Page images

till the ants, grown more cautious, will be allured to their destruction no longer. It is against these noxious insects, therefore, that its only force or cunuing is exerted; and were the negroes but sufficiently sensible of its utility in destroying one of the greatest pests to their country, they would not be so eager to kill it.

Of this animal, there is a variety which is called the phatagin, much less than the former, being not above a foot long from the bead to the tail, with shells differently formed, with its belly, breast, and throat covered with hair, instead of a smooth skin as in the former; but that by which it is peculiarly distinguished is the extent of its tail, which is above twice the length of its body. Both are found in the warm latitudes of the east, as well as in Africa; and, as their numbers are but few, it is to be supposed their fecundity is not great.

THE ARMADILLO or TATOU.—Having mentioned quadrupeds of the ancient continent covered with scales, we come next to quadrupeds of the new continent covered with shells. The armadillo is chiefly an inhabitant of South America ; a peaceful, harmless creature, incapable of offending any other quadruped, and furnisbed with a peculiar covering for its own defence. The pangolin, described above, seems an inactive, helpless being, indebted for safety more to its patience than its

(S.x Bandu Armanino.) power; but the armadillo is still more exposed and helpless. The pangolin is furnished with an armour that wounds while it resists, and that is never attacked with impunity: but the armadillo is obliged to submit to every insult, without any power of repelling its enemy; it is attacked without danger, and is consequently liable to more various persecutions.*

This animal being covered, like a tortoise, with a shell, or rather a number of shells, its other proportions are not easily discerned. It appears, at first view, a round, mishapen mass, with a long head, and a very large tail sticking out at either end, as if not of a piece with the rest of the body. It is of different sizes, from a foot to three feet long, and covered with a shell divided into several pieces, that lap over each other like the plates in a coat of armour, or in the tail

* New SPECIES OF ARMADILLO.- In the that of burrowing. For this operation, the district of Cuyo, at the foot of the Andes, on long and broad claws with which they are the eastern side, is occasionally discovered a furnished are truly admirably adapted : and very curious little quadruped, which unites their sharp points and cutting lower edges the habits of the mole to the appearance of must materially assist in clearing a way the armadillo. Its upper parts and sides are through the entangled roots which it may defended by a coat, or rather cloak, of mail, encounter in its subterranean travels. Its of a coriaceous nature, but exceeding in in- teeth resemble those of the sloth more nearly flexibility, sole-leather of equal thickness. than any other animals ; and it seems to reThis cloak does not adhere, like that of the present, beneath the earth, that well-known armadillo, to the whole surface, occupying and singular inhabitant of trees—for its mothe place of the skin—but is applied over the tions, sò far as can be conjectured from its skin and fur, forming an additional covering, conformation, must also be executed with exwhich is attached only along the middle of treme slowness. A specimen, preserved in the back and on the head. The hinder parts spirit, has recently been added to the museum of the animal are also protected by it, to of the Zoological Society, by the Hon. Capcover which, it is suddenly

bent downwards tain Percy, R. N. who received it from Woodat nearly a right angle. The tail is short, bine Parish, Esq.. British consul at Buenos and is directed forwards along the under sur. Ayres. This is the first instance of its being face of the body. Owing to the rigidity of bronght to Europe, to the naturalists of the case which so nearly incloses the animal, which it had previously been known only by its motions must be limited almost entirely the figures and description recently given by to those of mere progression, and even for Dr. Harlan, in the Annals of the Lyceum of these, the structure of its fore-feet is ill Natural History of New York. — ARCANA or suited.

The anterior limbs are, indeed, SCIENCE, 1828. scarcely fitted for any other nurpose than



of a lobster. The difference in the size of this animal, and also the different disposition and number of its plates, have been considered as constituting so many species, each marked with its own particular name. In all, however, the animal is partially covered with this natural coat of mail; the conformation of which affords one of the most striking curiosities in natural history. This shell, which in every respect resembles a bony substance, covers the head, the neck, the back, the sides, the rump, and the tail to the very point. The only parts to which it does not extend are the throat, the breast, and the belly, which are covered with a white, soft skin, somewhat resembling that of a fowl stripped of its feathers. If these naked parts be observed with attention, they will be found covered with the rudiments of shells, of the same substance with those which cover the back. The skin, even in the parts that are softest, seems to have a tendency to ossily ; but a complete ossification takes place only on those parts which bave the least friction, and are the most exposed to the weather. The shell, which covers

