The toothed whales are divided into the Physeteridae, the Delphinidae, and the Platanistidae, which latter is placed between the two other families, and is divided into the sub-families Iniinae and Platanistinae.) that these fresh-water porpoises form two sub- families, making an extremely isolated and intermediate, very small family. Hence to us they are clearly remnants of a large group; and I cannot doubt we here have a good instance precisely like that of ganoid fishes, of a large ancient marine group, preserved exclusively in fresh-water, where there has been less competition, and consequently little modification. (384/4. See Volume I., Letter 95.) What a grand fact that is which Miquel gives of the beech not extending beyond the Caucasus, and then reappearing in Japan, like your Himalayan Pinus, and the cedar of Lebanon. (384/5. For Pinus read Deodar. The essential identity of the deodar and the cedar of Lebanon was pointed out in Hooker's "Himalayan Journals" in 1854 (Volume I., page 257.n). In the "Nat. History Review," January, 1862, the question is more fully dealt with by him, and the distribution discussed. The nearest point at which cedars occur is the Bulgar-dagh chain of Taurus--250 miles from Lebanon. Under the name of Cedrus atlantica the tree occurs in mass on the borders of Tunis, and as Deodar it first appears to the east in the cedar forests of Afghanistan. Sir J.D. Hooker supposes that, during a period of greater cold, the cedars on the Taurus and on Lebanon lived many thousand feet nearer the sea-level, and spread much farther to the east, meeting similar belts of trees descending and spreading westward from Afghanistan along the Persian mountains.) I know of nothing that gives one such an idea of the recent mutations in the surface of the land as these living "outlyers." In the geological sense we must, I suppose, admit that every yard of land has been successively covered with a beech forest between the Caucasus and Japan!

I have not yet seen (for I have not sent to the station) Falconer's works. When you say that you sigh to think how poor your reprinted memoirs would appear, on my soul I should like to shake you till your bones rattled for talking such nonsense. Do you sigh over the "Insular Floras," the Introduction to New Zealand Flora, to Australia, your Arctic Flora, and dear Galapagos, etc., etc., etc.? In imagination I am grinding my teeth and choking you till I put sense into you. Farewell. I have amused myself by writing an audaciously long letter. By the way, we heard yesterday that George has won the second Smith's Prize, which I am excessively glad of, as the Second Wrangler by no means always succeeds. The examination consists exclusively of [the] most difficult subjects, which such men as Stokes, Cayley, and Adams can set.


...While writing a few pages on the northern alpine forms of plants on the Java mountains I wanted a few cases to refer to like Teneriffe, where there are no northern forms and scarcely any alpine. I expected the volcanoes of Hawaii would be a good case, and asked Dr. Seemann about them. It seems a man has lately published a list of Hawaiian plants, and the mountains swarm with European alpine genera and some species! (385/1. "This turns out to be inaccurate, or greatly exaggerated. There are no true alpines, and the European genera are comparatively few. See my 'Island Life,' page 323."-- A.R.W.) Is not this most extraordinary, and a puzzler? They are, I believe, truly oceanic islands, in the absence of mammals and the extreme poverty of birds and insects, and they are within the Tropics.

Will not that be a hard nut for you when you come to treat in detail on geographical distribution? I enclose Seemann's note, which please return when you have copied the list, if of any use to you.

LETTER 386. TO J.D. HOOKER. Down, February 21st [1870].

I read yesterday the notes on Round Island (386/1. In Wallace's "Island Life," page 410, Round Island is described as an islet "only about a mile across, and situated about fourteen miles north-east of Mauritius." Wallace mentions a snake, a python belonging to the peculiar and distinct genus Casarea, as found on Round Island, and nowhere else in the world. The palm Latania Loddigesii is quoted by Wallace as "confined to Round Island and two other adjacent islets." See Baker's "Flora of the Mauritius and the Seychelles." Mr.

More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume II Page 07

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book