Imágenes de páginas

true Lemurs(Lemurida) this Order contains the two aberrant types, the Tarsier (Tarsius) and Aye-aye (Chiromys), both of them of family value. We will say the few words that are necessary about the distribution of each of these three families.

The typical Lemurs (Lemurida), are usually divided into four sub-families, the Indrisine (Indrises), Lemurinæ (Lemurs), Galaginæ (Galagos), and Lorisinæ (Slow Lemurs). Of these, as will be seen by the annexed table, the two first sub-families, which contain seven genera and about twentyfour species, are absolutely confined to Madagascar and its adjoining islets. It is, in fact, mainly the presence of these peculiar animals, which constitute altogether nearly one half of the whole mammal-fauna of Madagascar, that renders the Malagasy fauna so very different from that of any other part of the world's surface, and makes it a moot point as to whether this zoological division should not be more properly treated as a “Region,” than as a “Sub-region.” When we come to the third sub-family—the Galagos—we find the typical genus Galago with its six species distributed over continental Africa, but the three other genera of this family, which contains smaller animals of somewhat aberrant form, are again entirely restricted to Madagascar. The fourth and most aberrant group of the Lemurs, commonly called Slow Lemurs, from their nocturnal habits and sleepy dispositions, contains four genera, two of which belong to the Ethiopian Region and two to the Oriental Region. Although they vary considerably in structure from the more typical Lemurs, there can be no doubt that the Slow Lemurs possess a true Lemurine structure in many important particulars, so that they must have had a common origin with the true Lemurs. This fact would seem to show that the ancient “Lemuria," as the hypothetical continent which was originally the home of the Lemurs has been termed, must have extended across the Indian Ocean and the Indian Peninsula to the further side of the Bay of Bengal and over the great islands of the Indian Archipelago.


Table of the genera of Lemurs and of the number of species found in each Zoological Region.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

1. About forty-eight species of the Order Lemures, belonging to seventeen genera and three families, are known.

2. Of these thirty-six species, representing twelve genera, are restricted to the Malagasy Sub-region, which must be regarded as the special home of the Lemurine Mammals.

3. The remaining forms of Lemurs are thinly spread over the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions, Lemurs being altogether absent in the Palæarctic, Australian, Nearctic, and Neotropical Regions.

4. The Aye-aye (Chiromys), forming a family of itself, is restricted to Madagascar.




The true Carnivora are widely distributed over the world, and occur, in fact, everywhere from north to south, with the exception of the Australian Region, where their functions in nature are performed by the flesh-eating Marsupials. The Polar Bear probably ranges farther north than any other species of mammal, while the southernmost point of the South American Continent is inhabited by the Magellanic Dog. In the Antarctic Seas the Carnivora are also represented by several species of Seals, but no land-mammal has yet been found on the Antarctic Continent.

The Carnivora are very numerous, nearly 300 species belonging to seventy genera being usually recognized. They are usually divided by modern authorities into four well-marked sections: (1) the Æluroid, or Cat-like Carnivores, belonging to four families; (2) the Cynoid, or Dog-like Carnivores, consisting of the single family Canidæ; (3) the Arctoid, or Bear-like Carnivores, with three families; and finally, the Pinnipeds, or Marine Carnivora, with three families. We will take these in order, pointing out the most noticeable features in the distribution of the principal and best-known forms in each family, and only alluding to the less-known and more insignificant forms when remarkable for their special distribution or otherwise.



The Æluroid, or Cat-like Carnivora, among which will be found the largest and most perfectly organized terrestrial animals in the present condition of the world, that have been modified to prey upon their weaker brethren, embrace four families, the Cats, Civets, AardWolf, and Hyenas. The first family, the Felidæ, or Cats, contains about fifty species of true Felis, together with the Cheetah, or Hunting-Leopard, which it is necessary to refer to a separate genus. The Cats are distributed all over the main portions of both the Old and New Worlds, failing, however, as already remarked, in the Australian Region, and not extending quite so far north nor quite so far south as the Bears and Dogs. No single Cat, however, has anything like this wide area of distribution, all the species being more or less limited in their extension, and the Cats of the Old and New Worlds being always specifically different, unless it be in the case of the Northern Lynxes. We will shortly describe the specific areas of some of the best-known of these animals.

The Lion, the undoubted king of beasts, though it formerly penetrated far into Europe and even into England, is in these days essentially an African animal, but still extends throughout Arabia, Asiatic Turkey, and Persia into Western India, where it occurs in the Western Provinces.

« AnteriorContinuar »