Responds to CD's query about the blind fauna of Mammoth Cave.
Gives information from L. Agassiz. Distribution of Crustacea, especially along southern coastlines.
Sept. 8, 1856.
My dear Sir:—
I received your most welcome letter a few days before the meeting of our Scientific Association: and as I should meet Prof. Agassiz there, who could best answer your queries respecting the Mammoth Cave Animals, I concluded to defer my answer till my return. Here I am, back again, at last and I seat myself for a few words with you, socially and Scientifically.—
First as to the Mammoth Cave.— Professor Agassiz
told me that the family to which the Fishes belong—the
Cyprinodonts—was rather strikingly American. With
regard to the Insects, Dr John L. LeConte an Excellent Entomologist says that
the genera of beetles are not American, but the same that occur in Caverns in Europe
& elsewhere. The genus of fly Anthomyia is common in
Europe. The Crustacean, Astacus pellucidus, belongs
to that subdivision of the genus, (Cambarus, as it has been called), which is peculiarly
American. Cambarus is made a distinct genus by some writers: the only difference is in
the number of branchiæ: Cambarus has 17 on a side or one less than
Astacus.— The Crustacean genus Triura, has not been found any where
except at the Mammoth Cave. You may have seen some notice of the species of the Cave in
the Amer. Jour. Sci., vol. xi, p. 127 (1851).— Of the spiders I cannot speak definitely.— I would add respecting the
genus Cambarus, that its Species are very numerous and widely spread over North America.
Agassiz has collected a large amount of information on the peculiarities of the North
American Fauna, but he has not yet embodied them in any work or article. One of the most
interesting of our peculiar tribes, as you undoubtedly know, is that of the Gar-pikes,
of which there are several genera & near two dozen known species occurring over
the Continent between Cuba & the northern Lakes—and not represented
elsewhere over the globe.— It is not to the point in view, yet I may mention
here a fact of geological interest brought out by Agassiz at our Assoc. meeting a
fortnight since. There were some young individuals, alive, shown, which had the tail of
the Ancient Ganoids— That is, the vertebræ were actually continued
to the extremity of the upper lobe— This upper lobe,
as here drawn, drops off as the animal grows & the fish then is of the modern
type of form.
- f1 1951.f1Letter to J. D. Dana, 14 July . The 1856 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was held in Albany, New York from 20 to 28 August.
- f2 1951.f2See letter to J. D. Dana, 14 July . This information had already been given in Agassiz 1851.
- f3 1951.f3John Lawrence LeConte was recognized at home and abroad as the leading American entomologist (DAB).
- f4 1951.f4This sentence was added in the margin.
- f5 1951.f5Agassiz 1851.
- f6 1951.f6This fact was eventually published in Agassiz 1857.
- f7 1951.f7The number of CD's portfolio of notes on geographical distribution of animals.