Report on the Ichthyology of the Seas of China and Japan

John M. Richardson ; Medical Inspector of Naval Hospitals

Table of Contents (ToC)

  1. Overview
  2. Ophicephalus maculatus
  3. Ophicephalus iris
  4. Ophicephalus miliaris
  5. Ophicephalus argus
  6. Ophicephalus oculatus
  7. Ophicephalus puticola
  8. Ophicephalus jovis

Overview [Heading given by]

Introduction by

For better readability, introduced passage breaks.

The following report is essentially a list of the fish which are known to inhabit the waters of the Chinese empire, to which I have added the Japanese species that have been named in the «Fauna Japonica» of Siebold, edited by Temminck and Schlegel, and now in the course of publication. The position of the southern islands of Japan, in the same parallels of latitude with the northern coasts of China, and with only a narrow sea intervening, would lead us to believe that the species of fish which resort to the opposing shores of the two kingdoms are the same, and such is the fact as far as our evidence goes. Accurate local catalogues of animals are of much utility to the zoologist, being indispensable instruments for eliciting the geographical distribution of forms and species; but in respect of documents of this kind, ichthyology is far behind the other departments of natural history. We have ample lists of the quadrupeds, birds, reptiles and plants of most of the larger districts of the globe, but out of Europe we cannot refer to an enumeration of the fish of any country that can be said to approach completeness, with the exception of the ichthyology of the Red sea, which has been made known by the labours of Förskal, Ehrenberg and Rüppell. The fish of Madeira have been catalogued by the Rev. R. T. Lowe, and those of the Canaries, collected by Webb and Bertholet, have been described in the ichthyological part of their work by M. Valenciennes. The fish of British India also have been extensively figured by Russell, Buchanan-Hamilton and McClelland; but much comparative examination of the species of that wide country is still required to enable us to distinguish those which are common to other countries or districts of the ocean from those which are peculiar to it. Some of the northern states also of the North American union have very laudably caused catalogues to be formed of the animals of their respective territories, and from the great «Histoire de Poissons» of Cuvier and Valenciennes, we may extract lists, though by no means full ones, of the Acanthopterygian fish that inhabit the coasts of Brazil, the Caribbean sea, Polynesia, and the Malay archipelago; but of the ichthyology of the extra-tropical seas of the southern hemisphere, and of the whole range of the North and South American coast washed by the Pacific, it is almost silent. About a score of Japanese and Chinese fish were discovered in the time of Linnaeus by Lagerström, Houttuyn, Osbeck and others, and a few were added by Langsdorff, who accompanied the Russian admiral in his voyage to the isles of Japan and the South Sea. With these exceptions, the fish of the eastern coasts of Asia, from the sea of Ochotsk down to Cochin China, were, till very recently, known to European naturalists merely by drawings of native artists, several collections of which are to be found in the British and Paris libraries 1 . Within the last two years Temminck and Schlegel have commenced the publication, which we have already alluded to, of Siebold's ichthyological researches in Japan, and have carried on the work to the eighth fasciculus, and through the great families of Percidae, Triglidae, Scianidae, Sparidae, and Scomberidae.

Several novel and interesting forms have been already illustrated in this important work, most of them ranging to the southern coasts of China, and not unknown to English ichthyologists, though published for the first time in the «Fauna Japonica». For upwards of fifteen years materials for an ample account of the fish of China have existed in England. John Reeves, Esq., who was long resident at Macao, filling an important office in the employ of the India Company, with an enlightened munificence, caused beautiful coloured drawings, mostly of the natural size, to be made of no fewer than 310 species of fish which are brought to the markets at Canton. These drawings are executed with a correctness and finish which will be sought for in vain in the older works on ichthyology, and which are not surpassed in the plates of any large European work of the present day. The unrivalled brilliancy and effect of the colouring, and correctness of profile, render them excellent portraits of the fish they are intended to represent; but further details of a technical kind, such as the distribution of the teeth in the roof of the mouth, the numbers of the gill-rays, and the fine serratures and denticulations on the edges of the opercular pieces, are required for the location of the species in their proper genera. Such minute characters, which can be detected, in many instances, only by aid of a lens, require to be exaggerated to be shown in a drawing, and indeed, when the serratures of the gill-pieces were sufficiently large to be conspicuous to the naked eye, the Chinese artist has seldom failed to represent them.

