The History of the European Fauna

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The recovery of the land began in and the park opened in June The work was not easy: removing tons of soil, closing deep mining cavities, recovering the medieval or even Roman roads of the area, building appropriate facilities for animals huts, dens , growing plants and trees, building the whole road network of the park…. It is worth mentioning that Spain joined the European Union in and these objectives correspond to the first actions financed with European funds in Cantabria. The objectives are the following:. The ERDF funds co-funded Moreover, it has become one of the greatest tourist attractions of northern Spain.

It is so successful than more than 5 million people have visited it since its opening and it has become one of the main tourist attractions of CANTUR, the Regional Cantabrian Tourism Society under the Government of Cantabria, to which it belongs. However, its objectives are not only centered around tourist entertainment or bringing people closer to nature: its many scientific purposes, such as the conservation of species, the study of animal behaviour or captive breeding are also worth noting. Nowadays, many other interesting projects such as this one receive European funding in Cantabria.

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The History of the European Fauna | Semantic Scholar

You must be logged in to post a comment. During May and June , DG Regional Policy of the European Commission is running a blogging competition about these projects, with the three prizewinners invited to attend the European Week of Regions and Cities this October as fully accredited journalists. May 25, The Elephant enclosure The inhabitants of the 20 precincts of the park are served a very healthy diet and their quality of life is undeniably high, considering they live in captivity.

The following species stand out among African wildlife; elephants, white rhinos, leopards or giraffes; among Asian wildlife; the Siberian tiger and the Bengal tiger; among European fauna; brown bears and European bison; and among American wildlife; the jaguar. The botanical trails allow you to observe different types of unique plants, strategically located in the most visited parts of the park.

Fleas are blood-sucking parasites, and an adult female flea can consume 15 times its weight in blood on a daily basis. Additionally, while fleas are wingless, they have powerful hind legs that make them good jumpers.

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The Black Death spread via trade routes from central Asia to Europe, where it arrived in the late s and rapidly racked up massive death tolls and created social and economic upheaval. One result of the Black Death was that labor shortages in a number of areas due to population decline meant peasants were able to demand higher wages and increase their standard of living.

Today, plague continues to exist in parts of the world, including the United States, where isolated cases have been reported in recent years. When the monarch tried to break up the fight, another monkey swooped in and bit him. The pro-German Constantine, who advocated for Greek neutrality in the war, was pressured to give up his position by the Triple Entente France, Great Britain and Russia. By the end of , Constantine had been reinstated; however, during his second reign as king he led his nation in the Greco-Turkish War , which Greece lost.

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The composition of the European fauna is the first item which will have to be taken into consideration. But not only must the existing species of animals be dealt with: the extinct ones, too, at least those which have lived in Europe during late Tertiary times, will be useful for our inquiries. A knowledge of the past faunas is a most important factor in tracing the original home of the European animals. Where a species first originated, whether this was in one or several places, or, in other words, where it first had its home, cannot be determined with absolute certainty in the present state of our knowledge, but as a rule it can be indicated approximately with a fair amount of precision.

In [Pg 38] a few instances, species may possibly have had a dual origin. The majority of naturalists doubt that there are any such, but it seems to me that almost the same forces may have acted in different localities on certain forms so as to produce, in very exceptional circumstances, similar species. The vast majority of animals, however, have no doubt originated in one locality; or, we might say, almost all species have but one home.

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We may assume that every animal gradually extends its range by migration, as the result of the natural increase of the species necessitating a search for fresh feeding grounds. Every species thus tends to slowly take possession of all the habitable parts of the globe to which it has access. They would all naturally spread from their original homes in every direction, unless prevented by an impassable barrier. We have already learned that to all land animals, the sea acts as such a barrier.

Mountains and rivers act also in a similar way, but not to the same extent. Some species are scarcely affected by climate, and flourish equally well in the tropics and in temperate or cold countries; the majority, however, are greatly influenced by it. To return to the composition of the European fauna, we now know positively that a number of the mammals and birds inhabiting Central and Eastern Europe are of Siberian origin. How they came, and when, will form the subject for discussion in Chapter V. At present it will suffice to mention that in the superficial deposits belonging to the Pleistocene series of the North European plain have been discovered the remains of many typical members of the Siberian Steppe-fauna.

Some of these, such as the Saiga-Antelope Saiga tartarica , Fig. But it might be asked, how is it known that these species did not originate in Europe, and thence migrate to Siberia?