npper part of the body, differs from that of the tortoise, in being composed of more pieces than one, which lie in bands over the body, and, as in the tail of the lobster, slide over each other, and are connected by a yellow membrane in the same manner. By this means the animal bas a motion in its back, and the armour gives way to its necessary inflections. These bands are of various numbers and sizes, and from them these animals have been distinguished into various kinds. In general however, there are two large pieces that cover, one

tbe shoulders and the other the rump. In the back, between these, the bands are placed in different numbers, that lap over

(Nine-banded Armalillo.) each other, and give play to the whole. Besides their opening cross-ways, they also open down along the back, so that the animal can move in every direction. In some there are but three of these bands between the large pieces; in others there are six; in a third kind there are eight: in a fourth kind, nine; in a fifth kind, twelve ; and lastly, in the sixth kind there is but one large piece, which covers the shoulders, and the rest of the body is covered with bands all down to the tail. These shells are differently coloured in different kinds, but most usually they are of a dirty grey. This colour in all arises from another peculiar circumstance in their conformation, for the shell itself is covered with a softish skin, which is smooth and transparent.

But, although these shells might easily defend this animal from a feeble enemy, yet they could make but a slight resistance against a more powerful antagonist; nature, therefore, has given the armadillo the same method of protecting itself with the hedge-hog or the pangolin. The instant it perceives itself attacked, it withdraws the head under its shells, and lets nothing be seen but the tip of the nose; if the danger increases, the animal's precautions increase in proportion; it then tucks up its feet under its belly, unites its two extremities together, while the tail seems as a band to strengthen the connexion; and it thus becomes like a ball, a little fattish on each side. In this position it continues obstinately fixed, while the danger is near, and often long after it is over. In this situation it is tossed about at the pleasure of every other

quadruped, and very little resembling a creature endowed with life and motion. Whenever the Indians take it, which is in this form, by laying it close to the fire, they soon oblige the poor animal to unfold itself, and to face a milder death to escape a more severe.

As to the rest, these animals, though they all resemble each other in the general character of being clothed with a shell, yet differ a good deal in their size, and in the parts into which their shell is divided. The first of this kind, which




has but three bands between the two large pieces that cover the back, is called the tatu apara. I will not enter into an exact description of its figure, which, how well written soever, no imagination could exactly conceive; and the reader would be more fatigued to understand than I to write it. The tail is shorter in this than any other kind, being not more than two inches long, while the shell, taking all the pieces together, is a foot long and eight inches broad. The second is the tatou of Ray, or the encoubert of Buffon: this is distinguished from the rest by six bands across the back; it is about the size of a pig of a month old, with a small, long head and a very long tail. The third is the tatuette, furnished with eight bands, and not by a great deal so big as the former. Its tail is longer also, and its legs shorter in proportion. Its body, from the nose to the insertion of the tail, is about ten inches long, and the tail seven. The fourth is the pig-headed armadillo, with nine bands. This is much larger than the former, being about two feet long from the nose to the tail. The fifth is the kabassou, or cataphractus, with twelve bands, and still bigger than the former, or any other of its kind. This is often found above three feet long, but is never eaten as the rest are. The sixth is the weasel-headed armadillo, with eighteen bands, with a large piece before, and nothing but bands backward. This is

(Twelve-banded Armadillo.) above a foot long, and the tail tive inches. Of all these, the kabassou and the encoubert are the largest ; the rest are of a much smaller kind.* In the larger kinds, the shell is much more

