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Upon1 reflecting on such facts as these, I am the more inclined to wonder at the circumstance that some persons have been found who were of opinion that the water animals are devoid of all sense. The torpedo2 is very well aware of the extent of its own powers, and that, too, although it experiences no benumbing effects from them itself. Lying concealed in the mud, it awaits the approach of the fish, and, at the moment that they are swimming above in supposed security, communicates the shock, and instantly darts upon them: there is no delicate3 morsel in existence that is preferred to the liver of this fish. And no less wonderful, too, is the shrewdness4 manifested by the sea-frog,5 which is known by us as the "fisher." Stirring up the mud, it protrudes from the surface two little horns, which project from beneath the eyes, and so attracts the small fish which are sporting around it, until at last they approach so close that it is able to seize them. In a similar manner, too, the squatina and the rhombus6 conceal themselves, but extend their fins, which, as they move to and fro, resemble little worms; the ray also does the same. The pastinaca,7 too, lies lurking in ambush, and pierces the fish as they pass with the sting with which it is armed. Another proof of instinctive shrewdness is the fact, that although the ray is the very slowest of all the fish in its movements, it is found with the mullet in its belly, which is the swiftest of them all.

(43.) The scolopendra,8 which bears a strong resemblance9 to the land insect which we call a centipede, if it chances to swallow a hook, will vomit forth all its intestines, until it has disengaged itself, after which it will suck them in again. The sea-fox10 too, when exposed to a similar peril, goes on swallowing the line until it meets with a weak part of it, and then with its teeth snaps it asunder with the greatest ease. The fish called the glanis11 is more cautious; it bites at the hooks from behind, and does not swallow them, but only strips them of the bait.

(44.) The sea-ram12 commits its ravages just like a wary robber; at one time it will lurk in the shadow of some large vessel that is lying out at sea, and wait for any one who may be tempted to swim; while at another, it will raise its head from the surface of the water, survey the fishermen's boats, and then slily swim towards them and sink them.

1 The whole, nearly, of this Chapter is taken from Aristotle, B. v. c. 16.

2 Plutarch speaks of this fish, in his "Treatise on the Instincts of Animals;" also Oppian, Halieut. B. ii. 1. 62. The Raia torpedo of Linnæus, Cuvier says, has on each side of the body a galvanic organ, which produces an electric shock, similar to that communicated by the use of the Leyden vial. By this means it baffles its enemies, and drives them away; or else, having stupefied them, devours them at its leisure.

3 Cuvier confirms this statement. The liver of the torpedo, he says, is very delicate eating, as, indeed, is that part in most of the ray genus.

4 Oppian, Halieut. B. ii. 1. 86; Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. ix. c. 24; and Cicero, De Nat. Deor. make mention of this.

5 The Lophius piscatorius of Linnæus, the baudroie of the French. This is a fish, Cuvier says, with a large wide mouth, and having upon the top of the head moveable filaments, surmounted by a sort of membranous lashes. It seems that it is the fact that it buries itself in the sand, and then employs the artifice here mentioned by Pliny, for the purpose of attracting the fish that serve as its food.

6 Or turbot. This fish, the Pleuronectes maximus of Linnæus, and the Squalus squatina of Linnæus, presents no sufficiently distinct filaments at the extremity of the fins to justify what Pliny says. But the word "rhombus," Cuvier says, which ordinarily means the common turbot, here means the psetta of the Greeks, the Pleuronectes rhombus of Linnæus, which has the anterior radii of the dorsal fin separated, and forming small filaments. For an account of the psetta, see c. 24, p. 396.

7 The sting-ray, the Raia pastinaca of Linnæus. This fish, Cuvier says, has upon the tail a pointed spine, compressed and notched like a saw, which forms a most dangerous weapon. It is again mentioned in c, 72 of the present Book, under its Greek name of "trigon."

8 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. ii. c. 17, and B. ix. c. 51; Oppian, Halieut. B. ii. 1. 424; and Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. vii. c. 35, make a similar statement as to the scolopendra.

9 The animal, Cuvier says, which is here mentioned as the scolopendra, is in reality of the class of worms that have red blood, or annelides, such, for instance, as the Nereides of larger size. These having on the sides tentacles, which bear a strong resemblance to feet, and sharp jaws, might, he says, be very easily taken for scolopendræ. They have also a fleshy trunk, often very voluminous, and so flexible that it can be extended or withdrawn, according to the necessities of the animal. It is this trunk, Cuvier thinks, that gave occasion to the story that it could disgorge its entrails, and then swallow them again.

10 This fish, Cuvier says, was doubtless a species of squalus; which have the power, in consequence of the sharpness of their saw-like teeth, of cutting a line with the greatest ease. It is mentioned by Aristotle, B. ix. c. 52; Ælian, Var. Hist. B. i. c. 43; and Oppian, Halieut. B. iii. 1. 144.

11 The fish that has been previously mentioned in c. 17 of this Book, under the name of silurus.

12 "Aries." The Delphinus orca of Linnæus. See c. 4 of the present Book.

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