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Dtndrocyyna major, Jertion.

Tadorna Beltonii v. vulpanser, Auct: the European Shieldrake, of which this is the second specimen I have met with in the bazaar; and lastly, I shall only further mention

Glartola torquata; the Collared Pratincole: a specimen of which I had the good fortune to procure alive, leading me at a glance to perceive its true affinities, which heretofore had constantly puzzled me, in common, I believe, with every student of Zoology who has bestowed attention on the classification of Birds. Linnaeus arranged ibis bird as Hirundo pratincola; and Baron Cuvier included its genus among his Schassiers or " Stilt birds;" viz. the Grallatores, or "Waders" of modern English sntematists, remarking—" Nous terminerons ce tableau des echassicrs par trois genres qu'il est difficile d'associer a d'autres, et que l'on peut considerer comme formant separcment de petites families." The three genera adverted to are Chionis, Glareola, and Phtenicopterus; which are associated also by M. Temminck in his heterogeneous assemblage of odds and ends, styled by him Alectorides. Now, of these three genera, the first, or that of the Sheathbill (Chionis), has been satisfactorily referred by M. Blainville, on anatomical data, to the immediate proximity of Hamatopus, an association of which the propriety is readily seen when once suggested*, and on similar data 1 have long been satisfied that the Flamingoes (Phtenicopterus) should be ranged among the Lamellirostres or Anatidce, a position which has also been assigned to them by Mr. Swainson: this latter author, in common with most of the recent British vriters on Ornithology, has referred the Pratincoles to the Charadriada, or Plover family, associating them more immediately with Cursorius; but Mr. Jenyns (in his British Vertibrata), really as if selecting the most outri position he could find, has included this genus in his Rallidtef'. There, too, Mr. Varrell (in his 'British Birds') has followed him in grouping it; but this naturalist was so fortunate as to obtain an egg of our preseut species, which he has figured, and remarks that "the Pratincole has been arranged by some authors with the Swallows, by others near the Kails: but I believe, with Mr. Selby, that it ought to be included in the family of the Plovers; and had I known its Plover-like habits and eggs sooner, 1 should have arranged it between Cursorius and Charadrius." The figure of the egg which he has given, however, appears to me to accord still better with my view of the affinities of this genus. Several years ago, Mr. Gould called my attention to the fact that the Collared Pratincole had a slightly pectinated middle claw, and suggested to me whether, after all, the great Swedish naturalist was not right, at least in bringing this bird among the Insessores Fissirostres of Vigors; but at that time I inclined to hold a different opinion, and so far as the structure in question is concerned, that alone could scarcely influence the systematic position of the genus, as it occurs in widely separated families J; and as I have further always held the opinion

• Allied to Chionu are the remarkable genera Attagii, d'Orbigny, and Tinochorus, Vieillot, from the South American Cordilleras, and the anatomy of these equally refers them to the same systematic itation. Vide Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle under Captain Fitzroy.

t 1 need not ask what character it has in common with the Rails, but rather what it has not in direct and obvious opposition to them'

1 E. g , in many Caprinulgida;, Ardatda, and Pelicanidcr; its intent being apparently to cleanse the rictaj from such fish scales, &c. as may adhere thereto, or, in the instance of the Caprimulgidte, to detach the legs of beetles which may ditch, and thus impede the bird's swallowing tliciu.

that the Pressirostres and Longirostres of Cuvier (corresponding to the Charadrioda and Scolopacidte of modern English systematists) composed but a single great series, essentially distinct from the Cultrirostres, Cuv. {vet Gruidee ei Ardeada), which the illustrious French zoologist interposed between the former, an analogous conformation was not wanting in that series, as instanced by the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa melanura), while no trace of it occurs in the Bar-tailed Godwit (L.fedoa). Examining, however, the entire foot of a recent Pratincole, it will be seen that the resemblance it bears to that of Caprimulgus extends to the peculiar scutation, to the general form of the toes, and especially to the circumstance of the back-toe being directed inward; and whoever has witnessed the creeping gait of a British Moth-hunter (Caprimulgus) on the ground, will not fail to recognise in that of the Pratincole an exact similarity: moreover, many species of Caprimulgus have the tarse as much elongated as in Glareola, and I have been informed that certain of these assemble numerously on the mud flats near the shores of some of the West India Islands, where their habits would appear to resemble those stated of the Pratincoles. The mode of flight, too, of the latter is absolutely that of the Moth-hunters, and not by continuous flappings, as in all the Charadriadte. But what first led me to perceive the affinity which this genus bears to Caprimulgus, was the expression of the physiognomy of the living bird, as I held it in my hand, and, to descend to particulars, the semi-tubulate form of its nares, and downward curvature of the short bill seen alike in both, though the latter is so much larger and stouter in Glareola; then, looking to the feet, the similitude was at least equally striking, while the form of the wings and tail, and mode of flight, were such as might be expected to occur in a diurnal modification of the family Caprimulgidee, and together with the wide gape helped to remove this genus from the grallatorial order altogether. Even the egg, as figured by Mr. Yarrell, has not the pointed form at oue end, characteristic of those of the Snipe and Plover series; bat would appear to resemble nearly that of a CaprimtUgus, in shape as well as in markings. On the other hand, the discrepancies of Glareola with any of the varied form* of nocturnal Caprimulgidte* are sufficiently obvious externally, while internally there are some very strongly marked differences; such as the configuration of the sternum, which is doubly emarginated posteriorly, and otherwise more approximates the fonnti this important portion of the skeleton of the Charadriadee, while the tongue also i< broad and flat, with a thin serrated tip, and the muscular coat of the stomach is considerably developed,—particulars at variance with the type of Caprimulgida, but which I only now briefly advert to, since I have not lately procured an example of the latter family with which to institute an anatomical comparison. Upon the whole, I have arrived at the opinion that the Pratincoles are more nearly related by affinity to Caprtmulgida than to any other family in the class, but L hesitate as to whether they shod J be actually included therein, though, if so, I think that they should be regarded as at least constituting a very distinct sub-family, apart from the nocturnal genera, and the1 incline provisionally to arrange them.

