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Title: Extinct Monsters - A Popular Account of Some of the Larger Forms of Ancient Animal Life
Author: Hutchinson, H. N.
Language: English
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[Illustration: Plate XI.


Length about 25 feet.]




    REV. H. N. HUTCHINSON, B.A., F.G.S.,






    _All rights reserved._

     "The possibilities of existence run so deeply into the
     extravagant that there is scarcely any conception too
     extraordinary for Nature to realise."--Agassiz.



I have been requested by my friend Mr. Hutchinson, to express my
excellent artist of animals, Mr. Smit, for this little book entitled
"Extinct Monsters."

Many of the stories told in early days, of Giants and Dragons, may
have originated in the discovery of the limb-bones of the Mammoth, the
Rhinoceros, or other large animals, in caves, associated with heaps of
broken fragments, in which latter the ignorant peasant saw in fancy
the remains of the victims devoured at the monster's repasts.

In Louis Figuier's _World before the Deluge_ we are favoured with
several highly sensational views of extinct monsters; whilst the pen
of Dr. Kinns has furnished valuable information as to the "slimy"
nature of their blood!

The late Mr. G. Waterhouse Hawkins (formerly a lithographic artist)
was for years occupied in unauthorised restorations of various
Secondary reptiles and Tertiary mammals, and about 1853 he received
encouragement from Professor Owen to undertake the restorations of
extinct animals which still adorn the lower grounds of the Crystal
Palace at Sydenham.

But the discoveries of later years have shown that the Dicynodon and
Labyrinthodon, instead of being toad-like in form, were lacertilian or
salamander-like reptiles, with elongated bodies and moderately long
tails; that the Iguanodon did not usually stand upon "all-fours," but
more frequently sat up like some huge kangaroo with short fore limbs;
that the horn on its snout was really on its wrist; that the
Megalosaurus, with a more slender form of skeleton, had a somewhat
similar erect attitude, and the habit, perhaps, of springing upon its
prey, holding it with its powerful clawed hands, and tearing it with
its formidable carnivorous teeth.

Although the Bernissart Iguanodon has been to us a complete revelation
of what a Dinosaur really looked like, it is to America, and chiefly
to the discoveries of Marsh, that we owe the knowledge of a whole
series of new reptiles and mammals, many of which will be found
illustrated within these pages.

Of long and short-tailed Pterodactyles we now know almost complete
skeletons and details of their patagia or flying membranes. The
discovery of the long-tailed feathered bird with teeth--the
Archæopteryx, from the Oolite of Solenhofen, is another marvellous
addition to our knowledge; whilst Marsh's great Hesperornis, a
wingless diving bird with teeth, and his flying toothed bird, the
Ichthyornis dispar, are to us equally surprising.

Certainly, both in singular forms of fossil reptilia and in early
mammals, North America carries off the palm.

Of these the most remarkable are Marsh's Stegosaurus, a huge torpid
reptile, with very small head and teeth, about twenty feet in length,
and having a series of flattened dorsal spines, nearly a yard in
height, fixed upon the median line of its back; and his Triceratops,
another reptile bigger than Stegosaurus, having a huge neck-shield
joined to its skull, and horns on its head and snout. Nor do the
Eocene mammals fall short of the marvellous, for in Dinoceras we find
a beast with six horns, and sword-bayonet tusks, joined to a skeleton
like an elephant.

Latest amongst the marvels in modern palæontological discovery has
been that made by Professor Fraas of the outline of the skin and fins
in Ichthyosaurus tenuirostris, which shows it to have been a veritable
shark-like reptile, with a high dorsal fin and broad fish-tail, so
that "fish-lizard" is more than ever an appropriate term for these old
Liassic marine reptiles.

As every palæontologist is well aware, restorations are ever liable to
emendation, and that the present and latest book of extinct monsters
will certainly prove no exception to the rule is beyond a doubt, but
the author deserves our praise for the very boldness of his attempt,
and the honesty with which he has tried to follow nature and avoid
exaggeration. Every one will admire the simple and unaffected style in
which the author has endeavoured to tell his story, avoiding, as far
as possible, all scientific terms, so as to bring it within the
intelligence of the unlearned. He has, moreover, taken infinite pains
to study up his subject with care, and to consult all the literature
bearing upon it. He has thus been enabled to convey accurate
information in a simple and pleasing form, and to guide the artist in
his difficult task with much wisdom and intelligence. That the
excellence of the sketches is due to the artist, Mr. Smit, is a
matter of course, and so is the blame, where criticism is legitimate;
and no one is more sensible of the difficulties of the task than Mr.
Smit himself.

Speaking for myself, I am _very well pleased_ with the series of
sketches; and I may say so with the greater ease and freedom from
responsibility, as I have had very little to do with them, save in one
or two trifling matters of criticism. I may venture, however, to
commend them to my friends among the public at large as the happiest
set of restorations that has yet appeared.

    H. W.

[Illustration: Plate XXIV.


(_From a photograph._)]


Natural history is deservedly a popular subject. The manifestations of
life in all its varied forms is a theme that has never failed to
attract all who are not destitute of intelligence. From the days of
the primitive cave-dwellers of Europe, who lived with mammoths and
other animals now lost to the world; of the ancient Egyptians, who
drew and painted on the walls of their magnificent tombs the creatures
inhabiting the delta of the Nile; of the Greeks, looking out on the
world with their bright and child-like curiosity, down to our own
times, this old, yet ever new, theme has never failed. Never before
was there such a profusion of books describing the various forms of
life inhabiting the different countries of the globe, or the rivers,
lakes, and seas that diversify its scenery. Popular writers have done
good service in making the way plain for those who wish to acquaint
themselves with the structures, habits, and histories of living
animals; while for students a still greater supply of excellent
manuals and text-books has been, and still continues to be,

But in our admiration for the present we forget the great past. How
seldom do we think of that innumerable host of creatures that once
trod this earth! How little in comparison has been done for _them_!
Our natural-history books deal only with those that are alive now. Few
popular writers have attempted to depict, as on a canvas, the great
earth-drama that has, from age to age, been enacted on the terrestrial
stage, of which we behold the latest, but probably not the closing

When our poet wrote "All the world's a stage," he thought only of "men
and women," whom he called "merely players," but the geologist sees a
wider application of these words, as he reviews the drama of past life
on the globe, and finds that animals, too, have had "their exits and
their entrances;" nay more, "the strange eventful history" of a human
life, sketched by the master-hand, might well be chosen to illustrate
the birth and growth of the tree of life, the development of which we
shall briefly trace from time to time, as we proceed on our survey of
the larger and more wonderful animals of life that flourished in
bygone times.

We might even make out a "seven ages" of the world, in each of which
some peculiar form of life stood out prominently, but such a scheme
would be artificial.

There is a wealth of material for reconstructing the past that is
simply bewildering; and yet little has been done to bring before the
public the strange creatures that have perished.[1]

[1] Figuier's _World before the Deluge_ is hardly a trustworthy book,
and is often not up to date. The restorations also are misleading.
Professor Dawson's _Story of the Earth and Man_ is better; but the
illustrations are poor. Nicholson's _Life-History of the Earth_ is a
student's book. Messrs. Cassells' _Our Earth and its Story_ deals with
the whole of geology, and so is too diffusive; its ideal landscapes

To the writer it is a matter of astonishment that the
and restorations leave much to be desired.
discoveries of Marsh, Cope, Leidy, and others in America, not to
mention some important European discoveries, should have attracted so
little notice in this country. In the far and wild West a host of
strange reptiles and quadrupeds have been unearthed from their rocky
sepulchres, often of incredibly huge proportions, and, in many cases,
more weird and strange than the imagination could conceive; and yet
the public have never heard of these discoveries, by the side of which
the now well-known "lost creations" of Cuvier, Buckland, or Conybeare
sink into the shade. For once, we beg leave to suggest, the hungry
pressman, seeking "copy," has failed to see a good thing. Descriptions
of some of "Marsh's monsters" and how they were found, might, one
would think, have proved attractive to a public ever on the look out
for something new.

Professor Huxley, comparing our present knowledge of the mammals of
the Tertiary era with that of 1859, states that the discoveries of
Gaudry, Marsh, and Filhol, are "as if zoologists were to become
acquainted with a country hitherto unknown, as rich in novel forms of
life as Brazil or South America once were to Europeans."

The object of this book is to describe some of the larger and more
monstrous forms of the past--the lost creations of the old world; to
clothe their dry bones with flesh, and suggest for them backgrounds
such as are indicated by the discoveries of geology: in other words,
to endeavour, by means of pen and pencil, to bring them back to life.
The ordinary public cannot learn much by merely gazing at skeletons
set up in museums. One longs to cover their nakedness with flesh and
skin, and to see them as they were when they walked this earth.

Our present imperfect knowledge renders it difficult in some cases to
construct successful restorations; but, nevertheless, the attempt is
worth making: and if some who think geology a very dry subject, can be
converted to a different opinion on reading these pages, we shall be
well rewarded for our trouble.

We venture to hope that those who will take the trouble to peruse this
book, or even to look at its pictures, on which much labour and
thought have been expended, will find pleasure in visiting the
splendid geological collection at Cromwell Road. We have often watched
visitors walking somewhat aimlessly among those relics of a former
world, and wished that we could be of some service. But, if this
little book should help them the better to understand what they see
there, our wish will be accomplished.

Another object which the writer has kept in view is to connect the
past with the present. It cannot be too strongly urged that the best
commentary on the dead past is the living present. It is unfortunate
that there is still too great a tendency to separate, as by a great
gulf, the dead from the living, the past from the present, forms of
life. The result of this is seen in our museums. Fossils have too
often been left to the attention of geologists not always well
acquainted with the structures of living animals. The more frequent
introduction of fossil specimens side by side with modern forms of
life would not only be a gain to the progress and spread of geological
science, but would be a great help to students of anatomy and natural
history. The tree of life is but a mutilated thing, and half its
interest is gone, when the dead branches are lopped off.

It is, perhaps, justifiable to give to the term "monster" a somewhat
extended meaning. The writer has therefore included in his menagerie
of extinct animals one or two creatures which, though not of any great
size, are nevertheless remarkable in various ways--such, for instance,
as the winged reptiles, and anomalous birds with teeth, of later
times, and others. Compared with living forms, these creatures appear
to us as "monstrosities," and may well find a place in our collection.

The author wishes, in a few words, to thank those friends who have
rendered him assistance in his task.

Dr. Henry Woodward, F.R.S., Keeper of Geology, Natural History Museum,
has from the first taken a lively interest in this little book. He
kindly helped the author with his advice on difficult matters,
criticising some of the artist's preliminary sketches and suggesting
improvements in the restorations. With unfailing courtesy he has ever
been willing, in spite of many demands on his time, to place his
knowledge at the disposal of both the author and artist; and in this
way certain errors have been avoided. Besides this, he took the
trouble to read through the proof-sheets, and made suggestions and
corrections which have greatly improved the text. For all this welcome
aid the author begs to return his sincere thanks.

To Mr. Smith Woodward, of the Natural History Museum, the author is
also much indebted for his kindness in reading through the text and
giving valuable information with regard to the latest discoveries.

The artist, Mr. Smit, notwithstanding the novelty of the subject and
the difficulties of the task, has thrown himself heartily into the
work of making the twenty-four restorations of extinct animals. To
him, also, the author is greatly indebted, and considers himself
fortunate in having secured the services of so excellent an artist.

To the publishers his thanks are due for their liberality in the
matter of illustrations, and the readiness with which they have
responded to suggestions.

With regard to minor illustrations the following acknowledgments are

To the Palæontological Society of Great Britain for permission to
reproduce three of the illustrations in Sir Richard Owen's great work,
_British Fossil Reptiles_, published in their yearly volumes, viz.
Figs. 3, 4, and 8.

To Messrs. Bell and Co. for the following cuts from the late Dr.
Gideon A. Mantell's works: viz. Figs. 12, 14, 20, 33, 37, 38.

To Messrs. A. and C. Black for the following cuts from Owen's
_Palæontology_: viz. Figs. 51, 54, 56, 57.

       *       *       *       *       *

Appendix IV. contains a list of some of the works of which the writer
has made use; but it would be impossible within reasonable limits to
enumerate all the separate papers which have necessarily been
consulted. The reader will find numerous references, such as "Case Y
on Plan," in brackets; these refer to the plan given at the end of the
excellent little _Guide to the Exhibition Galleries in the Department
of Geology and Palæontology in the Natural History Museum_, Cromwell
Road (price one shilling), which visitors to the Museum are advised to


The appearance of a second edition affords the author a pleasant
opportunity of thanking the reading public, and the Press, for the
kind way in which his endeavour to popularise the results of modern
Palæontology has been received. There seem to be fashions in all
things--even in sciences; and perhaps the wonderful advances we have
witnessed of late years in the physical sciences on the one hand, and
in biological sciences on the other, may have tended to throw
Palæontology somewhat into the shade. Let us hope that it will not
remain there long.

A large number of illustrations have been added for the present
edition, besides additional matter here and there in the text. Three
of the plates (viz. Plates II. X. XV.) have been redrawn. Plate II.
shows the Ichthyosaurus as interpreted by the latest discovery from
Würtemberg. Plate X. gives a somewhat different interpretation of the
Stegosaurus, suggested by some remarks of Mr. Lydekker.

A slight change will be noticed in Plate XV. (Brontops). Plate XVII.
is a great improvement on the old drawing (Fig. 28, old edition) of
the Megatherium skeleton. Plate XXIV., besides containing a valuable
portrait of the late Sir Richard Owen, gives another drawing of the
Dinornis skeleton.

    _April, 1893._



  Preface by Dr. Henry Woodward                                 v
  Author's Preface                                             ix
  Preface to Second Edition                                    xv
  Introduction                                                  1
  CHAPTER I.     How Extinct Monsters are preserved             9
  CHAPTER II.    Sea-scorpions                                 24
  CHAPTER III.   The Great Fish-lizards                        34
  CHAPTER IV.    The Great Sea-lizards and their Allies        52
  CHAPTER V.     The Dragons of Old Time--Dinosaurs            61
  CHAPTER VI.    The Dragons of Old Time--Dinosaurs            75
  CHAPTER VII.   The Dragons of Old Time--Dinosaurs            98
  CHAPTER VIII.  Flying Dragons                               121
  CHAPTER IX.    Sea-serpents                                 133
  CHAPTER X.     Some American Monsters                       148
  CHAPTER XI.    Some Indian Monsters                         162
  CHAPTER XII.   Giant Sloths and Armadillos                  177
  CHAPTER XIII.  The Mammoth                                  192
  CHAPTER XIV.   The Mastodon and the Woolly Rhinoceros       217
  CHAPTER XV.    Giant Birds                                  227
  CHAPTER XVI.   The Great Irish Deer and Steller's Sea-cow   240
      I.--Table of Stratified Rocks                            251
     II.--The Great Sea-serpent                                253
    III.--List of British Localities where Remains of the
            Mammoth have been discovered                       258
     IV.--Literature                                           261
      V.--Ichthyosaurs                                         264
  INDEX                                                        267


          PLATE                                             TO FACE PAGE

     XI. A Gigantic Horned Dinosaur, Triceratops prorsus   _Frontispiece_
   XXIV. Sir Richard Owen and Skeleton of Dinornis maximus      ix
      I. Sea-scorpions                                          25
     II. Fish-lizards                                           41
    III. Pterodactyls--Long-necked Sea-lizard--Cuttle-fish
             or Belemnite                                       55
     IV. A Gigantic Dinosaur, Brontosaurus excelsus             69
      V. Thigh-bone of the Largest of the Dinosaurs,
             Atlantosaurus                                      71
     VI. A Carnivorous Dinosaur, Megalosaurus Bucklandi         79
    VII. A Gigantic Dinosaur, Iguanodon Bernissartensis         97
   VIII. A Gigantic Dinosaur, Iguanodon Mantelli               101
     IX. An Armoured Dinosaur, Scelidosaurus Harrisoni         105
      X. A Gigantic Armoured Dinosaur, Stegosaurus ungulatus   113
    XII. Group of Small Flying Dragons, or Pterodactyls        131
   XIII. Group of Sea-serpents, Elasmosaur, and Fishes         141
    XIV. A Large Extinct Mammal, Tinoceras ingens              151
     XV. A Huge Extinct Mammal, Brontops robustus              161
    XVI. A Gigantic Hoofed Mammal, Sivatherium giganteum       169
   XVII. Skeleton of Great Ground Sloth of South America       179
  XVIII. Great Ground Sloth of South America, Megatherium
             americanum                                        181
    XIX. A Gigantic Armadillo, Glyptodon asper                 189
     XX. The Mammoth, Elephas primigenius                      205
    XXI. The Mastodon of Ohio, M. americanus                   219
   XXII. The Woolly Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros tichorhinus         225
  XXIII. Moa-birds                                             233
    XXV. The Great Irish Deer, Cervus megaceros                243
   XXVI. Steller's Sea-cow, Rhytina gigas                      249


  FIG.                                                        PAGE

   1.  Pterygotus anglicus                                      26
   2.  Silurian Merostomata                                     30
   3.  Ichthyosaurus intermedius                                39
   4.  Teeth of Ichthyosauri                                    43
   5.  Skull of Ichthyosaurus latifrons                         44
   6.  Skull of Ichthyosaurus platyodon                         47
   7.  Mandibles of Long-necked Sea-Lizards                     55
   8.  Skeleton of Plesiosaurus macrocephalus                   56
   9.  Restored Skeleton of Brontosaurus excelsus               67
  10.  Neck Vertebræ of Brontosaurus                            68
  11.  Head of Diplodocus                                       72
  12.  Lower Jaw-bone of Megalosaurus, with Teeth               77
  13.  Skeleton of Megalosaurus                                 78
  14.  Portion of a Slab of New Red Sandstone                   80
  15.  Portion of a Slab, with Tracks                           81
  16.  Limb-bones of Allosaurus                                 83
  17.  Skull of Ceratosaurus                                    84
  18.  Skull of Ceratosaurus nasicornis                         85
  19.  Skeleton of Compsognathus longipes                       86
  20.  Tooth of Iguanodon                                       88
  21.  Skeleton of Iguanodon Bernissartensis                   100
  22.  Skull and Skeleton of Iguanodon Mantelli                101
  23.  Tracks of Iguanodon                                     102
  24.  Restored Skeleton of Scelidosaurus Harrisoni            105
  25.  Skeleton of Stegosaurus ungulatus                       112
  26.  Tail Vertebræ of Stegosaurus                            113
  27.  Limb-bones of Stegosaurus                               114
  28.  Plates of Stegosaurus                                   115
  29.  Head of Triceratops                                     116
  30.  Skeleton of Triceratops prorsus                         117
  31.  Bony Spines belonging to the Skin of Triceratops        119
  32.  Skeleton of Dimorphodon Macronyx                        124
  33.  Skeleton of Scaphognathus crassirostris                 125
  34.  Skeleton of Pterodactylus spectabilis                   126
  35.  Skeleton of Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus                   128
  36.  Skull of Pteranodon                                     129
  37.  Skull of Mosasaurus Hoffmanni                           137
  38.  Teeth of Mosasaurus                                     137
  39.  Lower Tooth of Leiodon                                  138
  40.  Snout of Tylosaurus                                     143
  41.  Skeleton of Clidastes cineriarum                        145
  41a. Skull of Platecarpus                                    146
  42.  Skeleton of Tinoceras ingens                            150
  43.  Skull of Dinoceras mirabile                             151
  44.  Cast of Brain-cavity of Dinoceras mirabile              152
  45.  Skeleton of Brontops robustus                           161
  46.  Skull of Sivatherium giganteum                          168
  47.  Skeleton of Sivatherium giganteum                       169
  48.  Restored Figure of Gigantic Tortoise,
           Colossochelys atlas                                 171
  49.  The Elephant victorious over the Tortoise,
           supporting the World, and unfolding the
           Mysteries of the "Fauna Sivalensis"                 173
  50.  Skeleton of Scelidotherium                              184
  51.  Extinct Gigantic Armadillo, Glyptodon clavipes          190
  52.  Skeleton of Mammoth, Elephas primigenius                203
  53.  Figure of the Mammoth, engraved on Mammoth Ivory        214
  54.  Skeleton of Mastodon arvernensis                        218
  55.  Head of Woolly Rhinoceros                               224
  56.  Skeleton of the Elephant-footed Moa,
           Dinornis elephantopus                               233
  57.  Skeleton of Great Irish Deer, Cervus giganteus          242
  58.  Skeleton of Rhytina gigas                               247



    "The earth hath gathered to her breast again
    And yet again, the millions that were born
    Of her unnumbered, unremembered tribes."

Let us see if we can get some glimpses of the primæval inhabitants of
the world, that lived and died while as yet there were no men and
women having authority over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the

We shall, perhaps, find this antique world quite as strange as the
fairy-land of Grimm or Lewis Carroll. True, it was not inhabited by
"slithy toves" or "jabber-wocks," but by real beasts, of whose shapes,
sizes, and habits much is already known--a good deal more than might
at first be supposed. And yet, real as it all is, this antique
world--this panorama of scenes that have for ever passed away--is a
veritable fairy-land. In those days of which geologists tell us, the
principal parts were played, not by kings and queens, but by creatures
many of which were very unlike those we see around us now. And yet it
is no fairy-land after all, where impossible things happen, and where
impossible dragons figure largely; but only the same old world in
which you and I were born. Everything you will see here is quite true.
All these monsters once lived. Truth is stranger than fiction; and
perhaps we shall enjoy our visit to this fairy-land all the more for
that reason. For not even the dragons supposed to have been slain by
armed knights in old times, when people gave ear to any tale, however
extravagant, could equal in size or strength the real dragons we shall
presently meet with, whose actual bones may be seen in the Natural
History Museum at South Kensington.

Many people who visit this great museum and find their way to the
geological galleries on the right, pass hastily by the cases of bones,
teeth, and skeletons. These things, it seems, fail to interest them.
They do not know how to interpret them. They cannot picture to
themselves the kinds of creatures to which the relics once belonged;
and so they pass them by and presently go to the more attractive
collection of stuffed birds on the other side. There they see the
feathered tribes of the air all beautifully arranged; some poised in
the air by almost invisible wires; some perched on branches: but all
surrounded by grass, flowers, and natural objects, imitated with
marvellous reality, so that they see the birds as they really are in
nature, and can almost fancy they hear them singing.

Now, it has often occurred to the present writer that something more
might be done for the long-neglected "lost creations" of the world, to
bring them out of their obscurity, that they may be made to tell to
the passer-by their wondrous story. We can, however, well imagine some
of our readers asking, "Can these dry bones live?" "Yes," we would
say, "they can be made to live; reason and imagination will, if we
give them proper play, provide us eyes wherewith to see the world's
lost creations." To such men as Cuvier, Owen, Huxley, and others,
these dry bones _do_ live. It will be our object to describe to the
reader some of the wonderful results that have rewarded the lifelong
labours of such great men. We shall take some of the largest and
strangest forms of life that once lived, and try to picture them as
they really were when alive, whether walking on land, swimming in the
sea, or flying in the air; to understand the meanings of their more
obvious structures; and to form some conclusions with regard to their
habits, as well as to find out, if possible, their relations,--as far
as such questions have been answered by those most qualified to settle
these difficult matters.

All technical details, such as the general reader is unfamiliar with,
will be as far as possible suppressed. Let us fancy a long procession
of extinct monsters passing in single file before us, and ourselves
endeavouring to pick out their "points" as they present themselves to
the eye of imagination. It is not, be it remembered, mere imagination
that guides the man of science in such matters, for all his
conclusions are carefully based on reason; and when conclusions are
given, we shall endeavour to show how they have been arrived at.

For millions of years countless multitudes of living animals have
played their little parts on the earth and passed away, to be buried
up in the oozy beds of the seas of old time, or entombed with the
leaves that sank in the waters of primæval lakes. The majority of
these perished beyond all recovery, leaving not a trace behind; yet a
vast number of fossilised remains have been, in various ways,
preserved; sometimes almost as completely as if Dame Nature had
thoughtfully embalmed them for our instruction and delight.

Down in those old seas and lakes she kept her great museum, in order
to preserve for us a selection of her treasures. In course of time she
slowly raised up sea-beds and lake-bottoms to make them into dry land.
This museum is everywhere around us. We have but to enter quarries and
railway cuttings, or to search in coal-mines, or under cliffs at the
sea-side, and we can consult her records. As the ancient Egyptians
built tombs, pyramids, and temples, from which we may learn their
manner of life and partly read their history, so Nature has entombed,
not one race only, but many races of the children of life. Her
records are written in strange hieroglyphs, yet it is not difficult to
interpret their meaning; and thus many an old story, many an old
scene, may be pictured in the mind of man.

Shall we call this earth-drama a tragedy or a comedy? Doubtless tragic
scenes occurred at times; as, for instance, when fierce creatures
engaged in deadly combat: and probably amusing, if not comic,
incidents took place occasionally, such as might have provoked us to
laughter, had we been there to see them. But let us simply call it a
drama. Backgrounds of scenery were not wanting. Then, as now, the
surface of the earth was clothed with vegetation, and strange cattle
pastured on grassy plains. Vegetation was at times very luxuriant. The
forests of the coal period, with their giant reeds and club-moss
trees, must have made a strange picture. Then, as now, there rose up
from the plains lofty ranges of mountains, reaching to the clouds,
their summits clothed with the eternal snows. These, too, played their
part, feeding the streams and the rivers that meandered over the
plains, bringing life and fertility with them, as they do now. The sun
shone and the wind blew: sometimes gently, so that the leaves just
whispered in an evening breeze; at other times so violently that the
giants of the forest swayed to and fro, and the seas lashed themselves
furiously against rocky coasts. Nor were the underground forces of the
earth less active than they are now: volcanic eruptions often took
place on a magnificent scale; volcanoes poured out fiery lava streams
for leagues beneath their feet; great showers of ashes and fine dust
were ejected in the air, so that the sun was darkened for a time, and
the surface of the sea was covered for many miles with floating pumice
and volcanic dust, which in time sank to the bottom, and was made into
hard rock, such as we now find on the top of Snowdon.

Earthquake shocks were quite as frequent, and no doubt the ground
swayed to and fro, or was rent open as some unusually great
earth-movement took place, and perhaps a mountain range was raised
several feet or yards higher. All this we learn from the testimony of
the rocks beneath our feet. It only requires the use of a little
imagination to conjure up scenes of the past, and paint them as on a
moving diorama.

We shall not, however, dwell at any length on the scenery, or the
vegetation that clothed the landscape at different periods; for these
features are sufficiently indicated in the beautiful drawings of
extinct animals by our artist, Mr. J. Smit.

The researches of the illustrious Baron Cuvier, at Paris, as embodied
in his great work, _Ossemens Fossiles_, gave a great impetus to the
study of organic remains. It was he who laid the foundations of the
science of Palæontology,[2] which, though much has already been
accomplished, yet has a great future before it. Agassiz, Owen, Huxley,
Marsh, Cope, and others, following in his footsteps, have greatly
extended its boundaries; but he was the pioneer.

[2] Palæontology is the science which treats of the living beings,
whether animal or vegetable, which have inhabited this globe at past
periods in its history. (Greek--_palaios_, ancient; _onta_, beings;
_logos_, discourse.)

Before his time fossil forms were very little known, and still less
understood. His researches, especially among vertebrates, or backboned
animals, revealed an altogether undreamed-of wealth of entombed
remains. It is true the old and absurd notion that fossils were mere
"sports of Nature," sometimes bearing more or less resemblance to
living animals, but still only an accidental (!) resemblance, had been
abandoned by Leibnitz, Buffon, and Pallas; and that Daubenton had
actually compared the fossil bones of quadrupeds with those of living
forms; while Camper declared his opinion that some of these remains
belonged to extinct species of quadrupeds.

It is to Cuvier, however, that the world owes the first systematic
application of the science of comparative anatomy, which he himself
had done so much to place on a sound basis, to the study of the bones
of fossil animals. He paid great attention to the relative shapes of
animals, and the different developments of the same kind of bones in
various animals, and especially to the nature of their teeth. So great
did his experience and knowledge become, that he rarely failed in
naming an animal from a part of its skeleton. He appreciated more
clearly than others before him the mutual dependence of the various
parts of an animal's organisation. "The organism," he said, "forms a
connected unity, in which the single parts cannot change without
modifications in the other parts."

It will hardly be necessary to give examples of this now well-known
truth; but, just to take one case: the elephant has a long proboscis
with which it can reach the ground, and consequently its neck is quite
short; but take away the long proboscis, and you would seriously
interfere with the relation of various parts of its structure to each
other. How, then, could it reach or pick up anything lying on the
ground? Other changes would have to follow: either its legs would
require to be shortened, or its neck to be lengthened. In every
animal, as in a complex machine, there is a mutual dependence of the
different parts.

As he progressed in these studies, Cuvier was able with considerable
success to restore extinct animals from their fossilised remains, to
discover their habits and manner of life, and to point out their
nearest living ally. To him we owe the first complete demonstration of
the possibility of restoring an extinct animal. His "Law of
Correlation" however, has been found to be not infallible; as
Professor Huxley has shown, it has exceptions. It expresses our
experience among living animals, but, when applied to the more ancient
types of life, is liable to be misleading.

To take one out of many examples of this law: Carnivorous animals,
such as cats, lions, and tigers, have claws in their feet, very
different from the hoofs of an ox, which is herbivorous; while the
teeth of the former group are very different to those of the latter.
Thus the teeth and limbs have a certain definite relation to each
other, or, in other words, are correlated. Again, horned quadrupeds
are all herbivorous (or graminivorous), and have hoofs to their feet.
The following amusing anecdote serves to illustrate Cuvier's law. One
of his students thought he would try and frighten his master, and,
having dressed up as a wild beast, entered Cuvier's bedroom by night,
and, presenting himself by his bedside, said in hollow tones, "Cuvier,
Cuvier, I've come to eat you!" The great naturalist, who on waking up
was able to discern something with horns and hoofs, simply remarked,
"What! horns, hoofs--graminivorous--you can't!" What better lesson
could the master have given the pupil to help him to remember his "Law
of Correlation"?

Cuvier's great work, entitled _Ossemens Fossiles_, will long remain an
imperishable monument of the genius and industry of the greatest
pioneer in this region of investigation. This work proved beyond a
doubt to his astonished contemporaries the great antiquity of the
tribes of animals now living on the surface of the earth. It proved
more than that, however; for it showed the existence of a great
philosophy in Nature which linked the past with the present in a
scheme that pointed to a continuity of life during untold previous
ages. All this was directly at variance with the prevalent ideas of
his time, and consequently his views were regarded by many with alarm,
and he received a good deal of abuse--a fate which many other original
thinkers before him have shared.

It is somewhat difficult for people living now, and accustomed to
modern teaching, to realise how novel were the conclusions announced
by Cuvier. In his _Discourse on the Revolutions of the Surface of the
Globe_, translated into most European languages under the title
_Theory of the Earth_, he lays down, among others, the two following

1. That all organised existences were not created at the same
time; but at different times, probably very remote from each
other--vegetables before animals, mollusca and fishes before reptiles,
and the latter before mammals.

2. That fossil remains in the more recent strata are those which
approach nearest to the present type of corresponding living species.

Teaching such as this gave a new impetus to the study of organic
remains, and Palæontology, as a science, began with Cuvier.



     "Geology, beyond almost every other science, offers fields of
     research adapted to all capacities and to every condition and
     circumstance of life in which we may be placed. For while
     some of its phenomena require the highest intellectual
     powers, and the greatest attainments in abstract science for
     their successful investigation, many of its problems may be
     solved by the most ordinary intellect, and facts replete with
     the deepest interest may be gleaned by the most casual

Let us suppose we are visiting a geological museum for the first time,
passing along from one department to another with ever-increasing
wonder--now admiring the beautiful polished marbles from Devonshire,
with their delicate corals, or the wonderful fishes from the Old Red
Sandstone, with their plates of enamel; now the delicate shells and
ammonites from the Lias or Oolites, with their pearly lustre still
preserved; now the white fresh-looking shells from the Isle of Wight;
now the ponderous bones and big teeth of ancient monsters from the
Wealden beds of Sussex. The question might naturally occur, "How were
all these creatures preserved from destruction and decay, and sealed
up so securely that it is difficult to believe they are as old as the
geologists tell us they are?" It will be worth our while to consider
this before we pass on to describe the creatures themselves.

Now, in the first place, "fossils" are not always "petrifactions," as
some people seem to think; that is to say, they are not all turned
into stone. This is true in many cases, no doubt, yet one frequently
comes across the remains of plants and animals that have undergone
very little change, and have, as it were, been simply sealed up. The
state of a fossil depends on several circumstances, such as the soil,
mud, or other medium in which it may happen to be preserved. Again,
the newest, or most recent, fossils are generally the least altered.
We have fossils of all ages, and in all states of preservation. As
examples of fossils very little altered, we may take the case of the
wonderful collection of bones discovered by Professor Boyd Dawkins in
caves in various parts of Great Britain. The results of many years of
research are given in his most interesting book on _Cave-Hunting_.
This enthusiastic explorer and geologist has discovered the remains of
a great many animals, some of which are quite extinct, while others
are still living in this country. These remains belong to a late
period, when lions, tigers, cave-bears, wolves, hyænas, and reindeer
inhabited our country. In some cases the caves were the dens of
hyænas, who brought their prey into caverns in our limestone rocks, to
devour them at their leisure; for the marks of their teeth may yet be
seen on the bones. In other cases the bones seem to have been washed
into the caves by old streams that have ceased to run; but in all
cases they are fairly fresh, though often stained by iron-rust brought
in by water that has dissolved iron out of various rocks--for iron is
a substance met with almost everywhere in nature. Sometimes they are
buried up in a layer of soil, or "cave-earth," and at other times in a
layer of stalagmite--a deposit of carbonate of lime gradually formed
on the floors of caves by the evaporation of water charged with
carbonate of lime.

Air and water are great destroyers of animal and vegetable substances
from which life has departed. The autumn leaves that fall by the
wayside soon undergo change, and become at last separated or resolved
into their original elements. In the same way when any wild animal,
such as a bird or rabbit, dies in an exposed place, its flesh decays
under the influence of rain and wind, so that before long nothing but
dry bones is left. Hamlet's wish that this "too too solid flesh would
melt" is soon realised after death; and that active chemical element
in the air known as oxygen, in breathing which we live, has a tenfold
power over dead matter, slowly causing chemical actions somewhat
similar to those that take place in a burning candle, whereby decaying
flesh is converted into water-vapour and carbonic acid gas. Thus we
see that oxygen not only supports life, but breaks up into simpler
forms the unwholesome and dangerous products of decaying matter, thus
keeping the atmosphere sweet and pure; but in time, even the dry bones
of the bird or rabbit, though able for a longer period to resist the
attacks of the atmosphere, crumble into dust, and serve to fertilise
the soil that once supported them.

Now, if water and air be excluded, it is wonderful how long even the
most perishable things may be preserved from this otherwise universal
decay. In the Edinburgh museum of antiquities may be seen an old
wooden cask of butter that has lain for centuries in peat--which
substance has a curiously preservative power; and human bodies have
been dug out of Irish peat with the flesh well preserved, which, from
the nature of the costume worn by the person, we can tell to be very
ancient. Meat packed in tins, so as to be entirely excluded from the
air, may be kept a very long time, and will be found to be quite fresh
and fit for use.

But air and water have a way of penetrating into all sorts of places,
so that in nature they are almost everywhere. Water can slowly filter
through even the hardest rocks, and since it contains dissolved air,
it causes the decay of animal or vegetable substances. Take the case
of a dead leaf falling into a lake, or some quiet pool in a river. It
sinks to the bottom, and is buried up in gravel, mud, or sand. Now,
our leaf will stand a very poor chance of preservation on a sandy or
gravelly bottom, because these materials, being porous, allow the
water to pass through them easily. But if it settles down on fine mud
it may be covered up and become a fossil. In time the soft mud will
harden into clay or shale, retaining a delicate impression of the
leaf; and even after thousands of years, the brown body of the leaf
will be there, only partly changed. In the case of the plants found in
coal, the lapse of ages since they were buried up has been so great
(and the strata have been so affected by the great pressure and by the
earth's internal heat) that certain chemical changes have converted
leaves and stems into carbon and some of its compounds, much in the
same way that, if you heat wood in a closed vessel, you convert it
into charcoal, which is mostly carbon. The coal we burn in our fires
is entirely of vegetable origin, and every seam in a coal-mine is a
buried forest of trees, ferns, reeds, and other plants.

The reader will understand how it is that rocks composed of hardened
sand or gravel, sandstones and conglomerates, contain but few fossils;
while, on the other hand, such rocks as clay, shale, slate, and
limestone often abound in fossils, because they are formed of what was
once soft mud, that sealed up and protected corals, shell-fish,
sea-urchins, fishes, and other marine animals. Had they been covered
up in sand the chances are that percolating water would have slowly
dissolved the shells and corals, the hard coats of the crabs, and the
bones of the fishes, all of which are composed of carbonate of lime;
and we know that is a substance easily dissolved by water.

It is in the rocks formed during the later geological periods that we
find fossils least changed from their original state; for time works
great changes, and too little time has elapsed since those periods for
any considerable alterations to have taken place. But when we come to
examine some of the earlier rocks, which have been acted upon in
various ways for long periods of time, such as the pressure of vast
piles of overlying rocks, and the percolation of water charged with
mineral substances (water sometimes warmed by the earth's internal
heat), then we may expect to find the remains of the world's lost
creations in a much more mineralised condition. Every fossil-collector
must be familiar with examples of changes of this kind. For instance,
shells originally composed of carbonate of lime are often found to
have been turned into flint or silica. Another curious change is
illustrated in the case of a stratum found in Cambridgeshire and other
counties. In this remarkable layer, only about a foot in thickness,
one frequently finds bones and teeth of fishes and reptiles. These,
however, have all undergone a curious change, whereby they have been
converted into phosphate of lime--a compound of phosphorus and lime.
It abounds in "nodules," or lumps, of this substance, which, along
with thousands of fossils, are every year ground up and converted by a
chemical process into valuable artificial manure for the farmer.

The soft parts of animals, as we have said before, cannot be preserved
in a fossil state; but, as if to compensate for this loss, we
sometimes meet with the most faithful and delicate impressions. Thus,
cuttle-fishes have, in some instances, left, on the clays which buried
them up, impressions of their soft, long arms, or tentacles, and, as
the mud hardened into solid rock, the impressions are fixed
imperishably. Examples of these interesting records may be seen at the
Natural History Museum at South Kensington. Even soft jelly-fishes
have left their mark on certain rocks! At a place in Bavaria, called
Solenhofen, there is a remarkably fine-grained limestone containing a
multitude of wonderful impressions. This stone is well known to
lithographers, and is largely used in printing. On it the oldest known
bird has left its skeleton and faithful impressions of its feathers.

The footprints of birds and reptiles are by no means uncommon. Such
records are most valuable, for a great deal may be learned from even a
footprint as to the nature of the animal that made it (see p. 79).

Since the greater number of animals described in this book are
reptiles, quadrupeds, and other inhabitants of the land, and only a
few had their home in the sea, we must endeavour to try and understand
how their remains may have been preserved. Our object in writing this
book is to interpret their story, and, as it were, to bring them to
life again. Each one must be made to tell its own story, and that
story will be far from complete if we cannot form some idea of how it
found its way into a watery grave, and so was added to Nature's
museum. For this purpose we must briefly explain to the reader how the
rocks we see around us have been deposited; for these rocks are the
tombs in which lost creations lie.

