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Tunnies are among the most remarkable for their size; we have found one weighing as much as fifteen1 talents, the breadth of its tail being five cubits and a palm.2 In some of the rivers, also, there are fish of no less size, such, for instance, as the silurus3 of the Nile, the isox4 of the Rhenus, and the attilus5 of the Padus, which, naturally of an inactive nature, sometimes grows so fat as to weigh a thousand pounds, and when taken with a hook, attached to a chain, requires a yoke of oxen to draw it6 on land. An extremely small fish, which is known as the clupea,7 attaches itself, with a wonderful tenacity, to a certain vein in the throat of the attilus, and destroys it by its bite. The silurus carries devastation with it wherever it goes, attacks every living creature, and often drags beneath the water horses as they swim. It is also remark- able, that in the Mœnus,8 a river of Germany, a fish that bears9 a very strong resemblance to the sea-pig, requires to be drawn out of the water by a yoke of oxen; and, in the Danube, it is taken with large hooks of iron.10 In the Borysthenes, also, there is said to be a fish of enormous size, the flesh of which has no bones or spines in it, and is remarkable for its sweetness.

In the Ganges, a river of India, there is a fish found which they call the platanista;11 it has the muzzle and the tail of the dolphin, and measures sixteen cubits in length. Statius Sebosus says, a thing that is marvellous in no small degree, that in the same river there are fishes12 found, called worms; these have two gills,13 and are sixty cubits in length; they are of an azure colour, and have received their name from their peculiar conformation. These fish, he says, are of such enormous strength, that with their teeth they seize hold of the trunks of elephants that come to drink, and so drag them into the water.

1 About 1200 pounds. Cetti, in his "Natural History of Sardinia," vol. iii. p. 134, says that tunnies weighing a thousand pounds are far from uncommon, and that they have been taken weighing as much as 1800 pounds.

2 The same as the Latin "dodrans," or about nine inches. This passage is taken almost verbatim from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. c. 34. Cuvier says that this passage, although like the preceding one, taken from Aristotle, is much more incredible, (though Lacépede, by the way, disputes Pliny's statement as to the weight of the tunny). "A distance," Cuvier says, "of from seven to eight feet from one point of the fork of the tail to the other, would denote a fish twenty-five feet in length; and it must be observed, that most of the MSS. of Pliny say two cubits." Aristotle, however, beyond a doubt saysfice.

3 Now universally recognized as the sly silurus, or sheat-fish, called in the United States the horn-pout, the Silurus glanis of Linnæus. On this formerly much-discussed question, Cuvier has an interesting Note. "There can now be no longer any doubt as to the silurus; it is evidently synonymons with the 'glanis' of Aristotle; as we find Pliny, in c. 17 and 51, giving the same characteristics of the silurus, as Aristotle does of the glanis, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 20, and B. ix. c. 37; such, for instance, as the care it takes of its young, and the effects produced upon it by the dogfish and the approach of storms. It is easy to prove also that it is not the sturgeon, [as Hardouin thought it to be], but the fish that is still called 'silurus' by the naturalists, the ' wels' or 'schaid' of the Germans, the 'saluth' of the Swiss, &c."

4 Cuvier remarks, that it is by no means clear what fish is meant by this name, which is only found here and once in Hesychius, who calls it κητώδης, "of the large kind." Rondelet, in his account of river fish, suggests that "exos" is the proper reading, and that under this name is meant a species of sturgeon. Gesner asks if it might not possibly have been the "brochet;" but, as Cuvier says, that fish was well-known to the Romans under the name of "lucius" [our pike], and it is not sufficiently large for Pliny to compare it to the wels or the attilus, and for Hesychius to have enumerated it among the "large" fishes. It is in accordance, however, with this suggestion of Gesner that the pike genus bears the name of "esox" in modern Natural History.

5 Cuvier says that there are found in the river Padus, or Po, several species of very large sturgeons, and that there is one of these which still bears the name, according to Salvian and Rondelet, of adello and adilo. Aldrovandus, he says, calls it adelo or ladano. This Cuvier takes to be the attilus of Pliny. But, according to Rezzonico, Paulus Jovius denies that the attilus or adelus of the people of Ferrara is of the sturgeon genus; but says that it is so much larger than the sturgeon, and so different in shape, flavour, value, and natural habits, that the names of these two fishes were used proverbially by the people, when they were desirous to signify two objects of totally different nature. Rezzonico remarks, that the name given to it in Ferrara was properly "l'adano," which became corrupted into "ladano," and expresses it as his opinion that it was the same with the esox of the Rhine. He also states, that, from the exceeding whiteness of the flesh, the ladano was called by the fishermen, sturione bianco.

6 Rezzonico says that this may possibly have happened in Pliny's day, but that in modern times no attilus or ladano is found weighing more than 500 pounds. He says that this fish may, in comparison with the sturgeon, be aptly called an inert fish; for while the sturgeon makes the greatest possible resistance to the fishermen, the other is taken with the greatest ease.

7 Cuvier says, that this was probably the Petromyzon branchialis of Linneus, the lampillon, a little fish resembling a worm, which adheres to the gills of other fish, and sucks the blood. The same name was also given to the Clupea alosa of Linnæus, our "shad;" indeed Linnæus gave this name to the whole herring and pilchard genus, erroneously classing them with the shad.

8 The Main of the present day. But Dalechamps would read "Rheno;" for, he says, this river was not known to the ancients by the name of Mœnus.

9 According to Albertus Magnus, this fish, which so strongly resembled the sea-pig, or porpoise, was the huso, a kind of sturgeon.

10 See B. iv. c. 26. Cuvier says, that the fish here alluded to, is one of the large species of sturgeon, so common in the rivers that fall into the Black Sea, the bones of which are cartilaginous, and the flesh is generally excellent eating.

11 Cuvier says, that this is probably the dolphin of the Ganges; a fish described by Dr. Roxburgh, in his "Account of Calcutta," vol. vii. This fish, he says, has the muzzle and the tail of the common dolphin; but he declines to assert that it attains the length of sixteen cubits.

12 Solinus gives an account of these worms of the Ganges, also front Sebosus, but not exactly to the same effect as Pliny. He says, that they are of an azure colour, are six cubits in length, and that they have two arms. He gives the same account as to their extraordinary strength.

13 It is evident that there is some mistake in the MSS. either of Solinus or Pliny, as they both copied from the same source. Pliny speaks of "branchiæ," or gills, while Solinus mentions "brachia," or arms; the former, however, appears to be the preferable reading. Cuvier remarks that Ctesias, in his Indica, c. 27, has given a similar account, but that the worm mentioned by him has two teeth, and not gills, and that it only seizes oxen and camels, and not elephants. He states also, that an oil was extracted from it, which set on fire everything that it touched. Cuvier observes, that in most of the MSS. of Pliny the worm is sixty cubits long, instead of six, as in some few, a length which was quite necessary to enable it to devour an elephant; and he suggests that some large conger or muræna may have originally given rise to the story. It is by no means improbable that some individuals of the boa or python tribe, in the vicinity of the river, may have been taken for vast fish or river worms. Among the German traditions, we find the name "worm" given to huge serpents, which are said to have spread devastation far and wide; and in the north of England legends about, similar "worms," are by no means uncommon: the story about the "Laidly Worm," in the county of Durham, for instance.

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