« EelmineJätka »
An examination of the relations of the species of the adjacent islands, will thus enable us to correct opinions formed from a mere consideration of their relative positions. For example, looking at a map of the archipelago, it is almost impossible to avoid the idea that Java and Sumatra have been recently united; their present proximity is so great, and they have such an obvious resemblance in their volcanic structure. Yet there can be little doubt that this opinion is erroneous, and that Sumatra has had a more recent and more intimate connexion with Borneo than it has had with Java. This is strikingly shown by the mammals of these islands—very few of the species of Java and Sumatra being identical, while a considerable number are common to Sumatra and Borneo. The birds show a somewhat similar relationship; and we shall find that the distribution of the Papilionidæ tells exactly the same tale. Thus :
Sumatra has... 21 species /
} 20 sp. common to both islands; Sumatra ,
11 sp. common to both islands ; Java Borneo , Java
20 sp. common to both islands ; ,
showing that both Sumatra and Java have a much closer relationship to Borneo than they have to each other—a most singular and interesting result, when we consider the wide separation of Borneo from them both, and its very different structure. The evidence furnished by a single group of insects would have had
but little weight on a point of such magnitude if standing alone; but coming as it does to confirm deductions drawn from whole classes of the higher animals, it must be admitted to have considerable value. We may
determine in a similar manner the relations of the different Papuan Islands to New Guinea. Of thirteen species of Papilionidæ obtained in the Aru Islands, six were also found in New Guinea, and seven not. Of nine species obtained at Waigiou, six were New Guinea, and three not.
The five species found at Mysol were all New Guinea species. Mysol, therefore, has closer relations to New Guinea than the other islands; and this is corroborated by the distribution of the birds, of which I will only now give one instance. The Paradise Bird found in Mysol is the common New Guinea species, while the Aru Islands and Waigiou have each a species peculiar to themselves.
The large island of Borneo, which contains more species of Papilionidæ than any other in the archipelago, has nevertheless only three peculiar to itself; and it is quite possible, and even probable, that one of these may be found in Sumatra or Java. The lastnamed island has also three species peculiar to it; Sumatra has not one, and the peninsula of Malacca only two.
The identity of species is even greater than in birds or in most other groups of insects, and points very strongly to a recent connexion of the whole with each other and the continent.
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 Babiruså, 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