Go into any ordinary quarry, where the men are at work, getting out
the stone in blocks to be used in building, or for use on the roads,
or for some other purpose, and you will be pretty sure to notice at
the first glance that the rock is arranged as if it had been built up
in layers. Now, this is true of all rocks that have been laid down by
the agency of water--as most of them have been. True, there are
exceptions, but every rule has its exceptions. If you went into a
granite quarry at Aberdeen, or a basalt quarry near Edinburgh, you
would not see these layers; but such rocks as these do not contain
fossils. They have been mainly formed by the action of great heat, and
were forced up to the surface of the earth by pressure from below. As
they slowly cooled, the mineral substances of which they were formed
gradually crystallised; and it is this crystalline state, together
with the signs of movement, that tells us of their once heated state.
Such rocks are said to be of igneous origin (Lat. _ignis_, fire). But
nearly all the other rocks were formed by the action of water--that
is, under water,--and hence are known to geologists as aqueous
deposits (Lat. _aqua_, water). They may be considered as sediments
that slowly settled down in seas, lakes, or at the mouths of rivers.
Such deposits are in the course of being formed at the present day.
All round our coasts mud, sand, and gravel are being accumulated,
layer by layer. These materials are constantly being swept off the
land by the action of rain and rivers, and carried down to the sea.
Perhaps, when staying at the sea-side, you may have noticed, after
rainy and rough weather, how the sea, for some distance from the
shore, is discoloured with mud--especially at the mouth of a river.
The sand, being heavy, soon sinks down, and this is the reason why
sand-bars so frequently block the entrance to rivers. Then again, the
waves of the sea beat against the sea-shore and undermine the cliffs,
bringing down great fragments, which after a time are completely
broken up and worn down into rounded pebbles, or even fine sand and
mud. It is very easy to see that in this way large quantities of sand,
gravel, and mud are continually supplied to our seas. We can picture
how they will settle down; the sand not far from the shore, and the
fine mud further out to sea. When the rough weather ceases, the river
becomes smaller and flows less rapidly, so that when the coarse
_débris_ of the land has settled down to form layers, or strata, of
sand and gravel, then the fine mud will begin to settle down also, and
will form a layer overlying them or further out. Thus we learn, from a
little observation of what is now going on, how layers of sand and
mud, such as we see in a quarry, were made thousands and thousands of
years ago.

When we think of all the big rivers and small streams continually
flowing into the sea, we shall begin to realise what a great work rain
and rivers are doing in making the rocks of the future. If, at a later
period, a slight upheaval of the sea-bed were to take place so as to
bring it above water, and such is very likely, these materials would
be found neatly arranged in layers, and more or less hardened into
solid rock.

The reader may, perhaps, find it rather hard at first to realise that
in this simple way vast deposits of rock are being formed in the seas
of the present day, and that the finer material thus derived from a
continent may be carried by ocean currents to great distances; but so
it is. Over thousands of square miles of ocean, deposits are being
gradually accumulated which will doubtless be some day turned into
hard rock. Just to take one example: it has been found that in the
Atlantic Ocean, a distance of over two hundred miles from the mouth
of that great river, the Amazon, the sea is discoloured by fine

There is another kind of rock frequently met with, the building up of
which cannot be explained in the way we have pointed out; and that is
limestone. This rock has not been deposited as a sediment, like clays
and sandstones, but geologists have good reasons for believing that it
has been gradually formed in the deeper and clearer parts of oceans by
the slow accumulation of marine shells, corals, and other creatures,
whose bodies are partly composed of carbonate of lime. This seems
incredible at first, but the proofs are quite convincing.[3] As
Professor Huxley well remarked, there is as good evidence that chalk
has been built up by the accumulation of minute shells as that the
Pyramids were built by the ancient Egyptians.

[3] See _The Autobiography of the Earth_, p. 223.

The science of geology reveals the startling fact that all the great
series of the stratified rocks, whose united thickness is over 80,000
feet, has been mainly accumulated under water, either by the action of
those powerful geological agents--rain and rivers--or through the
agency of myriads of tiny marine animals. When we have grasped this
idea, we have learned our first, and, perhaps, most useful lesson in

Now let us apply what has been above explained to the question
immediately before us. We want to know how the skeletons of animals
living on land came to be buried up under water, among the stratified
rocks that are to be seen all over our country, and most of which were
made under the sea.

We can answer this question by going to Nature herself, in order to
find out what is actually going on at the present time, by inquiring
into the habits of land animals, their surroundings, and the accidents
to which they are liable at sundry times and in divers manners. It is
by this simple method of studying present actions that nearly all
difficult questions in geology may be solved. The leading principle of
the geologist is to interpret the past by the light of the present,
or, in other words, to find out what happens now, in order to learn
what took place ages ago; for it is clear that the world has been
going on in the same way for at least as far back as geological
history can take us. There has been a _uniformity_, or sameness, in
Nature's actions ever since living things first dwelt on the earth.

Just as rivers are mainly responsible for bringing down to the sea the
materials of which rocks are made, so these universal carrying agents
are the means by which the bodies of many animals that live in the
plains, over which they wander, are brought to their last
resting-place. We have only to consult the records of great floods to
see what fearful havoc they sometimes make among living things, and
how the dead bodies are swept away.

Great floods rise rapidly, so that the herds of wild animals pasturing
on grassy plains are surprised by the rising waters, and, being unable
to withstand the force of the water, are hurried along, and so
drowned. When dead they sink to the bottom, and may, in some cases, be
buried up in the _débris_ hurried along by the river; but as a rule
their bodies, being swollen by the gases formed by decomposing flesh,
rise again to the surface, and consequently may be carried along for
many a mile, till they reach some lake, or perhaps right down to the
mouth of a river, and so may be taken out to sea.

One or two examples will be given to show how important is the action
of such floods. Sir Charles Lyell has given some striking
illustrations of this. There was a memorable flood in the southern
borders of Scotland on the 24th of June, 1794, which caused great
destruction in the region of the Solway Firth. Heavy rains had fallen,
so that every stream entering the firth was greatly swollen. Not only
sheep and cattle, but even herdsmen and shepherds were drowned. When
the flood had subsided, a fearful spectacle was seen on a large
sand-bank, called "the beds of Esk," where the waters meet; for on
this one bank were found collected together the bodies of 9 black
cattle, 3 horses, 1840 sheep, 45 dogs, 180 hares, together with those
of many smaller animals, also the corpses of two men and one woman.

Humboldt, the celebrated traveller, says that when, at certain
seasons, the large rivers of South America are swollen by heavy rains,
great numbers of quadrupeds are drowned every year. Troops of wild
horses that graze in the "savannahs," or grassy plains, are said to be
swept away in thousands.

In Java, in the year 1699, Batavian River was flooded during an
earthquake, and drowned buffaloes, tigers, rhinoceroses, deer, apes,
crocodiles, and other wild beasts, which were brought down to the
coast by the current.

In tropical countries, where very heavy rains fall at times, and
rivers become rapidly swollen, floods are a great source of danger to
man and beast. Probably the greater number of the bodies of animals
thus drowned find their way into lakes, through which rivers flow, and
never reach the sea; and if the growth of sediment in such lakes goes
on fairly rapidly, their remains may be buried up, and so preserved.
But in many cases the bones fall one by one from the floating carcase,
and so may in that way be scattered at random over the bottom of the
lake, or the bed of a river at its mouth. In hot countries such
bodies, on reaching the sea, run a great chance of being instantly
devoured by sharks, alligators, and other carnivorous animals. But
during very heavy floods, the waters that reach the sea are so heavily
laden with mud, that these predaceous animals are obliged to retire to
some place where the waters are clear, so that at such times the dead
bodies are more likely to escape their ravages; and, at the same time,
the mud with which the waters are charged falls so rapidly that it may
quickly cover them up. We shall find further on that this explanation
probably applies to the case of the "fish-lizards," whose remains are
found in the Lias formation (see p. 51).

But, for several reasons, sedimentary rocks formed in lakes are much
more likely to contain the remains of land animals, than those that
were formed in seas, and they are more likely to be in a complete
state of preservation. Within the last century, five or six small
lakes in Scotland, which had been artificially drained, yielded the
remains of several hundred skeletons of stags, oxen, boars, horses,
sheep, dogs, hares, foxes, and wolves. There are two ways in which
these animals may have met with a watery grave. In the first place,
they may have got mired on going into the water, or in trying to land
on the other side, after swimming across. Any one who knows Scotch
lakes will be familiar with the fact that their margins are often most
treacherous ground for bathers. The writer has more than once found it
necessary to be very cautious on wading into a lake while fishing, or
in search of plants. Secondly, when such lakes are frozen over in
winter, the ice is often very treacherous in consequence of numerous
springs; and animals attempting to cross may be easily drowned. No
remains of birds were discovered in these lakes, in spite of the fact
that, until drained, they were largely frequented by water-fowl. But
it must be remembered that birds are protected by their powers of
flight from perishing in such ways as other animals frequently do.
And, even should they die on the water, their bodies are not likely to
be submerged; for, being light and feathery, they do not sink, but
continue floating until the body rots away, or is devoured by some
creature such as a hungry pike. For these reasons the remains of birds
are unfortunately very rare in the stratified rocks; and hence our
knowledge of the bird life of former ages is slight.

The Imperfection of the Record.

A very little consideration will serve to convince us that the record
which Nature has kept in the stratified rocks is an incomplete one.
There are many reasons why it must be so. It is not to be expected
that these rocks should contain anything like a complete collection of
the remains of the various tribes of plants and animals that from time
to time have flourished in seas, lakes, and estuaries, or on islands
and continents of the world. In endeavouring to trace the course of
life on the globe at successive periods, we are continually met by
want of evidence due to the "imperfection of the record"--to use
Darwin's phrase. The reasons are not far to seek. The preservation of
organic remains, or even of impressions thereof, in sedimentary strata
is, to some extent, a matter of chance. It is obvious that no wholly
soft creature, such as a jelly-fish, can be preserved; although on
some strata they have left impressions telling of their existence at a
very early period.

A creature, to become fossilised, must possess some hard part, such as
a shell, _e.g._ an oyster (fossil oysters abound in some strata); or a
hard chitinous covering, like that of the shrimp, or the trilobites of
Silurian times; or a skeleton, such as all the backboned (vertebrate)
animals possess.

But even creatures that had skeletons have not by any means always
been preserved. Bones, when left on the bottom of the sea, where no
sediment, or very little, is forming, will decay, and so disappear
altogether. As Darwin points out, we are in error in supposing that
over the greater part of the ocean-bed of the present day sediment is
deposited fast enough to seal up organic remains before they can
decay. Over a large part of the ocean-bed such cannot be the case; and
this conclusion has, of late years, been confirmed by the observations
made during the fruitful voyage of H.M.S. _Challenger_ in the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans.

Again, even in shallower parts of the old seas, where sand or mud was
once deposited, fossilisation was somewhat accidental; for some
materials, being porous, allow of the percolation of water, and in
this way shells, bones, etc., have been dissolved and lost. Thus
sandstone strata are always barren in fossils compared to shales and
limestones, which are much less pervious. To take examples from our
own country, the New Red Sandstone of the south-west of England, the
midland counties, Cheshire, and other parts contains very few fossils
indeed, while the clays and limestones of the succeeding Lias period
abound in organic remains of all sorts. Even insects have left
delicate impressions of their wings and bodies! while shells, corals,
encrinites, fish-teeth, and bones of saurians are found in great

Again, it must be borne in mind that the series of stratified rocks
known to geologists is not complete or unbroken. They have been well
compared to the leaves of a book on history, of which whole chapters
and many separate pages have been torn out. These gaps, or "breaks,"
are due to what is called "denudation;" that is to say, a great many
rocks, after having been slowly deposited in water, have been upraised
to form dry land, and then, being subjected for ages to the destroying
action of "rain and rivers," or the waves of the sea, have been
largely destroyed. Such rocks, in the language of geology, have been
"denuded;" that is, stripped off, so that the underlying rocks are
left bare.

But the process of rock-making does not go on continuously in any one
area. Sedimentary strata have been formed in slowly sinking areas.
But, if subsidence ceases, and the downward movement becomes an upward
one, then the bed of the sea is converted into dry land, and the
geological record is broken; for aqueous strata do not form on dry
land. Blown sands and terrestrial lava-flows are exceptions; but such
accumulations are very small and insignificant, and may therefore be
neglected, especially as they contain no fossils.

In this way, as well as by the process of "denudation" already alluded
to, breaks occur; and these breaks often represent long intervals of
time. There are several such gaps in the British series of stratified
rocks; and it is partly by means of these breaks, during which
important geographical and other changes took place, that sedimentary
rocks have been classified and arranged in groups representing
geological periods. Thus, the Cainozoic, or Tertiary, rocks of the
Thames' basin are separated by a long "break" from those of the
preceding Cretaceous period. During that interval great changes in
animal life took place, whereby, in the course of evolution, new types
appeared on the scene. (See Table of Strata, Appendix I.)

Another cause interfering with the record is to be found in those
important internal changes that have taken place in stratified
rocks--often over large areas--which may be ascribed to the influence
of heat and pressure combined. This process of change, whereby soft
deposits have been altered or "metamorphosed" into hard crystalline
rocks, is known as "metamorphism." Metamorphic rocks have lost not
only their original structure and appearance, but also their included
organic remains, or fossils. Thus, when a soft limestone has been
converted by these means into crystalline statuary marble, any fossils
it may once have contained have been destroyed. It is true that this
applies more to older and lower deposits,--for the lowest are the
oldest--but there can be no doubt that valuable records of the forms
of life which peopled the world in former periods have been lost by
this means.

And lastly, it must ever be borne in mind that, as yet, our knowledge
of the stratified rocks of the earth's crust is very limited. In
course of time, no doubt, this deficiency will be to a great extent
made good; but it will take a long time. Already, within the last
thirty years, the labours of zealous geologists in the colonies and in
various countries have added largely to our knowledge of the
geological record. Still, only a small portion of the earth's surface
has at present been explored; and doubtless one may look forward to
future discoveries of extinct forms of animal and plant life as
wonderful and strange as those that have been of late years unearthed
in the "far West," in Africa, and India. The Siwalik Hills of Northern
India offer a rich harvest of fossils to future explorers. Already,
one remarkable and large horned quadruped has come from this region;
and it is known that other valuable treasures are sealed up within
these hills, only awaiting the "open sesame" of some enterprising
explorer to bring them to light.

As previously pointed out, deposits formed in lakes are the most
promising field for geologists in search of the remains of old
terrestrial quadrupeds and reptiles; but, unfortunately, such deposits
are rare.

It is very much to be regretted that the carelessness and indifference
of ignorant workmen in quarries, clay-pits, and railway cuttings have
sometimes been the cause of valuable fossils being broken up, and so
lost for ever. Unless they are accustomed to the visits of
fossil-collectors who will pay them liberally for their finds, the men
will not take the trouble to preserve any bones they may come across
in the course of their work. (An example of this negligence will be
found on p. 95.) But when once they realise that such finds have what
political economists call an "exchange value," or, in other words, can
be turned into money, it is astonishing what zealous guardians of
Nature's treasures they become! For this reason collectors often find
what Professor Bonney calls the "silver hammer"--in other words,
cash--more effective than the iron implement they carry with them.



     "And some rin up the hill and down dale, knapping the chucky
     stanes to pieces wi' hammers like sae many road-makers run
     daft. They say 'tis to see how the warld was made."--_St.
     Ronan's Well._

Our first group of monsters is taken from a tribe of armed warriors
that lived in the seas of a very ancient period in the world's
history. Like the crabs and lobsters inhabiting the coasts of Britain,
they possessed a coat of armour, and jointed bodies, supplied with
limbs for crawling, swimming, or seizing their prey. They were giants
in their day, far eclipsing in size any of their relations that have
lived on to the present time. Some of them, such as the Pterygotus
(Fig. 1, p. 26), attained a length of nearly six feet. They belonged
to the humbler ranks of life, and, if now living, would without doubt
be assigned, by fishmongers ignorant of natural history, to that vague
category of "shell-fish" in which they include crabs, lobsters,
mussels, etc.

These lobster-like creatures, though claiming no relationship with the
higher ranks of animals, may well engage our attention, not only for
their great size, but also for their strange build.

[Illustration: Plate I.


_Pterygotus anglicus._ _Eurypterus._ _Stylonurus._

Length 6 feet.]

There are no living creatures quite like them. Certainly they are not
true lobsters, and yet we may consider them to be first or second
cousins of those ten-footed crustaceans[4] of the present
day--lobsters, crabs, and shrimps, so welcome on the tables of both
rich and poor. Some naturalists say that their nearest relations at
the present day are the king-crabs inhabiting the China seas and the
east coast of North America; and there certainly are some points of
resemblance between them. Others say that they are related to
scorpions, and for this reason we call them Sea-scorpions. (See Plate

[4] Crustaceans are a class of jointed creatures (articulate animals),
possessing a hard shell or crust (Lat. _crusta_), which they cast
periodically. They all breathe by gills.

The first feature we notice in these creatures is the way in which
their bodies and limbs are divided into rings or joints. This fact
tells us that they belong to that great division of animals called
"Articulates," of which crabs, lobsters, spiders, centipedes, and
insects are examples. The celebrated Linnæus called them _all_
insects, because their bodies are in this way cut into divisions.[5]
But this arrangement has since been abandoned. However, they are all
built upon this simple plan, their bodies being like a series of
rings, to which are attached paired appendages or limbs, also composed
of rings, some longer and some shorter. Now, there must be something
very fitting and appropriate in this arrangement, for the creatures
that are thus built up are far more numerous than any other group of
animals. They must be particularly well qualified to fight the battle
of life; for like a victorious army they have taken the world by
storm, and still remain in possession. We find them everywhere--in
seas, rivers, and lakes; in fields and forests; in the soil, and in
all sorts of nooks and crannies; in the air, and even upon or inside
the bodies of other animals. Some of them, such as ants, bees, and
wasps, show an intelligence that is simply marvellous, and have
acquired social habits which excite our admiration.

[5] Lat. _in_, into, and _secta_, cut.

Articulate animals are a very ancient race, as well as a flourishing
one, for the oldest rocks containing undoubted fossils--namely,
certain slates found in Wales and the Lake District--tell us of a time
when shallow seas swarmed with little articulate animals known as
_trilobites_. They were in appearance something like wood-lice of the
present day; and the record of the rocks tells us plainly that
creatures built upon this plan have flourished ever since. We mention
this because they are related to the king-crabs of the present day,
and therefore to the huge old-fashioned sea-scorpions we are now

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--_Pterygotus anglicus._ (After Woodward.)

1. Upper side. 2. Under side.]

The best-known and largest of these creatures is represented in Fig.
1. It has received the name _Pterygotus_ (or wing-eared) from certain
fanciful resemblances pointed out by the quarrymen. It was first
discovered, along with others of its kind, by Hugh Miller, at Carmylie
in Forfarshire, in a certain part of the Old Red Sandstone (see Table
of Strata, Appendix I.) known as the Arbroath paving-stone. The
quarrymen, in the course of their work, came upon and dug out large
pieces of the fossilised remains of this creature. Its hard coat of
jointed armour bore on its surface curious wavy markings that
suggested to their minds the sculptured feathers on the wings of
cherubs--of all subjects of the chisel the most common. Hence they
christened these remains "Seraphim." They did not succeed in getting
complete specimens that could be pieced together; and the part to
which this fanciful name was given turned out to be part of the under
side below the mouth. It was composed of several large plates, two of
which are not unlike the wings of a cherub in shape. Hugh Miller says
in his classic work, _The Old Red Sandstone_--"the form altogether,
from its wing-like appearance, its feathery markings, and its angular
points, will suggest to the reader the origin of the name given it by
Forfarshire workmen."

A correct restoration, in proportion to the fragments found in the
Lower Old Red Sandstone, would give a creature measuring nearly six
feet in length, and more than a foot across. _Pterygotus anglicus_ may
therefore be justly considered a monster crustacean.

The illustrious Cuvier, who, in the eighteenth century founded the
science of comparative anatomy (see p. 5), astonished the scientific
world by his bold interpretations of fossil bones. From a few broken
fragments of bone he could restore the skeleton of an entire animal,
and determine its habits and mode of living. When other wise men were
unable to read the writing of Nature on the walls of her museum--in
the shape of fossil bones--he came forward, like a second Daniel, to
interpret the signs, and so instructed us how to restore the world's
lost creations. Hugh Miller submitted the fragments found at
Balruddery to the celebrated naturalist Agassiz, a pupil of Cuvier,
who had written a famous work on fossil fishes; and he says that he
was much struck with the skill displayed by him in piecing together
the fragments of the huge Pterygotus. "Agassiz glanced over the
collection. One specimen especially caught his attention--an elegantly
symmetrical one. His eye brightened as he contemplated it. 'I will
tell you,' he said, turning to the company--'I will tell you what
these are--the remains of a huge lobster.' He arranged the specimens
in the group before him with as much ease as I have seen a young girl
arranging the pieces of ivory in an Indian puzzle. There is a homage
due to supereminent genius, which Nature spontaneously pays when there
are no low feelings of jealousy or envy to interfere with her
operations; and the reader may well believe that it was willingly
rendered on this occasion to the genius of Agassiz." Agassiz himself,
previous to this, had considered such fragments as he had seen to be
the remains of fishes. As we have said before, this creature was _not_
a true lobster; but Agassiz, when he expressed the opinion just
quoted, was not far off the mark, and did great service in showing it
to be a crustacean. There were no lobsters or scorpions at that early
period of the world's history, and this creature, with its long
"jaw-feet" and powerful tail, was a near approach to a king-crab on
the one hand and scorpion on the other. If living now, it would no
doubt command a high price at Billingsgate; but, then, it would be a
dangerous thing to handle when alive, and might be more troublesome to
catch than our crabs or lobsters.

The front part of its body was entirely enveloped in a kind of shield,
called a carapace, bearing near the centre minute eyes, which probably
were useless, and at the corners two large compound eyes, made up of
numerous little lenses, such as we see in the eye of a dragon-fly.
This is clearly proved by certain well-preserved specimens. There are
five pairs of appendages, all attached under or near the head. Behind
the head follow thirteen rings, or segments, the last of which forms
the tail, two at least of these bore gills for breathing. All but two
of them, below the mouth, must have been beautifully articulated, so
as to allow them to move freely, as we see in the lobster of the
present day. But look at that lowest and largest pair of appendages,
the end joints of which are flattened out, and you will see that they
must have been a powerful oar-like apparatus for swimming forwards.
We can fancy this creature propelling itself much in the same way as a
"water-beetle" rows itself through the water in a pond. In all other
crustaceans the antennæ are used for feeling about, but in the
Pterygotus they are used as claws for seizing the prey.

In general external appearance, this huge Pterygotus greatly reminds
us of a tiny fresh-water crustacean, known as Cyclops--because it has
only one eye, like the giant in Homer's _Odyssey_. This little
creature, which is only 1/16 inch in length, is an inhabitant of
ponds. From its large eyes, powerful oar-like limbs, or appendages,
and from the general form of its body, Dr. Henry Woodward (the author
of a learned monograph on these creatures) concludes that the
Pterygotus was a very active animal; and the reader will easily gather
from its pair of antennæ, converted at their extremities into nippers,
and from the nature of its "jaw-feet," that the creature was a hungry
and predaceous monster, seizing everything eatable that came in its
way. The whole family to which it belongs--including Pterygotus,
Eurypterus, Slimonia, Stylonurus, and others--seems to have been
fitted for rather rapid motion, if we may judge from the long tapering
and well-articulated body. In two forms (Pterygotus and Slimonia) the
tail-flap probably served both as a powerful propeller, and as a
rudder for directing the creature's course; but others, such as
Eurypterus and Stylonurus, had long sword-like tails, which may have
assisted them to burrow into the sand, in the same way that king-crabs
do. Eurypterus remipes is shown in Fig. 2.

It has been stated above that our sea-scorpions are related to the
king-crabs. Now, this creature, it is well known, burrows into the mud
and sand at the bottom of the sea. This it does by shoving its broad
sharp-edged head-shield downwards, working rapidly at the same time
with its hinder feet, or appendages, and by pushing with the long
spike that forms a kind of tail. It will thus sink deeper and deeper
until nothing can be seen of its body, and only the eyes peep out of
the mud. It will crawl and wander about by night, but remains hidden
by day. Some of them are of large size, and occasionally measure two
feet in length. They possess six pairs of well-formed feet, the joints
of which, near the body, are armed with teeth and spines, and serve
the purpose of jaws, being used to masticate the food and force it
into the mouth, which is situated between them.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--_Silurian merostomata._

1. _Stylonurus._ 2. _Eurypterus._ (After Woodward.)]

Now, this fact is of great importance; for it helps us to understand
the use of the four pairs of "jaw-feet" in our Sea-scorpions. What
curious animals they must have been, using the same limbs for walking,
holding their prey, and eating! Look at the broad plates at the base
of the oar-like limbs, or appendages, with their tooth-like edges.
These are the plates found by Hugh Miller's quarrymen, and compared by
them to the wings of seraphim. You will easily perceive that by a
backward and forward movement, they would perform the office of teeth
and jaws, while the long antennæ with their nippers--helped by the
other and smaller appendages--held the unfortunate victim in a
relentless grasp. And even these smaller limbs, you will see from the
figure, had their first joints, near the mouth, provided with toothed
edges like a saw.

With regard to the habits of Sea-scorpions, it would not be altogether
safe to conclude that, because in so many ways they resembled
king-crabs, they therefore had the same habit of burrowing into the
soft muddy or sandy bed of the sea, as some authorities have supposed.
Seeing that there is a difference of opinion on this subject, the
author consulted Dr. Woodward on the question, and he said he thought
it unlikely, seeing that, in some of them, such as the Pterygotus, the
eyes are placed on the margin of the head-shield; for it would hardly
care to rub its eyes with sand. Whether it chose at times to bury its
long body in the sand by a process of wriggling backwards, as certain
modern crustaceans do, we may consider to be an open question.

If only Sea-scorpions had not unfortunately died out, how interesting
it would be to watch them alive, and to see exactly what use they
would make of their long bodies, tail-flaps, and tail-spikes! Were
they nocturnal in their habits, wandering about by night, and taking
their rest by day? Such questions, we fear, can never be answered. But
their large eyes would have been able to collect a great deal of light
when the moon and stars feebly illumined the shallower waters of the
seas of Old Red Sandstone times; and so there is nothing to contradict
the idea.

Now, it is an interesting fact that young crabs, soon after they are
hatched, have long bodies somewhat similar to those of our
Sea-scorpions, with a head-shield under which are their jaw-feet, and
then a number of free body-rings without any appendages. These end in
a spiked tail. As the crab grows older, he ceases to be a
free-swimming animal--for which kind of life his long body is well
suited,--tucks up his long tail, and takes to crawling instead. Thus
his body is rendered more compact and handy for the life he is going
to lead. Lobsters, on the other hand, can swim gently forwards, or
dart rapidly backwards. Thus we see that the ten-footed crustaceans of
the present day are divided into two groups--the long-tailed and
free-swimming forms, such as lobsters, shrimps, and cray-fishes; and
the short-tailed crawling forms, namely, the crabs. Now, in the same
way, Pterygotus and its allies were long-tailed forms, while the
king-crabs are short-tailed forms. So were the trilobites of old.
Hence we learn that, ages and ages ago, before the days of crabs and
lobsters, there were long-tailed and short-tailed forms of
crustaceans, just as there are now, only they did not possess true
walking legs. They belonged to quite a different order, called
"thigh-mouthed" crustaceans, Merostomata, because their legs are all
placed near the mouth; and, as we have already learned, were used for
feeding as well as for purposes of locomotion.

Now, one of the many points of interest in Pterygotus and its allies
is that they somewhat resemble the crab in its young or larval state.
To a modern naturalist, this fact is important as showing that
crustacean forms of life have advanced since the days of the

Their resemblance to land-scorpions is so close that, if it were not
for the important fact that scorpions breathe _air_ instead of
_water_, and for this purpose are provided with air-tubes (or trachea)
such as all insects have, they would certainly be removed bodily out
of the crustacean class, and put into that in which scorpions and
spiders are placed, viz. the Arachnida. But, in spite of this
important difference, there are some naturalists in favour of such a
change. It will thus be seen that our name Sea-scorpions is quite

Hugh Miller described some curious little round bodies found with the
remains of the Pterygotus, which it was thought were the eggs of these

Finally, these extinct crustaceans flourished in those ages of the
world's history known as the Silurian and the Old Red Sandstone
periods. As far as we know, they did not survive beyond the succeeding
period, known as the Carboniferous.[6]

[6] The student should consult Dr. Henry Woodward's valuable
_Monograph of the British Merostomata_ (Palæontographical Society), to
which the writer is much indebted. With regard to the representation
of _Pterygotus anglicus_ in Plate I., it has been pointed out by Dr.
Woodward that the creature was unable to bend its body into such a
position as is shown there. As in a modern lobster, or shrimp, there
were certain overlapping plates in the rings, or segments, of the
body, which prevented movement from side to side, and only allowed of
a vertical movement.



     "Berossus, the Chaldæan saith: A time was when the universe
     was darkness and water, wherein certain animals of frightful
     and compound forms were generated. There were serpents and
     other creatures with the mixed shapes of one another, of
     which pictures are kept in the temple of Belus at
     Babylon."--_The Archaic Genesis._

Visitors to Sydenham, who have wandered about the spacious gardens so
skilfully laid out by the late Sir Joseph Paxton, will be familiar
with the great models of extinct animals on the "geological island."
These were designed and executed by that clever artist, Mr. Waterhouse
Hawkins, who made praiseworthy efforts to picture to our eyes some of
the world's lost creations, as restored by the genius of Sir Richard
Owen and other famous naturalists. His drawings of extinct animals may
yet be seen hanging on the walls of some of our provincial museums;
and doubtless others still linger among the natural history
collections of schools and colleges.

Lazily basking in the sun, when it condescends to shine, and resting
his clumsy carcase on the ground that forms the shore near the said
geological island at Sydenham, may be seen the old fish-lizard, or
Ichthyosaurus, that forms the subject of the present chapter. He looks
awkward on land, as if longing to get into his native element once
more, and cleave its waters with his powerful tail-fin. His "flippers"
seem too weak to enable him to crawl on land. Moreover, the most
recent discoveries of Dr. Fraas lead us to conclude that the
Ichthyosaur never ventured to leave the "briny ocean" to bask upon the

This great uncouth beast presents some curious anomalies in his
constitution, being planned on different lines to anything now living,
and presenting, as so many other extinct animals do, a mixture, or
fusion, of types that greatly puzzled the learned men of the time when
his remains were first brought to light, after their long entombment
in the Lias rocks forming the cliffs on the coast of Dorset. Some have
christened him a "sea-dragon," and such indeed he may be considered.
But the name Ichthyosaurus, given above, has received the sanction of
high authority, and, moreover, serves to remind us of the fact that,
although in many respects a lizard, he yet retains in his bony
framework the traces of a remote fishy ancestry. So we will call him a

We remember in our young days the amiable endeavours of Mr. "Peter
Parley" to introduce us to the wonders of creation; and his account of
the Ichthyosaurus particularly impressed itself on our youthful
imagination. How surprised that inestimable instructor of youth would
be could he now see the still more wonderful remains that have been
brought to light from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America!

The curious quotation given at the head of the present chapter refers
to a widespread belief, prevalent among the highly civilised nations
of antiquity, that the world was once inhabited by dragons, or other
monsters "of mixed shape" and characters. To the student of ancient
history traces of this curious belief will be familiar. Sir Charles
Lyell refers to such a belief when he says, in his _Principles of
Geology_, "The Egyptians, it is true, had taught, and the Stoics had
repeated, that the earth had once given birth to some monstrous
animals that existed no longer." It may be surprising to some, but it
is undoubtedly the fact, that modern scientific truths were partly
anticipated by the civilised nations of long ago. Take the ideas of
the ancients as interpreted from the records of Egypt, Chaldæa,
India, and China; and you will find that our discoveries in geology,
astronomy, and ethnology go far to prove that the traditions of these
ancient peoples, however derived, after making due allowance for
Oriental allegory and poetic hyperbole, are not far from the truth. To
the Babylonian tradition of the monstrous forms of life at first
created we have already alluded; but in other fields of discovery we
find the same foreshadowing of discoveries made in our own day. Take
the vast cycles of Egyptian tradition, wherein the stars returned to
their places after a circle of constant change, only to start again on
their unwearied round; the atomic theory of Lucretius, now expanded
and incorporated into modern chemistry; or the philosopher's pregnant
saying--_Omne vivum ex ovo_ ("Every living thing comes from an egg").
These and other examples might be cited to show how true the old
saying is, "There is nothing new under the sun." In the writings of
ancient authors may be found singular notices of bones and skeletons
found in "the bowels of the earth," which are referred to an imaginary
era of long ago, when giants of huge dimensions walked this earth. One
is inclined sometimes to wonder whether the old fables of griffins and
horrid dragons may not be to some extent based upon the occasional
discovery, in former times, of fossil bones, such as evidently
belonged to animals the like of which are not to be seen nowadays.
(See chaps. xiii. and xiv.)

The illustrious Cuvier, in his day, considered the fish-lizard to be
one of the most heteroclite and monstrous animals ever discovered. He
said of this creature that it possessed the snout of a dolphin, the
teeth of a crocodile, the head and breast-bone of a lizard, the
paddles of a whale or dolphin, and the vertebræ of a fish! No wonder
that naturalists and palæontologists, whose realm is the natural
history of the past, were obliged to make a new division, or order, of
reptiles to accommodate the fish-lizard. It is obvious that a creature
with such very "mixed" relationships would be out of place in any of
the four orders into which living reptiles, as represented by turtles,
snakes, lizards, and crocodiles are divided. Here is what Professor
Blackie says of the Ichthyosaurus--

    "Behold, a strange monster our wonder engages!
        If dolphin or lizard your wit may defy.
    Some thirty feet long, on the shore of Lyme-Regis,
        With a saw for a jaw, and a big staring eye.
    A fish or a lizard? An ichthyosaurus,
        With a big goggle eye, and a very small brain,
    And paddles like mill-wheels in chattering chorus,
        Smiting tremendous the dread-sounding main."

A glance at our restoration, Plate II., will show that the fish-lizard
was a powerful monster, well endowed with the means of propelling
itself rapidly through the water as it sought its living prey, to
seize it within those cruel jaws. The long and powerful tail was its
chief organ of propulsion; but the paddles would also be useful for
this purpose, as well as for guiding its course. The pointed head and
generally tapering body suggests a capability of rapid movement
through the water; and since we know for certain that it fed on
fishes, this conclusion is confirmed, for fishes are not easily caught
now, and most probably were not easily caught ages ago.

The personal history of the fish-lizard, merely as a fossil or
"remain," is interesting; so much so, that we may perhaps be allowed
to relate the circumstances of his _début_ before the scientific
world, in the days of the ever-illustrious Cuvier, to whom we have
already alluded. But England had its share of illustrious men, too,
though lesser lights compared to the founder of comparative
anatomy,--such as Sir Richard Owen, on whom the mantle of his friend
Cuvier has fallen; Conybeare, De la Beche, and Dean Buckland.

These scientific men, aided by the untiring labours of many
enthusiastic collectors of organic remains, have been the means of
solving the riddle of the fish-lizard, and of introducing him to the
public. By this time there is, perhaps, no creature among the host of
Antediluvian types better known than this reptile.

The remains of fish-lizards have attracted the attention of collectors
and describers of fossils for nearly two centuries past. The vertebræ,
or "cup-bones," as they are often called, of which the spinal column
was composed, were figured by Scheüchzer, in an old work entitled
_Querelæ Piscium_; and, at that time, they were supposed to be the
vertebræ of fishes. In the year 1814 Sir Everard Home described the
fossil remains of this creature, in a paper read before the Royal
Society, and published in their _Philosophical Transactions_. This
fossil was first discovered in the Lias strata of the Dorsetshire
coast. Other papers followed till the year 1820. We are chiefly
indebted to De la Beche and Conybeare for pointing out and
illustrating the nature of the fish-lizard; and that at a time when
the materials for so doing were far more scanty than they are now. Mr.
Charles König, Mr. Thomas Hawkins, Dean Buckland, Sir Philip Egerton,
and Professor Owen have all helped to throw light on the structure and
habits of these old tyrants of the seas of that age, which is known as
the Jurassic period. They lived on, however, to the succeeding or
Cretaceous period, during which our English chalk was forming; but the
Liassic age was the one in which they flourished most abundantly, and
developed the greatest variety.

In the year 1814 a few bones were found on the Dorsetshire coast
between Charmouth and Lyme-Regis, and added to the collection of
Bullock. They came from the Lias cliffs, undermined by the encroaching
sea. Sir Everard's attention being attracted to them, he published the
notices already referred to. The analogy of some of the bones to those
of a crocodile, induced Mr. König, of the British Museum, to believe
the animal to have been a saurian, or lizard; but the vertebræ, and
also the position of certain openings in the skull, indicated some
remote affinity with fishes, but this must not be pressed too far. The
choice of a name, therefore, involved much difficulty; and at length
he decided to call it the _Ichthyosaurus_, or fish-lizard. Mr.
Johnson, of Bristol, who had collected for many years in that
neighbourhood, found out some valuable particulars about these
remains. The conclusions of Dean Buckland, then Professor of Geology
at Oxford, led Sir Everard to abandon many of his former conclusions.
The labours of the learned men of the day were greatly assisted by the
exertions of Miss Anning, an enthusiastic collector of fossils. This
lady, devoting herself to science, explored the frowning and
precipitous cliffs in the neighbourhood of Lyme-Regis, when the
furious spring-tide combined with the tempest to overthrow them, and
rescued from destruction by the sea, sometimes at the peril of her
life, the few specimens which originated all the facts and
speculations of those persons whose names will ever be remembered with
gratitude by geologists.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--_Ichthyosaurus intermedius._]

Probably our readers are already more or less familiar with the
drawings of the fossilised remains of Ichthyosauri to be seen in
almost every text-book of geology. (Fig. 3 is from Owen's _British
Fossil Reptiles_.) But we recommend all who take an interest in the
world's lost creations to pay a visit to the great Natural History
Museum, at South Kensington. The fossil reptile gallery contains a
magnificent series of Ichthyosauri, about thirty in number. Of these a
large number were obtained through the exertions of the late Mr. T.
Hawkins, a Somersetshire gentleman, who was a most ardent collector of
fossil reptiles, and who devoted himself with great enthusiasm and
unsparing energy to the acquisition of a truly splendid collection of
these most interesting relics of the past. Nearly sixty years ago he
arranged for the purchase of his treasures by the authorities of the
British Museum, and thus his collection became the property of the

His specimens were figured and described by him in two large folio
volumes. The first was published in 1834, under the title, _Memoirs of
the Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri_; his second, with the same plates,
in 1842, under the quaint title of _The Book of the Great
Sea-Dragons_. The large lithographic drawings of his fine specimens
were beautifully executed by Scharf and O'Neil. The plates are the
only really valuable part of these two curious and ill-written books.
His descriptions are not of much value, and his pages are encumbered
with a vast amount of extraneous matter. The author is immensely proud
of his collection, and his vanity is conspicuous throughout. Instead
of confining himself to descriptions of what he found, and how he
found them, he continually wanders into all sorts of subjects that
are, to say the least, irrelevant. In one place he introduces ancient
history and mythology; in another, Old Testament chronology; in
another, the unbelieving spirit of the age; and here and there
indulges in vague unphilosophical speculations. Altogether his two
volumes are a curious mixture of bigotry, conceit, and unrestrained
fancy, and they afforded to the present writer no small amusement. One
rises from the perusal of such men's writings with a strong sense of
the contrast between the humble and patient spirit in which our great
men of to-day, such as Professor Owen, study nature and record their
observations, and the vague, conceited outpourings of some
old-fashioned writers.

Mr. Hawkins tells us that his youthful attention was directed to the
Lias quarries, near Edgarly, in Somersetshire, in consequence of some
strange reports. It was said that the bones of giants and infants had,
at distant intervals, been found in them. These quarries he visited,
and, by offers of generous payment, induced the workmen to keep for
him all the remains they might find. In this way he finally obtained
the co-operation of all the quarrymen in the county.

[Illustration: Plate II.


_Ichthyosaurus communis._ _Ichthyosaurus tenuirostris._

Length about 22 feet. Fishes, _Dapedius_, etc. A smaller species.]

