THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
All the known species are natives of America, in the vast forests of which they may be said literally to swarm; but happily, like most of the other venomous snakes, they never exert their terrible qualities upon man except in self-defence, and the warning rattle is always heard to give notice of their approach. Their bite is almost uniformly fatal even to the largest animals, and the latter frequently evince such an instinctive dread of them, that, according to M. Bosc, it is almost impossible to compel a horse or a dog to advance towards them. Their food consists principally of the smaller quadrupeds, such as squirrels and rabbits, of other reptiles, and of birds, although they rarely climb trees in pursuit of their prey. It was long believed, and the notion is still popularly current, that they possessed the power of fascinating their victims, which were thought to be so completely under the influence of their glance as to precipitate themselves of their own accord into the open throat of their enemy; but the truth appears to be that they actually inspire so great a degree of terror that the animals selected for their attacks are commonly rendered incapable of offering such resistance as might otherwise be in their power, or even of attempting to escape from their pursuit.
The well known group of which the Horse, the Ass, and the Zebra constitute the leading species, is distinguished from all other quadrupeds by the form of their hoof, which is single and undivided, rounded in front, of considerable thickness, and enveloping the extremity of their only apparent toe. They have in each jaw six powerful cutting teeth, accompanied on either side by the same number of grinders with square crowns flattened at the top: the males have two canines in the upper jaw, and frequently in the lower also; and this structure is sometimes shared by the females of the domesticated races. Between the canines and the molars there is a vacant space, which, our readers scarcely need to be reminded, receives the bit, the small but irresistible instrument by means of which man has for ages exercised the most complete control over the services of these useful animals. Although purely and essentially herbivorous, their anatomy, as well as their habits, separates them most thoroughly from the Ruminants, and approximates them in several respects to the Pachydermatous order, with which, in spite of their many discrepancies, both physical and moral, M. Cuvier has associated them. It is needless to point out the incongruity of this union, and it would be equally so to say more of the general form and external characteristics of a group, the principal species of which are so constantly before our eyes.
The Pelican affords an excellent illustration of the fifth and last Order of Birds, the Swimmers; the essential character of which consists in the membranous union of the toes, which renders them what is usually termed web-footed, and enables them to propel themselves upon the surface of the water with greater or less rapidity in proportion to the greater or less comparative extent of the membrane in which their toes are enveloped. They are all consequently inhabitants of marshy situations, of the banks of rivers and lakes, or of the seacoast; and most of them seek their subsistence in their most congenial element, the water, notwithstanding that by far the greater number of them are also endowed with very considerable powers of flight.
In captivity the Black Bear is distinguished from the brown only by the less degree of docility and intelligence which he evinces: and the habits of the latter are so universally known that it would be useless to dwell upon them here. The specimen figured at the head of this article was presented to the Menagerie, in 1824, by Sir George Alderson, and is remarkably tame and playful. He has, until very lately, shared his den with the Hy?na, with whom he maintained a very good correspondence, except at meal-times, when they would frequently quarrel, in a very ludicrous manner, for a piece of beef, or whatever else might happen to furnish a bone of contention between them. The Hy?na, though by far the smallest of the two, was generally master; and the Bear would moan most piteously, and in a tone somewhat resembling the bleating of a sheep, while his companion quietly consumed the remainder of his dinner.
In almost every other point they are subject to infinite variations of form and structure. The shape of the head, which, in one or two species, offers a close approximation to the human form, passes through numerous intermediate gradations, until it reaches a point at which it can only be compared with that of the hound. The body, which is in general slight and well made, is in some few instances remarkably short and thickset, and in others drawn out to a surprising degree of tenuity. Their limbs vary greatly in their proportions; but in most of them the anterior are longer than the posterior: in all they are admirably adapted to the purposes to which they are applied, in climbing and leaping, by the slenderness of their form, the flexibility of their joints, and the muscular activity with which these qualities are so strikingly combined. But of all their organs there is perhaps none which exhibits so remarkable a discrepancy in every particular as the tail; which is entirely wanting in some, forms a mere tubercle in others, in a third group is short and tapering, in a fourth of moderate length and cylindrical, in a fifth extremely long but uniformly covered with hair; in others, again, of equal length, divested of hair beneath and near the tip, and capable of being twisted round the branch of a tree or any other similar substance in such a manner as to support the whole weight of the animal, even without the assistance of his hands.
The Monkey which occupies the left hand in the present cut forms part of the same group with the subjects noticed at the end of the preceding article, from which it is distinguished by the peculiar manner in which the hair of the upper part of its head diverges, and, as it were, radiates horizontally, from a central point towards an imaginary circumference, assuming a form not unlike the object to which it is usually compared, the round bonnet of a Chinese. Its forehead is also more flattened, its superciliary crests less developed, and its muzzle considerably lengthened and laterally compressed. The length of its body is from twelve to fifteen inches, and its tail when entire measures quite as much. The forehead, which is strongly wrinkled, is nearly naked, and the whole of the face is entirely destitute of hair. That of the upper parts of the body is of a uniform yellowish gray, the under surface deriving a bluish tinge from the skin, which is but thinly covered. Its native country is the east of Asia.