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modifications of pre-existing land, than by the upheaval of entirely new continents in mid-ocean. These two principles will throw light upon two constantly recurring groups of facts in the distribution of animals,--the restriction of peculiar forms to areas not at present isolated, and on the other hand, the occurrence of allied forms in lands situated on opposite shores of the great oceans.
Continental Areas.-Although the dry land of the earth's surface is distributed with so much irregularity, that there is more than twice as much north of the equator as there is south of it, and about twice as much in the Asiatic as in the American hemisphere; and, what is still more extraordinary, that on a hemisphere of which a point in St. George's Channel between England and Ireland is the centre, the land is nearly equal in extent to the water, while in the opposite hemisphere it is in the proportion of only one-eighth,—yet the whole of the land is almost continuous. It consists essentially of only three masses: the American, the Asia-African, and the Australian. The two former are only separated by thirty-six miles of shallow sea at Behring's Straits, so that it is possible to go from Cape Horn to Singapore or the Cape of Good Hope without ever being out of sight of land; and owing to the intervention of the numerous islands of the Malay Archipelago the journey might be continued under the same conditions as far as Melbourne and Hobart Town. This curious fact, of the almost perfect continuity of all the great masses of land notwithstanding their extremely irregular shape and distribution, is no doubt dependent on the circumstances just alluded to; that the great depth of the oceans and the slowness of the process of upbeaval, has almost always produced the new lands either close to, or actually connected with pre-existing lands; and this has necessarily led to a much greater uniformity in the distribution of organic forms, than would have prevailed had the continents been more completely isolated from each other.
The isthmuses which connect Africa with Asia, and North with South America, are, however, so small and insignificant compared with the vast extent of the countries they unite that
we can hardly consider them to form more than a nominal connection. The Isthmus of Suez indeed, being itself a desert, and connecting districts which for a great distance are more or less desert also, does not effect any real union between the luxuriant forest-clad regions of intertropical Asia and Africa. The Isthmus of Panama is a more effectual line of union, since it is billy, well watered, and covered with luxuriant vegetation; and we accordingly find that the main features of South American zoology are continued into Central America and Mexico. In Asia a great transverse barrier exists, dividing that continent into a northern and southern portion; and as the lowlands occur on the south and the highlands on the north of the great mountain range, which is situated not far beyond the tropic, an abrupt change of climate is produced ; so that a belt of about a hundred miles wide, is all that intervenes between a luxuriant tropical region and an almost arctic waste. Between the northern part of Asia, and Europe, there is no barrier of importance; and it is impossible to separate these regions as regards the main features of animal life. Africa, like Asia, has a great transverse barrier, but it is a desert instead of a mountain chain; and it is found that this desert is a more effectual barrier to the diffusion of animals than the Mediterranean Sea; partly because it coincides with the natural division of a tropical from a temperate climate, but also on account of recent geological changes which we shall presently allude to. It results then from this outline sketch of the earth's surface, that the primary divisions of the geographer correspond approximately with those of the zoologist. Some large portion of each of the popular divisions forms the nucleus of a zoological region; but the boundaries are so changed that the geographer would hardly recognise them: it has, therefore, been found necessary to give them those distinct names which will be fully explained in our next chapter.
Recent Changes in the Continental Areas.—The important fact has been now ascertained, that a considerable portion of the Sahara south of Algeria and Morocco was under water at a very recent epoch. Over much of this area sea-shells, identical with those now living in the Mediterranean, are abundantly scattered,
not only in depressions below the level of the sea but up to a height of 900 feet above it. Borings for water made by the French government have shown, that these shells occur twenty. feet deep in the sand; and the occurrence of abundance of salt, sometimes even forming considerable hills, is an additional proof of the disappearance of a large body of salt water. The common cockle is one of the most abundant of the shells found; and the Rev. H. B. Tristram discovered a new fish, in a salt lake nearly 300 miles inland, but which has since been found to inhabit the Gulf of Guinea. Connected with this proof of recent elevation in the Sahara, we have most interesting indications of subsidence in the area of the Mediterranean, which were perhaps contemporaneous. Sicily and Malta are connected with Africa by a submerged bank from 300 to 1,200 feet below the surface; while the depth of the Mediterranean, both to the east and west, is enormous, in some parts more than 13,000 feet; and another submerged bank with a depth of 1,000 feet occurs at the straits of Gibraltar. In caves in Sicily, remains of the living African elephant have been found by Baron Anca ; and in other caves Dr. Falconer discovered remains of the Elephas antiquus and of two species of Hippopotamus. In Malta, three species of elephant have been discovered by Captain Spratt; a large one closely allied to E. antiquus and two smaller ones not exceeding five feet high when adult. These facts clearly indicate, that when North Africa was separated by a broad arm of the sea from the rest of the continent, it was probably connected with Europe; and this explains why zoologists find themselves obliged to place it along with Europe in the same zoological region.
