Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Animal Kingdom

ANIMAL KINGDOM, an expression which includes all organized living bodies capable of sensation and voluntary motion: and essentially differing from plants and minerals, which have neither organs of sense, nor the power of loco-motion.

Another circumstance affords a criterion to distinguish animals from vegetables and fossils; which, in many instances, so closely border on each other, especially the two former, that naturalists have frequently hesitated, to which of these kingdoms certain marine productions, for instance, the polypus, may with the greatest propriety be referred.—See Vegetable and Mineral Kingdoms. The circumstance alluded to is the following:

1. All bodies which grow from without, that is, derive their origin and increase in such manner as to approximate to themselves certain foreign and inert particles, and are incapable of motion, consequently inanimate, are called minerals or fossils.

2. Bodies having no aggregate form, but growing from within, being provided with curtain tubes or vessels adapted to the circulation of fluids, which afford them nourishment and promote their extension, may be said to enjoy a passive life, and are therefore termed vegetables, or plants.

3. Living creatures which likewise grow from within, and are endowed not only with those vessels, but also with organs of sense, the faculty of loco-motion, and the power of distinguishing one external object from another, yet do not enjoy the advantages of reason, are generally denominated animals.

Hence arise the three divisions of natural bodies, consisting of the Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Kingdoms.

Although naturalists, in general, have included man in the first of these kingdoms, yet the propriety of this classification may justly be doubted. He possesses, indeed, organs and faculties in common with the brute creation, yet no instance has been discovered, which evinces that the inferior animals enjoy that noble and most important of all the gifts of Providence, 'reason.'

On account of this distinguishing characteristic, we are irresistibly induced to separate man from the ape, the elephant, the lion, and all irrational animals, over which no other than the reasoning faculty could confer upon us the exclusive dominion. Trusting, therefore, that naturalists will, without hesitation, agree with us in the necessity of rescuing the human race, however at present depraved, from the humiliating situation in which it is placed among the inferior animals, we venture, with due deference to their judgment, to exclude our species from the subsequent division of the animal kingdom, which consists of six distinct classes.

I. Mamillary Animals are furnished with a heart of two ventricles and two auricles; have a red, warm blood, breathe through lungs, produce living young ones, and suckle them with their milk.

II. Birds likewise have a heart of four cavities, red, warm blood, respire through lungs, deposit eggs, and are uniformly provided with beaks and wings.

III. Amphibious Animals possess a heart, but it has only one ventricle and one auricle; they have red, but colder blood than the latter, and live alternately on land and in water.

IV. Fishes have also a heart with two cavities, red, cold blood, are provided with gills, and can subsist only in water.

V. Insects, or creatures, that have a heart with one ventricle, but no auricle; cold, and generally white blood; are furnished with antennæ, or feelers, on their heads, and undergo a change of their nature and appearance, previous to their dissolution.

VI. Worms also have a heart with one ventricle, without an auricle; cold, white blood; are provided with tentacula, or feeling threads, but undergo no change.

Conformably to this division, we shall give a more or less detailed account of the different domestic and wild animals, which either from their peculiar nature, habits, and form, deserve to be noticed in this work, consistendy with its original plan; or which, in an economical view, contribute to relieve our necessities: while a more accurate knowledge of useful creatures cannot fail to improve the mind, and gratify the laudable curiosity of an intelligent reader.