Imágenes de páginas





THE Hyraxes and Elephants are nowadays often annexed to the Ungulates, and arranged only as Sub-orders of that great Order, to some members of which they have been shown to be more or less allied by forms of life now extinct. But as, in the present case, we are dealing only with existing mammals, it seems better to give to these two groups their full rank as “Orders,” which they have an abundance of special characters to justify. The Hyraxes, of which, taking Mr. Thomas's recently published account 1 as our guide, about fourteen species belonging to the single genus Hyrax are more or less accurately known, may be regarded as a characteristic form of the Ethiopian Region. As shown by Mr. Thomas's map (op. cit. p. 58) they are distributed all round the coast of Africa from Senegal through the Cape to Upper Egypt, and also in many places, where they have been searched for, in the interior. Beyond the African continent they extend through Arabia into the borders of Palestine, where the celebrated “coney” of the Scriptures (Hyrax syriacus) is met with. The Hyraxes are, in most cases, inhabitants of arid rocks, but in other cases are strictly arboreal in their habits.

| "On the species of the Hyracoidea," by 0. Thomas, P. 2. S. 1892,

P. 50.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1. The Order Hyraces contains a single genus (Hyrax) forming a single family Hyracidæ with about fourteen known species.

2. They are found only in the Ethiopian Region, including Arabia and South Palestine.


Of this grand form of animal life, formerly much more abundant on the earth's surface, there remain in the present epoch but two species, one of which is a characteristic form of the Ethiopian Region and the other of the Indian Region. The African Elephant, which, besides its external peculiarities, should be referred from the structure of its teeth according to some authorities to the sub-genus Loxodon of the palæontologists, was formerly found in suitable spots all over the continent of Africa from the Sahara and Upper Nubia down to the Cape. In these days it has in most places been driven by the sportsmen and hunters for ivory far into the interior, but is still to be found in enormous herds in some of the more remote localities of Africa. In the Cape Colony the only spot where it is said still to exist is the forests of the Knysna.

The Indian Elephant (Elephas indicus) inhabits the forest-lands of British India, Ceylon, Burma, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra. Its occurrence in Borneo in a wild state has not yet been certainly ascertained. In India, according to Mr. Blanford, Elephants are still found wild along the base of the Himalayas, also in the great forest-countries between the Ganges and the Kistna, in the Western Ghats, and in the forest-clad ranges of Nagpore, but in former times their range was naturally much more extensive. Attempts have been made to separate the Elephants of Ceylon and Sumatra from the continental form as different species, but though there are some grounds for so doing, the distinctions have not been satisfactorily established. The Indian Elephant may be regarded as a characteristic form of the Oriental Region, as the African Elephant is of the Ethiopian.

Although we are here only dealing with species of mammals actually in existence, it should be borne in mind that the Mammoth (E. primigenius) has only comparatively recently ceased to exist on the earth, as is proved by the frozen carcasses of this Elephant that have been exhumed in the tundras of Northern Siberia, and by the enormous abundance of its fossil teeth, which are, even at the present day, a recognized article of commerce. The Mammoth had a very different distribution from the two existing Elephants and was essentially Palearctic in its range, although it appears to have extended across Behring Strait into Alaska.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1. The Order Proboscidea contains only the genus Elephas (forming a family Elephantidæ) with two existing species.

2. One of these belongs to the Oriental and the other to the Ethiopian Region.



The Ungulates which we now arrive at, and which constitute the ninth order of mammals according to the arrangement here adopted, contain the greater number of the largest and most highly developed forms of the whole class of mammals and embrace in their varied series nearly all the animals (such as the Horse, Sheep, Goat, Ox, Deer, Camel, and Pig) which are most useful to mankind, although we cannot always recognize the original stocks from which the domesticated forms of these animals have descended. The mode of the distribution of these Mammals over the earth's surface is, therefore, of special interest, and we must say something about each of the groups into which they are usually divided in classification. The 300 species of Ungulates usually recognized constitute about seventy-one genera which are referred to thirteen families. Some of these families, however, have only one or two species at present existing to represent them, and the great mass of Ungulates, taking them as a whole, belong to the Ox-family, Bovida, which contains about 200 species.


We will begin the Ungulates with what is called by naturalists the Perissodactyle section, which, although abundant in former ages, is represented in the present state of the earth’s fauna only by three distinct types forming so many families, the Rhinoceroses, the Tapirs, and the Horses. In each of these families there remain a few species only, the relics of a vast number of ancestors which have preceded them.

Of the existing Rhinocerotidæ only five well-ascertained forms are known, two of which belong to Africa and three to India, although many other species have been suggested upon more or less sufficient evidence. The Rhinoceroses of the Ethiopian Region belong to quite a distinct section of the genus from the Oriental form. These two animals commonly, though not very correctly, called the “Black” and “White” Rhinoceroses, are best distinguished by the shape of the upper lip, which in the “Black" Rhinoceros is long, pointed, and extensile, and in the “White" Rhinoceros is short, square, and truncated. The Shortlipped Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros simus), now nearly extinct, has never been met with north of the Zambesi River, which forms the northern boundary of many of the peculiar mammals of the Cape district. On the other hand, the

« AnteriorContinuar »