Till recently the aye-aye was regarded as representing a family by itself - the Chiromyidae; but the discovery that it resembles the other lemurs of Madagascar in the structure of the inner ear, and thus differs from all other members of the group, has led to the conclusion that it is best classed as a subfamily (Chiromyidae) of the Lemuridae.
Of parrots, Stringops, the kakapo or owl-parrot, is certainly peculiar, while Nestor constitutes a peculiar subfamily of the brush-tongued parrots or Trichoglossidae.
There is one peculiar subfamily, Todinae, represented by only four species of Todus.
The Passerine Falculia, with its recently extinguished allies Fregilupus and Necropsar of the Mascarenes; the Coraciine Brachypteracias, Atelornis and Geobiastes, are very abundant, while Heliodilus is an owl belonging to that subfamily which is otherwise represented only by the widely-spread barn owl, Strix flammea.
Thus instead of contenting himself with terms that had met with pretty general approval, such as class, subclass, order, suborder, family, subfamily, and so on, he introduced into his final scheme other designations, " agmen," " cohors," " phalanx," and the like, which to the ordinary student of ornithology convey an indefinite meaning, if any meaning at all.
AVAHI, the native name of a Malagasy lemur (Avahis laniger) nearly allied to the indri, and the smallest representative of the subfamily Indrisinae, characterized by its woolly coat, and measuring about 28 in.
It follows that the subfamily typified by this species, in which are included the gazelles, is the one to which alone the term antelopes should be applied if it were employed in a restricted and definable sense.
Some, for instance, may consider that the chamois and the so-called white goat of the Rocky Mountains are entitled to be included in the group; but this is not the view held by the authors of the Book of Antelopes referred to below; and, as a matter of fact, the term is only a vague designation for a number of more or less distinct groups of hollow-horned ruminants which do not come under the designation of cattle, sheep or goats; and in reality there ought to be a distinct English groupname for each subfamily into which "antelopes" are subdivided.
The third subfamily is the Antilopinae, the members of which, have a much wider geographical range than either of the foregoing groups.
The subfamily is characterized by the narrow crowns of the molars, which are similar to those of sheep, and' the hairy muzzle.
Gazelles (Gazella), which form by far the largest genus of the subfamily, are inhabitants of open and frequently more or less desert districts.
A still more aberrant gazelle is a small North-East African species known as the beira (Dorcatragus melanotis), with very short horns, large hoofs and a general appearance recalling that of some of the members of the subfamily Neotraginae, although in other respects gazelle-like.
The duikers, or duikerboks (Cephalophus), of Africa, which range in size from a large hare to a fallow-deer, typify the subfamily Cephalophinae, characterized by the spike-like horns of the bucks, the elongated aperture of the face-glands, the naked muzzle, the relatively short tail, and the square-crowned upper molars; lateral hoofs being present.
Giesbrecht, displacing the older name Ascomyzontidae, assigns to this family 21 genera in five subfamilies, and suggests that the long-known but still puzzling Nicothoe from the gills of the lobster might be placed in an additional subfamily, or be made the representative of a closely related family.
COCK-OF-THE-ROCK, the familiar name of the birds of the genus Rupicola (subfamily Rupicolinae) of the Cotingas (allied to the Manakins, q.v.), found in the Amazon valley.
The genus Meleagris is considered to enter into the family Phasianidae, in which it forms a subfamily Meleagrinae, peculiar to North and Central America.
The fish known as loaches (Cobitinae) form a very distinct subfamily of the Cyprinidae, and are even regarded by some authors as constituting a family.
Although the British representatives of this group should undoubtedly retain their vernacular designations of water-rat and short-tailed field-mouse, the term "vole" is one of great convenience in zoology as a general one for all the members of the group. Systematically voles are classed in the mammalian order Rodentia, in which they constitute the typical section of the subfamily Microtinae in the Muridae, or mouse-group. As a group, voles are characterized by being more heavily built than rats and mice, and by their less brisk movements.
As a temporary measure it seems preferable to regard Merycodus either as representing a distinct subfamily of Antilocapridae or a family by itself, the latter course being adopted by Mr Matthew.
Of the Tibeto-Chinese family, the Tibeto-Burman sub- :family, as its name implies, is spoken from Tibet to Burma; while the Siamese-Chinese subfamily is represented by the Karens .and Shans of Burma.
The ever-restless Baluchi language belongs to the Iranian branch of the Aryan subfamily of the Indo-European family.
It was subsequently separated as forming a subfamily, and has at last been regarded as the type of a distinct family, Steatornithidae-a view which, though not put forth till 1870 (Zool.
Nausithoe, a small medusa of world-wide distribution, is the type of the subfamily Nausithoidae; the subfamily Linergidae includes the genera Linerges, &c., medusae confined to tropical seas.
WATERBUCK (Wasserbok), the name of a large South African antelope (Cobus ellipsiprymnus) belonging to the subfamily Cervicaprinae, characterized by the white elliptical ring on the buttocks, and the general reddish grey colour of the long and coarse hair.
GERBIL, or Gerbille, the name of a group of small, elegant, large-eyed, jumping rodents typified by the North African Gerbillus aegyptiacus (or gerbilles), and forming a special subfamily, Gerbillinae, of the rat tribe or Muridae.
A second subfamily is represented by the Indian Platacanthomys and the Chinese Typhlomys, in which there are only three pairs of cheek-teeth; thus connecting the more typical members of the family with the Muridae.
BOA, a name formerly applied to all large serpents which, devoid of poison fangs, kill their prey by constriction; but now confined to that subfamily of the Boidae which are devoid of teeth in the praemaxilla and are without supraorbital bones.
The true boas comprise some forty species; most of them are American, but the genus Eryx inhabits North Africa, Greece and south-western Asia; the genus Enygrus ranges from New Guinea to the Fiji; Casarea dussumieri is restricted to Round Island, near Mauritius; and two species of Boa and one of Corallus represent this subfamily in Madagascar, while all the other boas live in America, chiefly in tropical parts.