May 15, 2012

Animal Life, 1792 | Walking Through Egypt

Animal Life, 1792
W.G. Browne

Egyptian Animal Life
The wild and ferocious animals are, principally, the lion, the leopard and the hyena, the wolf, the jackal, the wild buffalo, but they are not commonly seen within the more cultivated parts of the [Ottoman] empire, except the hyena and the jackal.

The former comes in herds of six, eight and often more, into all the villages at night, even within the enclosure of the houses, and fail not to assemble wherever a dead camel or other animal is thrown, which, acting in concert, they sometimes drag a prodigious distance. . . . The people of the country dig pits for them, and lying in ambuscade, when one is entrapped, stun him with clubs, or pierce him with their spears.

The jackal is harmless, but his uncouth cry is heard far off, and wherever there are rocks to shelter them, their howling community dwells undisturbed.

The Chameleon as a Pet, 1836
William Ramsay
Jan 22. Gave half a piastre for a couple of chameleons, which we have been trying unsuccessfully, to tame. Their natural colour appears to be a fine green, which is changed into a deep brown or black, and varies between the two. It is a very curious animal, like a lizard in general appearance, but much slower in its motions, and differently organised. The body is about four inches long and tapering, about double that length. It has a large and enormous mouth; the eyes are covered with a skin the same as its body, with a small hole in the centre, which they have the power of directing to any point they choose, so that they can see in all possible directions, without moving the head; each eye is moved quite independendy of the other, so that one is often pointed forward while the other looks backward. The feet are divided into two parts, of the same size and form, with three sharp claws on each part, and they have the power of grasping with the two divisions, as well as hanging by the tail; the division and action of the feet are on much the same principle as those of our hands and thumb, only as if they were two hands thus united, with three fingers each.

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