Page images
PDF

the boundaries of the genera of the Naiadae, can hardly justify its adoption. The assumption that genera are separated in nature by an hiatus has been ably combated by the zoologists of our present English school. Genera melt into each other, and the circumstance of the flanking individuals of each cohort being in contact does not militate against their grouping round the standards which form their rallying points. Mr. LEA has named this shell from a character which exists only in young specimens, and which is also observable in a distinct and interesting species (U. Theca, Mihi), of which I possess an unique example from the river Cane in Bundelkhand. The largest ‘specimen of Unio bilineatus in my possession, is in breadth, 2.3 inches. The adult shell has a brown epidermis inclining to fulvous towards the basal margin, and occasionally the anterior side inclines to form a wing as well as ‘the posterior. Mr. LEA gives as a character, cardinal teeth “ double in the right valve only ;" but in every specimen which I possess, a thin lamina parallel with the principal lobe of the cardinal tooth, is more or less developed in the left valve, and interlocks with those on the right; and it is this double lamina in the left valve which forms one of the most valuable distinctions between the adult bilineatus and the occasionally symphynotous young of Unio marginalis, which has no trace of a double lamina in the left valves. The concentric undulations, on the beaks, which are also observable in the young of U. marginalis, also disappear in the adult bilineatus.—'-W. H. B. UNIO Omviinws. Plate XVI. fig. 38, of ditto.

“ Testd ovatzi, transoerszi inflatzi, pellucidzi ; valvulis pertenuibus ; natibus prominulis ; epidermide pertenui, lzvui et olivze colorem habente ; dentibus car. dinalibus magnis laminatis erectisque lateralibus laminatis brevibusque ; mar. garilzi pertenui albdque.

“ Shell ovate, transverse, inflated, pellucid ,' valves very thin; beaks slightly elevated ; epidermis olive, very thin and smooth. Cardinal teeth large, erect and lamelliform ; lateral teeth short and lamelliform ; nacre very thin, white and pearly. ' ’

Hab. Burrill river, India, Dr. BurmoUeH

Diam. '7, Length -8-, Breadth 1-5 inches.

“ Shell ovate, transverse, inequilateral, inflated, pellucid : substance of the shell very thin ; beaks slightly elevated, rounded and devoid of undulations: ligament very small: epidermis olive, very thin and smooth: rays obscure, cardinal teeth large, erect and lamelliform; lateral teeth

short and lamelliform: anterior cicatrices slightly confluent: posterior cicatrices confluent: dorsal cicatrices not perceptible; cavity of the

beaks wide ; nacre very thin and blnish white.

“ Remark-s.—This interesting little shell is from the fine collection made by Dr. Buanouan, during his travels in India, and I am‘ indebted to his

kindness for the specimen figured. It is a perfectly distinct species, and may easily be recognised by its form, its pellucidness, and its smooth olivecoloured epidermis. It somewhat resembles a young Anodonta on the exterior, but the elevated lamellifuim teeth easily distinguish it from that genus. Its resemblance to a Spanish olive is very striking."

N0te.—This shell, which Lieutenant Hurron, (vol. iii. J. A. S.) refers with doubt to the young of U. marginalis*, from which it is perfectly distinct, is abundant in the shallow pools left on the sands of the Jumna and Ganges after their periodical rise. I have never met with a larger specimen than that figured by Mr. LEA. The colour of the epidermis varies from a pale clear green to a pale brown.

In concluding these notes on Mr. LEA’s interesting descriptions, I may observe, that the Asiatic Society is indebted to him for a series of American fresh-water shells, chiefly Uniones, of which a list was

published in the J. A. S. vol. i. and for a copy of his Observations on the genus Unio, printed in 1829.—-W. H. B.

[graphic]

lV.—Descriptlon of the Bearded Vulture of the Himdlaya. By B. H. Honeson, Esq. Resident in Nipal.

Ordo Rnvronns--F am. Vulxrunxnas.

Genus Gypaétos.

Rostrum rectum ,- basi plumis setaceis autrorsum directis tectum ,- suprei rotundatum ,- mandibula inferior, basifasciculo, plumis rigidis elongatisque ornata ,- cera plumis tecta ,- tarsi braves, plumosi.

