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(CROCODILUS MISSISSIPPI ENSIS.)
BY BENNET DOWLER, M. D.
-Ambiguous between sea and land,
[Reprinted from the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, Novbr., 1846.]
NEW ORLEANS :
B. M. NORMAN, PUBLISHER,
Have won for him, not only the reputation of an elegant writer, but the
lasting honors of a discoverer,
THIS IMPERFECT ESSAY, ON THE GREAT SAURIAN OF LOUISIANA,
Is most respectfully inscribed by the
New-Orleans, November 1, 1846.
TO THE NATURAL HISTORY
Ambiguous between sea and land ,
The Fauna of even the most enlightened countries, seems to labor under the same evil which for ages retarded the progress of medicine, namely, an undue bias in favor of artificial classifications and nosological systems. The Crocodilian family affords a strong example of this arbitrary and illusory method of creating orders, genera, subgenera, species, and subspecies, in advance of exact physical data. The integumentary osseous plates, the feet, the claws, the toes, or the teeth, cannot be assumed as the classific criteria, until these shall be examined analytically and synthetically ; an achievement which remains for the future, as the sequel will show.
That the Alligator is identical with the Crocodile, can scarcely admit of a doubt. Even those naturalists who have labored most to establish a difference, have admitted directly or indirectly, that there is none of a radical character. As this animal is, nevertheless, modified to some extent by climate, it may be advantageous to adopt names characteristic of the same, or at least, of the locality where this great Saurian is found-as the Nilotic Crocodile, (crocodilus Niloticus), the Gangetic, (c. Gangeticus), the Mississippi, (c. Mississippiensis), and so on. This topographical nomenclature will, for the present, leave the question of scientific classification open, as it ought to be, until vague and contradictory descriptions shall be replaced by exact obscrvations.
The aborigines of America, called the Alligator Cayman , the Spaniards, Lagarlo or lizard; the English, by a corruption of the Spanish, a Lagarto ; and finally Alligator. "The Nilotic Crocodile appears to have