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LIVES, MANNERS, AND ECONOMY,
ARRANGED ACCORDING TO THE SYSTEM OF LINNÆUS.
BY THE REV. W. BINGLEY, A.B.
FELLOW OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY,
AND LATE OF ST. PETER'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR R. PHILLIPS, No. 71, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD, AND SOLD BY T. HURST, PATERNOSTER-ROW; E. BALFOUR, EDINBURGH; AND J. ARCHER, DUBLIN.
Wilks and Taylor, Printers, Chancery-lane.
THE title of Amphibia is given by Linnæus to the Reptile and Serpent tribes; or to such animals as have cold blood, and live occasionally both on land and in water. It is true that this may be considered exceptionable on account of some individuals being confined to only one of those situations: these are, however, so very few as not, with any propriety, to affect their general denomination.
Their abode is usually in retired, watery and shady places, where they are, most probably, stationed to prevent the excessive multiplication of water animals and insects; and themselves, in many instances, to serve as food for fishes and birds.
They are able, from the peculiar structure of their organs, to suspend respiration at pleasure; and thus to support the change of element uninjured. They have also the power of enduring a degree of abstinence so great as infallibly to prove fatal to any other order of animals.
It is generally asserted and believed, that the
hearts of the Amphibia are furnished with only one ventricle: more accurate physiologists are however of opinion, that we ought rather to say that they have two ventricles with an immediate communication between them.
The lungs consist, for the most part, of a pair of large bladders or membranaceous receptacles, parted into cancelli or small subdivisions, among which are beautifully distributed their few pulmonary bloodvessels.
Many of the animals possess a high degree of reproductive power, and when their feet, tail, &c. are by any accident destroyed, others will grow in their place. Their bodies are sometimes defended by a hard, horny shield or covering; and sometimes by a coriaceous integument. Some species have scales, and others soft pustular warts or protuberances. Their bones are more cartilaginous than those either of quadrupeds or birds. Several of the species are destitute of ribs. Some are furnished with formidable teeth, while others are entirely without: some again are fierce and predacious; and others perfectly inoffensive. None of them chew their food, but all swallow it whole, and digest it very slowly.
Few, except among the Serpent tribe, are of a poisonous nature, and even of these species not more than one sixth possess this dreadful quality.
They are in general extremely tenacious of life, and many will continue to move and exert animal functions, even destitute of their head.
Their colours are often livid and disgusting;
though some are decorated with most splendid skins. Many of them exhale a loathsome odour, owing perhaps to the foulness of their abode, or the substances on which they feed. Their voices are either harsh and unmusical, or else the animals are entirely dumb.
Most of the Amphibia are oviparous: the eggs of some species are covered with a hard calcareous shell; and those of others have a soft tough skin, or covering, resembling parchment: the eggs of several, as the Frog, Toad, &c. are perfectly gelatinous. In those species that are viviparous, the eggs are regularly formed, but hatched internally, and the young are extruded in perfection: this is the case with the Viper and some others. In cold and temperate climates nearly all the Amphibia pass the winter in a torpid state.
They are divided by Linnæus into two orders: Reptiles and Serpents*.
1. Reptiles. These are furnished with feet, and have flat naked ears without auricles. The principal genera are the Tortoises, Lizards, and Frogs.
2. Serpents. These have no feet, but move by the assistance of scales, and their general powers of contortion. Their jaws are dilatable, and not articulated. They have neither fins nor ears.
* Reptilia and Serpentes.