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Remarkable Peculiarities of the Island of Celebes.
If we now pass to the next island (Celebes), separated from those last mentioned by a strait not wider than that which divides them from each other, we have a striking contrast; for with a total number of species less than either Borneo or Java, no fewer than eighteen are absolutely restricted to it. Further east, the large islands of Ceram and New Guinea have only three species peculiar to each, and Timor has five. We shall have to look, not to single islands, but to whole groups, in order to obtain an amount of individuality comparable with that of Celebes. For example, the extensive group comprising the large islands of Java, Borneo, and Sumatra, with the peninsula of Malacca, possessing altogether 48 species, has about 24, or just half, peculiar to it; the numerous group of the Philippines possess 22 species, of which 17 are peculiar; the seven chief islands of the Moluccas have 27, of which 12 are peculiar; and the whole of the Papuan Islands, with an equal number of species, have 17 peculiar. Comparable with the most isolated of these groups is Celebes, with its 24 species, of which the large proportion of 18 are peculiar. We see, therefore, that the opinion I have elsewhere expressed, of the high degree of isolation and the remarkable distinctive features of this interesting island, is fully borne out by the examination of this conspicuous family of insects. A single straggling island with a few small satellites, it is zoologically of equal importance with extensive groups of islands many times as large as itself; and standing in the very centre of the archipelago, surrounded on every side with islets connecting it with the larger groups, and which seem to afford the greatest facilities for the migration and intercommunication of their respective productions, it yet stands out conspicuous with a character of its own in every department of nature, and presents peculiarities which are, I believe, without a parallel in any similar locality on the globe.
Briefly to summarize these peculiarities, Celebes possesses three genera of mammals (out of the very small number which inhabit it) which are of singular and isolated forms, viz., Cynopithecus, a tailless Ape allied to the Baboons ; Anoa, a straight-horned Antelope of obscure affinities, but quite unlike anything else in the whole archipelago or in India : and Babirusa, an altogether abnormal wild Pig. With a rather limited bird population, Celebes has an immense preponderance of species confined to it, and has also six remarkable genera (Meropogon, Ceycopsis, Streptocitta, Enodes, Scissirostrum, and Megacephalon) entirely restricted to its narrow limits, as well as two others (Prioniturus and Basilornis) which only range to a single island beyond it.
Mr. Smith's elaborate tables of the distribution of Malayan Hymenoptera (see “ Proc. Linn. Soc.” Zool. vol. vii.) show that out of the large number of 301 species collected in Celebes, 190 (or nearly two-thirds) are absolutely restricted to it, although Borneo on one side, and the various islands of the Moluccas on the other, were equally well explored by me; and no less than twelve of the genera are not found in any other island of the archipelago. I have shown in the present essay that, in the Papilionidæ, it has far more species of its own than any other island, and a greater proportion of peculiar species than many of the large groups of islands in the archipelago-and that it gives to a large number of the species and varieties which inhabit it, 1st, an increase of size, and, 2nd, a peculiar modification in the form of the wings, which stamp upon the most dissimilar insects a mark distinctive of their common birth-place.
What, I would ask, are we to do with phenomena such as these? Are we to rest content with that very simple, but at the same time very unsatisfying explanation, that all these insects and other animals were created exactly as they are, and originally placed exactly where they are, by the inscrutable will of their Creator, and that we have nothing to do but to register the facts and wonder? Was this single island selected for a fantastic display of creative power, merely to excite a childlike and unreasoning admiration? Is all this appearance of gradual modification by the action of natural causes-a modification the successive steps of which we can almost trace—all delusive? Is this harmony between the most diverse groups, all presenting analogous phenomena, and indicating a dependence upon physical changes of which we have independent evidence, all false testimony? If I could think so, the study of nature would have lost for me its greatest charm. I should feel as would the geologist, if you could convince him that his interpretation of the earth's past history was all a delusion-that strata were never formed in the primeval ocean, and that the fossils he so carefully collects and studies are no true record of a former living world, but were all created just as they now are, and in the rocks where he now finds them.
I must here express my own belief that none of these phenomena, however apparently isolated or insignificant, can ever stand alone-that not the wing of a butterfly can change in form or vary in colour, except in harmony with, and as a part of the grand march of nature. I believe, therefore, that all the curious phenomena I have just recapitulated, are immediately dependent on the last series of changes, organic and inorganic, in these regions; and as the phenomena presented by the island of Celebes differ from those of all the surrounding islands, it can, I conceive, only be because the past history of Celebes has been, to some extent, unique and different from theirs. We must have much more evidence to determine exactly in what that difference has consisted. At present, I only see my way clear to one deduction, viz., that Celebes represents one of the oldest parts of the archipelago ; that it has been formerly more completely isolated both from India and from Australia than it is now, and that amid all the mutations it has undergone, a relic or substratum of the fauna and flora of some more ancient land has been here preserved to us.
It is only since my return home, and since I have been able to compare the productions of Celebes side by side with those of the surrounding islands, that I have been fully impressed with their peculiarity, and the great interest that attaches to them. The plants and the reptiles are still almost unknown; and it is to be hoped that some enterprising naturalist may soon devote himself to their study. The geology of the country would also be well worth exploring, and its newer fossils would be of especial interest as elucidating the changes which have led to its present anomalous condition. This island stands, as it were, upon the boundary-line between two worlds. On one side is that ancient Australian fauna, which preserves to the present day the facies of an early geological epoch ; on the other is the rich and varied fauna of Asia, which seems to contain, in every class and order, the most perfect and highly organised animals. Celebes has relations to both, yet strictly belongs to neither : it possesses characteristics which are altogether its own ; and I am convinced that no single island upon the globe would so well repay a careful and detailed research into its past and present history.
Concluding Remarks. In writing this essay it has been my object to show how much may, under favourable circumstances, be learnt by the study of what may be termed the external physiology of a small group of animals, inhabiting a limited district. This branch of natural history had