Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/751

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734
QUEENSLAND


times found to infest the berries. The Queensland Raspberry (Rubus fosaefolius) is widely spread and commonly used, but the fruit is rather insipid. The representatives of the genus Vitis all belong to the sub-genus Cissus; several of them, although somewhat acrid, are useful for jam and jelly: probably the best for the purpose is one met with near the Walsh River, V. Gardineri, which is said to bear bunches from I Tb to 2 fb in weight, the berries being large and of pleasant flavour. A large number of nut-like fruits are used by the aborigines for food, but the only one used by the White population is the fruit of Macadamia termfolia, the Queensland nut. The foliage of many plants yields by distillation essential oils, particularly Eucalypts, Backhousias and other Myrtaceous plants. as well as some belonging to Rutaceae and Labiatae, especially the genus Menlha. Apart from plants of economic value, there is a profusion of ornamental plants, shrubs, trees and parasites. Of ferns, one-half of the kinds met with in Australia are found in Queensland as well as in the other states, one-fourth in Queensland alone, the remaining fourth belonging to the other states, but not to Queensland. The indigenous ferns equal in number those of New Zealand, and are three times the number of those of Great Britain. Fauna.-The land fauna of Queensland is essentially one with that of the entire continent. But the geographical position of the state, which exposes it to the climatic and transporting influences of the inter tropical Pacific, has to a notable extent impressed on its fauna characters of its own. It has thus been made the headquarters of Australian bird-life on land and fish-life at sea, the moisture of its coastal regions and the warmth of its tidal waters being eminently favourable to that wealth of insect and other low types of life which determines the multiplication of the higher. The quadrupeds of Queensland are of the ordinary Australian type already described. Of the predominant class, the marsupials, one of the most interesting forms is the Tree-Kangaroo (Dendrolagus), as, apart from the habit of climbing trees, which is shared to some extent by the Rock-V/allabies, they afford a proof of the one-time continuity of the fauna with that of the islands to the north, when land communication still existed between the two areas. Of these curious animals, two species at least are known. As to the rest of the marsupials, there is of courseageneral resemblance to those of the continent as a whole, but this is accompanied by much evolution of forms, especially among the smaller sorts, recognized by differences which are occasionally sufficient to mark off distinct generic, or even more differentiated groups. The larger Kangaroos are pretty conservative in character everywhere, while the common Wallabies, the Rock-Wallabies and the Kangaroo-Rats exhibit a greater tendency to differ from their southern and western kindred. The Koala, or native Bear, is almost absolutely invariable, a sign of the antiquity of the race. The Opossums and the so-called Flying-Opossums are not many in spmies, and are dwarfed descendants from a more flourishing ancestry. The Bandicoot family (Peramelidae) is fairly represented; it includes the rabbit-bandicoot, which crosses in its eastern range the western border of the country. Carnivorous marsupials of destructive powers are few; the largest of them, the spotted-tailed native cat (Dasyurus maculatus), is the most troublesome. Superior in size to the domestic cat, this pretender to the rank of cat is able to devastate a whole hen-roost in a single night, and is even said by the aboriginals to attack their infants. /Vith the exception of a smaller species of the same kind, and a brush-tailed ally very much smaller, but yet able to kill a fowl with a single bite, the rest (marsupial mice) are but partly carnivorous, chiefly insectivorous, and therefore useful. This fauna is now fortunately deprived of the Tlzylacinus (Native Tiger) and Sarcophilus (Native Devil), which have been driven by physical changes southwards to Tasmania, and, it was thought until lately, of the Wombats, but a new species of these inoffensive burrowers has recently been discovered within the southern borders of the state. One other peculiarity in the form of a marsupial mammal is the little Musk-Rat (Hypsiprymnus), inhabiting those northern scrubs which are so prolific in other animal forms foreign to the rest of Australia, and seem to have received some of their denizens from the Malay Archipelago and some from the Papuan Islands. The remarkable deposits of fossil bones, extending -in patches throughout the length of the country, are sufficient proof that in former times a much larger number of animals were supported by it than are now to be found within its borders. Queensland has only one native carnivorous beast, the dingo, not a marsupial. Rats and mice of native origin are in considerable variety; among them are the Iumping Rats (Hapolotis). jerboa-like little animals, which are seldom seen. The bats are of several species; the most notorious of them are the great fruit-bats, or flying-foxes, which the fruit grower could well enough spare. The Sirenian mammal, the dugong, haunts nearly the whole of the coast-line. The Echidna, a porcupine ant-eater, and the playtpus are met with in the south. Batrachians are limited to the frogs and their nearest allies-that is, to the tailless division of the order, the tailed batrachians (newts, &c.) being, as far as is known at present, entirely absent. The greater art of the frogs are arboreal in habit, the most familiar being the large Green Tree Frog. The exuberance and diversity of their food have doubtless been the cause of their differentiation into