CROCODILE

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CROCODILE (crocodilus); a genus of saurian, or lizardlike reptile, species of which are found in the old and new world. That inhabiting the Nile and other rivers of Africa has been known for many ages, and' celebrated, from the remotest antiquity, for qualities which render it terrible to mankind. As the largest,reptile known,* and as the most ferocious and destructive of the inhabitants of the waters, it could not but command the attention, and excite the fears, of those who were near enough to observe its peculiarities. Few persons have read the sublime book of Job, without being struck with the magnificent and terrible description of the attributes of leviathan to which alone the characters of the crocodile correspond. It is not surprising that the Egyptians, who deified almost* The skeletons of much larger reptiles have been discovered within the last half century ; but/ from the strata in which they were found, it i"" certain they had become extinct long before tb" earth was.inhabited by man. every thing, should place among their gods animals so powerful and destructive, though a better reason is to be found in the defence which they afforded against the incursions of Arabs and other robbers, who were not fond of adventuring across canals and rivers frequented by CROCODILEs. A regular priesthood and worship were consecrated to this ferocious deity, and in the temple of Memphis a sacred individual of the species was reared with great care, being abundantly fed, adorned with jewels, and lodged in a spacious basin, having offerings and sacrifices made to him. Being thus fed and managed, the terrible reptile became sufficiently mild and tractable to be led about in ceremonial processions. When he died, the priests embalmed his body, and buried it in the royal sepulchre! So much for the wisdom of the nation which is commonly regarded as the most enlightened of antiquity ! The most ancient description of the crocodile is that given by Herodotus, in his observations on Egypt, in his first book. This account, though mingled with a considerable share of fable, is generally correct; and some of the errors still in existence concerning this animal, appear to be derived from his statement: such are the stories of the bird which picks the crocodile's teeth, and that the animal moves only the upper jaw. The latter assertion, though utterly incorrect, is repeated, even at this day, by persons who have had opportunities of knowing better from actual observation, had they not been too much blinded by prejudice to profit thereby. The genus is characterized by the following peculiarities: The tail is compressed or broadest vertically; the posterior feet are wholly or partly palmated; the tongue attached to the mouth, even to its very edges, without being in the least extensible; a single.£o ~:.~~i_ o ^"J *__*u ' *u."!" back of the throat The < ed with three lids; and i there are two small pou< crete a strongly musky sub has divided the'genus int< era, viz. gavials, having ar row beak or snout; cayrnc with broad snouts, and he teeth to fit into boles exc in the imper jaw, and cr having the head oblong, t broad, and the four long passing by grooves, and n cavities in the upper jav are most common in, if ] the great rivers of India, are confined to the new cc crocodile proper, with a si to Africa. These reptile midable, from their great si and, if they were not rem by the length of the body become as dreadful on water, where they can acl advantage. Where they; tremely dangerous to v< rivers for the purpose of I carelessly exposed in a e shore, their shortness of lit of body, and difficulty o advancing otherwise tha ward, enable men and an escape pursuit. For a c 15, or 18 feet in length, t must necessarily describe circle. In the water, the ' exert by means of the loi amply compensates for wt and renders the animal match for any of its enem with which it darts throuj pursuit of prey, resembles arrow rather than the p huge animal, and, when € gambols, or in combatingu:~ J begun. In regard to the general character and habits of crocodiles, we might safely refer to the account given in the first volume of this work, under the title Alligator, which has been more carefully observed. They are so similar in every respect, that what is said of the American species, with very slight modification, will hold good of the African. The crocodile of Egypt is no longer found, except in the upper parts of that country, where the heat i9 greatest, and the population least numerous. Anciently, the species was common nearly to the outlet of the Nile; and it is stated by Pliny, that they used to pass the winter months buried in the mud, in a state of torpidity. They are still common enough in the river Senegal, the Jaire, Joliba, &c. The size to which these creatures grow is very remarkable, and would lead us to believe that they live to a vast age. It is stated by excellent authorities, that individuals have been killed in Upper Egypt measuring 30 feet in length. M. Cloquet, who was one of the French institute, engaged in exploring that country, while the armies of the republic were present, saw a crocodile 25 feet long. A little reflection upon the muscular power of such a reptile will serve to convince us of its ability to commit extensive ravages on the lives of other creatures. There are numerous particulars connected tvith the anatomy of these beings, which are very curious and interesting. Such are the articulations of the lower jaw with the upper, the joint being so far back as to cause almost every incidental observer to believe that the upper, not the lower jaw, is moved in opening the mouth; the lateral spines on the vertebrae, which prevent the turning of the liody, except in a large circle; the curious set of ribs designed exclusively for the protection of the belly, aided by two broad bones standing on the anterior edge of the pelvis, which may be compared with the ossa marsupialia of certain quadrupeds ; the construction of the external ears; the apparatus for the protection of the eye, &c, &c. But for such details, we are under the necessity of referring the reader to treatises especially devoted to their illustration. The species of croc" odile admitted by Cuvier, in the excellent researches contained in the 10th and 12th volumes ot the Annates du Mustum, are the following: 1. the common crocodile of Egypt (C. vulgaris); 2. the doublecpested (C bip&rcatus); 3. the lozenge crocodile (C. rhombifer),\ 4. the twoplate crocodile (C. biacvtotus); and 5. the Hay tian (C. acutus), the only true crocodile found in the new world, according to hib definition. The memoirs above referred to contain very minute and satisfactory accounts of the discriminating marks of these specie3, and to that source the reader who desires such information may refer with great advantage. CR(ESUS, the last king of Lydia, lived in the sixth century before Christ. He was brave, and augmented his empire by the conquest of many provinces of Asia Minor. His riches, which lie obtained chiefly from mines, and the gold dust of the river Pactolus, were greater than those of any king before him; and the expression "riches of Croesus" came to signify unbounded wealth. Proud of his treasures, he carried his love of splendor to extravagance, and thought himself the happiest of men. Herodotus' tells us that Solon visited him at his court, and, on being asked by him who was the happiest man he knew, mentioned, first, Tellus, then Cleobis and Biton, all three humble individuals of Greece, who had died in the midst of a virtuous career. The stQry of these individuals, as related by Solon, is one of the most affecting and charming passages in the work of the father of history. Croesus manifested displeasure that the choice of the sage had not fallen upon him; but Solon reminded him that no one can be safely pronounced happy until his death; and Croesus was soon forced to acknowledge the truth of the reflection, having lost two beloved sons by violent death, and having been conquered himself by Cyrus, against whom he had waged war for the benefit of the Babylonians. He was taken prisoner in his capital, Sardis, and, having been placed on a pile in order to be burnt, he three times exclaimed, " Oh, Solon!" Cyrus, having learned the meaning of his exclamation, was much moved, ordered him to descend, took him as his companion in his wars, and treated him well. The time of the death of Croesus is not known. He was alive in the reign of Cambyses, the son and successor of Cyrus. He is represented as one of tne most pious among the ancients, constantly laboring to please the gods. Some historians deny the interview with Solon; others do not mention his having been sentenced to be burnt: at all events, the history, as it is told in Herodotus, is equalled by few narratives, true or fictitious, in touching simplicity.