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The curiosity and wonder which have been excited in mankind by this subject, will not allow me any longer to defer giving an account of the generation of these animals. Fishes couple by rubbing their bellies1 against one another; an operation, however, that is performed with such extraordinary celerity as to escape the sight. Dolphins2 also, and other animals of the cetaceous kind, couple in a similar manner, though the time occupied in so doing is somewhat longer. The female fish, at the season for coupling, follows the male, and strikes against its belly with its muzzle; while the male in its turn, when the female is about to spawn, follows it and devours3 the eggs. But with them, the simple act of coupling is not sufficient4 for the purposes of reproduction; it is necessary for the male to pass among the eggs which the female has produced, in order to sprinkle them with its vitalizing fluid. This does not, however, reach all the eggs out of so vast a multitude; indeed, if it did, the seas and lakes would soon be filled, seeing that each female produces these eggs in quantities innumerable.5

(51.) The eggs6 of fishes grow in the sea; some of them with the greatest rapidity, those of the muræna, for instance; others, again, somewhat more slowly. Those among the flat fishes,7 whose tails or stings are not in the way, as well as those of the turtle kind, couple the one upon the other: the polypus by attaching one of its feelers to the nostrils8 of the female, the sæpia and loligo, by means of the tongue; uniting the arms, they then swim contrary ways; these last also bring forth at the mouth. The polypi,9 however, couple with the head downwards towards the ground, while the rest of the soft10 fish couple backwards in the same manner as the dog; cray-fish and shrimps do the same, and crabs employ the mouth.

Frogs leap the one upon the other, the male with its forefeet clasping the armpits of the female, and with its hinder ones the haunches. The female produces tiny pieces of black flesh, which are known by the name of gyrini,11 and are only to be distinguished by the eyes and tail; very soon, however, the feet are developed, and the tail, becoming bifurcate, forms the hind legs. It is a most singular thing, but, after a life of six months' duration, frogs melt away12 into slime, though no one ever sees how it is done; after which they come to life again in the water during the spring, just as they were13 before. This is effected by some occult operation of Nature, and happens regularly every year.

Mussels, also, and scallops are produced in the sand by the spontaneous14 operations of nature. Those which have a harder shell, such as the murex and the purple, are formed from a viscous fluid like saliva, just as gnats are produced from liquids turned sour,15 and the fish called the apua,16 "from the foam of the sea when warm, after the fall of a shower.

Those fish, again, which are covered with a stony coat, such as the oyster, are produced from mud in a putrid state, or else from the foam that has collected around ships which have been lying for a long time in the same position, about posts driven into the earth, and more especially around logs of wood.17 It has been discovered, of late years, in the oyster—Beds,18 that the animal discharges an impregnating liquid,19 which has the appearance of milk. Eels, again, rub themselves against rocks, upon which, the particles20 which they thus scrape from off their bodies come to life, such being their only means of reproduction. The various kinds of fishes do not couple out of their own kind, with the exception of the squatina and the ray.21 The fish that is produced from the union of these two, resembles a ray in the fore part, and bears a name among the Greeks compounded of the two.22

Certain animals are produced only at certain seasons of the year, both in water and on the land, such, for instance, as scallops, snails, and leeches, in the spring, which also disappear at stated periods. Among fishes, the wolf-fish23 and the trichias24 bring forth twice in the year, as also do all kinds of rock-fish; the mullet and the chalcis25 thrice in the year, the cyprinus26 six times, the scorpæna27 twice, and the sargus in spring and autumn. Among the flat-fish, the squatina brings forth twice a year, being the only28 one that does so at the setting of the29 Vergiliæ in autumn. Most fish spawn in the three months of April, May, and June. The salpa brings forth in the autumn, the sargus, the torpedo, and the squalus30 about the time of the autumnal equinox. The soft fishes31 bring forth in spring, the sæpia every month in the year; its eggs adhere together with a kind of black glutinous substance, in appearance like a bunch of grapes, and the male is very careful to go among them and breathe32 upon them, as otherwise they would be barren. The polypi couple in winter, and produce eggs in the spring twisted in spiral clusters, in a similar manner to the tendrils of the vine; and so remarkably prolific are they, that when the animal is killed in a state of pregnancy, the cavities of the head are quite unable to contain the multitude33 of eggs enclosed therein. They bring forth these eggs at the fiftieth day, but in consequence of the vast number of them, great multitudes perish. Cray-fish, and other sea-animals with a thinner crust, lay their eggs one upon the other, and then sit upon them. The female polypus sometimes sits upon its eggs, and at other times closes the entrance of its retreat by spreading out its feelers, interlaced like a net. The sæpia brings forth on dry land, among reeds or such sea-weed as it may find growing there, and hatches its eggs on the fifteenth day. The loligo produces its eggs out at sea, clustered together like those of the sæpia. The purple,34 the murex, and other fishes of the same kind, bring forth in the spring. Sea-urchins have their eggs at full moon during the winter; sea-snails35 also are produced during the winter season.

1 Cuvier says, that this is not the case in general; but that some, more especially those which are viviparous, actually do couple; while, on the other hand, in most, the male does nothing else but besprinkle with the milt the eggs which the female has deposited, as is stated by Pliny a little further on.

2 These belong to the cetacea; which, as Cuvier says, are now universally placed among the mammifera, and not among the fishes. They couple, he says, in the same manner as quadrupeds do in general.

