|Other names:||Foca, Focatos, Foce, Mari vituli, Phocae, Phocarum, Phocas, Phocis, Vituli marini, Vitulis marinis, Vitulo marino|
The calf of the sea
The Mediterranean monk seal was known and written of from antiquity by Aristotle, Ovid, Pliny the Elder and many others. It was called the sea-calf (vituli marini) among other names. It was said to be a quadruped, to be swift in the sea but slow on land, to have an immense tail, and to use its teeth and claws with great ferocity. The seal appears in some encyclopedias, but not usually in bestiaries.