The Geographical Distribution of Animals/Chapter 4

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To the older school of Naturalists the native country of an animal was of little importance, except in as far as climates differed. Animals were supposed to be specially adapted to live in certain zones or under certain physical conditions, and it was hardly recognised that apart from these conditions there was any influence in locality which could materially affect them. It was believed that, while the animals of tropical, temperate, and arctic climates, essentially differed; those of the tropics were essentially alike all over the world. A group of animals was said to inhabit the "Indies;" and important differences of structure were often overlooked from the idea, that creatures equally adapted to live in hot countries and with certain general resemblances, would naturally be related to each other. Thus the Toucans and Hornbills, the Humming-Birds and Sun-Birds, and even the Tapirs and the Elephants, came to be popularly associated as slightly modified varieties of tropical forms of life; while to naturalists, who were acquainted with the essential differences of structure, it was a never-failing source of surprise, that under climates and conditions so apparently identical, such strangely divergent forms should be produced.

To the modern naturalist, on the other hand, the native country (or "habitat" as it is technically termed) of an animal or a group of animals, is a matter of the first importance; and, as regards the general history of life upon the globe, may be considered to be one of its essential characters. The structure, affinities, and habits of a species, now form only a part of its natural history. We require also to know its exact range at the present day and in prehistoric times, and to have some knowledge of its geological age, the place of its earliest appearance on the globe, and of the various extinct forms most nearly allied to it. To those who accept the theory of development as worked out by Mr. Darwin, and the views as to the general permanence and immense antiquity of the great continents and oceans so ably developed by Sir Charles Lyell, it ceases to be a matter of surprise that the tropics of Africa, Asia, and America should differ in their productions, but rather that they should have anything in common. Their similarity, not their diversity, is the fact that most frequently puzzles us.

The more accurate knowledge we have of late years obtained of the productions of many remote regions, combined with the greater approaches that have been made to a natural classification of the higher animals, has shown, that every continent or well-marked division of a continent, every archipelago and even every island, presents problems of more or less complexity to the student of the geographical distribution of animals. If we take up the subject from the zoological side, and study any family, order, or even extensive genus, we are almost sure to meet with some anomalies either in the present or past distribution of the various forms. Let us adduce a few examples of these problems.

Deer have a wonderfully wide range, over the whole of Europe, Asia, and North and South America; yet in Africa south of the great desert there are none. Bears range over the whole of Europe, Asia, and North America, and true pigs of the genus Sus, over all Europe and Asia and as far as New Guinea; yet both bears and pigs, like deer, are absent from Tropical and South Africa.

Again, the West Indian islands possess very few Mammalia, all of small size and allied to those of America, except one genus; and that belongs to an Order, "Insectivora," entirely absent from South America, and to a family, "Centetidæ," all the other species of which inhabit Madagascar only. And as if to add force to this singular correspondence we have one Madagascar species of a beautiful day-flying Moth, Urania, all the other species of which inhabit tropical America. These insects are gorgeously arrayed in green and gold, and are quite unlike any other Lepidoptera upon the globe.

The island of Ceylon generally agrees in its productions with the Southern part of India; yet it has several birds which are allied to Malayan and not to Indian groups, and a fine butterfly of the genus Hestia, as well as several genera of beetles, which are purely Malayan.

Various important groups of animals are distributed in a way not easy to explain. The anthropoid apes in West Africa and Borneo; the tapirs in Malaya and South America; the camel tribe in the deserts of Asia and the Andes; the trogons in South America and Tropical Asia, with one species in Africa; the marsupials in Australia and America, are examples.

The cases here adduced (and they might be greatly multiplied) are merely to show the kind of problems with which the naturalist now has to deal; and in order to do so he requires some system of geographical arrangement, which shall serve the double purpose of affording a convenient subdivision of his subject, and at the same time of giving expression to the main results at which he has arrived. Hence the recent discussions on "Zoological Regions," or, what are the most natural primary divisions of the earth as regards its forms of animal life.

The divisions in use till quite recently were of two kinds; either those ready made by geographers, more especially the quarters or continents of the globe; or those determined by climate and marked out by certain parallels of latitude or by isothermal lines. Either of these methods was better than none at all; but from the various considerations explained in the preceding chapters, it will be evident, that such divisions must have often been very unnatural, and have disguised many of the most important and interesting phenomena which a study of the distribution of animals presents to us.

The merit of initiating a more natural system, that of determining zoological regions, not by any arbitrary or a priori consideration but by studying the actual ranges of the more important groups of animals, is due to Mr. Sclater, who, in 1857, established six primary zoological regions from a detailed examination of the distribution of the chief genera and families of Birds. Before stating what these regions are, what objections have been made to them, what other divisions have been since proposed, and what are those which we shall adopt in this work, it will be well to consider the general principles which should guide us in the choice between rival systems.

Principles on which Zoological Regions should be formed.—It will be evident in the first place that nothing like a perfect zoological division of the earth is possible. The causes that have led to the present distribution of animal life are so varied, their action and reaction have been so complex, that anomalies and irregularities are sure to exist which will mar the symmetry of any rigid system. On two main points every system yet proposed, or that probably can be proposed, is open to objection; they are,—1stly, that the several regions are not of equal rank;—2ndly, that they are not equally applicable to all classes of animals. As to the first objection, it will be found impossible to form any three or more regions, each of which differs from the rest in an equal degree or in the same manner. One will surpass all others in the possession of peculiar families; another will have many characteristic genera; while a third will be mainly distinguished by negative characters. There will also be found many intermediate districts, which possess some of the characteristics of two well-marked regions, with a few special features of their own, or perhaps with none; and it will be a difficult question to decide in all cases which region should possess this doubtful territory, or whether it should be formed into a primary region itself. Again, two regions which have now well-marked points of difference, may be shown to have been much more alike at a comparatively recent geological epoch; and this, it may be said, proves their fundamental unity and that they ought to form but one primary region. To obviate some of these difficulties a binary or dichotomous division is sometimes proposed; that portion of the earth which differs most from the rest being cut off as a region equal in rank to all that remains, which is subjected again and again to the same process.