Mr. Reeves had four copies of these drawings made. One set, which he presented to General Hardwicke, is bound up with that officer's large collection of sketches of Indian fish, in four folio volumes, which he bequeathed to the British Museum. These volumes have been inspected by many English and foreign ichthyologists, and, among others, by Müller and Henle, who refer to them in their excellent «Plagiostomen». Another copy, left by Mr. Reeves at Macao with Mr. Beale, formed the groundwork of the enumeration of Chinese fish in Bridgeman's «Chrestomathy», in which, by the way, very numerous mistakes in the generic names occur. A third copy, which he liberally lent to me, is the foundation of this report 2 . The Banksian library also contains a work entitled «Figurae Piscium Sinensium a Pictore Sinensi pictae», which is referred to by M. Valenciennes in the sixteenth and seventeenth volumes of the «Histoire des Poissons», treating of the Cyprinide; the same library possesses a Japanese treatise on fishes, with their Chinese names appended, and with coloured plates; and a manuscript work entitled, «Descriptions of Animals», being an account, in the Linnean method, of the various species, both terrestrial and marine, observed in a voyage to lndia and China, with pen and ink figures of small size, but well-executed. The author is unknown. There are also several Chinese works in the library of the British Museum containing figures of fishes, but they are far inferior to the others we have mentioned, and look more like fanciful designs than natural history illustrations.

Mr. Reeves deposited in the British Museum specimens of Chinese fish, both dried and preserved in spirits, part of them the very examples which are figured in his drawings. His son, J. R. Reeves, Esq., has likewise presented various fish procured at Macao to the British Museum; among which are several species not figured in his father's drawings. The Rev. George Vachell, who was Chaplain to the India Company at Macao fifteen years ago, collected about 100 species of fish there, and presented them to the Philosophical Institution at Cambridge, in whose museum they are preserved in spirits, and mostly in good condition. One or two small collections made at Chusan have reached the India House from officers serving there during the late war, and several have been sent to Haslar Hospital by the naval officers employed on various parts of the coast, more especially by R. A. Bankier, Esq., surgeon in the Royal Navy, and Captain Sir Edward Belcher, whose specimens are figured in the «Ichthyology of the Voyage of the Sulphur»; recently published by aid from the Treasury under the auspices of the Government. The College of Surgeons of London also possesses a small number of Chinese fish, procured by Sir Everard Home in the estuary of the Yang tze keang, the great river which falls into the entrance of the Yellow sea. An assemblage of Chinese fish, exceeding all these in number, exists in the Chinese collection, made by Mr. Dunn, and now exhibiting at Hyde Park. The proprietor most liberally permitted me to examine this important collection ; but owing to my residence at a distance from London, and the way in which the bottles holding the fish are secured in screwed-up cases, I have not been able to avail myself of this permission to the necessary extent for the identification of known species or the description of new ones. In the same collection there are also many coloured drawings of fish.

The following list is drawn up from these various sources. Looking to the number of species which it includes, I cannot but consider it as a pretty full enumeration of the freshwater and marine fish of the eastern coasts of the Chinese empire, and it will furnish the inquirer into the geographical distribution of forms with several important facts. The ichthyology of China forms a material link in the evidence by which we are enabled to trace the variations in the numbers and grouping of species from the seas of Ochotsk, Kamtschatka and Behring's Strait southwards, by the Philippines, Malay archipelago, Javan sea and Torres Straits to the coasts of Australia. The «Ichthyology of the Voyage of the Erebus and Terror», under the command of Sir James Clark Ross, another work which owes its existence to the support of Government, will contain a much fuller account of the fish of the higher southern latitudes than any previous ichthyological publication, together with figures of at least 100 new species, some of them taken beyond the 71st parallel. In fact, the gradual disappearance of the arctic forms in the seas of Japan and the north of China, their replacement by other assemblages in the warmer latitudes, and their re-appearance on the coasts of Van Diemen's Land, the southern islands of New Zealand, the Aucklands and other antarctic lands, may be followed with equal, if not more accuracy than similar gradations can be traced through the Atlantic ocean.

