Sidor som bilder

which are accumulated their more re the third, as we shall presently see, becent deposits, so that, in their most longs to the same series, and was acprominent geological features, both cumulated in the same basin. The may be considered as cretaceous ba- lowest set of beds of the whole series sins, containing extensive deposits of a is rarely visible, but it seems everyvery recent age. Of the history of the where to consist of sandstone, or even Amazonian Valley during the periods of loose sands well stratified, the coarsimmediately following the Cretaceous, er materials lying invariably below, we know little or nothing. Whether and the finer above. Upon this lower the Tertiary deposits are hidden under set of beds rests everywhere an extenthe more modern ones, or whether sive deposit of fine laminated clays, they are wholly wanting, the basin varying in thickness, but frequently having, perhaps, been raised above the dividing into layers as thin as a sheet sea-level before that time, or whether of paper. In some localities they exthey have been swept away by the hibit in patches an extraordinary varitremendous inundations in the valley, ety of beautiful colors, – pink, orange, which have certainly destroyed a great crimson, yellow, gray, blue, and also part of the cretaceous deposit, they black and white. The Indians are have never been observed in any part very skilful in preparing paints from of the Amazonian basin. Whatever these colored clays, with which they tertiary deposits are represented in ge ornament their pottery, and the bowls ological maps of this region are so of various shapes and sizes made from marked in consequence of an incorrect the fruit of the Cuieira-tree. These clay identification of strata belonging, in deposits assume occasionally a peculiar fact, to a much more recent period. appearance, and one which might mis

A minute and extensive survey of lead the observer as to their true nathe Valley of the Amazons is by no ture. When their surface has been means an easy task, and its difficulty long exposed to the action of the atis greatly increased by the fact that mosphere and to the heat of the burnthe lower formations are only accessi- ing sun, they look so much like clay ble on the river margins during the slates of the oldest geological epochs, vasante, as it is called, or dry season, that, at first sight, I took them for priwhen the waters shrink in their beds, mary slates, my attention being attractJeaving a great part of their banks ex ed to them by a regular cleavage as posed. It happened that the first three distinct as that of the most ancient or four months of my journey, Au- clay slates. And yet at Tonantins, on gust, September, October, and Novem- the banks of the Solimoens, in a lober, were those when the waters are cality where their exposed surfaces lowest, — reaching their minimum in had this primordial appearance, I September and October, and beginning found in these very beds a considerable to rise again in November,--so that I amount of well-preserved leaves, the had an excellent opportunity in ascend character of which proves their recent ing the river to observe its geological origin. These leaves do not even instructure. Throughout its whole length, dicate as ancient a period as the Terthree distinct geological formations tiaries, but resemble so closely the may be traced, the two lower of which vegetation of to-day, that I have no have followed in immediate succession, doubt, when examined by competent and are conformable with one another, authority, they will be identified with while the third rests unconformably living plants. The presence of such upon them, following all the inequali- an extensive clay formation, stretching ties of the greatly denudated surface over a surface of more than three thoupresented by the second formation. sand miles in length and about seven Notwithstanding this seeming interrup- hundred in breadth, is not easily extion in the sequence of these deposits, plained under any ordinary circum

stances. The fact that it is so thorough- thickness of these sandstones is exly laminated shows that, in the basin tremely variable. In the basin of the in which it was formed, the waters must Amazons proper, they hardly rise anyhave been unusually quiet, containing where above the level of high water identical materials throughout, and that during the rainy season, while at low these materials must have been de water, in the summer months, they posited over the whole bottom in the may be seen everywhere along the riversame way. It is usually separated from banks. It will be seen, however, that the superincumbent beds by a glazed the limit between high and low water crust of hard, compact sandstone, al- gives no true measure of the original most resembling a ferruginous quartzite. thickness of the whole series.

