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Alexander von Humboldt: „Natural History“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 17.04.2024].

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Titel Natural History
Jahr 1822
Ort London
in: The Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature, and the Arts 12 (1822), S. 338–339.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung; Schmuck: Kapitälchen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: IV.13
Dateiname: 1821-Nouvelles_recherches_sur-09
Seitenanzahl: 2
Zeichenanzahl: 2704

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|338| Baron Humboldt, in a memoir readto the Institute 19th February last, 1821, entitled, “New Ob-servations on the Laws which we observe in the Distribution ofVegetable Forms,” states, that we already know nearly 56,000species of cryptogamous and phanerogamous plants, 44,000insects, 2,500 fishes, 700 reptiles, 4,000 birds, and 500 speciesof mammiferæ. In Europe alone, according to the researchesof M. Humboldt and M. Valenciennes, there exist nearly 80mammiferæ, 400 birds, and 30 reptiles. There are, of conse-quence, under this temperate boreal zone, 5 times as manyspecies of birds as of mammiferæ; as, in like manner, there arein Europe 5 times as many compositæ as amentaceous and co-niferous plants; 5 times as many leguminous as there are oforchideous and euphorbiaceous. The fine collections recentlybrought home from the Cape of Good Hope by M. Delalandeprove, (if we compare them with the works of M. M. Temminkand Levaillant,) that in that part of the temperate austral zone,the mammiferæ are also to the birds in the proportion of 1to 4.3. Such an accordance between two opposite zones is|339| very striking. The birds, and especially the reptiles, increasemuch more towards the equatorial zone than the mammiferæ.According to the discoveries of M. Cuvier on fossil bones, wemight believe, that these proportions have not been the same atall times; and that there have disappeared, in the ancient ca-tastrophes of our planet, many more mammiferæ than birds.We can conceive how, on a given space of territory, the indivi-duals belonging to different tribes of plants and animals may benumerically limited; how, after an obstinate struggle and longoscillations, a state of equilibrium comes to be established, re-sulting from the necessities of nourishment and the habits oflife: but the causes which have limited the forms are hid underan impenetrable veil, which withdraws from our view whateverrelates to the origin of things, or to the first developement oforganic life.On the preponderance of certain families of plants dependsthe character of the landscape; the aspect of a smiling or ma-jestic nature. The abundance of gramineæ which form vastsavannahs, that of palms and coniferæ, have had a powerfulinfluence on the social conditon of nations, on their manners,and the more or less rapid developement of the useful arts.Sometimes a single species of plants, especially among thosestyled, by M. Humboldt, social, covers a vast extent of country.Such are, in the north, the heaths, and forests of pines; inequinoctial America, the union of cactus, croton, bambusa, andbrathys of the same species.—The sequel of this will be given inour next Number.