Mr. Hawkins thus expresses his delight on obtaining an Ichthyosaurus
which was pointed out to him by Miss Anning, near the church at
Lyme-Regis, in the year 1832: "Who can describe my transport at the
sight of the colossus? My eyes the first which beheld it! Who shall
ever see them lit up with the same unmitigated enthusiasm again? And I
verily believe that the uncultivated bosoms of the working men were
seized with the same contagious feeling; for they and the surrounding
spectators waved their hats to an 'Hurra!' that made hill and mossy
dell echoing ring."

This specimen, however, got sadly broken in its fall from the cliff;
but in time he put all the pieces together again. Speaking of his own
collection, he says, "This stupendous treasure was gathered by me from
every part of England; arranged, and its multifarious features
elaborated from the hard limestone by my own hands. A tyro in
collecting at the age of twelve years, I then boasted of all the
antiquities that were come-at-able in my neighbourhood, but, finding
that everybody beat my cabinet of coins, I addressed myself to
worm-eaten books, and last to fossils." Before he was twenty years of
age he had obtained a very fine collection of organic remains.

When, however, he complains of the Philistine dulness and stupidity of
quarrymen, who often, in their ignorance, break up finds of almost
priceless value, we can fully sympathize.

In general contour the body of the fish-lizard was long and tapering,
like that of a whale (see Plate II.). It probably showed no distinct
neck. The long tail was its chief organ of propulsion. We notice two
pairs of fins, or paddles; one on the fore part of the body, the other
on the hinder part, like the pectoral and abdominal fins of a fish.
The skin was scaleless and smooth, or slightly wrinkled, like that of
a whale. No traces of scales have ever been found; and if such had
existed, they would certainly have been preserved, since those of
fishes and crocodiles of the Jurassic period have been found in
considerable number and variety. It is therefore safe to conclude that
such were absent in this case. In the Lias strata, at least, the
specimens are often preserved with most wonderful completeness (see p.

The long and pointed jaws are a striking feature of these animals. The
eyes were very large and powerful, and specially adapted, as we shall
see presently, to the conditions of their life.

It might, perhaps, be asked whether the fish-lizards breathed, like
fishes, by means of gills. That question can easily be answered; for
if they had possessed gills for taking in water and breathing the air
dissolved therein, they would reveal the fact by showing a bony
framework for the support of gills, such as are to be found in all
fishes. These structures, known as "branchial arches," are absent;
therefore the fish-lizards possessed lungs, and breathed air like
reptiles of the present day. Their skulls show where the nostrils were
situated; namely, near the eyes, and not at the end of the upper
jaw-bone. There are also passages in the skull leading from the
nostrils to the palate, along which currents of air passed on their
way to the lungs. Being air-breathers, they would be compelled
occasionally to seek the surface of the sea, in order to obtain a
fresh supply of the life-giving element--oxygen; but, being
cold-blooded and with a small brain, needing a much less supply of
oxygen for its work, the fish-lizards had, like fishes, this advantage
over whales, which are warm-blooded--that their stern-propeller, or
tail-fin, could take the form best adapted for a swift,
straight-forward course through the water.

In the whale tribe the tail-fin is horizontal; and this is so on
account of their need, as large-brained, warm-blooded air-breathers,
of speedy access to the atmospheric air. Were it otherwise, they would
not have the means of rising with sufficient rapidity to the surface
of the sea; for they have only one pair of fins. But the fish-lizards
had two pairs of these appendages, and the hinder or pelvic pair no
doubt were of great service in helping the creatures to come up to the
surface when necessary.

Thus we see that the whale, with its one pair of paddles, has a tail
specially planned with a view to rapid vertical movement through the
water; while in the fish-lizards, who did not require to breathe so
frequently, the tail-fin was planned with a view to swift and straight
movement forward as they pursued their prey, and they were compensated
by having bestowed upon them an extra pair of paddles. Thus we learn
how one part of an animal is related to and dependent upon another,
and how they all work together with the greatest harmony for certain
definite purposes (see p. 6).

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--(A) Lateral and (B) profile views of a tooth
of _Ichthyosaurus platyodon_ (Conybeare), Lower Lias, Lyme Regis,
Dorsetshire, (C) Tooth of _Ichthyosaurus communis_ (Conybeare), Lower
Lias, Lyme Regis, Dorset.]

These great marine predaceous reptiles literally swarmed in the seas
of the Lias period, and no doubt devoured immense shoals of the
fishes of those times, whose numbers were thus to some extent kept
down. There is clear proof of this in the fossilised droppings--known
as "coprolites,"--which show on examination the broken and comminuted
remains of the little bony plates of ganoid fishes that we know were
contemporaries of these reptiles. Probably young ones were sometimes
devoured too.

It was in the period of the Lias that fish-lizards attained to their
greatest development, both in numbers and variety; and the strata of
that period have preserved some interesting variations. It will be
sufficient here to point out two, namely, Ichthyosaurus
tenuirostris--an elegant little form, in which the jaws, instead of
being massive and strong, were long and slender like a bird's beak;
and also Ichthyosaurus latifrons (Fig. 5), with jaws still more
bird-like. Our artist has attempted to show the former variety in our
illustration (Plate II.). A most perfect example of this pretty little
Ichthyosaur, from the Lower Lias of Street in Somerset, has recently
been presented to the National Collection at South Kensington by Mr.
Alfred Gillett, of Street, and may be seen there. In this group of
fish-lizards the eyes are relatively larger, and we should imagine
that they were very quick in detecting and catching their prey; their
paddles also have larger bones.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Skull of _Ichthyosaurus latifrons_.]

There is a remarkably fine specimen at Burlington House, in the rooms
of the Geological Society, of an Ichthyosaurus' head, which the writer
found, on measuring, to be about five feet six inches long. A cast of
this head is exhibited at South Kensington. The largest of the
specimens in the National Collection is twenty-two feet long and eight
feet across the expanded paddles; but it is known that many attained
much greater dimensions. Judging from detached heads and parts of
skeletons, it is probable that some of them were between thirty and
forty feet long. A specimen of Ichthyosaurus platyodon in the
collection of the late Mr. Johnson, of Bristol, has an eye-cavity with
a diameter of fourteen inches. This collection is now dispersed.

With regard to their habits, Sir Richard Owen concludes that they
occasionally sought the shores, crawled on the strand, and basked in
the sunshine. His reason for this conjecture (which, however, is not
confirmed by Dr. Fraas's recent discoveries) is to be found in the
bony structure connected with the fore-paddles, which is not to be
found in any porpoise, dolphin, grampus, or whale, and for want of
which these creatures are so helpless when left high and dry on the
shore.[7] The structure in question is a strong bony arch, inverted
and spanning across beneath the chest from one shoulder to the other.
A fish-lizard, when so visiting the shore for sleep, or in the
breeding season, would lie or crawl, prostrate, with its under side
resting or dragging on the ground--somewhat after the manner of a

[7] It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to remark that whales are not
fishes, but mammals which have undergone great change in order to
adapt themselves to a marine life. Their hind limbs have practically
vanished, only a rudiment of them being left.

It is a curious fact that this bony arch resembles the same part in
those singular and problematical mammals, the Echidna and the
Platypus, or duck-mole.

The enormous magnitude and peculiar construction of the eye are highly
interesting features. The expanded pupil must have allowed of the
admittance of a large quantity of light, so that the creature
possessed great powers of vision.

The organic remains associated with fish-lizards tell us that they
inhabited waters of moderate depth, such as prevails near a coast-line
or among coral islands. Moreover, an air-breathing creature would
obviously be unable to live in "the depths of the sea;" for it would
take a long time to get to the surface for a fresh supply of air.

Perhaps no part of the skeleton is more interesting than the curious
circular series of bony plates surrounding the iris and pupil of the
eye. The eyes of many fishes are defended by a bony covering
consisting of two pieces; but a circle of bony overlapping plates is
now only found in the eyes of turtles, tortoises, lizards, and birds,
and some alligators. This elaborate apparatus must have been of some
special use; the question is--What service or services did it perform?
Here, again, we find answers suggested by Owen and Buckland. It would
aid, they say, in protecting the eye-ball from the waves of the sea
when the creature rose to the surface, as well as from the pressure of
the water when it dived down to the bottom--for even at a slight depth
pressure increases, as divers know. But it appears that the ring of
bony plates fulfilled a yet more important office, thereby enabling
the fish-lizards to play admirably their part in the world in which
they lived, and to succeed in the struggle of life; for even in those
remote days there must have been, as now, a keen competition among all
animals, so that the victory was to those that were best equipped.

Would it not be an advantage for them to have the power of seeing
their finny prey whether near or far? Certainly it would; and so we
are told that, by bringing the plates a little nearer together, and
causing them to press gently on the eye-ball, so as to make the eye
more convex--that is, bulging out--a nearer object would be the better
discerned. On the other hand, by relaxing this pressure, thus
enlarging the aperture of the pupil and diminishing the convexity, a
distant object would be focussed upon the retina. In this manner some
birds alter the focus of their eyes while swooping down on their prey.

What a wonderful arrangement! We often hear of people having two pairs
of spectacles--with lenses of different curvature--one for reading,
and the other for seeing more distant objects than a book held in the
hand. But here is a creature that possessed an apparatus far more
simple and effective than that supplied by the optician! Dr. Buckland,
speaking of these "sclerotic plates," as they are called, says they
show "that the enormous eye of which they formed the front was an
optical instrument of varied and prodigious power, enabling the
Ichthyosaurus to descry its prey in the obscurity of night and in the
depths of the sea." But the last expression must be taken in a limited
sense (see Fig. 6).

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--Head of _Ichthyosaurus platyodon_.]

It might well be supposed that no record had been preserved from which
we could learn anything about the nature of the skin of our
fish-lizard; but even this wish has been partly fulfilled, to the
delight of all geologists. Certain specimens have been obtained, from
the Lias of England and Germany, that show faithful impressions of the
skin that covered the paddles. A specimen of this nature has lately
been presented to the national treasure-house at South Kensington by
Mr. Montague Brown. On the inner side of the paddle was a broad
fin-like expansion, admirably adapted to obtain the full advantage of
the stroke of the limb in swimming.[8]

[8] Mr. Smith Woodward informs the writer that specimens have lately
been found near Würtemberg, with evidence of a triangular fin on the
back. Plate II. has been redrawn for this edition, to make it more in
harmony with Dr. Fraas's discoveries. (See Appendix V.)

Speaking of the limbs, it should be mentioned that the bones of each
finger, instead of being elongated and limited in number to three in
each of the five fingers, are polygonal in shape and arranged in as
many as seven or eight rows, while those of each finger are
exceedingly numerous. Thus the whole structure forms a kind of bony
pavement which must have been very supple. Such a limb would be one of
the most efficient and powerful swimming organs known in the whole
animal kingdom. In whales the fingers of the flippers are of the usual
number, namely, five. Some species of fish-lizards had as many as over
a hundred separate little bones in the fore-paddle.

Another question naturally suggests itself: Were they viviparous, or
did they lay eggs like crocodiles? This question seems to have been
answered in favour of the first supposition; and in the following
interesting manner. It not infrequently happens that entire little
skeletons of very small individuals are found under the ribs of large
ones. They are invariably uninjured, and of the same species as the
one that encloses them, and with the head pointing in one direction.
Such specimens are most probably the fossilised remains of little
fish-lizards, that were yet unborn when their mothers met with an
untimely end (see p. 51). In some cases, however, they may be young
ones that were swallowed. (See Appendix V.)

The jaws of these hungry formidable monsters were provided with a
series of formidable teeth--sometimes over two hundred in
number--inserted in a long groove, and not in distinct sockets, as in
the case of crocodiles. In some cases, sixty or more have been found
on each side of the upper and lower jaws, giving a total of over two
hundred and forty teeth! The larger teeth may be two inches or more in

The jaws were admirably constructed on a plan that combined lightness,
elasticity, and strength. Instead of consisting of one piece only,
they show a union of plates of bone, as in recent crocodiles. These
plates are strongest and most numerous just where the greatest
strength was wanted, and thinner and fewer towards the extremities of
the jaw. A crocodile, Sir Samuel Baker says, in his _Wild Beasts and
their Ways_, can bite a man in two; and no doubt our fish-lizard
would have been glad to perform the same feat! But in his pre-Adamite
days the opportunity did not present itself.

The spinal column, or backbone, with its generally concave vertebræ,
must have been highly flexible, as is that of a fish, especially the
long tail which the creature worked rapidly from side to side as it
lashed the waters.

The hollows of these concave vertebræ must have been originally filled
up with fluid forming an elastic bag, or capsule. To get a clearer
idea of this, take a small portion of the backbone of a boiled cod, or
other "bony" fish, and you will see on pulling it to pieces, the
white, jelly-like substance that fills up the hollows between the
vertebræ. In this way Nature provides a soft cushion between the
joints, that allows of a certain amount of movement, while, at the
same time, the column holds together. The backbone of a fish may not
inaptly be compared to a railway train. Each of the carriages
represents a vertebra, and the buffers act as cushions when the train
is bent in running round a curve. After all, we must learn from
Nature; and many of the greatest mechanical and engineering triumphs
of to-day are based upon the methods used by Nature in the building up
and equipment of vegetable and animal forms of life.

It may, perhaps, be inquired whether there is any evidence for the
existence of a tail-fin, such as is shown in our illustration. To this
it may be replied that the presence of such an appendage is as good as
proved by a certain flattening of the vertebræ at the end of the tail,
detected by Owen. The direction of this flattening is from side to
side, and therefore the tail-fin must have been vertical, like that of
a fish. In one specimen Sir Richard Owen has detected as many as 156
vertebræ to the whole body.

Our description of the fish-lizard has, we trust, been
sufficient--although not couched in the language used by men of
science--to give a fair idea of its structure and habits.

In conclusion, a few words may be said about the ancestry and
life-history of these ancient monsters. Palæontologists have good
reason to believe that they were descended from some early form of
land reptile. If so, they show that whales are not the first land
animals that have gone back to the sea, from which so many forms of
life have taken their rise.

During the long Mesozoic period fish-lizards played the part that
whales now play in the economy of the world; and they resembled the
latter, not only in general shape, but in the situation of the
nostrils (near the eye), and in their teeth and long jaws. But these
curious resemblances must not be interpreted to mean that whales and
fish-lizards are related to each other. They only show that similar
modes of life tend to produce artificial resemblances--just as some
whales, in their turn, show a superficial resemblance to fishes.

With regard to the particular form of reptile from which the
fish-lizard may have been derived, no certain conclusion has at
present been arrived at. This is chiefly from want of fuller knowledge
of early forms, such as may have existed in the previous periods known
as the Carboniferous and Trias (see Appendix I.). But there are
certain features in the skulls, teeth, and vertebræ that suggest a
relationship with the Labyrinthodonts, or primæval salamanders that
flourished during the above periods, or at least from amphibians more
or less closely allied to them. They cannot by any possibility be
regarded as modified fishes; for fishes have gills instead of lungs.

The fish-lizards played their part, and played it admirably; but their
days were numbered, and the place they occupied has since been taken
by a higher type--the mammal. As reptiles, they were eminently a
success; but, then, they were only reptiles, and therefore were at
last left behind in the struggle for existence, until finally they
died out, at the end of the Cretaceous period, when certain important
geographical and other changes took place, helping to cause the
extinction of many other strange forms of life, as we shall see later
on (see p. 147).

They had a wide geographical range; for their remains have been
discovered in Arctic regions, in Europe, India, Ceram, North America,
the east coast of Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

In American deposits they are represented by certain toothless forms,
to which the name Sauranodon ("toothless lizard") has been given.
These have been discovered by Professor Marsh, in the Jurassic strata
of the Rocky Mountains. They were eight or nine feet long, and in
every other respect resembled Ichthyosaurs. As we have endeavoured to
indicate in our illustration, the fish-lizards flourished in seas
wherein animal, and doubtless vegetable life was very abundant. Any
one who has collected fossils from the Lias of England will have found
how full it is of beautiful organic remains, such as corals, mollusca,
encrinites, sea-urchins, and other echinoids, fishes, etc.

The climate of this period in Europe was mild and genial, or even
semi-tropical. Coral reefs and coral islands varied the landscape.
There is just one more point of interest that ought not to be omitted;
it refers to the manner in which these reptiles of the Lias age met
their deaths, and were thus buried up in their rocky tombs. Sir
Charles Lyell and other writers point out that the individuals found
in those strata must have met with a sudden death and quick burial;
for if their uncovered bodies had been left, even for a few hours,
exposed to putrification and the attacks of fishes at the bottom of
the sea, we should not now find their remains so completely preserved
that often scarcely a single bone has been moved from its right place.
What was the exact nature of this operation is at present a matter of



     "The wonders of geology exercise every faculty of the
     mind--reason, memory, imagination; and though we cannot put
     our fossils to the question, it is something to be so aroused
     as to be made to put the questions to one's self."--Hugh

The fish-lizards, described in our last chapter, were not the only
predaceous monsters that haunted the seas of the great Mesozoic age,
or era. We must now say a few words about certain contemporary
creatures that shared with them the spoils of those old seas, so
teeming with life. And first among these--as being more fully
known--come the long-necked sea-lizards, or Plesiosaurs.

The Plesiosaurus was first discovered in the Lias rocks of Lyme-Regis,
in the year 1821. It was christened by the above name, and introduced
to the scientific world by the Rev. Mr. Conybeare (afterwards Dean of
Llandaff) and Mr. (afterwards Sir Henry) de la Beche. They gave it
this name in order to distinguish it from the Ichthyosaurus, and to
record the fact that it was more nearly allied to the lizard than the
latter.[9] Conybeare, with the assistance of De la Beche, first
described it in a now-classic paper read before the Geological Society
of London, and published in the _Transactions_ of that Society in the
year 1821. In a later paper (1824) he gave a restoration of the
entire skeleton of Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus; and the accuracy of
that restoration is still universally acknowledged. This fine specimen
was in the possession of the Duke of Buckingham, who kindly placed it
at the disposal of Dr. Buckland, for a time, that it might be properly
described and investigated.

[9] The name is derived from two Greek words--_plesios_, near, or
allied to, and _sauros_, a lizard.

A glance at our illustration, Plate III., will show that this strange
creature was not inaptly compared at the time to a snake threaded
through the body of a turtle.

Dr. Buckland truly observes that the discovery of this genus forms one
of the most important additions that geology has made to comparative
anatomy. "It is of the Plesiosaurus," says that graphic author, in his
_Bridgewater Treatise_, "that Cuvier asserts the structure to have
been the most heteroclite, and its characters altogether the most
monstrous that have been yet found amid the ruins of a former world.
To the head of a lizard it united the teeth of a crocodile; a neck of
enormous length, resembling the body of a serpent; a trunk and tail
having the proportions of an ordinary quadruped; the ribs of a
chameleon, and the paddles of a whale! Such are the strange
combinations of form and structure in the Plesiosaurus--a genus, the
remains of which, after interment for thousands of years amidst the
wreck of millions of extinct inhabitants of the ancient earth, are at
length recalled to light by the researches of the geologist, and
submitted to our examination in nearly as perfect a state as the bones
of species that are now existing upon the earth."

Perhaps the best way in which we can gain a clear idea of the general
characters of a long-necked sea-lizard, as we may call our
Plesiosaurus, is by comparing it with the fish-lizard, described in
the last chapter. Its long neck and small head are the most
conspicuous features. Then we notice the short tail. But if we compare
the paddles of these two extinct forms of life, we notice at once
certain important differences. In the fish-lizard the bone of the arm
was very short, while all the bones of the fore-arm and fingers were
modified into little many-sided bodies, and so articulated together as
to make the whole limb, or paddle, a solid yet flexible structure. In
the long-necked sea-lizard, however, we find a long arm-bone with a
club-like shape; and the two bones of the fore-arm are seen to be
longer than in the fish-lizard. But a still greater difference shows
itself in the bones of the finger, as we look at a fossilised skeleton
(or a drawing of one); for the fingers are long and slender, like
those of ordinary reptiles.

There are only five fingers, and each finger is quite distinct from
the others. This is the reason why the Plesiosaur was considered to
depart less from the type of an ordinary reptile, and so received its
name. Other remarkable differences present themselves in the shoulders
and haunches, but these need not be considered here. The species shown
in Fig. 8 had rather a large head. It is obvious that such a long
slender neck as these creatures had could not have supported a large
head, like that of the fish-lizard. Consequently, we find a striking
contrast in the skulls of the two forms. That of the Plesiosaur was
short and stout, and therefore such as could easily be supported, as
well as rapidly moved about by the long slender neck. Thus we find
another simple illustration of the "law of correlation," alluded to on
p. 6. The teeth were set in distinct sockets, as they are in
crocodiles, to which animals there are also points of resemblance, in
the backbone, ribs, and skull. Fig. 7 shows three different types of
lower jaws of Plesiosaurs. The one marked C belongs to Plesiosaurus
dolichodeirus, the species represented in our plate. There were no
bony plates in the eye. Professor Owen thinks that they were
long-lived. The skin was probably smooth, like that of a porpoise.

[Illustration: Plate III.


_Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus._

Length 22 feet.]

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--Mandibles of Fish-lizards. A, _Peloneustes
philarchus_ (Seeley); from the Oxford Clay. B, _Thaumatosaurus
indicus_ (Lydekker); Upper Jurassic of India. C, _Plesiosaurus
aolichodirus_ (Conybeare); from the Lower Lias, Lyme Regis.]

The visitor to the geological collection at South Kensington will find
a splendid series of the fossilised remains of long-necked
sea-lizards. They were mostly obtained from the Lias formation of
Street in Somersetshire, Lyme-Regis in Dorset, and Whitby in
Yorkshire. Those from the Lias are mostly small, about eight to ten
feet in length. But in the rocks of the Cretaceous period, which was
later, are found larger specimens. There is a cast of a very fine
specimen from the Upper Lias on the wall of the east corridor (No. 3
on Plan) of the geological galleries at South Kensington, which is
twenty-two feet long. But some of the Cretaceous forms, both in Europe
and America, attained a length of forty feet, and had vertebræ six
inches in diameter. The bodies of the vertebræ, or "cup-bones," are
either flat or slightly concave, showing that the backbone as a whole
was less flexible than in the fish-lizards.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--_Plesiosaurus macrocephalus._]

It may be mentioned here that Mr. Smith Woodward, of the Natural
History Museum, recently showed the writer a fossil Plesiosaur that is
being set up in the formatore's shop, in the same manner that a recent
skeleton might be. In this, and many other ways, the guardians of the
national treasure-house are endeavouring to make the collection
intelligible and interesting to the general public. Specimens of
extinct animals thus set up, give one a much better idea than when the
bones are all lying huddled together on a slab of rock. But it is not
always possible to get the bones entirely out of their rocky bed, or
matrix. Great credit is due to Mr. Alfred N. Leeds, of Eyebury, who
has disinterred the separate bones of many distinct skeletons of
Plesiosaurs from Oxford Clay strata near Peterborough.

It will be remembered that the long and powerful tail of the
fish-lizard was its principal organ of propulsion through the water;
and that, consequently, the paddles only played a secondary part. They
were small, but amply large enough for the work they had to perform.
But our long-necked sea-lizards possessed very short tails. What,
then, was the consequence? Obviously that the paddles had all the more
work to do. They were the chief swimming organs. The vertebræ of this
short tail show that it probably was highly flexible, and could move
rapidly from side to side; but, for all that, its use as a propeller
would not be of much importance. We see now why the paddles are so
long and powerful, like two pairs of great oars, one pair on each side
of the body. In a fossil skeleton you will notice the flattened shape
of the arm-bone (or humerus), and of the thigh-bone (or femur). This
gave breadth to the paddles, and made them more efficient as swimming
organs. They give no indication of having carried even such imperfect
claws as those of turtles and seals, and therefore we may conclude
that the Plesiosaur was far more at home in the water than on land,
and it seems probable that progression on land was impossible.

The tail was probably useful as a rudder, to steer the animal when
swimming on the surface, and to elevate or depress it in ascending and
descending through the water. Like the fish-lizard, this creature was
an air-breather, and therefore was obliged occasionally to visit the
surface for fresh supplies of air. But probably it possessed the power
of compressing air within its lungs, so that the frequency of its
visits to the surface would not be very great.

From the long neck and head, situated so far away from the paddles, as
well as for other reasons, it may be concluded that this creature was
a rapid swimmer, as was the Ichthyosaurus. Although of considerable
size, it probably had to seek its food, as well as its safety, chiefly
by artifice and concealment. The fish-lizard, its contemporary, must
have been a formidable rival and a dangerous enemy, whom to attack
would be unadvisable.

Speaking of the habits of the long-necked sea-lizard, Mr. Conybeare,
in his second paper, already alluded to, says, "That it was aquatic,
is evident from the form of its paddles; that it was marine, is almost
equally so, from the remains with which it is universally associated;
that it may occasionally have visited the shore, the resemblance of
its extremities to those of the turtle may lead us to conjecture; its
motion, however, must have been very awkward on land; its long neck
must have impeded its progress through the water, presenting a
striking contrast to the organisation which so admirably fits the
Ichthyosaurus to cut through the waves.

"May it not therefore be concluded (since, in addition to these
circumstances, its respiration must have required frequent access of
air) that it swam upon or near the surface, arching back its long neck
like the swan, occasionally darting it down at the fish which happened
to float within its reach? It may, perhaps, have lurked in shoal-water
along the coast, concealed among the sea-weed, and, raising its
nostrils to a level with the surface from a considerable depth, may
have found a secure retreat from the assaults of dangerous enemies;
while the length and flexibility of its neck may have compensated for
the want of strength in its jaws and its incapacity for swift motion
through the water, by the suddenness and agility of the attack which
they enabled it to make on every animal fitted for its prey, which
came within its extensive sweep."

More than twenty species of long-necked sea-lizards are known to

Professor Owen, in his great work on _British Fossil Reptiles_, when
describing the huge Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus from Dorset, suggests
that the carcase of this monster, after it sank to the bottom of the
sea, was preyed upon by some carnivorous animal (perhaps sharks). It
seems, he says, as if a bite of the neck had pulled out of place the
eighth to the twelfth vertebræ. Those at the base of the neck are
scattered and dispersed as if through more "tugging and riving." So
with regard to its body, probably some hungry creature had a grip of
the spine near the middle of the back, and pulled all the succeeding
vertebræ in the region of the hind limbs. Thus we get a little glimpse
of scenes of violence that took place at the bottom of the bright
sunny seas of the period when the clays and limestones of the Lias
rocks were being deposited in the region of Lyme-Regis.

As time went on, these curious reptiles increased in size, until, in
the period when our English chalk was being formed (Cretaceous
period), they reached their highest point (see p. 147). After that
they became extinct--whether slowly or somewhat suddenly we cannot

Until more is known of the ancient life of the earth, it will not be
possible to say with certainty what were the nearest relations of the
long-necked sea-lizards. They first appear in the strata of the New
Red Sandstone, which is below the Lias. Certain little reptiles, about
three feet long, from the former rocks, known as Neusticosaurus and
Lariosaurus, seem to be rather closely related to the creatures we are
now considering, and to connect them with another group, namely, the
Pliosaurs. They were partly terrestrial and partly aquatic; but it is
not easy to say whether their limbs had been converted into true
paddles or not. At any rate, there is every reason to believe that the
long-necked sea-lizards were descended from an earlier form of land
reptile. They gradually underwent considerable modifications, in order
to adapt themselves to an aquatic life. We noticed that the same
conclusion has been arrived at with regard to the fish-lizards. Both
these extinct groups, therefore, present an interesting analogy to
whales, which are now considered to have been derived, by a like
series of changes, from mammals that once walked the earth.

The Plesiosaur presents, on the one hand, points of resemblance to
turtles and lizards,--on the other hand, to crocodiles, whales, and,
according to some authorities, even the strange Ornithorhynchus. But
it will be very long before its ancestry can be made known. In the
mean time, we must put it in a place somewhere near the fish-lizards,
and leave posterity to complete what has at present only been begun.
It must, however, be borne in mind that some of the above resemblances
are purely accidental, and not such as point to relationship. Because
their flippers are like those of a whale, it does not mean that
Plesiosaurs are related to modern whales. It only means that similar
habits tend to produce accidental resemblances--just as the whales and
porpoises, in their turn, resemble fishes. To make torpedoes go
rapidly through the water, inventors have given them a fish-like
shape;--in the same way the early forms of mammals, from which whales
are descended, gradually adapted themselves to a life in the water,
and so became modified to some extent to the shapes of fishes.

The Pliosaurs, above mentioned, are evidently relations, but with
short necks instead of long ones. They had enormous heads and thick
necks. Fine specimens of their huge jaws, paddle-bones, etc., may be
seen at the end of the reptile-gallery at Cromwell Road. One of the
skulls exhibited there is nearly six feet long, while a hind paddle
measures upwards of six and a half feet in length, of which
thirty-seven inches is taken up by the thigh-bone alone. The teeth at
the end of the jaws are truly enormous. One tooth, from a deposit
known as the Kimmeridge Clay, is nearly a foot long from the tip of
the crown to the base of the root. In some, the two jaw-bones of the
lower jaw are partly united, as in the sperm-whale or cachalot.
Creatures so armed must have been very destructive.



     "What we know is but little; what we do not know is
     immense."--La Place.

Was there ever an age of dragons? Tradition says there was; but there
is every reason to believe that the fierce and blood-thirsty
creatures, of which such a variety present themselves, are but
creations of the imagination,--useful in their way, no doubt, as
pointing a moral or adorning a tale, but, nevertheless, wholly without
foundation in fact. The dragon figures in the earliest traditions of
the human race, and crops up again in full force in European mediæval
or even late romance.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus, the son of Isis, slays the evil
dragon. In Greece, the infant Hercules, while yet in his cradle,
strangles deadly snakes; and Perseus, after engaging in fierce
struggle with the sea-monster, slays it, and rescues Andromeda from a
cruel death. In England, we have the heroic legend of St. George and
the Dragon depicted on our sovereigns. But it is easy to see a common
purpose running through these legends. They are considered by many to
be solar myths, and have a moral purpose. The dragons or snakes are
emblems of darkness and evil; the heroes emblems of light, and so of
good. The triumph of good over evil is the theme they were intended to
illustrate. The dragons, then, are clearly products of the
imagination, based, no doubt, on the huge and uncouth reptiles of the
present human era, such as crocodiles, pythons, and such creatures.

Amidst much diversity there is yet a strange similarity in the dragons
that figure in the folk-lore of Eastern and Western peoples. Probably
our European traditions were brought by the tribes which, wave after
wave, poured in from Central Asia.

They are, for the most part, unnatural beasts, breathing out fire, and
often endowed with wings, while at the same time possessing limbs
ending in cruel claws, fitted for clutching their unfortunate victims.
The wings seem, to say the least, very much in the way. Poisonous
fangs, claws, scaly armour, and a long pointed tail were all very
well,--but wings are hardly wanted, unless to add one more element of
mystery or terror. Some, however, are devoid of wings: the Imperial
Japanese dragons showing no sign of such appendages. The Temple Bar
griffin is a grim example of a winged monster. Nevertheless, in spite
of all the manifest absurdities of the dragons of various nations and
times, geology reveals to us that there once lived upon this earth
reptiles so great and uncouth that we can think of no other but the
time-honoured word "dragon" to convey briefly the slightest idea of
their monstrous forms and characters.

So there is some truth in dragons, after all. But then we must make
this important reservation--viz. that the days of these dragons were
long before the human period; they flourished in one of those dim
geological ages of which the rocks around us bear ample records.

It is a strange fact that human fancy should have, in some cases at
least, created monsters not very unlike some of those antediluvian
animals that have, during the present century, been discovered in
various parts of Europe and America. Some unreasonable persons will
have it that certain monstrous reptiles of the Mesozoic era, about to
be described, must have somehow managed to survive into the human
period, and so have suggested to early races of men the dragons to
which we have alluded. But there is no need for this untenable
supposition. By a free blending together of ideas culled from living
types of animals it would be very easy to construct no small variety
of dragons; and so we may believe this is what the ancients did.

Having said so much of dragons in general, let us proceed to consider
those both possible and real monsters revealed of late years by the
researches of geologists. For this purpose we shall devote the present
and two following chapters to the consideration of a great and
wonderful group of fossil reptiles known as Dinosaurs. The strange
fish-lizards and sea-lizards previously described were the geological
contemporaries of a host of reptiles, now mostly extinct, which
inhabited both the lands and waters of those periods known as the
Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, which taken together represent the
great Mesozoic, formerly called the Secondary, era.

The announcement by Baron Cuvier--the illustrious founder of
Palæontology--that there was a period when our planet was inhabited by
reptiles of appalling magnitude, with many of the features of modern
quadrupeds, was of so novel and startling a character as to require
the prestige of even his name to obtain for it any degree of credence.
But subsequent discoveries have fully confirmed the truth of his
belief, and the "age of reptiles" is no longer considered fabulous.
This expression was first used by Dr. Mantell as the title of a paper
published in the _Edinburgh Philosophical Journal_ in 1831, and serves
to remind us that reptilian forms of life were once the ruling class
among animals.

The Dinosaurs are an extinct order comprising the largest terrestrial
and semi-aquatic reptiles that ever lived; and while some of them in a
general way resembled crocodiles, others show in the bony structures
they have left behind a very remarkable and interesting resemblance to
birds of the ostrich tribe. This resemblance shows itself in the
pelvis, or bony arch with which the hind limbs are connected in
vertebrate or backboned animals, and in the limbs themselves. This
curious fact, first brought into notice by Professor Huxley, has been
variously interpreted by anatomists; some concluding, with Professor
Huxley, that birds are descended from Dinosaurs; while others, with
Professor Owen, consider the resemblance accidental, and in no way
implying relationship. Huxley has proposed the name Ornithoscelida, or
bird-legged, for these remarkable reptiles.

Dinosaurs must have formerly inhabited a large part of the primæval
world; for their remains are found, not only in Europe, but in Africa,
India, America, and even in Australia; and the geologist finds that
they reigned supreme on the earth throughout the whole of the great
Mesozoic era.

Their bodies were, in some cases, defended by a formidable coat of
armour, consisting of bony plates and spines, as illustrated by the
case of Scelidosaurus (p. 105), thus giving them a decidedly
dragon-like appearance. The vertebræ, or bony segments of the
backbone, generally have their centra hollow on both sides, as in the
Ichthyosaurus; but in the neck and tail they are not unfrequently
hollow on one side and convex on the other. In some of the largest
forms the vertebræ are excavated into hollow chambers. This is
apparently for the sake of lightness; for a very large animal with
heavy solid bones would find it difficult to move freely. In this way
strength was combined with lightness.

All the Dinosaurs had four limbs, and in many cases the hind pair were
very large compared to the fore limbs. They varied enormously in size,
as well as in appearance. Thus certain of the smaller families were
only two feet long and lightly built; while others were truly colossal
in size, far out-rivalling our modern rhinoceroses and elephants.

The limbs of Cetiosaurus, for example, or of Stegosaurus, remind us
strikingly of those of elephants. The celebrated Von Meyer was so
struck with this likeness that he proposed the name Pachypoda for
them, which means thick-footed. Professor Owen opposed this name; for
it was misleading, and only applied to a few of them. He therefore
proposed the name we have already been using, viz. Dinosauria,[10] and
this name has been generally retained. We are thus led to connect them
with lizards and crocodiles, rather than with birds or quadrupeds. The
strange and curiously mixed characters of the old-fashioned reptiles
is forcibly illustrated by these differences of opinion among leading
naturalists. Professor Seeley, another living authority, refuses to
consider them as reptiles, at least in the ordinary sense of the word.

[10] Greek--_deinos_, terrible; _sauros_, lizard.

Extinct forms of life are often so very different to the creatures
inhabiting the world of to-day, that naturalists find it a hard task
to assign them their places in the animal kingdom. The classes,
orders, and families under which living forms are grouped are often
found inadequate for the purpose, so much so that new orders and new
families require to be made for them; and then it is often quite
impossible to determine the relations of these new groups to the old
ones we are accustomed to. Dinosaurs offer a good example of this
difficulty. Were they related to ancient crocodiles? No one can say
for certain; but it is quite possible, and even probable. Again, did
certain long-legged Dinosaurs eventually give rise by evolution to the
running birds, ostriches, emeus, etc.? This, although supported by
weighty authority, is a matter of speculation: we ought to be very
careful in accepting such conclusions. It may perhaps be safer to look
upon the ancestry of birds as one of those problems on which the
oracle of science cannot at present declare itself.

Various attempts have been made to classify Dinosaurs, and arrange
them in family groups; but, considering our imperfect knowledge, it
will be wise to regard all such attempts as purely temporary and
provisional, although in some ways convenient. Professor Marsh, of
Yale College, U.S., whose wonderful discoveries in the far West have
attracted universal attention, has grouped the Dinosaurs into five
sub-orders. It will, however, be sufficient for our purpose if we
follow certain English authorities who divide them into three
groups--taking the names given by Professor Marsh, only running
together some which he would separate.

We shall first consider the very interesting and huge forms included
in his sub-order the Sauropoda, or lizard-footed Dinosaurs. Various
parts of the skeletons, such as vertebræ, leg-bones, etc., of these
cumbrous beasts have long been known in this country; but Professor
Marsh was the first person to discover a complete skeleton.

We shall, therefore, now turn our attention to the bony framework of
the huge Brontosaurus (Fig. 9), a vegetable-feeding lizard. But it
will be necessary to completely lay aside all our previous notions
taken from lizards of the present day, with their short legs and
snake-like scaly bodies, before we can come to any fair conclusion
with regard to this monstrous beast.

It was nearly sixty feet long, and probably when alive weighed more
than twenty tons! that it was a stupid, slow-moving reptile, may be
inferred from its very small brain and slender spinal cord. By taking
casts of the brain-cavities in the skulls of extinct animals,
anatomists can obtain a very good idea of the nature and capacity of
their brains; and in this way important evidence is obtained, and such
as helps to throw light upon their habits and general intelligence. No
bony plates or spines have been discovered with the remains of this
monster; so that we are driven to conclude that it was wholly without
armour: and, moreover, there seem to be no signs of offensive weapons
of any kind.

Professor Marsh concludes that it was more or less amphibious in its
habits, and that it fed upon aquatic plants and other succulent
vegetation. Its remains, he says, are generally found in localities
where the animal had evidently become mired, just as cattle at the
present day sometimes become hopelessly fixed in a swampy place on the
margin of a lake or river (see p. 19). Each track made by the creature
in walking occupied one square yard in extent!

[Illustration: Fig. 9.--Restored skeleton of _Brontosaurus excelsus_.
(After Marsh.)]

The remarkably small head is one of the most striking features of this
Dinosaur, and presents a curious contrast to the large and formidable
skulls possessed by some other forms to be described further on. But
it is clear that no animal with such a long neck as this creature had
could have borne the weight of a heavy skull. Short thick necks and
heavy skulls always go together. Indeed, the weight of the long neck
itself would have been serious had it not been for the fact that the
vertebræ in this part of the skeleton, and as far as the region of the
tail, have large cavities in the sides of the centra. This cavernous
structure of the vertebræ gradually decreases towards the tail. The
cavities communicated with a series of internal cavities which give a
kind of honeycombed structure to the whole vertebra. This arrangement
affords a combination of strength and lightness in the massive
supports required for the huge ribs, limbs, and muscles, such as could
not have been provided by any other plan. (See Fig. 10.)

[Illustration: Fig. 10.--Neck vertebræ of _Brontosaurus_.

1. Front view. 2. Back view.]

[Illustration: Plate IV.


Length nearly 60 feet.]

The body of the Brontosaur was comparatively short, with a fairly
large paunch (see restoration, Plate IV.). The legs and feet were
strong and massive, and the limb-bones solid. As if partly in order to
balance the neck, we find a long and powerful tail, in which the
vertebræ are nearly all solid. In most Dinosaurs the fore limbs are
small compared to the hind limbs--_e.g._ Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and
Scelidosaurus,--but here we find them unusually large. In this case,
then, it is hardly possible that the creature walked upon its hind
legs, as many of the Dinosaurs did. But, at the same time, we may
believe that occasionally it assumed a more erect position; and may
not the light hollowed structure of the vertebræ in the fore part of
the body, already alluded to, have imparted such lightness as made it
possible for the creature to assume such attitudes? There can be
little doubt but that many other fierce and formidable Dinosaurs were
living at the same time and in the same region with Brontosaurus,
whose remains are found in the Jurassic rocks of Colorado
(Atlantosaurus beds).

