WE have lately read and heard much about that great undertaking, the Suez Canal, and of its being the means of facilitating the commerce of the human race in Europe and India. Something may also be said as to the interchange of the marine fauna of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, which will probably result from this artificial mode of communication. Geology teaches us that these two seas were once (in the post-tertiary or quaternary period) connected by a natural channel; for several species of shells now inhabiting the Mediterranean, and common there, occur in a fossil state throughout the Isthmus or Desert of Suez. These are:— Area Noæ A. lactea, var. erythræa, Donax trunculus, Solecurtus strigilatus, Gastrochæna dubia, Patella cærulea, Calyptræa Chinensis, Nassa mutabilis, N.costulata, Murex trunculus, var., and Cypræa annulus. Now it is a remarkable fact that scarcely any species in a living state are common to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, even after making every allowance for the range of local variation. Dr. R. A. Philippi, indeed, in the second volume of his admirable work on the Mollusca of the Two Sicilies (published in 1844), gave a list of all the marine shells which he had examined in the collection made by Hemprich and Ehrenberg in the Red Sea; and of these he identified no less than 75 species as living both in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. According to him the number of Red Sea species found by Hemprich and Ehrenberg was 408. But it now appears that these explorers collected at Alexandria also on their way home, and that by some carelessness or mischance many of the labels indicating the localities got intermixed; so that no reliance could be placed on the collection in a geographical point of view when it was examined by Philippi.
Malacologia del Mar Rosso.
Arturo Issel. 8vo. With five lithographed plates. (Pisa, 1869.)
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JEFFREYS, J. Malacologia del Mar Rosso. Nature 2, 83 (1870). https://doi.org/10.1038/002083a0