Hitherto the following thought ran through the minds of most writers: Wherever we examine two or more widely separated countries their respective faunas are very different, but where two faunas can come into contact with each other, they intermingle. Consequently these faunas represent centres of creation, whence the component creatures have spread peripherally so far as existing boundaries allowed them to do so. This is of course the fundamental idea of "regions." There is not one of the numerous writers who considered the possibility that these intermediate belts might represent not a mixture of species but transitional forms, the result of changes undergone by the most peripheral migrants in adaptation to their new surroundings. The usual standpoint was also that of Pucheran ("Note sur l'equateur zoologique", "Rev. et Mag. de Zoologie", 1855; also several other papers, ibid. 1865, 1866, and 1867.) in 1855. But what a change within the next ten years! Pucheran explains the agreement in coloration between the desert and its fauna as "une harmonie post-etablie"; the Sahara, formerly a marine basin, was peopled by immigrants from the neighbouring countries, and these new animals adapted themselves to the new environment. He also discusses, among other similar questions, the Isthmus of Panama with regard to its having once been a strait. From the same author may be quoted the following passage as a strong proof of the new influence: "By the radiation of the contemporaneous faunas, each from one centre, whence as the various parts of the world successively were formed and became habitable, they spread and became modified according to the local physical conditions."
The "multiple" origin of each species as advocated by Sclater and Murray, although giving the species a broader basis, suffered from the same difficulties. There was only one alternative to the old orthodox view of independent creation, namely the bold acceptance of land-connections to an extent for which geological and palaeontological science was not yet ripe. Those who shrank from either view, gave up the problem as mysterious and beyond the human intellect. This was the expressed opinion of men like Swainson, Lyell and Humboldt. Only Darwin had the courage to say that the problem was not insoluble. If we admit "that in the long course of time the individuals of the same species, and likewise of allied species, have proceeded from some one source; then I think all the grand leading facts of geographical distribution are explicable on the theory of migration...together with subsequent modification and the multiplication of new forms." We can thus understand how it is that in some countries the inhabitants "are linked to the extinct beings which formerly inhabited the same continent." We can see why two areas, having nearly the same physical conditions, should often be inhabited by very different forms of life,...and "we can see why in two areas, however distant from each other, there should be a correlation, in the presence of identical species...and of distinct but representative species." ("The Origin of Species" (1st edition), pages 408, 409.)
Darwin's reluctance to assume great geological changes, such as a land- connection of Europe with North America, is easily explained by the fact that he restricted himself to the distribution of the present and comparatively recent species. "I do not believe that it will ever be proved that within the recent period continents which are now quite separate, have been continuously, or almost continuously, united with each other, and with the many existing oceanic islands." (Ibid. page 357.) Again, "believing...that our continents have long remained in nearly the same relative position, though subjected to large, but partial oscillations of level," that means to say within the period of existing species, or "within the recent period." (Ibid. page. 370.) The difficulty was to a great extent one of his own making. Whilst almost everybody else believed in the immutability of the species, which implies an enormous age, logically since the dawn of creation, to him the actually existing species as the latest results of evolution, were necessarily something very new, so young that only the very latest of the geological epochs could have affected them. It has since come to our knowledge that a great number of terrestrial "recent" species, even those of the higher classes of Vertebrates, date much farther back than had been thought possible. Many of them reach well into the Miocene, a time since which the world seems to have assumed the main outlines of the present continents.
In the year 1866 appeared A. Murray's work on the "Geographical Distribution of Mammals", a book which has perhaps received less recognition than it deserves. His treatment of the general introductory questions marks a considerable advance of our problem, although, and partly because, he did not entirely agree with Darwin's views as laid down in the first edition of "The Origin of Species", which after all was the great impulse given to Murray's work. Like Forbes he did not shrink from assuming enormous changes in the configuration of the continents and oceans because the theory of descent, with its necessary postulate of great migrations, required them. He stated, for instance, "that a Miocene Atlantis sufficiently explains the common distribution of animals and plants in Europe and America up to the glacial epoch." And next he considers how, and by what changes, the rehabilitation and distribution of these lands themselves were effected subsequent to that period. Further, he deserves credit for having cleared up a misunderstanding of the idea of specific centres of creation. Whilst for instance Schmarda assumed without hesitation that the same species, if occurring at places separated by great distances, or apparently insurmountable barriers, had been there created independently (multiple centres), Lyell and Darwin held that each species had only one single centre, and with this view most of us agree, but their starting point was to them represented by one individual, or rather one single pair. According to Murray, on the other hand, this centre of a species is formed by all the individuals of a species, all of which equally undergo those changes which new conditions may impose upon them. In this respect a new species has a multiple origin, but this in a sense very different from that which was upheld by L. Agassiz. As Murray himself puts it: "To my multiple origin, communication and direct derivation is essential. The species is compounded of many influences brought together through many individuals, and distilled by Nature into one species; and, being once established it may roam and spread wherever it finds the conditions of life not materially different from those of its original centre." (Murray, "The Geographical Distribution of Mammals", page 14. London, 1866.) This declaration fairly agrees with more modern views, and it must be borne in mind that the application of the single-centre principle to the genera, families and larger groups in the search for descent inevitably leads to one creative centre for the whole animal kingdom, a condition as unwarrantable as the myth of Adam and Eve being the first representatives of Mankind.
