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slow process of development or transmutation, all animals have been produced from those which preceded them; and the old notion that every species was specially created as they now exist, at a particular time and in a particular spot, is abandoned as opposed to many striking facts, and unsupported by any evidence. This modification of animal forms took place very slowly, so that the historical period of three or four thousand years has hardly produced any perceptible change in a single species. Even the time since the last glacial epoch, which on the very lowest estimate must be from 50,000 to 100,000 years, has only served to modify a few of the higher animals into very slightly different species. The ehanges of the forms of animals appear to have accompanied, and perhaps to have depended on, changes of physical geography, of climate, or of vegetation; since it is evident that an animal which is well adapted to one condition of things will require to be slightly changed in constitution or habits, and therefore generally in form, structure, or colour, in order to be equally well adapted to a changed condition of surrounding circumstances. Animals multiply so rapidly, that we may consider them as continually trying to extend their range; and thus any new land raised above the sea by geological causes becomes immediately peopled by a crowd of competing inhabitants, the strongest and best adapted of which alone succeed in maintaining their position.
If we keep in view these facts—that the minor features of the earth's surface are everywhere slowly changing; that the forms, and structure, and habits of all living things are also slowly changing; while the great features of the earth, the continents, and oceans, and loftiest mountain ranges, only change after very long intervals and with extreme slowness; we must see that the present distribution of animals upon the several parts of the earth's surface is the final product of all these wonderful revolutions in organic and inorganic nature. The greatest and most radical differences in the productions of any part of the globe must be dependent on isolation by the most effectual and most permanent barriers. That ocean which has remained broadest and deepest from the most remote geological epochs
will separate countries the productions of which most widely and radically differ; while the most recently-depressed seas, or the last-formed mountain ranges, will separate countries the productions of which are almost or quite identical. It will be evident, therefore, that the study of the distribution of animals and plants may add greatly to our knowledge of the past history of our globe. It may reveal to us, in a manner which no other evidence can, which are the oldest and most permanent features of the earth's surface, and which the newest. It may indicate the existence of islands or continents now sunk beneath the ocean, and which have left no record of their existence save the animal and vegetable productions which have migrated to adjacent lands. It thus becomes an important adjunct to geology, which can rarely do more than determine what lands have been raised above the waters, under what conditions and at what period; but can seldom ascertain anything of the position or extent of those which have sunk beneath it. Our présent study may often enable us, not only to say where lands must have recently disappeared, but also to form some judgment as to their extent, and the time that has elapsed since their submersion.
Having thus briefly sketched the nature and objects of the subject we have to study, it will be necessary-before entering on a detailed examination of the zoological features of the different parts of the earth, and of the distribution of the orders, families, and genera of animals-to examine certain preliminary facts and principles essential for our guidance. We must first inquire what are the powers of multiplication and dispersal of the various groups of animals, and the nature of the barriers that most effectually limit their range. We have then to consider the effects of changes in physical geography and in climate; to examine the nature and extent of such changes as have been known to occur; to determine what others are possible or probable; and to ascertain the various modes in which such changes affect the structure, the distribution, or the very existence of animals.
Two subjects of a different nature must next engage our attention. We have to deal with two vast masses of facts, each involving countless details, and requiring subdivision and grouping to be capable of intelligible treatment. All the continents and their chief subdivisions, and all the more important islands of the globe, have to be compared as regards their various animal forms. To do this effectively we require a natural division of the earth especially adapted to our purpose; and we shall have to discuss at some length the reasons for the particular system adopted,--a discussion which must to some extent anticipate and summarize the conclusions of the whole work. We have also to deal with many hundreds of families and many thousands of genera of animals, and here too a true and natural classification is of great importance. We must therefore give a connected view of the classification adopted in the various classes of animals dealt with.
And lastly, as the existing distribution of animals is the result and outcome of all preceding changes of the earth and of its inhabitants, we require as much knowledge as we can get of the animals of each country during past geological epochs, in order to interpret the facts we shall accumulate. We shall, therefore, enter upon a somewhat detailed sketch of the various forms of extinct animals that have lived upon the earth during the Tertiary period; discuss their migrations at various epochs, the changes of physical geography that they imply, and the extent to which they enable us to determine the birthplace of certain families and genera.
The preliminary studies above enumerated will, it is believed, enable us to see the bearing of many facts in the distribution of animals that would otherwise be insoluble problems; and, what is hardly less valuable, will teach us to estimate the comparative importance of the various groups of animals, and to avoid the common error of cutting the gordian knot of each difficulty by vast hypothetical changes in existing continents and oceans - probably the most permanent features of our globe.
THE MEANS OF DISPERSAL AND THE MIGRATIONS OF ANIMALS.
ALL animals are capable of multiplying so rapidly, that if a single pair were placed in a continent with abundance of food and no enemies, they might fully stock it in a very short time. Thus, a bird which produces ten pairs of young during its lifetime (and this is far below the fertility of many birds) will, if we take its life at five years, increase to a hundred millions in about forty years, a number sufficient to stock a large country. Many fishes and insects are capable of multiplying several thousandfold each year, so that in a few years they would reach billions and trillions. Even large and slow breeding mammals, which have only one at a birth but continue to breed from eight to ten successive years, may increase from a single pair to ten millions in less than forty years.
But as animals rarely have an unoccupied country to breed in, and as the food in any one district is strictly limited, their natural tendency is to roam in every direction in search of fresh pastures, or new hunting grounds. In doing so, however, they meet with many obstacles. Rocks and mountains have to be climbed, rivers or marshes to be crossed, deserts or forests to be traversed; while narrow straits or wider arms of the sea separate islands from the main land or continents from each other. We have now to inquire what facilities the different classes of animals have for overcoming these obstacles, and what kind of barriers are most effectual in checking their progress.
Means of Dispersal of Mammalia.—Many of the largest mammalia are able to roam over whole continents and are hardly
stopped by any physical obstacles. The elephant is almost equally at home on plains and mountains, and it even climbs to the highest summit of Adam's Peak in Ceylon, which is so steep and rocky as to be very difficult of ascent for man. It traverses rivers with great ease and forces its way through the densest jungle. There seems therefore to be no limit to its powers of wandering, but the necessity of procuring food and its capacity of enduring changes of climate. The tiger is another animal with great powers of dispersal. It crosses rivers and sometimes even swims over narrow straits of the sea, and it can endure the severe cold of North China and Tartary as well as the heats of the plains of Bengal. The rhinoceros, the lion, and many of the ruminants have equal powers of dispersal; so that wherever there is land and sufficient food, there are no limits to their possible range.
Other groups of animals are more limited in their migrations. The apes, lemurs, and many monkeys are so strictly adapted to an arboreal life that they can never roam far beyond the limits of the forest vegetation. The same may be said of the squirrels, the opossums, the arboreal cats, and the sloths, with many other groups of less importance. Deserts or open country are equally essential to the existence of others. The camel, the hare, the zebra, the giraffe and many of the antelopes could not exist in a forest country any more than could the jerboas or the prairie marmots.
There are other animals which are confined to mountains, and could not extend their range into lowlands or forests. The goats and the sheep are the most striking group of this kind, inhabiting many of the highest mountains of the globe; of which the European ibex and mouflon are striking examples. Rivers are equally necessary to the existence of others, as the beaver, otter, water-vole and capybara ; and to such animals high mountainranges or deserts must form an absolutely impassable barrier.
Climate as a Limit to the Range of Mammals.-Climate appears to limit the range of many animals, though there is some reason to believe that in many cases it is not the climate itself so much as the change of vegetation consequent on climate which produces the effect. The quadrumana appear to be limited by climate,