General ichthyology has not made sufficient progress to enable us to deduce the laws by which the geographical distribution of species is regulated. The only modern work which professes to describe all the species is yet in progress, and judging from the numerous additions of new species made by every scientific expedition that has left Great Britain or France since the publication of the first ten or twelve of the «Histoire des poissons» we are assured that very many fish remain to be incorporated in it sees a new edition, or in any other work that embraces the same objects: and in regard to the extent of range of the described species, the alterations will be no less important. I shall not therefore attempt more in this paper in reference to the geographical distribution of fish than merely to mention one or two facts that have some bearing on opinions at present entertained by geologists. Much stress has been laid upon the existence of tropical forms of fish in the ancient deposits of northern latitudes as a proof of the high temperature of the earth in former ages; but I believe that the range of intertropical species is less restricted than it has been supposed to be. Among the Bermudas, on the 32nd parallel, the Chaetodontidae are so abundant that they are preserved in basins inclosed from the sea as an important article of food for the garrison and inhabitants; and a considerable number of fish range northwards from the Brazils to the coasts of the United States, some of them even to the banks of Newfoundland. It is probable that the gulf stream has something to do with this, as fewer tropical forms seem to reach the same parallels on the coasts of Europe. If so, there is probably a current of a similar kind setting to the northward on the coasts of China, for many species which abound in the Indian ocean range as far north as Japan. M. Agassiz says, «Les Xiphioides de Sheppy out tons le bec arrondi comme le Tetrapture et les Histiophores; or ces derniers ne quittent jamais les mers du Sud». (Rep. Br. Ass. for 1841, p. 305). Yet M. Bürger has discovered a Histiophorus on the south-west coasts of the Japanese isles, and the same or another species exists in the seas of New Zealand.

Several remarkable generic forms described in the «Fauna Japonica», such as Hoplegnathus or Scarodon , Histiopterus , Melanichthys or Crenidens and others, have been detected also in the Australian seas. In short, from the 42nd degree of south latitude to the same parallel north of the equator, between the meridians which include Australia, New Zealand, the Malay archipelago, China and Japan, there is but one ichthyolorical province, though towards the respective extremes there is a mingling of antarctic and arctic forms with a corresponding diminution in the numbers of the intertropical ones. But in the middle portion of this province its dimensions in longitude are vastly extended. Very many species of the Red sea, the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar and the Mauritius, range to the Indian ocean, the southern seas of China, the Malay archipelago, the northern coasts of Australia, and the whole of Polynesia, - the almost continuous ranges of islands apparently favouring their distribution. A comparatively small number of these species enter the Atlantic, and such as do are mostly Scomberoids, Scopelines, Lophobranchs, Plectognathes or Sharks. It is repeatedly remarked in the «Histoire des Poissons», that few species of fish cross the Atlantic. From this observation, the Scomberoids which skim the surface of the bigh seas ought perhaps to be excluded; and some allowance must also be made for South American species discovered on the African coasts and islands since the time that the passages in the «Histoire des Poissons», to which I allude, were written. But with these qualifications, the remark appears to be well-founded, and the great bulk of species on different sides of the Atlantic are different. When we seek for some cause which may explain this difference in the distribution of the fish of the two oceans, we observe that the bounding shores of the Atlantic run north and south, with a deep sea between them, and no transverse chains of islands. On the other hand, we have from Africa eastward, within the warmer districts of the ocean, a continuus range through the Indian ocean and archipelago, the Malay Archipelaigo and Polynesia, which embraces t hree-fourths of the circumferences of the globe; there being no points of continent which cut through that great zone and project into the colder regions to the southward 3 . Could we suppose so extensive a belt, having a breadth of sixty degrees of latitude, to be suddenly elevated, we should find the remains of fish scattered over it to be everywhere nearly alike; - the species having a local distribution being comparatively few and unimportant. These spoils of fish would of course, if the opinions of Professor E. Forbes be well-founded, be associated with assemblages of molluscs and other marine animals, varying according to the depth at which the deposit took place. When we advance northwards in the Atlantic, beyond the 41th parallel, the number of species common to both shores increases. The salmon of America is identical with that which frequents the British Isles and the coasts of Norway and Sweden, and the same is the case with the codfish and several other members of the Gadoid family, and also with some Cottoids. The Cottoids increase in number and variety as we approach the Arctic circle, and this is the case also in the northern arm of the Pacific, though the generic forms differ from those of the Atlantic. From the near approach probably of the Asiatic and American coasts at Behring Straits, the fish on both sides are nearly alike, down to the sea of Ochotsk on the one side, and Admiralty inlet on the other. In the sea of Japan, and the neighbouring coasts of China, we find northern forms associated with many common to the temperate and warmer parts of the ocean. In the colder regions of the southern hemisphere there is again a predominance of the Cottoid and Gobioid families, but with a dissimilarity in some of the generic forms, though there are also many genera identical with those of the northern ones. We again find in the southern seas codfish much like those of the north, and Notacanthus and Macrourus , two very remarkable Greenland genera, which inhabit deep water, and are seldom procured except when thrown up by storms, have recently been discovered on the coasts of New Zealand and South Australia. Several genera are peculiar to the southern hemisphere, such as Notothenia , Bovichthys and Harpagifer ; and of these we find the same species at the Falklands, Cape Horn, Auckland Islands and Kerguelen's Land; in fact, in the whole circle of the high latitudes, The fish of the New Zealand seas differ little from those of Van Diemen's Land and South Australia.

