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There are numerous kinds of polypi. The land1 polypus is larger than that of the sea; they all of them use their arms2 as feet and hands; and in coupling they employ the tail, which is forked3 and sharp. The polypus has a sort of passage in the back,4 by which it lets in and discharges the water, and which it shifts from side to side, sometimes carrying it on the right, and sometimes on the left. It swims obliquely,5 with the head on one side, which is of surprising hardness while the animal is alive, being puffed out with air.6 In addition to this, they have cavities7 dispersed throughout the claws, by means of which, through suction, they can adhere to objects; which they hold, with the head upwards, so tightly, that they cannot be torn away. They cannot attach themselves, however, to the bottom of the sea, and their retentive powers are weaker in the larger ones. These are the only8 soft fish that come on dry land, and then only where the surface is rugged: a smooth surface they will not come near. They feed upon the flesh of shell-fish, the shells of which they can easily break in the embrace of their arms: hence it is that their retreat may be easily detected by the pieces of shell which lie before it. Although, in other respects, this is looked upon as a remarkably stupid kind of animal, so much so, that it will swim towards the hand of a man, to a certain extent in its own domestic matters it manifests considerable intelligence. It carries its prey to its home, and after eating all the flesh, throws out the debris, and then pursues such small fish as may chance to swim towards them. It also changes its colour9 according to the aspect of the place where it is, and more especially when it is alarmed. The notion is entirely unfounded that it gnaws10 its own arms; for it is from the congers that this mischance befalls it; but it is no other than true that its arms shoot forth again, like the tail in the colotus11 and the lizard.12

1 This, as Hardouin says, is the polypus which is found on the seashore, and which more frequently comes on dry land than the other kinds.

2 The arms of the polypus have numerous names with the Latin authors. Ovid calls them "flagella,"—"whips;" others again, "cirri"—"curls;" "pedes"—"feet" "crura"—"legs;" and "crines"—"hair."

3 This, Cuvier says, is quite unintelligible; for all the polypi have an oval body, of the shape of a bag, and there is nothing in them that bears any resemblance to a tail, forked or otherwise.

4 This channel, Cuvier says, is in form of a funnel reversed, by means of which the animal draws in and ejects the water that is requisite for its respiration, and discharges the ink and other excretions. It is in the forepart of the body, and at the orifice of the bag, and not on the back, as Pliny says; but, as Cuvier remarks, it was very easy for a person to be deceived in this matter, as the head, being in form of a cylinder, and fringed with the so-called feet, cannot be said to be distinguished into an upper and lower side.

5 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. iv. c. 2, says that the animal is obliged to do so, on account of the situation of the eyes.

6 But Aristotle says, καθάπερ ἐμπεφυσημένην, "as though it were puffed out with air."

7 "Acetabulis." The acetabulum was properly a vinegar cruet, in shape resembling an inverted cone; from a supposed similarity in the appearance. it is here applied to the suckers of the polypus. The Greek name is κοτυληδὼν.

8 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. ix. c. 59.

9 Cuvier says, that the changes of colour of the skin of the polypus are continual, and succeed each other with an extreme rapidity; but that it has not been observed, any more than the chameleon, to take the colour of objects in its vicinity.

10 This notion is mentioned by Athenæus, Pherecrates, Alcæus, Hesiod, Oppian, and Ælian.

11 Cuvier says, that Pliny states, in B. xxix. c. 28, that the colotis, or colotes of the Greeks, is the same as their ascalabotes, the "stellio" of the Latins. This stellio is the same as the "gecko" of the moderns, and the species known in Italy and Greece is the same as the "wall gecko" of the French, or the tarente of the Provencals. From what Pliny says here about its tail, it would appear to have been a lizard; but its identity with the stellio, Cuvier says, is very doubtful. It will be mentioned more at length in B. xi. c. 31.

12 It is very true, Cuvier says, that the tail of the gecko and lizard will grow again after it has been cut off, but without vertebra. As to the arms of the polypus, he says, it is very possible, seeing that the horns of the snail, which belongs to the same family, will grow again.

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