It looks as if it had required almost ten years for "The Origin of Species" to show its full effect, since the year 1868 marks the publication of Haeckel's "Naturliche Schoepfungsgeschichte" in addition to other great works. The terms "Oecology" (the relation of organisms to their environment) and "Chorology" (their distribution in space) had been given us in his "Generelle Morphologie" in 1866. The fourteenth chapter of the "History of Creation" is devoted to the distribution of organisms, their chorology, with the emphatic assertion that "not until Darwin can chorology be spoken of as a separate science, since he supplied the acting causes for the elucidation of the hitherto accumulated mass of facts." A map (a "hypothetical sketch") shows the monophyletic origin and the routes of distribution of Man.
Natural Selection may be all-mighty, all-sufficient, but it requires time, so much that the countless aeons required for the evolution of the present fauna were soon felt to be one of the most serious drawbacks of the theory. Therefore every help to ease and shorten this process should have been welcomed. In 1868 M. Wagner (The first to formulate clearly the fundamental idea of a theory of migration and its importance in the origin of new species was L. von Buch, who in his "Physikalische Beschreibung der Canarischen Inseln", written in 1825, wrote as follows: "Upon the continents the individuals of the genera by spreading far, form, through differences of the locality, food and soil, varieties which finally become constant as new species, since owing to the distances they could never be crossed with other varieties and thus be brought back to the main type. Next they may again, perhaps upon different roads, return to the old home where they find the old type likewise changed, both having become so different that they can interbreed no longer. Not so upon islands, where the individuals shut up in narrow valleys or within narrow districts, can always meet one another and thereby destroy every new attempt towards the fixing of a new variety." Clearly von Buch explains here why island types remain fixed, and why these types themselves have become so different from their continental congeners.--Actually von Buch is aware of a most important point, the difference in the process of development which exists between a new species b, which is the result of an ancestral species a having itself changed into b and thereby vanished itself, and a new species c which arose through separation out of the same ancestral a, which itself persists as such unaltered. Von Buch's prophetic view seems to have escaped Lyell's and even Wagner's notice.) came to the rescue with his "Darwin'sche Theorie und das Migrations-Gesetz der Organismen". (Leipzig, 1868.) He shows that migration, i.e. change of locality, implies new environmental conditions (never mind whether these be new stimuli to variation, or only acting as their selectors or censors), and moreover secures separation from the original stock and thus eliminates or lessens the reactionary dangers of panmixia. Darwin accepted Wagner's theory as "advantageous." Through the heated polemics of the more ardent selectionists Wagner's theory came to grow into an alternative instead of a help to the theory of selectional evolution. Separation is now rightly considered a most important factor by modern students of geographical distribution.
For the same year, 1868, we have to mention Huxley, whose Arctogaea and Notogaea are nothing less than the reconstructed main masses of land of the Mesozoic period. Beyond doubt the configuration of land at that remote period has left recognisable traces in the present continents, but whether they can account for the distribution of such a much later group as the Gallinaceous birds is more than questionable. In any case he took for his text a large natural group of birds, cosmopolitan as a whole, but with a striking distribution. The Peristeropodes, or pigeon-footed division, are restricted to the Australian and Neotropical regions, in distinction to the Alectoropodes (with the hallux inserted at a level above the front toes) which inhabit the whole of the Arctogaea, only a few members having spread into the South World. Further, as Asia alone has its Pheasants and allies, so is Africa characterised by its Guinea-fowls and relations, America has the Turkey as an endemic genus, and the Grouse tribe in a wider sense has its centre in the holarctic region: a splendid object lesson of descent, world-wide spreading and subsequent differentiation. Huxley, by the way, was the first--at least in private talk--to state that it will be for the morphologist, the well-trained anatomist, to give the casting vote in questions of geographical distribution, since he alone can determine whether we have to deal with homologous, or analogous, convergent, representative forms.
It seems late to introduce Wallace's name in 1876, the year of the publication of his standard work. ("The Geographical Distribution of Animals", 2 vols. London, 1876.) We cannot do better than quote the author's own words, expressing the hope that his "book should bear a similar relation to the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the "Origin of Species" as Darwin's "Animals and Plants under Domestication" does to the first chapter of that work," and to add that he has amply succeeded. Pleading for a few primary centres he accepts Sclater's six regions and does not follow Huxley's courageous changes which Sclater himself had accepted in 1874. Holding the view of the permanence of the oceans he accounts for the colonisation of outlying islands by further elaborating the views of Lyell and Darwin, especially in his fascinating "Island Life", with remarkable chapters on the Ice Age, Climate and Time and other fundamental factors. His method of arriving at the degree of relationship of the faunas of the various regions is eminently statistical. Long lists of genera determine by their numbers the affinity and hence the source of colonisation. In order to make sure of his material he performed the laborious task of evolving a new classification of the host of Passerine birds. This statistical method has been followed by many authors, who, relying more upon quantity than quality, have obscured the fact that the key to the present distribution lies in the past changes of the earth's surface. However, with Wallace begins the modern study of the geographical distribution of animals and the sudden interest taken in this subject by an ever widening circle of enthusiasts far beyond the professional brotherhood.
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- 2and boats gliding along river ways. It looks so! — And
- 3young girl with a white woolen kerchief over her head stood
- 4staring at the sun and crying; sometimes I would get up
- 5of three-halfpence, two fowls, one of which, the Indian
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- 8be any pretence — I could take down the net and show
- 9Morison had been urging his suit once more that evening,
- 10who I knew would be still waiting for me when I came back.
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