE FROG TRIBE. 

[ THE GREEN FROG, {Rana esculenfa.) 

This Frog is found in abundance in France and the 
greater part of Europe, but in England it is extremely 
rare. It is of a beautiful green, spotted with black, with 
three yellow rays upon the back, and seldom exceeds three 
inches in length. The skin is covered with little tubercles, 
principally on the sides and back ; the toes of the fore- 
feet are separated and free, those of its hinder feet are 
half-webbed. The epicures of the Continent consider its 
hinder legs a favourite dish. At Vienna great quantities 
are consumed, and they fatten them in Froggeries, con- 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 103 

structed for the express purpose. During the heat of 
summer they are often taken with a line, baited with a 
bit of scarlet cloth, which is moved about in such a 
manner as to make it look like a living creature. 

The following extract from Catesby will illustrate 
this fact, although it is related of another species :— 
" As I was sitting on a sultry evening wnth some 
company out of doors, one of us let fall from a pipe 
of tobacco some light burning ashes, which were im- 
mediately caught up and swallowed by a Frog of this 
kind. This put us upon tempting him with a red-hot 
wood-coal, not less than the end of one's finger, which he 
also swallowed greedily ; and I afterwards always found 
them easily deceived in this manner, mistaking the bait, 
I imagine, to be a cicindela, or a fire-fly, which in hot 
nights lire very numerous in Virginia and Carolina." 

These Frogs are also much sought after for the table 
in France, although, as a French author observes, " in 
England they are looked upon with horror." 

They are taken in various ways by lines, nets, &c., 
and sometimes they are captured at night ; torches 
being employed to attract them to the margin of the 
marshes they frequent. 

It is in autumn, when they are about to plunge them- 
selves into the waters where they pass the winter, that 
their flesh is most sought after. It is full a hundred 
years since they first came^ into fashion in Paris. A 
native of Auvergne, named Simon, residing in the 
suburbs, made a considerable fortune by fattening the 
Frogs which he caused to be taken for that purpose in 
his own country. Now-a-days they are not so much 
sought after, although in the proper season they are 
alwavs to be found in the Parisian markets. 



104 



THE FROG TRIBE. 



In Germany the whole of the Frog is eaten, with the 
exception of the skin and the intestines ; hut in France 
they confine themselves to the hinder legs and loins, 
which are dressed in various ways, stewed, fried, and 
sometimes roasted. The cooks, however, are not the only 
class of persons who have made use of these reptiles, and 
profited by their real or fancied properties. Physicians, 
some years back, were in the habit of prescribing stewed 
Frogs in many disorders, particularly in cutaneous 
diseases. A not uncommon belief exists in this country, 
that a live Frog swallowed is of great service in cleansing 
the stomach of impurities, and many a young Frog has 
been swallowed for that purpose. 

THE WHITE-FACED HORNED FROG, 

{Ceratophrys hoiei.) 

This curious reptile is found in South America, and 
we have given a figure of it in this place on account of 




THE WHITE-FACED HORNED FROG. 



its singular construction. Nothing whatever is known 
of its habits. 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 105 

THE BULL FROG, {Rana pipiens.) 

This is one of the largest species of the Frog kind, 
being six or eight inches in length, without including 
the paws. It inhabits North America, particularly 
Carolina, but it is not so common in Virginia. In this 
latter country it is frequently seen seated at the entrance 
to some hole near a spring, and at the least approach of 
danger, it tumbles headlong into its hiding-place. It is 
the belief of the people of Virginia, that these Frogs 
keep the springs clean, and purify the water ; on which 
account they never kill or molest them, but supersti- 
tiously believe it bodes them ill so to do. 

Catesby says, " The noise they make has caused their 
name, for at a few yards' distance their bellowing sounds 
are very much like that of a Bull a quarter of a mile off; 
and what adds to the force of the sound is, their sitting 
within the hollow mouth of the spring. Though the 
imaginary usefulness of these Frogs is frequently the 
means of their preservation, yet their voracious appe- 
tites often cause their destruction. They are great de- 
vourersof young ducks and goslings, which they swallow 
whole. This [provokes the good wives to destroy them ; 
but, as they are not very numerous, the mischief is 
easily prevented." 

In Pennsylvania this Frog is called the Shad Frog, 
because it appears in the spring, about the same time 
as the Shad. The Bull Frog appears to have been con- 
founded with several others, and among them with one 
called the Bell Frog, the voice of which exactly re- 
sembles the sound of the little bells which are hung 
to the neck of Cows, for the same purpose as we attach 
a bell to the neck of Sheep. They generally croak in 

H 



106 THE FROG TRIBE. 

concert, one answering to another. The sound is then 
repeated from troop to troop, to a considerable distance, 
for several minutes. It increases and diminishes ac- 
cording to the strength of the wind on which the sound 
is borne. It then ceases entirely, or is prolonged to a 
distance by other troops, who answer to the first. It is 
again renewed at short intervals, and when the ear 
becomes accustomed to it, it is found to be not altogether 
devoid of harmony, although it appears to strangers dis- 
agreeable and annoying. 

