Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/75

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63
CEPHALOPODA.

Mr. Beale's arm, which he had previously bared to the shoulder for the purpose of thrusting it into holes in the rocks after shells, and clung with its suckers to it with great power, endeavouring to get its beak, which Mr. Beale could now see, between the roots of its arms, in a position to bite. Mr. Beale declares that a sensation of horror pervaded his whole frame, when he found that this monstrous animal had fixed itself so firmly on his arm. He describes its cold slimy grasp as extremely sickening; and he loudly called to the captain, who was also searching for shells at some distance, to come and release him from his disgusting assailant. The captain quickly came, and taking Mr. Beale down to the boat, during which time the latter was employed in keeping the beak of the cuttle away from his hand, quickly released him by destroying his tormentor with the boat-knife, when he disengaged it by portions at a time. Mr. Beale states that this Cephalopod must have measured across its expanded arms about four feet, whilst its body was not bigger than a large clenched hand.[1]

In one genus of this Class the action of the suckers is increased by a strong and sharp hook which projects from the centre of each. During action these hooks are plunged into the flesh of the victim, securing a yet firmer hold; added to which the two long arms, which are so endowed, and which are over and above the eight possessed by the Poulpe, are capable of being firmly locked together, and thus can be made "to cooperate in dragging to the mouth such powerful or refractory prey as singly the arms might be unable to subdue."

  1. Hist. of the Sperm Whale