صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

20. Species--MONTICOLUS NOBIS. Size, large. Structure, upon the whole, similar to the above. Tail equal to more than two-thirds of the animal, and less depressed. Scull and head less depressed. Intermediate incisors of lower jaw ranged entirely within or behind the line of the rest.

Colour-above, deeper than the above, or bistre brown; below, sordid hoary, vaguely defined, except on the edge of the lips and chin ; limbs nearly as dark as the body. Fur longer and rough, or porrect from the skin in a considerable degree.

3d. Species– INDIGITATUS NOBIS. General form and proportions of Leptonyx, to which it is affined. Habit of body more vermiform than in the above. Tail but half the length of the animal. Toes very short, and more than half buried in the palmary mass.

Nails short and worn, but not depressed nor truncated, as in Leptonyx. Size, medial. Colour-same as in the last, but deeper still, or dusky bistre ; paler and ruddier on the body below, and albescent on the head below; but the colours not well defined, and only really distinct (except in shade) on the inferior surface of the head. Character of the fur as in the last, and indeed in all the mountain species.

4th Species-AURO-BRUNNEUS NOBIS. Size, small. Habit of body still more vermiform. Tail less than two-thirds of the length of the body. Toes and nails fully developed. Fur longish and rough, as before. Colour-rich chesnut brown (the fruit) above; and golden red below and on the extremities.

Remarks.—The three last species are confined to the mountains, as is the first species to the plains at their foot. The dimensions in inches, and the weight of the four species are as follow :

[blocks in formation]

Art. VII.- On the Geographic Distribution of the Vulturide, Falco

nida, and Strigide ; being the first of a series of memoirs intended to illustrate the Geographic Distribution of the Ornithological Kingdom. By Wm. JAMESON, Esq. Assistant Surgeon Bengal Medical Serrice, 8c.

Of all the departments of zoology, there is probably not one which has attracted less the attention of naturalists than that of the geographic distribution of the animal kingdom ; although from a study of it many details may be derived of essential importance to several of the other branches of natural history. To elucidate partially the distribution of one division of zoology, viz. ornithology, is the subject of the series of memoirs intended to be presented to the Society.

In entering upon a subject like the present, we do so with the greatest diffidence, from the confusion which has existed, and still reigns in the systematic department of ornithology. The number of synonymous genera—some authors applying a certain suite of characters to a particular genus, others another suite either more or less extensive, and some applying the name, but at the same time ignorant of the characters upon which the genus is based, of which we have many examples, and these too in works published at the present day-have presented to us difficulties of no ordinary nature. To overcome these, we have examined minutely the magnificent collection in the Edinburgh Royal Museum, as well as the principal public and private collections throughout England.

The system of arrangement we have adopted is that of the Baron Cuvier, with certain modifications, which is undoubtedly the best at the present moment. The system of Macleay, when properly followed out, will probably however supersede all others. The attempts which have as yet been made are very unsatisfactory, the best is that of Vigors. Mr. Swainson in trying to find out his analogies, does not on many occasions at all take into consideration the possibility of many groups of birds having disappeared from the surface of our globe. His views, no doubt, are very ingenious, but must be received with due caution. We have adopted several of the new genera lately proposed by Vigors, Lesson, Swainson, &c. these we shall notice in their proper place.

When we take a general view of the ornithology of Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America, we find that it is in a manner unknown. Of Europe and North America we have no doubt complete lists of the species, but the remarks on their distribution are of a loose, and unsatisfactory nature. The local Faunas published are few in

[graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small]

number, and in general they have not been drawn up with that care and precision, and upon the system, now necessary, authors being content in mentioning the mere occurrence of the species. In regard to the birds of Britain, we have some good details in the works of Montague, Yarrel, Fleming, Selby, Jenyns. Again the works of Temminck, Naumann, Buhm, Berger, Gould, &c., afford us some valuable information upon the birds of Europe generally. The ornithology of Asia has not attracted the particular attention of any naturalist, at least we have no complete work. In the writings of Horsfield, Raffles, Sonnerat, Leschenault, Duvaucel, Diard, Sykes, Vigors, Franklin, Gould, Hodgson, Dussumier, Belanger, Boié, Kuhl, Van Hasselt, &c.,—some of whom forfeited their lives in the pursuit of this their favourite study-we have many valuable details.

In regard to the birds of Africa, the works of Le Vaillant stand preeminently forward, and which have increased much our knowledge in this department; but his researches are almost entirely confined to the southern part of that continent. To Dr. Smith we are also indebted for much valuable information, and we look forward with much interest to his work, which is soon to issue from the press. Mr. Swainson has added a little to our knowledge in regard to the birds of western Africa, but there is still a vast deal to be done in this quarter. Ruppell has published some excellent observations on the birds of Nubia and Abyssinia, and the ornithology of Egypt has been partially elucidated by Savigny in his great work.

To Australia the same remark applies. We have no complete general work. From the writings of Brown, Lewin, White, Vigors, Horsfield, King, Phillips, Lesson, Quoy, Gaimard, Poren, Lansdorf, Gould, much valuable information may be obtained. The last individual mentioned is at present engaged publishing a work, illustrated with figures of the heads of the birds of New Holland, and we hope soon to have a complete Fauna from the same author, who is at present travelling through that country in order to illustrate its zoology.

