The Alligators constitute a natural subdivision of the genus, in which the snout is broad, blunt, and less produced than in the true Crocodiles; the fourth tooth on each side of the lower jaw enters a hole in the upper when the mouth is closed; and the toes are only half-webbed. They appear to be exclusively natives of America. The present species is distinguished by its broad and flat snout, with nearly parallel sides, united in front by a curved line; by the peculiar arrangement of its nuchal scales; and by the elevated internal margins of its orbits. Its colour is dark brown above, and somewhat lighter beneath. It is one of the most dreadful scourges of the countries which it inhabits, preying upon all kinds of animals that come within its reach, and sometimes even upon man himself. Our specimen was apparently very young, not measuring more than three feet in length; but during two years that it was kept in the Menagerie it was not observed to have at all increased in size. It was fed once a week upon raw beef.
In comparing the moral qualities of these two formidable animals, we shall also find that the shades of difference, for at most they are but shades, which distinguish them, are, like their external characteristics, pretty equally balanced in favour of each. In all the leading features of their character, the habits of both are essentially the same. The Tiger, equally with the Lion, and in common indeed with the whole of the group to which he belongs, reposes indolently in the security of his den, until the calls of appetite stimulate him to look abroad for food. He then chooses a convenient ambush, in which to lie concealed from observation, generally amid the underwood of the forest, but sometimes even on the branches of a tree, which he climbs with all the agility of a cat. In this secret covert he awaits with patient watchfulness the approach of his prey, upon which he darts forth with an irresistible bound, and bears it off in triumph to his den. Unlike the Lion, however, if his first attack proves unsuccessful, and he misses his aim, he does not usually slink sullenly back into his retreat, but pursues his victim with a speed and activity which is seldom baffled even by the fleetest animals.
To commence then with the Eagles, which form a prominent group of the Rapacious Order, and are universally regarded as the most majestic, as well as the most powerful, of birds. In common with the whole Order, they are remarkable for the strong incurvation of their bill and talons, the latter of which are four in number on each of the feet, and are moved by means of a thick and strong muscular apparatus, which gives to the grasp of the larger species that extreme tenacity by which they are distinguished, enabling them to seize and carry off fish and birds, and even quadrupeds of moderate size. This innate propensity to rapine, derived from their peculiar conformation which renders them essentially flesh-eaters, indicates at once the analogical relationship borne by the Rapacious Birds to the Carnivorous Quadrupeds; and the high degree to which it is carried by the Eagles, their vast powers of flight, their towering majesty, their irresistible might, their uniform preference of living victims and rejection of the offal, render them superior to all other birds, in the same proportion as the Lion is allowed to take the lead among mammiferous quadrupeds.