History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


Furthermore, there are parts of other kinds, neither identical with, nor altogether diverse from, the parts above enumerated: such as nails, hooves, claws, and horns; and also, by the way, beaks, such as birds are furnished with- all in the several animals that are furnished therewithal. All these parts are flexible and fissile; but bone is neither flexible nor fissile, but frangible.

And the colours of horns and nails and claw and hoof follow the colour of the skin and the hair. For according as the skin of an animal is black, or white, or of medium hue, so are the horns, the claws, or the hooves, as the case may be, of hue to match. And it is the same with nails. The teeth, however, follow after the bones. Thus in black men, such as the Aethiopians and the like, the teeth and bones are white, but the nails are black, like the whole of the skin.

Horns in general are hollow at their point of attachment to the bone which juts out from the head inside the horn, but they have a solid portion at the tip, and they are simple and undivided in structure. In the case of the stag alone of all animals the horns are solid throughout, and ramify into branches (or antlers). And, whereas no other animal is known to shed its horns, the deer sheds its horns annually, unless it has been castrated; and with regard to the effects of castration in animals we shall have much to say hereafter. Horns attach rather to the skin than to the bone; which will account for the fact that there are found in Phrygia and elsewhere cattle that can move their horns as freely as their ears.

Of animals furnished with nails- and, by the way, all animals have nails that have toes, and toes that have feet, except the elephant; and the elephant has toes undivided and slightly articulated, but has no nails whatsoever- of animals furnished with nails, some are straight-nailed, like man; others are crooked-nailed, as the lion among animals that walk, and the eagle among animals that fly.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "Book 3, Chapter 9," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed August 18, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7U6F715TICUYJH.

MLA: Aristotle. "Book 3, Chapter 9." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 18 Aug. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7U6F715TICUYJH.

Harvard: Aristotle, 'Book 3, Chapter 9' in History of Animals, trans. . cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 18 August 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7U6F715TICUYJH.