THE TREE FROG, {Bana arhorea.) 

The Tree Frog is very common in the south of Europe, 
but becomes more rare as we proceed northwards. It is 
found in the neighbourhood of water, either in woods or 
in parks, and gardens ornamented with ponds. 

We have said in the introduction, that Frogs shed 
their skin in the same manner as Serpents. It comes 
away in fragments, and is left behind by the reptile; 
but the Tree Frog, after moulting, according to M. 
De France, swallows its ow^n skin, The Tree Frog is 
extremely active, and leaps to a considerable dis^tance. 

In the engraving it is represented about to drop into 
the water from the overhanging branch of a tree, clinging 
for a moment by the claws of its hinder feet. There is 
a species belonging to this group, the JJyla tinctoria, 
whose blood is said to possess a very peculiar property. 
The Indians, they say, employ it to change the plumage 
of Parrots, in small spots, from green to red. For this 
purpose, they pluck out the green feathers from these 
birds when young, and rub the wounded skin with 
the blood of the Frog ; the feathers which grow after this 
are of a fine red or yellow ; this account, however, wants 
confirmation. 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 



107 




THE TREE FKOO. 



Stedraan relates the story of, as he calls it, a combat 
between a Frog and a Serpent. When the Frog was first 
perceived, the head and half of its body was already in 
the jaws of the snake; the tail of the Serpent was twisted 
round the branch of a tree, and its body was extended 
in a straight line ; the Frog, which was a Tree Frog, clung 
by means of the claws of its fore as well as its hinder 
feet, to a slender twig of another tree. In this situation 
they struggled, the one for its dinner and the other for its 
life, and formed a straight line between the two branches; 

H 2 



108 THE FROG TRIBE. 

fer some time they were perfectly stationary, and without 
any apparent movement, and there still seemed to be a 
chance of the poor Frog being able to withdraw itself 
from its dangerous situation by a well-timed eifort ; but 
it was soon clear that its case was hopeless, for the Ser- 
pent's jaws began gradually to enlarge, while the body 
and fore-paws of the Frog disappeared by degrees. At 
last, the poor beast was completely engulfed in the jaws 
of its adversary, who passed it downwards a few inches j 
it remained there for a time, forming a kind of knob in 
the throat of the serpent, while its jaws and throat con- 
tracted and returned to their original state. 

THE FISH-LIKE TADPOLE. 

The engraving represents the Tadpole of the Rana 
paradoxa. It is found in Surinam, and other pa'rts of 
South America. Of all the species of Frogs, this is 
that in which the Tadpole grows to the largest size 




THK FISH-LIKE TADPOLE. 



"before its metamorphosis is complete. The loss of an 
enormous tail, and of the coverings of the body, causes 
the adult animal to be smaller than its Tadpole. This 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 109 

circumstance led Mademoiselle Merian, Seba, and other 
old writers, into an error, and caused them to believe 
that this reptile changed from the Frog state into that 
of a Tadpole, and that afterwards it was changed into 
a fish. Although this belief circulated for a length of 
time, it has at length been completely refuted. 



THE TOAD TRIBE. 

The Toads (says Cuvier) have a corpulent body, covered 
v?ith warts or papillse, a thick pad behind the ears, from 
which is expressed a milky and foetid humour, no teeth, 
the hinder feet but little lengthened ; they leap badly, 
and remain in general remote from the water. They 
are animals of a hideous, disgusting form, which have 
been erroneously considered venomous from their saliva, 
their bite, and even the humour they exude. All this, 
however, has been proved false by later observations. 

THE COMMON TOAD, (Bufo vulgaris.) 
The Common Toad is so well known, that it hardly 
needs description. It is found over all Europe, living 
in obscure and sheltered places, and retiring in the 
winter to holes dug by itself. It walks slowly, and 
seldom leaps. Toads live to a great age, and disgusting 
as they appear to the eye, have yet been sometimes ren- 
dered tame, and become the pets even of ladies. Many 
astonishing stories have been told of Toads, which have 
been found living in the centre of wood, or even stone, 
after having been apparently enclosed in those sub- 
stances for an indefinite space of time, and completely 
shut out from the outward air ; and many of these tales 
are founded on facts which cannot be disputed. 



110 THE TOAD TRIBE. 

Few persons would knowingly eat the flesh of a Toad, 
but, on the authority of a French author, it appears that 
even at Paris the legs of Toads are frequently sold instead 
of those of Frogs. The negroes of Africa are said to 
use them as a common article of food. 

