« AnteriorContinuar »
of them large animals living in vast herds in the more open country of eastern and southern Africa, take up the greater number of these genera. These are perhaps, at the present epoch, the most notable feature of the African Fauna, but will doubtless, owing to the unceasing persecution of hunters and sportsmen, become rapidly less so. Already the larger Antelopes are nearly extinct in the Cape
Colony south of the Orange River, and there can be little doubt that, unless special precautions are taken, the large Mammals of Africa will very soon disappear, like those of the United States, before the express and repeater.
Beside the numerous genera of Antelopes, the Ethiopian Region has exclusive possession of two other conspicuous forms of the Ungulates—the Hippopotamus (Fig. 15) and
the Giraffe (Fig. 16), each of which forms a special family
while it shares the Rhinoceroses and the Chevrotains with the Oriental, and the Horses (Equide) with the Palæarctic Region. The only important family of Ungulates not found in the Ethiopian Region is the Deer-family (Cervida). The total absence of this otherwise widespread family it is difficult to explain. Palæontology does not help us much, since the members of the Deer-tribe appear to have been already well established and abundant in Europe during early Pliocene times, and were contemporaneous with Antelopes and other Ungulates, which have availed themselves of the opportunity of spreading southwards to Africa, while the Cervidæ have apparently remained obstinately attached to the Palæarctic Region.
The Sub-order Proboscidea containing the Elephants is in these days represented only in the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions. The Hyraxes (Hyracidæ) are absolutely confined to the Ethiopian Region, and constitute one of its most signifi. cant forms of mammal life, as not being elsewhere met with.
Turning now to the Rodents, we find that the Ethiopian Region possesses representatives of a considerable number of genera, twenty-seven of which, out of a total of thirtynine, are confined to the Region. Two of these genera are sufficiently distinct to be entitled to family rank. These are, first, Anomalurus, a form resembling the flying squirrels in having a flap of skin available for imperfect flight extended between the fore and hind limbs. But the Anomalures differ from the true Flying Squirrels (Pteromys) in having a long cartilaginous process extending from the elbow-joint to support the parachute, and also in being provided with strong imbricated scales attached to the lower surface of the tail, which are probably of assistance in climbing.1
A new genus of Anomaluridæ (Zenkerella), lately described by Herr Matschie, has the imbricated scales on the tail, but no parachute. See P. Z. S. 1898, p. 450.
The second peculiar Rodent of family rank is Lophiomys, a curious arboreal animal allied to the rats, but differing from them in several anatomical features, and in having a long crest of hair upon the back. Only one species is known, which is restricted to North-East Africa.
The distribution of a third Ethiopian family of Rodents (Octodontidæ) is particularly interesting, as it is represented in South America by a considerable number of genera, and is not found elsewhere except in the Ethiopian and on the borders between the Ethiopian and Palæarctic Regions. There are four African genera of this family, each with a single species, so that in the Old World the group appears to be in a state of decay. The only light thrown on this curious case of discontinuous distribution is the occurrence of a fossil genus (Pellegrinia) allied to the African forms in the Pleistocene beds of Sicily. This indicates that meinbers of this family once had a wider distribution northwards than what they now retain.
The Carnivora are well represented in the Ethiopian Region. This is especially the case with the family of Civets (Viverridæ), only found elsewhere in the Palæarctic and Oriental Regions. Out of a total number of seventeen genera, three only are found outside this region, and out of the remaining fourteen, six are confined to the island of Madagascar.
The Aard-wolf (Proteles), which is so distinct from its fellow Carnivores as to be allowed to constitute a family of itself (Fig. 17, p. 95), is restricted to the Ethiopian Region, and of the Hyenas (Hyænide), only one of the three species strays outside its limits, into the western borders of the Oriental Region.
Another remarkable fact about the Ethiopian Carni
vora is the entire absence of the otherwise widespread family of Bears (Ursidae). This group has existed in Europe since the time when the Upper Pliocene beds were laid down, and remains of Bears have been also found in the Siwalik deposits of India, which are possibly
of even greater age. It seems, therefore, very strange that the Bears should never have reached Africa, when so many of the other genera found in the same deposits have managed to do so.
The Insectivora of the Ethiopian Region are fairly numerous, and show considerable specialisation. Out of