The Derivation of Life from the North

Abstract

ATTENTION has been called by the President of the Royal Society to the labours of Mr. Dyer, as pointing in the case of plants to the conclusion that their various forms have been developed and dispersed from the north. I presume it is recognised that similar conclusions have been arrived at by Mr. A. R. Wallace in the case of animals. Mr. Wallace points to the palæarctic region as the great centre of their development or creation. On reading “The Geographical Distribution of Animals” when it first appeared, I was so much struck with the evidence adduced, that I was tempted to write and ask him if his work might not be said to occupy the following position in the history of unravelling what was formerly the mystery of geographical distribution. Mr. Darwin and others, including Mr. Wallace himself, had found a causal nexus in the case of islands, had shown that the faunas of islands had been derived from that of the nearest mainland, and in a character and degree varying concomitantly with the degree of their present disconnection therewith. They had thus completed the necessity for “centres of creation”. Did not “The Geographical Distribution of Animals” afford the requisite evidence for carrying this commencement to its logical conclusion: for showing that in their turn the great continents themselves, or, more precisely, those which are outlying to the central mass (which is in the north, around the Pole), have a similar dependence, and have borrowed their own faunas from that northern mass, in a character and degree proportional to the dates and degree of their connection or separation from it, the islands might then be said to be the satellites, and the great zoological regions the planets of this system, all having borrowed their life directly or indirectly from a single “centre of creation”.

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