From what has been stated, it appears that the ichthyology of the Australian seas has an Asiatic character 4 as opposed to the Atlantic or South American assemblages of species. The fish of the Pacific coasts of America are too imperfectly known to enable us to ascertain how many of them range to the other side of the great ocean. Is there a marked change either in generic forms or species between the eastern limits of Polynesia and the American coasts?

The desultory observations I have thrown out respecting the distribution of fish apply more particularly to the marine osseous fish, but those which compose the sub-class of Cartilaginei have even a more extensive range. The sharks of the China seas and of Australia are for the most part identical. One of them, the Cestracion , has attracted the attention of geologists on account of the teeth of an ancient species having been found in European deposits, associated with fossil palms and other plants of the warmer regions. But whatever inference may be drawn from the character of the plants, no great reliance ought to be placed on the teeth of the Cestracion as an indication of the temperature when the deposit was made. The Australian species, or one differing from it chiefly in colour and little in form, inhabits likewise the seas of China and Japan; and when deposits now forming are revealed to the eyes of future geologists, its spoils will be found associated with the Huon pines of Van Diemen's Land, the Eucalypti of New Holland, the fern trees of New Zealand, or with the vegetation of the temperate parts of Asia, according to the locality that is explored.

With regard to freshwater fish , China agrees closely with the peninsula of India in the generic forms, but not in species. It abounds with Cyprinidae , Ophicephalidae and Siluridae . As in the distribution of marine fish the interposition of a continent stretching from the tropics far into the temperate or colder parts of the ocean separates different ichthyological groups; so with respect to the freshwater species, the intrusion of arms of the sea running far to the northwards, or the interposition of a lofty mountain chain, effects the same thing. The freshwater fish of the Cape of Good Hope, and the South American ones are different from those of lndia and China. The remarkable mailed Siluroids of intertropical America are unlike any freshwater fish of Africa or Asia, while the Ophicephali are almost exclusively Asiatic; a genus of the same family being found at the Cape of Good Hope but none in America. The Cyprinidae have been said to be wanting in Polynesia and Australia. In the coral islands of Polynesia their absence is clearly owing to the want of lakes or rivers, and of Australia it may be said that the rivers have not been sufficiently explored. They exist in the larger islands of the Javan chain, and it is likely that the same species will hereafter be detected in the northern parts of Australia. And the Cyprinoid family is not altogether unknown in Australia. A curious marine Cyprinoid, the Rhynchana greyi (Ichth. of Voy. of Erebus and Terror), is not rare in the seas of New Zealand and South Australia. It has been a prevalent opinion that the Cyprinidae are exclusively freshwater fish, but the Catastomi of North America frequent the estuaries of the rivers which fall into the Arctic sea, living indifferently in the salt and fresh water, and thriving wherever they find proper food. The anadromous Percoids differ very slightly in form from others that are purely inhabitants of fresh waters; and many examples of the same kind might be adduced from among the marine fish 5 . The common anadromous salmon ( Salmo salar ) does not descend beyond the 41st degree of latitude on the eastern coast of America,and it isprobably restrained within similar bounds on the eastern coast of Asia, for we find no representations of it among the Chinese drawings. It is said by ichthyological writers to be an inhabitant of all the northern part of the Old World, from the entrance of the Bay of Biscay northwards, by the North Cape, along the Arctic shores of Asia and down the coasts of Kamtschatka to the sea of Ochotsk, including the Baltic, White sea, Gulf of Kara and other inlets 6 . Other kinds of salmon abound in the estuaries of Kamtschatka, and on the opposite coast of America down to the Oregon, but none appear to descend to China.

