in species than the districts in which the central ranges lie), but not entirely, since many north Indian species, not found in south India, reappear in the Malayan peninsula and islands. The spread of Indian forms into Europe has been much checked by the position of the mountain ranges. Where these are more open, as along the coast of China and Japan, we find Indian forms extending much further north, and mingling with those which really belong to the Palæarctic region.
One of the most striking features in the Australian region in recent times was the abundance of large wingless birds, now mostly extinct. Traditions, more or less authentic, relating to the great birds of the remote islands, are common in Oriental writers, who referred to them under the names of rukh, seemurgh, anka, etc. The rukh was said by Middle-Age writers to be found in Madagascar (doubtless referring to the Æpyornis or its egg); but the Arabian writers always give the rukh the habits of an eagle or a vulture. The Arabs, we know, extended their voyages at least as far as Madagascar and the Aru Islands, and there is no improbability in their having also visited New Zealand, where I believe that remains of a gigantic bird of prey have recently been met with. The Arabs, of course, were well acquainted with the ostrich, now the largest living bird; hence, nothing but the great extinct birds could have given rise to the stories of the rukh. The Persians, less acquainted with these distant countries than the Arabs, made a mythological bird of the Seemurgh, but there is little incredible in the Arabian accounts of the rukh, except its gigantic size. The Greek or German griffin may have had a similar origin.
The Neotropical region presents a great contrast to Africa, the other southern continent, for instead of a preponderance of large mammalia, we have here an enormous abundance of some of the smaller forms of life; in some groups, as, for instance, butterflies, more than half of all the known species come from tropical America.
The Nearctic region, though somewhat poor in special forms as compared with the Palæarctic, to which its affinities are so close that it could scarcely be separated as a distinct region, if we confined ourselves to isolated groups, yet possesses as many large mammalia as South America. The fauna of both North and South America was formerly much richer than at present; but the glacial period was as destructive in North America as in Europe. What caused the destruction of the large mammalia in South America is less certainly known; but Africa is now the only region which is sufficiently rich in the higher forms of life to lead us to suppose that it in any degree adequately represents the zoology of former times; and it appears to have been exposed in a less degree than other countries to the agencies which have destroyed animal life to so great an extent elsewhere.
In concluding this somewhat desultory article, we may remark that, contrary to the general idea, extreme heat seems to have a tendency to reduce the size of animals. The largest known animals are, or were, natives of cold countries; and most insects common to Europe or Japan, and India, are considerably smaller in the latter country. Even the tropical representatives of widely distributed genera are nearly always inferior in size and beauty to temperate forms.
From The Spectator.
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.]
Sir ——. One of the first problems presented to a foreign teacher in Japan is the reason of the great apparent happiness and light-heartedness of Japan children. One may walk for hours through the streets of Tokio, and scarcely ever hear a child's cry of distress. Four principal causes of this superiority of the children of Japan over those of other nations have been suggested by an English lady resident here. They are so well worthy of the attention of teachers at home, that I reproduce them here. They are: — I. The style of clothing, loose and yet warm, is far more comfortable than the dress of our children. 2. Japanese children are much more out in the open air and sunshine. 3. The absence of furniture, and, therefore, the absence of repeatedly given instructions "not to touch." The thick soft matting, forming at once the carpet and the beds of all Japanese houses, and the raised lintel on to which the child may clamber as it
- Andalusia scarcely produces more species of butterflies than Sweden; Austria, Switzerland, or south France have nearly twice as many.
- The rukh, or roc, as in our old translation of the "Arabian Nights," is only alluded to, so far as we remember, in connection with its egg; the egg was probably that of Æpyornis, and the bird manufactured to suit it. — Ed.