The following account of a domesticated Toad is ex- 
tracted from a letter addressed to Pennant, the English 
naturalist, by one of his correspondents : — 

" Concerning the Toad that lived so many years with 
us, and was so great a favourite, the greatest curiosity 
was its becoming so remarkably tame. It had fre- 
quented some steps before our hall-door, some years 
before my acquaintance commenced with it, and had 
been admired by my father for its size, (being the largest 
I ever met with,) who constantly paid it a visit every 
evening. I knew it myself upwards of thirty years; 
and by constantly feeding it, brought it to be so tame, 
that it always came to the candle and looked up, as if 
expecting to be taken up and brought upon the table, 
■where I always fed it upon insects of all sorts. It was 
fondest of flesh maggots, which I kept in bran : it would 
follow them, and when within a proper distance, would 
fix its eyes, and remain motionless for near a quarter of 
a minute, as if preparing for the stroke, which was an 
instantaneous throwing of its tongue at a great distance 
upon the insect, which stuck to the tip by a glutinous 
matter. The motion is quicker than the eye can follow. 
I cannot say how long my father had been acquainted 
with the Toad before I knew it ; but when I was first 
acquainted with it, he used to mention it as * the old 
Toad I have known for so many years.' I can answer 
for thirty-six years. 

" This old Toad made its appearance as soon as the 



ORDER BATRACHIA. Ill 

warm weather came ; and I always concluded it retired 
to some dry bank, to repose till spring. When we 
new laid the steps, I had two holes made in the 
third step on each side, with a hollow of more than 
a yard long, for it, in which I imagine it slept, as it 
came thence at its first appearance. It seldom appeared 
irritated. Neither that Toad, nor the multitudes I 
have seen tormented with great cruelty, ever showed the 
least desire of revenge, by spitting or emitting any juice 
from their pimples. Sometimes, upon taking it up, it 
would let out a great quantity of clear water, which, as 
I have often seen it do the same upon the steps when 
quite quiet, was certainly its urine, and no more than a 
natural evacuation. Spiders, Millepedes, and Flesh- 
maggots, seem to be this animal's favourite food. I 
imagine if a Bee were to be put before a Toad, it would 
certainly eat it to its cost ; but as Bees are seldom 
stirring at the same time that Toads are, they rarely 
come in their way, as they do not appear after sun- 
rising, or before sitn-set. In the heat of the day they 
will come to the mouth of their hole, I believe, for air. 

"I once, from my parlour window, observed a large Toad 
I had in the bank of a bowling-green, about twelve at 
noon, on a very hot day, very busy and active upon the 
grass. So uncommon an appearance made me go out 
to see what it was ; when I found an innumerable swarm 
of winged ants had dropped round his hole, which tempt- 
ation was as irresistible as a Turtle would be to a 
luxurious alderman. 

"In respect to the fate of my favourite Toad, had it not 
been for a tame Raven, I make no doubt but it would 
have been now living. This bird one day seeing it at 
the mouth of its hole, pulled it out ; and, (although I 



112 



THE TOAD TRIHE. 



rescued it,) it had pulled out one eye, and hurt it so, that, 
notwithstanding its living a twelvemonth, it never en- 
joyed itself, and had a difficulty of taking its food, miss- 
ing its mark for want of its eye. Before that accident 
it had all the appearance of perfect health." 

THE OBSTETRIC TOAD, (Bufo ohstetricans.) 

This Toad (says Cuvier) is small, gray above, whitish 
underneath, with blackish points on the back, and 
whitish ones on the sides. The male assists the female 
in getting rid of her eggs, which are pretty large, and 
attaches them in packets on its own thighs, by means of 
some kind of glutinous matter. He continues to 
carry them until the eyes of the Tadpole become visible 




THE OBSTETRIC TOAD. 



through the covering that contains it. When this takes 
place, the Toad seeks some dormant w ater in which to 
deposit them. The eggs immediately open, and the 
Tadpole issues forth and swims. It is very small, and 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 



113 



lives on flesh. This species is common in the stony 
places in the neighbourhood of Paris. 

THE GREEN TOAD, (Bufo variabilis.) 

The Green Toad is upwards of three inches in length, and 
is sometimes found in the south of Europe, particularly 
in Italy and Germany. During the winter it hides itself 




in the crevices of rocks, and passes the rest of the year 
in stagnant waters. It is said that if it is struck it 
gives out a smell like ambergris, which changes to a 
foetid odour, like the black morel or nightshade. 

THE BRAZILIAN TOAD, (Bufo agua.) 

The head of this Toad is large, and the eyes prominent, 
and the upper eyelid is much prolonged and covered with 
warts. (See Vignette, page 100.) This gives the creature a 
hideous and monstrous appearance. The upper part of 



114 THE TOAD TRIBE. 

the body is mottled with gray, yellow, and brown, and 
decorated with large tubercles. This Toad, which is 
extremely large, has, according to Seba, had the name 
of aguaquagan given to it by the inhabitants of Brazil. 

