By Louis Agassiz; Elizabeth Cary Agassiz
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Extra resources for A Journey in Brazil
It must be our aim to throw some light on this subject by our present journey. How did Brazil come to be inhabited by the animals and plants now living there? Who were its inhabitants in past times? What reason is there to believe that the present condition of things in this country is in any sense derived from the past? The first step in this investigation must be to ascertain the geographical di tribution of the present animals and plants. Suppose we first examine the Rio San Francisco. The basin of this river is entirely isolated.
Occasional glimpses of the e facts, seen disconnectedly, have done much to confirm t1le development theory, so greatly in vogue at present, though under a somewhat new form. Those who sustain these views have seen that there was a gradation between animals, and haye infel'red that it was a material connection. But when we follow it in the growth of the animals them elves, and find that, clo e as it is, no animal ever mi ses its true development, or grows to be anything but what it was meant to be, we are forced to * In copying the jow-nal from which the e notes arc taken, I have hesitated bw-den the narrative with anatomical details.
It is ascertained that the South American rivers possess some fishes peculiar to them. Were these fishes then created in these separate water-systems as they now exist, or have they been transferred thither from some other water-bed? If not born there, how did they come there? Is there, or has there ever been, any pos ible connection between these water-systems? Are their characteri tic species l'epeated elsewhere? 'l'bus we narrow the boundaries of the investigation, and bring it, by successive approaches, nearer the ultimate question.