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various means of dispersal of the different groups, and the comparative longevity of their species and genera. Even insects, which are perhaps of all animals the farthest removed from mammalia in this respect, agree, in the great outlines of their distribution, with the vertebrate orders. The Regions are admittedly the same, or nearly the same for both ; and the discrepancies that occur are of a nature which can be explained by two undoubted facts—the greater antiquity, and the greater facilities for dispersal, of insects.
But this principle, if sound, must be carried farther, and be applied to plants also. There are not wanting indications that this may be successfully done; and it seems not improbable, that the reason why botanists have hitherto failed to determine, with any unanimity, which are the most natural phytological regions, and to work out any connected theory of the migrations of plants, is, because they have not been furnished with the clue to the past changes of the great land masses, which could only be arrived at by such an examination of the past and present distribution of the higher animals as has been here attempted. The difficulties in the way of the study of the distribution of plants, from this point of view, will be undoubtedly very great; owing to the unusual facilities for distribution many of them possess, and the absence of any group which might take the place of the mammalia among animals, and serve as a guide and standard for the rest. We cannot expect the regions to be so well defined in the case of plants as in that of animals; and there are sure to be many anomalies and discrepancies, which will require long study to unravel. The Six Great Regions here adopted, are however, as a whole, very well characterised by their vegetable forms. The floras of tropical America, of Australia, of South Africa, and of Indo-Malaya, stand out with as much individuality as do the faunas; while the plants of the Palæarctic and Nearctic regions, exhibit resemblances and diversities, of a character not unlike those found among the animals.
This is not a mere question of applying to the vegetable kingdom a series of arbitrary divisions of the earth which have been
found useful to zoologists; for it really involves a fundamental problem in the theory of evolution. The question we have to answer, is, firstly—whether the distribution of plants is, like that of animals, mainly and primarily dependent on the past revolutions of the earth's surface; or, whether other, and altogether distinct causes, have had a preponderating influence in determining the range and limits of vegetable forms; and, secondly-whether those revolutions have been, in their general outlines, correctly interpreted by means of a study of the distribution and affinities of the higher animals. The first question is one for botanists alone to answer; but, on the second point, the author ventures to hope for an affirmative reply, from such of his readers as will weigh carefully the facts and arguments he has adduced.
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The remaining part of this volume, will consist; of a systematic review of the distribution of each family of animals, and an application of the principles already established to elucidate the chief phenomena they present. The present chapter must, therefore, be considered as the conclusion of the argumentative and theoretical part of the present work; but it must be read in connection with the various discussions in Parts II. and III., in which the conclusions to be drawn from the several groups of facts have been successively given ;-and especially in connection with the general observations at the end of each of the six chapters on the Zoological Regions.
The hypothetical view, as to the more recent of the great Geographical changes of the Earth's surface, here set forth, is not the result of any preconceived theory, but has grown out of a careful study of the facts accumulated, and has led to a considerable modification of the author's previous views. It may be described, as an application of the general theory of Evolution, to solve the problem of the distribution of animals ; but it also furnishes some independent support to that theory, both by showing what a great variety of curious facts are explained by its means, and by answering some of the objections, which have been founded on supposed difficulties in the distribution of animals in space and time.
It also illustrates and supports the geological doctrine, of the general permanence of our great continents and oceans, by showing how many facts in the distribution of animals can only be explained and understood on such a supposition; and it exhibits, in a striking manner, the enormous influence of the Glacial epoch, in determining the existing zoological features of the various continents.
And, lastly, it furnishes a more consistent and intelligible idea than has yet been reached by any other mode of investigation, of all the more important changes of the earth's surface that have probably occurred during the entire Tertiary period; and of the influence of these changes, in bringing about the general features, as well as many of the more interesting details and puzzling anomalies, of the Geographical Distribution of Animals.
A SYSTEMATIC SKETCH OF THE CHIEF FAMILIES OF LAND
ANIMALS IN THEIR GEOGRAPHICAL RELATIONS.