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is the earliest natural historian whose work has survived in some detail.
Aristotle certainly did research on the natural history of Lesbos, and the
surrounding seas and neighbouring areas. The works that reflect this research,
such as History of Animals, Generotion of Animals, and Parts of Animals,
contain some observations and interpretations, along with sundry myths and
mistakes. The most striking passages are about the sea-life visible from
observation on Lesbos and available from the catches of fishermen. His
observations on catfish, electric fish (Torpedo) and angler-fish are detailed,
as is his writing on cephalopods, namely, Octapus, Sepia (cuttlefish)
and the paper nautilus (Argonauta argo). His description of the hectocotyli
arm was about two thousand years ahead of its time, and widely disbelieved
until its rediscovery in the 19th century. He separated the aquatic mammals
from fish, and knew that sharks and rays were part of the group he called
Selachē (selachians). Another good example of his methods comes from the Generation
of Animals in which Aristotle describes breaking open fertilized chicken
eggs at intervals to observe when visible organs were generated.
He gave accurate descriptions of ruminants’'
four-chambered fore-stomachs, and of the ovoviviparous embryological
development of the hound shark Mustelus mustelus.