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continents, even reaching the southern extremity of America. Their extinction has probably depended more on physical than on organic changes, and we can clearly trace their almost total disappearance to the effects of the Glacial epoch.
Rodentia.-Rodents are a very dominant group, and a very ancient one. Owing to their small size and rapid powers of increase, they soon spread over almost every part of the globe, whence has resulted a great specialisation of family types in the South American continent which remained so long isolated. They are capable of living wherever there is any kind of vegetable food, hence their range will be determined rather by organic than by physical conditions; and the occupation of a country by enemies or by competing forms, is probably the chief cause which has prevented many of the families from acquiring a wide range. The occurrence of isolated species of the South American families, Octodontidæ and Echimyidæ in the Ethiopian and Palæarctic regions, is an indication that the range of many of the families has recently become less extensive.
Edentata.---These singular and lowly-organised animals appear to have become almost restricted to the two great Southern lands—South Africa and South America—at an early period; and, being there free from the competition of higher forms, developed a number of remarkable types often of huge size, of which the Megatherium is one of the best known. The incursion of the highly-organised Ungulates and Carnivora into Africa during the Miocene epoch, probably exterminated most of them in that continent; but in America they continued in full force down to the Post-Pliocene period ; and even now, the comparatively diminutive Sloths, Ant-eaters, and Armadillos, form a large and important portion of the fauna.
Marsupialia and Monotremata.—These are probably the representatives of the most ancient and lowly-organised types of mammal. They once existed in the northern continents, whence they spread into Australia; and being isolated, and preserved from the competition of the higher forms which soon arose in other parts of the world, they have developed into a variety of types, which, however, still preserve a general
uniformity of organisation. One family, which continued to exist in Europe till the latter part of the Miocene period, reached America, and has there been preserved to our day.
Lines of Migration of the Mammalia.— The whole series of phenomena presented by the distribution of the Mammalia, looked at broadly, are in harmony with the view that the great continents and oceans of our own epoch have been in existence, with comparatively small changes, during all Tertiary times. Each one of them has, no doubt, undergone considerable modifications in its area, its altitude, and in its connection with other lands. Yet some considerable portion of each continent has, probably, long existed in its present position, while the great oceans seem to have occupied the same depressions of the earth's crust (varied, perhaps, by local elevations and subsidences) during all this vast period of time. Hence, allowing for the changes of which we have more or less satisfactory evidence, the migrations of the chief mammalian types can be pretty clearly traced. Some, owing to their small size and great vitality, have spread to almost all the chief land masses; but the majority of the orders have a more restricted range. All the evidence at our command points to the Northern Hemisphere as the birth-place of the class, and probably of all the orders. At a very early period the land communication with Australia was cut off, and has never been renewed ; so that we have here preserved for us a sample of one or more of the most ancient forms of mammal. Somewhat later the union with South America and South Africa was severed; and in both these countries we have samples of a somewhat more advanced stage of mammalian development. Later still, the union by a northern route between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres appears to have been broken, partly by a physical separation, but almost as effectually by a lowering of temperature. About the same period the separation of the Palæarctic region from the Oriental was effected, by the rise of the Himalayas and the increasing contrast of climate; while the formation of the great desert-belts of the Sahara, Arabia, Persia, and Central Asia, helped to complete the separation of
the Temperate and Tropical zones, and to render further intermigration almost impossible.
In a few cases-of which the Rodents in Australia and the pigs in Austro-Malaya are perhaps the most striking examples --the distribution of land-mammals has been effected by a seapassage either by swimming or on floating vegetation; but, as a rule, we may be sure that the migrations of mammalia have taken place over the land; and their presence on islands is, therefore, a clear indication that these have been once connected with a continent. The present class of animals thus affords the best evidence of the past history of the land surface of our globe; and we have chiefly relied upon it in sketching out (in Part III.) the probable changes which each of our great regions has undergone.
