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southern limits of the forest region east of the Andes, and to
FAMILY 11–RHINOLOPHIDAE (7 Genera, 70 Species.)
The Rhinolophidae, or Horse-shoe Bats (so-called from a curiously-shaped membranous appendance to the nose), range over all the Ethiopian and Oriental regions, the southern part of the Palaearctic region, Australia and Tasmania. They are most abundant and varied in the Oriental region, where twelve genera are found; while only five inhabit the Australian and Ethiopian regions respectively. Europe has only one genus and four species, mostly found in the southern parts, and none going further north than the latitude of England, where two species occur. Two others are found in Japan, at the opposite extremity of the Palaearctic region.
The genera Nycteris and Megaderma, which range over the Ethiopian and Oriental regions to the Moluccas, are considered by Dr. Peters to form a distinct family, Megadermidae; and Mr. Dobson in his recent arrangement (published after our first
The small bats constituting the family Vespertilionidae, have no nose-membrane, but an internal earlet or tragus, and often very large ears. They range over almost the whole globe, being apparently only limited by the necessity of procuring insect food. In America they are found as far north as Hudson's Bay and the Columbia river; and in Europe they approach, if they do not pass the Arctic circle. Such remote islands as the Azores, Bermudas, Fiji Islands, Sandwich Islands, and New Zealand, all possess species of this group of bats, some of which probably inhabit every island in warm or temperate parts of the globe. The genus Taphozows, which, in our Tables of Distribution in vol. i. we have included in this family, is placed by Mr. Dobson in his family Emballonuridae, which is equivalent to our next family, Noctilionidae. Fossil Vespertilionidae.—Several living European bats of this family–Scotophilus murinus, Plecotus writus, Vespertilio noctula, and V. pipestrellus—have been found fossil in bone-caves in various parts of Europe. Extinct species of Vespertilio have occurred in the Lower Miocene at Mayence, in the Upper Miocene of the South of France, and in the Upper Eocene of the Paris basin. WOL. II.-13
The Noctilionidae, or short-headed Bats, are found in every region, but are very unequally distributed. Their head-quarters is the Neotropical region, where most of the genera occur, and where they range from Mexico to Buenos Ayres and Chili, while in North America there is only one species in California. They are unknown in Australia; but one species occurs in New Zealand, and another in Norfolk Island. Several species of Dysopes (or Molossus) inhabit the Oriental region; one or two species being widely distributed over the continent, while two others inhabit the Indo-Malayan Islands. A species of this same genus occurs in South Africa, and another in Madagascar and in the Island of Bourbon; while one inhabits Southern Europe and North Africa, and another is found at Amoy in China. It will be seen therefore, that these are really South American bats, which have a few allies widely scattered over the various regions of the globe. Their affinities are, according to Mr. Tomes, with the Phyllostomidae, a purely South American family. The species which forms the connecting link is the Mystacina tuberculata, a New Zealand bat, which may, with almost equal propriety be placed in either family, and which affords an interesting illustration of the many points of resemblance between the Australian and Neotropical regions.
Dr. Peters has separated this family into three–Mormopidae, which is wholly Neotropical, and is especially abundant in the West Indian Islands; Molossidae, chiefly consisting of the genus Molossus; and Noctilionidae, comprising the remainder of the family, and wholly Neotropical. Mr. Dobson, however, classes the Mormopes with the Phyllostomidae, and reduces the Molossi to the rank of a sub-family. In our first volume we have classed Rhinopoma with the Rhinolophidae, and Taphozows with the Vespertilionidae; but according to Mr. Dobson both these genera belong to the present family.
Remarks on the Distribution of the Order Chiroptera.
Although the bats, from their great powers of flight, are not amenable to the limitations which determine the distribution of other terrestrial mammals, yet certain great facts of distribution come out in a very striking manner. The speciality of the Neotropical region is well shown, not only by its exclusive possession of one large family (Phyllostomidae), but almost equally so by the total absence of two others (Pteropidae and Rhinolophidae). The Nearctic region is also unusually well marked, by the total absence of a family (Rhinolophidae) which is tolerably well represented in the Palaearctic. The Pteropidae well characterize the tropical regions of the Old World and Australia; while the Vespertilionidae are more characteristic of the Palaearctic and Nearctic regions, which together possess about 60 species of this family.
The bats are a very difficult study, and it is quite uncertain how many distinct species are really known. Schinz, in his Synopsis Mammalium (1844) describes 330, while the list given by Mr. Andrew Murray in his Geographical Distribution of Mammalia (1866), contains 400 species. A small number of new species have been since described, but others have been sunk as synonyms, so that we can perhaps hardly obtain a nearer approximation to the truth than the last number. In Europe there are 35 species, and only 17 in North America.
Fossil Chiroptera—The fossil remains of bats that have yet been discovered, being chiefly allied to forms still existing in the same countries, throw no light on the origin or affinities of this remarkable and isolated order of Mammalia; but as species very similar to those now living were in existence so far back as Miocene or even Eocene times, we may be sure the group is one of immense antiquity, and that there has been ample time for the amount of variation and extinction required to bring about
The singular and isolated genus Galeopithecus, or flying lemur, has been usually placed among the Lemuroidea, but it is now considered to come best at the head of the Insectivora. Its food however, seems to be purely vegetable, and the very small, blind, and naked young, closely attached to the wrinkled skin of the mother's breast, perhaps indicates some affinity with the Marsupials. This animal seems, in fact, to be a lateral offshoot of some low form, which has survived during the process of development of the Insectivora, the Lemuroidea, and the Marsupials, from an ancestral type. Only two species are known, one found in Malacca, Sumatra, and Borneo, but not in Java; the other in the Philippine islands (Plate VIII. vol. i. p. 337).