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The beavers of the Euxine, when they are closely pressed by danger, themselves cut off the same part, as they know that it is for this that they are pursued. This substance is called castoreum by the physicians.2 In addition to this, the bite of this animal is terrible; with its teeth it can cut down trees on the banks of rivers, just as though with a knife.3 If they seize a man by any part of his body, they will never loose their hold until his bones are broken and crackle under their teeth. The tail is like that of a fish;4 in the other parts of the body they resemble the otter;5 they are both of them aquatic animals, and both have hair softer than down.

1 "De aquaticis et iisdem terrestribus;" although these words are inserted in the title of this Chapter, the subject is not treated of in it.—B.

2 Pliny here adopts the vulgar opinion respecting the origin of the substance called "castor," and in B. xxxii. c. 13, gives a more correct description, which he had derived from a physician, named Sextius. It is a fetid, oily substance, secreted by a gland situate near the prepuce. Cuvier remarks, that when the gland becomes distended with this secretion, the animal may probably get rid of it by rubbing the part against a stone or tree, and in this way, leave the castor for the hunters, thus giving rise to the vulgar error. Ajasson, vol. vi. p. 448; Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 440.—B.

3 The beaver has the most powerful teeth of any animal of the class Rodentia, to which it belongs; it uses them for cutting down trees, with which it constructs its habitation. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 5, refers to this.—B.

4 The tail is covered with a kind of scale, and is flattened; but, in its internal organization, is formed like those of other quadrupeds.—B.

5 See B. xxxii. c. 52.

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