« EelmineJätka »
the right hand corner is the Leptosoma discolor, a bird which appears to be intermediate between such very distinct families as the cuckoos and the rollers, and is therefore considered to form a family by itself. It is a coppery-green above and nearly white beneath, with a black bill and red feet. The fan-shaped plant on the left is the traveller's tree (Urania speciosa), one of the peculiar forms of vegetation in this marvellous island.
Reptiles—These present some very curious features, comparatively few of the African groups being represented, while there are a considerable number of Eastern and even of American forms. Beginning with the snakes, we find, in the enormous family of Colubridae, none of the African types; but instead of them three genera—Herpetodryas, Philodryas, and Heterodon— only found elsewhere in South and North America. The Psammophidae, which are both African and Indian, are represented by a peculiar genus, Mimophis. The Dendrophidae are represented by Ahaetulla, a genus which is both African and American. The Dryiophidae, which inhabit all the tropics but are most developed in the Oriental region, are represented by a peculiar genus, Langaha. The tropical Pythonidae are represented by another peculiar genus, Sanzinia. The Lycodontidae and Viperidae, so well developed in Africa, are entirely absent. The lizards are no less remarkable. The Zonuridae, abundantly developed in Africa, are represented by one peculiar genus, Cicigna. The wide-spread Scincidae by another peculiar genus, Pygomeles. The African Sepsidae, are represented by three genera, two of which are African, and one, Amphiglossus, peculiar. The Acontiadae are represented by a species of the African genus Acontias. Of Scincidae there is the wide-spread Euprepes. The Sepidae are represented by the African genera Seps and Scelotes. The Geckotidae are not represented by any purely African genera, but by Phyllodactylus, which is American and Australian; Hemidactylus, which is spread over all the tropics; by two peculiar genera; and by Uroplatis, Geckolepis, and Phelsuma, confined to Madagascar, Bourbon, and the Andaman Islands. The Agamidae, which are mostly Oriental and are represented in Africa by the single genus Agama, have here three peculiar genera, Tracheloptychus, Chalarodon, and Hoplurus. Lastly, the American Iguanidae are said to be represented by a species of the South American genus Oplurus. The classification of Reptiles is in such an unsettled state that some of these determinations of affinities are probably erroneous; but it is not likely that any corrections which may be required will materially affect the general bearing of the evidence, as indicating a remarkable amount of Oriental and American relationship.
The other groups are of less interest. Tortoises are represented by two African or wide-spread genera of Testudinidae, Testudo and Chersina, and by one peculiar genus, Pyris ; and there are also two African genera of Chelydidae.
The Amphibia are not very well known. They appear to be confined to species of the wide-spread Ethiopian and Oriental genera—Hylarana, Polypedates, and Rappia (Polypedatidae); and Pyricephalus (Ranidae).
Fresh-water Fishes—These appear to be at present almost unknown. When carefully collected they will no doubt furnish some important facts.
The Mascarene Islands.
The various islands which surround Madagascar—Bourbon, Mauritius, Rodriguez, the Seychelles, and the Comoro Islands —all partake in a considerable degree of its peculiar fauna, while having some special features of their own.
Indigenous Mammalia (except bats) are probably absent from all these islands (except the Comoros), although Lemur and Centetes are given as natives of Bourbon and Mauritius. They have, however, perhaps been introduced from Madagascar. Lemur mayottensis, a peculiar species, is found in the Comoro Islands, where a Madagascar species of Viverra also occurs.
Bourbon and Mauritius may be taken together, as they much resemble each other. They each possess species of a peculiar genus of Campephagidae, or caterpillar shrikes, Oxynotus; while the remarkable Fregilupus, belonging to the starling family, inhabits Bourbon, if it is not now extinct. They also have peculiar species of Pratincola, Hypsipetes, Phedina, Tchitrea, Zosterops, Foudia, Collocalia, and Coracopsis ; while Mauritius has a very peculiar form of dove of the sub-genus Trocaza; an Alectraenas, extinct within the last thirty years; and a species of the Oriental genus of parroquets, Palaeornis. The small and remote island of Rodriguez has another Palaeornis, as well as a peculiar Foudia, and a Drymaeca of apparently Indian affinity. Coming to the Seychelle Islands, far to the north, we find the only mammal an Indian species of bat (Pteropus edwardsii). Of the twelveland-birds all but one are peculiar species, but all belong to genera found also in Madagascar, except one—a peculiar species of Palaeornis. This is an Oriental genus, but found also in several Mascarene Islands and on the African continent. A species of black parrot (Coracopsis barklayi) and a weaver bird of peculiar type (Foudia seychellarum) show, however, a decided connection with Madagascar. There are also two peculiar pigeons—a shortwinged Turtur and an Alectracnas. Most of the birds of the Comoro Islands are Madagascar species, only two being African. Five are peculiar, belonging to the genera Nectarinia, Zosterops, Dicrurus, Foudia, and Alectraenas. Reptiles are scarce. There appear to be no snakes in Mauritius and Bourbon, though some African species are said to be found in the Seychelle Islands. Lizards are fairly represented. Mauritius has Cryptoblepharus, an Australian genus of Gymnopthalmidae; Hemidactylus (a wide-spread genus); Peropus (Oriental and Australian)—both belonging to the Geckotidae. Bourbon has Heteropus, a Moluccan and Australian genus of Scincidae; Phelsuma (Geckotidae), and Chameleo, both found also in Madagascar; as well as Pyxis, one of the tortoises. The Seychelles have Theconya, a peculiar genus of Geckotidae, and Chameleo. Gigantic land-tortoises, which formerly inhabited most of the Mascarene Islands, now only survive in Aldabra, a small island north of the Seychelles. These will be noticed again further on. Amphibia seem only to be recorded from the Seychelles, where two genera of tree-frogs of the family Polypedatidae are found; one (Megalizalus) peculiar, the other (Rappia) found also in Madagascar and Africa. WOL. I.-20