How this apparently helpless and awkward animal escaped in the
struggle for existence it is not easy to conjecture; but since there
is reason to believe it was more or less at home in the water, and
could use its powerful tail in swimming, we may perhaps find a way out
of the difficulty by supposing that, when alarmed by dangerous
flesh-eating foes, it took to the water, and found discretion to be
the better part of valour. Although apparently stupid, the Brontosaur
probably possessed a good deal of cunning, and we can fancy it
stretching its long neck above reeds, ferns, and cycads to get a view
of the approaching enemy.

The Sauropoda, or lizard-footed Dinosaurs, show in many ways a decided
approach to a simple or generalised crocodile; so much so, that
Professor Cope is inclined to include crocodiles and sauropodous
Dinosaurs in the same order. Still, there are important differences in
other members of this sub-order. Unfortunately, our knowledge is at
present rather limited, owing to the want of complete skeletons.
Vertebræ, limb-bones, skulls, and teeth have all been discovered
through the zeal and energy of Professor Marsh and his comrades, in
the far west of America, as well as by the researches of English
geologists, assisted by the labours of many ardent collectors of
fossils, in this country. Some of these may now be briefly considered.

In Plate V. we have endeavoured to give some idea of a huge thigh-bone
(femur) belonging to the truly gigantic Dinosaur called Atlantosaurus.
It is six feet two inches long, and a cast of it may be seen in the
fossil reptile gallery of the British Museum of Natural History
(Wall-case No. 3). It should be mentioned, however, that the original
specimen is partly restored, so that its exact length to an inch or so
is not quite certain. In our illustration it is shown to be a little
taller, when placed upright, than a full-grown man. Professor Marsh,
the fortunate discoverer of this wonderful bone, calculates that the
Atlantosaurus must have attained a length of over eighty feet! and,
assuming that it walked upon its hind feet, a height of thirty feet!

It doubtless fed upon the luxuriant foliage of the sub-tropical
forests, portions of which are preserved with its remains. Besides
this thigh-bone, Professor Marsh has procured specimens of vertebræ
from the different parts of the vertebral column; but no skull or
teeth. The vertebræ are hollowed out much in the same way as those of
Brontosaurus. The fore limbs were large, as in the latter animal; and
the extremities of the limbs were provided with claws. Taking all
present evidence, it appears that the Atlantosaurus bore a general
resemblance to its smaller contemporary. We can therefore form a
fairly good idea of its aspect and proportions.

The same Jurassic strata from the Rocky Mountains have yielded remains
of another big Dinosaur, belonging to the same family. This genus,
which has been named the Apatosaurus, is represented by a nearly
complete skeleton, in the Yale College Museum; and is fortunately in
an excellent state of preservation. Another species, of smaller size,
though not so complete, adorns the same collection. This was about
thirty feet long, and is known as Apatosaurus grandis.

[Illustration: Plate V.


From a cast in the Natural History Museum. Length 6 feet 2 inches.]

Morosaurus, another important genus, is known from a large number of
individuals discovered in the now famous Atlantosaurus beds of
Colorado, including one nearly complete skeleton. The head of this
creature was small; the neck elongated; and the vertebræ of the neck
are lightened by deep cavities in their centra, similar to those in
birds of flight. The tail, also, was long. When alive, this Dinosaur
was about forty feet in length. It probably walked on all fours; and
in many other respects was very unlike a typical Dinosaur. The brain
was small, and it must have been sluggish in all its movements. The
nearly complete remains of Morosaurus grandis were found together in a
very good state of preservation in Wyoming, and many of the bones lay
just in their natural positions.

Diplodocus, of which several incomplete specimens have been
discovered, was intermediate in size between Atlantosaurus and
Morosaurus, and may have reached when living, a length of forty or
fifty feet. Its skull was of moderate size, with slender jaws. The
teeth were weaker than those of any other known Dinosaur, and entirely
confined to the front of the jaws. Professor Marsh concludes from the
teeth that Diplodocus was herbivorous, feeding on succulent
vegetation, and that it probably led an aquatic life. Fig. 11 shows
its skull.

The remains of this interesting Dinosaur (Brontosaurus), which in
several ways differs from other members of the "lizard-footed" group,
were found in Upper Jurassic beds, near Cañon City, Colorado. A second
smaller species was also discovered near Morrison, Colorado. All the
remains lay in the Atlantosaurus beds. These strata--the tomb in which
Nature has buried up so many of her dragons of old time--can be traced
for several hundred miles on the flanks of the Rocky Mountains, and
are always to be known by the bones they contain. They lie above the
Triassic strata and just below the Sandstone of the Dakota group. Some
have regarded them as of Cretaceous age; but, judging from their
fossils, there can be but little doubt that they were deposited
during the Jurassic period--probably in an old estuary. They consist
of shale and sandstone.

Besides the numerous Dinosaurs, Professor Marsh's colleagues have
found abundant remains of crocodiles, tortoises, and fishes, with one
Pterodactyl, a flying reptile (see chap. viii.), and several small
marsupials. The wonderful collection of American Jurassic Dinosaurs in
the Museum of Yale College includes the remains of several hundred
individuals, many of them in excellent preservation, and has afforded
to Professor Marsh the material for his classification already alluded

[Illustration: Fig. 11.--Head of _Diplodocus_.

1. Side view. 2. Front view.]

English Dinosaurs of the Lizard-footed Group.

Unfortunately, there are at present no complete skeletons known of
English Dinosaurs related to the American forms above described. But,
since the English fossils were first in evidence by many years, and
Marsh's discoveries have confirmed in a remarkable way conclusions
drawn by Owen, Huxley, Hulke, and Seeley, and others from materials
that were rather fragmentary, it may be worth while to give some
account of these remains and the interpretations they have received.

Dr. Buckland, in his _Bridgewater Treatise_, 1836, referred to a
limb-bone in the Oxford Museum, from the great Oolite formation near
Woodstock, which was examined by Cuvier, and pronounced to have once
belonged to a whale; also a very large rib, which seemed whale-like.
In 1838 Professor Owen, when collecting materials for his famous
_Report on the Fossil Reptiles of Great Britain_, inspected this
remarkable limb-bone, and could not match it with any bones known
among the whale tribe; and yet its structure, where exposed, was like
that of the long bone (humerus) of the paddle of a whale. Later on, he
abandoned the idea that it once belonged to a whale, and it was
thought that the extinct animal in question might have been a reptile
of the crocodilean order. In time, a fine series of limb-bones and
vertebræ was added to the Oxford Museum by Professor Phillips (Dr.
Buckland's successor at Oxford), who pronounced them to be
Dinosaurian. The name "Cetiosaurus"[11] (or Whale-lizard), originally
given by Owen, was unfortunate, because there is really nothing
whale-like about it, except a certain coarse texture of some of the

[11] Greek--_ketion_, whale; _sauros_, lizard.

In 1848 Dr. Buckland announced the discovery of another limb-bone (a
femur), which Owen referred to Cetiosaurus; it was four feet three
inches in length. Between 1868 and 1870, however, a considerable
portion of a skeleton was discovered in the same formation at
Kirtlington Station, near Oxford. These remains were the subject of
careful examination by Professors Owen and Phillips. The femur this
time was five feet four inches long. Their studies threw much light on
the nature and habits of Cetiosaurus.

Although showing in many ways an approach to the crocodile type of
reptile, yet it was perceived from the nature of the limbs that they
were better fitted for walking on land than are those of a crocodile,
with its sprawling limbs. Still, Professor Owen was careful to point
out that the vertebræ of its long tail indicate suitability as a
powerful swimming organ, and concluded that the creature was more
aquatic than terrestrial in its habits. Plaster casts of the
limb-bones may be seen at the British Museum of Natural History, side
by side with the huge Atlantosaurus cast sent by Professor Marsh.

The Kimmeridge clay of Weymouth has yielded a huge arm-bone (or
humerus), nearly five feet long; and from Wealden strata of Sussex and
the Isle of Wight vertebræ have been collected. Altogether we have
remains of Cetiosaurus from at least half a dozen counties.
Unfortunately, no specimen of a skull has yet been found, and only two
or three small and incomplete teeth, which may possibly have belonged
to some other animal. Professor Owen estimated the length of the trunk
and tail of the creature to have been thirty-five or thirty-six feet;
but in the absence of further evidence it was not possible to form any
conclusion as to its total length. It is evident that Cetiosaurus was
closely allied to the American Brontosaurus (p. 69); and so these
earlier English discoveries have gained much in interest from the
light thrown upon them by Professor Marsh's huge Saurian.

Another English Saurian of this group was the Ornithopsis, from
Wealden strata in the Isle of Wight, which has been the subject of
careful study by Mr. Hulke and Professor Seeley. Their conclusions,
based on the examination of separate portions of the skeleton (such as
vertebræ), have been singularly confirmed by the discovery of

In Ornithopsis the vertebræ of the neck and back, though of great
size, were remarkably light, and yet of great strength. One of the
vertebræ of the back had a body, or centrum, ten inches long.
Hoplosaurus and Pelosaurus were evidently reptiles closely allied to
the above types; but at present are so imperfectly known that we need
not consider them here.


DINOSAURS (_continued_).

     "Fossils have been eloquently and appropriately termed
     'Medals of Creation.'"--Dr. Mantell.

When any tribe of plants or animals becomes very flourishing, and
spreads over the face of the earth, occupying regions far apart from
one another, where the geographical and other conditions, such as
climate, are unlike, its members will inevitably develop considerable
differences among themselves.

During the great Mesozoic period, Dinosaurs spread over a large part
of the world; they became very numerous and powerful. Just as the
birds and beasts (quadrupeds) of to-day show an almost endless
variety, according to the circumstances in which they are placed, so
that great and powerful order of reptiles we are now considering ran
riot, and gave rise to a variety of forms, or types. Those described
in the last chapter were heavy, slow-moving Dinosaurs, of great
proportions, and were all herbivorous creatures, apparently without
weapons of offence or defence.

The group Theropoda, or "beast-footed" Dinosaurs, that partly form the
subject of the present chapter, were all flesh-eating animals; and, as
we shall discover from their fossilised remains, were of less size,
and led active lives. In fact, they acted in their day the part played
by lions and tigers to-day.

In the year 1824 that keen observer and original thinker, the Rev. Dr.
Buckland, described to the Geological Society of London some remains
of a very strange and formidable reptile found in the Limestone of
Stonesfield, near Woodstock (about twelve miles from Oxford). This
rock, known as "Stonesfield slate" from its property of splitting up
into thin layers, has long been celebrated for its fossil remains, and
from it have also been obtained the bones of some early mammals. It is
a member of the Lower Oolitic group.

The portions of skeleton originally discovered consisted of part of a
lower jaw, with teeth, a thigh bone (femur), a series of vertebræ of
the trunk, a few ribs, and some other fragments. The name
Megalosaurus,[12] or "great lizard," suggested itself both to Dr.
Buckland and Baron Cuvier, because it was evident from the size of the
bones that the creature must have been very big. It is true these
bones were not found together in one spot; but Professor Owen came to
the conclusion that they all belonged to the same species.

[12] Greek--_megas_, great; _sauros_, lizard.

No entire skeleton of the Megalosaur has ever been found, but there
was enough material to enable Dr. Buckland, Professor Owen, and
Professor Phillips to form a very fair idea of its general structure.
It should be mentioned here that Dr. Mantell, the enthusiastic
geologist to whose labours palæontologists are greatly indebted, had
previously discovered similar teeth and bones in the Wealden strata of
Tilgate Forest. Sherborne, in Dorset, is another locality which has
yielded a fine specimen of parts of both jaws with teeth. A cast of
this may be seen in the geological collection at South Kensington. It
was found in the Inferior Oolite (Wall-case IV.); the original
specimen lies in the museum of Sherborne College. Remains of
Megalosaurus have also been found at the following places: Lyme-Regis
and Watchet (in the Lias); near Bridport (in Inferior Oolite); Enslow
Bridge (upper part of the Great Oolite and Forest Marble Beds);
Weymouth (in Oxford Clay); Cowley and Dry Sandford (in the Coral Rag);
Malton in Yorkshire (in Coralline Oolite); also in Normandy. They have
also been found in Wealden strata.

The portion of a lower jaw in the Oxford Museum is twelve inches long,
with a row of nine teeth, or sockets for teeth. The structure of the
teeth leaves no doubt as to the carnivorous habits of the creature.
With a length of perhaps thirty feet, capable of free and rapid
movement on land, with strong hind limbs, short head, with long
pointed teeth, and formidable claws to its feet, the Megalosaur must
have been without a rival among the carnivorous reptiles on this side
of the world. It probably walked for the most part on its hind legs,
as depicted in our illustration, and Professors Huxley and Owen, on
examining the bones in the Oxford Museum, were much impressed with the
bird-like character of some parts of the skeleton, showing an approach
to the ostrich type. The form of the teeth, as pointed out by Dr.
Buckland, exhibits a remarkable combination of contrivances. When
young and first protruding above the gum, the apex of the tooth
presented a double cutting edge of serrated enamel; but as it advanced
in growth its direction was turned backwards in the form of a pruning
knife, and the enamelled sawing edge was continued downwards to the
base of the inner and cutting side, but became thicker on the other
side, obtaining additional strength when it was no longer needed as a
cutting instrument (Fig. 12).

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Lower jaw-bone of Megalosaurus, with teeth.]

The genus Megalosaurus--now rendered classic through the labours of
Professors Buckland, Phillips, and Owen--may be regarded as the type
of the carnivorous Dinosaurs; and it affords an excellent and
instructive instance of the gradual restoration of the skeleton of a
new monster from more or less fragmentary remains. Certain very
excusable errors were at first made in the restoration, but these
have since been rectified by a comparison with the allied American
forms, such as Allosaurus, of which nearly entire skeletons have of
late been discovered in strata of Jurassic age--in fact, the same rock
in Colorado as that in which the huge Atlantosaurus bones lay hid. The
accompanying woodcut (Fig. 13) shows how the skeleton has been
restored in the light of these later discoveries of Professor Marsh.
The large bones of the limbs of these formidable flesh-eating monsters
were hollow, and many of the vertebræ, as well as some of those of the
feet, contained cavities, or were otherwise lightened in order to give
the creature a greater power of rapid movement.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Skeleton of Megalosaurus, restored. (After

It is not very difficult to imagine a Megalosaur lying in wait for his
prey (perhaps a slender, harmless little mammal of the ant-eater type)
with his hind limbs bent under his body, so as to bring the heels to
the ground, and then with one terrific bound from those long legs
springing on to the prey, and holding the mammal tight in its clawed
fore limbs, as a cat might hold a mouse. Then the sabre-like teeth
would be brought into action by the powerful jaws, and soon the flesh
and bones of the victim would be gone! (See Plate VI.)

[Illustration: Plate VI.


Length about 25 feet.]

As we remarked before, the carnivorous Dinosaurs were the lions and
tigers of the Mesozoic era, and, what with small mammals and numerous
reptiles of those days, it would seem that they were not limited in
their choice of diet.

It is a question not yet decided whether Dinosaurs laid eggs as most
modern reptiles do, or were viviparous like quadrupeds; but Professor
Marsh thinks there are reasons for the latter supposition.

During the early part of the Mesozoic era, at the period known as the
Triassic (New Red Sandstone), Dinosaurs flourished vigorously in
America, developing a great variety of forms and sizes. Although but
few of their bones have as yet been discovered in those rocks, they
have left behind unmistakable evidence of their presence in the
well-known footprints and other impressions upon the shores of the
waters which they frequented.[13] The Triassic Sandstone of the
Connecticut Valley has long been famous for its fossil footprints,
especially the so-called "bird-tracks," which are generally supposed
to have been made by birds, the tracks of which they certainly appear
to resemble. But a careful investigation of nearly all the specimens
yet discovered has convinced Professor Marsh that these fossil
impressions were not made by birds (see Fig. 14). Most of the
three-toed tracks, he thinks, were made by Dinosaurs, who usually
walked upon their hind feet alone, and only occasionally put to the
ground their small fore limbs. He has detected impressions of the
latter in connection with nearly all the larger tracks of the hind
limbs. These double impressions are just such as Dinosaurs would make;
and, since the only characteristic bones yet found in the same rocks
belong to this order of reptiles, it is but fair to attribute all
these footprints to Dinosaurs, even where no impressions of fore feet
have been detected, _until_ some evidence of birds is forthcoming. The
size of some of these impressions, as well as the length of stride
they indicate, is against the idea of their having been made by birds.
Some of them, for instance, are twenty inches in length, and four or
five feet apart! The foot of the African ostrich is but ten inches
long, so we must fall back on the Dinosaurs for an explanation.
However, it is quite possible that some of the smaller impressions
were made by birds.

[13] Since the above was written, Professor Marsh has described, in
_The American Journal of Science_ for June, 1892, several more or less
complete skeletons of Triassic Dinosaurs, lately found, and now in the
Yale College Museum. This is an important discovery.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Portion of a slab of New Red Sandstone, from
Turner's Falls, Massachusetts, U.S., covered with numerous tracks,
probably of Dinosaurs. This specimen is now in the Natural History
Museum. The separate tracks are indicated by the numbers. (After

There is at South Kensington a fine series of these and other
specimens of fossil footprints (Gallery No. XI., Wall-cases 8-10). The
surface of one large slab in the geological collection is eight feet
by six feet, and bears upwards of seventy distinct impressions
disposed in several tracks, as shown in Fig. 14. The lines were added
by Dr. Hitchcock, who has published full descriptions in order to show
the direction and disposition of the tracks.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--Portion of a slab, with tracks. (After

In a presidential address to the Geological Society, Sir Charles
Lyell, speaking of the Connecticut Sandstone and its impressions,
said, "When I first examined these strata of slate and sandstone near
Jersey City, in company with Mr. Redfield, I saw at once from the
ripple-marked surface of the slabs, from the casts of cracks, the
marks of rain-drops, and the embedded fragments of drift-wood, that
these beds had been formed precisely under circumstances most
favourable for the reception of impressions of the feet of animals
walking between high and low water. In the prolongation of the same
beds in the Valley of Connecticut, there have been found, according to
Professor Hitchcock, the footprints of no less than thirty-two species
of bipeds, and twelve of quadrupeds. They have been observed in more
than twenty localities, which are scattered over an area of nearly
eighty miles from north to south, in the States of Massachusetts and
Connecticut. After visiting several of these places, I entertained no
doubt that the sand and mud were deposited on an area which was slowly
subsiding all the while, so that at some points a thickness of more
than a thousand feet of superimposed strata had accumulated in very
shallow water, the footprints being repeated at various intervals on
the surface of the mud throughout the entire series of superimposed
beds." When Sir Charles Lyell first examined this region in 1842,
Professor Hitchcock had already seen two thousand impressions of feet!

It is not difficult to imagine the conditions under which such
impressions may have been preserved, for at the present day there are
to be seen, on some shores, illustrations of similar operations. Dr.
Gould, of Boston, U.S., was the first to call the attention of
naturalists to a very instructive example of such processes on the
shores of the Bay of Fundy, where the tide is said to rise in some
places seventy feet high. Here we have a very perfect surface for
receiving and retaining impressions. Vast are the numbers of wading
and sea-birds that course to and fro over the extensive tract of
plastic red surface left dry by the far retreat of the tide in the Bay
of Fundy. During the period that elapses between one spring tide and
the next, the highest part of the tidal deposit is exposed long enough
to receive and retain many impressions; even during the hours of hot
sunshine, to which, in the summer months, this so-trodden tract is
left exposed, the layer last deposited becomes baked hard and dry, and
before the returning tidal wave has power to break up the preceding
one, the impressions left on that stratum have received a deposit. A
cast is thus taken of the mould previously made, and each succeeding
tide brings another layer of deposit. We can easily imagine that in
succeeding ages the petrifying influences will consolidate the sandy
layers into a fossil rock. Such a rock would split in such a way,
along its natural layers of formation, as to show the old moulds on
one surface, and the casts on the other.

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--Limb-bones of _Allosaurus_. (After Marsh.)

1. Fore leg. 2. Hind leg.]

Professor Marsh has had the good fortune to discover a very peculiar
new form of carnivorous Dinosaur, to which he has given the name
Ceratosaurus,[14] because its skull supported a horn. But the horn is
not the only new feature presented by this interesting creature. Its
vertebræ are of a strange and unexpected type; and in the pelvis all
the bones are fused together, as in modern birds. Externally, also,
the Ceratosaurus differed from other members of the carnivorous group,
for its body was partly protected by long plates in the skin, such as
crocodiles have: these extended from the back of the head, along the
neck, and over the back. An almost complete skeleton was found which
indicates an animal about seventeen feet long. When alive it was
probably about half the bulk of the Allosaurus mentioned above. (See
Fig. 16.)

[14] Greek--_keras_, horn; _sauros_, lizard. Some authorities consider
it to be identical with Megalosaurus.

Seen from above, its skull resembles in general outline that of a
crocodile, the facial portion being elongated and gradually tapering
to the muzzle, with the nasal openings separate, and placed near the
end of the snout.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--Skull of _Ceratosaurus_. Top view. (After

The teeth of this horned Dinosaur resemble those of the Megalosaur.
Its eyes were protected by protuberances of the skull just above the
cavity in which the eye was placed (see Figs. 17 and 18). The brain
was a good deal larger in proportion to the size of the animal than in
Brontosaurus and its allies; so perhaps we may infer that it was
endowed with greater intelligence, as it certainly was more active in
its habits. The fore limbs, as in Megalosaurus, were small, and some
of the fingers ended in powerful claws, which no doubt it used to good

Perhaps the most remarkable of all the Dinosaurs was a diminutive
creature only two feet in length, which was related to those we have
just been considering, and whose skeleton has been found almost entire
in the now famous Lithographic Stone of Solenhofen in Bavaria. Of this
unique type, the Compsognathus, the skeleton of which is in many ways
so bird-like, Professor Huxley remarks, "It is impossible to look at
the conformation of this strange reptile and to doubt that it hopped,
or walked, in an erect or semi-erect position, after the manner of a
bird, to which its long neck, slight head, and small anterior limbs
must have given it an extraordinary resemblance." (See Fig. 19.)

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Skull of _Ceratosaurus nasicornis_. (After

At the head of this chapter are placed the words of Dr. Mantell,
"Fossils have been eloquently and appropriately termed _Medals of
Creation_," and the eloquent passage by which those words are followed
may be transcribed here. He goes on to say, "For as an accomplished
numismatist, even when the inscription of an ancient and unknown coin
is illegible, can from the half-obliterated effigy, and from the style
of art, determine with precision the people by whom, and the period
when, it was struck: in like manner the geologist can decipher these
natural memorials, interpret the hieroglyphics with which they are
inscribed, and from apparently the most insignificant relics trace the
history of beings of whom no other records are extant, and ascertain
the forms and habits of unknown types of organisation whose races are
swept from the face of the earth, ere the creation of man, and the
creatures which are his contemporaries. Well might the illustrious
Bergman exclaim, "_Sunt instar nummorum memoralium quæ de præteritis
globi nostri fatis testantur, ubi omnia silent monumenta historica._""

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--Skeleton of _Compsognathus longipes_. (From
the Solenhofen limestone.)]

Geology owes a deep debt of gratitude to the late Dr. Gideon A.
Mantell, who, during the intervals of a laborious professional life,
collected and described the remains of several strange extinct
reptiles, and wrote a number of works on geology, such as served in
his day to advance the science to which he was so enthusiastically

We propose to give a brief account of a wonderful group of Dinosaurs,
first introduced to the scientific world through Dr. Mantell's

The first of these monsters is the Iguanodon, the earliest known
individual of the "bird-footed" division (Ornithopoda). The history of
the gradual reconstruction of its skeleton is an instructive instance
of the results that may be obtained by a careful and patient study of
fragmentary remains. Through the labours of Dr. Mantell, in the first
half of this century, a considerable knowledge was acquired of the
greater part of the skeleton, but certain portions remained a puzzle;
these, however, were eventually explained by Professor Huxley and Mr.
Hulke, and a few years ago a series of complete skeletons were most
fortunately obtained in Belgium, so that now every part of the huge
framework of this monster is known to the palæontologist. Its history,
as a fossil, is a most interesting one, and furnishes one more example
of the marvellous insight into the nature of extinct animals displayed
by the illustrious Baron Cuvier. Let us begin with the teeth, since
they were the first part of the monster brought to light.

It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to remark that, to one thoroughly
acquainted with the structures of living animals, a tooth, or a series
of teeth, will furnish material from which important conclusions with
regard to the structure and habits of an extinct animal may be drawn.
So, also, with regard to some other parts, such as limb-bones, but
more especially the bones of which the backbone is composed (known as
vertebræ). These are very important. The veteran anatomist, Professor
Owen, has said, "If I were restricted to a single specimen on which to
deduce the nature of an extinct animal, I should choose a vertebra to
work out a reptile, and a tooth in the case of a mammal." Seven or
eight different "characters," he says, may be deduced from a reptilian
vertebra. It is, of course, impossible for any one to reconstruct an
entire animal from a single bone or a few teeth, yet such fragments
indicate in a general way the nature of a lost creation and its
position in the animal kingdom.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Tooth of Iguanodon, with the apex slightly
worn. (From the Wealden Beds of Tilgate Forest. Natural size.) 1.
Front aspect, showing the longitudinal ridges and serrated margins of
the crown. 2. View of the back, or inner surface of the tooth. _a._
Serrated margins. _b._ Apex of the crown worn by use.]

It is all the more important to give to the general reader this
warning, because an impression seems still to remain in the popular
mind that Owen could and did restore extinct types from a single bone
or a single tooth; but no anatomist would attribute to any mortal man
such superhuman power. Let us, therefore, while gratefully
acknowledging the debt we all owe to the great naturalist--who has
gone to his rest since our first edition appeared--not attribute to
him impossible things. Nor can it be denied that even he sometimes
fell into error, or drew conclusions not borne out by later
discoveries. It must also be confessed that in some respects he lagged
behind in the march of scientific progress. While on this subject we
cannot do better than quote some remarks of our friend, Mr. A. Smith
Woodward, of the Natural History Museum, in an able review of Sir
Richard's work on vertebrates.[15] He says, "Owen, in fact, was
Cuvier's direct successor, and, apart from his striking hypotheses
..., it is in this character that he has left the deepest impression
upon biological science. Extending and elaborating comparative anatomy
as understood by Cuvier, Owen concentrated his efforts on utilising
the results for the interpretation of the fossil remains--even
isolated bones and teeth--of extinct animals. He never hesitated to
deal with the most fragmentary evidence, having complete faith in the
principles established by Cuvier; and it is particularly interesting,
in the light of present knowledge, to study the long series of
successes and failures that characterise his work. However,
unwittingly, Owen may be said to have contributed most to the
demolition of the narrow Cuvierian views. When dealing with animals
closely related to those now living, his correctness of interpretation
was usually assured; when treating of more remote types, he could do
little more than guess, unless tolerably complete skeletons happened
to be at his disposal....

"In short, Owen's work on fragmentary fossils has demonstrated that
the principles of comparative anatomy are very different from those
inferred by Cuvier from his limited field of observation, and the
discoveries of Leidy, Marsh, Cope, Scott, and Osborn, in America, have
finally led to a new era that Owen only began to foresee clearly in
his later days."

[15] _Natural Science_, ii. p. 130. (Feb. 1893.)

The first specimens of teeth of the Iguanodon were found by Mrs.
Mantell, in 1822, in the coarse conglomerate of certain strata in
Tilgate Forest, belonging to the Cretaceous period (see Table of
Strata, Appendix I.). Dr. and Mrs. Mantell subsequently collected a
most interesting series of these remarkable teeth (which, for a time,
puzzled the most learned men of the day), from the perfect tooth of a
young animal, to the last stage, that of a mere long stump worn away
by mastication. In external form they bore a striking resemblance to
the grinders of herbivorous mammals, and were wholly unlike any that
had previously been known. Even the quarrymen, accustomed to collect
the remains of fishes, shells, and other objects embedded in the
rocks, had not observed fossils of this kind; and until Dr. Mantell
showed them his specimens, were not aware of the presence of such
teeth in the stone they were constantly breaking up for the roads. The
first specimen that arrested his attention was a large tooth, which,
from the worn surface of its crown, had evidently once belonged to
some herbivorous animal. In form it so entirely resembled the
corresponding part of an incisor tooth of a large pachydermatous
animal ground down by use, that Dr. Mantell was much embarrassed to
account for its presence in the ancient Wealden strata, in which,
according to all previous experience, no fossil remains of mammals
would be likely to occur. No reptiles of the present day are capable
of masticating their food; how, then, could he venture to assign it to
a reptile? Here was a puzzle to be solved, and in his perplexity he
determined to try whether the great naturalist at Paris would be able
to throw any light on the question. Through Sir Charles (then Mr.)
Lyell, this perplexing tooth was submitted to Baron Cuvier; and great
was the doctor's astonishment on hearing that it had been without
hesitation pronounced to be the upper incisor of a rhinoceros! The
same tooth, with some other specimens, had already been exhibited at a
meeting of the Geological Society, and shown to Dr. Buckland, Mr.
Conybeare, and others, but with no more satisfactory result. Worse
than that: Dr. Mantell was told that the teeth were of no particular
interest, and that, without doubt, they either belonged to some large
fish, or were the teeth of a mammal, and derived from some superficial
deposit of the "glacial drift," then called Diluvium.

There was one man, however, who foresaw the importance of Mantell's
discovery, and that was Dr. Wollaston. This distinguished philosopher,
though not a naturalist, supported the doctor's idea that the teeth
belonged to an unknown herbivorous reptile, and encouraged him to
continue his researches.

As if to add to the difficulty of solving the enigma, certain bones of
the fore limb, discovered soon after in the same quarry and forwarded
to Paris, were declared to belong to a species of hippopotamus!
Another very curious bone--of which we shall speak presently--was
declared to be the lesser horn of a rhinoceros! The famous Dr.
Buckland even went so far as to warn Dr. Mantell not to publish it
forth that these bones and teeth had been found in the Tilgate Forest
strata. To him it seemed incredible that such remains could have been
obtained from beds older than the superficial drift deposits of the
district. We must bear in mind that in those days palæontology, or the
knowledge of the world's former inhabitants, was a new science still
in its infancy, and the idea of mammals having existed so far back as
the Cretaceous period must have appeared incredible.

However, the workmen in the quarry were stimulated by suitable
rewards, and at length the doctor's efforts resulted in the discovery
of teeth which displayed the curious serrated edges, and the entire
form of the unused crown. Having forwarded specimens and drawings of
these to Paris, Dr. Mantell went to London, and ransacked all the
drawers in the Hunterian Museum that contained jaws and teeth of
reptiles, but without finding any that threw light on this subject.
Fortunately, Mr. Samuel Stuchbury, then a young man, was present, and
proposed to show him the skeleton of an Iguana, which he had himself
prepared from a specimen that had long been immersed in spirits. And
now the puzzle was in a fair way to being solved; for, to his great
delight, the doctor found that the minute teeth of that reptile bore a
closer resemblance in their general form to those from Tilgate Forest
than any others he had ever seen.

In spite of this fortunate discovery, however, others remained
obstinate and unconvinced; and it was not until he had collected a
series of specimens, exhibiting various stages of the teeth, that the
correctness of his opinion was admitted, either as to their true
interpretation, or the age of the strata in which they were imbedded.
And now there came good news from Paris. Cuvier, with the fresh
material submitted to him, had boldly renounced his previous opinion,
and gave the weight of his great authority to the view maintained by
the discoverer of these teeth. In a letter to the doctor he said that
such teeth were quite unknown to him, and that they belonged to some
reptile. He suggested that they implied the existence of a _new
animal_, a _herbivorous reptile_. Time would either confirm or
disprove the idea, and in the mean time he advised Dr. Mantell to seek
diligently for further evidence, and, if part of a jaw could be found
with teeth adhering, he believed he could solve the problem. In his
immortal work, _Ossemens Fossiles_, Cuvier generously admits his
former mistake, and said he was entirely convinced of his error.

Baron Cuvier alone amongst the doctor's friends or correspondents was
able to give any hint as to the character and probable relations of
the animal to which the recently discovered teeth belonged. Being
hampered by arduous professional duties in a provincial town, remote
from museums and libraries, Dr. Mantell transmitted to the Royal
Society figures and drawings of the specimens, and, at the suggestion
of the Rev. W. D. Conybeare, adopted the name Iguanodon (Iguana-tooth)
for the extinct reptile, a name which pointed to the resemblance of
its teeth to those of the modern iguana, a land-lizard inhabiting many
parts of America and the West Indies, and rarely met with north or
south of the tropics. These lizards are from three to five feet in
length, and perfectly harmless, feeding on insects and vegetables, and
climbing trees in quest of the tender leaves and buds, which they chip
off and swallow whole; they nestle in the hollows of rocks, and
deposit their eggs in the sands and banks of rivers.

In all living reptiles the insects or vegetables on which they feed
are seized by the tongue or teeth, and swallowed whole, so that a
movable covering to the jaws, similar to the lips and cheeks of the
mammalia, is not necessary, either for seizing and retaining food, or
for subjecting it by muscular movements to the action of the teeth. It
is the power of perfect mastication possessed by the Iguanodon that is
so strange, for it implies a most remarkable approach in extinct
reptiles to characters possessed now only by herbivorous mammalia,
such as horses, cows, deer, etc. From this and other strange
characters seen in the Dinosaurs, we learn that they in their day
played the part of our modern quadrupeds, whether carnivorous or
herbivorous, and showed a remarkable approach to the mammalian type,
which of course is a much higher one.

It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that Dr. Mantell's
contemporaries, with the exception of Cuvier, found in the teeth we
have described an awkward puzzle, and refused to believe that they
belonged to a reptile. Such a notion was at variance with all previous
experience, and we naturally form our conclusions to a large extent by
experience. Let us, then, beware lest we allow our ideas to be limited
by what after all is, as it were, only an expression of our ignorance.
The Hottentot who has never seen snow would refuse to believe that
rain can assume a solid form; and, in the same way, if we bind
ourselves down by experience, we might refuse to believe in some of
the still more wonderful dinosaurian types to be described in this
chapter, such as the Triceratops, with a pair of large horns, a skull
over six feet long, and limbs larger than those of the rhinoceros!
(see p. 117).

The strange vagaries of Dinosaurs have led Professor Marsh and other
authorities to exalt them, from their former position of a mere order
in the reptile class, to the dignity of a sub-class all to themselves;
and there is much to be said for this view. Compared with the
Marsupials, living and extinct, they show an equal diversity of
structure and variations in size from by far the largest land animals
known down to some of the smallest.[16]

[16] Bauer, after a full critical examination of the Dinosauria,
considers that one order is insufficient, and has proposed to make
three orders of them, which he names after the Iguanodon, Cetiosaurus,
and Megalosaurus.

The importance of discovering, if possible, a portion of the jaw of an
Iguanodon was fully recognised by Dr. Mantell, and, urged on by the
encouragement he had received from the illustrious Cuvier, he eagerly
sought for the required evidence. But nearly a quarter of a century
elapsed before it was forthcoming. In 1841 and 1848, however, portions
of the lower jaw, with some teeth attached, were found; and his memoir
_On the Structure of the Jaws and Teeth of the Iguanodon_ was
published by the Royal Society in 1848. For this important
communication the gold medal of the society was awarded to the author.
The second of these finds (by Captain Brickenden) confirmed in every
essential particular the inferences suggested by the detached teeth.

The first important connected series of bones of this monster was
discovered in 1834, by Mr. Bensted, in the "Kentish Rag" quarries of
the Lower Greensand formation at Maidstone. Mr. Bensted, who was the
proprietor of the quarry, one day had his attention drawn by the
workmen to what they supposed to be petrified wood in some pieces of
stone which they had been blasting. He perceived that what they
supposed to be wood was fossil bone, and, with a zeal and care which
have always characterised this estimable man (says Professor Owen) in
his endeavour to secure for science any evidence of fossil remains in
his quarry, he immediately resorted to the spot. He found that the
bore, or blast, by which these remains were brought to light had been
inserted into the centre of the specimen, so that the mass of stone
containing it had been shattered into many pieces, some of which were
blown into the adjoining fields! All these pieces he had carefully
collected, and, proceeding with equal ardour and success to the
removal of the matrix from the fossils, he succeeded, after a month's
labour, in exposing them to view, and in fitting the fragments in
their proper place. This valuable specimen was presented to Dr.
Mantell (and afterwards purchased with the rest of his collection by
the British Museum), and its present condition is the result of his
skill, as well as that of its discoverer. Certain gentlemen in
Brighton, anxious that the specimen should be placed in the hands of
the original discoverer of Iguanodon, purchased and presented it to
Dr. Mantell--a tribute of respect which was highly gratifying to him.
(Wall-case 6.)

It belonged to a young Iguanodon. This fortunate discovery was one of
those Cuvier foresaw, and has served to verify his sagacious
conjecture that some of the great bones collected by the doctor from
the Wealden strata of Sussex belonged to the same animal, and to
confirm other conclusions formed by the discoverer of the Iguanodon.
Great was Dr. Mantell's delight on finding that every bone he had
ascribed to Iguanodon solely from analogy was present in the Maidstone
specimen. One of the chief advantages of this discovery was that it
afforded demonstration of the characters of the vertebræ, which, as
previously stated, are very important to the anatomist. Of these
Professor Owen has given full descriptions, and has shown that they
differ from those of any animal previously known, whether living or

It is very interesting, in the light of recent discoveries, to read
the conclusions arrived at by Mantell and Owen, with regard to the
organisation of this great Wealden reptile, and to see how, with the
exception of certain details, they have been confirmed. Considering
the imperfect nature of the materials at their command, it is
wonderful that their forecasts should have turned out so successful.
Thus Professor Owen predicted for the Iguanodon a total length of
twenty-eight feet, and specimens discovered of late years show a
length of twenty-four feet. In some, the thigh-bone exceeded a yard in
length; this indicated an animal of great size, since in the largest
crocodiles this bone is scarcely a foot long. Again, Dr. Mantell, from
a study of the imperfect jaw-bones in his collection, concluded that
the lower jaw was invested with a well-developed fleshy flexible lip,
and that the mouth was provided with a tongue of great mobility and
power. "There are strong reasons," he says, "for supposing that the
lip was flexible, and, in conjunction with the long fleshy prehensile
tongue, constituted the instrument for seizing and cropping the leaves
and branches, which, from the construction of the molars, we may
infer, constituted the chief food of the Iguanodon. The mechanism of
the maxillary organs (jaws), as elucidated by recent discoveries, is
thus in perfect harmony with the remarkable characters which rendered
the first known teeth so enigmatical; and in the Wealden herbivorous
reptile we have a solution of the problem, how the integrity of the
type of organisation peculiar to the class of cold-blooded vertebrata
was maintained, and yet adapted, by simple modifications, to fulfil
the conditions required by the economy of a gigantic terrestrial
reptile, destined to obtain support exclusively from vegetable
substances; in like manner, as the extinct colossal herbivorous
Edentata (sloths, see Chapter XII.), which flourished in South America
ages after the country of the Iguanodon and its inhabitants had been
swept away from the face of the earth."

Dr. Mantell also was the first to prove, from the nature of the
Wealden strata, that they were deposited in or near the estuary of a
mighty river. With regard to the aspect of the country in which the
Iguanodon flourished, he showed that coniferous trees probably clothed
its Alpine regions; palms and arborescent ferns, and cycadaceous
plants (_i.e._ plants resembling the modern zamia, or "false palm"),
constituted the groves and forests of its plains and valleys; and in
its fens and marshes the equisetaceæ (mare's-tails) and plants of a
like nature prevailed.

[Illustration: Plate VII.


Length about 30 feet.]

