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islands, which, for reasons already stated, it is not advisable to treat as a primary Zoological region. The theory of this ancient continent and the light it may throw on existing anomalies of distribution, will be more fully considered in the geographical part of this work.
Australian Region.-Mr. Sclater's original name seems preferable to Professor Huxley's, “ Austral-Asian;” the inconvenience of which alteration is sufficiently shown by the fact that Mr. Blyth proposed to use the very same term as an appropriate substitute for the "Indian region" of Mr. Sclater. Australia is the great central mass of the region; it is by far the richest in varied and highly remarkable forms of life; and it therefore seems in every way fitted to give a name to the region of which it is the essential element. The limits of this region in the Pacific are somewhat obscure, but as so many of the Pacific Islands are extremely poor zoologically, this is not of great importance.
Sub-divisions of the Australian Region.—The first sub-region is the Austro-Malayan, including the islands from Celebes and Lombock on the west to the Solomon Islands on the east. The Australian sub-region comes next, consisting of Australia and Tasmania. The third, or Polynesian sub-region, will consist of all the tropical Pacific Islands, and is characterized by several peculiar genera of birds which are all allied to Australian types. The fourth, consists of New Zealand with Auckland, Chatham, and Norfolk Islands, and must be called the New Zealand sub-region.
The extreme peculiarities of New Zealand, due no doubt to its great isolation and to its being the remains of a more extensive land, have induced several naturalists to suggest that it ought justly to form a Zoological region by itself. But the inconveniences of such a procedure have been already pointed out; and when we look at its birds as a whole (they being the only class sufficiently well represented to found any conclusion upon) we find that the majority of them belong to Australian genera, and where the genera are peculiar they are most nearly related to Australian types. The preservation in these islands
of a single representative of a unique order of reptiles, is, as before remarked, of the same character as the preservation of the Proteus in the caverns of Carniola ; and can give the locality where it happens to have survived no claim to form a primary Zoological region, unless supported by a tolerably varied and distinctly characterized fauna, such as never exists in a very restricted and insular area.
Neotropical Region.—Mr. Sclater's original name for this region is preserved, because change of nomenclature is always an evil; and neither Professor Huxley's suggested alteration
Austro-Columbia,” nor Mr. Sclater's new term “Dendrogæa," appear to be improvements. The region is essentially a tropical one, and the extra-tropical portion of it is not important enough to make the name inappropriate. That proposed by Professor Huxley is not free from the same kind of criticism, since it would imply that the region was exclusively South American, whereas a considerable tract of North America belongs to it. This region includes South America, the Antilles and tropical North America; and it possesses more peculiar families of vertebrates and genera of birds and mammalia than any other region.
Subdivisions of the Neotropical Region. The great central mass of South America, from the shores of Venezuela to Paraguay and Eastern Peru, constitutes the chief division, and may be termed the Brazilian sub-region. It is on the whole a forest country; its most remarkable forms are highly developed arboreal types; and it exhibits all the characteristics of this rich and varied continent in their highest development.
The second, or Chilian sub-region, consists of the open plains, pampas, and mountains of the southern extremity of the continent; and we must include in it the west side of the Andes as far as the limits of the forest near Payta, and the whole of the high Andean plateaus as far as 4 of south latitude; which makes it coincide with the range of the Camelidæ and Chinchillida.
The third, or Mexican sub-region, consists of Central America and Southern Mexico, but it has no distinguishing character
istics except the absence of some of the more highly specialized Neotropical groups. It is, however, a convenient division as comprising the portion of the North American continent which belongs zoologically to South America.
The fourth, or Antillean sub-region, consists of the West India islands (except Trinidad and Tobago, which are detached portions of the continent and must be grouped in the first subregion); and these reproduce, in a much less marked degree, the phenomena presented by Madagascar. Terrestrial mammals are almost entirely wanting, but the larger islands possess three genera which are altogether peculiar to them. The birds are of South American forms, but comprise many peculiar genera. Terrestrial molluscs are more abundant and varied than in any part of the globe of equal extent; and if these alone were considered, the Antilles would constitute an important Zoological region.
Nearctic Region.—This region comprises all temperate North America and Greenland. The arctic lands and islands beyond the limit of trees form a transitional territory to the Palæarctic region, but even here there are some characteristic species. The southern limit between this region and the Neotropical is a little uncertain ; but it may be drawn at about the Rio Grande del Norte on the east coast, and a little north of Mazatlan on the west; while on the central plateau it descends much farther south, and should perhaps include all the open highlands of Mexico and Guatemala. This would coincide with the range of several characteristic Nearctic genera.
Distinction of the Nearctic from the Palæarctic Region.—The Nearctic region possesses twelve peculiar families of vertebrates or one-tenth of its whole number. It has also twenty-four peculiar genera of mammalia and fifty-two of birds, in each case nearly one-third of all it possesses. This proportion is very nearly the same as in the Palæarctic region, while the number of peculiar families of vertebrata is very much greater. It has been already seen that both Mr. Blyth and Professor Huxley are disposed to unite this region with the Palæarctic, while Professor Newton, in his article on birds in the new edition of the
Encyclopædia Britannica, thinks that as regards that class it can hardly claim to be more than a sub-region of the Neotropical. These views are mutually destructive, but it will be shown in the proper place, that on independent grounds the Nearctic region can very properly be maintained.
Subdivisions of the Nearctic Region.—The sub-regions here depend on the great physical features of the country, and have been in some cases accurately defined by American naturalists. First we have the Californian sub-region, consisting of California and Oregon—a narrow tract between the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific, but characterized by a number of peculiar species and by several genera found nowhere else in the region.
The second, or Rocky Mountain sub-region, consists of this great mountain range with its plateaus, and the central plains and prairies to about 100° west longitude, but including New Mexico and Texas in the South.
The third and most important sub-region, which may be termed the Alleghanian, extends eastward to the Atlantic, including the Mississippi Valley, the Alleghany Mountains, and the Eastern United States. This is an old forest district, and contains most of the characteristic animal types of the region.
The fourth, or Canadian sub-region, comprises all the northern part of the continent from the great lakes to the Arctic ocean; a land of pine-forests and barren wastes, characterized by Arctic types and the absence of many of the genera which distinguish the more southern portions of the region.
Observations on the series of Sub-regions.—The twenty-four subregions here adopted were arrived at by a carefui consideration of the distribution of the more important genera, and of the materials, both zoological and geographical, available for their determination; and it was not till they were almost finally decided on, that they were found to be equal in number throughout all the regions—four in each. As this uniformity is of great advantage in tabular and diagrammatic presentations of the distribution of the several families, I decided not to disturb it unless very strong reasons should appear for adopting a greater or less number in any particular case. Such however have not
arisen ; and it is hoped that these divisions will prove as satisfactory and useful to naturalists in general as they have been to the author. Of course, in a detailed study of any region much more minute sub-division may be required; but even in that case it is believed that the sub-regions here adopted, will be found, with slight modifications, permanently available for exbibiting general results.
I give here a table showing the proportionate richness and speciality of each region as determined by its families of vertebrates and genera of mammalia and birds ; and also a general table of the regions and sub-regions, arranged in the order that seems best to show their mutual relations.
TABLE OF REGIONS AND SUB-REGIONS.
1. Palæarctic... 1. North Europe.
2. Mediterranean (or S. Eu.) Transition to Ethiopian. 3. Siberia.
Transition to Nearctic. 4. Manchuria (or Japan) Transition to Oriental. II. Ethiopian ... 1. East Africa.
Transition to Palæarctic. 2. West Africa. 3. South Africa. 4. Madagascar.