« EelmineJätka »
The Wombats are tail-less, terrestrial, burrowing animals, about the size of a badger, but feeding on roots and grass. They inhabit South Australia and Tasmania (Plate XI. vol. i. p. 439).
An extinct wombat, as large as a tapir, has been found in the Australian Pliocene deposits.
General Remarks on the Distribution of Marsupialia. We have here the most remarkable case, of an extensive and highly varied order being confined to one very limited area on the earth's surface, the only exception being the opossums in America. It has been already shown that these are comparatively recent immigrants, which have survived in that country long after they disappeared in Europe. As, however, no other form but that of the Didelphyidæ occurs there during the Tertiary period, we must suppose that it was at a far more remote epoch that the ancestral forms of all the other Marsupials entered Australia ; and the curious little mammals of the Oolite and Trias, offer valuable indications as to the time when this really took place.
A notice of these extinct marsupials of the secondary period will be found at vol. i. p. 159.
FAMILY 83.–ORNITHORHYNCHIDÆ. (1 Genus, 1 Species.)
The Ornithorhynchus, or duck-billed Platypus, one of the most remarkable and isolated of existing mammalia, is found in East and South Australia, and Tasmania.
FAMILY 84.—ECHIDNÍDÆ. (1 Genus, 2 Species.)
The Echidna, or Australian Hedgehog, although quite as remarkable in internal structure as the Ornithorhynchus, is not so peculiar in external appearance, having very much the aspect of a hedgehog or spiny armadillo. The two species of this genus are very closely allied ; one inhabits East and South Australia, the other Tasmania.
Extinct Echidnidæ.— Remains of a very large fossil species of Echidna have lately (1868) been discovered at Darling Downs in Australia,
Remark on the Distribution of the Monotremata. This order is the lowest and most anomalous of the mammalia, and nothing resembling it has been found among the very numerous extinct animals discovered in any other part of the world than Australia.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE FAMILIES AND GENERA OF BIRDS.
Order 1.- PASSERES.
FAMILY 1.—TURDIDÆ. (21 Genera, 205 Species.)
The extensive and familiar group of Thrushes ranges over every region and sub-region, except New Zealand. It abounds most in the North Temperate regions, and has its least development in the Australian region. Thrushes are among the most perfectly organized of birds, and it is to this cause, perhaps, as well as to their omnivorous diet, that they have been enabled to establish themselves on a number of remote islands. Peculiar species of true thrush are found in Norfolk Island, and in the small Lord Howes' Island nearer Australia; the Island of St. Thomas in the Gulf of Guinea has a peculiar species; while the Mid-Atlantic island Tristan d'Acunha, - one of the most remote and isolated spots on the globe,—has a peculiarly modified form of thrush. Several of the smaller West Indian Islands have also peculiar species or genera of thrushes.
The family is of somewhat uncertain extent, blending insensibly with the warblers (Sylviide) as well as with the Indian bulbuls
(Pycnonotidæ), while one genus, usually placed in it (Myiophonus) seems to
agree better with Enicurus among the Cinclidæ. The genera here admitted into the thrush family are the following, the numbers prefixed to some of the genera indicating their position in Gray's Hand List of the Genera and Species of Birds :
(1143) Brachypteryx (8 sp.), Nepaul to Java and Ceylon (this may belong to the Timaliidæ); Turdus (100 sp.) has the range the whole family, abounding in the Palæarctic, Oriental and Neotropical regions, while it is less plentiful in the Nearctic and Ethiopian, and very scarce in the Australian; (934) Oreocincla (11 sp.), Palæårctic and Oriental regions, Australia and Tasmania ; (942) Rhodinocichla (1 sp.), Venezuela ; (946) Melanoptila (1 sp.), Honduras ; (947 948) Catharus (10 sp.) Mexico to Equador; (949 950) Margarops (4 sp.), Hayti and Porto Rico to St. Lucia · (951) Nesocichla (1 sp.), Tristan d'Acunha; (952) Geocichla (8 sp.), India to Formosa and Celebes, Timor and North Australia ; (954 955) Monticola (8 sp.), Central Europe to South Africa and to China, Philippine Islands, Gilolo and Java; (356) Orocætes (3 sp.), Himalayas and N. China; Zoothera (3 sp.) Himalayas, Aracan, Java, and Lombok; Mimus (20 sp.) Canada to Patagonia, West Indies and Galapagos ; (962) Oreoscoptes (1 sp.), Rocky Mountains and Mexico; (183) Melanotis (2 sp.), South Mexico and Guatemala; (964) Galeoscoptes (1 sp.), Canada and Eastern United States to Cuba and Panama ; (965 966) Mimocichla (5 sp.), Greater Antilles ; (987 968) Harporhynchus (7 sp.), North America, from the great lakes to Mexico ; Cinclocerthia (3 sp.), Lesser Antilles ; (970) Rhamphocinclus (1 sp.), Lesser Antilles ; Chotops (3 sp.), South Africa; Cossypha = Bessonornis (15 sp.) Ethiopian region and Palestine.
FAMILY 2. SYLVIIDÆ (74 Genera, 640 Species.)
This immense family, comprising all the birds usually known as “warblers," is, as here constituted, of almost universal distribution. Yet it is so numerous and preponderant over the whole Eastern Hemisphere, that it may be well termed an Old-World group; only two undoubted genera with very few species belonging to the Nearctic region, while two or three others whose position is somewhat doubtful, are found in California and the Neotropical region.
Canon Tristram, who has paid great attention to this difficult group, has kindly communicated to me a MSS. arrangement of the genera and species, which, with a very few additions and alterations, I implicitly follow. He divides the Sylviidæ into seven sub-families, as follows:
1. Drymæcinæ (15 genera 194 sp.), confined to the Old World and Australia, and especially abundant in the three Tropical regions. 2. Calamoherpinæ (11 genera, 75 sp.), has the same general distribution as the last, but is scarce in the Australian and abundant in the Palæarctic region ; 3. Phylloscopinæ (11 genera, 139 sp.), has the same distribution as the entire family, but is most abundant in the Oriental and Palæarctic regions. 4. Sylviinæ (6 genera, 33 sp.), most abundant in the Palearctic region, very scarce in the Australian and Oriental regions, absent from America. 5. Ruticillinæ (10 genera, 50 sp.); entirely absent from America and Australia ; abounds in the Oriental and Palæarctic regions. 6. Saxicolina (12 genera, 126 sp.), absent from America (except the extreme north-west), abundant in the Oriental region and moderately so in the Palæarctic, Ethiopian, and Australian. 7. Accentorina (6 genera, 21 sp.), absent from the Ethiopian regio and South America, most abundant in Australia, one small genus (Sialia), in North America.
The distribution of the several genera arranged under these sub-families, is as follows:
1. DRYM@CINÆ.—(736) Orthotomus (13 sp.), all the Oriental region; (137) Prinia (11 sp.), all the Oriental region ; (738 740 742 746) Drymaca (83 sp.), Ethiopian and Oriental regions, most abundant in the former; (143 to 745 and 749 to 752) Cisticola (32 sp.), Ethiopian and Oriental regions, with South Europe, China