Species—Barbatas, LIN.

Synon_\"ma.— Vullur barbatus, necnon barbarus, LIN. Vullur aureus, GESNER. Nisser or Golden Eagle, BRUCE. Bearded Vulture, EDWARDSLammer Geyer of the Swiss, SHAW. Father Long-beard of the Arabs of Egypt, Bnuca. The Bearded Vulture of the Himalaya, so familiar a tenant of the western portion of these mountains, nor yet unknown to, though much less common in, the eastern or Nipalese division of them, seems to have escaped the research of HARDWICKE, and of GoULD's contributors. There is no delineation of it in either the Century of the latter, or in the Illustrations of the former gentle

-man. It has also escaped the active and enlightened inquiries of

the Zoological Journal, notwithstanding the startling, and, I fancy, exaggerated, notice of it contained in H EBim’s popular narrative. On

these grounds,I am induced to forward to the Asiatic Society a draw

* Lieutenant Hurron asks if it can be the young of his Unio, No. l8,' of which the specimens deposited in the Museum Asiatic Society are U. margina

_lil-—LAMABCK.

ing and description of a very fine specimen killed in the Kheri pass, by my brother Lieut. W. Honeson: those who have better opportunities than I have of describing the bird's average size and internal structure, from comparison of numerous fresh subjects, seeming, year after year, disposed to reject the task.

My specimen is apparently that of a mature bird; but its sex is unknown to me. It measures, fromthe tip of the bill to the end of the tail, three feet ten inches, and has a breadth between the tips of the wings, not less than seven and half feet. The bill to the gape is 4 inches: the tarsi are 3% inches: and the central toe and talon 4; inches. The dimensions are given, at length, at the close ofthis paper ; meanwhile I proceed to notice the characters of the bird, and to depict his general appearance and plumage, premising, that (according to my information) his manners are decidedly more vulturine than aquiline. Ordinarily, he is met with in groups, or pairs, or singly, without marked distinction of habits in that respect. But the prospect of an abundant repast is sure to collect numbers of the species, too voraciously intent upon satisfying the cravings of an appetite dependent for its gratification upon contingencies, to admit of their betraying any of that shyness of man which the aquiline race invariably manifest. If the flesh pots be exposed at Simla, or Massuri, or elsewhere in the western hills, it becomes necessary to keep a. good watch upon them, lest the Bearded Vulture steal a share of their contents ; and the offals and carrion-carcases, freely abandoned to him by our European soldiery, and by the peasantry, he rushes to devour, almost heedless of the neighbourhood of human-kind. Such too in their manners are the Bearded Vultures or Gypaéti of Europe and of Africa, which I apprehend are specifically the same with our Asiatic type, due allowance being made for the occasional exaggeration and inaccuracy of describers, as well as for the remarkable variety of aspect which the species itself is apt to exhibit. Of the lammer geyer of the Alps, I have access to no particular description: but the detailed accounts of Bauer. and of EDWARDS, relative to the African bird, cannot be carefully corrected by each other, and then applied to the Himalayan subject, without leaving a full conviction of the identity of the species. For instance, Baucs’s assertion of the partial nudity of the head, must

be amended by reference to EDWAR1/s statement, that it is covered

with small, close plumes; or, must be accounted for by Bnuciafs own

surmise, that the subject of his examination was under moult. Neither

of their descriptions require any other allowance, in order to suit our

bird; for differences in colour are too notoriously caused by sex, age, health, and season, in most species of the Raptorial order, to warrant any nice distinction on that basis.

Enwnans gives seven and half feet for the breadth, and three feet four inches for the length of the African variety of the Gypaétos; whilst BnucE's measurements carry the size of it up to eight feet four inches of breadth, and four feet seven inches of length. My specimen of the Himalayan variety of this bird is intermediate between those two statements : but I have been assured by my brother and others, that mine is decidedly a small individual ; and that, whilst no credit is due to Hnnnifs statement of 26 feet between the wings, there can be little doubt that the Indian Gypaétos frequently has ten feet expanse of wings, and probably, sometimes, even eleven. The general structure and aspect of the Himalayan variety of this species, by their compound character, made up of Eagle and of Vulture, indicate the excellence of S'ro1m's generic title of Gypaétos, or Vulture-Eagle. The bill and head have-a distinctly vulturine cast; but the wings, tail, and feet are scarcely less decidedly aquiline; and, upon the whole, the general semblance partakes more of the eagle than of the vulture.

