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History of Animals   


So much for the habits of birds.
In marine creatures, also, one In marine creatures, also, one
may observe many ingenious devices adapted to the circumstances of
their lives. For the accounts commonly given of the so-called
fishing-frog are quite true; as are also those given of the torpedo.
The fishing-frog has a set of filaments that project in front of its
eyes; they are long and thin like hairs, and are round at the tips;
they lie on either side, and are used as baits. Accordingly, when
the animal stirs up a place full of sand and mud and conceals itself
therein, it raises the filaments, and, when the little fish strike
against them, it draws them in underneath into its mouth. The
torpedo narcotizes the creatures that it wants to catch,
overpowering them by the power of shock that is resident in its
body, and feeds upon them; it also hides in the sand and mud, and
catches all the creatures that swim in its way and come under its
narcotizing influence. This phenomenon has been actually observed in
operation. The sting-ray also conceals itself, but not exactly in
the same way. That the creatures get their living by this means is
obvious from the fact that, whereas they are peculiarly inactive, they
are often caught with mullets in their interior, the swiftest of
fishes. Furthermore, the fishing-frog is unusually thin when he is
caught after losing the tips of his filaments, and the torpedo is
known to cause a numbness even in human beings. Again, the hake, the
ray, the flat-fish, and the angelfish burrow in the sand, and after
concealing themselves angle with the filaments on their mouths, that
fishermen call their fishing-rods, and the little creatures on which
they feed swim up to the filaments taking them for bits of sea-weed,
such as they feed upon.
Wherever an anthias-fish is seen, there will be no dangerous
creatures in the vicinity, and sponge-divers will dive in security,
and they call these signal-fishes 'holy-fish'. It is a sort of
perpetual coincidence, like the fact that wherever snails are
present you may be sure there is neither pig nor partridge in the
neighbourhood; for both pig and partridge eat up the snails.
The sea-serpent resembles the conger in colour and shape, but is
of lesser bulk and more rapid in its movements. If it be caught and
thrown away, it will bore a hole with its snout and burrow rapidly
in the sand; its snout, by the way, is sharper than that of ordinary
serpents. The so-called sea-scolopendra, after swallowing the hook,
turns itself inside out until it ejects it, and then it again turns
itself outside in. The sea-scolopendra, like the land-scolopendra,
will come to a savoury bait; the creature does not bite with its
teeth, but stings by contact with its entire body, like the
so-called sea-nettle. The so-called fox-shark, when it finds it has
swallowed the hook, tries to get rid of it as the scolopendra does,
but not in the same way; in other words, it runs up the
fishing-line, and bites it off short; it is caught in some districts
in deep and rapid waters, with night-lines.
The bonitos swarm together when they espy a dangerous
creature, and the largest of them swim round it, and if it touches one
of the shoal they try to repel it; they have strong teeth. Amongst
other large fish, a lamia-shark, after falling in amongst a shoal, has
been seen to be covered with wounds.
Of river-fish, the male of the sheat-fish is remarkably
attentive to the young. The female after parturition goes away; the
male stays and keeps on guard where the spawn is most abundant,
contenting himself with keeping off all other little fishes that might
steal the spawn or fry, and this he does for forty or fifty days,
until the young are sufficiently grown to make away from the other
fishes for themselves. The fishermen can tell where he is on guard:
for, in warding off the little fishes, he makes a rush in the water
and gives utterance to a kind of muttering noise. He is so earnest

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