THE PIPA, (Bufopipa.) 

Of all the species of Toad, there is, perhaps, none more 
disgusting in appearance, or more curious in its history, 




than that shown in the annexed figure. It is found in 
great numbers in Surinam, and other places in the 
warmer latitudes, as well of North as of South America. 
The peculiarity for which it is most remarkable, consists 
in the extraordinary manner in which the young are 
hatched. After the female has deposited her spawn, 
her partner places portions of it, with the assistance of 
his fore-paws, upon her back. She then takes to the 
water, and those parts on which the spawn is laid soon 
begin to swell, and the egg becomes attached to her 
skin, while a thin film is spread over it, the spots con- 
taining her future young appearing like round projec- 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 115 

tions. By degrees a small hole is formed in the back of 
the mother for each of the eggs, and in these chambers, 
protected by their filmy covering, the young undergo all 
their changes of form, the parent in the mean time 
never quitting the water. These changes are the same 
as those which take place in the Common Toad. The 
humour which distils from the body of this Toad 
is said to be sufficiently corrosive to blister the skin 
when 'applied to it. The most probable use of this 
liquid is to moisten the body of the animal when ex- 
posed to the heat of the sun, the warmth of whose rays 
would otherwise render its skin so dry as to prevent its 
movements, and in the end cause its death. Disgusting, 
however, as this creature appears, the negroes in Surinam 
eat its hinder legs. 



THE SALAMANDER TRIBE. 

The Salamanders have a lengthened body, four feet, 
and a long tail, which give them the general form of 
Lizards, and they were formerly placed in that order ; 
but they have all the characters of the Frogs. 

In the ,adult state they breathe in the same manner 
as the Frogs : their Tadpoles, for they undergo the same 
changes as the Frogs, respire at first by gills of a tufted 
form, three on each side of the neck, which are after- 
wards obliterated. 

There are two tribes of Salamanders, the land and 
the water species. 

THE SALAMANDER, (Salamandra vulgaris.) j 

The name of the Salamander Tsays Lacepede) has been 
celebrated from antiquity, and embellished with the tints 



116 



THE SALAMANDER TRIBE. 



of fable in all ages. It was on the fortunate soil of 
ancient Greece, in the bosom of a wise and warlike 
nation, whose imagination, favoured by a happy climate, 
exaggerated even the wonders of creative power, that 
the reputation of the Salamander originated, and that 
an immortal and generally-adopted name was employed 
to characterize an obscure reptile, which has usurped 
the most universal celebrity, and is even still one of the 
objects of the curiosity of man. 




THE SALAMANDER. 



This animal, which the rude inhabitants of other 
countries regard as an object of terror, and abhor and 
proscribe as a malevolent be in g,^ has formerly passed, 
and still passes in the eyes of many persons, as being 
able to brave the violence of fire, the most active of the 
elements, to escape from the force of its action, and not 
only to come safe and sound out of the flames, but even 
to extinguish them. 

At length, however, after having furnished so many 
emblems to the poet, more briUiant than faithful, this 
little creature, once so highly privileged, has fallen 
into oblivion and contempt ; so much so that the 
interest which it really deserves to excite, has subsided 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 117 

since it has been stripped of those attributes in which it 
had been so unnecessarily invested. 

"This daughter of fire, with a body of ice, whose 
origin was not less surprising than its power, which 
owed its existence to the purest of elements, by which 
it could not be consumed, which mountebanks had 
declared capable of arresting the progress of the most 
violent conflagrations, has dwindled down into a simple 
and obscure reptile." 

On the sides of the Salamander are ranges of tubercles, 
from which, in time of danger, a bitter milky fluid oozes, 
of a powerful odour, and poisonous to weak animals. 
This, probably, has given rise to the fable, that the 
Salamander can resist the flames. 

The Salamander is found in France and Germany, and 
even further north, but it is more common in the south 
of Europe. It takes up its abode in the moist earth in 
the tufted woods of high mountains, in ditches and 
shady places, under stones and roots of trees, in subter- 
raneous caverns, and in ruined buildings. Though 
generally feared, it is by no means dangerous. The 
milky fluid which exudes from its skin, and, which it 
sometimes projects to the distance of several inches, 
though nauseous and acrid, and, as it is said, capable 
of removing the hair, is fatal only to very small animals. 
It lives on tUes, worms, young snails, &c. 

THE GIGANTIC SALAMANDER, 

(Salamandra gigantea.) 

This is a species of aquatic Salamander, and differs from 
the land Salamanders in having the tail flattened, so as to 
enable it to swim with more ease. {SeeVignette, page 1 00.) 



118 



THE SALAMANDER TRIBE. 