Besides this change in the level of the Sahara and the Mediterranean basin, Europe has undergone many fluctuations in its physical geography in very recent times. In Wales, abundance of sea-shells of living species have been found at an elevation of 1,300 feet; and in Sardinia there is proof of an elevation of 300 feet since the human epoch; and these are only samples of many such changes of level. But these changes, though very important locally and as connected with geological problems, need not be further noticed here; as they were not of a
nature to affect the larger features of the earth's surface or to determine the boundaries of great zoological regions.
The only other other recent change of great importance which can be adduced to illustrate our present subject, is that which has taken place between North and South America. The living marine shells of the opposite coasts of the isthmus of Panama, as well as the corals and fishes, are generally of distinct species, but some are identical and many are closely allied; the West Indian fossil shells and corals of the Miocene period, however, are found to be largely identical with those of the Pacific coast. The fishes of the Atlantic and Pacific shores of America are as a rule very distinct; but Dr. Günther has recently shown that a considerable number of species inhabiting the seas on opposite sides of the isthmus are absolutely identical. These facts certainly indicate, that during the Miocene epoch a broad channel separated North and South America; and it seems probable that a series of elevations and subsidences have taken place uniting and separating them at different epochs; the most recent submersion having lasted but a short time, and thus, while allowing the passage of abundance of locomotive fishes, not admitting of much change in the comparatively stationary mollusca.
The Glacial Epoch as affecting the Distribution of Animals.The remarkable refrigeration of climate in the northern hemisphere within the epoch, of existing species, to which the term Glacial epoch is applied, together with the changes of level that accompanied and perhaps assisted to produce it, has been one of the chief agents in determining many of the details of the existing distribution of animals in temperate zones. A comparison of the effects produced by existing glaciers with certain superficial phenomena in the temperate parts of Europe and North America, renders it certain that between the Newer Pliocene and the Recent epochs, a large portion of the northern hemisphere must have been covered with a sheet of ice several thousand feet thick, like that which now cnvelopes the interior of Greenland. Much further south the mountains were covered with perpetual snow, and sent glaciers down every valley; and all the
great valleys on the southern side of the Alps poured down streams of ice which stretched far out into the plains of Northern Italy, and have left their debris in the form of huge mountainous moraines, in some cases more than a thousand feet high. In Canada and New Hampshire the marks of moving ice are found on the tops of mountains from 3,000 to 5,000 feet high; and the whole surface of the country around and to the north of the great lakes is scored by glaciers. Wherever the land was submerged during a part of this cold period, a deposit called boulder-clay, or glacial-drift has been formed. This is a mass of sand, clay, or gravel, full of angular or rounded stones of all sizes, up to huge blocks as large as a cottage; and especially characterized by these stones being distributed confusedly through it, the largest being as often near the top as near the bottom, and never sorted into layers of different sizes as in materials carried by water. Such deposits are known to be formed by glaciers and icebergs; when deposited on the land by glaciers they form moraines, when carried into water and thus spread with more regularity over a wider area they form drift. This drift is rarely found except where there is other evidence of ice-action, and never south of the 40th parallel of latitude, to which in the northern hemisphere signs of ice-action extend. In the southern hemisphere, in Patagonia and in New Zealand, exactly similar phenomena occur.
A very interesting confirmation of the reality of this cold epoch is derived from the study of fossil remains. Both the plants and animals of the Miocene period indicate that the climate of Central Europe was decidedly warmer or more equable than it is now; since the flora closely resembled that of the Southern United States, with a likeness also to that of Eastern Asia and Australia. Many of the shells were of tropical genera; and there were numbers of large mammalia allied to the elephant, rhinoceros, and tapir. At the same time, or perhaps somewhat earlier, a temperate climate extended into the arctic regions, and allowed a magnificent vegetation of shrubs and forest trees, some of them evergreen, to flourish within twelve degrees of the Pole. In the Pliocene period we find ourselves