[From Quiggin's Guide, 1841]
BY E. FORBES, P.R.P.S.
This Island, in common with Ireland, claims an exception from venomous reptiles and toads, and in fact neither serpents or toads are found in it, but frogs are abundant, though they are popularly believed to have been introduced, an idea for which there is no foundation. Lacerta Sterpium, sand lizard, is common in the north; and Lacerta agilis, common lizard, abounds in old hedges and dry banks, in every part of the Island; Triton palustris, warty eft, and Triton punctatus, common eft, are by no means rare in their different habitats, everywhere. Several of the more common four-footed English annoyances are absentsuch as foxes, badgers, and moles. It is said that deer formerly inhabited the mountains, but, like their great prototype, the fossil elk, have long since passed away. The only remarkable quadruped peculiar to the Island, and of which it can boast, is the tail-less cat, an accidental variety of the common species, Felis Catus, frequently showing no traces of caudal vertebrae, and in others a merely rudimental substitute for it.
Of game birds, the partridge and quail are not un-common, but grouse is no longer to be found. Snipes are abundant. That rare bird the Manks puffin (Procellaria Angtlrum) formerly an inhabitant of the Calf, is no longer to be found there. Of the rarer British birds the red-legged crow is common; the king-fisher not rare if sought for, and the hoopoe, the goatsucker, the shrike, the crossbill, and the roller have been killed in the Island, and Manks specimens of many of them may be seen in Mr. Wallaces museum.
Many rare fishes, as might be expected, are found in the neighbouring sea. The Squatina angelus, or angel fish, the Lophius piscatorius or fishing frog, and the Spenachia vulparis, or sea stickleback, are by no means uncommon. In the markets may generally be found Trigia hirundo, pini, lineatus, and gurnardus, and Pagrus vulparis in the harbour and on the coasts, the Pholis laevis, Merlangus virens, Crenilabrus tinca, Labrus lineatus, maculatus, and pusillus; Trachinus draco, and vipera; Gunnelius vulgaris, and Ammodytes Lancea,and Tobianus abound. Occasionally may be found with them the Gobius minutes, and Spynathus ophidion, aequoreus, and Acus whilst that very rare British fish, the Blennius ocellatus has been taken on the north coast of the Island; Coitus Bubalis and scorpius; Aspidophorous cataphractus; Callionymus lyra; Platissa limanda; Raia Batis, clavata, and neaculata; Cyclopterus lumpus; Orthagoriscus mola, or sun fish.
The entomology of the Island is not attractive, though a few of the rarer coleoptera may be found on the sandy district of the north.
Many scarce shellfish abound on the coast, and on the banks which surround the Island. on the rocks at low water live Trochus umbilicatus, Littorina tenebrosa, Skenea depressa, Rissoa cinpilla and Keiia rubra ; also (though more rarely) the scarce Velutina Otis. By the dredge may be taken Lima frapilis ; Astarte flanmoni~. eie and Scojica ; Keljja Suborbicularis ; C/jjt~~ ruber, Iag~ vis, and fascicularis ,~ Venus ovata, cassin~ and fascia~,a; Pissurella .qraeca, Emarpjnuj,j fissura Vehcfjn,,~ laesiigata, Fusus aniiguus and caracas,. ~ Barnfius, Trochus to-flair and striatus ; Isocardia Cor ; Cort5uja inæqujval0j,; Nucula margaritacea ; Euljma polida ; Bulla lignaria; Naijea Alden, with many other shells equallý rare, and a number of the more frequent species. Oysters are found at Laxey and on the north coast, and large scallop beds on many parts of the coast. In the river by Kirk Braddan Church is a rare form of the pearl muscle (Unio margaritifera) which was formerly much sought after by the natives for the sake of the pearls which it sometimes contains.
Besides the shellfish, the neighbouring sea furnishes also many rare animals of the genera Asterias, Ophiura, Echinus, Comatula, and Actinia.
The Island is not remarkably rich in plants, and pro bably does not contain more than five hundred species of the flowering kinds. Nevertheless, among them are several scarce species, and in order to further the re searches of the stranger who may be limited to time, here follows a list of the more rare, with the localities in which they are to be met with
Sparganium simpler. Ditches in the curraghs.
&irpus Savii, Douglas Bay. Derbyhaven.
Juncus maritimus. Scarlett.
Alisma ranunculoides. Curraghs, common.
Scilla verna. Douglas Head, and other cliffs by the sea, abundant.
Po~ygonurn. Raii. Shóre atDerbyhaven and Ballaugh.
Anagallis tenella. Bogs, coinnion.
Finguicula lusitanica. Boggy spotsnear Derby Castle, and Bankss How.
Euphrasia, a supposed new species. Fields by the sea at Ballaugh.
Verbascum Thapsus. Near Miltown.
Hyosoyamus niger. Poolvash and Derbyhaven.
*Solanum nigrum. Near Seafield.
Lycopus europeus. . Curraghs.
Pulegium vutgaÑ. Marl pits at Ballaugh.
Lamium intermedium. Waste ground at Kirk Michael, &c., common.
Lamiurìz amplaricaule. With the last.
Staclsys ambipua. North of the Island.
&uteilaria minor, Onchan, &c.
Coavolvolus soldanellsr. Point of Ayre. Jurby.
Er~ihraea tat(folia. Cliffs by the sea.
Carduus marianus. Sandy fields, Ballaugh.
Carduus tenu~florus. Common.
Biden,s triparlita. Northern districts, common.
