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Perrault, Claude, 1613-1688 / Memoir's for a natural history of animals : containing the anatomical descriptions of several creatures dissected by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris
(1688)

The anatomical description of eight ostriches,   pp. 217-238 ff.


Page 218


                        jI8,he Anatomizcal Defcription
       ,2.~                                                 .~....j
and Water.   No w this is ilot i the Feathers of Qflrichcs, whlich are all
foft
ani fibrous like Down, lo th at tcy do ferve them neither for flying, nor
for
covering them cominiodioufly enough1 to defend themn from external Injuries.
We like wife obterved anoth er equaligy in the Feathers of the Wings of the
Oft ;ich, which is peculiar to then.; foir thle great Feathers of tlhe Wings
of
other Birds, have one fide broader than the other - but thofi of theOftricb
have tule Swein exacily in thle middle of the Feather.  There is reafon to
tlink, that this equality is the ground of the Hieroglyphick of thd £gyptians,
wlu) do rep-rcfent Jutfice by an (O/J9ch'S Feather.
  In thlc enumneration of thle Wondters of Nature which are read in the
hiooy of yo4tlhofif thie Struaur, ofthie Wingsopf Dirds is one, of the moft
CLofl~der aok. 'This woii4rt isaxfr cieId by therefleE'ion, whlichl God caiAe
@fo" to inaTe 'on the diterence that there is between thle F'eathers
of the 0-
      r   1 Iofe of Heros and Fam/cons; that is to Ly, of Birds that have
Feather l'or llying, aiud of thlore whvlihli hlave them not for tlat uf&;
for there
is notllin indecd more admirable, than this Strudture of Featlhers defigned
for 'liglit, which confifIs principally in, three things, viz. in the texture
of the
Threads and Fibres, of wh lich the Beards of the feathers are compofed; in
the
Fieurc of the whole featlher, and in the particular motion of each feather.
  To know and examine theefi particularities, it mufl be obferved; that al-
moft all forts of feathers are compofed of two parts, viz. of the Tube or
(Qdill from whence the Stem. proceeds, always leffening it felf to tihe end
of
the feather; and of the Beards,_ which- are faffned on each fide to the Stem
of the Quill, and whkch 'do Miake. thlei brc'adth of the Feather: that the
Threads whereof thwfe Beards re comnpofed, are flat, and plac'd with their
flat fides towards each other, toathe end that they might eafily bend for
the
approaching each other, and-that being harder to bend the other way, they
do add more ftrength to'thc whole feather: that this ftrength and firmnefs
is
likewif& fortified by the manner with which the threads whereof thefe
Beards are compofed, are interlaced withl one another, this Texture or inter-
laceing being made by the means of an infinite Number of Fibres, which.
the thr eads do Ihoot forth on each fide, to hook and grapple with each other:
that thefe Fibres are crooked after a different manner; for thofe which
proceed  froin the Thread, on the fide towards the    extremity of the
t ltller, a1re longer, more flexible, and bent down wards ; and thofe which
do proceed from the fide towards the beginning of the feather or Quilly end,
are Ihoi ter, firmir, and turned upwards. For it muff be conceived that all
theftg Fibres having Springs, thofe which are longeft, molt flexible, and
bent
downwards, do turn upwards at the meeting of the other Fibres, when two
thrId. are forc'd one againfl thle other; and that afterwards when thefe
long- Fibres are forced far enough over the others, their crooked parts falls
in-
toctl  Cavity made by the crooked parts of thofe other Fibres, even as the
Latchl that is Fuiftned to a door, falls when the Door is thruft-to and enters
into
thre Cavity ot -Le Catch faitned to theDoor-poft, and there hooking it felf,
fE-
lien the Door: for it is properly after this manner that one thread of a
feather
is fu1hieJ ' to tl[e others .
  Tfhii adimljiable Struqtv'e of the feathers, which it is eafie to {ee -with
the
l1icrofcLq, fiucceed3 fo well for thle ules to which Nature has defigned
it,
                                                                    that


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