CETOLOGY Tux animals called Cctacea, or Cetaceous Animals, con stitute the last order of the class or mam miferous animals, in most of the modern systems of Zoo logy ; especially in those of Lime, Blumenbach, and Cu vier ; while, in the writings of the older naturalists, they have been regarded as an order of fishes. A more atten tive examination of their intimate structure has, howe ver, proved the impropriety of both these arrangements; and seems to point out the necessity of forming these animals into a distinct and independent class.
They resemble fishes in almost nothing but their ha bitation ; while they are distinguished from those ani mals by the structure of their (Jaunted or anterior extre mities ; by the form and position of their tail ; by their mode of breathing ; and by producing their young and stickling them by teats. On the other hand, while they possess the respiratory and generative organs of quadrupeds, they arc essentially discriminated from these by the for in of their bodies ; by their total want of sa cral extremities, or hind feet ; by the peculiar structure of their tail; and by that characteristic mechanism at tached to their organs of respiration. which gives them the power of ejecting through appropriate outlets the water reed% cd into their mouths while swimming, or seizing their prey.
CE.roLocv, then, is that department of ZooLocy. which treats of the structure, economy, and history, of cetaccous animals, or of whales, and other inhabitants of the deep, which resemble these in anatomical structure.
As few of these animals appear to have been known to the ancients, we meet with but little respecting them in the writings of the first naturalists. Both Aristotle and Pliny, however, mention several of those species with which we arc now most intimately acquainted. Thus, the former, in his Historia Animalium, lib. iii. cap. 12. speaks of the great or Greenland whale, under the mune MaG-To4065, while, in the twelfth chapter of his sixth book, he treats of the Dolphin, and the Porpesse, cm xxim. Though this writer gives us but an imperfect ac count of all those species, and mixes a good deal of the marvellous with his descriptions, he is much more to be relied on than any of his successors of the ancient school. In particular, his natural history of the dolphin is the most faithful of any that we find in ancient writers, and proves, that Aristotle, either from his own observation.
or that of his assistants, was well acquainted with the true form and manners of the animal which he describes.
The Natural History of the Elder Pliny abounds in observations on several species of whales, especially the great whale, which he describes in the 37th chapter of his eleventh book, under the name of A/use/this; the Dolphin (Delphinus), lib. ix. cap. 9.; the Porpesse(Tur sio), in the 8th ch. ; and the Grampus (Orca), in the 6th chap. of the same book. We are by no means certain, however, that modern writers are correct in assigning the Muse:ails of Pliny as a synonimc of the Mysticetc, or great whale ; for he speaks of the former as preced ing another species, which he calls Balana, by way of leader ; and, in several parts of his work, lie denomi nates the largest species of whale Cete. The descrip tions and relations of Pliny, respecting these animals, are exceedingly fanciful, and show that disposition towards the marvellous fur which this naturalist is so celebrated. His account of the dolphin, in particular, is little better than a collection of fables, gleaned from the poets and travellers of the time ; but, on the other hand, his ac count of the grampus, and the contests between this spe ies the large whales, is very respectable, and tole rably authentic.
Among the earlier naturalists of modern times, many have treated, more or less minutely, of cetaceous ani mals, as Aldrovandi, in that part of his general work en titled Ceta ; Gustier, in his work De Piscibus ; Johnston, in his Historia Xaturalis De Piscibus ct Cetis ; and Ron delet, in his Histoire des Poissons. Of these, the most respectable is Rondelet, whose work is still quoted with approbation by most succeeding writers. He does not, however, add much to our stock of information respect ing the number of species, though lie mentions some, especially the Gibbar, not known to the older natural ists. The work of Aldrovandi is perhaps the most im perfect and inaccurate of the four. Ile quotes largely, and apparently with implicit credit, from the writings of Aristotle and Pliny, and even from the fictions of the poets.