They have been rendered celebrated by the experiments 
of Spallanzanion their astonishing power of reproducing 
parts which have been removed, and those too \vith| all 
their peculiar bones, muscles, &c. They are also capable 
of remaining a long time encompassed by ice without 
perishing. 

The Gigantic Salamander is found in North America, 
inhabiting the rivers of the interior, and the great 
lakes of that vast continent. Although called Gigantic, 
it is not more than from fifteen to eighteen inches in 
length. 

There is another sppcies which more properly deserves 
the name of gigantic, as it reaches a much larger size ; 
there is one at present in the Museum of Natural 
History at Leyden ; it is already three feet in length, and 
we believe still increasing in size : it was brought from 
the mountains of Japan. 

THE PROTEUS, {Proteus anguinus.) 

This animal is as thick as one's finger, about a foot in 
length, with a flattened tail, and four small limbs ; its 




THT PROTEUS. 



ORDER BATRACHIA. 119 

two jaws are furnished with teeth, its tongue free only 
in front, and its eyes exceedingly small, and concealed 
by the skin. It is found only in subterranean waters, 
through which certain lakes in Carniola communicate. 

There are several species nearly allied to these curious 
creatures, but a description of this singular animal will 
suffice for the whole. The chief distinction between the 
Proteus and the Salamander consists in the Proteus 
retaining its gills through life, and, at the same time, 
possessing internal lungs, so that this reptile, and two 
or three others, are the only creatures that can be said 
with truth to be amphibious, as they can breathe 
their whole life either on land or in water : for a length 
of time it was supposed to be a reptile in its tadpole 
state, but it has since then been satisfactorily proved to 
be a perfect animal. 



END OF REPTILES. 



120 

SOME ACCOUNT OF THE 

FOSSIL REMAINS OF VERTEBRAL ANIMALS 

■WHOSE SPECIES HAVE BECOME EXTINCT. 

Geologists in searching into the structure of the earth 
have discovered the remains of animals which at 
present are unknown in a living state. The' forms of 
many of these creatures are so extraordinary, and differ 
in some cases so much from those at present in existence, 
that a work on natural history would hardly be complete, 
without taking some notice of their singular remains. 
We are indebted to the Baron Cuvier for almost all 
the knowledge we possess of the perfect forms of the 
organic remains which had been brought together by 
different collectors. When the Baron entered upon his 
task, we may well conceive the difficulties he had to 
overcome; it was more easy to collect the materials 
than to arrange them ; more easy to accumulate the 
bones than to reconstruct the skeletons, which was still 
the only means by which a just idea could be formed of 
the species. He had in his possession the mutilated 
remains of some hundreds of skeletons, all mixed and 
confused together ; and it was absolutely necessary that 
each bone should be placed with those to which it 
naturally corresponded, before any satisfactory result 
could be obtained. But, stupendous as was this task, it 
was yet accomplished. On the immutable laws pre- 
scribed by nature to living beings, he reconstructed 
these ancient animals. He has no^language, he says, 
to depict the pleasure he experienced, as he observed, 
on the discovery of each peculiar character, the con- 
sequences he had predicted from it develop them- 
selves in gradual succession. Thus, for example, the 



FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS, 123 

feet corresponded with the peculiarities of the teeth, and 
the teeth with those indicated by the feet. The bones 
of the legs, thighs, &c., all proved conformable to the 
judgment he had formed beforehand from the con- 
sideration of other parts ; so that at length, by constant 
practice, he was enabled, by the inspection of only a 
fragment of the bone of the fore-leg of an animal, to 
determine to what Order that animal had belonged, and 
this he ascertained from the form of the bone, and the 
marks left on it by the muscles which had been attached 
to it ; these marks of course indicated the size of the 
muscles, and this, together with their position, would 
point out their use ; so that a man accustomed to 
the study of natural history would at once discover 
whether the animal belonged to the carnivorous tribes 
or otherwise. 

The same rule pointed out that a certain arrangement 
of muscles, in conjunction with a bone of a peculiar 
shape, could only have been made for a foot of a par- 
ticular form. The form of the foot would at once 
point out that of the teeth, the teeth would declare 
that a certain _ arrangement of muscles was necessary 
to render them serviceable, and these muscles must 
require bones of a certain size and form to attach them- 
selves to, so that by these means the shape of the skull 
would be readily guessed ; in this manner, by pursuing 
the inquiry, the general form of the animal can be made 
out. These fossil remains have been found in general 
'imbedded in different kinds of limestone, but at times 
vast quantities of fossil bones have been discovered in 
caverns of many parts of the world. 

