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Azores are situated in an especially stormy zone, and it is an observed fact that after every serere gale of wind some new bird or insect is seen on the islands. The Galapagos, on the contrary, are in a very calm sea where violent storms are almost unknown, and thus new birds from the mainland very rarely visit these islands. Madeira is less stormy than the Azores, but its comparative nearness makes up for this difference in the case of birds. In insects, however, the species of Madeira are much more peculiar (and more numerous) than those of the more distant Azores ; while those of the Galapagos are few, but all peculiar, and belonging to groups many of which are widely spread over the globe. All these facts are entirely in accordance with the view that oceanic islands have been peopled from the nearest continents by various accidental causes; while they are entirely opposed to the theory that such islands are
remnants of old continents and have preserved some portion of their inhabitants.
It is a curious fact, that land reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, are found in many islands where there are no mammalia or frogs; and we therefore conclude that there must be some means by which their ova can be safely carried across great widths of sea. peculiar frog inhabits New Zealand, and some species are found in the Pacific islands as far eastward as the Fijis, but they are absent from all other oceanic islands. Snakes also extend to the Fijis, and there are two species in the Galapagos, but none in the other oceanic islavds. Lizards, however, are found in Mauritius and Bourbon ; in New Zealand; in all the Pacific islands, and in the Galapagos. It is clear then that next to Mammals,
frogs and toads are most completely shut out by an ocean barrier; then follow snakes, but as these are only found in the Galapagos and are very like South American species, they may possibly have been conveyed in boats or by floating trees. Lizards, however, are so widespread over almost all the warmer islands of the great occans, that they must have some natural way of passing over, but the exact mode in which this is effected has not yet been discovered. Birds, as we have seen, are liable to be carried by winds and storms over great widths of sea, but this only applies to certain groups ; and large numbers which feed on the ground or which inhabit the depths of the forests, are almost as strictly confined to their respective countries by even a narrow arm of the sea as are the majority of the mammalia.
This sketch of the mode in which the various kinds of islands have been stocked with their animal inhabitants forms the best introduction to the study of those changes in our continents which have led to the existing distribution of animals. It demonstrates the importance of the sea as a barrier to the spread of all the higher animals; and we are thus naturally led on to inquire, how far and to what extent such barriers have in past time existed between lands which are now united, and on the other hand what existing occanic barriers are of comparatively recent origin.. In pursuing this inquiry we shall have to take account of those grand views of the course of nature associated with the names of Lyell and Darwin-of the slow but never-ceasing changes in the physical conditions, the outlines and the mutual relations of the land-surfaces of the globe; and of the equally slow and equally unceasing changes in the
forms and structures of all organisms, to a great extent correlated with, and perhaps dependent on, the former set of changes. Combining these two great principles with other ascertained causes of distribution, we shall be enabled to deal adequately with the problem before us, and give a rational, though often only an approximative and conjectural, solution of the many strange anomalies we meet with in studying the distribution of living things.
Pust and Present Distribution of Land and Sea.Before proceeding to give details as to the distribution of animals, it is necessary to point out certain geographical features which have had great influence in bringing about the existing state of things.
The extreme inequality with which land and water is distributed has often been remarked, but what is less frequently noted is the singular way in which all the great masses of land are linked together. Notwithstanding the small proportion of land to water, the vast difference in the quantity of land in the northern and southern hemispheres, and the apparently hap-hazard manner in which it is spread over the globe, we yet find that no important area is completely isolated from the rest. We
may even travel from the extreme north of Asia to the three great southern promontories—Cape Horn, the Cape of Good Hope, and Tasmania—without ever going out of sight of land ; and, if we examine a terrestrial globe, we find that the continents in their totality may be likened to a huge creeping plant, whose roots are at or around the North Pole, whose matted stems and branches cover a large part of the northern hemisphere, while it sends out in tlirce directions great
offshoots towards the South Pole. This singular arrangement of the land surface into what is practically one huge mass with diverging arms, offers great facilities for the transmission of the varied forms of animal life over the whole earth, and is no doubt one of the chief causes of the essential unity of type which everywhere characterises the existing animal and vegetable productions of the globe.
There is, moreover, good reason to believe that the general features of this arrangement are of vast antiquity; and that throughout much of the Tertiary period, at all events, the relative positions of our continents and oceans have remained the same, although they have certainly undergone some changes in their extent, and in the degree of their connection with each other. This is proved by two kinds of evidence. In the first place, it is now ascertained by actual measurement that the depths of the great oceans are so vast over wide areas, while the highest elevations of the land are limited to comparatively narrow ridges, that the mass of land (above the sea-level) is not more than 3óth part of the mass of the ocean. Now we have reason to believe that subsidence and elevation bear some kind of proportion to each other, whence it follows that although several mountain ranges lave risen to great heights during the Tertiary period, this amount of elevation bears no proportion to the amount of subsidence required to have changed any considerable area of what was once land into such profound depths as those of the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. In the second place, we find over a considerable area of all the great continents freshwater deposits containing the remains of land animals
and plants; which deposits must have been formed in lakes or estuaries, and which therefore, speaking generally, imply the existence in their immediate vicinity of land areas comparable to those which still exist. The Miocene deposits of Central and Western Europe, of Greece, of India, and of China, as well as those of various parts of North America, strikingly prove this; while the Eocene deposits of London and Paris, of Belgium, and of various parts of North and South America, though often marine, yet by their abundant remains of land-animals and plants, equally indicate the vicinity of extensive continents. For our purpose it is not necessary to go further back than this, but there is much evidence to show that throughout the Secondary, and even some portion of the Palæozoic periodis, the land-areas coincided to a considerable extent with our existing continents. Professor Ramsay has shown' that not only the Wealden formation, and considerable portions of the Upper and Lower Oolite, but also much of the Trias, and the larger part of the Permian, Carboniferous, and Old Red Sandstore formations, were almost certainly deposited either in lakes, inland seas, or extensive estuaries. This would prove that, throughout the whole of the vast epochs extending back to the time of the Devonian formation, our present continents have been substantially in existence, subject, no doubt, to vast fluctuations by extension or contraction, and by various degrees of union or separation, but never so completely submerged as to be replaced by oceans comparable in depth with our Atlantic or Pacific.
Nature, 1873, p. 333; Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 1871, pp. 189 and 241.