Upon this follow beds of sand and In the neighborhood of Almeirim, at sandstone, varying in the regularity of a short distance from the northern bank their strata, reddish in color, often of the river, and nearly parallel with its highly ferruginous, and more or less course, there rises a line of low hills, nodulous or porous. They present fre- interrupted here and there, but extendquent traces of cross-stratification, al- ing in evident connection from Almeiternating with regularly stratified hori- rim through the region of Monte Alegre zontal beds, with here and there an in- to the heights of Obidos. These hills tervening layer of clay. It would seem have attracted the attention of travellers, as if the character of the water basin not only from their height, which aphad now changed, and as if the waters pears greater than it is, because they under which this second formation was rise abruptly from an extensive plain, deposited had vibrated between storm but also on account of their curious and calm, — had sometimes flowed more form, many of them being perfectly gently, and again had been tossed to level on top, like smooth tables, and and fro-giving to some of the beds very abruptly divided from each other the aspect of true torrential deposits. by low, intervening spaces.* Nothing Indeed, these sandstone formations pre- has hitherto been known of the geosent a great variety of aspects. Some- logical structure of these hills, but they times they are very regularly laminated, have been usually represented as the or assume even the appearance of the southernmost spurs of the table - land hardest quartzite. This is usually the of Guiana. On ascending the river, I case with the uppermost beds. In felt the greatest curiosity to examine other localities, and more especially in them; but at the time I was deeply enthe lowermost beds, the whole mass is grossed in studying the distribution of honeycombed, as if drilled by worms or fishes in the Amazonian waters, and boring shells, the hard parts enclosing in making large ichthyological collecsofter sands or clays. Occasionally tions, for which it was very important the ferruginous materials prevail to not to miss the season of low water, such an extent, that some of these beds when the fishes are most easily obmight be mistaken for bog ore, while tained. I was, therefore, obliged to others contain a large amount of clay, leave this most interesting geological more regularly stratified, and alternat- problem, and content myself with exing with strata of sandstone, thus re- amining the structure of the valley so calling the most characteristic forms far as it could be seen on the riverof the Old Red or Triassic formations. banks and in the neighborhood of my This resemblance bas, no doubt, led to different collecting stations.

On my the identification of the Amazonian de- return, however, when my collections posits with the more ancient forma were completed, I was free to pursue tions of Europe. At Monte Alegre, of which I shall presently speak more

* The atlas in Martins's " Journey to Brazil," or

the sketch accompanying Bates's description of in detail, such a clay bed divides the

these hills in his "Naturalist on the Amazons," will lower from the upper sandstone. The give an idea of their aspect


this investigation, in which Major Cou- the Campos on horseback with Captain tinho was as much interested as myself. Faria, the commander of our steamer, We determined to select Monte Alegre and one or two other friends from as the centre of our exploration, the Monte Alegre, who joined our party, serra in that region being higher than while I went by canoe. The canoe elsewhere. As I was detained by in- journey is somewhat longer. A two disposition at Manaos, for some days, hours' ride across the Campos brings at the time we had appointed for the you to the foot of the mountain, whereexcursion, Major Coutinho preceded me, as the trip by boat takes more than and had already made one trip to the twice that time. But I preferred going serra, with some very interesting re- by water, as it gave me an opportunity sults, when I joined him, and we made of seeing the vast variety of animals a second journey together.

