« AnteriorContinuar »
In the New World the Viverridm are entirely unrepresented, and, as a rule, may be said to belong to the tropical portions of the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions, being entirely absent in the Australian Region It may also be again remarked that the Malagasy Sub-region is quite peculiar as regards its Viverridm, six wellmarked genera of this family being entirely restricted to that anomalous island, whilst the seventh, Viverricula, is probably only an introduction from the Oriental Region
In the Palsearctic Region the Viverridm are feebly represented by a few scattered species which have strayed from the south into its limits, such as the Common Genet (Genetta vulgaris) and the Ichneumon (Herpestes ichneumon), which are both met with in Southern Spain and Algeria. As a rule, again it may be said that the Ethiopian and Oriental Viverridm are not only specifically but generically different. But one large genus, Herpestes, has its twenty species divided pretty equally between the two Regions, and the typical Civets, Viverra, are found both in Africa and India.
A third family of the ^Eluroid Carnivora has been necessarily formed for the reception of the Aard-Wolf (Proteles cristatus). This is a hyenoid form well distinguished by its extremely peculiar dentition. The AardWolf appears to be restricted to the southern and eastern portions of Africa, and constitutes one of the most characteristic forms of Ethiopian mammal-life.
Finally, closing the ^Eluroid series, we have the small family of Hysenas (Hymnidm) containing three wellmarked species, which, taken on the whole, must be denominated Ethiopian, as they all three occur within the limits of that Region, and two of them at the present epoch are restricted to it. But the Striped Hyrena (Hymna striata) extends from North-east Africa through Arabia and Persia into Northern India, where it is common in the North-western and Central Provinces. It must therefore be registered as a common inhabitant of the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions.
Section III.—Distribution Of The Dog-like
The Cynoid, or Dog-like Carnivora, consists only of the single family Canidm. Of this the great mass of species (from thirty to forty in number) belongs to the true Dogs (Canis), which, as we shall see, are very widely distributed over the earth's surface, whilst the three remaining genera are isolated forms, each of one species only, and are restricted to narrow geographical limits.
The Dogs (Canis) are amongst the most hardy of known mammals, and are spread, as already stated, over the whole earth, being apparently adaptable to all the zones, whether tropical, temperate, or frigid. The anomalous island of Madagascar is the only land to which they have not penetrated, that is, if we allow the Dingo of Australia to be an indigenous and not an introduced species, which is a point open to question. In the Arctic Regions the Polar Fox (Canis lagopm) extends as far north as any other carnivorous mammal, except perhaps the Polar Bear, and is found far above the Arctic Circle in both the Old and the New World alike. On the other hand, in the extreme south of the New
World we find the Magellanic Dog (Canis mxujeUanicus), which extends to the very farthest extremity of the American continent, while in Southern Africa the Blackbacked Jackal (C. mesomelas) is met with in the vicinity of Cape Town, and in Australia the Dingo, now only known in a semi-domestic state, is found over the whole continent. But although, as we have shown, the genus Can is is so widely spread over all parts of the earth, the individual species are in some cases confined to restricted areas. Many well-known members of the genus—such as the Wolf, the Common Fox, and the Jackal—have a very wide distribution. But other species of Dog have limited ranges, and not more than two or three of them are usually met with in exactly the same district. Examples of this restricted distribution are afforded by the Maned Wolf (Canis jubata) of Brazil and Argentina, by the Corsac (Canis corsac) of Central Asia, and by several of the African Fennecs. But as a rule it may be taken that the various species of Dogs are hardy animals with extended areas of distribution.
Besides the genus Canis, the Dog family contains three other well-marked genera, each embracing but one species. One of these, the Bush-dog (Icticyon venaticus), is found only in Brazil and British Guiana, the two others, the Hunting-dog (Lycaon pictus) and the Long-eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis) are both peculiar to the Ethiopian Region, where the Lycaon appears to have a considerable range from north to south, but Otocyon is only known from the Cape Colony.
Section IV.—Distribution Of The Bear-like
We now come to the third and last division of the terrestrial Carnivora, which consists of those allied to the Bears and therefore denominated Arctoid. This division embraces three families—the Ursidm, or Bears, which have a fairly wide distribution in both Hemispheres, the Procyonidm, or Raccoons, which, with a single exception, are confined to the New World, and the Mustelidm, or Weasels, which belong mostly to the Old World with a comparatively few representatives in the New World.
The Bears (Ursidm), which head the group, contain, after the Cats, the largest and most destructive of the carnivorous animals of the present day. There has been a tendency of late days, unnecessarily, as we think, to augment the specific forms of the true Bears (Ursus). The species, recognizable by obvious external characters, do not appear to exceed ten in number. Taken as a whole the genus Ursus presents some very interesting features in its distribution. Its generic area embraces the whole of the Palaearctic and Nearctic Regions and extends into the northern confines of the Oriental. In the Ethiopian Region Ursus is entirely absent, and constitutes an important lipomorph. In the Neotropical Region it is represented by a single species, the Spectacled Bear (U. ornatus) of the Andes. In the extreme north of the globe the Polar Bear (U. maritimus) ranges round the Arctic Circle. The next northern species met with is the Brown Bear (U. arctos), which, under different forms and varieties, occupies the whole Palfearctic Region, and is represented in the Nearctic by- the scarcely distinct Grizzly Bear (U. horibilis) under various forms. A third species is the Black Bear of North America (J7. americanus) which is represented in Japan by U. japonicus and throughout Central Asia by the Himalayan Bear (U. tibetanus). Finally, in the Oriental Region we meet with the Malayan Bear (U. malayanus), which is found not only in the Malay Peninsula but extends on one side into the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo, and on the other side through Burma into North-eastern India. It is a curious fact that the Malayan Bear is entirely frugivorous, while its huge ally the Polar Bear, with exactly the same dentition, in all probability eats little else than flesh.
Besides the true Bear (Ursus), two other genera, eachcontaining but a single species, must be placed in the same family. These are the Sloth Bear (Melursus) of India, which is restricted to the Indian Peninsula and Ceylon, and must be therefore regarded as a purely Oriental type, and the iEluropus (JSluropus melanoleucus), which occurs only in the high mountains of Eastern Tibet and must be attributed to the Palfearctic Region.
As already stated the Procyonidm, or Raccoons, which embrace six genera and about nine species, are inhabitants of the New World with one singular exception. This is the peculiar Panda (JZlurus fidgens) of Nepaul, which, although at one time believed to belong to the Bear family, is now usually held to be most nearly related to the Raccoons of America. With this one exception the Raccoons