Societies and Academies

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    Linnean Society, December 7.—Mr. G. Bentham, vice-president, in the chair.—Mr. Francis Day read Part I. of the "Geographical Distribution of the Fresh-water Fishes of India."This contribution aims towards solving the vexed question ot whether the fauna of Hindostan is mostly African or Malayan. The author first separates the true fresh-water species from those which enter rivers from the sea for breeding or predacious purposes. Out of nine families of Spiny-rayed fish (Acanthopterygians), only two are likewise found in the African region, but one of these is in Madagascar, which is doubtfully African; the other is also found in the Malay Archipelago, which possesses representatives of eight out of nine families. Each of the forty-five known species is then followed out, and the author considers that the Indian and Malayan fauna (of the group in question) are essentially identical, whereas the species are scarcely represented in Africa. The fresh-water fishes of Ceylon, the Andamans and Nicobars, he believes, are also strictly Indian, whilst as these fishes cannot be spread except by line of fresh-water communication, it thus appears highly probable that these islands were at one period connected to the continent of India. Moreover, certain forms exist in Malabar which are absent from the rest of India, but reappear in the regions of Chittagong or Siam.—Mr. J. G. Baker gave the substance of an exhaustive memoir on a general systematic arrangement of the Iridaceæ (the Iris family). Nearly all the Iridaceæ inhabit temperate regions, and may be grown successfully in the open air in this country. Some are among our most familiar garden genera—for instance, the Crocus, the Iris, and the Gladiolius. Altogether about 700 species and sixty-five genera are now recognised. In his present classification the structure of the perianth mainly guides the author to adopt three primary divisions—(i) Ixieæ, (2) Irideæ, and (3) Gladioleæ, the above common garden plants serving respectively as typical examples of these groups. The three divisions in question are again subdivided into—(a) Those having bulbs with free stamens; (b) Those having bulbs with monadelphous stamens; (c) Those wanting bulbs, but with free stamens: (d) Those also devoid of bulbs with monadelphous stamens. As regards distribution, 312 genera are found at the Cape; in Europe and North Africa, 94; Temperate Asia, 89; Tropical America, 82; Tropical Africa, 56; South America, 34; Australia, 31; and Polynesia, I.—The Rev. W. A. Leighton communicated a description of eleven new British Lichens, seven of these belonging to the genus Leddea, one to Odontotrema, and three to Verrucaria.—The Chairman passed some remarks on a folio treatise concerning the structure and culture of the quinine-bearing trees (Cinchona) in our East Indian Plantations, by I. E. Howard, F.R.S.—Mr. T. Christy exhibited specimens of the so-called Black Coral (Antipathes) from the Philippines, referring to its commercial value.—Thirteen gentlemen were elected Fellows of the Society.

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    Societies and Academies . Nature 15, 150–152 (1876) doi:10.1038/015150a0

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