To decide these various points it seems advisable that convenience, intelligibility, and custom, should largely guide us. The first essential is, a broadly marked and easily remembered set of regions; which correspond, as nearly as truth to nature will allow, with the distribution of the most important groups of animals. What these groups are we shall presently explain. In determining the number, extent, and boundaries of these regions, we must be guided by a variety of indications, since the application of fixed rules is impossible. They should evidently be of a moderate number, corresponding as far as practicable with the great natural divisions of the globe marked out by nature, and which have always been recognized by geographers. There should be some approximation to equality of size, since there is reason to believe that a tolerably extensive area has been an essential condition for the development of most animal forms; and it is found that, other things being equal, the numbers, variety and importance of the forms of animal and vegetable life, do bear some approximate relation to extent of area. Although the possession of peculiar families or genera is the main character of a primary zoological region, yet the negative character of the absence of certain families or genera is of equal importance, when this absence does not manifestly depend on unsuitability to the support of the group, and especially when there is now no physical barrier preventing their entrance. This will become evident when we consider that the importance of the possession of a group by one region depends on its absence from the adjoining regions; and if there is now no barrier to its entrance, we may be sure that there has once been one; and that the possession of the area by a distinct and well balanced set of organisms, which must have been slowly developed and adjusted, is the living barrier that now keeps out intruders.

When it is ascertained that the chief differences which now obtain between two areas did not exist in Miocene or Pliocene times, the fact is one of great interest, and enables us to speculate with some degree of probability as to the causes that have brought about the present state of things; but it is not a reason for uniting these two areas into one region. Our object is to represent as nearly as possible the main features of the distribution of existing animals, not those of any or all past geological epochs. Should we ever obtain sufficient information as to the geography and biology of the earth at past epochs, we might indeed determine approximately what were the Pliocene or Miocene or Eocene zoological regions; but any attempt to exhibit all these in combination with those of our own period, must lead to confusion.

The binary or dichotomous system, although it brings out the fundamental differences of the respective regions, is an inconvenient one in its application, and rather increases than obviates the difficulty as to equality or inequality of regions; for although a, b, c, and d, may be areas of unequal zoological rank, a being the most important, and d the least, yet this inequality will probably be still greater if we first divide them into a, on one side, and b, c, and d, on the other, and then, by another division, make b, an area of the second, and c, and d, of the third rank only.

Coming to the second objection, the often incompatible distribution of different groups of animals, affords ground for opposition to any proposed scheme of zoological regions. There is first the radical difference between land and sea animals; the most complete barriers to the dispersal of the one, sometimes offering the greatest facilities for the emigration of the other, and vice versa. A large number of marine animals, however, frequent shallow water only; and these, keeping near the coasts, will agree generally in their distribution with those inhabiting the land. But among land animals themselves there are very great differences of distribution, due to certain specialities in their organization or mode of life. These act mainly in two ways,—1stly, by affecting the facilities with which they can be dispersed, either voluntarily or involuntarily;—2ndly, by the conditions which enable them to multiply and establish themselves in certain areas and not in others. When both these means of diffusion are at a maximum, the dispersal of a group becomes universal, and ceases to have much interest for us. This is the case with certain groups of fungi and lichens, as well as with some of the lower animals; and in a less degree, as has been shown by Mr. Darwin, with many fresh-water plants and animals. At the other extreme we may place certain arboreal vertebrata such as sloths and lemurs, which have no means of passing such barriers as narrow straits or moderately high mountains, and whose survival in any new country they might reach, would be dependent on the presence of suitable forests and the absence of dangerous enemies. Almost equally, or perhaps even more restricted, are the means of permanent diffusion of terrestrial molluscs; since these are without any but very rare and accidental means of being safely transported across the sea; their individual powers of locomotion are highly restricted; they are especially subject to the attacks of enemies; and they often depend not only on a peculiar vegetation, but on the geological character of the country, their abundance being almost in direct proportion to the presence of some form of calcareous rocks. Between these extremes we find animals possessed of an infinite gradation of powers to disperse and to maintain themselves; and it will evidently be impossible that the limits which best define the distribution of one group, should be equally true for all others.

Which class of Animals is of most importance in determining Zoological Regions.—To decide this question we have to consider which groups of animals are best adapted to exhibit, by their existing distribution, the past changes and present physical condition of the earth's surface; and at the same time, by the abundance of their remains in the various tertiary formations will best enable us to trace out the more recent of the series of changes, both of the earth's surface and of its inhabitants, by which the present state of things has been brought about. For this purpose we require a group which shall be dependent for its means of dispersal on the distribution of land and water, and on the presence or absence of lofty mountains, desert plains or plateaux, and great forests; since these are the chief physical features of the earth's surface whose modifications at successive periods we wish to discover. It is also essential that they should not be subject to dispersal by many accidental causes; as this would inevitably in time tend to obliterate the effect of natural barriers, and produce a scattered distribution, the causes of which we could only guess at. Again, it is necessary that they should be so highly organized as not to be absolutely dependent on other groups of animals, and with so much power of adaptation as to be able to exist in one form or another over the whole globe. And lastly, it is highly important that the whole group should be pretty well known, and that a fairly natural classification, especially of its minor divisions such as families and genera, should have been arrived at; the reason for which last proviso is explained in our next chapter, on classification.

Now in every one of these points the mammalia are preeminent; and they possess the additional advantage of being the most highly developed class of organized beings, and that to which we ourselves belong. We should therefore construct our typical or standard Zoological Regions in the first place, from a consideration of the distribution of mammalia, only bringing to our aid the distribution of other groups to determine doubtful points. Regions so established will be most closely in accordance with those long-enduring features of physical geography, on which the distribution of all forms of life fundamentally depend; and all discrepancies in the distribution of other classes of animals must be capable of being explained, either by their exceptional means of dispersion or by special conditions affecting their perpetuation and increase in each locality.

If these considerations are well founded, the objections of those who study insects or molluscs, for example,—that our regions are not true for their departments of nature—cannot be maintained. For they will find, that a careful consideration of the exceptional means of dispersal and conditions of existence of each group, will explain most of the divergences from the normal distribution of higher animals.

We shall thus be led to an intelligent comprehension of the phenomena of distribution in all groups, which would not be the case if every specialist formed regions for his own particular study. In many cases we should find that no satisfactory division of the earth could be made to correspond with the distribution even of an entire class; but we should have the coleopterist and the lepidopterist each with his own Geography. And even this would probably not suffice, for it is very doubtful if the detailed distribution of the Longicornes, so closely dependent on woody vegetation, could be made to agree with that of the Staphylinidæ or the Carabidæ which abound in many of the most barren regions, or with that of the Scarabeidæ, largely dependent on the presence of herbivorous mammalia. And when each of these enquirers had settled a division of the earth into "regions" which exhibited with tolerable accuracy the phenomena of distribution of his own group, we should have gained nothing whatever but a very complex mode of exhibiting the bare facts of distribution. We should then have to begin to work out the causes of the divergence of one group from another in this respect; but as each worker would refer to his own set of regions as the type, the whole subject would become involved in inextricable confusion. These considerations seem to make it imperative that one set of "regions" should be established as typical for Zoology; and it is hoped the reasons here advanced will satisfy most naturalists that these regions can be best determined, in the first place, by a study of the distribution of the mammalia, supplemented in doubtful cases by that of the other vertebrates. We will now proceed to a discussion of what these regions are.

Various Zoological Regions proposed since 1857.—It has already been pointed out that a very large number of birds are limited by the same kind of barriers as mammalia; it will therefore not be surprising that a system of regions formed to suit the one, should very nearly represent the distribution of the other. Mr. Sclater's regions are as follows:—

1. The Palæarctic Region; including Europe, Temperate Asia, and N. Africa to the Atlas mountains.

2. The Ethiopian Region; Africa south of the Atlas, Madagascar, and the Mascarene Islands, with Southern Arabia.

3. The Indian Region; including India south of the Himalayas, to South China, and to Borneo and Java.

4. The Australian Region; including Celebes and Lombock, eastward to Australia and the Pacific Islands.

5. The Nearctic Region; including Greenland, and N. America, to Northern Mexico.

6. The Neotropical Region; including South America, the Antilles, and Southern Mexico.

This division of the earth received great support from Dr. Günther, who, in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1858, showed that the geographical distribution of Reptiles agreed with it very closely, the principal difference being that the reptiles of Japan have a more Indian character than the birds, this being especially the case with the snakes. In the volume for 1868 of the same work, Professor Huxley discusses at considerable length the primary and secondary zoological divisions of the earth. He gives reasons for thinking that the most radical primary division, both as regards birds and mammals, is into a Northern and Southern hemisphere (Arctogæa and Notogæa), the former, however, embracing all Africa, while the latter includes only Australasia and the Neotropical or Austro-Columbian region. Mr. Sclater had grouped his regions primarily into Palæogæa and Neogæa, the Old and New Worlds of geographers; a division which strikingly accords with the distribution of the passerine birds, but not so well with that of mammalia or reptiles. Professor Huxley points out that the Nearctic, Palæarctic, Indian, and Ethiopian regions of Mr. Sclater have a much greater resemblance to each other than any one of them has to Australia or to South America; and he further suggests that New Zealand alone has peculiarities which might entitle it to rank as a primary region along with Australasia and South America; and that a Circumpolar Province might be conveniently recognised as of equal rank with the Palæarctic and Nearctic provinces.

In 1866, Mr. Andrew Murray published a large and copiously illustrated volume on the Geographical Distribution of Mammals, in which he maintains that the great and primary mammalian regions are only four: 1st. The Palæarctic region of Mr. Sclater, extended to include the Sahara and Nubia; 2nd. the Indo-African region, including the Indian and Ethiopian regions of Mr. Sclater; 3rd. the Australian region (unaltered); 4th. the American region, including both North and South America. These are the regions as described by Mr. Murray, but his coloured map of "Great Mammalian Regions" shows all Arctic America to a little south of the Isothermal of 32° Fahr. as forming with Europe and North Asia one great region.

At the meeting of the British Association at Exeter in 1869, Mr. W. T. Blanford read a paper on the Fauna of British India, in which he maintained that a large portion of the peninsula of India had derived its Fauna mainly from Africa; and that the term "Indian region" of Mr. Sclater was misleading, because India proper, if it belongs to it at all, is the least typical portion of it. He therefore proposes to call it the "Malayan region," because in the Malay countries it is most highly developed. Ceylon and the mountain ranges of Southern India have marked Malay affinities.

In 1871 Mr. E. Blyth published in Nature "A suggested new Division of the Earth into Zoological Regions," in which he indicates seven primary divisions or regions, subdivided into twenty-six sub-regions. The seven regions are defined as follows: 1. The Boreal region; including the whole of the Palæarctic and Nearctic regions of Mr. Sclater along with the West Indies, Central America, the whole chain of the Andes, with Chili and Patagonia. 2. The Columbian region; consisting of the remaining part of South America. 3. The Ethiopian region; comprising besides that region of Mr. Sclater, the valley of the Jordan, Arabia, and the desert country towards India, with all the plains and table lands of India and the northern half of Ceylon. 4. The Lemurian region; consisting of Madagascar and its adjacent islands. 5. The Austral-Asian region; which is the Indian region of Mr. Sclater without the portion taken to be added to the Ethiopian region. 6. The Melanesian region; which is the Australian region of Mr. Sclater without New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, which form 7. the Polynesian region. Mr. Blyth thinks this is "a true classification of zoological regions as regards mammalia and birds."

In an elaborate paper on the birds of Eastern North America, their distribution and migrations (Bulletin of Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Vol. 2), Mr. J. A. Allen proposes a division of the earth in accordance with what he terms, "the law of circumpolar distribution of life in zones," as follows: 1. Arctic realm. 2. North temperate realm. 3. American tropical realm. 4. Indo-African tropical realm. 5. South American tropical realm. 6. African temperate realm. 7. Antarctic realm. 8. Australian realm. Some of these are subdivided into regions; (2) consisting of the American and the Europæo-Asiatic regions; (4) into the African and Indian regions; (8) into the tropical Australian region, and one comprising the southern part of Australia and New Zealand. The other realms each form a single region.

Discussion of proposed Regions.—Before proceeding to define the regions adopted in this work, it may be as well to make a few remarks on some of the preceding classifications, and to give the reasons which seem to render it advisable to adopt very few of the suggested improvements on Mr. Sclater's original proposal. Mr. Blyth's scheme is one of the least natural, and also the most inconvenient. There can be little use in the knowledge that a group of animals is found in the Boreal Region, if their habitat might still be either Patagonia, the West Indies, or Japan; and it is difficult to see on what principle the Madagascar group of islands is made of equal rank with this enormous region, seeing that its forms of life have marked African affinities. Neither does it seem advisable to adopt the Polynesian Region, or that comprising New Zealand alone (as hinted at by Professor Huxley and since adopted by Mr. Sclater in his Lectures on Geographical Distribution at the Zoological Gardens in May 1874), because it is absolutely without indigenous mammalia and very poor in all forms of life, and therefore by no means prominent or important enough to form a primary region of the earth.

It may be as well here to notice what appears to be a serious objection to making New Zealand, or any similar isolated district, one of the great zoological regions, comparable to South America, Australia, or Ethiopia; which is, that its claim to that distinction rests on grounds which are liable to fail. It is because New Zealand, in addition to its negative merits, possesses three families of birds (Apterygidæ living, Dinornithidæ and Palapterygidæ extinct), and a peculiar lizard-like reptile, Hatteria, which has to be classed in a distinct order, Rhynchocephalina, that the rank of a Region is claimed for it. But supposing, what is not at all improbable, that other Rhynchocephalina should be discovered in the interior of Australia or in New Guinea, and that Apterygidæ or Palapterygidæ should be found to have inhabited Australia in Post-Pliocene times, (as Dinornithidæ have already been proved to have done) the claims of New Zealand would entirely fail, and it would be universally acknowledged to be a part of the great Australian region. No such reversal can take place in the case of the other regions; because they rest, not upon one or two, but upon a large number of peculiarities, of such a nature that there is no room upon the globe for discoveries that can seriously modify them. Even if one or two peculiar types, like Apterygidæ or Hatteria, should permanently remain characteristic of New Zealand alone, we can account for these by the extreme isolation of the country, and the absence of enemies, which have enabled these defenceless birds and reptiles to continue their existence; just as the isolation and protection of the caverns of Carniola have enabled the Proteus to survive in Europe. But supposing that the Proteus was the sole representative of an order of Batrachia, and that two or three other equally curious and isolated forms occurred with it, no one would propose that these caverns or the district containing them, should form one of the primary divisions of the earth. Neither can much stress be laid on the negative characteristics of New Zealand, since they are found to an almost equal extent in every oceanic island.

Again, it is both inconvenient and misleading to pick out certain tracts from the midst of one region or sub-region and to place them in another, on account of certain isolated affinities which may often be accounted for by local peculiarities. Even if the resemblance of the fauna of Chili and Patagonia to that of the Palæarctic and Nearctic regions was much greater than it is, this mode of dealing with it would be objectionable; but it is still more so, when we find that these countries have a strongly marked South American character, and that the northern affinities are altogether exceptional. The Rodentia, which comprise a large portion of the mammalia of these countries, are wholly South American in type, and the birds are almost all allied to forms characteristic of tropical America.

For analogous reasons the Ethiopian must not be made to include any part of India or Ceylon; for although the Fauna of Central India has some African affinities, these do not preponderate; and it will not be difficult to show that to follow Mr. Andrew Murray in uniting bodily the Ethiopian and Indian regions of Mr. Sclater, is both unnatural and inconvenient. The resemblances between them are of the same character as those which would unite them both with the Palæarctic and Nearctic regions; and although it may be admitted, that, as Professor Huxley maintains, this group forms one of the great primary divisions of the globe, it is far too extensive and too heterogeneous to subserve the practical uses for which we require a division of the world into zoological regions.

Reasons for adopting the six Regions first proposed by Mr. Sclater.—So that we do not violate any clear affinities or produce any glaring irregularities, it is a positive, and by no means an unimportant, advantage to have our named regions approximately equal in size, and with easily defined, and therefore easily remembered, boundaries. All elaborate definitions of interpenetrating frontiers, as well as regions extending over three-fourths of the land surface of the globe, and including places which are the antipodes of each other, would be most inconvenient, even if there were not such difference of opinion about them. There can be little doubt, for example, that the most radical zoological division of the earth is made by separating the Australian region from the rest; but although it is something useful and definite to know that a group of animals is peculiar to Australia, it is exceedingly vague and unsatisfactory to say of any other group merely that it is extra-Australian. Neither can it be said that, from any point of view, these two divisions are of equal importance. The next great natural division that can be made is the separation of the Neotropical Region of Mr. Sclater from the rest of the world. We thus have three primary divisions, which Professor Huxley seems inclined to consider as of tolerably equal zoological importance. But a consideration of all the facts, zoological and palæontological, indicates, that the great northern division (Arctogæa) is fully as much more important than either Australia or South America, as its four component parts are less important; and if so, convenience requires us to adopt the smaller rather than the larger divisions.

This question, of comparative importance or equivalence of value, is very difficult to determine. It may be considered from the point of view of speciality or isolation, or from that of richness and variety of animal forms. In isolation and speciality, determined by what they want as well as what they possess, the Australian and Neotropical regions are undoubtedly each comparable with the rest of the earth (Arctogæa). But in richness and variety of forms, they are both very much inferior, and are much more nearly comparable with the separate regions which compose it. Taking the families of mammalia as established by the best authors, and leaving out the Cetacea and the Bats, which are almost universally distributed, and about whose classification there is much uncertainty, the number of families represented in each of Mr. Sclater's regions is as follows:

I. Palæarctic region has 31 families of terrestrial mammalia.
II. Ethiopian " " 40 " " "
III. Indian " " 31 " " "
IV. Australian " " 14 " " "
V. Neotropical " " 26 " " "
VI. Nearctic " " 23 " " "

We see, then, that even the exceedingly rich and isolated Neotropical region is less rich and diversified in its forms of mammalian life than the very much smaller area of the Indian region, or the temperate Palæarctic, and very much less so than the Ethiopian region; while even the comparatively poor Nearctic region, is nearly equal to it in the number of its family types. If these were united they would possess fifty-five families, a number very disproportionate to those of the remaining two. Another consideration is, that although the absence of certain forms of life makes a region more isolated, it does not make it zoologically more important; for we have only to suppose some five or six families, now common to both, to become extinct either in the Ethiopian or the Indian regions, and they would become as strongly differentiated from all other regions as South America, while still remaining as rich in family types. In birds exactly the same phenomenon recurs, the family types being less numerous in South America than in either of the other tropical regions of the earth, but a larger proportion of them are restricted to it. It will be shown further on, that the Ethiopian and Indian, (or, as I propose to call it in this work, Oriental) regions, are sufficiently differentiated by very important groups of animals peculiar to each; and that, on strict zoological principles they are entitled to rank as regions of equal value with the Neotropical and Australian. It is perhaps less clear whether the Palæarctic should be separated from the Oriental region, with which it has undoubtedly much in common; but there are many and powerful reasons for keeping it distinct. There is an unmistakably different facies in the animal forms of the two regions; and although no families of mammalia or birds, and not many genera, are wholly confined to the Palæarctic region, a very considerable number of both have their metropolis in it, and are very richly represented. The distinction between the characteristic forms of life in tropical and cold countries is, on the whole, very strongly marked in the northern hemisphere; and to refuse to recognise this in a subdivision of the earth which is established for the very purpose of expressing such contrasts more clearly and concisely than by ordinary geographical terminology, would be both illogical and inconvenient. The one question then remains, whether the Nearctic region should be kept separate, or whether it should form part of the Palæarctic or of the Neotropical regions. Professor Huxley and Mr. Blyth advocate the former course; Mr. Andrew Murray (for mammalia) and Professor Newton (for birds) think the latter would be more natural. No doubt much is to be said for both views, but both cannot be right; and it will be shown in the latter part of this chapter that the Nearctic region is, on the whole, fully as well defined as the Palæarctic, by positive characters which differentiate it from both the adjacent regions. More evidence in the same direction will be found in the Second Part of this work, in which the extinct faunas of the several regions are discussed.

A confirmation of the general views here set forth, as to the distinctness and approximate equivalence of the six regions, is to be found in the fact, that if any two or more of them are combined they themselves become divisions of the next lower rank, or "sub-regions;"—and these will be very much more important, both zoologically and geographically, than the subdivisions of the remaining regions. It is admitted then that these six regions are by no means of precisely equal rank, and that some of them are far more isolated and better characterized than others; but it is maintained that, looked at from every point of view, they are more equal in rank than any others that can be formed; while in geographical equality, compactness of area, and facility of definition, they are beyond all comparison better than any others that have yet been proposed for the purpose of facilitating the study of geographical distribution. They may be arranged and grouped as follows, so as to exhibit their various relations and affinities.

Neogæa Neotropical Austral zone Notogæa.
Nearctic Boreal zone Arctogæa.
Palæogæa Palæarctic
Ethiopian Palæotropical zone
Australian Austral zone Notogæa.

The above table shows the regions placed in the order followed in the Fourth Part of this work, and the reasons for which are explained in Chapter IX. As a matter of convenience, and for other reasons adduced in the same chapter, the detailed exposition of the geographical distribution of the animals of the several regions in Part III. commences with the Palæarctic and terminates with the Nearctic region.

Objections to the system of Circumpolar Zones.—Mr. Allen's system of "realms" founded on climatic zones (given at p. 61), having recently appeared in an ornithological work of considerable detail and research, calls for a few remarks. The author continually refers to the "law of the distribution of life in circumpolar zones," as if it were one generally accepted and that admits of no dispute. But this supposed "law" only applies to the smallest details of distribution—to the range and increasing or decreasing numbers of species as we pass from north to south, or the reverse; while it has little bearing on the great features of zoological geography—the limitation of groups of genera and families to certain areas. It is analogous to the "law of adaptation" in the organisation of animals, by which members of various groups are suited for an aerial, an aquatic, a desert, or an arboreal life; are herbivorous, carnivorous, or insectivorous; are fitted to live underground, or in fresh waters, or on polar ice. It was once thought that these adaptive peculiarities were suitable foundations for a classification,—that whales were fishes, and bats birds; and even to this day there are naturalists who cannot recognise the essential diversity of structure in such groups as swifts and swallows, sun-birds and humming-birds, under the superficial disguise caused by adaptation to a similar mode of life. The application of Mr. Allen's principle leads to equally erroneous results, as may be well seen by considering his separation of "the southern third of Australia" to unite it with New Zealand as one of his secondary zoological divisions. If there is one country in the world whose fauna is strictly homogeneous, that country is Australia; while New Guinea on the one hand, and New Zealand on the other, are as sharply differentiated from Australia as any adjacent parts of the same primary zoological division can possibly be. Yet the "law of circumpolar distribution" leads to the division of Australia by an arbitrary east and west line, and a union of the northern two-thirds with New Guinea, the southern third with New Zealand. Hardly less unnatural is the supposed equivalence of South Africa (the African temperate realm) to all tropical Africa and Asia, including Madagascar (the Indo-African tropical realm). South Africa has, it is true, some striking peculiarities; but they are absolutely unimportant as compared with the great and radical differences between tropical Africa and tropical Asia. On these examples we may fairly rest our rejection of Mr. Allen's scheme.

We must however say a few words on the zoo-geographical nomenclature proposed in the same paper, which seems also very objectionable. The following terms are proposed: realm, region, province, district, fauna and flora; the first being the highest, the last the lowest and smallest sub-division. Considering that most of these terms have been used in very different senses already, and that no means of settling their equivalence in different parts of the globe has been even suggested, such a complex system must lead to endless confusion. Until the whole subject is far better known and its first principles agreed upon, the simpler and the fewer the terms employed the better; and as "region" was employed for the primary divisions by Mr. Sclater, eighteen years ago, and again by Mr. Andrew Murray, in his Geographical Distribution of Mammals; nothing but obscurity can result from each writer using some new, and doubtfully better, term. For the sub-divisions of the regions no advantage is gained by the use of a distinct term—"province"—which has been used (by Swainson) for the primary divisions, and which does not itself tell you what rank it holds; whereas the term "sub-region" speaks for itself as being unmistakably next in subordination to region, and this clearness of meaning gives it the preference over any independent term. As to minor named sub-divisions, they seem at present uncalled for; and till the greater divisions are themselves generally agreed on, it seems better to adopt no technical names for what must, for a long time to come, be indeterminate.

Does the Arctic Fauna characterize an independent Region.—The proposal to consider the Arctic regions as constituting one of the primary zoological divisions of the globe, has been advocated by many naturalists. Professor Huxley seems to consider it advisable, and Mr. Allen unhesitatingly adopts it, as well as an "antarctic" region to balance it in the southern hemisphere. The reason why an "Arctic Region" finds no place in this work may therefore be here stated.

No species or group of animals can properly be classed as "arctic," which does not exclusively inhabit or greatly preponderate in arctic lands. For the purpose of establishing the need of an "arctic" zoological region, we should consider chiefly such groups as are circumpolar as well as arctic; because, if they are confined to, or greatly preponderate in, either the eastern or western hemispheres, they can be at once allocated to the Nearctic or Palæarctic regions, and can therefore afford no justification for establishing a new primary division of the globe.

Thus restricted, only three genera of land mammalia are truly arctic: Gulo, Myodes, and Rangifer. Two species of widely dispersed genera are also exclusively arctic, Ursus maritimus and Vulpes lagopus.

Exclusively arctic birds are not much more numerous. Of land birds there are only three genera (each consisting of but a single species), Pinicola, Nyctea, and Surnia. Lagopus is circumpolar, but the genus has too wide an extension in the temperate zone to be considered arctic. Among aquatic birds we have the genus of ducks, Somateria; three genera of Uriidæ, Uria, Catarractes, and Mergulus; and the small family Alcidæ, consisting of the genera Alca and Fratercula. Our total then is, three genera of mammalia, three of land, and six of aquatic birds, including one peculiar family.

In the southern hemisphere there is only the single genus Aptenodytes that can be classed as antarctic; and even that is more properly south temperate.

In dealing with this arctic fauna we have two courses open to us; we must either group them with the other species and genera which are common to the two northern regions, or we must form a separate primary region for them. As a matter of convenience the former plan seems the best; and it is that which is in accordance with our treatment of other intermediate tracts which contain special forms of life. The great desert zone, extending from the Atlantic shores of the Sahara across Arabia to Central Asia, is a connecting link between the Palæarctic, Ethiopian, and Oriental regions, and contains a number of "desert" forms wholly or almost wholly restricted to it; but the attempt to define it as a separate region would introduce difficulty and confusion. Neither to the "desert" nor to the "arctic" regions could any defined limits, either geographical or zoological, be placed; and the attempt to determine what species or genera should be allotted to them would prove an insoluble problem. The reason perhaps is, that both are essentially unstable, to a much greater extent than those great masses of land with more or less defined barriers, which constitute our six regions. The Arctic Zone has been, within a recent geological period, both vastly more extensive and vastly less extensive than it is at present. At a not distant epoch it extended over half of Europe and of North America. At an earlier date it appears to have vanished altogether; since a luxuriant vegetation of tall deciduous trees and broad-leaved evergreens flourished within ten degrees of the Pole! The great deserts have not improbably been equally fluctuating; hence neither the one nor the other can present that marked individuality in their forms of life, which seems to have arisen only when extensive tracts of land have retained some considerable stability both of surface and climatal conditions, during periods sufficient for the development and co-adaptation of their several assemblages of plants and animals.

We must also consider that there is no geographical difficulty in dividing the Arctic Zone between the two northern regions. The only debateable lands, Greenland and Iceland, are generally admitted to belong respectively to America and Europe. Neither is there any zoological difficulty; for the land mammalia and birds are on the whole wonderfully restricted to their respective regions even in high latitudes; and the aquatic forms are, for our present purpose, of much less importance. As a primary division the "Arctic region" would be out of all proportion to the other six, whether as regards its few peculiar types or the limited number of forms and species actually inhabiting it; but it comes in well as a connecting link between two regions, where the peculiar forms of both are specially modified; and is in this respect quite analogous to the great desert zone above referred to.

I now proceed to characterize briefly the six regions adopted in the present work, together with the sub-regions into which they may be most conveniently and naturally divided, as shown in our general map.

Palæarctic Region.—This very extensive region comprises all temperate Europe and Asia, from Iceland to Behring's Straits and from the Azores to Japan. Its southern boundary is somewhat indefinite, but it seems advisable to comprise in it all the extra-tropical part of the Sahara and Arabia, and all Persia, Cabul, and Beloochistan to the Indus. It comes down to a little below the upper limit of forests in the Himalayas, and includes the larger northern half of China, not quite so far down the coast as Amoy. It has been said that this region differs from the Oriental by negative characters only; a host of tropical families and genera being absent, while there is little or nothing but peculiar species to characterize it absolutely. This however is not true. The Palæarctic region is well characterized by possessing 3 families of vertebrata peculiar to it, as well as 35 peculiar genera of mammalia, and 57 of birds, constituting about one-third of the total number it possesses. These are amply sufficient to characterize a region positively; but we must also consider the absence of many important groups of the Oriental, Ethiopian, and Nearctic regions; and we shall then find, that taking positive and negative characters together, and making some allowance for the necessary poverty of a temperate as compared with tropical regions, the Palæarctic is almost as strongly marked and well defined as any other.

Sub-divisions of the Palæarctic Region.—These are by no means so clearly indicated as in some of the other regions, and they are adopted more for convenience than because they are very natural or strongly marked.

The first, or European sub-region, comprises Central and Northern Europe as far South as the Pyrenees, the Maritime and Dinaric Alps, the Balkan mountains, the Black Sea, and the Caucasus. On the east the Caspian sea and the Ural mountains seem the most obvious limit; but it is doubtful if they form the actual boundary, which is perhaps better marked by the valley of the Irtish, where a pre-glacial sea almost certainly connected the Aral and Caspian seas with the Arctic ocean, and formed an effective barrier which must still, to some extent, influence the distribution of animals.

The next, or Mediterranean sub-region, comprises South Europe, North Africa with the extra-tropical portion of the Sahara, and Egypt to about the first or second cataracts; and eastward through Asia Minor, Persia, and Cabul, to the deserts of the Indus.

The third, or Siberian sub-region, consists of all north and central Asia north of Herat, as far as the eastern limits of the great desert plateau of Mongolia, and southward to about the upper limit of trees on the Himalayas.

The fourth, or Manchurian sub-region, consists of Japan and North China with the lower valley of the Amoor; and it should probably be extended westward in a narrow strip along the Himalayas, embracing about 1,000 or 2,000 feet of vertical distance below the upper limit of trees, till it meets an eastern extension of the Mediterranean sub-region a little beyond Simla. These extensions are necessary to avoid passing from the Oriental region, which is essentially tropical, directly to the Siberian sub-region, which has an extreme northern character; whereas the Mediterranean and Manchurian sub-regions are more temperate in climate. It will be found that between the upper limit of most of the typical Oriental groups and the Thibetan or Siberian fauna, there is a zone in which many forms occur common to temperate China. This is especially the case among the pheasants and finches.

Ethiopian Region.—The limits of this region have been indicated by the definition of the Palæarctic region. Besides Africa south of the tropic of Cancer, and its islands, it comprises the southern half of Arabia.

This region has been said to be identical in the main characters of its mammalian fauna with the Oriental region, and has therefore been united with it by Mr. A. Murray. Most important differences have however been overlooked, as the following summary of the peculiarities of the Ethiopian region will, I think, show.

It possesses 22 peculiar families of vertebrates; 90 peculiar genera of mammalia, being two-thirds of its whole number; and 179 peculiar genera of birds, being three-fifths of all it possesses. It is further characterized by the absence of several families and genera which range over the whole northern hemisphere, details of which will be found in the chapter treating of the region. There are, it is true, many points of resemblance, not to be wondered at between two tropical regions in the same hemisphere, and which have evidently been at one time more nearly connected, both by intervening lands and by a different condition of the lands that even now connect them. But these resemblances only render the differences more remarkable; since they show that there has been an ancient and long-continued separation of the two regions, developing a distinct fauna in each, and establishing marked specialities which the temporary intercommunication and immigration has not sufficed to remove. The entire absence of such wide-spread groups as bears and deer, from a country many parts of which are well adapted to them, and in close proximity to regions where they abound, would alone mark out the Ethiopian region as one of the primary divisions of the earth, even if it possessed a less number than it actually does of peculiar family and generic groups.

Sub-divisions of the Ethiopian Region.—The African continent south of the tropic of Cancer is more homogeneous in its prominent and superficial zoological features than most of the other regions, but there are nevertheless important and deep-seated local peculiarities. Two portions can be marked off as possessing many peculiar forms; the luxuriant forest district of equatorial West Africa, and the southern extremity or Cape district. The remaining portion has no well-marked divisions, and a large proportion of its animal forms range over it from Nubia and Abyssinia, to Senegal on the one side and to the Zambesi on the other; this forms our first or East-African sub-region.

The second, or West African sub-region extends along the coast from Senegal to Angola, and inland to the sources of the Shary and the Congo.

The third, or South African sub-region, comprises the Cape Colony and Natal, and is roughly limited by a line from Delagoa Bay to Walvish Bay.

The fourth, or Malagasy sub-region, consists of Madagascar and the adjacent islands, from Rodriguez to the Seychelles; and this differs so remarkably from the continent that it has been proposed to form a distinct primary region for its reception. Its productions are indeed highly interesting; since it possesses 3 families, and 2 sub-families of mammals peculiar to itself, while almost all its genera are peculiar. Of these a few show Oriental or Ethiopian affinities, but the remainder are quite isolated. Turning to other classes of animals, we find that the birds are almost as remarkable; but, as might be expected, a larger number of genera are common to surrounding countries. More than 30 genera are altogether peculiar, and some of these are so isolated as to require to be classed in separate families or sub-families. The African affinity is however here more strongly shown by the considerable number (13) of peculiar Ethiopian genera which in Madagascar have representative species. There can be no doubt therefore about Madagascar being more nearly related to the Ethiopian than to any other region; but its peculiarities are so great, that, were it not for its small size and the limited extent of its fauna, its claim to rank as a separate region might not seem unreasonable. It is true that it is not poorer in mammals than Australia; but that country is far more isolated, and cannot be so decidedly and naturally associated with any other region as Madagascar can be with the Ethiopian. It is therefore the better and more natural course to keep it as a sub-region; the peculiarities it exhibits being of exactly the same kind as those presented by the Antilles, by New Zealand, and even by Celebes and Ceylon, but in a much greater degree.

Oriental Region.—On account of the numerous objections that have been made to naming a region from the least characteristic portion of it, and not thinking "Malayan," proposed by Mr. Blanford, a good term, (as it has a very circumscribed and definite meaning, and especially because the "Malay" archipelago is half of it in the Australian region,) I propose to use the word "Oriental" instead of "Indian," as being geographically applicable to the whole of the countries included in the region and to very few beyond it; as being euphonious, and as being free from all confusion with terms already used in zoological geography. I trust therefore that it may meet with general acceptance.

This small, compact, but rich and varied region, consists of all India and China from the limits of the Palæarctic region; all the Malay peninsula and islands as far east as Java and Baly, Borneo and the Philippine Islands; and Formosa. It is positively characterized by possessing 12 peculiar families of vertebrata; by 55 genera of land mammalia, and 165 genera of land birds, altogether confined to it; these peculiar genera forming in each case about one half of the total number it possesses.

Sub-divisions of the Oriental region.—First we have the Indian sub-region, consisting of Central India from the foot of the Himalayas in the west, and south of the Ganges to the east, as far as a line drawn from Goa curving south and up to the Kistna river; this is the portion which has most affinity with Africa.

The second, or Ceylonese sub-region, consists of the southern extremity of India with Ceylon; this is a mountainous forest region, and possesses several peculiar forms as well as some Malayan types not found in the first sub-region.

Next we have the Indo-Chinese sub-region, comprising South China and Burmah, extending westward along the Himalayan range to an altitude of about 9,000 or 10,000 feet, and southward to Tavoy or Tenasserim.

The last is the Indo-Malayan sub-region, comprising the Peninsula of Malacca and the Malay Islands to Baly, Borneo, and the Philippines.

On account of the absence from the first sub-region of many of the forms most characteristic of the other three, and the number of families and genera of mammalia and birds which occur in it and also in Africa, it has been thought by some naturalists that this part of India has at least an equal claim to be classed as a part of the Ethiopian region. This question will be found fully discussed in Chapter XII. devoted to the Oriental region, where it is shown that the African affinity is far less than has been represented, and that in all its essential features Central India is wholly Oriental in its fauna.

Before leaving this region a few words may be said about Lemuria, a name proposed by Mr. Sclater for the site of a supposed submerged continent extending from Madagascar to Ceylon and Sumatra, in which the Lemuroid type of animals was developed. This is undoubtedly a legitimate and highly probable supposition, and it is an example of the way in which a study of the geographical distribution of animals may enable us to reconstruct the geography of a bygone age. But we must not, as Mr. Blyth proposed, make this hypothetical land one of our actual Zoological regions. It represents what was probably a primary Zoological region in some past geological epoch; but what that epoch was and what were the limits of the region in question, we are quite unable to say. If we are to suppose that it comprised the whole area now inhabited by Lemuroid animals, we must make it extend from West Africa to Burmah, South China, and Celebes; an area which it possibly did once occupy, but which cannot be formed into a modern Zoological region without violating much more important affinities. If, on the other hand, we leave out all those areas which undoubtedly belong to other regions, we reduce Lemuria to Madagascar and its adjacent islands, which, for reasons already stated, it is not advisable to treat as a primary Zoological region. The theory of this ancient continent and the light it may throw on existing anomalies of distribution, will be more fully considered in the geographical part of this work.

Australian Region.—Mr. Sclater's original name seems preferable to Professor Huxley's, "Austral-Asian;" the inconvenience of which alteration is sufficiently shown by the fact that Mr. Blyth proposed to use the very same term as an appropriate substitute for the "Indian region" of Mr. Sclater. Australia is the great central mass of the region; it is by far the richest in varied and highly remarkable forms of life; and it therefore seems in every way fitted to give a name to the region of which it is the essential element. The limits of this region in the Pacific are somewhat obscure, but as so many of the Pacific Islands are extremely poor zoologically, this is not of great importance.

Sub-divisions of the Australian Region.—The first sub-region is the Austro-Malayan, including the islands from Celebes and Lombock on the west to the Solomon Islands on the east. The Australian sub-region comes next, consisting of Australia and Tasmania. The third, or Polynesian sub-region, will consist of all the tropical Pacific Islands, and is characterized by several peculiar genera of birds which are all allied to Australian types. The fourth, consists of New Zealand with Auckland, Chatham, and Norfolk Islands, and must be called the New Zealand sub-region.

The extreme peculiarities of New Zealand, due no doubt to its great isolation and to its being the remains of a more extensive land, have induced several naturalists to suggest that it ought justly to form a Zoological region by itself. But the inconveniences of such a procedure have been already pointed out; and when we look at its birds as a whole (they being the only class sufficiently well represented to found any conclusion upon) we find that the majority of them belong to Australian genera, and where the genera are peculiar they are most nearly related to Australian types. The preservation in these islands of a single representative of a unique order of reptiles, is, as before remarked, of the same character as the preservation of the Proteus in the caverns of Carniola; and can give the locality where it happens to have survived no claim to form a primary Zoological region, unless supported by a tolerably varied and distinctly characterized fauna, such as never exists in a very restricted and insular area.

Neotropical Region.—Mr. Sclater's original name for this region is preserved, because change of nomenclature is always an evil; and neither Professor Huxley's suggested alteration "Austro-Columbia," nor Mr. Sclater's new term "Dendrogæa," appear to be improvements. The region is essentially a tropical one, and the extra-tropical portion of it is not important enough to make the name inappropriate. That proposed by Professor Huxley is not free from the same kind of criticism, since it would imply that the region was exclusively South American, whereas a considerable tract of North America belongs to it. This region includes South America, the Antilles and tropical North America; and it possesses more peculiar families of vertebrates and genera of birds and mammalia than any other region.

Subdivisions of the Neotropical Region.—The great central mass of South America, from the shores of Venezuela to Paraguay and Eastern Peru, constitutes the chief division, and may be termed the Brazilian sub-region. It is on the whole a forest country; its most remarkable forms are highly developed arboreal types; and it exhibits all the characteristics of this rich and varied continent in their highest development.

The second, or Chilian sub-region, consists of the open plains, pampas, and mountains of the southern extremity of the continent; and we must include in it the west side of the Andes as far as the limits of the forest near Payta, and the whole of the high Andean plateaus as far as 4° of south latitude; which makes it coincide with the range of the Camelidæ and Chinchillidæ.

The third, or Mexican sub-region, consists of Central America and Southern Mexico, but it has no distinguishing characteristics except the absence of some of the more highly specialized Neotropical groups. It is, however, a convenient division as comprising the portion of the North American continent which belongs zoologically to South America.

The fourth, or Antillean sub-region, consists of the West India islands (except Trinidad and Tobago, which are detached portions of the continent and must be grouped in the first sub-region); and these reproduce, in a much less marked degree, the phenomena presented by Madagascar. Terrestrial mammals are almost entirely wanting, but the larger islands possess three genera which are altogether peculiar to them. The birds are of South American forms, but comprise many peculiar genera. Terrestrial molluscs are more abundant and varied than in any part of the globe of equal extent; and if these alone were considered, the Antilles would constitute an important Zoological region.

Nearctic Region.—This region comprises all temperate North America and Greenland. The arctic lands and islands beyond the limit of trees form a transitional territory to the Palæarctic region, but even here there are some characteristic species. The southern limit between this region and the Neotropical is a little uncertain; but it may be drawn at about the Rio Grande del Norte on the east coast, and a little north of Mazatlan on the west; while on the central plateau it descends much farther south, and should perhaps include all the open highlands of Mexico and Guatemala. This would coincide with the range of several characteristic Nearctic genera.

Distinction of the Nearctic from the Palæarctic Region.—The Nearctic region possesses twelve peculiar families of vertebrates or one-tenth of its whole number. It has also twenty-four peculiar genera of mammalia and fifty-two of birds, in each case nearly one-third of all it possesses. This proportion is very nearly the same as in the Palæarctic region, while the number of peculiar families of vertebrata is very much greater. It has been already seen that both Mr. Blyth and Professor Huxley are disposed to unite this region with the Palæarctic, while Professor Newton, in his article on birds in the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, thinks that as regards that class it can hardly claim to be more than a sub-region of the Neotropical. These views are mutually destructive, but it will be shown in the proper place, that on independent grounds the Nearctic region can very properly be maintained.

Subdivisions of the Nearctic Region.—The sub-regions here depend on the great physical features of the country, and have been in some cases accurately defined by American naturalists. First we have the Californian sub-region, consisting of California and Oregon—a narrow tract between the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific, but characterized by a number of peculiar species and by several genera found nowhere else in the region.

The second, or Rocky Mountain sub-region, consists of this great mountain range with its plateaus, and the central plains and prairies to about 100° west longitude, but including New Mexico and Texas in the South.

The third and most important sub-region, which may be termed the Alleghanian, extends eastward to the Atlantic, including the Mississippi Valley, the Alleghany Mountains, and the Eastern United States. This is an old forest district, and contains most of the characteristic animal types of the region.

The fourth, or Canadian sub-region, comprises all the northern part of the continent from the great lakes to the Arctic ocean; a land of pine-forests and barren wastes, characterized by Arctic types and the absence of many of the genera which distinguish the more southern portions of the region.

Observations on the series of Sub-regions.—The twenty-four sub-regions here adopted were arrived at by a careful consideration of the distribution of the more important genera, and of the materials, both zoological and geographical, available for their determination; and it was not till they were almost finally decided on, that they were found to be equal in number throughout all the regions—four in each. As this uniformity is of great advantage in tabular and diagrammatic presentations of the distribution of the several families, I decided not to disturb it unless very strong reasons should appear for adopting a greater or less number in any particular case. Such however have not arisen; and it is hoped that these divisions will prove as satisfactory and useful to naturalists in general as they have been to the author. Of course, in a detailed study of any region much more minute sub-division may be required; but even in that case it is believed that the sub-regions here adopted, will be found, with slight modifications, permanently available for exhibiting general results.

I give here a table showing the proportionate richness and speciality of each region as determined by its families of vertebrates and genera of mammalia and birds; and also a general table of the regions and sub-regions, arranged in the order that seems best to show their mutual relations.

Comparative Richness of the Six Regions.

Regions. Vertebrata. Mammalia. Birds.
Families. Peculiar
Genera. Peculiar
Genera. Peculiar
Palæarctic 136 3 100 35 35 174 57 33
Ethiopian 174 22 140 90 64 294 179 60
Oriental 164 12 118 55 46 340 165 48
Australian 141 30 72 44 61 298 189 64
Neotropical 168 44 130 103 79 683 576 86
Nearctic 122 12 74 24 32 169 52 31

Table of Regions and Sub-regions.

Regions. Sub-regions. Remarks.
I. Palæarctic 1. North Europe.
2. Mediterranean (or S. Eu.) Transition to Ethiopian.
3. Siberia. Transition to Nearctic.
4. Manchuria (or Japan) Transition to Oriental.
II. Ethiopian 1. East Africa. Transition to Palæarctic.
2. West Africa.
3. South Africa.
4. Madagascar.
III. Oriental 1. Hindostan (or Central Ind.) Transition to Ethiopian.
2. Ceylon.
3. Indo-China (or Himalayas) Transition to Palæarctic.
4. Indo-Malaya. Transition to Australian.
IV. Australian 1. Austro-Malaya. Transition to Oriental.
2. Australia.
3. Polynesia.
4. New Zealand. Transition to Neotropical.
V. Neotropical 1. Chili (or S. Temp. Am.) Transition to Australian.
2. Brazil.
3. Mexico (or Trop. N. Am.) Transition to Nearctic.
4. Antilles.
VI. Nearctic 1. California.
2. Rocky Mountains. Transition to Neotropical.
3. Alleghanies (or East U. S.)
4. Canada. Transition to Palæarctic.