Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/792

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FAUNA]
747
ASIA
the former; the first is one of the most conspicuous trees in Java, on the mountains of the eastern part of which the casuarina, one of the characteristic forms of Australia, is also abundant. Rhododendrons occur in Borneo and Sumatra, descending to the level of the sea. On the mountains of Java there appears to be no truly alpine flora; Saxifraga is not found. In Borneo some of the temperate forms of Australia appear on the higher mountains. On the other islands similar characteristics are to be observed, Australian genera extending to the Philippines, and even to southern China.
The analysis of the Hong Kong flora indicates that about three-fifths of the species are common to the Indian region, and nearly all the remainder are either Chinese or local forms. The number of species common to southern China, Japan and northern Asia is small. The cultivated plants of China are, with a few exceptions, the same as those of India. South China, therefore, seems, botanically, hardly distinct from the great Indian region, into which many Chinese forms penetrate, as before noticed. The flora of north China, which is akin to that of Japan, shows manifest relation to that of the neighbouring American continent, from which many temperate forms extend, reaching to the Himalaya, almost as far as Kashmir. Very little is known of the plants of the interior of northern China, but it seems probable that a complete botanical connexion is established between it and the temperate region of the Himalaya.
The vegetation of the dry region of central Asia is remarkable for the great relative number of Chenopodiaceae, Salicornia and other salt plants being common; Polygonaceae also are abundant; leafless forms being of frequent occurrence, which Central Asia. gives the vegetation a very remarkable aspect. Peculiar forms of Leguminosae also prevail, and these with many of the other plants of the southern and drier regions of Siberia, or of the colder regions of the desert tracts of Persia and Afghanistan, extend into Tibet, where the extreme drought and the hot (nearly vertical) sun combine to produce a summer climate not greatly differing from that of the plains of central Asia.
Fauna.—The zoological provinces of Asia correspond very closely with the botanical. The northern portion of Asia, as far south as the Himalaya, is not zoologically distinct from Europe, and these two areas, with the strip of Africa north of the Zoological Regions. Atlas, constitute the Palaearctic region of Dr. Sclater, whose zoological primary divisions of the earth have met with the general approval of naturalists. The south-eastern portion of Asia with the adjacent islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines, form his Indian region. The extreme south-west part of the continent constitutes a separate zoological district, comprising Arabia, Palestine and southern Persia, and reaching, like the hot desert botanical tract, to Baluchistan and Sind; it belongs to what Dr. Sclater calls the Ethiopian region, which extends over Africa, south of the Atlas. Celebes, Papua, and the other islands east of Java beyond Wallace’s line, fall within the Australian region.
Nearly all the mammals of Europe also occur in northern Asia, where, however, the Palaearctic fauna is enriched by numerous additional species. The characteristic groups belong mostly to forms which are restricted to cold and temperate Mammals and birds. regions. Consequently the Quadrumana, or monkeys, are nearly unrepresented, a single species occurring in Japan, and one or two others in northern China and Tibet. Insectivorous bats are numerous, but the frugivorous division of this order is only represented by a single species in Japan. Carnivora are also numerous, particularly the frequenters of cold climates, such as bears, weasels, wolves and foxes. Of the Insectivora, numerous forms of moles, shrews and hedgehogs prevail. The Rodents are also well represented by various squirrels, mice, and hares. Characteristic forms ot this order in northern Asia are the marmots (Arctomys) and the pikas or tailless hares (Lagomys). The great order of Ungulata is represented by various forms of sheep, as many as ten or twelve wild species of Ovis being met with in the mountain chains of Asia; and more sparingly by several peculiar forms of antelope, such as the saiga (Saiga tatarica) and the Gazella gutturosa, or yellow sheep. Coming to the deer, we also meet with characteristic forms in northern Asia, especially those belonging to the typical genus Cervus. The musk deer (Moschus) is also quite restricted to northern Asia, and is one of its most peculiar types.
The ornithology ot northern Asia is even more closely allied to that of Europe than the mammal fauna. Nearly three-fourths of the well-known species of Europe extend through Siberia into the islands of the Japanese empire. Here again we have an absence of all tropical forms, and a great development of groups characteristic of cold and temperate regions. One of the most peculiar of these is the genus Phasianus, of which splendid birds all the species are restricted in their wild state to northern Asia. The still more magnificently clad gold pheasants (Thaumalea), and the eared pheasants (Crossoptilon) are also confined to certain districts in the mountains of north-eastern Asia. Amongst the Passeres, such forms as the larks, stone-chats, finches, linnets, and grosbeaks are well developed, and exhibit many species.
