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Maulmein, March 8th, 1862. To the Secretary of the Asiatic Society,‘ Calcutta.
DEAR SIR,—I have the pleasure to send to the museum of the Society a. specimen, as well prepared as circumstances permitted, of a rare and little described species of Turtle, of which I beg to annex the following description, which may. perhaps be considered worthy of publication in the Journal of the Society.
Genus. Sphargis (Merrem).
Species. Coriacea? (Auctorum).
“ The Trunk Turtle” (spud Bell).
The specimen herewith forwarded to the Society is a. female. She was ‘captured, February 1st, 1862, near the mouth of the Yé river (in the Tenasserim Provinces), on the sandy beach of which she had deposited about a hundred eggs, when she was surprised by a number of Burmese fishermen, who had been lying in ambush near the spot (a favourite resort of the common Turtle, Chelonia virgata), and, after a desperate struggle, was secured.
since 'B:'tber’s time, must be prodigious. The wild Elephant is now confined to the forests under Hemala, and to the Ghats of Malabar. A wild Elephant near Karrah (Currah), Manikpfir, or Kalpi, is a thing, at the present day, totally unknown. May not their familiar existence, in these countries, down to Baber’s days, he considered as rather hostile to the accounts given of the superabundant population of Hindustan in remote times ?’’---I have now reliable information of the unexpected fact of a two-horned Rhinoceros having been killed in Asém! where it is undoubtedly exceedingly rare. I was told this by a friend, whose informant (when in the province) had seen the two horns attached to the skin; but I cannot at present obtain further details. —As regards the reported existence of a one-horned Rhinoceros in Africa (vide p. 153 antea), Dr. Livingstone incidentally remarks——and I cite the whole passage because of its interest-—that “ Sportsmen have still some work before them in the way of discovering the fauna of Africa. This country abounds in game; and beyond Berotse, the herds of large animals surpass anything I ever saw [elsewhere], Eilands and Bul'l'alos, their tameness was shocking to me: 81 Bulfulos defiled slowly before our fire one evening, and Lions were impudent enough to roar at us. On the south of the Choba, where Bushmen abound, they are very seldom heard; these brave fellows teach them better manners. My boatmen informed me that he had seen an animal, with long wide-spreading horns like an Ox, called Liombi/calela; also another animal, which does not live in the water, but snorts like a Hippopotamus, and is like that animal in size—it has a horn, and may be a one-horned Rhinoceros. And we passed some holes of a third animal, which bui'rows from the river inland, has short horns, and feeds only by night. I did not notice the burrows at the time of passing, but I give you the report as I got it. Sable Antelopes abound, and so does the Nakong; and there is a pretty little Antelope on the Sesheki, called Teeanyane, which seemed new to me. These animals did not lie in my line, so you must be content with this brief notice.” (Journal qf the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. XXlV, 700.) A horned burrowing animal is not very likely to exist.
The strength, aided of course by the enormous weight, of the animal, was such, that she dragged six men endeavouring to stop her, down the slope of the beach, almost into the sea, when she was overpowered by increased numbers, lashed to some strong poles, and brought into the village by ten to twelve men at a time.
Being desirous of taking an accurate drawing of the Turtle, I was puzzled for some time how to induce her to sit for her portrait, as she was very restless, and, in her endeavours to scramble away, upset any moderate number of people that tried to stop her. At last, I had her slung with slings, as they hoist a water-butt on board a ship, from the branch of a tree, and then, with a guy or tripping line, from the tree to the caudal extremity of ~ her shell, to prevent her slewing round, she hung quite motionless.
The description, in Dumeril and Bibron, of Sphargis coridcea is so minute and accurate, and applicable to the present specimen, that it would be mere repetition, were I to add, here, the notes which I took of the animal. I will merely mention the points in which it difiers from the details given by the above authors. The principal one of which is the colour; due allowance being made for the specimens described in the Paris Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, having been more or less faded.
The colour of the animal, now under notice, while still alive, and fresh from the sea, was a plain blackish neutral tint, extending all over the carapax, crown, nucha, upper half of tail, and outer face of the paddles. The whole being dabbed over with white spots, of irregular shape, like little patches of white-wash. The seven tuberculous longitudinal ridges of the carapax were also whitish. All of the under-parts, including the sternal and abdominal shields, and the inner sides of the paddles, pale flesh-colour, blotched and spotted with pale blackish neutral, which, on the sternum, take the form of three longitudinal bands on each side of the mesial suture, with irregular edges and spotted intervals. The white spots, on the head, have a fleshy tinge. Throat reddish flesh-colour, marbled pale blackish ; iris burnt umbre-brown.
Dumeril and Bibron’s adult subject is described, as having the carapax “ un brun marron” which, I should translate, as “ castaneous
brown” with pale yellowish patches; and the lower parts brown, as well as the head and neck. 7
The specimen, under review, was sufiiciently aged to have lost all traces of plates or shields on the head, which was tolerably smooth, and apparently covered with a plain tight coriacious skin, loosened into folds and wrinkles on the throat and neck, like that on the trunk of an Elephant. The paddles were covered with similar hard stretched leather. The fore-paddles had, on the extremities of the middle and little fingers, a triangular flat nail, the spaces answering to the ends of the index and ring-fingers being marked with a cuvilinear sharpish edge of the skin. On the hind-paddle, the innermost or little toe will be found strongly relieved from the contour of the rest of the foot, and covered by a broad triangular scale or nail. These features will, doubtless, be apparentin the dry skin, and are particularly noted here, as Dumeril and Bibron deny the existence of any nails or scale extremities to either fore or hind digits.