The northern half of the new world has received much greater attention, and its ornithology is better known than any other continent with the exception of Europe. For this we are indebted to the indefatigable exertions of Wilson, Audubon, Prince Lucien Bonaparte, Nuttal, Ord, Richardson, Swainson, Sabine, Ross, Douglass, Lichtenstein, &c.

With regard to the ornithology of the southern continent of America, we are lamentably deficient in information. From the writings of Spix, Prince D'Neuwied, D'Orbigny, D'Azara, Swainson, some information may be obtained.

From numerous general works much valuable information may be received, to notice all of which would occupy too much space. Among the authors we may mention Temminck, Cuvier, Latham, Shaw, Buffon, Vieillot

, Lesson, Wagler, Jardine, Selby, Drahiez, Lichtenstein, Illiger &c. To Illiger, however, we are indebted for having first taken up the particular subject of ornithological distribution, and which he has handled in a masterly manner, in a paper published in the transactions of the Royal Academy of Berlin ; nor did he direct his attention to the distribution of the ornithological kingdom alone. In the same transactions we find him discussing mammalia in a similar manner. Illiger, however, in his paper on birds only notices the distribution of about three thousand species, being little more than one-half of what is now known; and, moreover, most of his observations are now inaccurate, our information in this department being much more extensive. Prince Lucien Bonaparte has lately published some observations upon this subject

, but probably too general to be of much value ; and, lastly, we may state that Mr. Swainson has lately devoted some attention to this subject

, with what success, we shall afterwards have occasion to point out : in the mean time we may remark, that most of the observations which he has published seem to be more for the purpose of supporting a favourite theory, than tending to advance ornithological geography.

We cannot omit noticing that several excellent monographs of particular families have been published, among which we would particuon the Trochilide-Gould on the Rhamphastide and Trogonide-and monographs brought into one focus. A continuation of this work will be found in Oken's Isis. Numerous papers on genera and species have been published in the transactions of various Societies and Periodicals, which however we shall notice when we have occasion to consult them. as far as the distribution of birds is concerned, we shall proceed to Having now given a rapid sketch of the present state of ornithology

our communication. visions, viz. Ist. Those which are universally distributed; that is, found

Birds, considered geographically, may be divided into four grand diin all the great continents of the world. 2nd. Those which are gene

or found in three or more continents. 3rd. Partially distributed, or those found in but one continent; which last division may be again subdivided with those which are generally distributed

Of those found in two continents. And 4th. Continently Coroaghout the continent, or confined to a part, or island, belonging

the subject of

rally distributed, distributed,

to that continent.

U u

[graphic]

For these four grand divisions which we have now proposed, and for the purpose of simplification, and to prevent repetition, we have adopted the following terms :- To the first division we apply the term Katholiko-dianamial; to the second, Geniko-dianamial; to the third, Adikodianamial; and to the fourth, Topiko-dianamial.

In illustration of this arrangement, which we think, in conjunction with a continual tabular view, is well adapted for tracing the distribution of the ornithological kingdom, we may notice a few examples. Belonging to our first, or Katholiko-dianamial division, we have the genera Falco, Turdus, Anas, Columba, Fringilla, Muscicapa, Corvus, Hirundo, Ardea, &c. To our second, or Geniko-dianamial division, belong the genera Vultur, Picus, Mycteria, Phænicopterus, Trogon, Upupa, Oriolus, Tetrao nacifraga, &c. To our third, or Adiko-dianamial division, belong the genera, Bucco, Trochilus Ocypterus, Accentor, Buceros, &c. And to our fourth, or Topiko-dianamial division, belong the genera Sericulus, Buphaga, Eurylaimus, Menura, Alectura, Musophaga, Calyptomina &c.

No doubt objections may be thrown out against the system of arrangement now proposed, in particular in regard to the last two divisions; for in nearly all the continents we have tropical, temperate, and arctic climates ; and it is seldom that genera extend throughout all these ; nor do we mean to infer this ; all that we suppose is, that species belonging to any particular genus noticed extend more or less over that continent.

Birds of prey from the most early times have been divided into two grand divisions, viz. the Diurnal and the Nocturnal; the former comprehending the Vultures and Hawks; the latter the Owls. We shall therefore 'first notice the Vultures.

Vultures taken as a whole belong to our second, or Geniko-dianamial division, being found in all the continents of the world, with the exception of New Holland; true Vultures never being found in it, as far as we are aware, their distribution not extending further in that direction than the Indian islands. No doubt Mr. Swainson bas described his rasorial type of the Vultures as peculiar to this continent. With all due deference to Mr. Swainson as a naturalist, we cannot but state that we have here a most extraordinary instance of the danger of being misled by a favourite theory, for in this instance Mr. Swainson is as much entitled, in fact more so, to consider the common wild Turkey of North America as his rasorial type of that group ; it presenting a greater analogy to the Vultures than the Alectura, Latham, which in its habits and manners is a true gallinaceous bird.

But although the Vultures considered as a family present a very

« السابقةمتابعة »