haunting the river- banks and lakes. Monte Alegre lies on a side arm of As this was almost the only occasion the Amazons, a little off from its main in all my journey when I passed a day course. This side arm, called the Rio in the pure enjoyment of nature, withGurupatuba, is simply a channel run- out the labor of collecting, - which in ning parallel with the Amazons, and this hot climate, where specimens recutting through from a higher to a quire such immediate and constant atlower point. Its dimensions are, how- tention, is very great, - I am tempted ever, greatly exaggerated in all the to interrupt our geology for a moment, maps thus far published, where it is to give an account of it. I learned usually made to appear as a consider- how rich a single day may be in this able northern tributary of the Amazons. wonderful tropical world, if one's eyes The town stands on an elevated terrace, are only open to the wealth of aniseparated from the main stream by the mal and vegetable life. Indeed, a few Rio Gurupatuba, and by an extensive hours so spent in the field, in simply flat, consisting of numerous lakes di- watching animals and plants, teaches vided from each other by low alluvial more of the distribution of life than a land, and mostly connected by narrow month of closet study; for under such channels. To the west of the town, this circumstances all things are seen in terrace sinks abruptly to a wide sandy their true relations. Unhappily, it is plain called the Campos, covered with not easy to present the picture as a a low forest growth, and bordered on whole, for all our written descriptions its farther limit by the picturesque are more or less dependent on nomenserra of Errere. The form of this clature, and the local names are hardly mountain is so abrupt, its rise from the known out of the districts where they plain so bold and sudden, that it seems belong, while systematic names are famore than twice its real height. Judg- miliar to few. ing by the eye, and comparing it with the I started before daylight; but, as the mountains I had last seen, – the Cor- dawn began to redden the sky, large covado, the Gavia and Tijuca range in flocks of ducks, and of the small the neighborhood of Rio, - I had sup- Amazonian geese, might be seen flying posed it to be three or four thousand towards the lakes. Here and there a feet high, and was greatly astonished cormorant sat alone on the branch of when our barometric observations a dead tree, or a kingfisher poised himshowed it to be somewhat less than self over the water, watching for his nine hundred feet in its most elevated prey. Numerous gulls were gathered point. This, however, agrees with in large companies on the trees along Martins's measurement of the Almei- the river-shore; alligators lay on its tim hills, which he says are eight surface, diving with a sudden plash at hundred feet in height.

the approach of our canoe ; and occaMajor Coutinho and I reached the sionally a porpoise emerged from the serta by different roads; he crossing water, showing himself for a moment and then disappearing again. Some- by innumerable lianas and creeping times we startled a herd of capivara, vines, in the midst of which the flowers resting on the water's edge; and once of the Bignonia, with its open, trumpetwe saw a sloth, sitting upon the branch shaped corolla, were conspicuous. The of an Imbauba (Cecropia) tree, rolled capim was bright with the blossoms of up in its peculiar attitude, the very the mallow growing in its midst, and picture of indolence, with its head sunk was often edged with the broad-leaved between its arms. Much of the river- Aninga, a large aquatic Arum. shore consisted of low alluvial land, Through such a forest, where the and was covered with that peculiar and animal life was no less rich and varied beautiful grass known as Capim; this than the vegetation, our boat glided grass makes an excellent pasturage for slowly for hours. The number and cattle, and the abundance of it in this variety of birds struck me with astonregion renders the district of Monte ishment. The coarse sedgy grasses on Alegre very favorable for agricultural either side were full of water birds, one purposes. Here and there, where the of the most common of which was a red clay soil rose above the level of the small chestnut-brown wading bird, the water, a palm-thatched cabin stood on Jaçana (Parra), whose toes are immensethe low bluff, with a few trees about it ly long in proportion to its size, enaSuch a house was usually the centre of bling it to run upon the surface of the a cattle farm, and large herds might be aquatic vegetation, as if it were solid seen grazing in the adjoining fields. ground. It was in the month of JanuAlong the river-banks, where the coun- ary, their breeding season, and at every try is chiefly open, with extensive low turn of the boat we started them up marshy grounds, the only palm to be in pairs. Their flat, open nests generseen is the Maraja. After keeping ally contained five flesh-colored eggs, along the Rio Gurupatuba for some streaked in zigzag with dark brown distance, we turned to the right into a lines. The other waders were a snownarrow stream, which has the character white heron, another ash - colored, of an Igarapé in its lower course, though smaller species, and a large white higher up it drains the country between stork. The ash-colored herons were the serra of Erreré and that of Tajury, always in pairs, the white one always and assumes the appearance of a small single, standing quiet and alone on the river. It is named after the serra, and edge of the water, or half hidden in the is known as the Rio Erreré. This green capim. The trees and bushes stream, narrow and picturesque, and were full of small warbler-like birds, often so overgrown with capim that the which it would be difficult to characcanoe pursued its course with difficulty, terize separately. To the ordinary obpassed through a magnificent forest of server they might seem like the small the beautiful fan-palm, called here the birds of our woods; but there was one Miriti (Mauritia flexuosa). This forest species among them which attracted my stretched for miles, overshadowing, as attention by its numbers, and also bea kind of underbrush, many smaller cause it builds the most extraordinary trees and innumerable shrubs, some of nest, considering the size of the bird itwhich bore bright, conspicuous flowers. self, that I have ever seen. It is known It seemed to me a strange spectacle, among the country people by two -a forest of monocotyledonous trees names, as the Pedreiro or the Forneiro, with a dicotyledonous undergrowth; the both names referring, as will be seen, inferior plants thus towering above and to the nature of its habitation. This sheltering the superior ones. Among singular nest is built of clay, and is as the lower trees were many Leguminosæ, hard as stone (pedra), while it has the - one of the most striking, called Fa- form of the round mandioca oven va, having a colossal pod. The whole (forno) in which the country people pre

