Page images

be estimated from the fact, that Messrs. Salvin and Sclater have catalogued inore than 600 species from the comparatively small territory of Guatemala, or the portion of Central America between Mexico and Honduras. The great mass of the birds of this sub-region are of Neotropical families and genera, but these are intermingled with a number of migrants from temperate North America, which pass the winter here; with some northern forms on the high-lands; and with a considerable number of peculiar genera, mostly of Neotropical affinities..

The genera of birds peculiar to this sub-region belong to the following families :-Turdida (2 genera); Troglodytidæ (1 gen.); Vireonidæ (1 gen.); Corvidæ (2 gen.); Ampelidæ (1 gen.); Tanagridæ (1 gen.); Fringillidæ (2 gen.); Icteridæ (1 gen.); Formicariidæ (2 gen.); Tyrannidæ (2 gen.); Cotingidæ (1 gen.); Momotidæ (1 gen.); Trogonidæ (1 gen.); Trochilidæ (14 gen.); Conuridæ (1 gen.); Cracidæ (2 gen.); Strigidæ (1 gen.); in all 37 genera of land-birds. The Neotropical families that do not extend into this sub-region are, Pteroptochidæ; the sub-family Furnariince of the Dendrocolaptidæ; the sub-family Conophagince of the Tyrannidæ; the sub-family Rupicolino of the Cotingidæ ; Phytotomidæ ; Todidæ; Opisthocomidæ ; Chionididæ; Thinocoridæ; Cariamidæ; Psophiidæ; Eurypygidæ ; Palamedeidæ; and Struthionidæ. On the other hand Paridæ, Certhiidæ, Ampelidæ, and Phasianidæ, are northern families represented here, but which do not reach South America; and there are also several northern genera and species, of Turdidæ, Troglodytidæ, Mniotiltidæ, Vireonidæ, Fringillidæ, Corvidæ, Tetraonidæ, and Strigide, which are similarly restricted. Some of the most remarkable of the Neotropical genera only extend as far as Costa Rica and Veragua,-countries which possess a rich and remarkable fauna. Here only are found an umbrella bird, (Cephalopterus glabricollis); a bell bird (Chasmorhynchus tricarunculatus); and species of Dacnis (Cercebida); Buthraupis, Eucometis, Tachyphonus (Tanagridæ); Xiphorhynchus (Dendrocolaptidæ); Hypocnemis (Formicariidae); Euscarthnus (Tyrannidæ); Attila (Cotingidæ); Piprites (Pipridæ); Capito, Tetragonops (Megalæmidæ); Selenidera (Rhamphastidæ); Neomorphus (lise, Blea tornithecim around within ciso, sittido.

(Cuculidæ); Monasa (Bucconidæ); many genera of Trochilidæ ; and Nothocercus (Tinamidæ); none of which extend further north. A considerable number of the peculiar genera noted above, are also found in this restricted area, which is probably one of the richest ornithological districts on the globe.

Reptiles.—These are much less known than the preceding classes, but they afford several peculiar and interesting forms. Snakes are perhaps the least remarkable; yet there are recorded 4 peculiar genera of Calamariidæ, 1 of Colubridæ, 1 of Homalopsidæ, 3 of Dipsadidæ; while Boa and Elaps are in common with South America. Lizards are much more specially developed. Chirotes, one of the Amphisbænians, is confined to Mexico and the southern part of the Nearctic region; Heloderma forming a peculiar family, Helodermidæ, is Mexican only ; Abronia and Barissia (Zonuridæ) are also Mexican, as is Siderolampus belonging to the Scincidæ, while Blepharactitis (same family) inhabits Nicaragua; Brachydactylus, one of the geckoes, is from Costa Rica; while Phymatolepis, Lananctus, Corytheolus, Cachrix, Corythophanes and Chamæleopsis, all belonging to the Iguanidæ, are confined to various parts of the sub-region. In the same family we have also the Antillean, Cyclura, and the Nearctic Phrynosoma and Tropidolepis, as well as the wide-spread American genus Anolius.

Among the tortoises, Staurotypus, allied to Chelydra, is found in Mexico and Guatemala ; and another genus, Claudius, has been lately described from Mexico.

Amphibia.—These are chiefly Batrachians; Rhinophryna (forming a peculiar family) being confined to Mexico ; Triprion, a genus of Hylidæ, inhabiting Yucatan; with Leyla and Strabomantis (Polypedatidæ), found only in Costa Rica and Veragua, are peculiar genera. The Salamandridæ, so abundant in the Nearctic region, are represented by a few species of Amblystoma and Spelerpes.

Fresh-water fish.-Since the British Museum catalogue was published, a valuable paper by Dr. Günther, in the Transactions of the Zoological Society for 1868, furnishes much additional information on the fishes of Central America. In that part of the region south of Mexico, 106 species of fresh-water fishes are enumerated; and 17 of these are found in streams flowing into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. On the whole, 11 families are represented among the fresh-water fish, and about 38 genera. Of these, 14 are specially Nearctic, Amiurus (Silurida); Fundulus (Cyprinodontidæ); Sclerognathus (Cyprinidæ); and Lepidosteus (Ganoidei). A much larger number are Neotropical; and several Neotropical genera, as Heros and Pæcilia, are more largely developed here than in any other part of the region. There are also a considerable number of peculiar genera ;-Petenia, Theraps, and Neotrophus (Chromides); Ælurichthys (Siluridæ); Chalcinopsis (Characnijdæ); Characodon, Belonesox, Pseudoxiphophorus, Platypoecilus, Mollienesia, and Xiphophorus (Cyprinodontidæ). A few peculiar Antillean forms are also present; as Agonostoma (Mugilidæ); Gambusia and Girardinus (Cyprinodontidae). The other families represented are Percidæ (1 genus); Pristopomatidae (2 gen.); Gobiidæ (1 gen.); Clupeidæ (2 gen.) ; and Gymnotidæ (1 genus).

