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title varchar(250) 139 Column Stats
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12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued 12-40 - On the relations of the inhabitants of islands to those of the nearest mainland 30 All the foregoing remarks on the inhabitants of oceanic islands, namely, the scarcity of kinds -- the richness in endemic forms in particular classes or sections of classes, the absence of whole groups, as of batrachians, and of terrestrial mammals notwithstanding the presence of aerial bats, the singular proportions of certain orders of plants, herbaceous forms having been developed into trees, &c., seem to me to accord better with the view of occasional means of transport having been largely efficient in the long course of time, than with the view of all our oceanic islands having been formerly connected by continuous land with the nearest continent; for on this latter view the migration would probably have been more complete; and if modification be admitted, all the forms of life would have been more equally modified, in accordance with the paramount importance of the relation of organism to organism.

I do not deny that there are many and grave difficulties in understanding how several of the inhabitants of the more remote islands, whether still retaining the same specific form or modified since their arrival, could have reached their present homes.

But the probability of many islands having existed as halting-places, of which not a wreck now remains, must not be overlooked.

I will here give a single instance of one of the cases of difficulty.

Almost all oceanic islands, even the most isolated and smallest, are inhabited by land-shells, generally by endemic species, but sometimes by species found elsewhere.

Land Shell
Land Shell


Dr. Aug. A. Gould has given several interesting cases in regard to the land-shells of the islands of the Pacific.

Augustus Addison Gould
Augustus Addison Gould

Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean


Now it is notorious that land-shells are very easily killed by salt; their eggs, at least such as I have tried, sink in sea-water and are killed by it.

Yet there must be, on my view, some unknown, but highly efficient means for their transportal.

Would the just-hatched young occasionally crawl on and adhere to the feet of birds roosting on the ground, and thus get transported? It occurred to me that land-shells, when hybernating and having a membranous diaphragm over the mouth of the shell, might be floated in chinks of drifted timber across moderately wide arms of the sea.

And I found that several species did in this state withstand uninjured an immersion in sea-water during seven days: one of these shells was the Helix pomatia, and after it had again hybernated I put it in sea-water for twenty days, and it perfectly recovered.

Helix Pomatia
Helix Pomatia


As this species has a thick calcareous operculum, I removed it, and when it had formed a new membranous one, I immersed it for fourteen days in sea-water, and it recovered and crawled away: but more experiments are wanted on this head.
12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued 12-30 - Absence of Batrachians and of terrestrial Mammals 30 But as these animals and their spawn are known to be immediately killed by sea-water, on my view we can see that there would be great difficulty in their transportal across the sea, and therefore why they do not exist on any oceanic island.

But why, on the theory of creation, they should not have been created there, it would be very difficult to explain.

Mammals offer another and similar case.

I have carefully searched the oldest voyages, but have not finished my search; as yet I have not found a single instance, free from doubt, of a terrestrial mammal (excluding domesticated animals kept by the natives) inhabiting an island situated above 300 miles from a continent or great continental island; and many islands situated at a much less distance are equally barren.

The Falkland Islands, which are inhabited by a wolf-like fox, come nearest to an exception; but this group cannot be considered as oceanic, as it lies on a bank connected with the mainland; moreover, icebergs formerly brought boulders to its western shores, and they may have formerly transported foxes, as so frequently now happens in the arctic regions.

Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands Wolf
Falkland Islands Wolf
12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued 12-50 - On colonisation from the nearest source with subsequent modification 30 New Zealand in its endemic plants is much more closely related to Australia, the nearest mainland, than to any other region: and this is what might have been expected; but it is also plainly related to South America, which, although the next nearest continent, is so enormously remote, that the fact becomes an anomaly.

New Zealand
New Zealand

Australia
Australia

South America
South America


But this difficulty almost disappears on the view that both New Zealand, South America, and other southern lands were long ago partially stocked from a nearly intermediate though distant point, namely from the antarctic islands, when they were clothed with vegetation, before the commencement of the Glacial period.

The affinity, which, though feeble, I am assured by Dr. Hooker is real, between the flora of the south-western corner of Australia and of the Cape of Good Hope, is a far more remarkable case, and is at present inexplicable: but this affinity is confined to the plants, and will, I do not doubt, be some day explained.

Joseph Dalton Hooker
Joseph Dalton Hooker

Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued 12-50 - On colonisation from the nearest source with subsequent modification 60 In the Galapagos Archipelago, many even of the birds, though so well adapted for flying from island to island, are distinct on each; thus there are three closely-allied species of mocking-thrush, each confined to its own island.

Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands


Now let us suppose the mocking-thrush of Chatham Island to be blown to Charles Island, which has its own mocking-thrush: why should it succeed in establishing itself there? We may safely infer that Charles Island is well stocked with its own species, for annually more eggs are laid there than can possibly be reared; and we may infer that the mocking-thrush peculiar to Charles Island is at least as well fitted for its home as is the species peculiar to Chatham Island.

Sir C. Lyell and Mr. Wollaston have communicated to me a remarkable fact bearing on this subject; namely, that Madeira and the adjoining islet of Porto Santo possess many distinct but representative land-shells, some of which live in crevices of stone; and although large quantities of stone are annually transported from Porto Santo to Madeira, yet this latter island has not become colonised by the Porto Santo species: nevertheless both islands have been colonised by some European land-shells, which no doubt had some advantage over the indigenous species.

Sir Charles Lyell
Sir Charles Lyell