Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/88

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life, by endeavouring to bite every one that approached it.

Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821, page 060.png

These animals are the Phoca vitulina of Linnæus: in the scale of nature they are intermediate between amphibious animals and perfect fish, but partake more of the latter than of the former; as Buffon remarks, "they are the only animals that have the foramen ovale open, and that can therefore live without respiring: and to whom water is as proper and suitable an element as air." The Phoca vitulina has a large flat head; a short nose, like a pug dog; strong and sharp teeth; no external appearance of ears, but merely an aperture to convey the sound; eyes small, and of a haggard appearance: neck short, and thickening as it approaches the shoulders, which are the largest part of the animal. Hence the body regularly tapers in a cylindrical form to the extremity, where are placed the hind legs, between which is a very short tail: the fore paws or flippers consist of five fingers, joined together by a membrane, and ending in sharp and strong claws: the hind paws are like them, except