FISHES OF SOUTH AND MIDDLE AMERICA
|THE FRESH-WATER FISHES OF SOUTH AND MIDDLE AMERICA|
By Professor CARL H. EIGENMANN
A. The salient features of the fish fauna of the Americas south of the United States are:
1. Great variety of fish life in the area between the Caribbean Sea and the Argentine Republic.
2. Paucity of 'types' or families contributing to this variety.
3. Paucity of the middle American fauna and its essentially South American character except for
4. the isolation of the fauna of the Mexican plateau.
5. Paucity of the Pacific slope fauna and its essentially Atlantic slope character.
6. The 'marine' character of the Titicacan fauna.
7. The paucity of the Patagonian fauna and its essential difference from the Brazilian fauna.
8. The similarity of the tropical American to the tropical African fauna.
The first fresh-water fishes of South America were described by Marcgraw in 1648. Additional accounts were given by Gronow, 1754 to 1756; Scopoli, 1777; Bloch, 1794; Lacépède, 1802; Bloch and Schneider, 1807; Cuvier, 1817 to 1818.
In 1817 the king of Bavaria sent Spix and Martius on an extended trip to Brazil. Spix was working at the report on the fishes when he died. The collection was turned over by Martius to Louis Agassiz, a student of twenty-one at Munich. It had been nip and tuck between Agassiz's desire to study natural history and his father's desire to have his son study medicine. The commission to work up the Brazilian fishes was surreptitiously undertaken by Agassiz and the results published in a superb folio volume. This work, which tinctured the entire later life of Louis Agassiz, was by far the most important contribution to the fresh-water fishes of South America that had appeared. Agassiz's desire to visit Brazil himself was not fulfilled until forty years later, when, as the head of the Thayer expedition, he spent sixteen months in Brazil with twelve assistants, devoting his time mainly to fresh-water fishes.
I was a student under Jordan when Mrs. Agassiz's 'Life and Letters of Louis Agassiz' appeared in 1885. Agassiz's account of his expedition to South America, coupled with the statement of Jordan that no