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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/802

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of themselves and facing the vicissitudes of life. Mutual attachment among the different members belonging to a family of this species seems to be a marked trait; it has often been observed that they protect their young by harboring them in their mouth whenever danger threatens. Even among the larger salt-water fishes, this manner of sheltering the brood is occasionally adopted. As an example may be cited a fish which the Chinese call lau-lau. It attains a length of

PSM V32 D798 The ophiocephalus and its brood.jpg
Fig. 2.—The Ophiocephalus and its Brood.

thirteen feet and weighs over two hundred pounds. The same observation has been made with fishes whose home is in the lagoons of South America. The young fishes seem so accustomed to this place of refuge that, on perceiving any commotion in the water that seems in the least suspicious, they hasten en masse into the protecting mouth of their mother. Another fish, living near the coasts of South America, is known to fasten its young ones to its fins and body by means of a glue-like substance. This gives to these fishes the appearance of being covered with small protuberances.

On the coast of Guiana fishes have been found which dig their nests in miry shores, and live there much as sand-swallows do on land.

Another variety of the above-mentioned Ophiocephalus, a native of India, also makes its home in holes in the ground, and can remain in its nest for some time, even after the water has receded. These generally live together in couples. If the earth becomes too dry, they leave their houses and creep along for quite a distance on the damp ground. The lower classes of natives, whenever they see them engaged in such pilgrimages, believe them to have fallen from the sky.