Page images
PDF
EPUB

of Madagascar and the Antilles—universally; ranging from the torrid zone to the Arctic regions and the Straits of Magellan. They are so uniform in their organization that many naturalists group them all under one genus, Felis; but it is now more usual to class at least the lynxes as a separate genus, while the hunting leopard, or cheetah, forms another. Dr. J. E. Gray divides these again, and makes 17 generic groups; but as this subdivision is not generally adopted, and does not bring out any special features of geographical distribution, I shall not further notice it.

The genus Felis (56 species) has the same general range as the whole family, except that it does not go so far north; the Amoor river in Eastern Asia, and 55° N. Lat. in America, marking its limits. Lyncus (10 species) is a more northern group, ranging to the polar regions in Europe and Asia, and to Lat. 66° N. in America, but not going further south than Northern Mexico and the European shores of the Mediterranean, except the caracal, which may be another genus, and which extends to Central India, Persia, North Africa and even the Cape of Good Hope. The lynxes are thus almost wholly peculiar to the Nearctic and Palæarctic regions. Cynælurus (1 species) the hunting leopard, ranges from Southern and Western India through Persia, Syria, Northern and Central Africa, to the Cape of Good Hope.

Extinct Felido.—More than twenty extinct species of true Felidæ have been described, ranging in time from the epoch of prehistoric man back to the Miocene or even the Eocene period. They occur in the south of England, in Central and South Europe, in North-West India, in Nebraska in North America, and in the caves of Brazil. Most of them are referred to the genus Felis, and closely resemble the existing lions, tigers, and other large cats. Another group however forms the genus Machairodus, a highly specialized form with serrated teeth. Five species have been described from Europe, Northern India, and both North and South America; and it is remarkable that they exhibit at least as wide a range, both in space and time, as the more numerous species referred to Felis. One of them undoubtedly coexisted

with man in England, while another, as well as the allied Dinictis, has been found in the Mauvaises Terres of Nebraska, associated with Anchitherium and other extinct and equally remarkable forms, which are certainly Miocene if not, as some geologists think, belonging to the Eocene period. These facts clearly indicate that we have as yet made little approach to discovering the epoch when Felidæ originated, since the oldest forms yet discovered are typical and highly specialized representatives of a group which is itself the most specialized of the Carnivora. Another genus, Pseudælurus, is common to the Miocene deposits of Europe and North America.

FAMILY 24.-CRYPTOPROCTIDÆ. (1 Genus, 1 Species.)

[blocks in formation]

The Cryptoprocta ferox, a small and graceful cat-like animal, peculiar to Madagascar, was formerly classed among the Viverridæ, but is now considered by Professor Flower to constitute a distinct family between the Cats and the Civets.

FAMILY 25.—VIVERRIDÆ. (8-33 Genera, 100 Species.)

[blocks in formation]

The Viverridæ comprise a number of small and moderate-sized carnivorous animals, popularly known as civets, genets, and ichneumons, highly characteristic of the Ethiopian and Oriental regions, several of the genera being common to both. A species of Genetta, and one of Herpestes, inhabit South Europe ; while Viverra extends to the Moluccas, but is doubtfully indigenous. The extreme geographical limits of the family are marked by

Genetta in France and Spain, Viverra in Shanghae and Batchian Island, and Herpestes in Java and the Cape of Good Hope.

The following are the genera with their distribution as given by Dr. J. E. Gray in his latest British Museum Catalogue :

Sub-family VIVERRINÆ.—Viverra (3 species), North and tropical Africa, the whole Oriental region to the Moluccas ; Viverricula (1 species) India to Java; Genetta (5 species), South Europe, Palestine, Arabia, and all Africa; Fossa (1 species), Madagascar ; Linsang (2 species), Malacca to Java ;. Poiana (1 species), West Africa; Galidia (3 species), Madagascar; Hemigalea (1 species), Malacca and Borneo; Arctictis (1 species) Nepal to Sumatra and Java; Nandinia (1 species), West Africa; Parado&urus (9 species), the whole Oriental region; Paguma (3 species), Nepal to China, Sumatra, and Borneo; Arctogale (1 species), Tenasserim to Java.