The mammal fauna of the Indian region of Asia is much more highly developed than that of the Palaearctic. The Quadrumana are represented by several peculiar genera, amongst which are Semnopithecus, Hylobates and Simia. Two peculiar forms of the Lemurine group are also met with. Both the insectivorous and frugivorous divisions of the bats are well represented. Amongst the Insectivora very peculiar forms are found, such as Gymnura and Tupaia. The Carnivora are likewise numerous; and this region may be considered as the true home of the tiger, though this animal has wandered far north into the Palaearctic division of Asia. Other characteristic Carnivora are civets, various ichneumons, and the benturong (Arctictis). Two species of bears are likewise restricted to the Indian region. In the order of Rodents squirrels are very numerous and porcupines of two genera are met with. The Indian region is the home of the Indian elephant—one of the two sole remaining representatives of the order Proboscidea. Of the Ungulates, four species of rhinoceros and one of tapir are met with, besides several peculiar forms of the swine family. The Bovidae, or hollow-horned ruminants, are represented by several genera of antelopes, and by species of true Bos—such as B. sondaicus, B. frontalis and B. bubalus. Deer are likewise numerous, and the peculiar group of chevrotains (Tragulus) is characteristic of the Indian region. Finally, this region affords us representatives of the order Edentata, in the shape of several species of Manis, or scaly ant-eater.
The assemblage of birds of the Indian region is one of the richest and most varied in the world, being surpassed only by that of tropical America. Nearly every order, except that of the Struthiones or ostriches, is well represented, and there are many peculiar genera not found elsewhere, such as Buceros, Harpactes, Lophophorus, Euplocamus, Pavo and Ceriornis. The Phasianidae (exclusive of true Phasianus) are highly characteristic ot this region, as are likewise certain genera of barbets (Megalaema), parrots (Palaeornis), and crows (Dendrocitta, Urocissa and Cissa). The family Eurylaemidae is entirely confined to this part of Asia.
The Ethiopian fauna plays but a subordinate part in Asia, intruding only into the south-western corner, and occupying the desert districts of Arabia and Syria, although some of the characteristic species reach still farther into Persia and Sind, and even into western India. The lion and the hunting-leopard, which may be considered as in this epoch at least, Ethiopian types, extend thus far, besides various species of jerboa and other desert-loving forms.
In the birds, the Ethiopian type is shown by the prevalence of larks and stone-chats, and by the complete absence of the many peculiar genera of the Indian region.
The occurrence of mammals of the Marsupial order in the Molucca Islands and Celebes, while none have been found in the adjacent islands of Java and Borneo, lying on the west of Wallace’s line, or in the Indian region, shows that the margin of the Australian region has here been reached. The same conclusion is indicated by the absence from the Moluccas and Celebes of various other Mammals, Quadrumana, Carnivora, Insectivora and Ruminants, which abound in the western part of the Archipelago. Deer do not extend into New Guinea, in which island the genus Sus appears to have its eastern limit. A peculiar form of baboon, Cynopithecus, and the singular ruminant, Anoa, found in Celebes, seem to have no relation to Asiatic animals, and rather to be allied to those in Africa.
The birds of these islands present similar peculiarities. Those of the Indian region abruptly disappear at, and many Australian forms reach but do not pass, the line above spoken of. Species of birds akin to those of Africa also occur in Celebes.
Of the marine orders of Sirenia and Cetacea the Dugong, Halicore, is exclusively found in the Indian Ocean; and a dolphin, Platanista, peculiar to the Ganges, ascends that river to a great distance from the sea.
Of the sea fishes of Asia, among the Acanthopterygii, or spiny-rayed fishes, the Percidae, or perches, are largely represented, the genus Serranus, which has only one species in Europe, is very numerous in Asia, and the forms are very large. Fishes. Other allied genera are abundant, and extend from the Indian seas to eastern Africa. The Squamipennes, or scaly-finned fishes, are principally found in the seas of southern Asia, and especially near coral reefs. The Mullidae, or red mullets, are largely represented by genera differing from those of Europe. The Polynemidae, which range from the Atlantic through the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, supply animals from which isinglass is prepared; one of them, the mango-fish, esteemed a great delicacy, inhabits the seas from the Bay of Bengal to Siam. The Sciaenidae extend from the Bay of Bengal to China, but are not known to the westward. The Stromateidae, or pomfrets, resemble the dory, a Mediterranean form, and extend to China and the Pacific. The sword fishes, Xiphidae, the lancet fishes, Acanthuridae, and the scabbard fishes, Trichuridae, are distributed through the seas of south Asia. Mackerels of various genera abound, as well as gobies, blennies and mullets.
Among the Anacanthini, the cod family so well known in Europe shows but one or two species in the seas of south Asia, though the soles and allied fishes are numerous along the coasts. Of the Physostomi, the siluroids are abundant in the estuaries and muddy waters; the habits of some of these fishes are remarkable, such as that of the males carrying the ova in their mouths till the young are hatched. The small family of Scopelidae affords the gelatinous Harpodon, or bumalo. The gar-fish and flying-fishes are numerous, extending into the seas of Europe. The Clupeidae or herrings, are most abundant; and anchovies, or sardines, are found in shoals, but at irregular and uncertain intervals. The marine eels, Muraenidae, are more numerous towards the Malay Archipelago than in the Indian