The Iguanodons of the Wealden epoch did not live and die where their
bones are now found--the condition in which their fossil relics occur
proves that they floated down the streams and rivers, with rafts of
trees and other spoils of the land, till, arrested in their course,
they sank down and became buried in the fluviatile and sometimes
marine sediments then being slowly laid down. In this way only can we
account for the generally broken and rolled condition of the bones,
their separation from each other, the numerous specimens of teeth
which must have been detached from their sockets, and the broken stems
and branches of trees without leaves that have been found in the
Wealden strata of England.

Since the days of Dr. Mantell, the remains of Iguanodon, or closely
allied genera, have been found on the continent, in other parts of
England, and in North America, in strata of various ages, from the
Trias or New Red Sandstone to the Chalk (see Table of Strata, Appendix
I.). The American Hadrosaurus must have decidedly resembled the

The beautiful restoration by our artist (plate VII.) is based upon the
Belgian specimens described in the following chapter.


DINOSAURS (_continued_).

     "Everything in Nature is engaged in writing its own history:
     the planet and the pebble are attended by their shadows, the
     rolling rock leaves its furrows on the mountain side, the
     river its channel in the soil, the animal its bones in the
     stratum, the fern and the leaf inscribe their modest epitaphs
     on the coal, the falling drop sculptures its story on the
     sand and on the stone,--not a footstep on the snow or on the
     ground, but traces in characters more or less enduring the
     record of its progress."--Emerson.

In the year 1878 was announced one of the most fortunate discoveries
known in the whole history of geological science--a discovery unique
of its kind, and one which throws considerable light on the nature of
the monster first discovered by Dr. Mantell. In that year came the
good news that no less than twenty-three Iguanodons had been found in
the colliery of Bernissart, in Belgium, between Mons and Tournai, near
the French frontier. The coal-bearing rocks (coal-measures) of this
colliery, overlain by chalk and other deposits of later age, are
fissured in many places by deep valleys or chasms more than 218 yards
deep. Though now filled up, they must at one time have been open
gorges on an old land surface. Into one of these chasms were somehow
precipitated twenty-three Iguanodons, numbers of fish, a frog-like
animal, several species of turtles, crocodiles, and numerous ferns
similar to those described by Mantell from the Weald. It it not easy
to conjecture how this large and varied assemblage of animals came to
be collected together and entombed in this one place, but possibly
their carcases were swept by some flood into the chasm in which the
remains were discovered. They were buried in clay interstratified with
sand, a fact which was interpreted in accordance with the above

M. de Pauw, the accomplished controller of the workshops in the Royal
Museum of Natural History at Brussels, spent three whole years in
extracting this splendid series of fossils from the pit-shaft, the
bones being brought up from a depth of rather more than 350 yards. But
at the end of this time it was only the rough material that had been
got together, and every block containing bones requires a great deal
of most careful labour before the bones in it are so exposed that they
can be properly studied. Out of the twenty-three specimens, fifteen
had, in the year 1883, been chiselled out, eight remaining to be
worked at; and although five skilled workmen were then constantly at
work, progress was necessarily slow.

In 1883, that is after seven years, two huge entire skeletons had been
set up in a great glass case in the Courtyard of the Museum at
Brussels, and these exhibit with marvellous completeness the structure
of the extinct monster.[17] The work reflects the highest credit on M.
de Pauw;[18] and the director of the Bernissart Mining Company, M.
Fages, deserves the thanks of all scientific men for so liberally
aiding this important undertaking. These specimens illustrate the
conclusion, previously arrived at by Professor Huxley, that Dinosaurs,
as a group, occupy a position in the great chain of animal life
intermediate between reptiles and birds. Indeed, it is the opinion of
this great authority, and of many naturalists of the present day, that
whenever future discoveries may reveal the ancestry of birds, it will
be found that they came from Dinosaurs, or that both originated from a
common ancestor.

[17] In August, 1892, Mr. Dollo wrote, in answer to inquiries from
South Kensington, to say that five are already mounted and exhibited,
and five more are almost ready for mounting. He also stated that the
remains represent twenty-nine individuals, not twenty-three, as above.

[18] _Geological Magazine_, January, 1885.

The specimens so skilfully set up by M. de Pauw represent two
distinct species. The larger one, Iguanodon Bernissartensis, cannot be
less than fifteen feet high, and, measured from the tip of the snout
to the end of the tail, is rather over thirty feet long, covering
nearly twenty-four feet of ground in its erect position (see Fig. 21).
Iguanodon Mantelli is smaller and more slender looking, with a height
of over ten feet, and a length of about twenty feet. (See Fig. 22.)

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--Skeleton of _Iguanodon Bernissartensis_.]

[Illustration: Plate VIII.


Length about 20 feet.]

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Skull and skeleton of _Iguanodon Mantelli_.
(From Bernissart.)]

The huge three-toed impressions found in Sussex prove that the
monster, although owning a body as large as that of an elephant,
habitually walked on its hind legs! Some of the thighbones found by
Dr. Mantell measured between four and five feet in length. It will be
seen that the fore limbs are small in comparison to the hind limbs. A
remarkable feature of the hand is the large pointed bone at the end of
the thumb, forming a kind of spur. The conical shape of this bone
found by Dr. Mantell, who had no clue to its place in the skeleton,
led him to suppose that it was a horn answering to that of a
rhinoceros--a conclusion which Professor Owen refused for various
reasons to accept. The latter concluded that it belonged to the hand,
and now we see that he was right. Unfortunately, certain popular works
on geology, such as _Our Earth and its Story_ (Cassell) still continue
to spread this error, by showing a (very indifferent) restoration of
the Iguanodon with the impossible horn on its nose. It has been
suggested that the spur was a weapon of offence, and that, when
attacked, an Iguanodon may have seized its aggressor in its short
arms, and made use of the spur as a dagger. But this is only
conjecture, and perhaps the spur may have been useful in seizing and
pulling down the foliage and branches of trees, or in grubbing them up
by the roots. Detached specimens of this curious bone may be seen
among the other remains of Iguanodon at South Kensington, and also
some of the gigantic tracks already alluded to. (Gallery IV. on plan,
Wall-cases 5 and 6; and Gallery XI., Wall-case 7.)

The Bernissart specimens even afford some evidence as to the nature of
the integument, or skin, and this supports the idea previously held
that the creature possessed a smooth skin, or, at least, only slightly
roughened. The muzzle was quite toothless, and perhaps may have been
sheathed in horn, like the beak of turtles--an arrangement highly
useful for biting off the leaves of trees.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.--Tracks of _Iguanodon_, much reduced. (From
Wealden strata, Sussex.)]

Probably it passed much of its time in the water, using its immense
powerful tail as an organ of propulsion. When swimming slowly it may
have used both sets of limbs, but when going fast it probably fixed
its fore limbs closely beside its body, and drove itself through the
water by means of the long hind limbs alone. Mr. Dollo, of Brussels,
is preparing a final monograph on the Bernissart Iguanodons, a work to
which palæontologists eagerly look forward. There cannot be much doubt
that these unarmoured Dinosaurs were molested and preyed upon by
their carnivorous contemporaries, such as the fierce Megalosaurus,
previously described (p. 76). And with regard to this, Mr. Dollo makes
the suggestion that, when on land, their great height and erect
posture enabled them to descry such enemies a long way off. Their
great height must also have stood them in good stead, by enabling them
easily to reach the leaves of trees, tree-ferns, cycads, and other
forms of vegetable life, which constituted their daily food. (See
restorations, Plates VII. and VIII.)

Should the reader visit the "geological island" in the grounds of the
Crystal Palace, he will see that Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins's great model
Iguanodon there set up is by no means in accordance with the
description given above; but we must remember how imperfect was the
material at his command.

Another Dinosaur, of considerable dimensions, that flourished during
the Wealden period was the Hylæosaurus, also discovered by Dr.
Mantell, and so named by him because it came from the Weald.[19] In the
summer of 1832, upon visiting a quarry in Tilgate Forest, which had
yielded many organic remains, he perceived in some fragments of a
large mass of stone which had recently been broken up and thrown in
the roadside, traces of numerous pieces of bone. With great care he
cemented together and fixed in a stout frame, all the portions of this
block that he could find, and set to work to "develop" the block with
his chisel. This work occupied many weeks, but his labour was rewarded
by the discovery of certain new and remarkable features displayed by
this monster; for it must have presented, when alive, a formidable
array of bony plates and long sharp spines, the latter of which
probably stood in bristling array along the back and tail, and other
parts of the body. (Wall-case 4.) Of the spines no less than ten were
found in this block, varying in length from five to seventeen inches,
the largest being four inches thick. It is known that many lizards,
such as Iguanas and Cycluras, have large processes with horny
coverings, forming a kind of fringe or crest along the back, and,
judging by analogy, Dr. Mantell concluded that this gigantic saurian
was similarly armed with a row of large angular spines covered by a
thick horny investment. As weapons of offence and defence, they were
no doubt highly effective, but their precise arrangement is still a
matter of speculation.

[19] From Greek--_hule_, wood, or weald; and _sauros_, lizard.

This first specimen displayed, besides the bony scutes and spines, a
portion of the backbone, eleven ribs and portions of the pectoral
arch. A second specimen was found near Bolney, in Sussex, and was
unfortunately almost wholly destroyed by the labourers; but Dr.
Mantell was able to obtain many of the bones, such as ribs and
limb-bones, and they also indicated a reptile of great size. A third
specimen was brought to light in Tilgate Forest in 1837; but,
unfortunately, this also fell into the hands of the parish labourers,
who were unacquainted with its value. Although with due care a much
larger portion of the skeleton might have been kept, yet Dr. Mantell
was able to obtain a fine series of twenty-six vertebræ belonging to
the tail, with a total length of nearly six feet: the same spines were
present here also.

No specimen of the skull of this strange monster is known, and no
teeth that can be with certainty referred to it.

Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins's model at Sydenham, near the Iguanodon, was
based on the above discoveries, which are insufficient, and is far
from the truth.

[Illustration: Plate IX.


Length 12 feet or more.]

[Illustration: Fig. 24.--Restored skeleton of _Scelidosaurus
Harrisoni_ (after Woodward), greatly reduced, from the Lower Lias of
Charmouth, Dorset. The figure shows the large lateral dermal spines on
the shoulders, and the long lateral line of smaller spines, reaching
from the pectoral region to the extremity of the tail.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The next monster to be described is one that has fortunately left to
posterity a much better record of itself, and probably was not very
unlike the Hylæosaurus of Mantell. This is the Scelidosaurus: so named
by Professor Owen from the indications of greater power in the hind
legs than in most saurians.[20] It is the only known example of an
almost entire skeleton of an English Dinosaur, and the history of its
discovery is rather curious. Some time previous to 1861, Mr. J.
Harrison, of Charmouth, obtained from the Lower Lias of that
neighbourhood portions of the hind limb of a Dinosaur, and, later on,
a nearly complete skull. These specimens were described by Owen, and
the genus was founded on them. Mr. Harrison, whose discovery aroused
great interest, continued to search on the same spot, and was rewarded
by finding all the rest of the skeleton, except most of the neck
vertebræ. This was extracted in several blocks, and these, after
careful "development" of the bones, were fitted together so as to
exhibit the whole skeleton. This most valuable specimen can now be
seen at South Kensington in a separate glass case, and is one of the
treasures of the unrivalled gallery of fossil reptiles. The case is
placed so that both sides of the specimen can be seen (Case Y, Gallery
IV., on plan). Its length is about twelve feet; perhaps the
individual it represents was not fully grown, but, on account of the
absence of most of the neck vertebræ, it is impossible to give the
exact length. Both hind limbs are entire and well seen, but of the
fore limbs the hands are wanting. The former were provided with four
"functional" toes--that is, toes that were used,--and one
"rudimentary" or unused one. There were two big spines, one placed on
each shoulder, and a series of long plates arranged in lines along the
back and side. Plate IX. shows an attempted restoration of this
remarkable Dinosaur based upon the skeleton just described. It seems
to have been organised for a terrestrial rather than an aquatic life,
but to have been amphibious, frequenting the margins of rivers or
lakes. Professor Owen considers that the carcase of this individual
drifted down a river emptying itself in the old Liassic Sea, on the
muddy bottom of which it would settle down when the skin had been so
far decomposed as to permit the escape of gases due to decomposition.
In that case the carcase would attract large carnivorous fishes and
reptiles, such as swarmed in this old sea, so that portions of the
skin and flesh would probably be torn away before the weight of the
bones had completely buried it in mud. In this way, perhaps, the loss
of much of the external armature and of the two fore feet may be
accounted for. The hind limbs, being stronger, were better able to
resist such attacks, and they are therefore preserved. Like many other
specimens, this fossil has, in the course of ages, been subjected to
enormous pressure from overlying strata, causing compression and
dislocation or fracture.

[20] From Greek--_scelis_, limb, and _sauros_, lizard.

But there were in existence during the long Jurassic period, other and
even stranger forms of armoured Dinosaurs. One of these, only
imperfectly known at present, was the many-spined Polacanthus.[21] This
remarkable monster had the whole region of the loins and haunches
protected by a continuous sheet of bony plate armour, rising into
knobs and spines, after the fashion of the shield or carapace of
certain extinct armadillos known as Glyptodonts (see Chapter XII.). A
specimen of such a shield is to be seen in the collection at South
Kensington (Wall-case 4). It is to be hoped that, some day, further
remains of the Polacanthus will be brought to light, so that a
restoration may become possible. Dr. Mantell had already pointed out
certain analogies between Iguanodon and the huge extinct sloths of the
South American continent, that flourished in the much more recent
Pleistocene period; and this idea is now considerably strengthened by
the later discoveries of armoured Dinosaurs. These are his words: "In
fine, we have in the Iguanodon the type of the terrestrial herbivora
which, in the remote epoch of the earth's physical history termed by
geologists _the age of Reptiles_, occupied the same relative position
in the scale of being, and fulfilled the same general purposes in the
economy of nature, as the Mastodons, Mammoths, and Mylodons (extinct
sloths) of the Tertiary period, and the existing pachyderms."

[21] From Greek--_polus_, many, and _acantha_, spine.

It is, perhaps, one of the most interesting discoveries of modern
geology, that certain races of animals now extinct have in various
ways assumed some of the characteristics presented by animals much
higher in the scale of being, that flourish in the present day. It
seems as if there had been some strange law of anticipation at work,
if we may venture so to formulate the idea. It has already been shown
how the great saurians Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus presumed to put
on some of the characters of whales, and to play their _rôle_ in
nature, though they were only reptiles; how the carnivorous Dinosaurs
acquired teeth like those now possessed by lions and tigers, which
also are mammals; and now we find herbivorous Dinosaurs imitating the
Glyptodon, an armadillo that lived in South America almost down to the
human period. We shall not lose sight of this very interesting and
curious discovery, for other cases will present themselves to our view
in future chapters. The reader might ask, "If reptiles were able in
these and other ways to imitate the mammals of to-day, or of
yesterday, why should they not have been able to go a few steps
further, and actually _become_ mammals?" The Evolutionist, if
confronted with such a question, would say, that there is no evidence
of Dinosaurs turning into mammals, but that both may have branched off
at an early geological period (say the Permian) from a primitive group
of reptiles, or even of amphibians.

It must be borne in mind that, during the "age of reptiles" (Mesozoic
period), the mammalian type was but feebly represented by certain
small and humble forms, probably marsupials. As far as we know, there
were no big quadrupeds such as flourish to-day; therefore reptiles
played their part, and in so doing acquired some of their habits and
structural peculiarities. It is difficult for us, living in an age of
quadrupeds, to realise this, and to picture to ourselves reptilian
types posing as "lords of creation," or, to use a homely phrase,
"strutting in peacock's feathers."

       *       *       *       *       *

Leaving now the English herbivorous Dinosaurs, we pass on to those
still more wonderful forms discovered of late years by Professor
Marsh. The former have been treated at considerable length, first
because they are English, and, as such, the history of their discovery
possesses considerable interest; secondly, because their elucidation
reflects the highest credit on our great pioneers in this fruitful
field of research, and illustrates the manner in which great
naturalists have been able to draw most important and wonderful
conclusions (afterwards verified in most cases) from material
apparently far from promising. For example, Cuvier's prophecy of the
Iguanodon from a few teeth is a striking example of the result of
reasoning from the known to the unknown, an example which seems to us
worthy to be ranked with the discovery of Neptune by Adams and
Leverrier, or, to take a more recent case, the discovery by Mendeleef
of the Periodic Law, by means of which he has foretold the discovery
of new chemical elements.

Whatever may have been the origin of the great mammalian class, the
possibility and even probability of birds and Dinosaurs being
descended from a common ancestor is a theory for which much may be
said, and it has been adopted by many leading naturalists of the
present day, who have been convinced by Professor Huxley's clear
elucidation of the nature of the pelvic region in the group of
Dinosaurs which has been above described (the Ornithopoda, or
bird-footed group). It was Professor Huxley who first propounded this
interesting speculation, basing his belief on the many bird-like
characters presented by this strange group of extinct reptiles--the
small head and fore limbs, the long and often three-toed hollow hind
limbs, the bones of the pelvis or haunch, their habit of walking in a
semi-erect position on those limbs (as proved by their tracks), and in
some of hopping, as the little Compsognathus most probably did. And,
last but not least, the strange mixture of bird-like and reptilian
characters presented by certain most anomalous birds discovered by
Professor Marsh in American Cretaceous rocks, viz. the huge
Hesperornis and the smaller Ichthyornis. Speaking on this subject some
years ago, Professor Marsh said, "It is now generally admitted by
biologists who have made a study of vertebrates, that birds have come
down to us through the Dinosaurs, and the close affinity of the latter
with recent struthious birds (ostrich, etc.), will hardly be
questioned. The case amounts almost to a demonstration, if we compare
with Dinosaurs their contemporaries, the Mesozoic birds. The classes
of birds and reptiles, as now living, are separated by a gulf so
profound that a few years since it was cited by the opponents of
Evolution as the most important break in the animal series, and one
which that doctrine could not bridge over. Since then, as Professor
Huxley has clearly shown, this gap has been virtually filled by the
discovery of bird-like reptiles and reptilian birds. Compsognathus and
Archæopteryx of the Old World, and Ichthyornis and Hesperornis of the
New, are the stepping-stones by which the Evolutionist of to-day
leads the doubting brother across the shallow remnant of the gulf,
once thought impassable."[22]

[22] _The Introduction and Succession of Vertebrate Life in America._
An address delivered before the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, at Nashville, Tenn., August, 1877. See
_Nature_, vol. xvi.

We now pass on to describe two of the strangest and most wonderful of
all the Dinosaurs, recently discovered in the far West. The first of
these is the Stegosaurus,[23] or plated lizard, not wholly unknown
before, because part of its skeleton was found some years ago in a
brickfield in the Kimmeridge Clay at Swindon. It has been proved that
some of the bones to which the name Omosaurus[24] has been applied
really belonged to the former genus.

[23] Greek--_stegos_, roof or covering; _sauros_, lizard.

[24] Greek--_omos_, humerus, and _sauros_, lizard.

With such complete specimens now known by Professor Marsh's
descriptions, it will not be necessary to mention the meagre remains
discovered in this country, or the conclusions arrived at by Owen and
Seeley, interesting as they are.

In the year 1877 Professor Marsh described, in the _American Journal
of Science_, a considerable portion of a skeleton of a Stegosaur,
remarking that this genus proved to be one of the most remarkable
animals yet discovered. It was found on the eastern flank of the Rocky
Mountains, in strata of Jurassic age; they indicated an animal about
twenty-five feet long, and for this discovery Science is indebted to
Professor A. Lakes and Engineer H. C. Beckwith of the United States
Navy, who found the remains in Colorado, near the locality of the
gigantic Atlantosaurus. The solid limb-bones seem to point to an
aquatic life, but there can be little doubt that the monster did not
pass all its time in the water. (Fig. 25 shows the skeleton.)[25]

[25] The writer is informed that this skeleton is not yet mounted in
the Yale College Museum, but that it will be before long. Our artist
has drawn it as if set up, with a man standing by for comparison.

In 1879 Professor Marsh announced the discovery of additional remains
from several localities. The most striking feature--from which the
Stegosaur takes its name--was the presence of huge bony plates
belonging to its skin, as well as large and small spines. Some of the
plates were from two to three feet in diameter, and they were of
various shapes. Of the spines, some were of great size and power, one
pair being each over two feet long! The skull was remarkably small,
and more like that of a lizard than we find in most Dinosaurs; the
jaws were short and massive. Little was known at first of the brain,
but fortunately a later discovery showed the brain-case well
preserved. Later still, more than twenty other specimens of this
Dinosaur were obtained, so that nearly every portion of the skeleton
is now known. The skulls indicate that the creature possessed large
eyes and a considerable power of smell. The jaws contain but a single
row of teeth in actual use; but as these wore out, they were replaced
by others lodged in a cavity below. Teeth, however, were not its
strong point; they indicate a diet of soft succulent vegetation. The
vertebræ have the faces of their centra more or less bi-concave. Many
curious features in the skeleton can only be explained with reference
to the heavy armour of plates and spines with which the Stegosaur was
provided. Thus the vertebræ have their "neural spines" expanded at the
summit to aid in supporting part of the armour. (See Fig. 26.) The
fore limbs were short and massive, but provided with five fingers; the
hind limbs were very much larger and more powerful. These and the
powerful tail show that the monster could support itself on them as on
a tripod, in an upright position, and this position must have been
easily assumed in consequence of the massive hind quarters. As in
Iguanodon, there were three toes to the hind feet, and these were
probably covered by strong hoofs. The fore limbs could move freely in
various directions like a human arm, and were probably used in
self-defence. (See Fig. 27.) But for this purpose the tail with its
four pairs of huge spines would be very effective, and one could
easily imagine that a single deadly blow from such a tail would be
sufficient to drive away, if not to kill, one of the carnivorous
enemies of the species. All the plates and spines were, during life,
protected by a thick horny covering, which must have increased their
size and weight. Such a covering seems to be clearly indicated by
certain grooves and impressions that mark their surfaces. (See Fig.
28.) The largest plates are unsymmetrical, and were probably arranged
along the back, as in our restoration, Plate IX. It will be noticed,
by those who are familiar with our first edition that Plate X. gives a
somewhat different representation of the Stegosaur, in which the
length of the hind limbs is more apparent, and also they are more free
from the body.

[Illustration: Fig. 25--Skeleton of _Stegosaurus ungulatus_; length
about 25 feet. (After Marsh.)]

[Illustration: Plate X.


Length about 30 feet.]

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--Tail vertebræ of _Stegosaurus_. (After

1. Side view. 2. Front view.]

Finally, the Stegosaur displays a rather remarkable feature; for a
very large chamber was found in the sacrum[26] formed by an enlargement
of the spinal cord. The chamber strongly resembled the brain-case in
the skull, but was about ten times as large! So this anomalous
monster had two sets of brains, one in its skull, and the other in the
region of its haunches! and the latter, in directing the movements of
the huge hind limbs and tail, did a large share of the work. The
subject is a highly suggestive one, but at present requires further

[26] The sacrum may be thus defined: the Vertebræ (usually fused
together) which unite with the haunch-bones (_ilia_) to form the

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--Limb-bones of _Stegosaurus_. (After Marsh.)

1. Fore leg. 2. Hind leg.]

On the walls of the fossil reptile gallery at South Kensington the
reader will find a large framed drawing of the skeleton of
Stegosaurus, kindly sent by Professor Marsh, whose forthcoming
monograph will be welcomed by all palæontologists.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.--1, 2. Plates of Stegosaurus. The middle
figures show their thickness. (After Marsh.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 29.-Head of _Triceratops_, seen from above. (After

The last, and in some ways the strangest of the Dinosaurs, was the
Triceratops[27] that flourished in America at the end of the long
Mesozoic era, during the Cretaceous period. The name refers to the
three horn-cores found on the skull, which probably supported true
horns like those of oxen. Whereas the Stegosaur was provided with
quite a small skull, this monster had one of huge dimensions and
remarkable shape (see Figs. 29 and 30).[28] In the younger ones it was
about six feet long, but in an old individual must have reached a
length of seven or eight feet. Such a skull is only surpassed by some
whales of the present day. Twenty different skulls of this kind have
been found, and Professor Marsh places the horned Dinosaurs in a
separate family, to which he has given the name Ceratopsidæ, or
horn-faced. Their remains come from the Laramie beds, believed to be
of Cretaceous age, but representing a remarkably mixed fauna and
flora, so that some have considered them to be Tertiary. The strata
containing these fossils are very rich in organic remains, and have
yielded not only other Dinosaurs, but Plesiosaurs, crocodiles,
turtles, many small reptiles, a few birds, fishes, and small mammals.
The Ceratops beds are of fresh-water or brackish origin, and can now
be traced for nearly eight hundred miles along the east flank of the
Rocky Mountains.

[27] Greek--_treis_, three; _ceras_, horn; _ops_, face.

[28] This skeleton has not yet been set up in the Yale College Museum,
but will be before long. Our artist has drawn it as if set up, with a
man standing by for comparison. In an article in _The Californian
Illustrated Magazine_ for April, 1892 (quoted in the _Review of
Reviews_ for May), an American writer incorrectly describes this
monster as "higher than Jumbo, and longer than two Jumbos placed in a
row." But the article is altogether untrustworthy, and the two
"restorations" are absurd.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.--Skeleton of _Triceratops prorsus_; length
about 25 feet. (After Marsh.)]

In this Dinosaur we find the fore feet larger than usual in proportion
to the hind limbs, and there can be no doubt that it walked on all
fours. Its length was about twenty-five feet. All the vertebræ and
limb-bones are solid. The brain was smaller in proportion to the skull
than in any known vertebrate.

The teeth are remarkable in having two distinct roots. The wedge-like
form of the skull is also very peculiar. The two large horns come
immediately over the eyes, and the small one above the nose; this
Dinosaur was, therefore, well provided with weapons of offence, such
as would be highly useful in driving away or wounding carnivorous
enemies. The back part of the skull rises up into a kind of huge
crest, and this during life was protected by a special fringe of bony
plates. Such an arrangement doubtless formed an effective shield to
ward off blows when one Triceratops was fighting another, as bulls or
buffaloes of the present day fight with their horns. The mouths of
these Dinosaurs formed a kind of beak, sheathed in horn.

The body as well as the skull was protected, but the nature and
position of the defensive parts in different forms cannot yet be
determined with certainty. Various spines, bones, and plates have been
found that evidently were meant for the protection of the creature's
body, and belonged to the skin. Probably some of these were placed on
the back, behind the crest of the skull; some may have defended the
throat, as in Stegosaurus. Altogether, Triceratops is very different
to any other Dinosaur. One cannot help picturing it rather as a fierce
rhinoceros-like animal. In the restoration (Plate XI., Frontispiece)
our artist has given it a thick skin, rather like that of the
rhinoceros, only indicating small bony plates, etc., here and there.

Professor Marsh thinks that as the head increased in size to bear its
armour of bony plates, the neck first, then the fore feet, and then
the whole skeleton was specially modified to support it; and he
concludes that as these changes took place in the course of the
evolution of this wonderful Dinosaur, the head at last became so large
and heavy that it must have been too much for the body to bear, and so
have led to its destruction! This conclusion, if sound, is a warning
against carrying "specialisation" too far. If we wished to write an
epitaph on the tomb of the monster, it ought (according to Professor
Marsh) to be, "I and my race died of over-specialisation."

[Illustration: Fig. 31.--Bony spines belonging to the skin of
_Triceratops_. (After Marsh.)]

After all these various efforts to improve themselves and to perfect
their organisation so as to bring it into harmony with their
surroundings, or "environment," as the biologists say, it seems rather
hard that the Dinosaurs should have been extinguished, and their place
in Nature taken by a higher type; but all things have their day, even

With regard to the difficulties, hardships, and dangers attending the
discovery and transport of the remains, Professor Marsh's concluding
remarks may be quoted here, since they give us a glimpse into the
nature of his explorations in the far West that have now become so
famous. He says, "In conclusion, let me say a word as to how the
discoveries here recorded have been accomplished. The main credit for
the work justly belongs to my able assistant, Mr. J. B. Hatcher, who
has done so much to bring to light the ancient life of the Rocky
Mountain regions. I can only claim to have shared a few of the dangers
and hardships with him, but without his skill little would have been
accomplished. If you will bear in mind that two of the skulls weighed
nearly two tons each, when partially freed from their matrix and ready
for shipment, in a deep desert cañon, fifty miles from a railway, you
will appreciate one of the mechanical difficulties overcome. When I
add that some of the most interesting discoveries were made in the
hunting-grounds of the hostile Sioux Indians, who regard such
explorations with superstitious dread, you will understand another
phase of the problem. I might speak of even greater difficulties and
dangers, but the results attained repay all past efforts, and I hope
at no distant day to have something more of interest to lay before

[29] _American Journal of Science_, vol. xli. p. 176.



"Geology does better in reclothing dry bones and revealing lost
creations than in tracing veins of lead or beds of iron."--Ruskin.

The great Ocean of Air was not uninhabited during the long ages of the
Mesozoic era, when fishes swarmed in the seas, and reptiles, such as
we have attempted to describe in the last five chapters, trod the
earth, or swam across lakes and rivers. With such an exuberance of
life in various forms, it would indeed have been strange if the
atmosphere had only been tenanted by humble little insects like
dragon-flies, locusts, or butterflies and moths, all of which we know
were living then.

Now, the record of the rocks tells us that one great order of reptiles
somehow acquired the power of flying, and flitted about as bats or
flying-foxes do now. Since they were undoubtedly reptiles--in spite of
certain resemblances to birds--we have ventured to call them "flying
dragons," as others have done. The notion of a flying reptile may
perhaps seem strange, or even impossible to some persons; but no one
has a right to say such and such a thing "cannot be," or is "contrary
to Nature," for the world is full of wonderful things such as we
should have considered impossible had we not seen them with our eyes.
Charles Kingsley, in his delightful fairy tale, _The Water-Babies_,
makes some humorous remarks on that matter, which we may quote here.
He says, "Did not learned men too hold, till within the last
twenty-five years, that a flying dragon was an impossible monster?
And do we not now know that there are hundreds of them found fossil up
and down the world? People call them Pterodactyls; but that is only
because they are ashamed to call them flying dragons, after denying so
long that flying dragons could exist."

The illustrious Cuvier observes that it was not merely in magnitude
that reptiles stood pre-eminent in ancient days, but they were
distinguished by forms more varied and extraordinary than any that are
now known to exist on the face of the earth. Among these extinct
beings of ages incalculably remote, are the Pterodactyls,[30] or
"wing-fingered" creatures, which had the power of flight, not by a
membrane stretched over elongated fingers as in bats, nor by a wing
without distinct or complete fingers, as in birds, but by a membrane
supported chiefly by a greatly extended little finger, the other
fingers being short and armed with claws.

[30] From the Greek--_pteron_, wing, and _dactylos_, finger.

The only reptile now existing which has any power of sustaining itself
in the air is the little _Draco Volans_, or "flying lizard," so
called; but this can scarcely be regarded as a flying animal. Its
hinder pair of ribs, however, are prolonged to such an extent that
they support a broad expansion of the skin, so spread out from side to
side as to perform the office of a parachute, thus enabling the
creature to spring from tree to tree by means of extended leaps; and
this it does with wonderful activity.

Many forms of Pterodactyl are known. Some were not larger than a
sparrow; others about the size of a woodcock; yet others much larger,
the largest of all having a spread of wing (or rather of the flying
membranes) of twenty-five feet! It has been concluded that they could
perch on trees, hang against perpendicular surfaces, such as the edge
of a cliff, stand firmly on the ground, and probably crawl on all
fours with wings folded. It may be well at once to point out that the
Pterodactyl had no _true_ wings like those of a bird, but a thin
membrane similar to that of a bat, only differently supported; so it
must be understood that, when we use the word "wing," it is not in
the scientific sense that we are using it, but in the popular sense,
just as we might speak of the wing of a bat, although the bat has no
true wing. Figs. 32, 33, 34, and 35 will give the reader some idea of
the various forms presented by the skeletons of Pterodactyls, or, as
some authorities call them, Pterosaurians (winged lizards). Great
differences of opinion have existed among palæontologists as to
whether they are more reptilian than bird-like, or even mammalian.

More than a hundred years ago, in 1784, Collini, who was Director of
the Elector-Palatine Museum at Mannheim, described a skeleton which he
regarded as that of an unknown marine animal. It was a long-billed
Pterodactyl from the famous lithographic stone of Solenhofen in
Bavaria. The specimen was figured in the _Memoirs of the Palatine
Academy_. Collini was able from this specimen to make out the head,
neck, small tail, left leg, and two arms; but beyond that, he was at a
loss. His conclusion was that the skeleton belonged neither to a bat
nor to a bird, and he inquired whether it might not be an amphibian.

In 1809 this specimen came into Cuvier's hands, who at once perceived
that it belonged to a reptile that could fly, and it was he who
proposed the name Pterodactyl. Until the oracle at Paris was
consulted, the greatest uncertainty prevailed, one naturalist
regarding it as a bird, another as a bat. Cuvier, with his penetrating
eye and patient investigation, combated these theories, supported
though they were by weighty authorities. The principal key by means of
which he solved the problem, and detected the saurian relationship of
the Pterodactyl, seems to have been a certain bone belonging to the
skull, known as the quadrate bone. In his great work, _Ossemens
Fossiles_, he says, "Behold an animal which, in its osteology, from
its teeth to the end of its claws, offers all the characters of the
saurians.... But it was, at the same time, an animal provided with the
means of flight--which, when stationary, could not have made much use
of its anterior extremities, even if it did not keep them always
folded as birds keep their wings, which nevertheless might use its
small anterior fingers to suspend itself from the branches of trees,
but when at rest must have been ordinarily on its hind feet, like the
birds again; and also, like them, must have carried its neck sub-erect
and curved backwards, so that its enormous head should not interrupt
its equilibrium."

Pterodactylus macronyx, or, as it is now called, Dimorphodon macronyx
(Fig. 32), was about the size of a raven. It was discovered in 1828 by
the late Miss Mary Anning, the well-known collector of fossils from
the Liassic rocks that form the cliffs alone: the coast of
Dorsetshire, near Lyme-Regis. This important specimen was figured and
described by Dr. Buckland, in the _Transactions of the Geological
Society_. He suggested the specific name macronyx on account of the
great length of the claws.

[Illustration: Fig. 32--Skeleton of _Dimorphodon macronyx_. (After

This authority pointed out an unusual provision for giving support and
power of movement to the large head at the extremity of a rather long
neck, namely, the occurrence of fine long tendons running parallel to
the neck-vertebræ. This does not occur in any modern lizards, whose
necks are short, and require no such aid to support the head. They are
a compensation for weakness that would otherwise arise from the
elongation of the neck, supporting, as it did, such a large head. The
neck-vertebræ in this species are large and strong, and capable of
great flexibility forwards and backwards, so that the creature, by
bending its neck during flight into the shape of an S, could throw its
head back towards the centre of gravity. The restoration of the
skeleton seen in the figure is by Professor Owen. It is probable that
this Pterodactyl could walk on the ground with its wings folded, and
perhaps it was also capable of perching on trees, by clinging on to
their branches with its feet and toes. When the flying membrane was
stretched out it must, on account of the long tail to which it was
also attached, have presented a triangular shape, somewhat like a
boy's kite.

[Illustration: Fig. 33.--Skeleton of _Scaphognathus crassirostris_.
1/3 natural size.]

Another genus, also from the lithographic slate of Bavaria, namely,
Scaphognathus crassirostris (so called on account of its large beak
and jaws), had a very short tail, and its skeleton looks somewhat
clumsy for a creature adapted to fly through the air (Fig. 33).

Pterodactylus spectabilis, from the same strata, also possessed a very
short tail, but has a more elegant and bird-like skull. This pretty
little flying dragon was only about as large as a sparrow (see Fig.
34). Its neck is comparatively short, with but few joints. The long
slender beak was probably sheathed in horn, and the skull in several
ways approaches that of a bird. Since there are no teeth in the jaws,
we may suppose that it devoured dragon-flies or other insects, such as
we know were in existence during the period when the lithographic
stone of Bavaria was being deposited. Those forms that were provided
with teeth probably devoured such fishes as they could catch by
swooping down upon the surface of the water.

[Illustration: Fig. 34.--Skeleton of _Pterodactylus spectabilis_.]

Cuvier thought, from the magnitude of their eyes, that Pterodactyls
were of nocturnal habits. "With flocks of such creatures flying in the
air, and shoals of no less monstrous Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri
swarming in the ocean, and gigantic crocodiles and tortoises crawling
on the shores of the primæval lakes and rivers--air, sea, and land
must have been strangely tenanted in these early periods of our infant

[31] Buckland, _Bridgewater Treatise_.

It was thought at one time that Birds differed from Pterodactyls in
the absence of teeth; but this only holds good for modern birds. If we
go back to the Mesozoic age, we find that birds at that time did
possess teeth. The oldest known bird, the Archæopteryx, had teeth in
its jaws, and presents some very striking points of resemblance to
reptiles. But if we compare the skeleton of a Pterodactyl (such as the
P. spectabilis, now under consideration) with that of a bird, we shall
see in its fore limbs certain very obvious differences. A bird never
has more than three fingers in its hand or wing (viz. the thumb and
next two digits), and the bones that support these fingers,
corresponding to the bones in the palm of a human hand, are joined
together. Neither of the bones corresponding to our fingers are much
elongated, and of these the longest is that which corresponds to the
thumb. But, on referring to the skeleton of our Pterodactyl, we find
that it has four fingers, three of which are fairly developed and
furnished with claws, while the outermost one is enormously elongated.
This is believed to correspond to the little finger of the human hand,
while the thumb seems to be represented by a small bone seen at the
wrist. It was this long outside finger that chiefly served to support
the flying membrane of the Pterodactyl. For this and other reasons, we
are forbidden to look upon these creatures as relatives of birds.
Again, all birds that can fly possess a "merrythought," or furculum;
and such is not found in the Pterodactyl.

As we have already remarked, some authorities, when these creatures
were first brought to light, considered them to be mammals, as bats
are. But equally conclusive arguments may be brought forward against
that view. All mammals have the skull jointed to the backbone by two
articulations, known as "condyles," whereas Pterodactyls have only
one--in that respect resembling reptiles and birds.

Also there are important differences in the structure of their jaws,
showing that they are constructed on the reptilian plan, and not on
that of the mammal.

In order to give rapid movement to their wings during flight, they had
powerful muscles in the region of the chest. These were attached to a
shield-like breast-bone provided with a keel--as in birds. But this
bird-like feature is only a necessary provision to enable them to fly,
and does not point to any relationship.

[Illustration: Fig. 35.--Skeleton of _Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus_, with
delicate impressions of the flying membranes. (After Marsh.)]

In the year 1873 was discovered, in the lithographic stone of Bavaria,
at Eichstädt, a very beautiful new form of Pterodactyl. This was the
Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus. The specimen is in a remarkable state of
preservation; for the bones of the skeleton are nearly all in
position, while those of both wings show very perfect impressions of
the membranes attached to them. Its long tail supported another small
leaf-like membrane, which was evidently used as a rudder in flight
(see Fig. 35). The discovery of this valuable specimen attracted much
attention at the time. It was bought, by telegram, for Professor
Marsh, and so secured for the Yale College Museum; but a cast may be
seen at South Kensington (Wall-case, No. 1, Gallery IV. on plan).

Any one who looks carefully at the beautiful impressions of the wings
of this specimen can see that they must have been produced by a thin
smooth membrane, very similar to that of bats. When this elegant
little creature was covered up by the fine soft mud that now forms the
lithographic stone, its wings were partly folded, so that the
membranes were more or less contracted into folds, like an umbrella
only partly open. These appear to have been attached all along the arm
and to the end of the long finger. They then made a graceful curve
backward to the hind foot, and probably were continued beyond the
latter so as to join the tail. With its graceful pointed wings and
long tail, this little flying saurian must have been a beautiful
object, as it slowly mounted upwards from some cliff overlooking the
Jurassic seas. (See Plate XII.)