On the whole the fish-fauna is typically Neotropical, but with a small infusion of Nearctic forms. There are a considerable proportion of peculiar genera, and almost all the species are distinct from those of other countries. The predominant family is that of the Cyprinodontidæ, represented by 12 genera; and the genus Heros (Chromidæ) has here its maximum development, containing between thirty and forty species. Dr. Günther considers that a number of sub-faunas can be distinguished, corresponding to some extent, with the islands into which the country would be divided by a subsidence of about 2,000 feet. The most important of these divisions is that separating Honduras from Costa Rica, and as it also divides a very marked ornithological fauna we have every reason to believe that such a division must have existed during the latter portion of the tertiary epoch. We shall find some farther evidence of this division in the next class.

Insects. The butterflies of various parts of Central America and Mexico, having been largely collected, offer us some valuable evidence as to the relations of this sub-region. Their general character is wholly Neotropical, about one half of the

VOL. II.—5

South American genera being found here. There are also a few peculiar genera, as, Drucina (Satyridæ); Microtia (Nymphalidae); Eumous (Lycænidæ); and Eucheira (Pieridæ). Clothilda (Nymphalidæ) is confined to this sub-region and the Antilles. The majority of the genera range over the whole sub-region from Panama to Mexico, but there are a considerable number, comprising many of the most characteristic South American forms, which do not pass north of Costa Rica or Nicaragua. Such are Lycorea, Ituna, Thyridia, Callithomia, Oleria, and Ceratina,

-all characteristic South American groups of Danaidæ; Pronophila and Dynastor (Satyrida); Protogonius, Pycina, Prepona, Nica, Ectima, and Colanis (Nymphalidæ); Eurybia and Methonella (Nemeobiidæ); Hades, and Panthemos (Erycinidae).

Colcoptera.—These present some interesting features, but owing to their vast number only a few of the more important families can be noticed.

Cicindelidæ.—The only specially Neotropical genera recorded as occurring in this sub-region, are Ctenostoma and Hiresia, both reaching Mexico.

Carabidæ.-Several genera are peculiar. Molobrus is found in all parts of the sub-region, while Onychopterygia, Phymatocephalus, and Anisotarsus are Mexican only. There are about 20 South American genera, most of which extend to Mexico, and include such characteristic Neotropical forms as Agra, Callida, Coptodera, Pachyteles, Ardisiomus, Aspidoglossa, Stenocrepis, and Pelecium.

Lucanidæ.—Of this important family there is, strange to say, not a single species recorded in Gemminger and Harold's catalogue up to 1868! It is almost impossible that they can be really absent; yet their place seems to be, to some extent, supplied by an unusual development of the allied Passalidæ, of which there are five South American and six peculiar genera.

Cetoniidæ.—All the larger South American genera extend to Mexico, which country possesses 3 peculiar forms, Ischnoscelis, Psilocnemis, and Dialithus; while Trigonopeltastes is characteristic, having 4 Mexican, 1 Brazilian, and 1 North American species.

Buprestidæ.In this family there are no peculiar genera. All the large South American groups are absent, the only important and characteristic genus being Stenogaster.

Longicorns.—This important group is largely developed, the country being well adapted to them; and their distribution presents some features of interest.

In the Prionidæ there are 6 peculiar genera, the largest being Holonotus with 3 species; two others, Derotrachus and Mallaspis, are characteristic; 3 more are common to South America, and 1 to Cuba. The Cerambycidæ are much more numerous, and there are 24 peculiar genera, the most important being Sphenothecus, Entomosterna, and Cyphosterna ; while Crioprosopus and Metaleptus are characteristic of the sub-region, although extending into South America; about 12 Neotropical genera extend to Mexico or Guatemala, while 12 more stop short, as far as yet known, at Nicaragua. Lamiidæ have a very similar distribution ; 13 genera are peculiar, the most important being Monilema, Hamatoderus, and Carneades, while Phæa and Lagochirus are characteristic. About sixteen typical Neotropical genera extend to Mexico, and 15 more only reach Nicaragua, among which are such important genera as Anisopis, Lepturgus, and Callia.

The land-shells are not sufficiently known to furnish any corresponding results. They are however mostly of South American genera, and have comparatively little affinity for those of the Antilles..

Relations of the Mexican sub-region to the North and South American Continents.—The sudden appearance of numerous South American forms of Edentata in temperate North America, in Post-Tertiary times, as narrated in Chapter VII., together with such facts as the occurrence of a considerable number of identical species of sea fish on the two sides of the Central American isthmus, render it almost certain that the union of North and South America is comparatively a recent occurrance, and that during the Miocene and Pliocene periods, they were separated by a wide arm of the sea. The low country of Nicaragua was probably the part submerged, leaving the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala still united with the North

« EelmineJätka »