fair ladies,” he said with a bow. “Do you know where

Doubt and Doubtgovernment2023-12-07 10:35:12 69684 1914

This interesting find served to recall with fresh significance some observations that had been made in France and Belgium a long generation earlier, but whose bearings had hitherto been ignored. In 1826 MM. Tournal and Christol had made independent discoveries of what they believed to be human fossils in the caves of the south of France; and in 1827 Dr. Schmerling had found in the cave of Engis, in Westphalia, fossil bones of even greater significance. Schmerling's explorations had been made with the utmost care, and patience. At Engis he had found human bones, including skulls, intermingled with those of extinct mammals of the mammoth period in a way that left no doubt in his mind that all dated from the same geological epoch. He bad published a full account of his discoveries in an elaborate monograph issued in 1833.

fair ladies,” he said with a bow. “Do you know where

But at that time, as it chanced, human fossils were under a ban as effectual as any ever pronounced by canonical index, though of far different origin. The oracular voice of Cuvier had declared against the authenticity of all human fossils. Some of the bones brought him for examination the great anatomist had pettishly pitched out of the window, declaring them fit only for a cemetery, and that had settled the matter for a generation: the evidence gathered by lesser workers could avail nothing against the decision rendered at the Delphi of Science. But no ban, scientific or canonical, can longer resist the germinative power of a fact, and so now, after three decades of suppression, the truth which Cuvier had buried beneath the weight of his ridicule burst its bonds, and fossil man stood revealed, if not as a flesh-and-blood, at least as a skeletal entity.

fair ladies,” he said with a bow. “Do you know where

The reception now accorded our prehistoric ancestor by the progressive portion of the scientific world amounted to an ovation; but the unscientific masses, on the other hand, notwithstanding their usual fondness for tracing remote genealogies, still gave the men of Engis and Neanderthal the cold shoulder. Nor were all of the geologists quite agreed that the contemporaneity of these human fossils with the animals whose remains had been mingled with them had been fully established. The bare possibility that the bones of man and of animals that long preceded him had been swept together into the eaves in successive ages, and in some mysterious way intermingled there, was clung to by the conservatives as a last refuge. But even this small measure of security was soon to be denied them, for in 1865 two associated workers, M. Edouard Lartet and Mr. Henry Christy, in exploring the caves of Dordogne, unearthed a bit of evidence against which no such objection could be urged. This momentous exhibit was a bit of ivory, a fragment of the tusk of a mammoth, on which was scratched a rude but unmistakable outline portrait of the mammoth itself. If all the evidence as to man's antiquity before presented was suggestive merely, here at last was demonstration; for the cave-dwelling man could not well have drawn the picture of the mammoth unless he had seen that animal, and to admit that man and the mammoth had been contemporaries was to concede the entire case. So soon, therefore, as the full import of this most instructive work of art came to be realized, scepticism as to man's antiquity was silenced for all time to come.

fair ladies,” he said with a bow. “Do you know where

In the generation that has elapsed since the first drawing of the cave-dweller artist was discovered, evidences of the wide-spread existence of man in an early epoch have multiplied indefinitely, and to-day the paleontologist traces the history of our race back beyond the iron and bronze ages, through a neolithic or polished-stone age, to a paleolithic or rough-stone age, with confidence born of unequivocal knowledge. And he looks confidently to the future explorer of the earth's fossil records to extend the history back into vastly more remote epochs, for it is little doubted that paleolithic man, the most ancient of our recognized progenitors, is a modern compared to those generations that represented the real childhood of our race.

Coincidently with the discovery of these highly suggestive pages of the geologic story, other still more instructive chapters were being brought to light in America. It was found that in the Rocky Mountain region, in strata found in ancient lake beds, records of the tertiary period, or age of mammals, had been made and preserved with fulness not approached in any other region hitherto geologically explored. These records were made known mainly by Professors Joseph Leidy, O. C. Marsh, and E. D. Cope, working independently, and more recently by numerous younger paleontologists.

The profusion of vertebrate remains thus brought to light quite beggars all previous exhibits in point of mere numbers. Professor Marsh, for example, who was first in the field, found three hundred new tertiary species between the years 1870 and 1876. Meanwhile, in cretaceous strata, he unearthed remains of about two hundred birds with teeth, six hundred pterodactyls, or flying dragons, some with a spread of wings of twenty- five feet, and one thousand five hundred mosasaurs of the sea-serpent type, some of them sixty feet or more in length. In a single bed of Jurassic rock, not larger than a good-sized lecture-room, he found the remains of one hundred and sixty individuals of mammals, representing twenty species and nine genera; while beds of the same age have yielded three hundred reptiles, varying from the size of a rabbit to sixty or eighty feet in length.

But the chief interest of these fossils from the West is not their number but their nature; for among them are numerous illustrations of just such intermediate types of organisms as must have existed in the past if the succession of life on the globe has been an unbroken lineal succession. Here are reptiles with bat-like wings, and others with bird-like pelves and legs adapted for bipedal locomotion. Here are birds with teeth, and other reptilian characters. In short, what with reptilian birds and birdlike reptiles, the gap between modern reptiles and birds is quite bridged over. In a similar way, various diverse mammalian forms, as the tapir, the rhinoceros, and the horse, are linked together by fossil progenitors. And, most important of all, Professor Marsh has discovered a series of mammalian remains, occurring in successive geological epochs, which are held to represent beyond cavil the actual line of descent of the modern horse; tracing the lineage of our one-toed species back through two and three toed forms, to an ancestor in the eocene or early tertiary that had four functional toes and the rudiment of a fifth. This discovery is too interesting and too important not to be detailed at length in the words of the discoverer.

Marsh Describes the Fossil Horse



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