Like those already described, it was provided with four short-clawed
fingers, as well as the one which mainly supported its wing. Some of
the Continental museums contain good collections of fossil
Pterodactyls; but the largest collection in the world is that of Yale
College, where Professor Marsh declares there are the remains of six
hundred individuals from the American Cretaceous rocks alone!

[Illustration: Fig. 36.--Skull of _Pteranodon_. 1. Side view. 2. Top
view. (After Marsh.)]

Some of the fragmentary remains from our Cambridge Greensand formation
indicate Pterodactyls of enormous size. Thus the neck-vertebræ of one
species measure two inches in length, while portions of arm-bones are
three inches broad. It is probable that the creatures to which these
bones once belonged measured eighteen or twenty feet from tip to tip
of the wings. Other also fragmentary remains from the chalk of Kent
testify to the existence of Pterodactyls during that period fully
equal in size.

But the largest Pterodactyls hail, like so many other big things, from
America. Professor Marsh tells us of monsters in his famous collection
with a spread of wings of twenty to twenty-five feet! These large
forms had no teeth in their jaws, and their skulls are of a peculiar
form. The long-pointed jaws were probably sheathed in horn during
life, as in birds (see Fig. 36). According to Marsh, these toothless
forms (which he calls Pteranodonts) were mostly of gigantic size. With
regard to their food it is almost vain to speculate; but if they _did_
prey upon fishes, they must have had a capacious mouth and gullet, and
must have swallowed their prey whole, after the fashion of pelicans.
But we doubt if they had the peculiar pouch possessed by those birds.
In the absence of more complete accounts of the large forms the artist
has only attempted to restore the small ones. (See Plate XII., showing
four different kinds.)

[Illustration: Plate XII.


             _Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus._

_Pterodactylus crassirostris. Dimorphodon macronyx._

             _Pterodactylus spectabilis._]

Whether Pterodactyls were cold-blooded or warm-blooded is a question
on which the authorities are not agreed. Professor Owen argued from
the absence of feathers that they could not have been warm-blooded.
But, in spite of this great authority, who has defended his opinion
somewhat strongly, there are others who argue that the amount of work
involved in sustaining a Pterodactyl in the air make it highly
probable that it was warm-blooded. The absence of feathers to retain
the heat of the body need not be regarded as conclusive, for bats are
warm-blooded animals, and in their case the heat of the body is
retained by a slight downy covering to the skin. Such a covering may
have protected the bodies of Pterodactyls, and we could not expect to
see any trace of it in the Bavarian specimen of Rhamphorhynchus
referred to above. An important fact bearing on this question is the
discovery of perforations in the bones of these animals very similar
to those seen in birds. Now, birds have a wonderful system of
respiration, or breathing. The air they breathe passes, not into their
lungs only, but penetrates to the remotest parts of their system,
filling their very bones with life, and endowing them with activity
and animation adapted to their active aërial existence. It may,
therefore, be argued that Pterodactyls breathed much in the same way;
that their bones, too, were supplied with air by an elaborate system
of air-sacs, and that they had lungs like those of birds. We cannot,
however, stop there, but are led on by physiological reasoning to
conclude that the circulation of the blood must have been rapid, and
that the heart was like that of birds and mammals, four-celled. It
would therefore follow--since birds and mammals are warm-blooded--that
Pterodactyls were also. Such, at least, is the view of Professor H. G.
Seeley, who says of the Cambridge specimens, "That they lived
exclusively upon land and in air is improbable, considering the
circumstances under which their remains are found. It is likely that
they haunted the sea-shores, and, while sometimes rowing themselves
over the water with their powerful wings, used the wing-membranes, as
the bat does, to enclose their prey, and bring it to the mouth.

"The large Cambridge Pterodactyls probably pursued a more substantial
prey than dragon-flies. Their teeth are well suited for fish, but
probably fowl and small mammals, and even fruits, made a variety in
their food. As lord of the cliff, it may be presumed to have taken
toll of all animals that could be conquered with tooth and nail. From
its brain it might be regarded as an intelligent animal. The jaws
present indications of having been sheathed with a horny covering."

Probably the large Pterodactyls of the Cretaceous period, soaring like
albatrosses and giant petrels over the surface of the ocean,
co-operated with the marine reptiles, such as Ichthyosaurs,
Plesiosaurs, crocodiles, and others, as those sea-birds now do with
the whales, porpoises, and dolphins, in reducing the excessive numbers
of the teeming tribes of fishes, and in maintaining the balance of
oceanic life.

With regard to the place of Pterodactyls in the animal kingdom,
Professor Seeley places them as a distinct sub-class, side by side
with birds, and between mammals and reptiles, thus--

             t A
             h v
             o e
             s s

The name Ornithosauria (bird-lizards) is frequently used instead of
the other name, because it expresses the idea of their being partly
saurian, and partly bird-like.

They flourished from the period of the Lias to that of the Chalk; and
then, like so many other strange forms, seem to have suddenly



    "Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep,
    Where the winds are all asleep;
    Where the spent lights quiver and gleam,
    Where the salt weed sways in the stream;
    Where the sea-beasts, ranged all round,
    Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground;
    Where the sea-snakes coil and twine,
    Dry their mail, and bask in the brine."

    _The Forsaken Merman._

It has been said that everything on earth has its double in the water.
Are there not water-beetles, water-scorpions, water-rats,
water-snakes, sea-lions, sea-horses, and a host of other living
things, whether plants or animals, bearing some sort of resemblance to
others that live on land? Then why not sea-serpents? The great
controversy of the sea-serpent, that has so often been discussed in
the newspapers, need not be considered here. We are dealing not with
the present, but with the past; and whether or no the wonderful
sailors' yarns of sea-serpents can be regarded as authentic, even in a
single case, we can offer our readers infallible proof that, during
the so-called "Age of Reptiles," certain monstrous saurian animals
flourished in considerable abundance, which, though not true serpents,
nevertheless must have borne a striking resemblance to such, as they
cleaved he waters of primæval seas.[32]

[32] See an interesting little work, entitled, _Sea-Monsters
Unmasked_, by H. Lee (Clowes and Sons). Appendix II. contains some
extracts therefrom.

The modern evolutionist believes that snakes are descended from
lizards, possessing, as usual, four legs; that some primitive form of
lizard with very small legs appeared on the scene, and found that it
could better move along by wriggling its body and pushing with its
ribs than by walking. So, in course of time, a race of lizards without
legs arose; these, by Natural Selection, and perhaps other means,
became more and more elongated, so that they could move faster than
their ancestors, and glide out of harm's way more effectually. Thus
was the snake evolved from a lizard.

Now, in the great geological museum of the stratified rocks, there
have been discovered skeletons of marine reptiles, which propelled
themselves chiefly by means of their tails and elongated bodies,
rather than by their limbs. The limbs were not discarded entirely as
in the case of the serpents, but were useful in their way as the fins
of fishes are. Perhaps, therefore, we may be justified in calling
these ancient monsters sea-serpents, in consideration of their long
thin bodies; for they certainly would be called by that name if now

Strictly speaking, they were not serpents, but more or less like some
of the extinct saurians described in chap. iv. The name, however, has
been adopted by geologists, and is useful in so far as it serves to
remind us of their very peculiar shape and structure. Remains of these
strange creatures have been found both in Europe and America.

One of the earliest discoveries of remains of a fossil sea-serpent was
made by M. Hoffman, a Dutch military surgeon, in the year 1770.
Maestricht, a city in the interior of the Netherlands, situated in the
valley of the Meuse, stands on certain strata of limestone and
sandstone, belonging to the Upper Chalk. Extensive quarries have, for
many centuries, been worked in the sandstone, especially in the
eminence called St. Peter's Mount, which is a cape or headland between
the Meuse and the Jaar. This elevated plateau extends for some
distance towards Liége, and presents an almost perpendicular cliff
towards the Meuse. From the extensive works that have so long been
carried on, immense quantities of stone have been removed, and the
centre of the mountain is traversed by galleries, and hollowed by vast
excavations. Innumerable fossils, such as marine shells, corals,
crustaceans, bones and teeth of fishes, have been obtained from this
rock. But St. Peter's Mount is now chiefly celebrated for the
discovery of the bones and teeth of a huge saurian, to which Mr.
Conybeare has given the name Mosasaurus, on account of its connection
with the river Meuse. M. Hoffman had long been an assiduous collector
of fossils from this neighbourhood, and he had the good fortune to
obtain the famous specimen on which this genus is founded.

It was at first considered, by M. Faujas St. Fond, to be a crocodile;
but Cuvier and Camper formed a different and better conclusion.
Perhaps no fossil ever had such a remarkable history as this one, as
the following account, from M. Faujas St. Fond's work on the fossils
of St. Peter's Mount,[33] will show.

[33] _Histoire Naturelle de la Montagne de St. Pierre._ This account
is given by Dr. Mantell, in his _Petrifactions and their Teaching_,

"Some workmen, on blasting the rock in one of the caverns of the
interior of the mountain, perceived, to their astonishment, the jaws
of a large animal attached to the roof of the chasm. The discovery was
immediately made known to M. Hoffman, who repaired to the spot, and
for weeks presided over the arduous task of separating the mass of
stone containing these remains from the surrounding rock. His labours
were rewarded by the successful extrication of the specimen, which he
conveyed in triumph to his house. This extraordinary discovery,
however, soon became the subject of general conversation, and excited
so much interest, that the canon of the cathedral which stands on the
mountain resolved to claim the fossil, in right of being lord of the
manor; and succeeded, after a long and harassing lawsuit, in obtaining
this precious relic. It remained for years in his possession, and
Hoffman died without regaining his treasure, or receiving any
compensation. At length the French Revolution broke out, and the
armies of the Republic advanced to the gates of Maestricht. The town
was bombarded; but, at the suggestion of the committee of savans who
accompanied the French troops to select their share of the plunder,
the artillery was not suffered to play on that part of the city in
which the celebrated fossil was known to be preserved. In the mean
time, the Canon of St. Peter's, shrewdly suspecting the reason why
such peculiar favour was shown to his residence, removed the specimen,
and concealed it in a vault; but when the city was taken, the French
authorities compelled him to give up his ill-gotten prize, which was
immediately transmitted to the Jardin des Plantes, at Paris, where it
still forms one of the most striking objects in that magnificent

Dr. Mantell quotes the Frenchman's remark on this transaction: "_La
Justice, quoique tardive, arrive enfin avec le temps_:" but adds, "The
reader will probably think that, although the reverend canon was
justly despoiled of his ill-gotten treasure, the French commissioners
were but very equivocal representatives of _Justice_!"

The beautiful cast (Fig. 37) at South Kensington (Fossil Reptile
Gallery, Wall-case 8) was presented to Dr. Mantell by Baron Cuvier in
1825. It consists of both jaws, with numerous teeth, and some other
parts (see Fig. 38). The length is about four and a half feet. This
nearly perfect head was for a time a stumbling-block to many
naturalists, some of whom were of opinion that it belonged to a whale.
Cuvier and others considered it to be a kind of link between the
Iguanas and the Monitors.[34]

[34] The Monitors are a family of large lizards inhabiting the warmer
parts of Africa and Asia. They live near the banks of rivers, and some
are altogether aquatic. They often devour the eggs of crocodiles and
aquatic birds. The Nile Monitor, or Varanus, grows to a length of six

[Illustration: Fig. 37.--Skull of _Mosasaurus Hoffmanni_. The original
is 4-1/2 ft. by 2-1/2 ft.]

[Illustration: Fig. 38.--Teeth of Mosasaurus (half natural size). 1^a,
2^a, transverse sections of the teeth.]

The entire backbone of the Maestricht animal appears to have consisted
of one hundred and thirty-one vertebræ, of which ninety-seven belonged
to the tail. The total length of the skeleton is estimated at
twenty-four feet, and the head was about one-sixth of the total
length. The tail is only ten feet long, whereas in a crocodile the
tail exceeds the length of the body. Although in his day the limbs of
the Mosasaurus were imperfectly known, Cuvier rightly considered them
to be adapted for swimming, and, with his usual foresight, concluded
that this monster was a marine reptile of great strength and activity,
having a large tail flattened vertically and capable of being moved
from side to side with such force and rapidity as to be a powerful
organ of propulsion, capable of stemming the most agitated waters. The
large conical recurved teeth, the largest of which was nearly three
inches long, are well seen in Figs. 37 and 38. Dr. Mantell was
fortunate enough to find, in the year 1820, some vertebræ from the
English Chalk near Lewes, which were identified as belonging to a

In 1831 a portion of a lower jaw with large conical teeth was
discovered in the Chalk near Norwich. But these teeth were not quite
similar to those of the Maestricht specimen, and Professor Owen
therefore founded upon them the new genus Leiodon.[35] But Leiodon must
have been very similar to Mosasaurus.

[35] Greek--_leios_, smooth, and _odous_, tooth.

[Illustration: Fig. 39.--Lower tooth of _Leiodon_. 1. Side view. 2.

Of late years many fine specimens have been discovered in North
America, and the labours of Leidy, Marsh, and Cope have been of the
greatest service in completing our knowledge of this strange group of
saurians. In the American Cretaceous seas they ruled supreme, as their
numbers, size, and carnivorous habits enabled them easily to vanquish
all rivals. Probably some of them were seventy-five feet in length,
the smallest being ten or twelve feet long. In the inland Cretaceous
sea from which the Rocky Mountains were beginning to emerge, these
ancient sea-serpents abounded; and many were entombed in its muddy
deposits. On one occasion, as Professor Marsh rode through a valley
washed out of this old ocean bed, he observed no less than seven
different skeletons of these monsters in sight at once! The same
authority mentions that the Museum of Yale College contains remains of
not less than 1400 distinct individuals. In some of these the skeleton
is nearly if not quite complete; so that every part of its structure
can be determined with almost absolute certainty.

According to Professor Cope of Pennsylvania University, who has made a
special study of this group of extinct saurians, fifty-one species
have been discovered in North America, in the States of New Jersey,
Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Nebraska. The same
authority has shown that they were characterised by a wonderful
elongation of form, especially of the tail; that their heads were
large, flat, and conical in shape, with eyes directed partly upward;
that they were furnished with two pairs of paddles like the flippers
of a whale. With these flippers, and the eel-like strokes of their
flattened tail, they swam with considerable speed. Like snakes, they
were furnished with four rows of formidable teeth on the roof of the
mouth, which served admirably for seizing their prey.

But the most remarkable feature in these creatures was the arrangement
for permitting them to swallow their prey whole, in the manner of
snakes. Thus each half of the lower jaw was articulated at a point
nearly midway between the ear and the chin, so as to greatly widen the
space between the jaws, and Professor Cope thinks that the throat
must consequently have been loose and baggy.

Professor Cope, however, in giving the name Pythonomorpha to this
ancient group, has pressed his views too far, and dwelt unduly on
their supposed relationship with serpents. Other authorities regard
them as essentially swimming lizards, with four well-developed
paddles; and this is probably the right view to take of them.

The following graphic account of the region where Professor Cope has
discovered the skeletons of many sea-serpents, and of their habits and
aspect when alive, is taken from his well-known work on the Cretaceous
Vertebrata of the West.[36] After describing this region as a vast
level tract between the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains, he says, "If
the explorer searches the bottoms of the rain-washes and ravines, he
will doubtless come upon the fragment of a tooth or jaw, and will
generally find a line of such pieces leading to an elevated position
on the bank or bluff, where lies the skeleton of some monster of the
ancient sea. He may find the vertebral column running far into the
limestone that locks him in his last prison; or a paddle extended on
the slope, as though entreating aid; or a pair of jaws lined with
horrid teeth, which grin despair on enemies they are helpless to
resist; or he may find a conic mound, on whose apex glisten in the sun
the bleached bones of one whose last office has been to preserve from
destruction the friendly soil on which he reposed. Sometimes a pile of
huge remains will be discovered, which the dissolution of the rock has
deposited on the lower level; the force of rain and wash having been
insufficient to carry them away."

[36] _Report of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey
of the Territories_, vol. ii., 1875 (_Cretaceous Vertebrata_).

[Illustration: Plate XIII.


    Fishes, _Portheus_.      _Elasmosaurus._ Length 50 feet.
    _Beryx._                 _Clidastes._ Length 40 feet.
    _Osmeroides_, etc.       _Mosasaurus._ Length 75 feet.]

But the reader inquires, "What is the nature of these creatures thus
left stranded a thousand miles from either ocean? How came they in the
limestone of Kansas, and were they denizens of land?" These creatures
lived in the Cretaceous period. The remains found in this region were
mostly those of reptiles and fishes. Thirty-five species of reptiles
are known from Kansas alone, representing six orders, and varying in
length from ten to eighty feet. One was terrestrial, four were fliers,
the rest inhabited the ocean. "When they swam over what are now the
plains, the coast-line extended from Arkansas to near Fort Riley, on
the Kansas River, and, passing a little eastward, traversed Minnesota
to the British possessions, near the head of Lake Superior. The extent
of sea to the westward was vast, and geology has not yet laid down its
boundary; it was probably a shore now submerged beneath the waters of
the North Pacific."

Other very elongated marine reptiles of this period, but with much
thicker bodies, are called, by Professor Cope, Elasmosaurs. In this
group, which is not yet fully worked out, occur such genera as
Cimoliosaurus, Polycotylus, Polyptychodon, and others. But it seems a
pity that they should be in any way separated from the Plesiosaurs,
which they strongly resemble (see chap. iv., Plate III.). Though not
sea-serpents, we have introduced them here because they flourished at
the same time, and lived in the same seas with the Mosasaurs and other
forms of that group. The very large teeth, with strongly marked
ridges, of the Polyptychodon are abundant in the Cambridge Greensand
that underlies the chalk, and represent a very huge animal.

In our illustration, Plate XIII., the artist has represented the
Elasmosaurus[37] (of Cope) with its long thin neck stretched out in
search of food on the bed of the sea. Professor Cope--thus describing
this monster, in language which seems somewhat fanciful--says, "Far
out on the expanse of this ancient sea might have been seen a huge
snake-like form, which rose above the surface, and stood erect, with
tapering throat and arrow-shaped head, or swayed about, describing a
circle of twenty feet radius above the water. Then plunging into the
depths, naught would be visible but the foam caused by the
disappearing mass of life. Should several have appeared together, we
can easily imagine tall, flexible forms rising to the height of the
masts of a fishing-fleet, or like snakes twisting and knotting
themselves together. This extraordinary neck--for such it was--rose
from a body of elephantine proportions. The limbs were probably two
pairs of paddles, like those of Plesiosaurus, from which this diver
chiefly differed in the arrangement of the bones of the breast. In the
best-known species twenty-two feet represent the neck in a total
length of fifty feet. This is Elasmosaurus platyurus (Cope), a
carnivorous sea-reptile, no doubt adapted for deeper waters than many
of the others. Like the snake-bird of Florida, it probably often swam
many feet below the surface, raising the head to the distant air for
breath, then withdrawing it, and exploring the depths forty feet
below, without altering the position of its body. From the localities
in which the bones have been found in Kansas, it must have wandered
far from land; and that many kinds of fishes formed its food is shown
by the teeth and scales found in the position of its stomach."

[37] Greek--_elasmos_, plate; _sauros_, lizard: probably on account of
the shape of the paddles.

But to return to the sea-serpents. Mosasaurus is now known to have
been a long slender reptile, with a pair of powerful paddles in front,
a moderately long neck, and flat pointed head. The tail was very
long--flat and deep--like that of a great eel. Mosasaurus princeps is
computed to have been seventy-five to eighty feet long. Clidastes was
another genus of long and slender shape, one species of which reached
a length of forty feet. Some forms of sea-serpent had sclerotic plates
in the eye, such as we found in the fish-lizard, or Ichthyosaurus (p.
46), but the announcement that their bodies were protected by bony
plates has turned out to be a mistake, and the supposed plates really
belonged to the eye.

Leiodon proriger (Cope) was abundant in the old North American
Cretaceous sea, and reached a length of seventy-five feet. It had a
long projecting muzzle, somewhat like the snout of a sturgeon.
Platecarpus and Tylosaurus had peculiarly sharp-pointed heads (see
Fig. 40).

[Illustration: Fig. 40.--Snout of Tylosaurus. (After Marsh.)]

A few words may be added here with regard to Professor Cope's
important discovery of Leiodon--a genus already alluded to as having
been founded by Sir Richard Owen. The type specimen of Leiodon
dyseplor,[38] which first indicated the characters of this wonderful
species, was obtained from the yellow beds of the Niobrara epoch of
the Jornada del Muerto, near Fort McRae, New Mexico. The greater part
of the remains have been described by Professor Leidy. But a second
specimen, more complete in all respects, was discovered by Professor
Cope's exploring party during an expedition from Fort Wallace, Kansas,
in 1871. This specimen he has fully described and figured in the
report already referred to (p. 140). It is a very instructive
specimen, including fifty of the vertebræ from all parts of the
vertebral column, a large part of the cranium, with teeth, as well as
important limb-bones. These precious relics were excavated from a
chalk "bluff," or high bank. Fragments of the jaws were seen lying on
the slope, and other portions entered the shale. On being followed, a
part of the skull was taken from beneath the roots of a bush, and the
vertebræ and limb-bones were found farther in. The series of vertebræ,
after extending some way along the face of the bluff, finally turned
into the hill, and were followed as far as time would permit, but
part of the tail series had to be left. In size, the vertebræ of this
enormous sea-serpent exceed those of Mosasaurus brumbyi. The latter
has hitherto been the largest known species of the order of
Pythonomorphs, exceeding twofold in its measurements the M. giganteus
of Belgium. So the present reptile is much larger in its dimensions
than the New Jersey species called maximus by Professor Cope. "If, as
appears certain," says the professor, "the Mosasauroid discovered by
Webb measures seventy-five feet in length, and the M. maximus measured
eighty, the Leiodon dyspelor must have been the longest reptile known,
and approaches very nearly the extreme of the mammalian growth seen in
the whales, though, of course, without their bulk. Such monsters may
well excite our surprise, as well as our curiosity, in the inquiry as
to their source of food-supply, and what the character of those
contemporary animals preserved in the same geologic horizon."

[38] We retain the old spelling with the _e_ as being nearer to the
Greek, although Professor Cope writes it "Liodon."

In our illustration, Plate XIII., the artist has endeavoured to
realise the outward aspect of the two genera of sea-serpents,
Mosasaurus and Clidastes. The fishes which they are pursuing are
well-known genera from the English Chalk, such as Beryx.

Ten species of Clidastes have been unearthed from the Kansas strata.
They did not reach such a size as the Leiodons, but were of elegant
and flexible build, the largest species, C. cineriarum, reaching a
length of forty feet (see Fig. 41). A smaller species, of elegant
proportions, has been called C. tortor (Cope). Its slenderness of body
was remarkable, and the large head was long and lance-shaped. Its
lithe movements doubtless helped it to secure many fishes. It was
found coiled up beneath a ledge of rock, with its skull lying
undisturbed in the centre.

The accounts given by Professor Cope of his explorations and the
difficulties encountered in procuring the valuable specimens on which
his conclusions are based, are most interesting, and such as every
fossil-hunter will appreciate. We, in England, who visit clay pits,
stone quarries, railway cuttings, etc., during a morning or an
afternoon walk, and return home at our leisure with a few small
specimens in our pockets, or in a bag at our back, can hardly realise
how arduous must be the work of finding, digging out, and transporting
for such long distances the remains of the monsters of Kansas and
other parts of North America.

[Illustration: Fig. 41.--Skeleton of _Clidastes cineriarum_; length 40
feet. (After Cope.)]

The following extracts have been selected from Professor Cope's
report, with a view to illustrating the nature of the explorations
undertaken. "The circumstances attending the discovery of one of these
will always be a pleasant recollection to the writer. A part of the
face, with teeth, was observed projecting from the side of a bluff by
a companion in exploration, Lieutenant James H. Whitten, United States
Army, and we at once proceeded to follow up the indication with knives
and picks. Soon the lower jaws were uncovered, with their glistening
teeth, and then the vertebræ and ribs. Our delight was at its height
when the bones of the pelvis and part of the hind limb were laid bare,
for they had never been seen before in the species, and scarcely in
the order. While lying on the bottom of the Cretaceous sea, the
carcase had been dragged hither and thither by the sharks and other
rapacious animals, and the parts of the skeleton were displaced and
gathered into a small area. The massive tail stretched away into the
bluff, and, after much laborious excavation, we left a portion of it
to more persevering explorers."

"The discovery of a related species, Platecarpus coryphæus (Cope), was
made by the writer under circumstances of difficulty peculiar to the
plains. After examining the bluffs for half a day without result, a
few bone fragments were found in a wash above their base. Others led
the way to a ledge forty or fifty feet from both summit and foot,
where, stretched along in the yellow chalk, lay the projecting
portions of the whole monster. A considerable number of vertebræ were
found preserved by the protective embrace of the roots of a small
bush, and, when they were secured, the pick and knife were brought
into requisition to remove the remainder. About this time, one of the
gales, so common in that region, sprang up, and striking the bluff
fairly, reflected itself upwards. So soon as the pick pulverised the
rock, the limestone dust was carried into eyes, nose, and every
available opening in the clothing. I was speedily blinded, and my aid
disappeared in the cañon, and was seen no more while the work lasted.
A handkerchief tied over the face, and pierced by minute holes
opposite the eyes, kept me from total blindness, though dirt in
abundance penetrated the mask. But a fine relic of Creative Genius was
extracted from its ancient bed, and one that leads its genus in size,
and explains its structure."

[Illustration: Fig. 41_a_.--Skull of _Platecarpus_. Upper Cretaceous.
North America. (After Cope.)]

"On another occasion, riding along a spur of yellow chalk bluff, some
vertebræ lying at its foot met my eye. An examination showed that the
series entered the rock, and, on passing round to the opposite side,
the jaws and muzzle were seen projecting from it, as though laid bare
for the convenience of the geologist. The spur was small and of soft
material, and we speedily removed it in blocks, to the level of the
reptile, and took out the remains as they lay across the base from
side to side."

In taking leave of the "Age of Reptiles," we cannot but marvel greatly
at the diversity of forms assumed by the various orders of this class,
their strange uncouth appearance, their assumption, in some cases, of
characters only known at the present day among the mammals, their
great abundance, and the perfect state in which their remains have
been preserved in the stratified rocks of various parts of the world.
And the reader may naturally ask, "How is it that so many types have
disappeared altogether, leaving us out of a total of at least nine
orders, only four, viz. those represented by crocodiles, lizards,
snakes, and turtles?" To such a question we can only answer that the
causes of the extinction of plants and animals in the past are not yet
known. Climate, geographical conditions, food-supply, competition,
with other causes, doubtless operated then as now; but if there is one
clear lesson taught by the record of the rocks, it is this--that there
has been at work from the earliest periods a Law of Progress, so that
higher types, coming in at certain stages, have ousted the lower
types, sometimes only partially, sometimes completely. But why the
Dinosaurs, for instance, perished entirely, while the crocodiles
survived to the present day, no one can yet explain. We can see no
reason, however, why such problems as these should not be solved in
the future by the co-operating labours of naturalists and geologists.

In the great onward and upward struggle for existence, higher types
have supplanted lower ones; and, in accordance with this biological
truth, we find that in the next era (known as the Tertiary or
Cainozoic) the mammal held the field while the reptile took a
subordinate place.



     "Geology, in the magnitude and sublimity of the objects of
     which it treats, ranks next to Astronomy in the scale of the
     Sciences."--Sir John F. W. Herschel.

With the advent of the Cainozoic or Tertiary era, we enter upon the
"Age of Mammals," when great quadrupeds suddenly came upon the scene.
The place of the reptile was now taken by the mammal. In the long
previous era this higher type of life was not altogether wanting, but
as far as the geological record is yet known, it appears only to have
been represented by a few primitive little creatures, probably
Marsupials, whose jaw-bones have been discovered in the New Red
Sandstone, and the Stonesfield Oolite.[39]

[39] The English Cretaceous rocks, previously thought to be destitute
of mammalian remains, have quite recently yielded teeth belonging to
some small mammal. These were found in Wealden strata.

Geology tells of a great gap between the highest rocks of the
Cretaceous period and the lowest group of the succeeding Eocene period
(see Table of Strata, Appendix I.). This gap, or break, testifies to a
very long interval of time during which important geographical and
other changes took place; and consequently we find in Eocene rocks (at
the base of the Cainozoic series) a very different fauna and flora to
that which is preserved in the Chalk formation.

The researches of Cuvier among the fossils collected from Eocene rocks
in the neighbourhood of Paris, especially the Gypseous series of
Montmartre, revealed the existence of a very extensive fauna,
especially of new types of mammals; and his restoration of the
Palæotherium, a tapir-like animal, and other forms, created a vast
amount of interest, and greatly stimulated the study of extinct
animals. As we have already remarked, the science of palæontology may
be said to have been founded by Cuvier (see Introduction, p. 5).

But now the scene shifts once more from Europe to the wilds of the Far
West. American geologists tell us that a long time ago (during the
Eocene period) there was a great tropical lake in the Wyoming
territory, on the borders of which roamed, amidst luxuriant
vegetation, a large number of strange and primitive quadrupeds,
together with many other forms of life. The most wonderful group of
animals that haunted the shores of this lake, or series of lakes, was
the Dinocerata so fully described by Professor Marsh, in his
exhaustive monograph.[40] The name implies that they were terrible
horned monsters, but whether Nature provided them with true horns,
like those of horned cattle to-day, is at least open to doubt.

[40] _The Dinocerata_, a monograph by O. C. Marsh, _United States
Geological Survey_, vol. x.

Fig. 42 shows the skeleton of one of these, namely, Tinoceras ingens.
Its length was about 12 feet without the tail. Its weight, when alive,
is calculated to have been six thousand pounds, or about two tons and
three quarters.

Plate XIV. is a restoration of the Tinoceras, made by our artist,
after much consideration and careful study of the valuable cast
exhibited in the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, which was
generously presented by Professor Marsh (Gallery I. Case MM on plan).
In planning this and other restorations, both artist and author have
received valuable assistance from Dr. Henry Woodward, F.R.S., Keeper
of the Geological Department of the Museum, who is ever ready to help
with his great knowledge those who come to consult him.

There may be differences of opinion among palæontologists as to the
appearance presented by this formidable creature when alive, and no
doubt the nature of the skin must always be more or less a matter of
conjecture in such cases, but we venture to hope that the restoration
here given, based as it is upon Mr. Smit's thorough acquaintance with
living animals and Professor Marsh's description, will meet with a
favourable verdict.

[Illustration: Fig. 42.--Skeleton of _Tinoceras ingens_. (After

Looking at the skeleton, one is struck with a certain resemblance to
the rhinoceros on one hand, and to the elephant on the other. The legs
are very elephantine, and the feet must have been covered with thick
pads, but the body reminds one more of the rhinoceros; and yet, again,
there is some suggestion of the hippopotamus. The eye was small and
deep set, as in the rhinoceros. In the upper jaw the two canine teeth
are developed into dagger-shaped tusks, the use of which can only be
conjectured. In the females these are but slightly developed.

[Illustration: Plate XIV.


From North America. Length about 12 feet (without the tail).]

It is quite clear, then, that we cannot place the Dinoceras in any
order of living mammals. It is what palæontologists call a
"generalised type;" that is to say, it presents certain characters
seen in several groups of living quadrupeds, and not any of those
elaborated or highly developed parts which we see in such animals
to-day. Thus the proboscis of the elephant is a greatly elongated
nose; in other words, the elephant is highly "specialised" in that
direction, whereas our Dinoceras had no proboscis, or only a very
slight one.

[Illustration: Fig. 43.--Skull of _Dinoceras mirabile_. (After

Again, the six remarkable bony protuberances of the skull served to
some extent as horns, and probably were covered with thick bosses of
skin, and did not support true horns like those of our modern oxen and
other ruminants. Speaking of these protuberances, Professor Marsh
says, "None of the covering of these elevations, or horn-cores, has,
of course, been preserved; yet a fortunate discovery may perhaps
reveal their nature by the form of a natural cast, as the eye-ball of
the Oreodon is sometimes thus clearly indicated in the fine Miocene
matrix which envelops these animals." It looks rather as if we have
here an early stage in the evolution of horns, and it may be that in
the course of subsequent ages such prominences as those developed into
true "horn cores," such as sheep or goats have, while the thick bosses
of skin that covered them slowly developed into the true horns that
are attached to these cores. If this is so, then we have here another
instance of a "generalised" structure. Again, the limbs with their
five toes tell us at once that the creature's place in Nature is
outside of those two great groups of modern ungulates, or hoofed
quadrupeds, the odd-toed and the even-toed, represented on the one
hand by the horse, rhinoceros, and tapir, on the other by the pig,
camel, deer, ox, and many other forms. Probably the two groups had not
at this early period branched off from the primitive ungulate stock
with five toes in each foot, of which the elephant is a living
descendant, and from which also the Dinoceras must have come.

[Illustration: Fig. 44.--Cast of brain-cavity of _Dinoceras mirabile_.
(After Marsh.)]

The limbs were strong and massive, but the brain was remarkably small,
so that our Dinoceras cannot be credited with any high degree of
intelligence: and here again we see an absence of "specialisation"
compared with the sagacious elephant. Professor Marsh has taken casts
of its brain-cavity (see Fig. 44). These casts show that the brain was
smaller (in proportion to the size of the animal) than in any other
mammal, whether living or extinct--and even less than in some
reptiles! In fact, it was a decidedly reptilian kind of brain.
Perhaps it may seem hardly credible, but so small was the brain of
Dinoceras mirabile, that it could have been pulled through the
apertures (neural canals) of all the neck vertebræ! In certain
marsupials of the present day we find an approach to this kind of
brain. It seems to be an established fact, according to Professor
Marsh, that all the Eocene or earlier Tertiary mammals had small
brains. His researches among fossil mammals have led him to the
important conclusion that, as time went on, the brains of mammals grew
larger; and thus he has been able to establish his law of brain-growth
during the Tertiary period, a law which appears to be plainly recorded
in the fossil skulls of succeeding races of ancient mammals. The
importance of a discovery such as this cannot fail to strike the
imagination of even the most unlearned in geology as being singularly
suggestive and instructive. It is not difficult to picture these dull,
heavy, slow-moving creatures haunting the forests and palm jungles
around the margin of the great Eocene lake, into the waters of which
their carcases from time to time found their way--perhaps swept down
by floods. No footprints have been discovered as yet.

The Dinocerata were very abundant for a long time during the middle of
the Eocene period. The position of their remains suggests that they
lived together in herds, as cattle do now, and they probably found an
abundance of food in the shape of succulent vegetation round the great
lake. Geological evidence points to their sudden extinction before the
close of the Eocene period; but it is difficult to understand this.
Professor Marsh thinks that from their sluggish nature they were
incapable of adapting themselves with sufficient rapidity and
readiness to new conditions, such as may have been brought about by
geographical changes. It must be admitted, however, that the
geological record in this region does not give evidence of any sudden
change. Possibly they may only have migrated to some other region,
where their remains have not yet been discovered, or where, for
various reasons, their skeletons were not preserved. In this Eocene
lake, where sediments went on being quietly deposited for a long time,
we have the most favourable conditions for the preservation of the
different forms of life that flourished round its borders.

In the museum at Yale College are collected the spoils of numerous
expeditions to the West, and the many tons of bones lying there are
believed to represent the remains of no less than two hundred
individuals of the Dinocerata. So perfectly have these bones been
preserved by Nature that, even if the creatures had been living now,
the material for studying their skeletons could hardly be more
complete. Professor Marsh recognises three distinct types in this
strange group of quadrupeds, on each of which a genus has been
founded. The first and oldest form is the Uintatherium, which takes
its name from the Uinta Mountains. This, as might be expected, is the
most primitive or least specialised form, and comes from lower strata.
The most highly developed or specialised form is the Tinoceras, and
this is found at the highest geological level or "horizon."

Between these two extremes, and from an intermediate horizon, comes
the Dinoceras,[41] so that in tracing these animals through the strata
in which they occur the geologist finds that he is following for a
while the course of their evolution. Doubtless there were many slight
differences presented by the members of this group, but at present it
has not been found possible to determine the number of species,
although about thirty forms more or less distinct have been
recognised. Professor Marsh says that the specimen of the skull of
Dinoceras mirabile, on which the whole order Dinocerata was founded,
is, fortunately, in a very perfect state of preservation, and that it
belonged to a fully adult animal. Moreover, it was embedded in so soft
a matrix that the brain-cavity and the openings leading from it could
be worked out without difficulty. In removing the skull from the rock,
on the high and almost inaccessible cliff where it was found, two or
three important fragments were lost; but Professor Marsh, after a
laborious search, recovered them from the bottom of a deep ravine,
where they had been washed down and covered up.

[41] The Dinoceras of Marsh is the same form as Eobasileus of Cope.
Uintatherium was discovered by Leidy.

It is about twenty-two years since the wonderful forms of life sealed
up within these Eocene lake-deposits first became known to science.
Long before then, however, the wandering Indian had been accustomed to
seeing strange-looking skulls and skeletons that peeped out upon him
from the sides of cañons and hills, as the rocks that enclosed them
crumbled away under the influence of atmospheric agents of change--the
ceaseless working of wind, rain, heat, and cold. To his untrained mind
no other explanation suggested itself than the idea that these were
the bones of his ancestors, which it would be highly impious to
disturb. _Requiescant in pace!_ So he left them in peace. Perhaps he
believed in a former race of human giants; if so, these would be their
bones. Long before Professor Marsh's expeditions, the earliest
squatters, trappers, and others used to bring back news of marvellous
monsters grinning from the ledges of rock beneath which they camped.
At last these tales attracted the notice of some enthusiastic
naturalists in the eastern States. Professor Leidy obtained a number
of bones, from which he was able to bring to light an extinct creature
at that time unknown to science, namely, the Uintatherium. Professor
Cope also described some extinct animals disinterred by himself from
the same region.

But our knowledge of the Dinocerata is chiefly due to Professor Marsh,
who has despatched one expedition after another, and who, after many
years of laborious research both in the western deserts and in his
wonderful collection at Yale College, has published a splendid
monograph on the subject. No trouble and no expense have been spared
in order to obtain material for this great work, and all geologists
must feel grateful to Professor Marsh for so liberally devoting his
time and his private resources in order to advance the science of

The region in which the remains occur of the remarkable group of
extinct animals now under consideration, has a peculiar scenery of its
own, unlike anything in Europe. The following graphic description of
its features is from the pen of Sir Archibald Geikie:--[42]

[42] _Nature_, vol. xxxii. p. 97.

"On the high plateau that lies to the west of the Rocky Mountains,
along the southern borders of the Wyoming territory, the traveller
moving westwards begins to enter on peculiar scenery. Bare, treeless
wastes of naked stone, rising here and there into terraced ledges and
strange tower-like prominences, or sinking into hollows where the
water gathers in salt or bitter pools. Under the cloudless sky, and in
the clear dry atmosphere, the extraordinary colouring of these
landscapes forms, perhaps, their weirdest feature. Bars of deep red
alternate with strips of orange, now deepening into sombre browns, now
blazing out again into vermilion, with belts of lilac, buff, pale
green, and white. And everywhere the colours run in almost horizontal
bands, running across hollows and river-gorges for mile after mile
through this rocky desert. The parallel strips of colour mark the
strata that cover all this wide plateau country. They are the tints
characteristic of an enormous accumulation of sedimentary rocks, that
mark the site of a vast Eocene lake, or succession of lakes, on what
is now nearly the crest of the continent."

In this strange region the flat-topped hills, table-lands, or
terraces, as they are variously named, seen from lower levels, are
usually called "buttes," especially when they are of limited extent.
This name is of French origin, and signifies a bank of earth or
rising ground. It is also applied in a limited sense to the more
prominent irregularities of the deeply sculptured slopes of the larger
terraces. These buttes, therefore, vary in extent, from a mere mound
rising slightly above the level of the plains to hills of varied
configuration reaching to the level of the broader buttes or terraces.

