Although the division of the true Carnivora into digitigrade and plantigrade is in many respects objectionable, we feel compelled, in conformity with established rules, to remove the animal before us from its most obvious affinities, to arrange it among the latter; placing it, however, at the commencement of that division and nearly in contact with the viverrine groups, to which it is so intimately allied, as to have been actually confounded by Buffon with the common Genette; a mistake, which was first clearly pointed out by M. F. Cuvier, but which has obtained so generally among naturalists, that the Paradoxurus is still commonly exhibited under that erroneous name. From the Genettes and Civets it differs little in its general form and habits; its teeth are nearly similar; and its toes and nails closely correspond in number and in their degree of retractility. But it is entirely destitute of the secretory pouch; and, in addition to its plantigrade walk, it exhibits a very peculiar structure in the tail. This organ is as long as the body, and flattened above and below; when extended, the further half is turned over so as to place its lower side uppermost, and the animal has it in its power to roll it up into a spire, commencing from above downwards, to the very base.
The New Holland bird has the head and upper part of the neck thinly covered with slender black feathers; the space around the ears alone being left bare, and exhibiting, as well as the neck and throat, which are but partially concealed by the scattered plumage with which they are provided, the blue tinge of the skin. The general colour of the plumage is grayish brown above, with a more plentiful intermixture of the gray and a consequent lighter tinge beneath. The young are striped longitudinally with brown and gray. Their bill is black, and their legs are remarkably thick and of a dull brown. The great length of the latter and of the neck, and the erect attitude and quiet demeanour of these birds, which sometimes attain as much as seven feet in height, give them altogether a noble and imposing appearance. They were formerly common in the neighbourhood of Botany Bay, subsisting, like the rest of their tribe, upon vegetable substances, chiefly fruits. They are extremely wild, and run with great swiftness when pursued, outstripping it is said the fleetness of the greyhound. Like the Kanguroos, they are sometimes hunted by the colonists as articles of food; and their flesh is stated to have much of the flavour of beef. The quantity of provision supplied by one of these birds is by no means inconsiderable.
With regard to the sub-orbital sinus, which in this and all the neighbouring species is of very considerable size, its uses are evidently connected with the function of respiration, and probably also with the sense of smell. It is denoted externally by a longitudinal fissure, placed beneath the inner angle of each of the eyes, and leading into a sac or cavity, which in some cases communicates internally with the nose; and its inner surface is lined by a membrane abundantly supplied with follicles for the secretion of mucus, which is sometimes produced in very large quantities. This latter circumstance has induced some naturalists to regard these openings as mere cuticular appendages. That they really, in some species at least, communicate with the nostrils, is proved by the observations of Mr. White of Selbourne, who states that in consequence of this communication the Fallow-Deer are enabled to take long-continued draughts with their noses deeply immersed in the water, the air in the mean time passing through the sub-orbital slits. So singular a statement was naturally enough doubted and called in question; but it has never, so far as we know, been impugned on ocular testimony; while it has received the fullest confirmation from other observations made upon the very species now under consideration, in which the air passing from the sub-orbital sinus, while the animal drinks, may be felt by the hand, and even affects the flame of a candle. Another proof of the connexion of these cavities with the nose is derived from the fact that the animals which are provided with them frequently apply their orifices, equally with those of the nostrils, to the food which they are about to take, opening and shutting them with great rapidity.
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.