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Nor yet are dire and venomous substances found wanting in the sea: such, for instance, as the sea-hare1 of the Indian seas, which is even poisonous by the very touch, and immediately produces vomiting and disarrangement of the stomach. In our seas it has the appearance of a shapeless mass, and only resembles the hare in colour; in India it resembles it in its larger size, and in its hair, which is only somewhat coarser: there it is never taken alive. An equally deadly animal is the sea-spider,2 which is especially dangerous for a sting which it has on the back: but there is nothing that is more to be dreaded than the sting which protrudes from the tail of the trygon,3 by our people known as the pastinaca, a weapon five inches in length. Fixing this in the root of a tree, the fish is able to kill it; it can pierce armour too, just as though with an arrow, and to the strength of iron it adds all the corrosive qualities of poison.

1 It is mentioned again in B. xxiii. c. 3. Cuvier says, that the sea-hare of the ancients is the mollusc to which Linnæus has 'injudiciously given the name of aplysia, which Pliny gives to certain of the sponge genus, and to which nomenclature of Linnæus the modern naturalists have assented. (See N. 51, p. 456.) Its tentacles and its muzzle, he says, resemble the muzzle and ears of the hare, closely enough to have caused this appellation. As its smell is disagreeable, and its figure repulsive, a multitude of marvellous, and indeed fatal qualities, he says, have been ascribed to this animal, which fishermen still speak of, but which, nevertheless, are not confirmed by actual experience. The only true fact that can be alleged against it is, that it secretes from an organ, situate in its body, a kind of acrid liquid. As to the Indian sea-hare, the body of which was covered with hair, Cuvier professes himself quite at a loss to know what it might be; but he thinks that this name must have been given to some tetrodon, which may have received the name from the cleft in the jaw and the skin, bristling with fine and minute spines. The sailors, he says, attribute to the tetrodon certain venomous properties.

2 Cuvier says, that there is reason to believe that this is the same as the vive of the French (probably our weever), the Trachinus draco of Linnæus. This creature, with the spiny projections of its first dorsal fin, is able to inflict wounds that are extremely difficult to cure; not because they are venomous in any degree, but because the extremities being very minute, sharp, and pointed, penetrate deep into the flesh. See c. 43 of this Book.

3 Or sting-ray, mentioned in c 40 and c. 67 of this Book; so called from the Greek τρυγὼν. Cuvier says, that this sting, or spine, is sharp, like a saw; and that when it has penetrated the flesh, it cannot be got out without enlarging the wound. This it is, and not its fancied poisonous qualities, that renders its wound so dangerous; and as for its action upon trees and iron, they are entirely fabulous.

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