Lass of vegetation was woven together pare their farinha, or flour, made from the mandioca root. It is about a foot did not fly away: But of all the groups in diameter, and stands edgewise upon of birds, the most striking as compared a branch, or in the crotch of a tree. with corresponding groups in the temAmong the smaller birds, I noticed perate zone, and the one which rebright Tanagers, and also a species re- minded me the most directly of the fact sembling the Canary. Besides these, that every region has its peculiar anithere were the wagtails, the black and mal world, was that of the gallinaceous white widow finches, the hang-nests, or · birds. The most frequent is the CiJapé, as they are called here, with their gana, to be seen in groups of fifteen or pendent bag - like dwellings, and the twenty, perched upon trees overhanging familiar • Bem ti vi.” Humming-birds, the water, and feeding upon berries. which we are always apt to associate At night they roost in pairs, but in the with tropical vegetation, were very daytime are always in larger compascarce. I saw but a few specimens. nies. In their appearance they have Thrushes and doves were more fre- something of the character of both the quent, and I noticed also three or four pheasant and peacock, and yet do not kinds of woodpeckers. Of these latter closely resemble either. It is a .curious there were countless numbers along fact, that, with the exception of some our canoe path, flying overhead in small partridge-like gallinaceous birds, dense crowds, and, at times, drowning all the representatives of this family in every other sound in their high, noisy Brazil, and especially in the l'alley of chatter.


the Amazons, belong to types which do These made a deep impression upon not exist in other parts of the world. me. Indeed, in all regions, however Here we find neither pheasants, nor far away from his own home, in the cocks of the woods, nor grouse ; but in midst of a fauna and flora entirely new their place abound the Mutun, the Jaçu, to bim, the traveller is startled occa- the Jacami, and the Unicorn (Crax, Pesionally by the song of a bird or the nelope, Psophia, and Palamedea), all of sight of a flower so familiar that it which are so remote from the gallinatransports him at once to woods where ceous types found farther north, that every tree is like a friend to him. It they remind one quite as much of the seems as if something akin to what in bustard, and other ostrich-like birds, as our own mental experience we call of the hen and pheasant. They differ reminiscence or association existed in also from Northern gallinaceous birds the workings of nature ; for though the in the greater uniformity of the sexes, organic combinations are so distinct in none of them exhibiting those striking different climates and countries, they differences between the males and feDever wholly exclude each other. Ev- males which we see in the pheasants, ery zoological and botanical province the cocks of the woods, and in our retains some link which binds it to all barn-yard fowls. While birds abounded the rest, and makes it part of the gen- in such numbers, insects were rather eral harmony. The Arctic lichen is scarce. I saw but few and small butfound growing under the shadow of the terflies, and beetles were still more palm on the rocks of the tropical serra, rare. The most numerous insects were and the song of the thrush and the tap the dragon-flies, — some with crimson of the woodpecker mingle with the bodies, black heads, and burnished sharp discordant cries of the parrot wings, —others with large green bodies, and paroquet.

crossed by blue bands. Of land shells I Birds of prey, also, were not wanting. saw but one creeping along the reeds ; Among them was one about the size of and of water shells I gathered only a our kite, and called the Red Hawk, few small Ampullariæ. which was so tame that, even when our Having ascended the river to a point canoe passed immediately under the nearly on a line with the serra, I low branch on which he was sitting, he landed, and struck across the Campos

« FöregåendeFortsätt »