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254

BIRDS

and F. E. Beddard, have amassed a vast amount of anatomical facts, giving a new impetus to ornithotomy at home and abroad. New light was in the meantime thrown upon the whole study of scientific ornithology by the discovery of the remains of toothed birds in the Cretaceous deposits of Kansas. The results of the indefatigable labours of the late O. Marsh were published by him in his grand volume, Odontornithes (Washington, 1880). In 1884 Prof. A. Newton (see Ency. Brit. vol. xviii. pp. 43-49) made an attempt to indicate those points in recent classifications which then seemed to have been established on a pretty sure footing, though therein he had no intention of inventing (as has sometimes been supposed) a new system of birds. He broke up the unnatural assembly of the Odontornithes, separated the Striges entirely from the Accipitres, and showed by many suggestions, and by critical discernment in the acceptance of the results of other workers, that the old-fashioned traditions have been given up, and that no classification can hope for recognition unless it be based upon the consideration of as many anatomical characters as possible. This principle was also recognized by L. Stejneger, who in the fourth volume of The Standard Natural stejneger#s. jp^ory (Boston, 1885) brought out an elaborate, and to a great extent new, classification. It is eclectic, the author having welded together what seemed to him well established by other taxonomists, in addition to a careful compilation from the available literature of whatever characters he considered taxonomically serviceable. Anatomy, eggs, nesting habits, food, geographical distribution, have all been laid under contribution, and on the purely anatomical characters he laid in some cases more stress than would have been done by comparative anatomists. His classification stands as follows :— Sub-class I. Saururse. Order Ornithopappi : Archaeopteryx. Laopteryx. Sub-class II. Odontotormse. Order Pteropappi : Ichthyornis. Apatomis. Sub-class III.- Odontoholcse. Order Drolsopappi : Hesperornis. Enaliornis. Sub-class IV. Eurhipidurse. Super-order I. Droireognatire, with the Orders Struthioncs, TEpyornithcs, Apterygcs, Crypturi, Gastornithes. Super-orderli. Impbnnes. Order Ptilopteri: Spheuisckhe. Super-order III. Euornithes, divided into 13 Orders with 31 Super-families. (1) Cecomorphaz: Colymboidese, Heliornithoideae, Aleoidere, Laroideae, Procellaroideae ; (2) Grallce: Chionoideae, Scolopacoideae, Eurypygoideae, Cariamoideae, Gruioideae; (3) Chenomorphoe: Anhimoideae [Palamedeae], Anatoideae, Phcenicopteroideae; (4) llerodii : Ibidoideae, Ardeoidea;; (5) Steganopodcs: Phaethontoidese, Fregatoideae, Pelecanoideae; (6) Opisthocomi; (7) Gallino;; (8) Fterodetcs; (9) Columbce; (10) Accipitres; (11) Psittaci; (12) Picarice: Guculoideae; Coracioideae with Steatornithidae, Podargidae, Caprimulgidae, Coraciidae, Leptosomatidae; Colioideae; Alcedinoideae with Meropidae, Todidae, Momotidae, Alcedinidae, Bucerotidae; Upupoideae with Upupidae and Irrisoridae; Picoideae with six families, including Bucconidae and Galbulidae; Trogonoideae; Micropoideae with Cypselidae and Trochilidae; (13) Passeres: Menuroideae; Euryhemoideae ; Tyrannoideae; Formicaroideae ; Passeroideae. The establishment of Eurhipidurce as a Sub-class, the isolation of the Impennes, and their elevation to the rank of a Sub-order are anatomically unjustifiable. The Procellarice are put into one Super-family with the Auks and Gulls, while the latter are separated from their close allies the Scolopacoidece. The Owls still remain with the Accipitres, and the great difference between the Cathartce and the other birds of prey is not indicated. Opisthoconmis is relegated to a position lower than the Gallinaz. The Ibises form a Super-family, while Storks and Herons are each reduced to family rank. On the other hand, the arrangement of the Orders Grallce, Picarioe, and Passeres marks a decided progress.

The year 1888 heralded a new epoch in scientific ornithology. Prof. M. Fuerbringer’s Untersuchungen zur Morphologic und Systematilc der Voegel, published as a jubilee work by the “ Natura Artis Wringer Magistra ” Society of Amsterdam, is a monumental production. The first of the two gigantic volumes is devoted chiefly to a minute description of the bones, muscles, and nerves of the region of the shoulder-girdle. The second volume contains the results, not only from the standpoint of the pure morphologist, but also with a view to their applicability to a systematic arrangement of birds. The author, fully aware of the impossibility of deducing a sound classification from the study, be it ever so minute, of one organic system, or of part of the body only (in the present case of the region of the shouldergirdle), reviewed also the enormous literature relating to most other organs, sifting and tabulating whatever characters could possibly be of taxonomic value. Being a highly accomplished morphologist, he distinguished especially in the muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems, between primary and secondarily acquired features, and he produced an entirely new, strictly genealogical system, logically worked out. He grouped the recent and extinct birds into about 46 Gentes, groups which, with few exceptions, will stand the test of time. These 46 Gentes are combined into 24 Sub-orders, including no less than 9 intermediary Sub-orders. The latter are the weak spot in his system. Since it is left undecided to which of the principal 8 Orders they belong, the 8 Orders lose much in practical value; and this is all the more to be regretted as Fuerbringer has given us entirely new views by his establishment of these greater and greatest Groups. Moreover, he gives no diagnoses of either Orders, or Suborders, or Gentes, or Families, but leaves the reader in the embarrassing position of drawing his own conclusions, after the perusal of pages and pages of detail, in which every imaginable view has been discussed, or at least hinted at. Consequently only those who are well trained in anatomy will, by attentive study, derive the full benefit from this monumental and most suggestive work. It has already become, and will remain, an inexhaustible fount of information, not always acknowledged. There is, lastly, another difficulty, not very patent. The work took several years to get through the press, and during this time the author found it necessary to modify, and even to change completely, some of his views on the systematic position of several groups, notably the relationship of Hesperornis, Palamedece, and Patitce. Hence there are discrepancies in the second volume, not easily understood and reconciled with his final very determined views, unless the reader does not shirk the laborious task of following up the argumentations which are often separated by hundreds of pages. Fuerbringer was the first to show clearly that the Patitce are the retrograde descendants of volant ancestors, that the various Groups of existing Ratitae represent cases of convergence, that the Ratitce are as such a polyphyletic Group, and he has gone fully into the interesting question of the development and subsequent loss of the power of flight. The loss took place not only in different Groups, but also at various geological periods. Of course the author does not assign any taxonomic value to such cases of isomorphism. Only a, few of the more prominent advances in classification can here be mentioned—the complete separation of llesperornis from the Ratitce and its near relationship with the Colymbo-Podicipedidce; final proof that the Odontomithes are not a natural Group; affinity of Apteryx with the Crypturi and Rcdliformes ; Sphenisci recognized as allied to the Tubinares and Steganopodes; establishment of the Group Coraciiformes.