* THE ARMADILLO.-M. Fr. Cuvier mange m ating in a higher degree than this ani. the following observations on an armadillo mal.”Hist. des Mammif. closely allied to this species, which lived for We have observed the same habits, the many years in the Menagerie at the Garden same unceremonious manner of running of Plants in Paris. “If we were to judge against or over anything that stood in their of the intellectual faculties of the species by way, whether a rabbit, or another of their the individual now under consideration, we own species, in specimens living at the Surshould conclude that the Encoubert possesses rey Zoological Gardens. A smaller variety them in a very limited degree. When he is of Dusypus nustelinus, or a species nearly set at liberty, he goes running to the right allied to it, has attracted considerable notice and to the left, digging in one corner, and at the gardens in the Regent's Park during then suddenly stopping to run and scratch in the preceding year. The mode of locomoanother. A sudden noise startles him; he tion and the habits of these individuals were stops to listen, but he does not seem to per- similar to those above mentioned. In their ceive the presence of a new object, nor to place of confinement it was extremely amudistinguish a person from a stone; when he sing to see the mock air of business with runs, he goes indiscriminately against every which they would run from corner to corner, thing in his way, and passes over it or by the suddenly stopping as if to listen, then side of it, with equal indifference whether the scratching and rearing themselves up until obstacle be a piece of wood or an animal. generally they lost their balance and tunbled flis indifference in this respect is such, that backwards in the straw; these actions they I should be inclined to attribute it only to his would repeat over and over again in the most inexperience, to the continual slavery in mechanical manner, until the patience of the which he had lived, and to the habit he had observer at length became exhausted. contracted of being touched and carried These animals have brought forth more about in the hand from one place to another. than once since they came into the possession But he never learnt to distinguish the hand of the Zoological Society: and it seems by that fed him, and remained as unfamiliar no means improbable that they might be as with the person who had the care of him, as readily naturalized as the guinea-pig. There with any other individual. In this respect I is perhaps no quadruped more easy to transcannot compare him better than to the ani- port: a little food, either animal or vegetable, mals of the lower classes ; yet there are even and a little milk suffice for their nourishment, among the insects some which seem to have and they readily bear close confinement. received the faculty of judging and of discri- And as the species require to be rigorously solid than in the others, and the Aesh is much harder and unfit for the table. These are generally seen to reside in dry, upland grounds, while the small species are always found in moist places, and in the neighbourhood of brooks and rivers. They all roll themselves into a ball; but those whose bands are fewest in number are least capable of covering themselves up completely. The Tatu Apara, for instance, when rolled up, presents two great interstices between its bands, by which it is very easily vulnerable, even by the feeblest of quadrupeds.



Having in the last chapter described a race of animals that unite the boundaries between quadrupeds and insects, I come in this to a very different class, that serve to fill up the chasm between quadrupeds and birds. Some naturalists, indeed, have found animals of the bat kind so much partaking of the nature of both, that they have been at a loss in which rank to place them, and have doubted,

(The Bat.) in giving the history of the Bat, whether it was a beast or a bird they were describing.

The bat in scarce any particular resembles the bird, except in its power of sustaining itself in the air. It brings forth its young alive : it suckles them; its mouth is furnished with teeth; its lungs are formed like those of quadrupeds ; its intestines, and its skeleton, have a complete resemblance, and even are, in some measure, seen to resemble those of mankind. (g)

The bat most common in England, is about the size of a mouse; or nearly two inches and a half long. The membranes that are usually called wings, are, properly speaking, an extension of the skin all around the body, except the head, which, when the animal flies, is kept stretched on every side, by the four interior toes of the fore feet, which are enormously long, and serve like masts that keep the canvass of a sail spread, and regulate its motions.(8). The first toe is quite loose, and serves as a beel when the bat walks, or as a hook, when it would adhere to any thing. The bind feet are disengaged from the surrounding skin, and divided into five toes, somewhat resembling those of a mouse. The skin by which it flies is of a dusky colour. The body is covered with a short fur, of a mouse colour, tinged with red. The eyes are very small; the ears like those of a mouse.

This species of the bat is very common in England. It makes its first appear. compared in order to determine the value of near together; the fore feet are webbed with the characters that have been adopted to dis- a thin plicatile membrane which surrounds tinguish them, it is desirable that the facility the body, and gives them the power of flight. with which they may be brought over should They appear, from experiments made by be generally known to those who make voy. Spallanzani, to have a remarkable additional ages from South America to Europe.—Zoo- sense, which enables them, when deprived of LOGICAL MAGAZINE.

sight, to avoid objects in their way, as readily * Bats.—The animals of this numerous as when they have the full power of vision. family have sharp pointed, erect treth, placed (8) Penis propendens.

(8) British Zoology.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »