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Notice of Motion for next meeting of Asiatic Society. Each Section, Committee and sub-Committee of the Society shall be authorized to elect its own Secretary.
August 4th, 1847.
The above notice having been duly recorded, and thanks voted for all donations to the Library and Museum, the meeting adjourned to Wednesday the 1st of September.
Report of Curator, Zoological Department.
The only donations I have to acknowledge on the occasion of the present meeting, are as follow :
1. From H. Alexander, Esq. C. S. A very fine and perfect skin of the Ursus isabellinus, Horsfield, v. syriacus, Hemprich and Ehrenberg. Of several skins received, at various times, of this chiefly trans-Himalayan Bear, the present specimen is the first that could be properly mounted as a stuffed specimen.
2. From R. W. G. Frith, Esq. A full grown specimen of the Tokke' Lizard of the Tenasserim provinces, Platydactylus gecko, (Lin.)
3. From E. Lindstedt, Esq. A large specimen of Dipsas trigonatus, Schneider, procured in the neighbourhood.
August 4th, 1847.
The group selected for exhibition this evening is that of the Bucerotida, or Hornbills, with certain genera allied to them and I have the pleasure to call attention to a particularly fine series of these remarkable birds. The following are the species now mounted in the Society's Museum; which I shall endeavour, as far as appears practicable, to arrange into minor groups. Firstly, a conspicuous series presents itself of species, amongst which the casque attains its maximum of development; being in particular well elevated posteriorly, where it rises abruptly from the forehead, and generally protrudes backward over it (instead of rising and gradually sloping forward from the middle of the forehead, as in various other species). The sexes resemble each other, black and white-save in one remarkable exceptionbeing the only colours of the plumage: and the medial portion of the throat (more or less broad) is well clad with feathers.
At the head of this series range two remarkable species, both for size and for the peculiar form of the casque, which is altogether different in the two :
but they resemble, and differ from all the rest, in having a white tail crossed by a black band, occupying its subterminal fourth or fifth; and the first species alone has a white wing-band, and the white of its occiput and neck is strongly tinged with fulvous.
1. B. cavatus, Shaw, Vieillot: B. homrai, Hodgson, As. Res. XVIII, pt. II, 169 et seq., with coloured figure and views of the casque at different ages: probably B. bicornis, Lin., in which case its range of distribution would extend to the Philippines. Adult male and female, and skeleton of a female, from Arracan; presented by Capt. Phayre: and large head of an Assamese specimen, that was presented by Dr. McCosh. This great species inhabits the more extensive hill forests of all India, but would seem to be considerably more numerous, and also much easier to procure, along the whole eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal, from the Straits of Malacca northward to Sylhet and Assam. The female is rather smaller than the male, and (as also in B. rhinoceros and B. pica) may be readily distinguished by having the hindmost portion of the casque pale, instead of black.
2. B. rhinoceros, Lin.: and the young, probably B. niger, Shaw (nec Vieillot), B. sylvestris, Vieillot, and B. diadematus, Drapiez. Very fine adult male, and young; presented by the Rev. F. T. Lindstedt: and adult female, presented by the Rev. J. Boaz: all from Malacca. Inhabits the Malayan peninsula and archipelago. The sexual differences are pointed out in XIV, 188. Next may be introduced the species before referred to, as constituting an exception to the general coloration of the others of this group. Its upper parts are of a dusky greyish-brown, rather than black; the head, neck, and thighs are deep ferruginous; the lower-parts and facial mask (as in B. cavatus) are alone black; and the tail is fulvous-white, as are often the exterior wingfeathers, to a greater or less extent (even on the two wings of the same bird) : but the casque is broad and flat posteriorly, protruding far backward over the forehead; and the nearest affinity appears to be with B. cavatus, of which some authors have even considered it the young.
3. B. hydrocorax, Lin.: B. bicornis, var., Shaw; B. cristatus, Vieillot; B. platyrhynchus, Pearson, X, 652. Specimen described in XII, 988. This, with the specimen of B. panayensis, was presented with the Macao collection by R. Inglis, Esq., as noticed in V, 249: both species inhabit the Moluccas. The next three are very closely allied. Colour black, with white abdomen and wing-tips, and all or part of the four outer tail-feathers on each side: the casque high, simple, well projected backward over the forehead, compressed and pointed to the front, where it advances at a more or less acute angle with the ridge of the upper mandible.
4. B. pica, Scopoli: B. malabaricus, var. B, Latham; B. monoceros, and probably B. violaceous, Shaw: Bagma Dunnase, White, As. Res. IV, 119:
described in XII, 993 et seq. Casque large, much compressed, with a great black mark occupying the larger portion of its ridge and sides in adults, but never descending upon the upper mandible: the three outer tail-feathers white, and the fourth either partially or completely so. Inhabits the Indian peninsula generally, even to Cuttack. Adult male and female, from Chyebassa; presented by Capt. Tickell: another adult male, from Goomsoor; presented by Capt. McPherson: and another old female, with nearly half of the upper mandible broken away, but the casque uninjured; from Cuttack, presented by Dr. Gurney Turner of Midnapore. The last was shot
with its upper mandible thus broken, and the edges of the fracture worn away, as it now appears in the stuffed specimen.
5. B. albirostris, Shaw, Vieillot : B. malabaricus, Lathan.; B. leucogaster, nobis, X, 922 (the young): described in XII, 995. Differs from the last in its inferior size; in having only the terminal portion of all but its middle tail-feathers white; and in the casque being much wider (as if inflated), with the black mark greatly reduced, occupying the tip only of its ridge, but invariably extending downward upon the upper mandible. In the female, this black mark is less defined, often occupies as much as half of the ridge of the casque, and extends even to occupy the tip of the upper mandible; while the cutting edges of both mandibles are also black. This species inhabits Bengal, Nepal, the sub-Himalayan region further west, also Assam, Sylhet, Arracan, and the Tenasserim provinces; but not Southern India, whence the name first bestowed by Latham is inadmissible. I observed it to be tolerably common in the jungles of the Midnapore district. Six specimens retained: two from Bengal; two from Arracan, presented by Capts. Phayre and Abbott ; and two from Tenasserim, presented by the Rev. J. Barbe; also a head with unusually large bill and casque, which may perhaps, however, belong to the following species.
6. B. intermedius, nobis: B. violaceus of Wagler, apud Lord Arthur Hay, Madr. Journ. XIII, 148: probably B. malabaricus of Sumatra, apud Raffles: vide P. 10 ante. Resembles the last, but with the wholly white outer tailfeathers of B. pica. Inhabits the Malayan peninsula, where very common about the latitude of Penang, and in Prince of Wales' Island; but I have never seen it in collections made at Malacca. A young specimen, presented (with a Penang collection) by Dr. A. Campbell of Darjeeling.
The next is nearly allied to the two last, but has no white on the belly and tips of the wings, but only on the terminal third of its four outer tail-feathers on each side: the presumed male, however, has a white superciliary coronal circle, which is represented by obscure silvery-greyish in the other sex. Bill and casque wholly yellowish-white, except at the extreme base of the mandibles and on the hindmost portion of the casque, where the colour is black.
7. B. malayanus, Raffles: B. bicolor, Eyton; B. Ellioti, A. Hay, who describes the young as that of the next species, Madr. Journ. XIII, 152: probably B. albirostris of Java, apud Horsfield :* females (?) described in XII, 995. Common in the Malayan peninsula. Two females (?), from Malacca; presented by the Rev. F. J. Lindstedt: another, presented by J. Middleton, Esq.
In the following series of species, the casque is often wanting altogether, or merely indicated; and when present is generally very low, and slopes forward with a gradual curve from the middle of the forehead, where its hindmost portion is (more or less completely) concealed by the plumage. The two next alone (of all the species before me) exhibit some tendency in the casque to protrude a little backward, in old and fine specimens only; but even then the bulge is hidden by the feathers of the forehead.
8. B. nigrirostris, nobis: adults described as those of the preceding species by Lord Arthur Hay, Madr. Journ. XIII, 151. Plumage exactly as in B. malayanus, except that the outer tail-feathers are not so deeply white-tipped (viz. 23 in., instead of 3 to 4 in.); and the size also is inferior, the wing barely exceeding 11 in., instead of being from 12 to 13 in.: the young further differ in having the white tips to the outer tail-feathers spotted over with black. The bill and casque are black in adults, in the young white and the form of the casque refers this species to the present series of Hornbills; it being low, thinly compressed towards the front, and abruptly truncate anteriorly; with a longitudinal ridge on each side in old birds, occasioning a broad shallow groove above and another below it. As the beak of Raffles's malayanus, when "surmounted by a moderate-sized crest, which sloped gradually in front to the curvature of the bill," is described as "yellowish-white," I conclude that his specimen was a young male of the preceding species, rather than of the present one, which I suspect would show much black on the bill when the casque was so far developed. Both species inhabit the Malayan peninsula : and at present we have only a specimen of the young of B. nigrirostris, from Malacca; presented by R. W. G. Frith, Esq.
9. B. birostris, Scopoli: B. ginginianus, Shaw: Putteal Dunnase, White, As. Res. IV, 121. Size small: colour grey, with a white abdomen and ill-defined whitish supercilium; the tail-feathers having a black subterminal band, and white tips, the latter less developed on the middle pair; great alars also blackish, with white tips. Throat well clad with feathers. Casque low and compressed, following the curve of the bill, with the extremity of its ridge prolonged acutely forward in old birds. Inhabits India generally, but I have never seen it from the countries eastward (not even from Assam). In the Midnapore jungles, I observed it constantly in pairs; instead of in *The name albirostris, indeed, applies much better to this species.
small flocks like B. albirostris, and I believe the members generally of the section with which we commenced. Whether others of the present series live also in pairs is worthy of observation. We have specimens of male, female, and young, from Chyebassa; presented by Capt. Tickell.
The next has no casque, but merely a sharp edge to the upper mandible, which is broad at base with an obtuse angle on each side. In XIII, 394, I remarked its affinity for the African B. limbatus and B. flavirostris of Ruppell; but have not now the opportunity of consulting that author's publications.
10. B. gingalensis, Shaw: B. bengalensis, Gray. Size small: colour duskygrey, paler and tinged with rufous below, especially on the under tail-coverts : a slight whitish supercilium: wing-feathers narrowly edged with pale fulvous: the primaries and all but the middle tail-feathers white-tipped. Bill amberyellow. Throat feathered along the median line only. Inhabits Malabar and Ceylon. Specimen from Ceylon, presented by Lord Arthur Hay.
The next has a low keel-shaped ridge, sloping off to the front; but is nevertheless somewhat allied to the last. Its throat is naked, or in the young merely shows two single rows of ill developed feathers along the ⚫ middle.
11. B. carinatus, nobis, XV, 187. Size moderate, or that of B. pica. Colour green-glossed black, with the basal two-thirds of the tail drabcoloured, the wing-feathers slightly margined paler: head fully crested. Bill black, in the one sex, which seems always to have the abdominal region pale ; in the other, yellowish-white, with black along the summit of the casque nearly to the end, and also occupying the basal two-thirds of the lower mandible, and the tomiæ of the upper one. A young specimen is quite similar to the adults in plumage, but has no trace of casque, and the bill is nigrescent with a whitish ridge and tip. Inhabits the Malayan peninsula ; and the pair set up were procured at Malacca, and presented by the Rev. F. J. Lindstedt: another pair, presented by Mr. E. Lindstedt, is preserved for the Hon'ble Company's museum; and I have seen several others.
That which next follows has but a low slight casque, continued (as usual) along the basal two-thirds of the upper mandible, and then sloping off to the front; but is very remarkable for the great development of the feathers that impend the nostrils, which have stiff hair-like disunited webs, and reach forward beyond the truncated extremity of the casque; the frontal feathers being also moderately long and erect, and the whole, with the lengthened occipital plumes, forming a showy ornament.
12. B. comatus, Raffles: B. lugubris, Begbie, vide Ann. Mag. N. H. 1846 p. 405: adult male described by Lord Arthur Hay, Madr. Journ. XIII, 149 In this species, the males have the finely plumed head, neck, breast, abdomen