many distinct species, which enables them to play a very useful part in checking. the undue increase of noxious insects. Snakes, on the other hand, are in too great variety for human interests, as they live very largely on insecteeders. The great majority belong to the venomous Colubridae, but fortunately the kinds of which the bite is more or less deadly are not numerous, and snake-bite is one of the rarest causes of death. Those with the worst reputation are the Black Snake and the Orange-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis), the Brown Snake (Diemansia), the Keeled Snake (Tfopfidechis), and the Death Adder (Acanthopis). The principal non-venomous species are the Pythons or constricting snakes, e.g. the common Carpet Snake (Morelia), the long lithe Tree Snake (Dendrophis) and the Fresh-water Snake (Tropidonotus). The Black-headed Rock Snake* (Aspidiotes), one of the Pythons, is said to reach the length of from 20 to 25 ft., but to be perfectly inoffensive. Several kinds of marine snakes occur on the coasts, and all are to be accounted dangerous. Of reptiles, the most numerou s group by far is that of the lizards, which have among them representatives of each of the leading families of the class except the Chameleons. Tortoises are exemplified by many forms in the fresh waters; on the coasts by the leather-back, the edible turtle and the tortoise-shell turtle. Queensland waters are not at present infested by any species of alligator, though in times past one of large size was a scourge on the borders of the then inland sea. The crocodilian of its coasts is they crocodile of the Indian Seas, which ranges over the whole of the western tropical Pacific, and wanders south into Queensland watersasfarsas Keppel Bay. In the fresh-water pools of the northern tableland is found a small and harmless crocodile (Philas) of a very uncommon form. The avifauna is to the naturalist exceedingly attractive, for it is full of surprises and interesting lines of research, while to the artist it is a storehouse of form and colour. /here flowering and honey yielding trees prevail, a profusion of birds seek their food either on the insects attracted by the honey, or, if so fitted, on the honey itself. Accordingly, the most striking feature of the bird-life, amid the forests of eucalyptus and acacias, is its richness in honey-eaters and insect destroyers. The former, however, taken as a whole, are not a natural group, but include a family of perching birds and a portion of the parroquet family, both furnished with brush tongues adapted to the extraction of honey. A second characteristic is the great development of that quaint company, thefbower birds, among them the regent bird, satin bird, cat birds, &c., constructors of the elaborate playgrounds which have excited so much attention. A third is the presence in one small part of the territory of a cassowary, and on its seaboard of three kinds of rifle birds, both extensions southwards of the tropical families of cassowaries and paradise birds. In the same region of prolific vegetation the handsome fruit-pigeons are also outliers of a large family of such pigeons spread through the Papuan jungles. There is one species of lyrebird found in the southern highlands; the giant kingfisher, a laughin jackass, is found in the same region. The Scrub-turkey (Catheturusg heaps its mound of rotting débfis to ferment in the shade of the jungles and ive warmth to its eggs; the Scrub-hen (M'egapodius) piles up sand on the beach for the sun to furnish the necessary temperature. The comparative paucity of birds of prey (Falconidae), and the almost total absence of rasorial game- and poultry-birds, may be noted. Birds pursued for sport or profit, however, are not wanting. The Emu and the Bustard or Plain Turkey afford sport in the open country, Quail and Snipe in or near the timber, while rivers and lakes still unvisited by the gun are covered with Ducks and Geese, Swans and Pelicans. It has been said that Australia has no migratory birds: this is an error, founded upon an undue restriction of the term migratory. Several species could be mentioned which are truly migratory in Queensland, as the Drongo-shrike, Bee-eater, Dollar-bird, &c. On the land surface, among' its lowly organized products, interest centres in the multitudinous forms of insect-life, of which, excepting the Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) and Beetles (Coleoptera), comparatively little is known at present. Insects inimical to man, with the exception, in some localities, of ants, flies and mosquitoes, are inconsiderable in number, and possess few hurtful properties. Centipedes, scorpions and leeches are less troublesome than in most other tropical regions. Spiders present themselves in astonishing variety, but only one kind, a small black spider with red spots (Lathrodectus), is malignant. Among the larger insects proper, the great-winged Phasmas, the Skeleton or Stick-insects, the Leaf-insects, and the splendid Swallowtailed Butterflies are especially notable. Many of the Beetles are remarkable for size or brilliancy of colour.

Fishes and Fisheries.-The class fishes is extraordinarily profuse in diversified forms, the coral reefs being the grazing- and hunting grounds of hosts of gorgeously decorated fish, chiefly of the Wrasse family; these, " however, are almost equalled in beauty by the Chaetodons, Gurnards, &c., of other habitats, Among the Perches are the enormous Groper, which may attain the weight of 4 cwt., the Murray Cod, and the Giant Perch, both excellent food-fish of about 70 lb in weight. Sharks of many species abound. Asurvival from the Mesozoic period is the Ceratodus or Burnett Salmon, which, formerly inhabiting the headwaters of the Murray, still breeds in two of the smaller rivers north of the Bunya Range. This fish possesses a rudimentary lung in addition to ordinary gills. The