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1 From the Greek φυσητὴρ, "a blower," probably one of the whale species, so called from its blowing forth the water. Hardouin remarks, that Pliny mentions the Gallic Ocean, in B. vi. c. 33, as ending at the Pyrenees; and, probably, by this term he means the modern Bay of Biscay. Rondeletius, B. xvi. c. 14, says, that this fish is the same that is called by the Narbonnese peio mular, by the Italians capidolio, and by the people of Saintonge, "sedenette." Cuvier conjectures also, that this was some kind of large whale; a fish which was not unfrequently found, in former times, in the gulf of Aquitaine, the inhabitants of the shores of which were skilled in its pursuit. Ajasson states that Valmont de Bomare was of opinion that it was the porpoise; but, as he justly remarks, the size of that animal does not at all correspond with the magnitude of the "physeter," as here mentioned.
2 Cuvier suggests that the idea of such an animal as the one here mentioned. probably took its rise in the kind of sea star-fish, now known as Medusa's head, the Asterias of Linnæus; but that the enormous size here attributed to it, has no foundation whatever in reality. He remarks also, that the inhabitants of the north of Europe, have similar stories relative to a huge polypus, which they call the "kraken." We may, however, be allowed to observe, that the "kraken," or "korven," mentioned by good bishop Pontoppidan, bears a closer resemblance to the so-called "seaserpent," than to anything of the polypus or sepia genus.
3 "Rotæ." Cuvier suggests that this idea of the wheel was taken from the class of zoophytes named "Medusæ," by Linnæus, which have the form of a disc, divided by radii, and dots which may have been taken for eyes. But then, as he says, there are none of them of an excessive size, as Pliny would seem to indicate by placing them in this Chapter, and which Ælian has absolutely attributed to them in B. xiii. c. 20. Of the largest rhizostoma, Cuvier says, that he had even seen, the diameter of the disc did not exceed two feet.
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