The carinw, or longitudinal ridges of the carapax, are not serrated (“ faiblement dentelées en scie,”) as in Dumeril and Bibron’s subject, but are composed of lines of large, rough, and partly worn tubercles. No traces of plates are visible on either sternum or carapax, which are covered, as with hardened untanned leather apparently, continuous with the integuments of the neck and limbs. There are no traces of ridges or tubercles on the ventral aspect of the body; but the mesial line is marked by a slight depression.
The dimensions of the animal taken, rather roughly, by me, were as follow :
Entire length from upper lip to end of carapax, 6' 2%” (straight).
Length of head,.................... 1’ 0?} Over the
8 carapax, 5’ 6%” Fore paddle, 3' 3%" Hind ditto,......... 2' 2%” Breadth of carapax, 2' %" Depth of body, 2’ Its weight I had not the means of ascertaining: but it required six men to lift it fairly oil’ the ground; and Taloung fishermen are not a particularly feeble race. The eggs were spherical, of 1%" diameter, and are as palatable as
those of the river Tortoise are nauseous. Besides those, the animal had laid in the sand, there, must have been upwards of a thousand in her ovaria, in all stages of maturity. The flesh was dark and coarse and very few of the crowds of Burmans assembled at Yé to see the animal would eat any of it. For the eggs there was a popular ferment.
According to my fishing friends, in that part of the country, this Turtle, which they called simply (S@3 (Lykgyee, or ‘ large Turtle,’) is of exceedingly rare occurrence. The few that have been seen were on the shores of the numerous islands along the coast. This was the first one they had ever found on the main-land. Cantor does not mention it in his catalogue of the Ohelonia in the Malayan seas, nor does Jerdon in his list of those of the Indian peninsula. Dumeril and Bibron remark that it is very rare, and found in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean. One is mentioned by Rondelet, captured at Frontignan, seven cubits long Two more specimens are recorded as having been taken off the coast of France; and Borlase mentions one netted on the Cornwall coast in 1756, of which he has given, says Dumeril, “ une mauvaise figure.”
The only illustration, that I have seen of this animal is in Bell’s British Reptiles. It is of a young one, and is copied from a plate in the “Fauna Italica” of the Prince of Musignano. Never having seen a young specimen, I cannot speak of the faithfulness or otherwise of the drawing.
Sphargis coriacea is stated, by Audubon, to resort to the Turtle islands of Florida, for the purpose of depositing its eggs. The average number laid by it may be 350; and it is less cautious than the common Turtle in performing this function. “ Its food consists of mollusca, fish, crustacea, sea-urchins, and various marine plants,” (Bell’s Reptilia, p. 14). As far as my experience goes, the food of all Ohelonia (excepting the Potamidra) is purely vegetable.
Bell adds, that of two specimens of this Turtle taken, ofl’ Cornwall, in 1756, the larger weighed 800 1b., the smaller nearly 700. Another was caught on the coast of Dorsetshire, and is now, it is conjectured, the individual in the British Museum. An instance is related by Pennant, of the flesh of this animal causing serious illness to a person who had partaken of it, producing “ dreadful vomiting and purging.” Those who ate the individual now described, at Yé, experienced nothing of the kind. S. R. TICKELL.
Colebrooke (Essays, Vol. I. p. 402) states that “for want of an opportunity of consulting an original treatise on this branch of philosophy or any connected summary furnished even by an adversary of opinions professed by the Charvakas,” he was unable to give any sufiicient account of their peculiar doctrine further than that it is undisguised materialism. The system is continually alluded to in different philosophical treatises, but it is only by the recent publication, in our Society’s Bibliotheca, of Madhavécharya’s Sarva-dars’anasangraha, that the want which Colebrooke regretted has in any way been supplied. Among the fourteen systems there analysed, that of the Chzirvzikas holds the first place; it being entitled to that priority in consequence of its being the most degraded of all,—the next places to it being successively occupied by those of the Bauddhas and the Jainas. ‘
A translation of this chapter appeared in the fourteenth Vol. of the Zeitschrift der Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, but unfortunately it abounds with errors of every description, that it can convey no proper idea of the original. In fact one might almost doubt whether such a book as the Sarvadars'ana.-sangraha could be properly translated in Europe. Even here it is difficult to understand it in the absence of any commentary, even with all the assistance at one’s command of pandits thoroughly versed in the ancient philosophies of their ancestors; and there are many parts of the volume, which the most learned pandits of Bengal confess their inability to explain.’'‘
The doctrines of the Chzirvékas are- frequently confounded with those of the Bauddhas and J ainas, but M:idhava’s summary, as well as still more authentic notices from the sects themselves, proves that this is erroneous. Chairvaka is sometimes taken as the name of a leader of the sect, and sometimes as a generic title,—in the Mahabharata mention is made of a rékshasa of that name, who endeavours by a false report of Bhima’s death to ruin the Papdavas in the moment of their final triumph. Most accounts, however, ascribe the founding of the sect to Brihaspati. We might have more natur
* The present chapter is one of the easiest in the work, but there are several passages in it which 1 could not have translated, but for the aid of Bandit. Mohesh
Chandra Nyéyaralna. _