The bill’s length is to that of the head as 4 to 2%; its form is strictly vulturine, distinguished only by somewhat superior elonga. tion, and by the considerably greater compression of the anterior part, or that beyond the cere ; where the ridge is almost sharpened, and the sides (as nearly as may be) devoid of convexity. The cere is wanting, and is replaced by a large mass of bristles, originating with the lores and forehead, which bristles, being directed forwards, and closely applied to the bill, entirely conceal the cerous portion of it, as well as the apertures of the nares. The form and position of the nares agree very well with those of Vultur Pondicerianus .- that is, they are opened considerably, and occupy a place much nearer the tip than the gape of the bill: but they are less vertically cleft than in P0ndicarianus, and have a more anteal aspect. They are_long ovate, obliquely transverse, opened forwards, and entirely bid by the bristly incumbent cere coverts.

Another and similar mass of setaceous hair, to that just spoken of, protects the base of the lower mandible of the bill, being implanted on its sides; and a third tuft originates on its inferior surface, where the horn ceases, in order to afford extensibility to the gullet.

The last or gular tuft, like the ceral, is directed forwards, extending to the tip of the 'mandible, and there ending in a fork. This

last patch of bristles, (which gives its trivial name to the species,) is

freer, or less applied to the bill, than the others are. Hairs, scarcely

less setaceous than those laid over the bill, are likewise directed backwards over the head, shading the brows in two narrow lines, which terminate near the occiput, and have a common origin with the cere-coverts. The head, lores, and throat are perfectly clad in short, soft, composed, narrow, and pointed plumes. These small feathers give place suddenly, at the hind part of the head, to others of the same lanceolate form, but of ample size and free set, which adorn the whole neck, above and below, and have considerable aifinity to the vulturine ruff. The head is broad and fiat crowned, but not so flat or so broad as in the vultures : the e_ve, like their’s, mean and small. The wings are of vast amplitude, reaching to within five inches of the tip of a tail that is no less than 22 inches long. They are high-shouldered, but less strikingly so than in the vultures. The prime quills exceed the tertiaries by 6 inches; first remex 3% inches less; the 2nd, which is very little if at all inferior in length to the 3rd, and 4th, the longest of all. The outer vane of all these quills is not emarginated; but the inner is strongly so, remotely from their tips. Though there be no appearance of moult in my specimen, I suspect that the relation of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th remiges, as above stated, can hardly be the permanent and characteristic one; which probably gives 4th quill longest. The tail is longer than in any aquiline or vulturine birdl know, and is much and regularly gradated on the sides, the extreme lateral feathers being six inches shorter than the central ones; I should call the tail, therefore, wedged.

The legs are very short, and less muscular than in the genus Vultur; tarsi low and completely plumed, as in the Golden Eagle: thigh coverts long, reaching, (if directed towards them,) to the bases of the toes. The toes and talons are of the aquiline type: the former of medial unequal length and thickness, and reticulated, with the outer toes connected to the centrals by a large basal membrane: the

latter, or talons, larger, acuter, and more falcate, than in the vulture,

and as much so as in most of the Falconidae : the outer fore and hind talon largest and equal; the central, less considerably; and the inner, as much smaller again. The general colour of our specimen is dark brown above, and rusty below ; but the whole upper part of the back, and the top of the rufi" on its dorsal aspect, are nearly unmixed pale orange: the shafts of the wing and tail feathers are mostly white; and their vanes, as well as those of the wing-coverts, are irregularly varied (for the most part, internally) with yellowish marginal or central streaks. The entire rufl", except where it fringes the occiput, is saturate, unmixed, brown ; and the throat is essentially the same, but paler, and touched, here and there, with yellow. The

« PreviousContinue »