The _débris_ resulting from the continual wearing away, or demolition
of these buttes and terraces, now lies spread out on the plains below.
From the lower plains the smaller terraces appear like vast earth-work
fortifications, and when not too much cut up by erosion, remind one of
long railway embankments. But in many cases the terraces are so much
cut up by narrow ravines that they appear as great groups of naked
buttes rising from the midst of the plain. Nothing can be more
desolate in appearance than some of these vast assemblages of
crumbling buttes, destitute of vegetation, and traversed by ravines,
in which the watercourses in midsummer are almost all dried up. To
these assemblages of naked buttes, often worn into castellated and
fantastic forms, and extending through miles and miles of territory,
the early Canadian _voyageurs_ gave the name _Mauvais Terres_. They
occur in many localities of the Tertiary formations west of the
Mississippi River. Professor Leidy, who with two friends made an
expedition in search of fossils to Dry Creek Cañon in this region of
the "Bad Lands," about forty miles to the southeast of Fort Bridger
(Wyoming), thus describes his impressions:--

"On descending the butte to the east of our camp, I found before me
another valley, a treeless barren plain, probably ten miles in width.
From the far side of this valley butte after butte arose and grouped
themselves along the horizon, and looked together in the distance like
the huge fortified city of a giant race, the utter desolation of the
scene, the dried-up watercourses, the absence of any moving object,
the profound silence which prevailed, produced a feeling that was
positively oppressive. When I thought of the buttes beneath our feet,
with their entombed remains of multitudes of animals for ever
extinct, and reflected upon the time when the country teemed with
life, I truly felt that I was standing on the wreck of a former

These old lake-basins, in which so many forms of life have been sealed
up, all lie between the Rocky Mountains on the east, and the Wasatch
Range on the west, or along the high central plateau of the continent.
As the mountains were slowly elevated, part of the old sea of the
Cretaceous period (that sea in which the "sea-serpents" played so
important a part) was enclosed and cut off from the ocean. Rivers
began to pour their waters into it, so that the waters became less and
less salt, until at last a fresh-water lake, or series of lakes, was
formed. As the upward movement of this region continued these lakes
were all the while receiving sedimentary materials, such as sand and
mud, from the rivers, until finally they were filled up, but not until
the sediments had formed a mass of strata over a mile in thickness.
Thus we see how favourable were the conditions for a faithful record
of Eocene life-history.

But another process was going on which helped to bring them to an end;
for they were being slowly drained by the rivers that flowed out of
them, and these rivers kept on continually deepening their channels,
so that we have dry land where the lakes once were. _Now_ the region
is over 6000 feet above the sea, and probably more than one-half of
these fresh-water deposits have been washed away, mainly through the
Colorado River. What is left of the Eocene strata forms the "Bad
Lands." The same geological action that has cut up and carved out this
region into buttes, cañons, cliffs, peaks, and columns of fantastic
shapes, has also brought to light the extinct animals preserved in the
rocks, much in the same way as an old burial-ground, if cut up by
intersecting trenches, might be made to yield up the bones of those
who for generations had been buried therein.

Professor Marsh first discovered remains of Dinocerata in 1870, while
investigating this Eocene lake-basin, which had never before been
explored. It was here, also, that he found the wonderful series of
fossil horses by means of which he has been able to prove that our
modern horse is descended from a small quadruped with five toes, and
to show the different stages in its evolution. Here, also, were found
old-fashioned types of carnivorous quadrupeds, of rodents, and of
insectivorous creatures. But reptiles as well as quadrupeds flourished
on the borders of the old lake, for the remains were found of
crocodiles, tortoises, lizards, and serpents; its waters, too, were
well stocked with fish.

Everything here testifies to a long continuance of those conditions
under which plant and animal life can flourish, namely, a warm
climate, plenty of food, and freedom from those physical changes
which, by altering the geographical features of a country, bring so
many important consequences in their train. The geological record
tells us that this happy state of things lasted all through the Eocene
period, and until the fresh-water lakes had at last been drained away
by their outflowing rivers.

In October, 1870, a later Eocene lake-basin was discovered by the same
exploring party, and this Professor Marsh calls the Uinta basin,
because it was situated south of the Uinta Mountains. "In the attempt
to explore it," he says, "our party endured much hardship, and also
were exposed to serious danger, since we had only a small escort of
United States soldiers, and the region visited was one of the
favourite resorts of the Uinta-Utes. These Indians were then, many of
them, insolent and aggressive, and since have been openly hostile, at
one time massacring a large body of Government troops sent against
them. Two subsequent attempts ... to explore this region met with
little success."

This lower lake was of later (or upper) Eocene age, and the extinct
animals preserved in its ancient bed appear to resemble more nearly
those of the famous Paris basin, referred to in the beginning of this
chapter, than any yet discovered in America. But the basin north of
the Uinta Mountains, where alone the Dinocerata had been found,
offered so inviting a field that, in the spring of 1871, Professor
Marsh began to explore it systematically. He organised an expedition,
with an escort of U.S. soldiers, and the work continued during the
whole season. In this way a large collection was secured. Explorations
were continued in the spring of the following year, which resulted in
the discovery of the type specimen of the Dinoceras mirabile. Another
expedition was organised in 1873, also with an escort of soldiers, and
a great many specimens were collected. These researches were continued
during 1874, and again in 1875, with good results. Since then various
small parties have been equipped and sent out by Professor Marsh to
collect in the same region of the "Bad Lands;" and, finally, during
the entire season of 1882, the work was vigorously prosecuted under
his direction, and afterwards under the auspices of the United States
Geological Survey. This brief account of the difficulties and
hardships encountered by Professor Marsh and his companions, for which
we are indebted to his exhaustive monograph, will serve to give some
idea of the nature of those labours, undertaken in the cause of
Science, which he has brought to so successful an issue.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the country east of the Rocky Mountains, including the states of
Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and part of Colorado, Professor Marsh has
discovered the remains of yet another strange group of large
quadrupeds. The best known of these is Brontops, of which the skeleton
is seen in Fig. 45. These animals lived after the Dinocerata, namely,
in the Miocene period, and were the largest American mammals of that
period. They constitute a distinct family more nearly allied to the
rhinoceros than to any other living form. The skeleton on which Fig.
45 is founded was the most complete of any yet discovered by Professor
Marsh. Portions of it were exhumed at different times, but it was
first found in 1874. Our artist has made the restoration seen in Plate
XV. from this skeleton, as figured by Professor Marsh.

[Illustration: Plate XV.


This strange group of creatures flourished in great numbers on the
borders of an old lake of Miocene age. The Brontops was a heavy
massive animal, larger than any of the Dinocerata, with a length of
twelve feet, not including the tail, and a height of eight feet. The
limbs are shorter than those of the elephant, which it nearly equalled
in size. As in the tapir, there were four toes to the front limbs, and
three to the hind limbs. Its skull was of a peculiar shape, shallow,
and very large. That of Brontops ingens is thirty-six inches long, and
twenty inches between the tips of the two horns, or protuberances. The
creature was probably provided with an elongated, flexible nose, like
that of the tapir, but not longer, because the length of the neck
shows that it could reach the ground without the aid of a trunk such
as the elephant's. It is doubtful if the two prominences on the front
of the skull were provided with horns, for, if directed forwards, they
would interfere with the animal when grazing.

[Illustration: Fig. 45.--Skeleton of Brontops robustus. (After



     "What a glorious privilege it would be, could we live
     back--were it but for an instant--into those ancient times
     when these extinct animals peopled the earth! to see them all
     congregated together in one grand natural menagerie--these
     mastodons and elephants, so numerous in species, toiling
     their ponderous forms and trumpeting their march in countless
     herds through the swamps and reedy forests!"--Hugh Falconer.

It is a far cry back, against the sun's path, from Wyoming and the
flanks of the Rocky Mountains to the sacred Himalayas--the "abode of
snow"--of Northern India. But if the reader will follow us to that
country, we will endeavour to describe two or three out of many
strange and now lost forms of life brought to light from the famous
Sivalik Hills, on the southern border of the Himalayas, for the
knowledge of which Science is greatly indebted to a very distinguished
palæontologist, the late Mr. Hugh Falconer. Together with his friend
Captain Cautley (afterwards Sir Proby Cautley), he explored this
region, and their joint arduous labours show that it was at one time
inhabited by a very large and varied group of quadrupeds, together
with many birds, reptiles, fishes, mollusca, and crustaceans.

In this region there lived, throughout a considerable part of the
Tertiary period, elephants, of various species, whose skulls and bones
were found in great numbers; mastodons (a closely allied form); and
several species of hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and horse: among
ruminants, species of the camel, the ox, the stag, and the antelope,
together with a colossal creature unknown before, the Sivatherium,
which has never been found elsewhere; a huge tortoise, and various
species of carnivora, rodents, and apes.

With regard to the geography of the region, it appears that the
continent of India, at an early period of the Tertiary era, was a
large island, situated in a bight, or bay, formed by the Himalayas and
the Hindoo Koosh range. The valleys of the Ganges and Indus formed a
long estuary, into which the drainage of the Himalayas poured its silt
and alluvium. Later on, an upheaval took place, converting these
straits into the plains of India, connecting them with the ancient
island, and forming the existing continent. The large and varied forms
whose remains now lie "sealed within the iron hills" then spread over
the continent, from the Irrawaddi to the mouths of the Indus, two
thousand miles; and north-west to the Jhelum, fifteen hundred miles.
After a long interval of repose, another great upheaval took place,
which threw up a strip of the plains of India, crumpled and ridged it
up to form the Sivalik Hills, and at the same time increased the
elevation of the Himalayas by many thousands of feet.

It would be easy to show that such events as these must have been
followed by changes in climate, for the climate of a region depends
largely on its physical features--the proportion of land and water,
the presence of hills and mountain ranges, and their height; and it is
considered probable that the physical changes above mentioned helped
to bring about the extinction of this most interesting and ancient
fauna. Throughout the latter part of the Tertiary era it is well known
to geologists that the climate of Europe was becoming gradually
colder, until at last a glacial period, or "Ice Age," was experienced,
during which Northern Europe was subjected to an arctic climate, and
the great ice-sheet seems to have been slowly retiring and melting
away in the early part of the Stone Age. But in India there has been
no such decrease in temperature, and it enjoyed in Tertiary times as
warm a climate as it now has, so that both animal and vegetable life
continued to flourish vigorously.

By the Sivalik (or Sewalik) Hills is meant that range of lower
elevations which stretches along the south-west foot of the Himalayas,
for the greater portion of their extent from the Indus to the
Brahmapootra, where those rivers respectively debouche from the hills
into the plains of India. It extends for nearly a thousand miles, and
it appears to have been entirely built up of alluvial _débris_, washed
down from the Himalayas into that sea which we have already referred
to as having once separated the plains of India from the great range
now forming its northern boundary. The strata thus formed were
subsequently upheaved to form the Sivalik Hills. Thus we see that one
mountain range may help to form another one running parallel to
itself. The name is derived from Siva, or Mahadeo, the Hindoo god;
these hills, as well as the Himalayas, being connected in Hindoo
mythology in various ways with the history of Siva.

Dr. Falconer and Captain Cautley soon found that they had "struck oil"
in the Sivalik Hills, or, in other words, had come upon one of
Nature's great graveyards, full of material most valuable to the
palæontologist--one which, extending for hundreds of miles, might
perhaps prove to be as rich in relics of the world's "lost creations"
as the lake-basin in Wyoming, where Professor Marsh discovered his
Dinocerata and other extinct types.

Let us give Dr. Falconer and Captain Cautley their due. They found
themselves suddenly confronted with a perfect mine of wealth, in a far
country, where the ordinary means resorted to by men of science for
determining extinct types and species, by comparison with living
forms, were not to be obtained, for there were no libraries and no
museums of comparative anatomy in that remote quarter of India. But
Dr. Falconer was not the man to be baffled by such drawbacks, which
would have deterred and discouraged some men. He appealed to the
living forms that abounded in the surrounding forests, rivers, and
swamps, and took toll of them to supply the want. Nature herself
became his library and his museum. Skeletons of all kinds were
prepared; the extinct forms he collected were compared with their
nearest living allies, and a valuable series of "Memoirs" by himself
and Captain Cautley was the result.[43]

[43] These appeared in the _Asiatic Researches_, the _Journal of the
Asiatic Society of Bengal_, and in the _Geological Transactions_ of
the London Geological Society.

The Sivalik explorations soon attracted attention in Europe, and in
1837 the Wollaston Medal, in duplicate, was awarded for their
discoveries to Dr. Falconer and Captain Cautley by the Geological
Society, the fountain of geological honours in England; while the
value of the distinction was enhanced by the terms in which the
President, Sir Charles Lyell, was pleased to announce the award. This
is what he said: "When Captain Cautley and Dr. Falconer first
discovered these remarkable remains, their curiosity was awakened, and
they felt convinced of their great scientific value; but they were not
versed in fossil osteology [the study of bones], and, being stationed
on the remote confines of our Indian possessions, they were far
distant from any living authorities or books on comparative anatomy to
which they could refer. The manner in which they overcame these
disadvantages, and the enthusiasm with which they continued for years
to prosecute their researches, when thus isolated from the scientific
world, are truly admirable. Dr. Royle has permitted me to read a part
of their correspondence with him, when they were exploring the Sivalik
Mountains, and I can bear witness to their extraordinary energy and
perseverance. From time to time they earnestly requested that Cuvier's
works might be sent out to them, and expressed their disappointment
when, from various accidents, these volumes failed to arrive. The
delay, perhaps, was fortunate; for, being thrown entirely upon their
own resources, they soon found a museum of comparative anatomy in the
surrounding plains, hills, and jungles, where they slew the wild
tigers, buffaloes, antelopes, and other Indian quadrupeds, of which
they preserved the skeletons, besides obtaining specimens of all the
reptiles which inhabited that region. They were compelled to see and
think for themselves, while comparing and discriminating the different
recent and fossil bones, and reasoning on the laws of comparative
osteology, till at length they were fully prepared to appreciate the
lessons which they were taught by the works of Cuvier."

In 1840 Captain Cautley presented his vast collection, the result of
ten years' unremitting labour and great personal outlay, to the
British Museum, the Geological Society having declined to accept it,
as it was beyond their means of accommodation. Its extent and value
may be estimated from the fact that it filled 214 large chests, the
average weight of each of which amounted to 4 cwt., and that the
charges on its transmission to England alone, which were defrayed by
the Government of India, amounted to £602. Dr. Falconer's selected
collection was divided between the India House and the British Museum;
the greater part was presented to the former, but a large number of
unique or choice specimens, required to fill up blanks, were presented
to the latter. The greater part of the specimens in the British Museum
were still unarranged and embedded in their matrix. In 1844 a memorial
was presented to the Court of Directors of the Honourable East India
Company, pointing out the desirability of having the specimens in the
national collection prepared, arranged, and displayed, and also of
publishing an illustrated work, which would convey to men of science
in both hemispheres a knowledge of the contents of the Sivalik Hills,
and suggesting Dr. Falconer as the person most fitted to superintend
the work. The Government of the time, under Sir Robert Peel, made a
grant of £1000 to enable the collection to be exhibited in the British
Museum, and Dr. Falconer was entrusted with the work. Besides this, a
large illustrated work, entitled _Fauna Antiqua Sivalensis_, was
begun, but owing to the demands upon Dr. Falconer's time, and his
subsequent death, this work was not completed, although nine out of
the twelve parts originally contemplated were finished. The great
Indian collection of fossils, mainly the gift of Sir Proby Cautley
(the specimens of which, stupendous in their size, and in fine
preservation, were prepared, identified, and arranged by Dr.
Falconer), has long constituted one of the chief ornaments of the
collection at the British Museum--now removed to the Natural History
Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington.

Other collections of fossils from the Sivalik Hills have been
presented to the Museum of Edinburgh University by Colonel Colvin, and
to the Oxford University by Mr. Walter Ewer. When it is remembered
that these collections have since been increased tenfold, and that the
remains were either excavated or found in the _débris_ of cliffs, and
that the explored surface bears a very small proportion to that which
has not yet been investigated, one may conceive how prodigious must
have been the number of animals that lived together in the former
plains of India, even when every allowance is made for the bones
having accumulated during many successive generations in the Sivalik

From this large and important collection we select two of special
interest for brief notice here, namely, the Sivatherium,[44] and an
immense tortoise known as the Colossochelys.

[44] From _Siva_, the Hindoo god; and Greek, _therion_, a beast.

The first of these monsters was a remarkable form of animal, unlike
anything living. In size it surpassed the largest rhinoceros, and was
bigger than any living ruminant. Altogether, it was one of the most
remarkable forms of life yet detected in the more recent strata. It
had two pairs of horns on its head--two short and quite simple ones in
front, and two larger ones, more or less expanded, behind them. From
the character of these long horn-cores, which are prolongations of the
skull, it may be concluded that the Sivatherium was a gigantic
ruminant with four horns. A cast of the original skull, with the
horn-cores restored from actual parts, in the collection and
elsewhere, has been placed on a stand in the centre of the long
gallery of fossil vertebrates at South Kensington (Stand I) near to
the case containing the skull and other portions of the skeleton (see
Fig. 46). There is also hanging on the wall near, a clever painting by
Berjeau, representing the creature as it may have appeared when alive.
The entire skeleton, partly restored, is shown in Fig. 47, with a
conjectural outline of the body. A hornless skull of a nearly allied
animal from the same strata and locality is placed with that of the
Sivatherium, and was considered by Dr. Falconer and others to be the
skull of the hornless female (also represented as such in the above
picture referred to); but is now, by more recent writers, regarded as
a separate genus, viz. the Helladotherium, so named because the
remains were first discovered at Pikermi, near Athens, Greece (ancient
Hellas). (See Plate XVI.)

[Illustration: Fig. 46.--Skull of _Sivatherium giganteum_, from the
Sivalik Hills, Northern India.]

[Illustration: Plate XVI.


From the Sivalik Hills, Northern India.

An allied form, _Helladotherium_, is seen on the left]

In the Sivatherium we have a new type which seems to connect together
two families at the present time well marked off from each other,
namely, the giraffe and the antelope. Its teeth resemble those of the
former animal, while in its four horns it resembles a certain antelope
(Antilope quadricornis). The head in certain respects shows
resemblances to that of the ox, but the upper lip must have been
prolonged into a short proboscis, or trunk, like that of the tapir.
The form and proportions of the jaw agree closely with the
corresponding parts of a buffalo. But no known ruminant, fossil or
existing, has a jaw of such large size, the average dimensions being
more than double those of a buffalo. The skull is the best known part
of the animal, but Captain Cautley came across some of the bones of
the limbs.

[Illustration: Fig. 47.--Skeleton of _Sivatherium giganteum_.]

The Colossochelys atlas,[45] or gigantic fossil tortoise of India,
supplies a fit representative of the tortoise which sustained the
elephant and the infant world in the fables of the Pythagorean and
Hindoo cosmogonies. It is highly interesting to trace back to its
probable source a matter of belief like this, so widely connected
with the speculations of an early period of the human race.

[45] Greek, _Colossos_, Colossus, and _chelus_, tortoise. Atlas was
supposed to sustain the world on his shoulders.

The carapace, or buckler, of the shell of this crawling monster is
similar in general form to the large land-tortoises of the present
day.[46] The shell is estimated to have been at least six feet long.
The limbs were probably similar to those of a modern land-tortoise,
and the limb-bones are of huge size--a single humerus, or arm-bone,
measuring 28 inches. Probably the foot was as large as that of a
rhinoceros. A restored cast of a young individual stands at the West
end of the fossil reptile gallery, South Kensington (Stand Z on plan).
Length of the shield, 10 feet[47] (see Fig. 48).

[46] Giant tortoises of the present day live on islands--where they
have escaped competition with large carnivora and other foes--such as
the Aldabra group, N.W. of Madagascar, in the Mascarenes, which
comprise Mauritius and Rodriguez; and the Galapagos, or "Tortoise
Islands," off the coast of South America. When Mr. Darwin visited the
latter islands he saw the relics, as it were, of a family of huge
tortoises, which lived there in abundance a few years before, and was
able to verify many interesting facts which had been recorded by
Porter in 1813, who stated that some of those captured by him weighed
from 300 to 400 lbs., and that on one island they were 5-1/2 feet
long. Those of one island differed from those of another. Some had
long necks. After Mr. Darwin's visit the process of extermination went
on. At the present time it is most probable that the gigantic
tortoises are very rare where formerly they were so abundant. One of
these great tortoises is that of Abingdon Island, in the Galapagos
Archipelago, of which there is a fine stuffed specimen in the Natural
History Museum (Reptile Gallery). It has a very long neck, and a small
flat-topped head with a short snout. It weighed originally 201 lbs.
The Indian tortoises of the present day are not of large size. See the
fine specimens in the Natural History Museum--Reptile Gallery (left
wing of the building).

[47] Dr. Falconer's estimate was much too great, so that this model is
too large. Mr. Lydekker prefers to drop the generic term
Colossochelys, and call it Testudo Atlas. In length it was only
one-third greater than Testudo elephantina of the Galapagos Islands.

The first fossil remains of this colossal tortoise were discovered by
Dr. Falconer and Captain Cautley in 1835, in the Tertiary strata of
the Sivalik Hills. At the period when it was living--probably the
Pliocene--there was great abundance and variety of life on the scene,
for its remains were found to be associated with those of many great
quadrupeds, such as the elephant, mastodon, rhinoceros, horse, camel,
giraffe, sivatherium, and many other mammals. The Sivalik fauna also
included a great number of reptiles, such as crocodiles, lizards, and

[Illustration: Fig. 48.--Restored figure of gigantic tortoise,
_Colossochelys atlas_, from the Sivalik Hills, Northern India.]

The greater part of the remains of the Colossochelys atlas were
collected during a period of eight or nine years, along a range of
about a hundred miles of hilly country. Consequently, they belong to a
large number of individuals, varying in size and age. They were met
with in crushed fragments, contained in upheaved strata, which have
undergone considerable disturbance, so that it is improbable that an
entire uncrushed specimen will ever be found. When the first
fragments, in huge shapeless masses, were found by the discoverers,
they were utterly at a loss what to make of them, and for many months
could do nothing more than look upon them in bewildered and nearly
hopeless admiration. But no sooner was the clue found to a single
specimen than every fragment moved into its place so as to form a
consistent whole.

It is not possible at present to say, with any degree of certainty,
whether this colossal tortoise survived into the human period; but at
least there is no evidence against the idea, and Dr. Falconer shows it
is quite possible that the frequent allusions to a gigantic tortoise
in Hindoo and other mythologies are to be explained on the supposition
that the creature was seen by the men of a prehistoric age. Other
species of tortoises and turtles that were coeval with the
Colossochelys have lived on to the present day. So have other
reptiles, for some of the crocodiles now living in India appear to be
identical with the forms dug out of the Sivalik Hills. In the absence
of direct geological evidence, we must fall back on traditions.

Now, there are traditions connected with the speculations of nearly
all Eastern nations with regard to the world (cosmogonies) that refer
to a tortoise of such gigantic size as to be associated with the
elephant in their fables. The question therefore arises--Was this
tortoise a creature of the imagination, or was the idea of it drawn
from a living reality? Besides a tradition current among the Iroquois
Indians of North America, referring to the important share which the
tortoise had in the formation of the earth, there are several cases in
ancient history bearing on the same point. Thus, we find in the
Pythagorean doctrine the infant world represented as having been
placed on the back of an elephant, which was sustained on a huge
tortoise. Greek and Hindoo mythologies were undoubtedly related to
each other, and accordingly we find in the Hindoo accounts of the
second Avatar of Vishnoo, that the ocean is said to have been churned
by means of the mountain placed on the back of the king of the
tortoises, and the serpent Asokee used as the churning-rope. Again,
Vishnoo was said to have assumed the form of the tortoise, and to have
sustained the created world on his back to make it stable. This fable
has taken such a firm hold of the Hindoos, that to this day they
believe the world rests on the back of a tortoise (see Fig. 49). In
the narratives of the feasts of the bird-demigod, Garuda, the
tortoise again figures largely, and Guruda is said on one occasion
to have appeased his hunger at a certain lake where an elephant and a
tortoise were fighting.

[Illustration: Fig. 49.--The elephant victorious over the tortoise,
supporting the world, and unfolding the mysteries of the _Fauna
Sivalensis_. From a sketch in pencil in one of Dr. Falconer's
note-books, by the late Professor Edward Forbes.]

These three instances, in each of which there is a distinct reference
to a gigantic form of tortoise, comparable in size with the elephant,
suggest the question whether we are to regard the idea as a mere
fiction of the imagination, like the Minotaur or the Chimæra, or as
founded on a living tortoise. Dr. Falconer points out that it seems
unlikely that such fables could have been suggested by any of the
small species of tortoises now living in India, and consequently is
inclined to think that the monster was seen by man many centuries ago,
long before he began to write history. We have already alluded to the
large number of mammalian forms of life that were contemporary with
the Sivatherium and Colossochelys, but if we examine this old Sivalik
fauna we find it presents several very interesting features. In the
first place, it exhibits a wonderful richness and variety of forms,
compared to the living fauna of India. Take the pachydermata, for
instance--an old order established by Cuvier to include the
rhinoceros, hippopotamus, elephant, etc.--and we find there were, in
the period under consideration, about five times the number of species
now known in India. Elephants and mastodons, too, of various species
abounded. So it is with the ruminants; besides a large number of
species allied to those now living, such as the ox, buffalo, bison,
deer, antelope, musk-deer, and others, there were giraffes and camels,
as well as the strange Sivatherium. And so it is with the other
orders, such as carnivora, rodents, insectivora, etc.

Secondly, this great and varied fauna of the past shows a striking
resemblance to that of India at the present day. Darwin found the same
resemblance in South America; and now it is accepted as a general law,
that the living fauna of a country resembles its extinct fauna,
especially that of the latest geological period. Dr. Falconer found
that India's living fauna is but, as it were, a remnant of that which
it once possessed.

Thirdly, this extinct Sivalik fauna presents a singular mixture of old
and new forms. And lastly, it points to a very different geographical
distribution of animals. Thus the giraffe, the hippopotamus, and the
ostrich are _now_ confined to Africa. Facts such as these serve to
throw light on the geography of the past; but we cannot stay to
enlarge on that subject here.

Much might be said about the fossil elephants and mastodons from the
Sivalik Hills, so fully described by Dr. Falconer, but since chapters
xiii. and xiv. deal with elephants, we must reserve our remarks till
then, only alluding here to one striking form from the Sivalik Hills,
namely, the Elephas ganesa, the tusks of which were more than ten feet
in length, and much less curved than those of the mammoth. A very fine
specimen of the head and tusks may be seen in the gallery of fossil
mammals in the Natural History Museum (Gallery I, Stand D).

With the following eloquent passage from Dr. Falconer's "Memoirs," we
take leave of the remarkable Sivalik fauna, hoping that future
geologists will endeavour to follow his example and bring to light yet
other "lost creations" from that region, so rich in fossils, yet
comparatively unexplored. Would that the English Government could see
their way to follow the example of the United States, and send out a
scientific expedition to explore this wonderful region! There can be
no doubt that a rich harvest lies waiting there to be reaped.

"What a glorious privilege it would be, could we live back--were it
but for an instant--into those ancient times when these extinct
animals peopled the earth! to see them all congregated together in one
grand natural menagerie--these mastodons and elephants, so numerous in
species, toiling their ponderous forms and trumpeting their march in
countless herds through the swamps and reedy forests! to view the
giant Sivatherium, armed in front with four horns, spurning the
timidity of his race, and, ruminant though he be, proud in his
strength, and bellowing his sturdy career in defiance of all
aggression! And then the graceful giraffes, flitting their shadowy
forms like spectres through the trees, mixed with troops of large as
well as pigmy horses, and camels, antelopes, and deer! And then, last
of all, by way of contrast, to contemplate the colossus of the
tortoise race, heaving his unwieldy frame, and stamping his toilsome
march along plains which hardly look over strong to sustain him!

"Assuredly it would be a heart-stirring sight to behold! But although
we may not actually enjoy the effect of the living pageant, a still
higher order of privilege is vouchsafed to us. We have only to light
the torch of philosophy, to seize the clue of induction, and, like the
Prophet Ezekiel in the vision, to proceed into the valley of death,
when the graves open before us and render forth their contents; the
dry and fragmented bones run together, each bone to his bone; the
sinews are laid over, the flesh is brought on, the skin covers all,
and the past existence--_to the mind's eye_--starts again into being,
decked out in all the lineaments of life. 'He who calls that which
hath vanished back again into being, enjoys a bliss like that of
creating.' Such were the words of the philosophical Niebuhr, when
attempting to fill up the blanks in the fragmentary records of the
ancient Romans, whose period in relation to past time dates but as of
yesterday. How much more highly privileged, then, are we, who can
recall, as it were, the beings of countless remote ages, when man was
not yet dreamed of! not only this, but if we use discreetly the lights
which have been given to us, we may invoke the spirit of the winds,
and learn how _they_ were tempered to suit the natures of these
extinct beings."



    "Injecta monstris terra dolet suis."

    Horace, _Odes_, book iii.

It would have been strange, considering how much we owe to North
America, had the great South American continent not enriched our
knowledge of past forms of life on the globe. But such is not the
case. The honours are, as it were, divided, although it must be
admitted that the North American extinct forms at present known are
far more numerous. There are, however, two or three "Extinct Monsters"
of very great interest which once had a home in South America--in that
strange region of the Pampas, where the naturalist of the present day
finds so much to excite his interest. Of these the present chapter

The Megatherium[48] (Cuvier) was a gigantic mammal allied to sloths and
ant-eaters, and perhaps to the armadillos. In its skull and teeth this
colossus of the past resembled the sloths, in its limbs and backbone
it resembled the ant-eaters, while in size it surpassed the largest
rhinoceros (Plate XVII.). The famous, but imperfect, specimen at
Madrid was for a long time the principal if not the only source of
information with regard to this extinct genus, and for nearly a
century it remained unique.

[48] Greek--_megas_, great; _therion_, beast.

Later on, however, the zeal and energy of Sir Woodbine Parish, his
late Majesty's _chargé-d'affaires_ at Buenos Ayres, greatly helped to
augment the materials for arriving at a just conclusion with regard
to its proper place in the animal kingdom. According to one writer,
Spain formerly possessed considerable parts of three different
skeletons. The first and most complete is that which is preserved in
the royal cabinet at Madrid. This was sent over in 1789, by the
Marquis of Loreto, Viceroy of Buenos Ayres, with a notice stating that
it was found on the banks of the river Luxan. In 1795 a second
specimen arrived from Lima, and other portions, probably not very
considerable, were in the possession of Father Fernando Scio, to whom
they had been presented by a lady from Paraguay. But two German
doctors, Messrs. Pander and D'Alton, who published in 1821 a beautiful
monograph on the subject, state that they were unable in 1818 to find
any traces of either the Lima specimen or that which had belonged to
Fernando Scio.

The remains collected by Sir Woodbine Parish were discovered in the
river Salado, which runs through the flat alluvial plains (Pampas) to
the south of the city of Buenos Ayres, after a succession of three
unusually dry seasons, "which lowered the waters in an extraordinary
degree, and exposed parts of the pelvis to view as it stood upright in
the bottom of the river."[49]

[49] "Some Account of the Remains of the _Megatherium_ sent to England
from Buenos Ayres, by Woodbine Parish, Jun., Esq., F.R.S.," by Wm.
Clift, Esq., F.R.S., _Geological Transactions_, second series, vol.
iii. p. 437.

[Illustration: Plate XVII.


Set up in the Natural History Museum.]

This and other parts having been carried to Buenos Ayres by the
country people, were placed at the disposal of Sir Woodbine Parish by
Don Hilario Sosa, the owner of the property on which the bones were
found. A further inquiry was instituted by Sir Woodbine; and on his
application, the governor granted assistance, the result of which was
the discovery of the remains of two other skeletons on his
Excellency's properties, at no great distance from the place where the
first had been found. It was in the year 1832 that Sir Woodbine Parish
sent his valuable collection of bones from Buenos Ayres, and presented
them to the Royal College of Surgeons. These specimens formed the
subject of Mr. Clift's memoir above quoted. But even then the
materials were not complete for a thorough knowledge of the bony
framework of the Megatherium, and it was not till 1845, when more
remains (discovered near Luxan, 1837) reached this country, that
Professor Owen was able to clear up one or two doubtful details. These
were purchased by the trustees of the British Museum, and casts of the
bones were taken. Among the various writings by learned men on the
subject, Professor Owen's masterly description stands pre-eminent;
indeed, he was the only one to solve the riddle, to thoroughly explain
the structure of this giant sloth, and to show how its food was
obtained.[50] Neither Cuvier, nor the German doctors, nor Mr. Clift had
succeeded in so doing.

[50] His views are expounded in his _Memoir on the Megatherium, or
Giant Ground Sloth of America_, 1861, which is beautifully
illustrated. The Royal Society gave £100 (part of a Government grant
of £1000) to enable Professor Owen to carry out this important work.

In the Natural History Museum (Stand O, Gallery No. 2 on plan) is a
cast representing the animal nearly erect, and grasping a tree. This
magnificent cast (see Plate XVII.) represents an animal eighteen feet
in length, and its bones are more massive than those of the elephant.
For instance, the thigh-bone is nearly thrice the thickness of the
same bone in the largest of existing elephants, the circumference
being equal to the entire length. To a comparative anatomist several
striking indications of great strength present themselves; thus, not
only the very forms of the bones themselves mean strength, but their
surfaces, ridges, and crests are everywhere made rough for the firm
attachment of powerful muscles and tendons. In the fore part of the
body the skeleton is _comparatively_ slender, but the hind quarters
show enormous strength and weight combined. The tail, also, is very
powerful and massive. The fore limbs are long, and evidently
constructed for the exertion of great force. How this force was
applied we shall see presently. In both sets of limbs we notice
powerful claws, such as might be used for scratching up the ground
near the roots of a tree, and it was at one time thought that this was
the way in which the creature obtained its leafy food, namely, by
digging up trees by the roots and then devouring the leaves. But
Professor Owen had another explanation.

As in the living sloths and armadillos (edentata[51]), there are no
teeth in the fore part of the jaw. The molar teeth, of which there are
five on each side of the upper jaw, and four in the lower, are hollow
prismatic cylinders, straight, seven to nine inches long, and
implanted in deep sockets. There are no other teeth, but these are
composed of different substances, and so arranged that, as the tooth
wears, the surface always presents a pair of transverse ridges, thus
producing a dental apparatus well suited for grinding up vegetable
food. In the elephants, which live on similar food, the grinding is
effected by great molar teeth, which are replaced by new ones as the
old ones are worn away. In the Megatherium, however, only _one_ set of
teeth was provided; but these, by constant upward growth, and
continual addition of new matter beneath, lasted as long as the animal
lived, and never needed to be renewed.

[51] This word, which means _toothless_, is misleading. All the
edentata, however, agree in having no front, or incisor, teeth.

On looking at the model so skilfully set up at South Kensington, and
especially at the front part of the skull, it will be seen that the
snout and lips must have been somewhat elongated, possibly into a
slight proboscis like that of the tapir. The specimens of the lower
jaw in the wall-case close by show that it was much prolonged and
grooved. This fact must be interpreted to mean that the creature
possessed a long and powerful tongue, aided by which it could, like
the giraffe, strip off the small branches of the trees which it had
broken or bent down within its reach.

A bony shield (or carapace) of a great armadillo was found with one of
the specimens described by Mr. Clift, and Buckland and others thought
it belonged to the Megatherium; but Owen afterwards showed, by most
clear and convincing reasoning from the skeleton, that the Megatherium
could not have been protected as armadillos are, by such a shield (see
p. 190).

[Illustration: Plate XVIII.


Length 18 feet.]

And now we come to the question how it obtained its food. The idea of
digging round trees with its claws in order to uproot them, must be
partly, if not entirely, given up; for Professor Owen has proved, by a
masterly piece of reasoning, that this cumbrous creature, instead of
climbing up trees as modern sloths do, actually pulled down the tree
bodily, or broke it short off above the ground by a _tour de force_,
and, in order to do so, sat up on its huge haunches and tail as on a
tripod, while it grasped the trunk in its long powerful arms!
Marvellous as this may seem, it can be shown that every detail in its
skeleton agrees with the idea. Of course there would be limits to
possibilities in this direction, and the larger trees of the period
must have been proof against any such Samson-like attempts on the part
of the Megatherium; but when the trunk was too big, doubtless it
pulled down some of the lower branches. Plate XVIII. is a restoration,
by our artist, of the South Kensington skeleton.

Speaking of the extinct sloths of South America, Mr. Darwin thus
describes Professor Owen's remarkable discovery: "The habits of these
Megatheroid animals were a complete puzzle to naturalists until
Professor Owen solved the problem with remarkable ingenuity. Their
teeth indicate by their simple structure that these animals ... lived
on vegetable food, and probably on the leaves and small twigs of
trees; their ponderous forms and great strong curved claws seem so
little adapted for locomotion, that some eminent naturalists believed
that, like sloths, to which they are intimately related, they
subsisted by climbing, back downwards, on trees, and feeding on the
leaves. It was a bold, not to say preposterous, idea to conceive even
antediluvian trees with branches strong enough to bear animals as
large as elephants. Professor Owen, with far more probability,
believes that, instead of climbing on trees, they pulled the branches
down to them, and tore up the smaller ones by the roots, and so fed
on the leaves. The colossal breadth and weight of their hinder
quarters, which can hardly be imagined without having been seen,
become, on this view, of obvious service instead of being an
encumbrance; their apparent clumsiness disappears. With their great
tails and huge heels firmly fixed like a tripod in the ground, they
could freely exert the full force of their most powerful arms and
great claws."[52]

[52] _Journal of Researches._

To this we may add Dean Buckland's description,[53] "His entire frame
was an apparatus of colossal mechanism, adapted exactly to the work it
had to do; strong and ponderous in proportion as this work was heavy,
and calculated to be the vehicle of life and enjoyment to a gigantic
race of quadrupeds, which, though they have ceased to be counted among
the living inhabitants of our planet, have, in their fossil bones,
left behind them imperishable monuments of the consummate skill with
which they were constructed. Each limb and fragment of a limb form
coordinate parts of a well-adjusted and perfect whole."

[53] _Bridgewater Treatise._

After reading these descriptions, it is not difficult to form a mental
picture of the great beast laying siege to a tree, and to conceive the
massive frame of the Megatherium convulsed with the mighty wrestling,
every vibrating fibre reacting upon its bony attachment with the force
of a hundred giants; extraordinary must be the strength and
proportions of the tree if, when rocked to and fro, to right and left,
in such an embrace, it can long withstand the efforts of its
assailant. It yields, the roots fly up, the earth is scattered wide
upon the surrounding foliage, and the tree comes down with a
thundering crash, cracking and snapping the great boughs like glass.
Then the coveted food is within reach, and the giant reaps the reward
of his Herculean labours.

Sir Woodbine Parish thought that the Megatherium fed on the Agave, or
American aloe.

Another form of extinct sloth found in the same region is the
Mylodon. Though of smaller size, it was much bigger than any living
sloth, and attained a length of eleven feet. It has the same general
structure, but the head and jaws are somewhat different, and more like
the recent forms. A nearly perfect and original skeleton of Mylodon
gracilis has been set up beside its huge relative's cast in the same
gallery at the Natural History Museum. The crowns of its molar teeth
are flat instead of being ridged; hence its name, which signified

Yet another was the Scelidotherium[54] with its long limbs. Darwin
obtained an almost entire skeleton of one of these. It was as large as
a polar bear. Speaking of his discovery, he says, "The beds containing
the fossil skeletons consist of stratified gravel and reddish mud; a
proof that the elevation of the land has been inconsiderable since the
great quadrupeds wandered over the surrounding plains, and the
external features of the country were then very nearly the same as
now. The number of the remains of these quadrupeds embedded in the
vast estuary deposits which form the Pampas and cover the granitic
rocks of Banda Oriental must be extraordinarily great. I believe a
straight line drawn in any direction through the country would cut
through some skeleton or bones. As far as I am aware, not one of these
animals perished, as was formerly supposed, in the marshes or muddy
river-beds of the present land, but their bones have been exposed by
the streams intersecting the subaqueous deposit in which they were
originally embedded. We may conclude that the whole area of the Pampas
is one wide sepulchre of these extinct gigantic quadrupeds."[55]

[54] Greek--_scelis_, limb; _therion_, beast.

