gates only with those of its own kind, and does not mingle at all with the rest; though they are generally seen in shoals of different kinds together, and migrate in large companies from one ocean to another. The Mysticetus has no teeth, but merely laminæ, or, what is known by the name of whale-bone, ranged in the upper jaw, in two rows, similar to those found in the bill of the duck: they occupy precisely the place of the teeth in other animals, are set with the greatest regularity, and vary in length and breadth, according to the size of the fish, being in a large fish, upwards of thirteen feet in length; they are attached to the crown bone, and are placed in a longitudinal direction along the middle of the upper jaw: in number, they are upwards of two hundred on each side, and are fastened in a soft elastic white substance, called the gum. The upper part of the jaw also resembles the upper mandible of a duck: it is smooth, and of a glossy black. The interior edge of the laminæ is covered with hair, not unlike that of a horse: this, nature has provided for the purpose of preserving the tongue of the animal from injury, as well as to enable it the better to secure its prey, by preventing its return with the water ejected from its nostrils. When seeking food, the whale swims with considerable velocity beneath the surface of the water, with its capacious mouth extended; in the closed mouth the fringed parts of the lamina form a net, that will not allow the animalcule on which it feeds to escape. The tongue is an immense mass, covering the whole lower sur-
Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/81
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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.