Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of History of Animals

Previous | Next

History of Animals   

between its feet is kept at full tension; if the animal get on to
the sand it can no longer retain its hold.
There is a difference between the octopus and the other molluscs
above mentioned: the body of the octopus is small, and his feet are
long, whereas in the others the body is large and the feet short; so
short, in fact, that they cannot walk on them. Compared with one
another, the teuthis, or calamary, is long-shaped, and the sepia
flat-shaped; and of the calamaries the so-called teuthus is much
bigger than the teuthis; for teuthi have been found as much as five
ells long. Some sepiae attain a length of two ells, and the feelers of
the octopus are sometimes as long, or even longer. The species teuthus
is not a numerous one; the teuthus differs from the teuthis in
shape; that is, the sharp extremity of the teuthus is broader than
that of the other, and, further, the encircling fin goes all round the
trunk, whereas it is in part lacking in the teuthis; both animals
are pelagic.
In all cases the head comes after the feet, in the middle of the
feet that are called arms or feelers. There is here situated a
mouth, and two teeth in the mouth; and above these two large eyes, and
betwixt the eyes a small cartilage enclosing a small brain; and within
the mouth it has a minute organ of a fleshy nature, and this it uses
as a tongue, for no other tongue does it possess. Next after this,
on the outside, is what looks like a sac; the flesh of which it is
made is divisible, not in long straight strips, but in annular flakes;
and all molluscs have a cuticle around this flesh. Next after or at
the back of the mouth comes a long and narrow oesophagus, and close
after that a crop or craw, large and spherical, like that of a bird;
then comes the stomach, like the fourth stomach in ruminants; and
the shape of it resembles the spiral convolution in the trumpet-shell;
from the stomach there goes back again, in the direction of the mouth,
thin gut, and the gut is thicker than the oesophagus. (See diagram.)
Molluscs have no viscera, but they have what is called a
mytis, and on it a vessel containing a thick black juice; in the sepia
or cuttle-fish this vessel is the largest, and this juice is most
abundant. All molluscs, when frightened, discharge such a juice, but
the discharge is most copious in the cuttle-fish. The mytis, then,
is situated under the mouth, and the oesophagus runs through it; and
down below at the point to which the gut extends is the vesicle of the
black juice, and the animal has the vesicle and the gut enveloped in
one and the same membrane, and by the same membrane, same orifice
discharges both the black juice and the residuum. The animals have
also certain hair-like or furry growths in their bodies.
In the sepia, the teuthis, and the teuthus the hard parts are
within, towards the back of the body; those parts are called in one
the sepium, and in the other the 'sword'. They differ from one
another, for the sepium in the cuttle-fish and teuthus is hard and
flat, being a substance intermediate between bone and fishbone, with
(in part) a crumbling, spongy texture, but in the teuthis the part
is thin and somewhat gristly. These parts differ from one another in
shape, as do also the bodies of the animals. The octopus has nothing
hard of this kind in its interior, but it has a gristly substance
round the head, which, if the animal grows old, becomes hard.
The females differ from the males. The males have a duct in
under the oesophagus, extending from the mantle-cavity to the lower
portion of the sac, and there is an organ to which it attaches,
resembling a breast; (see diagram) in the female there are two of
these organs, situated higher up; (see diagram) with both sexes there
are underneath these organs certain red formations. The egg of the
octopus is single, uneven on its surface, and of large size; the
fluid substance within is all uniform in colour, smooth, and in
colour white; the size of the egg is so great as to fill a vessel
larger than the creature's head. The sepia has two sacs, and inside
them a number of eggs, like in appearance to white hailstones. For
the disposition of these parts I must refer to my anatomical

Previous | Next
Site Search