Lion ("Cyclopaedia...", 1728)

Nov 1st, 2013
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  1. LION, leo, in the Linnaean system of zoology, makes a distinct genus of quadrupeds, the characters of which are, to have two paps placed on the belly, and feet adapted to climbing.
  2. The head of the lion appears very large, in proportion to its body, and is the most fleshy(?) of the heads of all known animals. Its jaw bones also are remarkably large. The breast also appears very large, but this is only owing to the great quantity of long hair that covers it, for the sternum is smaller than that of most animals of its size. The tail, which is very long, appears also of the same thickness all the way, but this is wholly owing to the growth of hair. The tail itself is largest at the base, and thence goes taper to the point; but the hair being very short near its base, and continuing to grow longer all the way, as that decreases in thickness, is so exactly proportioned this growth, that it always gives the whole tail its regular appearance.
  3. The long hair that grows about the neck and breast, and makes what is called the mane of the lion, only differs from the hair on the rest of the body in length, having no greater thickness, or rigidity, like that of the manes of other animals. The claws of the lion have no cases, as Pliny pretends that they have, for the animal withdraw them up backwards when he walks, and places them closely among the articulations of the toes.
  4. It is certain that the last joint but one of ever toe in this creature has a peculiarly casy(?) joint for motion, and by means of this last joint, with the claw that is affixed to it, are very readily drawn up, and hid upon the foot, and placed wholly out of the way of being hurt in walking. This creature, therefore, does not put the extremities of its toes to the ground in walking, but the termination of each toe, as to its touching the earth, is the joint on the last piece with the last but one. This drawing up of last joint of every toe, by means of which claw is hid between the toe it belongs to, and the next, us the effect of a ligament, which in its natural state is so shortened, as to keep them in this position; and it is only by the action of a very strong muscle, that this joint can be pulled downward, when the claws are to be used, the ligament before-mentioned always drawing them naturally into their first position again, as soon as the force of that muscle is over.
  5. The lion has fourteen teeth in each jaw, four incisores, four canine, and six molares. The incisores are small, the canine are unequal in size, two being very large, and two very small; the large ones are an inch and a half long, and are the only ones that ancients allowed to be canine teeth. The molares also are irregular in size, the anterior ones being very small, the others large, and terminated by three or four points, forming a sort of flower de luce.
  6. Aristotle, AElian, and others, say that the neck of the lion is all composed of one unjointed bone. It appears indeed very rigid in this creature, but this does not proceed from so strange a cause, but is found owing to this, that the spinose apophyses of the vertebrae of the neck are long and fastened together by extremely strong and rigid ligaments.
  7. The tongue of the lion is very rough and rigid, being covered with a great number of prominences of a hard matter, resembling that of a cat's claws, and these are much of the shape of those claws, and nearly of the same size, the base of each being a round fleshy prominence on the surface of the tongue.
  8. The eyes of the lion are clear and bright, even after the creature is dead. The common observation is that this creature sleeps with its eyes open, is founded on this, that it has a very thick membrane londged in the greater canthrus of the eye, which it can extend over the whole eye upon occasion, as birds do their membrana nictitans, and this will have no occasion to shut its eye-lids, in order to exclude the light. It is very remarkable, that the common cat has all the singular structure of the several parts as the lion has, its claws, feet, tongue, and eyes, being of the same kind, and its internal parts bearing as strong a resemblance.
  9. The heart of the lion is greatly larger than that of any other creature of the same size, being six inches long, and four in deiameter, in the largest part, and terminating in a very sharp point. The brain is remarkably small; and the comparison of this with the great quantity of brain in a calf, and pursuing the observation through several other creatures, as to the proportion of the brain they have, it does not appear that a small quantity of the brain is a mark of folly, but usually of great subtlety, of of a cruel disposition.
  10. The French, when they had once a sick lion, attempted to recover him from his sickness by such foods as nature never intended him, that is, by the tender and pure flesh of young animals, without any of the external coat. They gave him young lambs ?????? alive for this purpose; but nature does not having given this animal the subtlety to ??ea his food, and the hair, wool, feathers, etc. being as necessary to these beasts of prey with the flesh, as that flesh itself, the new food bred too much blood, and proved a worse disease than that he had before, so that he soon died.
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