Arteinisia maritima. Rocks near Seafield. ~
Gnaphalium snaryaritacum. Hedges near Ballacurry, Andreas.
Fyrethrum maritimum. Cliffs by the sea.
Helosojadjum nod~florum. Ditches in Jurby.
~rithmum maritimum. (Samphire.) Cliffs at St. Anns Head, and other places.
Erynpium maritimum. (Eringo root.) North coast.
Erodium maritimum. Castletoivn.
Geranium pusillum. At Scarlett.
Lavetera arborea. Near Spanish Head.
Malva mosehata. Sea cliffs and roadsides.
Linum anpustifotium. Field on the cliff beyond Derby Castle.
Radiola milleprana. Wet places.
1-Ijipericum elodes. Bogs, abundant.
!Iypericum Androsaemum. Port Sodric.
Crambe ,naritima. Near Peel.
Thiaspi as-cease. Sandy fields.
Lepidium campestre. Common.
Lepidium smithii. Ballaugh.
Cochlearia G~rnlandica. Cliffs near Peel
Erjjsimum cheiranthoideg. Roadsides, Ballaugh.
Brassica monensis. Grounds at Castle Mona ; in great plenty at the Ledn, and at Andreas.
Reseda fructiculosa. On a wall at the Rectory of Bul-laugh.
Viola montana. Common in the north.
Viola Curtisií. Near the sea, Kirk Michael.
The [slated am mainly composed of slateboth chef slate nice! mica slate, resting probably on granite; jim---ieee!, that ioak makes its appearance at the surface in a hill between Ramsey and Laxey. The mountains are chiefly mica slate, which rock at Greeba contains garnets, quartz abounds both um tije form of veins and detached masses ; and in some places the mica is found in the silvery plates In beds in the clay slate, flinty slate and lydian stone are occasionally found, and roofing-slate is met with near Peel. At Spanish head is a remarkable form of clay slate, much used by the masons as lintels and doorposts, and which is slightly flexible in large masses. It is susceptible of a slight polish, and is occasionaly used for chimney-pieces. In the coast the clay slate passes into grey-wacke-slate, and that rock into gres -wacke, At Kirk Santon Head the comglomerated structure of the grey-wacke o.se~ are finely developed
In the slate in many places are metalliferous veins, containing copper and lead, the former in the form of copper pyrites and grreen copper; the latter in the state of the sulphuret called by mineralogists, Galena. These ores are accompanied by the ore of zinc, termed blackjack. The Galena is seldom found crystallized. In cavities in the veins are found beautiful pyramidal crystals of quartz variously coloured, called by the inhabitants spar, and used by them as chimney-ornaments.
The lead and copper mines of Foxdale, Laxey, and Brada are all in the slate rocks. The lead ores are very rich in silver.
The other rocks of the Island are sandstone and limestone. The sandstone is that ancient secondary rock, termed old red sandstone, and is found at Peel resting on the slate. Of this sandstone Peel Castle is built, and a part of the town, but in general it is an indifferemit building stone, quickly decomposing by the action of the atmosphere. the limestone is that kind known to geologists as the Carboniferous or mountain limestone, and more recently termed by Professor Phillips, the lower scar limestone, and which, in the coal formations of England, lies immediately beneath that valuable bituminous mineral. At Poolvash it abounds with fossil shells, the genera Jroducta, Spirifera, Terebratula, Goniatites, Nautilus, and Orthoceras are exceedingly numerotis; while the San qu-inolaria, Gypricardia, Pinna, Inn-ce-rain us, A vice/a, (lanai/ia, and Pecten occur more rarely. The crustaceous remains are so exceeding rare, that the Asaphus quadnilinibus and A. seminiferus are only recognized by some mutilated fragments. The total number of genera and species collected by Mr. Wallace to the present time is 170, a great majority of which has not yet been published. It rests on the grey-wacke in the neighbourhood of Castletown.The limestone is of a very hard and firm texture, and much used for public works. Castle Rushen and the College are built of it. In some places it is very hard and free from fossils, when it is used as a marble. In other localities it is pale and yellowish, containing magnesia, forming the mineral called dolomite. In this rock are found crystals of rhombspar and of sparry iron. Between Poolvash and Scarlett some interesting appearances present themselves. Veins of trap from two to six feet in breadth appear breaking through the limestone, showing evident proof of their former fused state; these veins generally assume the aniygdaloidal form, sometimes that of greenstone. Scattered through the mass appear broken fragments of the limestone having a flinty hardness, and for some feet from the junction all traces of organic life are obliterated. Through the trap sometimes run veins of quartz in various directions, hollow in the middle, and crystallised in prisms which generally meet, but when terminated, end with their edges bevelled.
In several places, both in the limestone and slate, specimens of anthracite, or blindcoal occur, which has been often mistaken by the inhabitants for coal, and lead to many useless researches for that mineral.
The north of the Island is a nearly flat plain of sand and peat-bogs. The peat rests on beds of clay-marl, which includes strata of gravel and sea-sand containing shells belonging to the present age, bleached, but often tolerably perfect. The most frequent species are Ta/liisa solidula, Venus cassina, Astarte scotica, and Tunritella ieee/Ira, all of them existing at present in the neighbouring sea. This marl also envelopes the osseous remains of Gereus megaseros, or great fossil elk, a splendid specimen of which extinct animal, adorns the Museum of the University of Edinburgh, and which was dug up in the parish of Ballaugh. In the peat are found, numerous trunks of oak and fir.