The earliest known of these repositories, according to 
Cuvier, is that of Bauman, near the city of Brunswick ; 

1 2 



124 FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 

the entrance is very narrow, and the whole cavity con- 
sists of five or six different chambers, which are of very 
difficult access. Most of them are beautifully orna- 
mented with stalactites, which hang from the roof in 
the most elegant and fantastic forms ; it is in the last 
of these chambers, a place nearly filled with water, that 
the fossil bones are chiefly found : the principal portion 
of the bones that have been discovered belong to the 
bear tribe. Other caverns very nearly similar are found 
in the chain of the Hartz mountains. Many are also 
known in Hungary, on the southern [declivities of the 
Krapach mountains. But the most celebrated of all is 
that of Gaylenreuth, situated on the left bank of the 
Wiesent ; it is composed of six grottoes, which are more 
than two hundred feet in extent; these caverns are 
strewed with bones of various sizes. More than three- 
tburths of these bones belong to a species of bear as 
large as our horses, and which is no longer found in a 
living state. The half, or two-thirds, of the remaining 
bones belong to a species of hyaena. There are also 
some remains of tigers, wolves, foxes, gluttons, and 
polecats, &c. The bones of the vegetable feeders are 
also found, but in much smaller numbers. 

Of the caves of this country, the most remarkable is 
that of Kirkdale, in Yorkshire, visited and first described 
by Dr. Buckland. The teeth and bones discovered in 
this noted cavern belonged to twenty-three different 
species of animals, six carnivora, four pachydermata, 
four ruminantia, four rodentia, and five birds. Among 
the carnivora, the most numerous by far appear to have 
been hysenas of a larger size than any known at 
present. The teeth of these animals were so very 
abundant, that it was calculated they must have belonged 



FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS, 125 

to no less than two or three hundred animals. Two large 
canine teeth of the tiger were found, four inches in length, 
and a few grinders, exceeding in size those of the largest 
lion. The bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, and hippo- 
potamus were also found, and the teeth of deer in great 
abundance ; but the most numerous bones were those 
belonging to the water-rat. 

In the following sketch we shall give a short account 
of the remains of vertebrated animals which have been 
discovered, in the same systematic order as was observed 
in treating of living animals. 

Fossil Mammalia. 

On referring to the list of Fossil Mammalia, no instance 
has as yet occurred of the discovery of any of the Monkey- 
tribes ; of [the Bats, the remains of one alone has been 
found, in the gypsum quarries near Paris. The bones of 
the Carnivora occur in very great abundance, and among 
them we may record fossil Bears, which, as already stated,, 
are found in great abundance in the caverns of Germany^ 
and long since attracted the attention of the curious ; 
they were at first spoken of as the bones of fossil Unicorns. 
In 1672 a writer of the day notices them as the bones of 
Dragons, and it is afterwards asserted that Tree Dragons 
were to be still found living and flying in Transylvania. 
So little was known in those days of comparative 
anatomy, that it was said that these Bears' heads " bore 
some resemblance to those of the Hippopotamus." The 
fossil Bears appear to have been very much larger than 
the living species, and more decidedly carnivorous ; in 
other respects they do not differ to any great extent. 
Hysenas have also been found in great numbers. 



12G FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS- 

Of the genus Felis, many species have been found, 
which do not greatly differ from the Jaguar. Wolves, 
Foxes, Gluttons, Weasels, and other [smaller Carnivora, 
have also been collected in considerable numbers, but all 
nearly resembling the present species. Fossil Rodentia 
have also been commonly found, such as Rabbits, Rats, 
Mice, &c. 

Of the Edentata, but one genus has been discovered, 
and that completely differing from any animal at present 
known, namely the Megatherium, which was as large as 
an ox, and appears to have resembled the Sloth more 
than any other existing species. The Megatherium has 
been called the Animal of Paraguay . It was discovered 
towards the end of the last century : the skeleton, almost 
entire, was found nearly at one hundred feet of depth, 
in excavations made on the banks of the river Luxan, a 
league south-east of the town of the same name, which 
is three leagues west-south-west of Buenos Ay res. It 
was sent to the museum of Madrid in 1789. A second 
skeleton less complete, forming part of the same col- 
lection, was sent thence from Lima in 1795. 

In the order Pachyderm at a many most astonishing 
animals have been discovered, and for the discovery of 
these we are indebted to the researches of Baron Cuvier. 
The Palseotherium bears some resemblance to the Tapirs 
in the number and disposition of its teeth, and more 
particularly in the bones of the nose. There are several 
species, the largest (PalcBotherium magnum) being 
nearly the size of a horse. 

The Anoplotherium : this singular animal has one 
peculiarity in the arrangement of its teeth, which form 
one continued series, as in the Monkey-tribes, a 
formation which occurs in no other animal. The 



128 FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 

most common species was an animal about the height 
of a Wild Boar, but much longer in form, with a very 
long and thick tail ; its proportions were about those of 
an Otter, but on a much larger scale. It seems probable 
that it was a good swimmer. 

