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obliged to sleep completely muffled up, in order to avoid being made seriously ill or even losing their lives. The exact manner in which the attack is made is not positively known, as the sufferer never feels the wound. The present writer was once bitten on the toe, which was found bleeding in the morning from a small round hole from which the flow of blood was not easily stopped. On another occasion, when his feet were carefully covered up, he was bitten on the tip of the nose, only awaking to find his face streaming with blood. The motion of the wings fans the sleeper into a deeper slumber, and renders him insensible to the gentle abrasion of the skin either by teeth or tongue. This ultimately forms a minute hole, the blood flowing from which is sucked or lapped up by the hovering vampyre. The largest South American bats, having wings from two to two-and-half feet in expanse, are fruit-eaters like the Pteropi of the East, the true blood-suckers being small or of medium size and varying in colour in different localities. They belong to the genus Phyllostoma, and have a tongue with horny papillae at the end; and it is probably by means of this that they abrade the skin and produce a small round wound. This is the account given by Buffon and Azara, and there seems now little doubt that it is correct. Beyond these two great types—the monkeys and the bats—we look in vain among the varied forms of mammalian life for any that can be said to be distinctive of the tropics as compared with the temperate regions. Many peculiar groups are tropical, but they are in almost every case confined to limited portions of the tropical zones, or are rare in species or individuals. Such are the lemurs in Africa, Madagascar, and Southern Asia; the
tapirs of America and Malaya; the rhinoceroses and elephants of Africa and Asia; the cavies and the sloths of America; the scaly ant-eaters of Africa and Asia; but none of these are sufficiently numerous to come often before the traveller so as to affect his general ideas of the aspects of tropical life, and they are, therefore, out of place in such a sketch of those aspects as we are here attempting to lay before our readers.
Summary of the Aspects of Animal Life in the Tropics.=We will now briefly summarize the general aspects of animal life as forming an ingredient in the scenery and natural phenomena of the equatorial regions. Most prominent are the butterflies, owing to their numbers, their size, and their brilliant colours; as well as their peculiarities of form, and the slow and majestic flight of many of them. In other insects, the large size, and frequency of protective colours and markings are prominent features; together with the inexhaustible profusion of the ants and other small insects. Among birds the parrots stand forth as the pre-eminent tropical group, as do the apes and monkeys among mammals; the two groups having striking analogies, in the prehensile hand and the power of imitation. Of reptiles, the two most prominent groups are the lizards and the frogs; the snakes, though equally abundant, being much less obtrusive.
Animal life is, on the whole, far more abundant and more varied within the tropics than in any other part of the globe, and a great number of peculiar groups are found there which never extend into temperate regions. Endless eccentricities of form, and extreme richness of colour are its most prominent features; and these are manifested in the highest degree in those equatorial lands where the vegetation acquires its greatest beauty and its fullest development. The causes of these essentially tropical features are not to be found in the comparatively simple influence of solar light and heat, but rather in the uniformity and permanence with which these and all other terrestrial conditions have acted ; neither varying prejudicially throughout the year, nor having undergone any important change for countless past ages. While successive glacial periods have devastated the temperate zones, and destroyed most of the larger and more specialized forms which during more favourable epochs had been developed, the equatorial lands must always have remained thronged with life; and have been unintermittingly subject to those complex influences of organism upon organism, which seem the main agents in developing the greatest variety of forms and filling up every vacant place in nature. A constant struggle against the vicissitudes and recurring severities of climate must always have restricted the range of effective animal variation in the temperate and frigid zones, and have checked all such developments of form and colour as were in the least degree injurious in themselves, or which co-existed with any constitutional incapacity to resist great changes of temperature or other unfavourable conditions. Such disadvantages were not experienced in the equatorial zone. The struggle for existence as against the forces of nature was there always less severe, food was there more abundant and more regularly supplied,—shelter and concealment were at all times more easily obtained ; and almost the only physical changes experienced, being dependent on cosmical or geological changes, were so slow, that variation and natural selection were always able to keep the teeming mass of organisms in nicely balanced harmony with the changing physical conditions. The equatorial zone, in short, exhibits to us the result of a comparatively continuous and unchecked development of organic forms; while in the temperate regions, there have been a series of periodical checks and extinctions of a more or less disastrous nature, necessitating the commencement of the work of development in certain lines over and over again. In the one, evolution has had a fair chance; in the other it has had countless difficulties thrown in its way. The equatorial regions are then, as regards their past and present life history, a more ancient world than that represented by the temperate zones, a world in which the laws which have governed the progressive development of life have operated with comparatively little check for countless ages, and have resulted in those infinitely varied and beautiful forms—those wonderful eccentricities of structure, of function, and of instinct— that rich variety of colour, and that nicely balanced harmony of relations—which delight and astonish us in the animal productions of all tropical countries.
As ILLUSTRATING THE LUXURIANCE OF TROPICAL. NATURE. Structure—Colours and Ornaments—Display of Ornaments by the Male— Descriptive Names—The Motions and Habits of Humming-birds—Food —Nests—Geographical Distribution and Variation—Humming-birds of Juan Fernandez as illustrating Variation and Natural Selection—The relations and affinities of Humming-birds—How to determine doubtful
affinities—Resemblances of Swifts and Humming-birds—Differences between Sun-birds and Humming-birds—Conclusion.
There are now about ten thousand different kinds of birds known to naturalists, and these are classed in one hundred and thirty families which vary greatly in extent, some containing a single species only, while others comprise many hundreds. The two largest families are those of the warblers, with more than six hundred, and the finches with more than five hundred species, spread over the whole globe ; the hawks and the pigeons, also spread over the whole globe, number about three hundred and thirty, and three hundred and sixty species respectively; while the diminutive humming-birds, confined to one hemisphere, consist of about four hundred different species. They are thus, as regards the number of distinct kinds collected in a limited area,