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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



The Orca








is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"The Balaena
(whale of some sort) penetrates to our seas even. It is said that they
are not to be seen in the ocean of Gades (Bay of Cadiz) before the
winter solstice, and that at periodical seasons they retire and conceal
themselves in some calm capacious bay, in which they take a delight in
bringing forth. This fact, however, is known to the Orca, an animal
which is particularly hostile to the Balaena, and the form of which
cannot be in any way accurately described, but as an enormous mass of
flesh, armed with teeth. This animal attacks the Balaena in its place of
retirement, and with its teeth tears its young, or else attacks the
females which have just brought forth, and, indeed, while they are still
pregnant; and, as they rush upon them, it pierces them just as though
they had been attacked by the beak of a Liburnian Galley. The female
Balaenae, devoid of all flexibility, without energy to defend themselves,
and overburdened by their own weight; weakened, too, by gestation, or
else the pains of recent parturition, are well aware that their only
resource is to take flight in the open sea, and to range over the whole
face of the ocean; while the Orcae, on the other hand, do all in their
power to meet them in their flight, throw themselves in their way, and
kill them either cooped up in a narrow passage, or else drive them on a
shoal, or dash them to pieces against the rocks. When these battles are
witnessed, it appears just as though the sea were infuriate against
itself; not a breath of wind is there to be felt in the bay, and yet the
waves, by their pantings and their repeated blows, are heaved aloft in a
way which no whirlwind could effect.

"An Orca has been seen even in the port of Ostia, where it was attacked
by the Emperor Claudius. It was while he was constructing the harbour
there that this orca came, attracted by some hides, which, having been
brought from Gaul, had happened to fall overboard there. By feeding
upon these for several days it had quite glutted itself, having made for
itself a channel in the shoaly water. Here, however, the sand was thrown
up by the action of the wind to such an extent that the creature found
it quite impossible to turn round; and while in the act of pursuing its
prey, it was propelled by the waves towards the shore, so that its back
came to be perceived above the level of the water, very much resembling
in appearance the keel of a vessel turned bottom upwards. Upon this,
Caesar ordered a number of nets to be extended at the mouth of the
harbour, from shore to shore, while he himself went there with the
Praetorian Cohorts, and so afforded a spectacle to the Roman people; for
boats assailed the monster, while the soldiers on board showered lances
upon it. I, myself, saw one of the boats sunk by the water which the
animal, as it respired, showered down upon it."

Olaus Magnus thus writes "Of the fight between the Whale and the Orca. A
Whale is a very great fish, about one hundred, or three hundred foot
long, and the body is of a vast magnitude, yet the Orca, which is
smaller in quantity, but more nimble to assault, and cruel to come on,
is his deadly Enemy. An Orca is like a Hull turned inwards outward; a
Beast with fierce Teeth, with which, as with the Stern of a Ship, he
rends the Whale's Guts, and tears its Calve's body open, or he quickly
runs and drives him up and down with his prickly back, that he makes him
run to Fords and Shores. But the Whale, that cannot turn its huge
body, not knowing how to resist the wily Orca, puts all its hopes in
flight; yet that flight is weak, because this sluggish Beast, burdned by
its own weight, wants one to guide her, to fly to the Foords, to escape
the dangers."





Next: The Dolphin

Previous: The Saw Fish



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