« ForrigeFortsæt »
to the degree of heat or cold. The exceptions to this rule, he further observes, are easy to be appreciated, and confirm its truth, since the mountains, the various elevations and depressions of the country, which even under the same parallel modify the ordinary temperature, produce vegetables, and often animals, analogous to their several degrees of heat or cold. The lofty mountains in tropical countries, exhibit from their base to their snow-clad summits, the same gradation as these hemispheres present in going from the equator towards the poles.
The majority, however, of animals do not ascend such heights, but seek their subsistence in the plains, and less elevated regions; yet here a considerable difference obtains according to the nature of the soil and country. The vast sandy desarts of Africa and Asia, the Steppes of Tartary, the Llanos and Pampas of South America have their peculiar population ; in the former the camel, and his master the Arab, whose great wealth he constitutes, are indigenous ; in the latter the horse and the Tartar who rides and eats him ; or the Hispano-American, and the herds of horses and oxen, returned to their wild and primitive type, who snares them with his lasso, and reduces them again to the yoke of man. Numerous also are the peculiar animal productions to which different soils afford subsistence. The sea-shore, sandy and barren wastes, woods
and forests, arable lands, pasture, meadow and marsh, all are thus distinguished ; every plant almost is inhabited by insects appropriated to it, every bird has its peculiar parasite or louse ; and not only are the living animals so infested, but their carcasses are bequeathed to a numerous and varied army of dissecters, who soon reduce them to a naked skeleton ; nay, their very excrements become the habitation of the grubs of sundry kinds of beetles and flies.
But not only is the surface of the earth and its vegetable clothing, thickly peopled with animals, but many, even quadrupeds and reptiles, as well as insects and worms, are subterranean, and seek for concealment in dens, caves and caverns, or make for themselves burrows and tortuous paths at various depths under the soil, or seek for safety and shelter, by lurking under stones or clods, and all the dark places of the earth.
To other animals, in order to pass gradually from such as are purely terrestrial, to those that are aquatic, Providence has given the privilege to frequent both the earth and the water; some of which may be regarded as belonging to the former, and frequenting the latter, as water fowl of various kinds, the amphibious rat, the architect beaver, many reptiles, and some insects ; others again as belonging to the latter, and frequenting the former; for instance, the sea-otter, and the different kinds of seal’ and morse, the turtle, the penguin, several insects, and the water-newts.? Other amphibious animals, if they may be so called, are aquatic at one period of their life, and terrestrial at another; this is particularly exemplified in some insects, thus the grubs of water-beetles, those of dragon-flies, may-flies,' ephemeral-flies," water-moths,12 gnats or mosquitos,' and several other two-winged flies, live in the water, while the perfect insect is either amphibious as the beetle, or terrestrial as the remainder.
! Lemmus amphibius.
3 Castor Fiber.
But no part of this terraqueous globe is more fully peopled, and with a greater variety and diversity of beautiful, or strange, or monstrous forms, than the waters, from the infinite ocean to the most insignificant pool or puddle. Every part and portion of the supposed element of water ; nay, almost every drop of that fluid teems with life. Thousands of aquatic species are known, but myriads of myriads never have been seen and never will be seen by the eye of man.
2 Phoca. 3 Trichechus.
• Chelonia Mydas. Aptenodytes.
• Dyticus, Gyrinus, Ranatra, &c. 7 Salamandræ aquatica. • Dyticide, Hydrophilida, Gyrinide. 9 Libellulina.
10 Trichoptera. " Ephemeride.
12 Hydrocampa. 13 Culex.
Amongst those that inhabit fluids, none are more wonderful than those that are termed Infusories;' because they are usually found in infusions of various substances, &c.; when dry, these animals lose all signs of life, but upon immersion, even after the lapse of years, they immediately awake from their torpor and begin to move briskly about. Even the air, according to Spallanzani, seems to contain the germes or eggs of these infinitesimals of creation, so that we swallow them when we breathe, as well as when we drink.
With respect to animals more entirely aquatic, some inhabit, as the majority of sea-fishes and animals, salt waters only, some salt at one time and fresh at another, as the species of the salmon genus, the sturgeon, &c.; and some frequent brackish waters, as some flat-fish, and shell-fish.
The bed of the mighty ocean is not only planted with a variety of herbs, which afford pasture to many of its animal inhabitants, but it has other productions which represent a forest of trees and shrubs, and are, strictly speaking, the first members of the zoological world, connecting it with the vegetable ; these are denominated Zoophytes or animal plants, and Polypes (Polypus). This last name has been adopted from Aristotle ; with him however and the ancients,
' Infusoria, Acrila, Agastria, Amorpha, Microscopica.
it is evidently used to designate the Argonaut and Nautilus of the moderns, and also to include some terrestrial shells. The Zoophytes however are not confined to the ocean, every rivulet, and stagnant ditch or pool affords to some kinds, more commonly denominated Polypes, and also to some sponges, their destined habitation. An infinite army of shell-fish, whether multivalve, bivalve, or univalve, also cover the bed of the ocean, or move in its waters, and some dance gaily on its surface with expanded sails, or dashing oars when tempted by fair weather.
From this brief view of the local distribution of animals and their various haunts, we see the care of Divine Providence, that no place, however, at first sight, apparently unfit, might be without its animal as well as vegetable population : if the hard rock is clothed with a lichen, the lichen has its inhabitant: and that inhabitant, besides affording an appropriate food to the bird that alights upon the rock, or some parasite that has been hatched in or upon its own body, assists in forming a soil upon it. There is no place so horrible and fetid from unclean and putrid substances, that is not cleansed and purified by some animals that are either its constant or nomadic inhabitants. Thus life, a life at