In the following list Mr. Reeves's drawings are quoted by their original numbers in his portfolio, and also as they are now placed in the volumes bequeathed by General Hardwicke to the nation. A few of Mr. Reeves's drawings, which are not in General Hardwicke's collection, are also quoted. When I have seen Chinese examples of any of the species enumerated in the list, I have seldom omitted to mention the museum in which they are deposited; and when nothing is said of specimens, it is to be understood that the species is named front the inspection of Mr. Reeves's drawings, or when there is no figure on the authority of the authors quoted. The Chinese names are in some cases written from sound and not from sense 7 . The sounds in English characters and the translations were furnished to me by Mr. Reeves and Mr. Birch, of the British Museum.

Mr. Reeves informs me that few of the fishes represented in the drawings are brought to the tables of foreigners. Soles are almost constantly presented at breakfast, and the Sciena lucida generally forms a part of that meal. The Leucosoma , or White Bait of the residents, and a Serranus , are regular dinner dishes; and the Polynemus called Salmon-fish and the Stromateus or Pomfret, when in season. Sturgeon is occasionally seen. The Chinese eat all kinds, from a shrimp to a shark; but Carp, Bream, Siluri , Ophicephali and Gobies, are the principal fish seen in the markets of Canton.

In drawing up the list I have received much aid from John Edward Gray, Esq., Keeper of the Zoological Department of the British Museum, who had commenced a work on the subject; and great facility in consulting the books and specimens of that institution. With the same want of reserve the Museum of the Cambridge Philosophical Institution was opened to me; and I have already mentioned the liberality of the late proprietor of the Chinese collection at Hyde Park.


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Fam. Anabantide

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Ophicephalus maculatus

 Drawing of C. maculata by ReevesDrawing of C. maculata. This drawing is the first picture of C. maculata in the Channa natural history. Lacépède had made no drawing of that fish. is very proud to be the first publisher of this drawing! It has never been published before!

Height of body one-sixth of total length, and rather more than half the length of the head. Teeth short and densely villiform, or rather finely card-like, with a cluster of longer ones at the symphysis, as in the Serrani . A portion of the dental surface projects forward at the apex of the lowerjaw, and the teeth of the exterior row there and at the sides of the jaw are stronger than the rest. The palatine bones are armed with stronger curved teeth, having smaller ones at their bases. Vomerine teeth small. Pharyngeal apparatus an oval cell capable of being closed by various lobes which spring from its borders. Scales ciliated, and strongly marked by curved streaks nearly parallel to their posterior edges. Lateral line interrupted over the anus, and commencing again on the second row of scales beneath, whence it runs straight to the end of the tail. Ground colour yellowish-brown, fading to broccoli-brown and bluish-gray on the belly. Large irregular blackish-brown spots in two or three rows on the sides, and ten or eleven round spots along the base of the dorsal, which becomes dark towards the edge, and in the figure shows obscurely three other rows of dark spots; these are effaced in the specimens. The anal also is dark on its outer half, and shows faintly a series of oblique bars. One blackish-brown stripe passes backwards from the eye along the temporal groove, and dilates on the side of the head and upper edge of the gill-cover; another crosses the cheek lower down, and passing over the lower border of the operculum, is continued to the base of the pectoral; the space between these is nearly filled by a paler umber-brown bar, which is bordered by the yellowish-brown ground colour. There are also blackish-brown spots and bars scattered over the nose, top of the head and jaws; and three imperfect bars on the pectorals. The caudal in fig. 148 is uniformly dark, with two transverse bars on its scaly base. In figure ß. 19 the basal half of the caudal is straw-yellow, with four dark transverse bars, and the other vertical fins are also lighter with more definite bars. Length of specimen 5 1/2 inches; length from snout to anus, 2.45 inches; length of head, 1.6 inch; height of body, 0.9 inch.

There is a difference in the numbers of the fin-rays in Mr. Reeves's two figures.