Sub-family HERPESTINÆ.Cynogale (1 species), Borneo; Gabidictis (2 species), Madagascar; Herpestes (22 species), South Palæarctic, Ethiopian, and Oriental regions ; Athylax (3 species), Tropical and South Africa ; Galogale (13 species), all Africa, North India, to Cambodja ; Galerella (1 species), East Africa; Colictis (1 species),Ceylon (?); Ariella (1 species), South Africa; Ichneumia (4 species), Central, East, and South Africa ; Bdeogale (3 species), West and East Africa; Urva (1 species), Himalayas to Aracan; Tæniogale (1 species), Central India; Onychogale (1 species), Ceylon; Helogale (2 species) East and South Africa; Cynictis (3 species), South Africa.

Sub-family RHINOGÀLIDÆ.Rhinogale (1 species), East Africa; Mungos (3 species), all Africa ; Crossarchus (1 species), Tropical Africa; Eupleres (1 species), Madagascar; Suricata (1 species), South Africa

Fossil Viverridæ.-Several species of Viverra and Genetta have been found in the Upper Miocene of France, and many extinct genera have also been discovered. The most remarkable of these was Ictitherium, from the Upper Miocene of Greece, which has also been found in Hungary, Bessarabia, and France. Some of the species were larger than any living forms of Viverridæ, and approached the hyænas. Other extinct genera are Thalassictis

and Soricictis from the Upper Miocene, the former as large as a panther; Tylodon, of small size, from the Upper Eocene; and Palæonyctis from the Lower Eocene, also small and showing a very great antiquity for this family, if really belonging to it.

FAMILY 26.-PROTELIDÆ. (1 Genus, 1 Species.)

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The curious Proteles or Aard-wolf, a highly-modified form of hyæna, approaching the ichneumons, and feeding on white ants and carrion, is peculiar to South Africa.

FAMILY 27.-HYÆNIDÆ. (1 Genus, 3 Species.)

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The Hyænas are characteristically Ethiopian, to which region two of the species are confined. The third, Hyæna striata, ranges over all the open country of India to the foot of the Himalayas, and through Persia, Asia Minor, and North Africa. Its fossil remains have been found in France.

Extinct Species.—The cave hyæna (H. spelca) occurs abundantly in the caverns of this country and of Central Europe, and is supposed to be most nearly allied to the H. crocuta of South Africa. Another species is found in some parts of France. The earliest known true hyænas occur in the Pliocene formation in France, in the Red Crag (Older Pliocene) of England, and in the Upper Miocene of the Siwalik hills. In the Miocene period in Europe, quite distinct genera are found, such as Hyænictis and Lycæna from the Upper Miocene of Greece;

Ictitherium, supposed to be intermediate between Viverride and Hyænidæ; and Thalassictis, uniting the weasels and hyænas.

FAMILY 28.—CANIDÆ. (3 Genera, 17 Sub-Genera, 54 Species.)

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The Canidæ, comprising the animals commonly known as dogs, wolves, and foxes, have an almost universal range over the earth, being only absent from the island sub-regions of Madagascar, the Antilles, Austro-Malaya, New Zealand, and the Pacinc Islands. With the exception of two remarkable forms, the hyæna dog (Lycaon picta), and the great-eared fox (Megalotis Lalandei), both from South Africa—all the species are usually placed in the genus Canis, the distribution of which will be the same as that of the family. Dr. J. E. Gray, in his arrangement of the family (Proc. Zool. Soc., 1868), subdivides it into fifteen genera, the names and general distribution of which are as follows:

Icticyon (1 species), Brazil; Cuon (4 species), Siberia to Java; Lupus (5 species), North America, Europe, India to Ceylon; Dieba (1 species), North and West Africa ; Simenia (1 species), Abyssinia ; Chrysocyon (2 species), North and South America; Canis (4 species), India, Australia (indigenous ?) Lycalopex (2 species), South America; Pseudalopex (5 species), South America and Falkland Islands; Thous (2 species), South America to Chili; Vulpes (17 species), all the great continents, except South America and Australia ; Fennecus (4 species), all Africa; Leucocyon (1 species), Arctic regions; Urocyon (2 species), North America; Nyctereutes (1 species), Japan, Amoorland to Canton (Plate III., vol. i. p. 226). These are all sub-genera according to Professor Carus, except Icticyon. The same author makes Lycaon a sub-genus, while Dr. Gray makes it a sub-family!

Extinct Species.—The dog, wolf, and fox, are found fossil in

« EelmineJätka »