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The Calao, pp.109-110.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

WHEN in the productions of nature we find encumbrance added to inutility, we generally suppose that she has been mistaken; but this thought borders upon blasphemy against the wisdom of Providence. How can mean and limited beings as we are, so ignorant of the simplest mechanism of the world, suppose for a moment, that because we cannot guess the use of a part of the creation, that part is useless. Nothing has been created in vain; and if the aim of nature is concealed from us, is that a reason sufficient to accuse her of folly, of wantonness, of error? Truth Eternal cannot err. Let us, therefore, endeavour to divine the purpose of Providence in her ways; and if we find ourselves lost in our searches, let us fairly impute the fault, not to her, but to our own incapacity. This bird has not only been allotted a large beak, but another, or something like, above it: the bill, with its supereminent appendage, forms a height of four inches; near the head they are about five inches thick across; the true bill terminates in a blunt point, and is made of strong horny substance; the false bill, if we can call it a bill, is light, and of a matter like the crab’s shell, crumbling easily under the thumb. The colour of both, the beak and its adjunct, is whitish-yellow; the fore part of the upper bill is black. The Calaos are natives of the coast of Malabar. We have not been able yet to ascertain whether this apparatus, that seems to have nothing to do with the beak below, is not purposely placed there, in order to enhance the power of smelling, which, in the habits of the bird, may be of great advantage to him; the upper bill, by its shape, might divide the air, and thereby assists the aspiring of the nostrils. 

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