The above description is drawn up of two specimens in the museum of the Cambridge Philosophical Institution, which were brought from Canton by the Rev. George Vachell. In the same institution are two rather larger specimens from the same quarter which do not differ in any essential point of structure, but present a series of bright silvery rhomboidal marks between the two principal rows of dark lateral spots, having, with them, a quincuncial arrangement. These bright places are not shown in either of Mr. Reeves's figures. There are series of pores in the temporal fossae down the limb of the preoperculum and along the limbs of the lower jaw. The lateral line is interrupted over the anus, but there are as many rows of lines as there are scales, so that the proper continuation of the line is difficult to make out. Length of specimens 6 1/2 and 8 1/2 inches; rays of dorsal, 44; of anal, 1/28.

These Ophicephali are carried about the streets of Canton in tubs and are cut in pieces alive for sale.

Hab . Canton.


Ophicephalus iris

Described from a Chinese painting brought from Canton by M. Dussumier. An azureblue spot on the end of the tail.

Hab . Canton.


Ophicephalus miliaris

Also described from a Chinese painting.

Hab . Canton.


Ophicephalus argus

« Brownish-green back and sides, reddish-white abdomen; numerous black ocellated spots edged with white above the lateral line; fins yellow, spotted with black .» - Cantor.

Hab . Chusan. Streamlets and estuaries.


Ophicephalus oculatus

This species is very imperfectly known, and only from a Chinese painting. 8

Hab . China.


Ophicephalus puticola

As most of the Chinese Ophicephali have been described from drawings only, and the colours appear to vary with age and season, it is probable that there has been an undue multiplication of species; and the drawing now quoted may eventually prove to be referrible to the same species with Lacépède's oculatus, but his figure differs in form, and it is impossible to reconcile the two in the present state of our knowledge of the ichthyology of Canton.
Drawing of C. puticola by ReevesDrawing of C puticola which is (evidentally) a synonym for C. asiatica.

Mr. Reeves's drawing of puticola presents a light oil-green colour along the back, gradually passing on the sides and belly into peach-blossom red; a pale apple-green bar deeper towards its edges covers the temples and operculum; and there are about eleven blackish-green bars on the sides, bent backwards en chevron in the middle, and fading away towards the belly. On the scaly base of the tail, above its middle, there is a round spot of the same blackish-green hue. The head behind the eyes, the whole of the sides, the lower half of the dorsal, and the basal half of the caudal, are thickly spotted with points and small lines of sienna-yellow. All the fins are broadly bordered with blackish-gray, the basal halves of the anal and dorsal being ochraceous, and of the pectorals and caudal approaching to hyacinth-red. The tubular margins of the anterior nasal openings are represented as unusually long; the caudal as much rounded, and the length as equal to six times and one-half the height of the body. D. 43; A. 34, &c. Length of figure 9 1/4. inches.

Hab . Canton.


Ophicephalus jovis

Drawing of C. jovis by ReevesDrawing of C. jovis which is (evidentally) a synonym for C. asiatica.
As the young of Oph. marulius differs very greatly from the adult in its colours, so it is not impossible but this may be the young of the preceding. Its different Chinese designation, however, and very different tints of colour, induce us to name it as distinct.

The body is marked by ten or eleven blackish-green waved and forked bands, alternating with as many arterial blood-red ones; the two colours being about equal in quantity, either may be considered as the ground one. The top of the head is dark green; a dark green stripe which runs backwards from the eye and spreads over the gill-cover, is traversed part of the way by two red bars; and there is a red spot near the tip of the gill-flap. Some yellow points are scattered oil the side of the head and along the flanks, but not nearly so copiously as in puticola . The caudal, dorsal and pectorals are broccoli-brown, without bars or spots. The anal is yellowish-brown at the base, marked along its middle by a narrow white riband, which is shaded above by blackish-gray passing into white, and finally, the edge of the fin is bluish-gray. The anterior nostrils are tubular, but the tubes are scarcely so long as those of puticola . The form of the fish otherwise is much the same as in that species. Length of figure nearly 6 inches.

Hab . Canton.