The Mammoth {Elephas primogenus) diifers in many 
respects from the recent species. Its bones have been 
found in great abundance in many parts of the earth ; 
the most curious discovery of one of these huge creatures 
was made in Siberia. 




THK MAMMOTH. 



In 1 799, a Tongoose fisherman observed on the borders 
of the Icy Sea, near the mouth of the Lena, in the midst 
of fragments of ice, a shapeless mass of something, the 
nature of which he could not conjecture. The next year 
he observed that this mass was a little more disengaged. 
Towards the end of the following summer the entire 
side of the animal, and one of the tusks, became dis- 
tinctly visible. In the fifth year, the ice being melted 
earlier than usual, this enormous mass was cast upon 



FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 129 

the coast on a bank of sand. The fisherman possessed 
himself of the tusks, which he sold for fifty rubles. Two 
years after, Mr. Adams, associate of the Academy of St, 
Petersburg, who was travelling with Count Golovkin, on 
an embassy to China, having heard of this discovery at 
Yakutsk, repaired immediately to the spot. He found 
the animal already greatly mutilated. The flesh had 
partly been cut away by the Yakouts for their dogs, 
and some of it had been devoured by wild beasts. Still 
the skeleton was entire, with the exception of a fore-leg. 
The spine of the back, a shoulder-blade, the pelvis, and 
the rest of the extremities, were still united by the 
ligaments and a portion of the skin ; the other shoulder- 
blade was found at some distance ; the head was covered 
with a dry skin. One of the ears, in high preservation, 
was furnished with a tuft of hair, and the pupil of the eye 
was still discernible. The brain was found in the skull, 
but perfectly dried. The under lip had been torn, and 
the upper one being utterly destroyed, left the cheek- 
teeth visible. The neck was furnished with a long mane. 
The skin was covered with black hairs, and a reddish 
sort of wool. The remains were so heavy, that ten per- 
sons had much difficulty in removing them ; more than 
thirty pounds' weight of hair and bristles were carried 
away, which had been trod into the wet soil by the 
white bears when devouring the flesh. ^The animal 
was a male ; the tusks were more than nine feet long, 
and the head, without the tusks, weighed more than four 
hundred pounds. Mr. Adams collected with the utmost 
care all the remains of this singular and valuable relic. 
He purchased the tusks at Yakutsk, and received for 
the whole from the Emperor Alexander eight thousand 
rubles. 



130 FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 

The bones of the Mammoth are so abundant in 
Siberia, that the inhabitants have invented a fable to 
explain their presence. They have supposed them to 
belong to a subterraneous animal, living like the moles, 
and unable to endure the light of day. This animal 
they call Mammoth, according to some authors, from the 
word mamma, which in some Tartar idiom signifies the 
earth, or according to others, from the Arabian word 
behemoth or mehemoth, an epithet which the Arabs still 
attach to the name of the elephant. The Siberians call 
the fossil tusks the horns of the Mammoth, and they 
are so numerous and well preserved, especially in the 
northern parts, that they are employed for the same 
purposes as fresh ivory, and form so lucrative an article 
of commerce, that the Czars formerly reserved the 
monopoly of it to themselves. 

The Chinese are acquainted with this fable of the 
subterraneous animal, which they call Tien-schu, the 
mouse that hides itself. They describe it as continually 
remaining in caverns under ground, resembling a mouse 
in form, but of the size of an ox or buffalo ; it is of a 
dun colour, and has no tail. This is the statement of 
one writer. Another tells us that its tail is an ell long, 
the eyes small, and that it dies instantly when it sees 
the rays of the sun or moon ; he even adds that during 
an inundation of the river Tan-schuann-tuy, in 1571, 
several of these animals were seen in the neighbouring 
plains. 

Those immense rivers that descend to the Icy Sea are 
continually laying bare the remains of the Mammoth. 
It was imagined by a French author that they were 
brought down by these rivers from the mountains of 
India. But these remains are as frequently met with 



FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 131 

in the streams which come from the north, such as the 
Volga, the Tanais, and the Jaik, as well as in the Lena, 
the Kolima, and others, whose sources are in the icy 
mountains of Chinese Tartary. 

The Great Mastodon is a very remarkable creature, 
and perhaps the largest of all the fossil species. It is 
about one hundred and twenty years since remains of 
the Mastodon were first discovered at Albany, near 
Hudson river. They are mentioned in a letter from Dr. 
Mather to Dr. Woodward, in the Philosophical TranS' 
actions for 1712; he believed them to be the bones of 
giants, and a confirmation of the Scriptural accounts of 
gigantic races of mankind. Numerous fragments of the 
bones of this enormous creature were afterwards dis- 
covered, but not sufficiently perfect to enable the natu- 
ralist to ascertain with correctness to what description of 
animals they belonged. 

