Why is "star-shot jelly" so often seen floating on ponds, etc.?

Because frogs are then spawning, and this consists of the glaire which surrounds the eggs, brought into this state by a frog having been swallowed by a bird, and the warmth and moisture of the stomach having made the jelly and the oviducts expand so much, that the bird is obliged to reject it by vomiting.


Why is the crocodile an object of superstitious terror to the Egyptians?

Because of its immense size and destructive powers, it being the largest animal inhabiting fresh water, attaining to full 30, or, as Norden says, 50 feet in length; notwithstanding which, its eggs are scarcely as large as a goose's. When full grown, it attacks men and other large animals. When taken young, it may be tamed. The armour, with which the body is covered, may be considered as one of the most elaborate pieces of natural mechanism. In the full-grown animal it is so strong as easily to repel a musket-ball, appearing as if covered with the most regular and curiously carved work.

Mr. Bullock, late proprietor of a museum in Piccadilly, saw, at New Orleans, " what are believed to be the remains of a stupendous crocodile, and which are likely to prove so, intimating the former existence of a lizard at least 150 feet long; for I measured the right side of the under jaw, which I found to be 21 feet along the curve, and four feet six inches wide."

The teeth of crocodiles have this peculiarity of structure, that in order to facilitate their change, there are always two, of which one is contained in the other.

As a proof of the veneration in which the crocodile was formerly held, we are told by Herodotus, that near Thebes and the Lake Mceris, the natives select one, which they tame, suspending golden ornaments from its ears, and sometimes precious stones of great value; the fore-feet, however, being secured by a chain. They feed it with the flesh of the sacred victims, and with other suitable food; and when it dies it is embalmed, and deposited in a consecrated chest.

Various methods are adopted for catching crocodiles. Labat says, " a negro, armed only with a knife in his right hand, and having his left wrapped round with thick leather, will venture boldly to attack the crocodile in his own element. As soon as he observes his enemy near, the man puts out his left arm, which the animal immediately seizes with his teeth. He then gives it several stabs in the throat, where the skin is very tender; and the water coming in at the mouth thus involuntarily laid open, the creature is soon destroyed." A still more hazardous method was adopted by Mr. Waterton, who travelled in South America

PART VIII. c about five or six years since. Having secured a crocodile of the Essequibo, by a baited hook fastened to a long rope, by the aid of some Indians, " I pulled the animal," says the traveller, " within two yards of me; I saw he was in a state of fear and perturbation; I instantly sprung up, and jumped on his back; turning half round as I vaulted, so that I gained my seat with my face in a right position. I immediately seized his fore legs, and by main force twisted them on his back; thus they served me for a bridle."

On his return home, Mr. Waterton published his Travels; but the jumping on the crocodile was received by his readers as a traveller's story, till its possibility was established by reference to Pliny's Natural History, where it is stated that the natives of Ten-tyra mount on the crocodile's back " like horsemen, and as he opens his jaws to bite, with his head turned up, they thrust a club into his mouth, and holding the ends of it, they bring him to shore captive, as if with bridles." Other proofs are quoted in the Magazine of Natural History, for 1830.