This Unfortunate Man Was
First Seen Seeking, With Astonishing Presence Of Mind, For A Knife
Which He Had In His Pocket.
Not being able to find it, he seized the
head of the crocodile and thrust his fingers into its eyes.
No man in
the hot regions of America is ignorant that this carnivorous reptile,
covered with a buckler of hard and dry scales, is extremely sensitive
in the only parts of his body which are soft and unprotected, such as
the eyes, the hollow underneath the shoulders, the nostrils, and
beneath the lower jaw, where there are two glands of musk. The
Guaykeri Indian was less fortunate than the negro of Mungo Park, and
the girl of Uritucu, whom I mentioned in a former part of this work,
for the crocodile did not open its jaws and lose hold of its prey. The
animal, overcome by pain, plunged to the bottom of the river, and,
after having drowned the Indian, came up to the surface of the water,
dragging the dead body to an island opposite the port. A great number
of the inhabitants of Angostura witnessed this melancholy spectacle.
The crocodile, owing to the structure of its larynx, of the hyoidal
bone, and of the folds of its tongue, can seize, though not swallow,
its prey under water; thus when a man disappears, the animal is
usually perceived some hours after devouring its prey on a
neighbouring beach. The number of individuals who perish annually, the
victims of their own imprudence and of the ferocity of these reptiles,
is much greater than is believed in Europe.
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