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History of Animals   


frame, numerous and strong, and surpassing in respect of number and
relative strength those found in any other animal. After being cut
open along its entire length it continues to breathe for a
considerable time; a very slight motion goes on in the region of the
heart, and, while contraction is especially manifested in the
neighbourhood of the ribs, a similar motion is more or less
discernible over the whole body. It has no spleen visible. It
hibernates, like the lizard.
12

Birds also in some parts resemble the above mentioned animals;
that is to say, they have in all cases a head, a neck, a back, a
belly, and what is analogous to the chest. The bird is remarkable
among animals as having two feet, like man; only, by the way, it bends
them backwards as quadrupeds bend their hind legs, as was noticed
previously. It has neither hands nor front feet, but wings-an
exceptional structure as compared with other animals. Its
haunch-bone is long, like a thigh, and is attached to the body as
far as the middle of the belly; so like to a thigh is it that when
viewed separately it looks like a real one, while the real thigh is
a separate structure betwixt it and the shin. Of all birds those
that have crooked talons have the biggest thighs and the strongest
breasts. All birds are furnished with many claws, and all have the
toes separated more or less asunder; that is to say, in the greater
part the toes are clearly distinct from one another, for even the
swimming birds, although they are web-footed, have still their claws
fully articulated and distinctly differentiated from one another.
Birds that fly high in air are in all cases four-toed: that is, the
greater part have three toes in front and one behind in place of a
heel; some few have two in front and two behind, as the wryneck.
This latter bird is somewhat bigger than the chaffinch, and is
mottled in appearance. It is peculiar in the arrangement of its
toes, and resembles the snake in the structure of its tongue; for
the creature can protrude its tongue to the extent of four
finger-breadths, and then draw it back again. Moreover, it can twist
its head backwards while keeping all the rest of its body still,
like the serpent. It has big claws, somewhat resembling those of the
woodpecker. Its note is a shrill chirp.
Birds are furnished with a mouth, but with an exceptional one,
for they have neither lips nor teeth, but a beak. Neither have they
ears nor a nose, but only passages for the sensations connected with
these organs: that for the nostrils in the beak, and that for
hearing in the head. Like all other animals they all have two eyes,
and these are devoid of lashes. The heavy-bodied (or gallinaceous)
birds close the eye by means of the lower lid, and all birds blink
by means of a skin extending over the eye from the inner corner; the
owl and its congeners also close the eye by means of the upper lid.
The same phenomenon is observable in the animals that are protected by
horny scutes, as in the lizard and its congeners; for they all without
exception close the eye with the lower lid, but they do not blink like
birds. Further, birds have neither scutes nor hair, but feathers;
and the feathers are invariably furnished with quills. They have no
tail, but a rump with tail-feathers, short in such as are
long-legged and web-footed, large in others. These latter kinds of
birds fly with their feet tucked up close to the belly; but the
small rumped or short-tailed birds fly with their legs stretched out
at full length. All are furnished with a tongue, but the organ is
variable, being long in some birds and broad in others. Certain
species of birds above all other animals, and next after man,
possess the faculty of uttering articulate sounds; and this faculty is
chiefly developed in broad-tongued birds. No oviparous creature has an
epiglottis over the windpipe, but these animals so manage the
opening and shutting of the windpipe as not to allow any solid
substance to get down into the lung.

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