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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Pliny noted that the Egyptian crocodiles always laid their eggs above the flood, and so we must mention that in Brazil the place of these egg mounds is taken as a measure of the height that the flood usually comes. One of the female sentries was watching, with the others near the offspring's egg, and many backcountry people, who come a little too close, pay for their carelessness with the loss of a foot. At the approach of an enemy, the watchful mother, once quiet, rises swiftly, with dilated nostrils, eyes glinting, pale red throat wide, and, raptly, catches the prey, which drops while having a piece of himself torn out with the powerful jaw. Horses or oxen are often seen here which have thus lost the lower joint of the foot, the tail or the snout. The alligators deceive them, quickly leaving the place where the water is stirred, pretending they will drink elsewhere. Even the jaguar, when going to the water's edge to drink, is sometimes attacked by alligators, and all animals seem to fearfully avoid this monster; only the piranha, the most dangerous enemy of these lizards, is not afraid of them.

Piranha

In a cove of the pond, which was teeming with shoals of these fish, we threw a red cloth and fished out two of them, which, deceived by the color of blood, had instantly bitten. The piranha (Myletes macropomus, Cuv.) is the size of a carp and its throat is armed with very sharp teeth. Voracious to the last degree and bite of meat, always gathering in close schools, becomes dangerous even to the largest animals; the ox, a moment earlier mooing afloat, attacked by the school of piranha, is suddenly immobilized, victimized by thousands of these enemies, each pulling a little bite of flesh. The animals of the sertao know the trap that this bloodthirsty breed prepares, and carefully avoid the pond where they live.

When the capybara, pursued by other enemies, is forced to hide there, it plunges slowly so as not to shake the water too much; Cattle sip only the surface water to satisfy their thirst, and their muzzle sinks slightly; Even then, the piranhas may take a piece from him; The alligator himself flees from this fierce enemy and floats, turning his vulnerable belly to the surface of the water; only the otter, whose skin dulls the bite, is safe from them. It is noteworthy that the piranha is one of the most tasty fish.

Faced with this opulence of zoological wonders, Dr. Spix decided to spend more time in Capao, while I thought it was my duty to comply with the wish of our excellent companion, to go to Brejo do Salgado, to bring his wife to help tend to his friend Capt. Jose Antonio Serrao, who was in bed, with a disquieting illness. So I said goodbye to my great displeasure to Dr. Spix,

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