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1 A paper published in the third volume of the Chinese Repository, and partly reprinted by Dr. Cantor in his account of the Flora and Fauna of Chusan (Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist., vol. ix.), gives a more detailed account of what has been done by Europeans in illustration of the natural history of China. Back

2 General Hardwicke began his collections of illustrations of Asiatic zoology in the last century, and continued them till his final return to this country in 1818. He lost many specimens and the fruit of much labour by three several shipwrecks; but this, instead of damping his ardour, roused him to fresh exertions, and he was busy up to the time of his death in preparing his collections for publication, the scientific part having been undertaken by Mr. Gray. Among the drawings of fish which he procured, there are some by Major Farquhar, and a considerable number copied from the drawings of Buchanan Hamilton, by that gentelman's consent, and by the same artists which he employed. This is mentioned because a charge of piracy had been made in the Calcutta Journal against General Hardwicke, who was however too high-minded to appropriate to himself the labours of others to himself due acknowledgement; and the careful references in his own writing on the drawings of Buchanan Hamilton, show that he had no intention of claiming anything that belonged to that distinguished naturalist. The General bequeathed his specimens and the whole of his collections of drawings, amounting to twenty folio volumes, to the British Museum, and also set apart a sum of money to defray the expense of publishing the scientific description of them. His collections have been deposited, as he wished, in the national institution, but his intentions respecting the publication have been entirely frustrated by a chancery suit, which was instituted soon after his death. Richardson talks of nowadays 60.000 USD value book: «Illustrations of Indian Zoology: chiefly selected from the collection of Major-General Hardwicke», London 1845 []. Back

3 Neither the objects nor the limits of this report admit of a full consideration of the manner in which an archipelago extending in longitude favours the diffusion of many species of fish; but I may remark cursorily, that the multiplication of places of deposit for spawn on the shores of the islands and intervening coral banks, and the appropriate food that many fish find in such places, may have much influence. The Chaetodonidae , Labridae , Balistidae and other groups of littoral fish, are among the most remarkable for the extensive range of species. Some of the Lophobranchi who inhabit floating beds of sea weed, to which they adhere by their prehensile tails, have also an extensive range; the moveable and extensive beds of Sagasso being, in fact, as far as they are concerned, so many islands. Back

4 Mr. Gray informs us, that setting aside the Marsupials of Australia, which are of a different group of South American ones, the ordinary quadrupeds, of which many species are now known, have an Asiatic character; and that all the Australian reptiles are like those of the Old World, while those which inhabit the Galapagos belong to American groups. The genera, he goes on to remark, of the Australian reptiles are mostly peculiar, but belong to Asiatic, or at least to Old World families. One species, named Gecko verus , is common to Australia and to India and its islands, and the Plestiodon 5-lineatum , which is very common in North America, exists, also in Australia and Japan,and may perhaps have been introduced. The genus, which is a very natural one, and well-characterized, consists of five species, viz. the cosmopolite one that we have mentioned, a second one inhabiting America, a third one belong to North Africa, and two in China. Specimens from different localities have been carefully examined by Mr. Gray, who considers the diffusion of the species of this genus as an anomaly in the geographical distribution of reptiles. Back

5 In the genera Ambassis and Apogon , there are species truly marine, with others closely resembling them, that inhabit fresh waters and even thermal springs of high temperature. Most of the Coregoni pass their whole lives in inland waters, but many individuals, carried down to the sea by river floods, live and thrive in the brackish or salt waters of the estuaries: and the brackish lagoons of Port Essington on the north coast of Australia furnish full-grown examples of Carangi, Mesopriones, and other fish considered to be purely marine. Back

6 Professor Nilson mentions that salmon inhabit the freshwater lakes of Sweden named Wenern and Siljan during the winter and spring and then ascend the rivers to spawn, returning to the lakes again to recruit, as salmon of other rivers do to the sea. The same habit has been ascribed to the salmon of Lake Ontario. Back

7 That is, when the proper character is a complex one, the writer will substitute one of the same sound but of a more simple form, hence the apparent want of meaning of some of the English translations. [ ... ]. Back

8 Ophicephalus oculata is a synonym for Channa marulius (Hamilton, 1822) . []. Back

9 Ophicephalus puticola is a synonym for Channa asiatica (Linné, 1758) . []. Back

10 Ophicephalus jovis is a synonym for Channa asiatica (Linné, 1758) . []. Back

Acknowledgement and Source(s)

These passages were originally published under the above title in: Report of the British Association fot the Advancement of Science for 1845; 320 pp.

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