Because if they had originated on our continent, they would have spread there. They would have invaded Northern and Southern Europe, and they would probably have left some remains in Spain, Italy, or Greece. They would also have left some of their relations in Europe; but all their nearest allies, too, are Asiatic. Moreover,—and this completes, I think, the proof of their Siberian origin,—the Pleistocene [Pg 41] remains of these animals in Europe become less abundant, and the number of species likewise decreases, as we proceed from east to west.

With these remains of Steppe animals are generally associated those of others, which we must also look upon as Siberian emigrants, such as the Pikas or tailless Hares belonging to the genus Lagomys , the pouched Marmots Spermophilus , and others. Some of them, as I have mentioned, still inhabit Central and Eastern Europe, whilst others have a wider distribution on our continent.

From Lydekker's Royal Natural History , vol. This migration must have been an unusually large one. It has been suggested that the Glacial period had some connection with it, and there can be little doubt, as we shall see later on, that a change of climate probably brought about this great Siberian invasion of Europe. But other causes might tend in the same direction, such as want of sufficient food after a few years of great increase of any particular species.

It is not known to what we owe the periodic visits of the Central Asiatic Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus , Fig.


The Siberian migrations will be spoken of in the subsequent pages, as the Siberian element of the European fauna. These migrations, however, are not the only ones which reached Europe from Asia. The sixth chapter deals with migrations which have [Pg 42] influenced our fauna far more than the Siberian. The latter did not last long, nor did they affect the whole of Europe.

But what I may call the Oriental migrations spread to every corner of Europe and certainly lasted throughout the whole of the Tertiary Era. The Oriental element came probably from Central and Southern Asia, and in its march to Northern Europe it was joined by local European migrations.

Fauna of Europe

For on our continent, too, animals originated and spread in all directions from their centres of dispersal. A separate chapter has been given to the Alpine fauna, and another to that of South-western Europe, which will be known by the name of the Lusitanian element. I have already referred to what are known as "centres of dispersion" of animals, but before continuing to explain the general outline of this book, it will be necessary to make a few additional remarks on the subject. Since every animal naturally tends to spread in every direction from its original home—that is to say, from the place of its origin—the latter should correspond with the centre of its range.

And in any particular group of animals the maximum number of species should be formed in the area or zone which is the centre of its distribution. In the great majority of instances this is probably the case, in the higher animals perhaps less so than in the lower; still the rule must hold good that the original home of a species is generally indicated by the centre of its geographical distribution. Take for example our familiar Badger Meles taxus. It is absent apparently from many parts of Central Asia, but it appears again farther south in Palestine, Syria, Persia, Turkestan, and Tibet.

West Central Asia would be about the centre of its range. That this corresponds to its place of origin is indicated by the fact that the only three other Badgers known—viz. If we examine the fossil history of the genus, we find that the two most ancient instances of the existence of Badgers have been discovered in Persia, where M. Polaki and M. The latter had migrated as far west as Greece in miocene times; no other trace of the Badger, however, is known from Europe until we come to the pleistocene beds. There are a good many cases known among mammals where the centre of dispersion would indicate to us a similar origin.

On the other hand, there may be no fossil evidence of the occurrence of a species, or of its ancestors, in Asia, whilst such has been discovered in Europe. No doubt this appears rather a strong case in favour of the European origin of the wild Boar, but although the Tertiary strata of Asia, as I remarked, are as yet little known, a number of fossil pigs are known from India, Persia, and China, the oldest being the upper miocene Persian Pig Sus maraghanus.

Pigs are therefore as old in Asia as in Europe, and as a direct intercourse between the two continents probably never ceased since miocene times, it is not surprising that this genus should occur in both. Even if the genus had its origin in Europe, it is quite possible that in later Tertiary times, the active centre of origin was shifted to the neighbouring continent, and that henceforth many new species issued forth from Asia, some of which may subsequently have been modified on reaching our continent.

The wild Boar Sus scrofa , however, to judge from its general range, I must look upon as merely an immigrant in Europe. I have no doubt that it originated somewhere in Asia, probably in the south. The view I take of the origin of our European Boar is also supported by Dr. Forsyth Major's recent researches.

He was led to a re-investigation of the history of the Pig while examining a large number of fossil skulls in the Museum at Florence, and came to the conclusion that only three or four species of [Pg 46] recent wild pigs can be clearly distinguished b , p.

One of these, viz. The centre of distribution of this species lies in Southern Asia. Of the three remaining species, two, viz. At any rate, Dr. Major recognises clearly in Sus vittatus the representative of the ancestral stock of which Sus scrofa is a somewhat modified offshoot.