« EelmineJätka »
edges of the breast-feathers, brilliant green. An immense tuft of dense plumes of a fine orange-buff colour, springs from each side of the body, and six of these on each side terminate in a biack curled rachis or shaft, which form a perfectly unique adornment to this lovely bird. To appreciate this wonderful family (of which no good mounted collection exists) the reader should examine the series of plates in Mr. Elliot's great work on the Paradiseidæ, where every species is figured of the size of life, and with a perfection of colouring that leaves little to be desired.
Below the Seleucides is one of the elegant racquet-tailed king-hunters (Tanysiptera galatea) whose plumage of vivid blue and white, and coral-red bill, combined with the long spatulate tail, renders this bird one of the most attractive of the interesting family of kingfishers. On a high branch is seated the little Papuan parroquet (Charmosyna papuensis), one of the Trichoglossidæ, or brush-tongued parrots,-richly adorned in red and yellow plumage, and with an unusually long and slender tail. On the ground is the well-known crowned pigeon (Goura coronata,) a genus which is wholly confined to New Guinea and a few of the adjacent islands. One of the very few Papuan mammals, a tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus inustus), is seated on a high branch. It is interesting, as an arboreal modification of a family which in Australia is purely terrestrial; and as showing how very little alteration of form or structure is needed to adapt an animal to such a different mode of life.
Reptiles and Amphibia.--Of these classes comparatively little is at present known, but there is evidence that the same intermixture of Oriental and Australian forms that occurs in birds and insects, is also found here. Dr. A. B. Meyer, the translator of this work into German, and well known for his valuable discoveries in New Guinea, has kindly furnished me with a manuscript list of Papuan reptiles, from which most of the information I am able to give is derived.
Of Snakes, 24 genera are known, belonging to 11 families. Six of the genera are Oriental,—Calamaria, Cerberus, Chrysopelea, Lycodon, Chersydrus, and Ophiophagus. Four are Australian,
- Morelia, Liasis, Diemenia, and Acanthophis; while four others are more especially Papuan,-Dibamus (Typhlopidæ), Brachyorros—a sub-genus of the wide-spread Rhabdosoma (Calamariidae), found also in Timor; Nardoa and Enygrus (Pythonidæ), ranging from the Moluccas to the Fiji Islands. The rest are either common to the Oriental and Australian regions or of wide range.
Of Lizards also, 24 genera are recorded, belonging to 5 families. Three only are peculiarly Oriental, Eumeces, Tiaris, and Nycteridium ; but another, Gonyocephalus, is Malayan, ranging from Java and Borneo to the Pelew Islands.* Three are Australian,Cyclodus, Heteropus, and Gehyra ; while six are especially Papuan, -Keneuxia (extending to the Philippines), Elania, Carlia (to North Australia), Lipinia (to the Philippine Islands), and Tribolonotus,-all belonging to the Scincidæ; and Arua belonging to the Agamidæ. We must add Cryptoblepharus, which is confined to the Australian region, except a species in Mauritius. The other genera have a wider distribution.
The preponderant Oriental element in the snakes as compared with the lizards, is suggestive of the dispersal of the former being dependent on floating trees, or even on native canoes, which for an unknown period have traversed these seas, and in which various species of snakes often secrete themselves. This seems the more probable, as snakes are usually more restricted in their range than lizards, and exhibit less numerous examples of widespread genera and species. The other orders of reptiles present no features of interest.
Of Amphibia only 8 genera are known, belonging to 6 families. Rana, Hylarana, and Hyla are wide-spread genera, the former being, however, absent from Australia. Hyperolius, Pelodryas, Litoria, and Asterophrys are Australian; while Platymantis is Polynesian, with a species in the Philippine Islands. Hence it appears that the amphibia, so far as yet known, exhibit no Oriental affinity; and this is a very suggestive fact. We have seen (p. 29) that salt water is almost a complete barrier to the dispersal of these creatures ; so that the wholly Australian character of the Papuan batrachia is what we might expect, if, as here advocated, no actual land connection between
the Oriental and Australian regions, has probably occurred during the entire Tertiary and Post-tertiary periods.
Insects. The general character of the Papuan insects has been sufficiently indicated in our sketch of the Entomology of the region. We will here only add, that the metallic lustre so prevalent among the birds, is also apparent in such insects as Sphingnotus mirabilis,a most brilliant metallic Longicorn; Lomaptera wallacei and Anacamptorhina fulgida, Cetonii of intense lustre; Calodema wallacei among the Buprestidæ ; and the elegant blue Eupholi among the weevils. Even among moths we have Cocytia durvillii, remarkable for its brilliant metallic colours.
The Moluccas.—The islands of Gilolo, Bouru, and Ceram, with several smaller islands adjacent, together with Sanguir, and perhaps Tulour or Salibaboo to the north-west, and the islands from Ke to Timor-Laut to the south-east, form the group of the Moluccas or Spice-Islands, remarkable for the luxuriance of their vegetation and the extreme beauty of their birds and insects. Their Mammalia are of Papuan character, with some foreign intermixture. Two genera of the New Guinea marsupials, Belideus and Cuscus, abound; and we have also the widespread Sus. But besides these, we find no less than five genera of placental Mammals quite foreign to the Papuan or Australian faunas. These are 1. Cynopithecus nigrescens, found only in the small island of Batchian, and probably introduced from Celebes, where the same ape occurs. 2. Viverra tangalunga, a common Indo-Malayan species of civet, probably introduced. 3. Cervus hippelaphus, var. Moluccensis, a deer abundant in all the islands, very close to a Javan species and almost certainly introduced by man, perhaps very long ago. 4. Babirusa alfurus, the babirusa, found only in the island of Bouru, and perhaps originally introduced from Celebes. 5. Sorex sp., small shrews. With the exception of the last, all these species are animals habitually domesticated and kept in confinement by the Malays; and when we consider that none of the smaller Mammalia of Java and Borneo, numbering at least fifty different species, are found