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1. The Order Rodentia is the most numerous of all the chief Mammalian groups, containing nearly 1400 species, which are divided into 170 genera and 21 families.
2. The Rodents are distributed all over the world both in temperate and tropical climes, and are abundant everywhere, both in species and individuals, except in Australia where they are poorly represented.
3. The most all-pervading and numerous family of the Rodents is the Muride (Mice), which are upwards of 600 in number and are the only members of the group met with in Australia and Madagascar. In Madagascar the Muridæ are represented by a small group of indigenous genera.
4. The Porcupine-like Rodents, of which there are seven families, are specially characteristic of the New World, only the typical Porcupines (Hystricidæ) and five peculiar genera of Octodonts being inhabitants of the New World.
5. Two families of Rodents, the Pocket-gophers (Geomyide) and the Kangaroo-rats (Heteromyide), are specially characteristic of the Nearctic Region, the Jerboas (Dipodidae) of the Palæarctic, and the Sand-rats (Bathyergidx) of the Ethiopian Region.
DISTRIBUTION OF HYRAXES, ELEPHANTS,
SECTION I.—DISTRIBUTION OF HYRAXES
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 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.
1 "On the species of the Hyracoidea,” by 0. Thomas, P. 2. S. 1892,
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.
SECTION II.--DISTRIBUTION OF ELEPHANTS
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 paleontologists, 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 Palæarctic in its range, although it appears to have extended across Behring Strait into Alaska.