Although birds are, of all land-vertebrates, the best able to cross seas and oceans, it is remarkable how closely the main features of their distribution correspond with those of the Mammalia. South America possesses the low Formicaroid type of Passeres,—which, compared with the more highly developed forms of the Eastern Hemisphere, is analogous to the Cebidæ and Hapalide as compared with the Old World Apes and Monkeys; while its Cracidæ as compared with the Pheasants and Grouse, may be considered parallel to the Edentata as compared with the Ungulates of the Old World. The Marsupials of America and Australia, are paralleled among birds, in the Struthionidæ and Megapodiidæ ; the Lemurs and Insectivora preserved in Madagascar are represented by the Mascarene Dididæ; the absence of Deer and Bears from Africa is analogous to the absence of Wrens, Creepers, and Pheasants; while the African Hyracidæ and Chrysochloridæ among mammals, may well be compared with the equally peculiar Coliidæ and Musophagidæ
From these and many other similarities of distribution, it is clear that birds have, as a rule, followed the same great lines of migration as mammalia ; and that oceans, seas, and deserts, have
always to a great extent limited their range. Yet these barriers have not been absolute; and in the course of ages birds have been able to reach almost every habitable land upon the globe. Hence have arisen some of the most curious and interesting phenomena of distribution; and many islands, which are entirely destitute of mammalia, or possess a very few species, abound in birds, often of peculiar types and remarkable for some unusual character or habit. Striking examples of such interesting birdfaunas are those of New Zealand, the Sandwich Islands, the Galapagos, the Mascarene Islands, the Moluccas, and the Antilles; while even small and remote islets,—such as Juan Fernandez and Norfolk Island, have more light thrown upon their past history by means of their birds, than by any other portion of their scanty fauna.
Another peculiar feature in the distribution of this class is the extraordinary manner in which certain groups and certain external characteristics, have become developed in islands, where the smaller and less powerful birds have been protected from the incursions of mammalian enemies, and where rapacious birds—which seem to some degree dependent on the abundance of mammalia—are also scarce. Thus, we have the Pigeons and the Parrots most wonderfully developed in the Australian region, which is pre-eminently insular; and both these groups here acquire conspicuous colours very unusual, or
altogether absent, elsewhere. Similar colours (black and red) · appear, in the same two groups, in the distant Mascarene islands;
while in the Antilles the parrots have often white heads, a character not found in the allied species on the South American continent. Crests, too, are largely developed, in both these groups, in the Australian region only; and a crested parrot formerly lived in Mauritius,-a coincidence too much like that of the colours as above noted, to be considered accidental.
Again, birds exhibit to us a remarkable contrast as regards the oceanic islands of tropical and temperate latitudes; for while most of the former present hardly any cases of specific identity with the birds of adjacent continents, the latter often show hardly any differences. The Galapagos and Madagascar
are examples of the first-named peculiarity; the Azores and the Bermudas of the last; and the difference can be clearly traced to the frequency and violence of storms in the one case and to the calms or steady breezes in the other.
It appears then, that although birds do not afford us the same convincing proof of the former union of now disjoined lands as we obtain from mammals, yet they give us much curious and suggestive information as to the various and complex modes in which the existing peculiarities of the distribution of animals have been brought about. They also throw much light on the relation between distribution and the external characters of animals; and, as they are often found where mammalia are quite absent, we must rank them as of equal value for the purposes of our present study
These hold a somewhat intermediate place, as regards their distribution, between mammals and birds, having on the whole rather a wider range than the former, and a more restricted one than the latter.
Snakes appear to have hardly more facilities for crossing the ocean than mammals; hence they are generally absent from oceanic islands. They are more especially a tropical group, and have thus never been able to pass from one continent to another by those high northern and southern routes, which we have seen reason to believe were very effectual in the case of mammalia and some other animals. Hence we find no resemblance between the Australian and Neotropical regions, or between the Palearctic and Nearctic; while the Western Hemisphere is comparatively poor as regards variety of types, although rich in genera and species. Deserts and high mountains are also very effectual barriers for this group, and their lines of migration have probably been along river valleys, and occasionally across narrow seas by means of floating vegetation.
Lizards, being somewhat less tropical than snakes, may have passed by the northern route during warm epochs. They are also more suited to traverse deserts, and they possess some unknown