This matter has, however, been since that time set 
completely at rest. Mr. Peale, the founder of the Museum 
of Natvn-al History at Philadelphia, in the spring of 1801, 
learned that some bones had been dug up the preceding 
autumn, in the neighbourhood of Newburgh, on the 
river Hudson. He repaired thither, with his sons, and 
obtained from the farmer who had dug them up aconsider- 
able portion of a skeleton, which he sent to Philadelphia. 
The skull was much damaged in the upper part, the 
lower jaw was broken, and the tusks mutilated. At 
the close of autumn, after many weeks' labour, all the 
vertebrae of the neck, many of those of the back, and a 
great many others, were found in the same place. Still 
there were many important bones wanting ; to obtain 
these, Mr. Peale repaired to another spot, eleven miles 
distant, where bones had been disinterred about eight 



132 FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 

years previously. He worked for fifteen days, and 
collected many fragments, but not those he wanted. 
However, on his return, he met a farmer who had found 
some bones three years previously, and who conducted 
him to the place of his discovery. Here, after much 
labour, he was fortunate enough to find a complete 
under jaw, and many other principal bones. With the 
materials he had thus obtained by three|months' laborious 
research, he formed two skeletons, copying artificially 
from the bones of one what was wanting in the other, 
and from the bones of one side what were deficient on 
the opposite. The Mastodon appears, like the Elephant, 
to have been furnished with a trunk. 

There is a spot in Kentucky, to the south-east of the 
Ohio, a hollow between small hills, and forming a marsh 
in which is a small stream of brackish water, the 
bottom of which consists of a black and stinking mud. 
Here, and on the borders of the marsh, the remains of 
the Mastodon have been found in the most astonishing 
profusion. This mud is intermixed with a fine sand, 
and some remains of wood are distinguishable in it. 

One of the most remarkable depots of these bones is 
at Withe in Virginia, five feet and a-half underground, 
on a bank of limestone. One of the teeth weighed 
seventeen pounds. Tn the midst of these bones was 
found a mass of little branches, grass, and leaves, in a 
half-bruised state. Among these was a species of rose, 
now common in Virginia, and the whole was enveloped 
in a kind of bag which is supposed to have been the 
stomach of the animal. Unlike the Mammoth, the 
bones of the Mastodon are only found in one part 
of the globe, namely, in North America, between^ the 
thirty-third and forty-third degrees of north latitude. 



FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS- 133 

The Indians of North America have a singular belief 
as to the cause of the destruction of these huge creatures ; 
they say, that a troop of these formidable quadrupeds 
destroyed for some time the Deer, the Buffalo, and all 
the other animals created for the use of the Indians, and 
spread desolation far and wide. At length " the mighty 
man above " seized his thunder and killed them all, with 
the exception of the largest of the males, who presenting 
his head to the thunderbolts, shook them off as they fell, 
but being wounded in the side, he betook himself to 
flight towards the great lakes, where he still resides at 
the present day. 

Fossil Lamantins, Dolphins, and other Cetacea, have 
been found, which differ considerably from the present 
known species. 

Fossil Remains of Birds. 

The fossil remains of Birds are very rare, and only 
consist of small portions of the skeleton, so that little 
worth recording is known concerning them. 

Fossil Remains of Reptiles. 

Among the remains of Reptiles, we find many inter- 
esting species. Fossil Tortoises and Crocodiles are 
found in considerable numbers, differing materially 
from the present species. 

The Pterod ACTYLUs is one of the most singular beings 
yet discovered; it was, in fact, a flying Reptile. It was 
assisted in the act of flying, not by means of its ribs, like 
the Draco volans, nor by a wing without distinct fingers, 
like that of Birds, not by a wing in which the thumb 
alone is free, like that of Bats, but by a wing sustained 



134 FOSSIL REMAINS OF ANIMALS. 

principally on one toe very much lengthened, while the 
others preserved their usual shortness and their claws. 
At the same time, these flying reptiles (if they may be 
so called) had a long neck, and the beak of a bird, 
which must have given them a most remarkable and 
strange appearance. 

The Ichthyosaurus (Fish-like Lizard). In this 
strange reptile we find the muzzle of a Dolphin, the 
teeth of a Crocodile, the head and breast-bone like a 
Lizard, the paddles of the Whale tribe, but four in 
number, and the ribs of a fish. The most common 
species of this reptile is supposed to have been about 
twenty-five feet in length. 

The Plesiosaurus is another ancient reptile, whose 
formation strangely varies from any animal we are at 
present acquainted with ; with the head of a Lizard, 
it has a neck like a Serpent, and paddles like the 
Ichthyosaurus, but is of much greater length. It was 
evidently an aquatic animal, and must, from its forma- 
tion, have been very rapid in its movements. 

Fossil Remains of Fishes* 

The fossil remains of Fishes present but trifling distinc- 
tions from those of the present day. 



the end. 



LuXDox : 

John William Parker, 

West Strand. 



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