RSPT1L1A.

All that I have to notice, in this class, among the donations of the past month, consist of two specimens of Testudo geometrica, very young, which were packed with the

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other specimens received from Lieutenant Tickell; and a small banded Gymnodactytits, from Afghanistan, nearly allied to a species formerly transmitted to the Society by Lieutenant Tickell from Midnapore, and for which we are indebted to Dr. Thorn' us. This I shall characterize when I come to notice certain others of the Gecko tribe, which I am now trying to collect.

Pisces.

For the only specimen of a Fish, the Society is under obligation to Dr. Spry, who his presented us with a small recent example of Zygoma latkeps, Cantor, ('Quarterly Journal of the Calcutta Medical and Physical Society,' for July, 1837, p. 316, icJ beautifully figured at p. 318): it was taken in the Hooghly.

Mollusc*.

The interesting series of Chusan Shells presented by Dr. Cantor to the Society, h»»e already been enumerated in his letter, and accordingly need only here to be thus briefly mentioned.

Those presented by M. M. Liautaud and Keymoneng, consist of the following species, of which such as are marked with an asterisk, bear the names with which those gentlemen have favored me: in determining some of the others, 1 have received the kind assistance of Dr. Cantor :—

From Toulon,

* Natica castanea. 'Helix variabilis.

* Pupa cinerea (Mink ?) • macuiqta.

* Cyclostoma maculatum. From Algiers,

* Bulimus decoUatus, Drapamaud.
From Teneriffe,

Caracolla pyramidaiis.
From Acupulco, Mexico,

Fissurella *

From Panama,

Bulimus *

From Guayaquil, Equatorial America,

* Bulimus depuna, Sowerby (?)
From Monte Video,
Planorbu f

From Lima,

* Physa Peruviana, Sowerby. From the Sandwich Islands, Bulla fasciata, Lamarque.

From Bone Bay, Ascension Island (of the Carolines),

Bulimus f

From the Phillipines,

Bulimus gracilis, Lea, Trails. Am. Phil. Soc. (n. s.), VII. 458, and pi. XL, tig. 6; being the third or white variety described by that naturalist; Luconia.

Helix gtgantea: Luconia.

H. polychroa, Sowerby, P. Z. S., 1841, 87, subgenus Cocklogena, de F.; Btdims virido-striatus, Lea, loc. cit., ante, p. 456, and pi. XI. fig 2.

H. luieo-fasdata. Lea, Ibid. p. 462, and pi. XII. fig. 13, but of a less flalltneJ form than is there represented: Puerto Galera.

Cyclostoma Woodianum, Lea, Ibid. p. 465, and pi. XII. fig. 1.

Mytilus f (Brackish water.)

From J. G. Heatley, Esq., I have the pleasure to acknowledge the presentation of a large and interesting collection of Shells, chiefly marine, procured from Una tat Asiatic and Australian shores of the Indian Ocean. The number of species cuai|jr.>fj in this collection is far too great for me to attempt a catalogue of them on the ytata occasion.

Insecta.

A valuable box of Insects, collected in Afghanistan, and especially interesting from the attention which has been alike bestowed on all the orders, has been presented in the Society by Dr. Thomson. The general character of these, I may briefly remark, and as may be supposed, is European, with an admixture of tropical forms, analogous to those found ou the Himalaya. A variety of British species occur, and among At very few Lepidoplera sent, are included the extensively distributed Cynthia cardw, little Polyommatus Alexis verus, which the Society also possess from Kiuwn, Hipparchia Megccra, of which also we have a Xumaon example, other specia a! this group—one common in the vicinity of Calcutta, and a handsome white-borUere<i species allied to //. Semele,—a Thecla, which appears to be the European Batxi figured by Boisduval, Thestia Pirene, Sphinx convolvulus, the domestic Bombytam, and five or six other species undetermined. The number of Hymenoptera, Coleoplers, Ortkoptera, and even Diptera, as well as Hemiptera, is considerable; but I cannuu; present do more than notice them thus generally and briefly.

Again congratulating the Society upon the extraordinary number of donations with which it has been lately favored, indicative of the rapidly increasing interest taken it its Museum, and which, it may readily be conceived, has found me pretty ampi* employment in determining so many species as have been enumerated, not to menu* various others, it now only remains to subscribe myself,

Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,
Edward Bltti.

Accompanying plate Figs. 1, 2, 3, Skull of undescribed Bos, from the Ketdai Coast, in the London United Service Museum (vide p. 447); 4, occipital view ul Gaour's Skull; 5, Horns of the Banteng, or Wild Ox of Java (p. 446); 6, Head ol Cervus niger, Blainville, from one of the late Dr. Buchanan Hamilton's drivings.—E. B.

Museum of Economic Geology. Read the following report of the Superintendent of the Museum of Economic Geology on a specimen of Limestone, from Darjeeling, referred to the Museum by Lieut. BnooMt, and his report on the Museum for April, 1842.

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