3 As Aristotle says, "from those that are left the fishes are produced."

4 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 12.

5 It has been calculated, Cuvier says, that a female cod, or sturgeon, produces in a year more than one hundred thousand eggs.

6 Cuvier says, that the eggs of the common fishes, of toads, frogs, &, have no shells, but only a membranous tunic; and when they have been once fecundated, they imbibe the surrounding moisture, and increase till they produce the animal.

7 It is probable, Cuvier thinks, that this passage relates more especially to the ray genus, but that there is no very positive knowledge as to the mode in which they do couple. It is probable, he suggests, that they may do it in the manner above mentioned, by the attrition of the belly. As to the turtle genus, he says, it is certain that the male mounts the back of the female; and in some species the sternum of the male is concave, the better to adapt itself to the convex callipash of the female.

8 More properly, the physeter, passage, or orifice.

9 Cuvier remarks, that this account of the coupling of the cephalopodes is taken from Aristotle. He says, that he is not aware whether modern observation has confirmed these statements, and almost doubts whether, considering the organization of these animals, it is not almost more probable that they do not couple at all, and that the male, as in the case of most other fishes, only fecundates the eggs after they have been deposited by the female.

10 Cuvier says, that whatever may be the sense in which the word "mollia" is here taken, the assertion is not correct. The gasteropod molluscs, he says, whether hermaphroditical, or whether of separate sexes, couple side to side. The acephalous molluscs do not couple at all, and each individual fecundates its own eggs. The crustacea couple by attrition of the belly.

11 "Tadpoles." There is both truth and falsehood, Cuvier says, in the statements here made relative to the tadpole. Frogs, he says, produce eggs, from which the tadpole developes itself, with a tail like that of a fish. The feet, however, are not produced by any bifurcation of the tail, but shoot out at the base of the tail, and in the same proportion that they grow, the tail decreases, till at last it entirely disappears.

12 Frogs, Cuvier says, conceal themselves in mud and slime during the winter, but, of course, are not changed into it.

13 "Quæ fuere." Just in the same state, he probably means to say, in which they were when they were melted into slime, and not as they were when in the tadpole state.

14 All that is asserted here, Cuvier says, about the spontaneous operations of nature is totally false. Everything connected with the eggs and the generation of the mussel, the murex, and the scallop is now clearly ascertained.

15 "Acescente humore." Hardouin has suggested that the proper reading may be "arescente humore"—" from moisture dried up;" for, he remarks, Aristotle, in his Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 18, states, that the "empides," gnats formed from the ascarides in the slime of wells, are more frequently produced in the autumn season.

16 The apuæ, or aphyæ, Cuvier says, are nothing else but the fry of fish of a large kind.

17 Cuvier says, that some of the shell-fish deposit their eggs upon stakes and piles, which are driven down into the water among sea-weed, and the bottoms of old ships: but that many of them perish from the solutions formed by those bodies in a state of rottenness, or, at all events, are not produced from their decomposition.

18 "Ostreariis." This was unknown to Aristotle, who, in his work De Gener. Anim. B. iii. c. 11, expressly denies that the oyster secretes any generative or fecundating liquid.

19 Cuvier says, that at the time of the oyster spawning, its body appears swollen in some parts with a milky fluid, which is not improbably the fecundating fluid. During this season the oyster is generally looked upon as unfit for food; among us, from the beginning of May to the end of July.

20 This, Cuvier remarks, is a mere vague hypothesis, as to the reproduction of the eel, without the slightest foundation. Pliny borrows it from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 9.

21 The squatina and the ray do not interbreed, Cuvier observes, any more than other fish; and the Squatina raia, or rhinobatis, (which was said to be their joint production), is a particular species, more flat in form than the squalus, and longer than the ray.

22 ρινόβατος, the squatinoraia."

23 "Lupus." The Perca labrax of Linnæus; see c. 28 of the present Book.

24 The sardine. See c. 20 of the present Book.

25 Sec c. 71 of the present Book.

26 This name, Cuvier says, appears so rarely in the ancient writers, that it is difficult to ascertain its exact signification. The moderns, he says, have pretty generally agreed to give it to the carp, but without any good and sufficient foundation. It was a lake or river fish, which, as Aristotle says, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 14, deposited its eggs five or six times in the year, and which had a palate so fleshy, that it might almost be mistaken for a tongue, B. iv. c. 8, characteristics that appear well suited to the carp. But then, on the other hand, Oppian mentions it, Halieut. B. i., as a shore fish, implying apparently that it belonged to the sea; and Pliny himself, in c. 25 of the present Book, does the same, by his words, "hoc et in mari accidere cyprino." The words "in mari," however, he has added, of his own accord, to the account which he has derived from Aristotle.

27 The fish called the sea-scorpion. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 11.

28 "Sola autumno, occasu Vergiliarum." It seems questionable whether the reading should not be "solea:" "the sole in autumn, at the setting of the Vergiliæ."

29 The Pleiades.

30 See c. 40 of the present Book.

31 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 11.

32 "Prosequitur afflatu." Aristotle says that it pours over them its ink or atramentum, καταφυσᾷ τὸν θόλον.

33 Philostratus, Hist. B. v. c. 17, says that so full is it of eggs, that after it is dead they will more than fill a vessel far larger than the cavities of its head.

34 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v, c. 14.

35 Our periwinkles.

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