« EelmineJätka »
FAMILY 20.—GASTROCHÆNIDÆ. (5 Genera, 40 Species.)
DISTRIBUTION.—Temperate and warm seas. Aspergillum ranges from the Red Sea to New Zealand. There are 35 fossil species, ranging back to the Lower Oolite.
FAMILY 21.-PHOLADIDÆ. (4 Genera, 81 Species.) DISTRIBUTION.—These burrowing molluscs inhabit all Temperate and warm seas from Norway to New Zealand. There are about 50 fossil species, ranging back to the epoch of the Lias.
General Remarks on the Distribution of the Marine Mollusca.
The marine Mollusca are remarkable for their usually wide distribution. About 48 of the families are cosmopolitan, ranging over both hemispheres, and in cold as well as warm seas. About 15 are restricted to the warmer seas of the globe; but several of these extend from Norway to New Zealand, a distribution which may be called universal, and only 2 or 3 are absolutely confined to Tropical seas. Two small families only, are confined to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Marine fishes, on the other hand, have a much less cosmopolitan character, no less than 30 families having a limited distribution, while 50 are universal. Some of these 30 families are confined to the Northern seas, some to the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and a considerable number to the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. Many of these families, it is true, are much smaller than those of the Mollusca, which seem to possess very few of those small isolated families of two or three species only, which abound in all the Vertebrate classes. These differences are no doubt connected with the higher organisation of fishes, which renders them more susceptible to changed conditions of life ; and this is indicated by the much less antiquity of existing families of fishes, the greater part of which do not date back beyond the Cretaceous epoch, and many of them only to the Eocene. In striking contrast we have the vast antiquity of most of the families of Mol
lusca, as shown in the following table of their range taken from Mr. Woodward's work, but re-arranged, and somewhat modified.
Nor is this enormous antiquity confined to family types alune. Many genera are equally ancient. The genus Lingula has
existed from the earliest Palæozoic times down to the present day; while Terebratula, Rhynchonella, Discina, Nautilus, Natica, Pleurotomaria, Patella, Dentalium, Mytilus, and many other living forms, range back to the Palæozoic epoch. That groups of such immense antiquity, and having power to resist such vast changes of external conditions as they must have been subject to, should now be widely distributed, is no more than might reasonably be expected. It is only in the case of sub-genera and species, that we can expect the influence of recent geological or climatal changes to be manifest; and it must be left to special students to work out the details of their distribution, with reference to the general principles found to obtain among the more highly organised animals.
SUMMARY OF THE DISTRIBUTION, AND LINES OF MIGRATION, OF
THE SEVERAL CLASSES OF ANIMALS.
HAVING already given summaries of the distribution of the several orders, and of some of the classes of land animals, we propose here to make a few general remarks on the special phenomena presented by the more important groups, and to indicate where possible, the general lines of migration by which they have become dispersed over wide areas.
MAMMALIA. This class is very important, and its past history is much better known than that of most others. We shall therefore briefly summarise the results we have arrived at from our examination of the distribution of extinct and living forms of each order.
Primates.—This order, being pre-eminently a tropical one, became separated into two portions, inhabiting the Eastern and Western Hemispheres respectively, at a very early epoch. In consequence of this separation it has diverged more radically than most other orders, so that the two American families, Cebidæ and Hapalidæ, are widely differentiated from the Apes, Monkeys, and Lemurs of the Old World. The Lemurs were probably still more ancient, but being much lower in organisation, they became extinct in most of the areas where the higher forms of Primates became developed. Remains found in the Eocene formation indicate, that the North American and European Primates had, even at that early epoch, diverged into distinct series, so that we must probably look back to the secondary period for the ancestral form from which the entire order was developed.
Chiroptera.—These are also undoubtedly very ancient. The most generalised forms—the Vespertilionidæ and Noctilionidæ— are the most widely distributed; while special types have arisen in America, and in the Eastern Hemisphere. Remains found in the Upper Eocene formation of Europe differ little from species still living in the same countries ; so that we can forin no conjecture as to the origin or migration of the group. Their power of flight would, however, enable them rapidly to spread over all the great continents of the globe.
Insectivora.—This very ancient group, now probably verging towards extinction, appears to have originated in the Northern continent, and never to have reached Australia or South America. It may, however, have become extinct in the latter country owing to the competition of the numerous Edentata. The Insectivora now often maintain themselves amidst more highly developed forms, by means of some special protection. Some burrow in the earth, like the moles; others have a spiny covering,—as the hedgehogs and several of the Centetidæ ; others are aquatic,--as the Potamogale and the desman ; others have a nauseous odour,-as the shrews; while there are several which seem to be preserved by their resemblance to higher forms,—as the elephant-shrews to jerboas, and the tupaias to squirrels. The same need of protection is shown by the numerous Insectivora inhabiting Madagascar, where the competing forms are few; and by one lingering in the Antilles, where there are hardly any other mammalia.
Carnivora.—Although perhaps less ancient than the preceding, this form of mammal is far more highly organised, and from its earliest appearance appears to have become dominant in the world. It would therefore soon spread widely, and diverge into the various specialised types represented by existing families. Most of these appear to have originated in the Eastern Hemisphere, the only Carnivora occurring in North