[55] _Journal of Researches._

The genus Scelidotherium comprises a number of species and presents
characters more or less intermediate between Megatherium and some
other genera. The skull is low and elongated, and shows an approach to
that of the modern ant-eater. The feet also are different from those
of Megatherium (see Fig. 50).

[Illustration: Fig. 50.--Skeleton of _Scelidotherium_. (After

These monster sloths inhabited South America during the latest
geological period, known as the Pleistocene. During part of that time
North America, as well as Northern Europe and Asia, were invaded by a
great ice-sheet, and an arctic climate prevailed. It is therefore very
probable that while the mammoth and the mastodon were roaming over
North America, giant sloths and armadillos were monarchs of the
southern continent. What cause, or causes, led to the extermination of
the giant sloths and armadillos is still a matter of speculation. One
writer suggests an explanation that seems to deserve consideration.
The southern parts of this great continent are even now subject to
long-continued droughts, sometimes lasting for three years in
succession, and bringing great destruction to cattle. In fact, the
discoveries related above were rendered possible by several successive
dry seasons. It is argued that the upright position of most of the
skeletons found _in situ_ seems to suggest that the creatures must
have been mired in adhesive mud sufficiently firm to uphold the
ponderous bones after the flesh had decayed. A long drought would
bring the creatures from the drained and parched country to the
rivers, reduced by want of rain to slender streams running between
extensive mud-banks; and it is possible that, in their anxious efforts
to reach the water, they may have only sunk deeper and deeper in the
mud until they were engulfed. This idea is strengthened by
information supplied to Mr. Darwin when in these parts (recorded in
his _Journal_). An eye-witness told him that during the _gran seco_,
or great drought, the cattle in herds of thousands rushed into the
Parana, and, being exhausted by hunger and thirst, were unable to
crawl up the muddy banks, and so were drowned.

In the last great drought, from 1830 to 1832, it is probable
(according to calculations made) that the number of animals that died
was over one million and a half. The borders of all the lakes and
streamlets in the province were long afterwards white with their

In the year 1882 reports were published of the discovery of large
footprints--supposed to be human--in a certain sandstone near Carson,
Nevada, U.S. The locality was the yard of the State prison, and the
tracks were uncovered in quarrying stone for building purposes. Many
different kinds of tracks were found, some of which were made by an
animal allied to the elephant; some resembled those of the horse and
deer; others seem to have been made by a wolf, and yet others by large
birds. Those supposed to have been made by human giants were in six
series, each with alternate right and left tracks. The stride is from
two and a half to over three feet, and each footprint is about
eighteen inches long. Now, those who believed these tracks to be human
must have found it hard to explain how a giant with a foot some
eighteen inches long had a stride no longer than that of an ordinary
man of to-day, to say nothing of the fact that the straddle was
eighteen to nineteen inches! For these and other reasons Professor
Marsh has exploded the idea of their having been made by men, and gave
good reasons to show that they were probably made by a giant sloth,
such as the Mylodon above mentioned, the remains of which have been
discovered in the same strata. They agree in size, in stride, and in
width between the right and left impressions, very closely with the
tracks that a Mylodon would have made, and it seems that those of the
fore feet were afterwards impressed by the hind feet, so that each
track contains two impressions.

The reader who has some knowledge of natural history will not need to
be told that the sloths of the present day, inhabiting the same region
as their gigantic ancestors, are of small size, and live among the
branches of the trees, together with the spider monkeys, howlers, and
other apes. An interesting question to the evolutionist is--How did
the change take place from the old huge and heavy types to the smaller
and agile types of the present day? Can it be possible that the more
difficult and tedious task of pulling down branches and even stems of
trees, in order to devour the leaves, was abandoned for the simpler
method of climbing up and feeding among the branches? It certainly
looks as if a change of this kind had been instituted at some distant
period in the past--distant, that is, to _us_, but not very remote
geologically. The present method seems so much simpler that we need
not be surprised at its adoption, for Nature is ever ready to
encourage and assist those among the children of Life which can hit
upon and adopt new and improved methods, either in obtaining food or
repelling enemies, or other duties imposed upon them. Now, suppose
that, in accordance with the well-known fact that variations in the
offspring of animals are constantly cropping up, some considerably
smaller variety of Megatherium, or Mylodon, or other now extinct type,
appeared on the scene, and, by virtue of its comparative agility,
could climb a tree and feed among the branches instead of pulling them
down: then, as Darwin has so well explained, Nature would seize upon
this accidental variation, and give it an advantage over its more
awkward relations. Its offspring, too, would inherit the same
characteristics, they would adopt the same habits, and, in time, as
"natural selection" further increased these characters, by weeding out
those that were unfit while fostering all those that were neither
large nor clumsy in climbing trees, a new race of sloths would arise.
This new race, it can well be imagined, would in time outstrip the old
race in numbers, for successful races multiply while unsuccessful
ones diminish. Victory is not always to the great and the strong, for
cunning and quickness are often of more service than mere brute
strength; and perhaps the sloths, as we now see them in the Brazilian
forests, have hit upon "a new and original plan" by means of which the
old colossal forms described above have been driven out of the field,
and so exterminated by a process of competition. Such an explanation
would be in thorough harmony with modern teaching, and, as the other
suggestion about long-continued droughts, given on p. 184, may not
appear satisfactory to some of our readers, we offer this theory for
what it may be worth.

A few words about these modern sloths may not be out of place; for we
shall better understand how they have succeeded in the struggle for
existence when we know something of their manner of life; and in some
ways they still resemble their great ancestors.

There are few animals which exhibit in a greater degree what appears
to the careless observer to be _deformity_ than the sloth, and none
that have, on this account, been more maligned by naturalists. Buffon,
and many of the older zoologists, were eloquent upon the supposed
defects of the unfortunate sloth. These writers gravely asserted that
when the sloth ascends a tree, for the purpose of feeding upon its
leaves, it is so lazy that it will not quit its station until every
trace of verdure is devoured. Some of them even went so far as to
assert that when the sloth was compelled, after thus stripping a tree,
to look out for a fresh supply of food, it would not take the trouble
to descend the tree, but just allowed itself to drop from a branch to
the ground. Even Cuvier, who ought to have known better, echoes this
tale, and insinuates that Nature, becoming weary of perfection,
"wished to amuse herself by producing something imperfect and
grotesque," when the sloths were formed; and he proceeds, with great
gravity, to show the "inconvenience of organisation," which, in his
opinion, rendered the sloths unfit for the enjoyment of life.

It is quite true that, on the ground, these animals are about the most
awkward creatures that can well be imagined. Their fore legs are much
longer than their hind ones; all their toes are terminated by very
long curved claws, and the general structure of the animal is such as
to prevent them from walking in the manner of an ordinary quadruped,
for they are compelled to rest on the sides of their hands and feet.
Thus they appear the most helpless of animals, and their only means of
progression consists in hooking their claws to some inequality in the
ground, and thus dragging their bodies painfully along. But in their
natural home, amongst the branches of trees, all these seeming
disadvantages vanish--nay, the very peculiarities of structure which
render the sloths objects of pity on the ground, are found to render
them admirably adapted to their peculiar mode of life. The sloth is a
small animal, rarely more than two feet in length, and covered with
woolly hair--probably a protection against snakes, its only enemies.
It spends nearly the whole of its life in the trees. There, safe from
the prowling animals on the ground below, it hangs like a hammock from
the bough, and even travels along the branches with its body
downwards, using its long claws like grappling-irons.

It looks slothful enough when asleep, for then it resembles a bunch of
rough hair, and a jumble of limbs close together, hanging to a branch;
but when awake it is industrious in its search for nice twigs and
leaves, and moves along with considerable activity. When the
atmosphere is still, the sloth keeps to its tree, feeding on the
leaves and twigs, but when there is wind, and the branches of
neighbouring trees come in contact, the opportunity is seized, and the
animal moves along the forest under the shady cover of the boughs. The
Indians have a saying that "when the wind blows the sloth begins to
crawl;" and the reason is quite evident, for they cannot jump, but can
hang, swing, and crawl suspended.

[Illustration: Plate XIX.


From Buenos Ayres. Length 8 feet 7 inches.]

We now pass on to the old gigantic representative of the armadillo,
the Glyptodon.[56] To the eye it resembles more or less an armadillo,
and has a huge cuirass, or large plate of armour, covering the whole
of the body, but allowing the head to show in front, while the legs
come out beneath. Both head and tail were also protected with armour.
The great shield, or carapace, in most of the extinct armadillos, is
composed of long plates of regular shape, closely united at their
edges (sutures) so as to form a solid piece. It is evident, therefore,
that this creature, having no movable bands, as living armadillos
have, could not roll itself up into a ball. The fore feet have thick,
short toes, instead of long ones, such as their modern representatives
have; and from this we may infer that they were not in the habit of
burrowing or of seeking their food underground. The family of
Glyptodonts seem to have been chiefly confined to the continent of
South America, but some species are known to have extended their range
as far as Mexico, and Texas into North America. A good deal of
confusion has arisen with regard to the classification of these
old-fashioned armadillos, on account of the fact that isolated
specimens of their tails have often been found, and these cannot
always be referred to the right carapaces. For example, it should be
pointed out here that the tail represented in Fig. 51 really belongs
to another genus, known as Hoplophorus.[57]

[56] So named by Sir R. Owen, in reference to the sculptured aspect of
the grinding surface of the teeth. Greek--_glupho_, I carve; _odous,
odontos_, tooth.

[57] Greek--_Hoplon_, armour; _phero_, I bear.

In Glyptodon asper (Plate XIX.), the scutes of the carapace had a
beautiful rosette-like sculpture, while the sheath of the tail was
entirely composed of a series of movable rings, ornamented with large
projecting tubercles. The vertebræ of the backbone are almost entirely
fused together into a long tube, and also are joined to the under
surface of the great shield, to which the ribs are united. The
cheek-teeth are sixteen in number, four above and four below on each
side. These are channelled with two broad and deep grooves, which
divide the surface into three distinct lobes. Hence the name of the

The tessellated carapace of the Glyptodon was at first thought to
belong to the Megatherium, with which the remains were associated, but
Professor Owen clearly demonstrated the impossibility of this idea.

Fig. 51 represents Glyptodon clavipes (Owen) from the Pleistocene
deposits of Buenos Ayres; but the reader will gain a much better idea
of the animal by inspecting the splendid specimen of Glyptodon asper
in the Natural History Museum, near the centre window at the east end
of the Pavilion (Glass-case Q on plan).

Plate XIX. is a restoration of another species by our artist.[58]

[58] This plate is based on a beautiful drawing in a Spanish work,
_Anales del Museo publico Buenos Aires_. G. Burmeister, M.D., Phil. D.
Tomo Segundo.

In the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons (which the reader is
recommended to visit) there are several most valuable specimens of
these extinct armadillos from South America.

[Illustration: Fig. 51.--Extinct Gigantic Armadillo, _Glyptodon
clavipes_, from Pleistocene deposits, Buenos Ayres. (The tail sheath
here represented probably belongs to another genus, Hoplophorus.)]

Armadillos belong, with sloths and ant-eaters, to the same family of
so-called toothless animals (edentata) with no front teeth, though one
or two forms really are toothless. Those of the present day have their
bony armour divided up into a series of bands, so that they can roll
themselves up, more or less, into balls. They burrow under the ground,
where they get their food to a certain extent, and live a safe life,
protected by their casque of mail. Their only enemies seem to be the
monkeys, and one of the tricks of the young monkeys in the American
forests is, when they find an armadillo away from home, to pull its
tail unmercifully, and try to drag it about. Snakes cannot hurt them.
Mr. Hudson, in his most interesting book, _A Naturalist in La Plata_,
narrates how he watched an armadillo kill a snake and then devour it.

If we examine the anatomy of the armadillo, we shall find that its
bones greatly resemble those of the sloth, but still there are a few
differences. It is a burrowing animal, and therefore requires great
power of scratching and tearing the ground. Why the colossal forms of
armadillo should have become extinct and only small ones survived to
the present time, is one of the many and perplexing problems presented
by the study of extinct animals. One would have thought from its size
and strength that the Glyptodon had been built, like Rome, for



    "Yes, where the huntsman winds his matin horn,
      And the couched hare beneath the covert trembles;
    Where shepherds tend their flocks, and grow their corn
      Where fashion in our gay Parade assembles--
    Wild horses, deer, and elephants have strayed,
      Treading beneath their feet old Ocean's races."

    Horace Smith.

Many are the traditions and tales that have clustered round the
Mammoth.[59] He is, however, no fabulous product of the imagination,
like the dragon, for he has actually been seen in the flesh, and not
only _seen_, but eaten, both by men and animals! But, for all that,
men's minds have been busy for centuries past making up tales, often
of the wildest description, about him; and it is little wonder that a
creature whose bones are found in the soils and gravels, etc., over
more than half the world, and whose body has been seen frozen in
Siberian ice, should have given rise to many tales and superstitions.
To students of folk-lore these legends are of considerable interest,
and to some extent also to men of science. To the latter, however,
one of its many points of interest is that palæontology may be said to
have been founded on the Mammoth. Cuvier, the illustrious founder of
the science of organic remains, was enabled, by his accurate and
minute knowledge of the structures of living animals, to prove to his
astonished contemporaries that the Mammoth bones and teeth, so
plentifully discovered in Europe, were not such as could have belonged
to any living elephant, and consequently that there must have existed,
at some previous period in the world's history, an elephant of a
different kind, and quite unknown to naturalists. This was a new idea,
and accordingly one that met with opposition as well as incredulity.

[59] The word _Mammoth_ is thought by Pallas and Nordenskiöld to be of
Tartar origin. The former asserts that the name originated in the word
_mamma_, which signifies earth (the Mammoth being found frozen in the
earth). It was introduced into the languages of Western Europe about
two centuries ago, from the Russian. But other writers have attempted
to prove that it is a corruption of the Arabic word _Behemoth_, or
"great beast," which in the Book of Job signifies an unknown animal.
In an ancient Chinese work, of the fifth century before Christ, it is
spoken of under the name _tien-schu_, that is to say, "the mouse which
hides itself." The Chinese legends are referred to on p. 199.

It was thought in those days that whatever animals lived in the past
_must_ have resembled those now inhabiting the world, and the idea of
extinct types unknown to man, and unknown to the regions where their
bones were found embedded below the soil, was of so novel and
startling a character as to appear incredible. Besides, the Mosaic
account of Creation made no direct reference to extinct animals, and
therefore the notion was not to be entertained.

It is amusing to note the devices to which people resorted in order to
combat this revolutionary teaching. Thus, when Cuvier first announced
the discovery of the fossil remains of the elephant, hippopotamus, and
rhinoceros in the superficial deposits of continental Europe, he was
gravely reminded of the elephants introduced into Italy by Pyrrhus in
the Roman wars, and afterwards in the Roman triumphal processions or
the games at the Colosseum.

It was only by means of minute anatomical differences that he was able
to show that the bones and teeth of these elephants must have belonged
to a species unlike those now living. But these differences proved too
subtle for even scientific men to appreciate, so slight was their
knowledge of anatomy compared with his; so that they were either
disallowed or explained away.

But he was not to be beaten, and appealed to the fact that similar
remains occurred in Great Britain, whither neither Romans nor others
could have introduced such animals. These are his words: "If, passing
across the German Ocean, we transport ourselves into Britain, which in
ancient history by its position could not have received many living
elephants besides that one which Cæsar brought thither, according to
Polycenus; we shall, nevertheless, find these fossils in as great
abundance as on the Continent."

Another crushing answer to the absurd explanations of Cuvier's
countrymen was added by the sagacious Dean Buckland, who pointed out
that in England, as on the Continent, the remains of elephants are
accompanied by the bones of the rhinoceros and hippopotamus, animals
which not even Roman armies could have subdued or tamed! Owen also
adds that the bones of fossil elephants are found in Ireland, where
Cæsar's army never set foot.

It was in 1796 that Cuvier announced that the teeth and bones of the
European fossil elephants were distinct in species from both the
African and the Indian elephant, the only two living species (El.
africanus and El. indicus). This fundamental fact opened out to him
new views about the creation of the world and its inhabitants, and a
rapid glance over other fossil bones in his collection showed him the
truth and the value of this great idea (namely, the existence of
extinct types), to which he consecrated the rest of his life. Thus
palæontology may be said to have been founded on the Mammoth.

The fossil remains of elephants have, on account of their common
occurrence in various parts of the world, attracted a great deal of
attention, both from the learned and the unlearned. In the North of
Europe they have been found in Ireland, in Germany; in Central Europe,
in Poland, Middle and South Russia, Greece, Spain, Italy; also in
Africa, and over a large part of Asia. In the New World they have been
found abundantly in North America. But in the frozen regions of
Siberia its tusks, teeth, and bones are met with in very great
abundance. According to Pallas, the great Russian savant, there is not
in the whole of Asiatic Russia, from the Don to the extremity of the
Tchutchian promontory, any brook or river on the banks of which some
bones of elephants and other animals foreign to these regions have not
been found. The primæval elephants (Mammoth, Mastodon, etc.) appear to
have formerly ranged over the whole northern hemisphere of the globe,
from the fortieth parallel to the sixtieth, and possibly to near the
seventieth degree of latitude.

Just as the North American Indian regards the great bones of Professor
Marsh's extinct Eocene mammals that peep out from the sides of buttes
and cañons, as belonging to his ancestors, so we find that in all
parts of the world the bones of extinct elephants have, on account of
their great size (and partly from a certain resemblance, in some, to
bones of the human skeleton), been regarded as testifying to the
former existence of giants, heroes, and demigods. To the present day
the Hindoos consider such remains as belonging to the _Rakshas_, or
Titans,--beings that figure largely in their ancient writings.
Theophrastus, of Lesbos, a pupil of Aristotle, appears to have been
the first to record the discovery of fossil ivory and bones. These
were probably obtained by the country people from certain deposits in
the neighbourhood, and are mentioned five hundred years later by
Pausanias. Several Greek legends and traditions appear to be founded
on such discoveries.

Thus the Greeks mistook the knee-bone of an elephant for that of Ajax.
In like manner the supposed body of Orestes, thirteen feet in length,
discovered by the Spartans at Tegea, doubtless was the skeleton of
some elephant. In the isle of Rhodes, in Sicily, and near Palmero,
Syracuse, and at many other places, similar remains have afforded a
basis for stories of giants. In fact, so much has been said by old
writers on this subject, that whole volumes might be filled with such
matter. Let one or two examples suffice.

In the year 1613 some workmen in a sand-pit near the castle of
Chaumont, not far from St. Antoine, found some bones (probably of the
Mammoth or Mastodon) of the nature of which they were entirely
ignorant, and many of them they broke up. But a certain surgeon named
Mazuyer, hearing of the discovery, bought the bones, and announced
that he had himself discovered them in a tomb thirty feet long,
bearing in Gothic characters the inscription, "Teutobochus Rex." This
was a barbarian king who invaded Gaul at the head of the Cimbri, and
was defeated near Aix, in Provence, by Marius, who brought him to Rome
to grace his triumphal procession. Mazuyer reminded his credulous
readers that, according to the testimony of Roman authors, the head of
this king was larger than any of the trophies borne upon the lances in
triumph, and for a time his marvellous story was accepted. The
skeleton of this pretended giant-king was exhibited in many cities of
France and Germany, and also before Louis XII., who took great
interest in it. The imposture was detected and exposed by Riolan, and
thus a great controversy arose, and numerous pamphlets were written on
both sides. The skeleton remained at Bordeaux till the year 1832, when
it was sent to the Museum of Natural History at Paris, where it may
still be seen. It is needless to say that, on its arrival there, M.
Blainville at once recognised it as being that of an elephant--a
Mastodon, in fact.

Another giant-story may be narrated as follows. In the year 1577 some
large bones were discovered, through the uprooting of an oak by a
storm, in the Canton of Lucerne, in Switzerland. These bones were
afterwards declared by the celebrated physician and professor at
Basle, Felix Plater, to be those of a giant. This learned man
estimated the height of the giant at nineteen feet! and made a drawing
thereof, which he sent to Lucerne. The bones have since nearly all
vanished, but Blumenbach, at the beginning of this century, saw enough
of them to prove their elephantine nature. The good people of Lucerne,
however, being reluctant to abandon their giant, have, since the
sixteenth century, made him the supporter of their city arms.

The Church of St. Christopher, at Valence, possessed an elephant's
tooth, which was shown as the tooth of St. Christopher. As this relic
was "bigger than a man's fist," it is difficult to picture what idea
the people entertained of their saint!

In 1564 two peasants observed on the banks of the Rhone, along a
slope, some great bones sticking out of the ground. These they carried
to the neighbouring village, where they were examined by Cassanion,
who lived at Valence, and was the author of a treatise on giants (_De
Gigantibus_). Cuvier concluded from this writer's description of the
tooth that it belonged to an elephant.

Otto de Guericke, famous as the inventor of the air-pump, in 1663
witnessed the discovery of a fossil elephant, with its tusks
preserved. These he mistook for horns; so did even the illustrious
Leibnitz, who created out of his own imagination a strange animal,
with a great horn in the middle of its forehead, as the creature to
which these remains belonged! One is reminded of Bret Harte's amusing
_jeu d'esprit, The Society upon the Stanislaus_--

    "Then Brown he read a paper, and he reconstructed there,
    From those same bones, an animal that was extremely rare;"

and how the members of this learned society came to blows over their
fossil bones, and hurled them at one another--"till the skull of an
old mammoth caved the head of Thomson in." But in this case, the
"animal that was extremely rare" was believed in for a long time, and
Leibnitz's "fossil unicorn" was universally accepted throughout
Germany for more than thirty years. At last, however, a complete
skeleton of a Mammoth was discovered, and recognised as belonging to
an elephant; but the unicorn was not given up without a keen

[60] The writer is indebted for much of the information here given
with regard to the discoveries of Mammoth bones, and legends founded
thereon, to M. Figuier's _World before the Deluge_.

Near the city of Constadt, in the year 1700, a great quantity of bones
and tusks of elephants were discovered, after excavations had been
made by order of the reigning duke, who had been informed by a soldier
of Würtemberg of the presence of bones in the soil. In this way some
sixty tusks were unearthed. The whole ones were preserved, but those
which were broken were given to the Court physician, who made use of
them for medicinal purposes. After this the "Ebur fossile," or
"Unicornu fossile," was freely used by the German doctors, until the
discovery of the bone-caves of the Hartz, when it became too abundant
to pass for true unicorn, and consequently lost much of its repute.

In our own country elephantine remains have also given rise to strange
tales. The village of Walton, near Harwich, is famous for the
abundance of Mammoth remains, which lie along the base of the
sea-cliffs, mixed with the bones of horses, oxen, and deer. "The more
bulky of these fossils," says Professor Owen, "appear to have early
attracted the notice of the curious. Lambard, in his _Dictionary_,
says that 'in Queen Elizabeth's time bones were found, at Walton, of a
man whose skull would contain five pecks, and one of his teeth as big
as a man's fist, and weighed ten ounces. These bones had sometimes
bodies, not of beasts, but of men, for the difference is manifest.'"

According to the same authority, there is reason to believe that
instances have occurred in Great Britain in which, with due care and
attention, a more or less entire skeleton of the Mammoth might have
been secured. He mentions the case of the discovery of a number of
Mammoth bones by some workmen in a brick-ground, near the village of
Grays, in Essex. But most unfortunately, in their ignorance, they
broke up these valuable relics, and sold the fragments, for three
half-pence a pound, to a dealer in old bones! This somewhat lucrative
traffic went on for over half a year before the matter came to the
notice of Mr. R. Ball, F.G.S., who recovered some fine bones from the
men, and thus rescued them from the destruction that awaited them.

It is greatly to be hoped that some day our National Treasure House at
South Kensington may be enriched with a complete Mammoth skeleton from
British soil.

The Chinese, as might be expected, heard of the Mammoth long before
Europeans did, and they have some strange stories about it. In the
northern part of Siberia, so great is the abundance of Mammoth tusks,
that for a very long period there has been a regular export of Mammoth
ivory, both eastward to China and westward to Europe. Even in the
middle of the tenth century an active trade was carried on at Khiva in
fossil ivory, which was fashioned into combs, vases, and other
objects, as related by an Arab writer of that time. Middendorf
reckoned that the number of fossil tusks which have yearly come into
the market, during the last two centuries, has been at least a hundred
pairs--an estimate which Nordenskiöld considers as well within the
mark. They are found all along the line of the shore between the mouth
of the Obi and Behring Straits, and the further north a traveller
goes, the more numerous does he find them. The soil of Bear Island and
of the Liachoff Islands (New Siberia) is said to consist only of sand
and ice with such quantities of Mammoth bones that it appears as if
they were almost made up of bones and tusks. Every summer numbers of
fishermen make for these islands to collect fossil ivory, and during
the winter immense caravans return laden with Mammoth tusks. The
convoys are drawn by dogs, and in this way the ivory reaches both the
ancient Eastern and the newer Western markets.

It is evident from the Chinese legends that the frozen bodies of
Mammoths have for ages past been either seen by, or reported to,
members of the celestial empire, for it is mentioned in some of their
old books as an animal that lives underground. In a great Chinese work
on natural history, written in the sixteenth century, the following
quaint description occurs: "The animal named _tien-schu_, of which we
have already spoken, in the ancient work upon the ceremonial entitled
_Lyki_ [a work of the fifth century before Christ] is called also
_fyn-schu_, or _yn-schu_, that is to say, 'the mouse that hides
itself.' It always lives in subterranean caverns; it resembles a
mouse, but is of the size of a buffalo or ox. It has no tail; its
colour is dark; it is very strong, and excavates caverns in places
full of rocks and forests." Another writer says, "The _fyn-schu_
haunts obscure and unfrequented places. It dies as soon as it is
exposed to the rays of the sun or moon; its feet are short in
proportion to its size, which causes it to walk badly. Its tail is a
Chinese ell in length. Its eyes are small, and its neck short. It is
very stupid and sluggish. When the inundations of the river
_Tamschuann-tuy_ took place [in 1571] a great many _fyn-schu_ appeared
in the plain; it fed on the roots of the plant _fu-kia_."

An old Russian traveller, who, in 1692, was sent by Peter the Great as
ambassador to the Emperor of China, mentions the discovery of the
heads and legs of Mammoths in frozen soil. After referring to these
discoveries, he says, "Concerning this animal there are very different
reports. The heathens of Jakutsk, Tungus, and Ostiaks say that they
continually, or at least, by reason of the very hard frosts, mostly
live underground, where they go backwards and forwards; to confirm
which they tell us that they have often seen the earth heaved up when
one of these beasts was upon the march, and, after he passed, the
place sink in, and thereby make a deep pit. They further believe that
if this animal comes so near to the surface of the frozen earth as to
smell the air, he immediately dies, which they say is the reason that
several of them are found dead on the high banks of the river, where
they unawares came out of the ground. This is the opinion of the
infidels concerning these beasts, which are never seen. But the old
Siberian Russians affirm that the Mammoth is very like the elephant,
with this difference only, that the teeth of the former are firmer,
and not so straight as those of the latter.... By all I could gather
from the heathens, no person ever saw one of these beasts alive, or
can give any account of its shape; so that all we heard said on this
subject arises from bare conjecture only."

But making all allowance for the gross absurdities of these accounts,
it is clear that they are based on descriptions--probably by the
Tungusian fishermen--of carcases that have been washed out of the
frozen soil by rivers in flood time. Now that we are in possession of
trustworthy accounts, we can understand how these strange tales arose
among an ignorant and superstitious people, such as the fishermen of
these inhospitable shores.

We will now put before the reader the true accounts given by Adams[61]
and Benkendorf.

[61] Abridged from _Memoirs of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St.
Petersburg_, vol. v. London, 1819.

In 1799 a Tungusian, named Schumachoff, who generally went to hunt and
fish at the peninsula of Tamut after the fishing season of the Lena
was over, had constructed for his wife some cabins on the banks of the
lake Oncoul, and had embarked to seek along the coasts for Mammoth
tusks. One day he saw among the blocks of ice a shapeless mass, but
did not then discover what it was. In 1800 he perceived that this
object was more disengaged from the ice, and that it had two
projecting parts; and towards the end of the summer of 1801 the entire
side of the animal and one of his tusks were quite free from ice. In
1803 the enormous mass fell by its own weight on a bank of sand. It
was a frozen Mammoth! In 1804 Schumachoff came to his Mammoth, and
having cut off the tusks, exchanged them with a merchant for goods.
Two years afterwards Mr. Adams, the narrator of the story, traversed
these distant and desert regions, and found the Mammoth still in the
same place, but sadly mutilated. The people of the neighbourhood had
cut off the flesh, and fed their dogs with it during the scarcity.
Wild beasts, such as white bears, wolves, and foxes, also had fed on
it, and the traces of their footsteps were seen around. The skeleton
was complete all except one leg, but the flesh had almost all gone.
The head was covered with a dry skin, one of the ears was seen to be
covered with a tuft of hairs. All these parts suffered more or less
injury in transport for a distance of 7330 miles to St. Petersburg,
yet the eyes have been preserved. This Mammoth was a male, with a long
mane on its neck, but both tail and proboscis had disappeared. The
skin is of a dark grey colour, covered with a reddish wool and black
hairs. The entire carcase was nine feet four inches high. The skin of
the side on which the carcase had lain was detached by Mr. Adams, for
it was well preserved, but so heavy was it that ten persons found
great difficulty in transporting it to the shore. The white bears,
while devouring the flesh, had trodden into the ground much of the
hair belonging to the carcase, but Mr. Adams was able by digging to
procure about sixty pounds' weight of hair. In a few days the work was
completed, and he found himself in possession of a treasure which
amply compensated him for the fatigues and dangers of the journey as
well as the expense of the enterprise. When first seen, this Mammoth
was embedded in clear pure ice, which forms in that coast escarpments
of considerable thickness, sloping towards the sea, the top of which
is covered with moss and earth. If the account of the Tungusians can
be trusted, the carcase was some way below the surface of the ice when
first seen. Arrived at Takutsk, Mr. Adams purchased a pair of tusks
which he believed to belong to this Mammoth, but there is reason to
doubt whether he did get the right tusks. They are nine feet six
inches long.

[Illustration: Fig. 52.--Skeleton of Mammoth, _Elephas primigenius_
(partly restored), in the Museum at Brussels. Drawn from a photograph,
by J. Smit.]

The skeleton of this specimen, the fame of which may be said to have
spread all over the world, is now set up in the Museum of the St.
Petersburg Academy, and the skin still remains attached to the head
and feet. A part of the skin and some of the hair were sent by Mr.
Adams to Sir Joseph Banks, who presented them to the Museum of the
Royal College of Surgeons.[62] A photograph of the skeleton as it now
stands, may be seen on the wall of the big Geological Gallery at South
Kensington (No. I. on plan), near the specimens of Mammoth tusks. But
it should be pointed out that _the tusks are put on the wrong way_;
for they curve outwards instead of inwards, thus presenting a somewhat
grotesque appearance. For this reason we have not reproduced the
familiar woodcut based on an engraving in the memoir already referred
to.[63] But we give, instead, a sketch taken from a photograph (also on
the wall in gallery No. I.) of a fine skeleton in the Brussels Museum
(Fig. 52). Here the tusks are seen correctly inserted. We must also
draw the reader's attention to the remarkably fine specimen (glazed
case E on plan) consisting of the skull and both tusks complete, found
at Ilford in Essex.

[62] A specimen of the hair of a mammoth may be also seen at the
Natural History Museum (pier case 31) in a tall glass jar. It came
from frozen soil, Behring Strait. By the side of this will be seen, in
a glass box, a portion of the skin of a mammoth, from the banks of the
river Alaseja, Province of Yakutsk, Siberia. It exhibits the under
fur, the long hair having entirely disappeared.

[63] Fig. 32 in Part I. of the _Guide to the Exhibition Galleries in
the Department of Geology and Palæontology in the British Museum
(Natural History), Cromwell Road_. (Price 1_s._) This most useful
guide should be consulted by the reader.

Adams's specimen was, Dr. Woodward thinks, an old individual, and its
tusks had curved upwards so much as to be of little use. In younger
ones they were less curved. The hair that still remains on the skin of
the St. Petersburg specimen is of the colour of the camel, very
thick-set and curled in locks. Bristles of a dark colour are
interspersed, some reddish, and some nearly black. The colour of the
skin is a dull black, as in living elephants (see restoration, Plate

Remains of the Mammoth (Elephas primigenius) have been found in great
numbers in the British Isles. A list of localities (from Mr. Leith
Adams's monograph on fossil elephants) is given in the Appendix, but
even this might be extended. Mr. Samuel Woodward calculated that
upward of two thousand grinders of elephants have been dredged up
during a period of thirteen years upon the oyster-bed off Hasborough,
on the Norfolk coast. But many of these doubtless belong to other
species of older date, such as Elephas antiquus.

Dr. Bree, of Colchester, says that the sea-bottom off Dunkirk, whence
he has made a collection, is so full of mammalian remains that the
sailors speak of it as "the Burying-ground."

The remains of the Mammoth occur over a very large geographical
area--fully half the globe.

By far the most important discovery of a frozen Mammoth is that of a
young Russian engineer, Benkendorf by name, who was an eye-witness of
its resurrection, though, most unfortunately, he was unable either to
procure his specimen, as Mr. Adams did, or to make drawings of it.
Being employed by the Russian Government in making a survey of the
coast off the mouth of the Lena and Indigirka rivers, he was
despatched up the latter river in 1846, in command of a small
steam-cutter. The following is a translation of the account which he
wrote to a friend in Germany.

[Illustration: Plate XX.


An inhabitant of Northern regions during the Great Ice Age.]

"In 1846 there was unusually warm weather in the north of Siberia.
Already in May unusual rains poured over the moors and bogs, storms
shook the earth, and the streams carried not only ice to the sea, but
also large tracts of land, thawed by the masses of warm water fed by
the southern rains.... We steamed on the first favourable day up the
Indigirka; but there were no thoughts of land; we saw around us only a
sea of dirty brown water, and knew the river only by the rushing and
roaring of the stream. The river rolled against us trees, moss, and
large masses of peat, so that it was only with great trouble and
danger that we could proceed. At the end of the second day, we were
only about forty versts up the stream; some one had to stand with the
sounding-rod in hand continually, and the boat received so many shocks
that it shuddered to the keel. A wooden vessel would have been
smashed. Around us we saw nothing but the flooded land for eight days.
We met with the like hindrances until at last we reached the place
where our Jakuti were to have met us. Further up was a place called
Ujandina, whence the people were to have come to us; but they were not
there, prevented evidently by the floods.

"As we had been there in former years, we knew the place. But how it
had changed! The Indigirka, here about three versts wide, had torn up
the land and worn itself a fresh channel; and when the waters sank we
saw, to our astonishment, that the old river-bed had become merely
that of an insignificant stream. This allowed me to cut through the
soft earth, and we went reconnoitring up the new stream, which had
worn its way westwards. Afterwards we landed on the new shore, and
surveyed the undermining and destructive operation of the wild waters,
that carried away, with extraordinary rapidity, masses of soft peat
and loam. It was then that we made a wonderful discovery. The land on
which we were treading was moorland, covered thickly with young
plants. Many lovely flowers rejoiced the eye in the warm beams of the
sun, that shone for twenty-two out of the twenty-four hours. The
stream rolled over and tore up the soft wet ground like chaff, so that
it was dangerous to go near the brink. While we were all quiet, we
suddenly heard under our feet a sudden gurgling and stirring, which
betrayed the working of the disturbed waters. Suddenly our jäger, ever
on the outlook, called loudly, and pointed to a singular and unshapely
object, which rose and sank through the disturbed waters. I had
already remarked it, but not given it any attention, considering it
only drift-wood. Now we all hastened to the spot on the shore, had the
boat drawn near, and waited until the mysterious thing should again
show itself. Our patience was tried, but at last a black, horrible,
giant-like mass was thrust out of the water, and we beheld a colossal
elephant's head, armed with mighty tusks, with its long trunk moving
in the water in an unearthly manner, as though seeking for something
lost therein. Breathless with astonishment, I beheld the monster
hardly twelve feet from me, with his half-open eyes yet showing the
whites. It was still in good preservation.

"'A mammoth! a mammoth!' broke out the Tschernomori; and I shouted,
'Here, quickly. Chains and ropes!' I will go over our preparations for
securing the giant animal, whose body the water was trying to tear
from us. As the animal again sank, we waited for an opportunity to
throw the ropes over his neck. This was only accomplished after many
efforts. For the rest we had no cause for anxiety, for after examining
the ground I satisfied myself that the hind legs of the Mammoth still
stuck in the earth, and that the waters would work for us to unloosen
them. We therefore fastened a rope round his neck, threw a chain round
his tusks, that were eight feet long, drove a stake into the ground
about twenty feet from the shore, and made chain and rope fast to it.
The day went by quicker than I thought for, but still the time seemed
long before the animal was secured, as it was only after the lapse of
twenty-four hours that the waters had loosened it. But the position of
the animal was interesting to me; it was standing in the earth, and
not lying on its side or back as a dead animal naturally would,
indicating by this the manner of its destruction. The soft peat or
marsh land, on which he stepped thousands of years ago, gave way under
the weight of the giant, and he sank as he stood on it, feet foremost,
incapable of saving himself; and a severe frost came and turned him
into ice, and the moor which had buried him. The latter, however, grew
and flourished, every summer renewing itself. Possibly the
neighbouring stream had heaped over the dead body plants and sand. God
only knows what causes had worked for its preservation; now, however,
the stream had brought it once more to light of day, and I, an
ephemera of life compared with this primæval giant, was sent by Heaven
just at the right time to welcome him. You can imagine how I jumped
for joy.

"During our evening meal, our posts announced strangers--a troop of
Jakuti came on their fast, shaggy horses. They were our appointed
people, and were very joyful at the sight of us. Our company was
augmented by them to about fifty persons. On showing them our
wonderful capture, they hastened to the stream, and it was amusing to
hear how they chattered and talked over the sight. The first day I
left them in quiet possession, but when, on the following, the ropes
and chains gave a great jerk, a sign that the Mammoth was quite freed
from the earth, I commanded them to use their utmost strength and
bring the beast to land. At length, after much hard work, in which the
horses were extremely useful, the animal was brought to land, and we
were able to roll the body about twelve feet from the shore. The
decomposing effect of the warm air filled us all with astonishment.

"Picture to yourself an elephant with a body covered with thick fur,
about thirteen feet in height, and fifteen in length, with tusks eight
feet long, thick, and curving outward at their ends,[64] a stout trunk
of six feet in length, colossal limbs of one and a half feet in
thickness, and a tail, naked up to the end, which was covered with
thick tufty hair. The animal was fat and well-grown; death had
overtaken him in the fulness of his powers. His parchment-like, large,
naked ears, lay fearfully turned over the head; about the shoulders
and the back he had stiff hair, about a foot in length, like a mane.
The long outer hair was deep brown and coarsely rooted. The top of the
head looked so wild, and so penetrated with pich[65] that it resembled
the rind of an old oak tree. On the sides it was cleaner, and under
the outer hair there appeared everywhere a wool, very soft, warm and
thick, and of a fallow-brown colour. The giant was well protected
against the cold. The whole appearance of the animal was fearfully
strange and wild. It had not the shape of our present elephants. As
compared with our Indian elephants, its head was rough, the brain-case
low and narrow, but the trunk and mouth were much larger. The teeth
were very powerful. Our elephant is an awkward animal, but compared
with this Mammoth it is as an Arabian steed to a coarse, ugly
dray-horse. I could not divest myself of a feeling of fear as I
approached the head; the broken, widely-open eyes, gave the animal an
appearance of life, as though it might move in a moment and destroy us
with a roar.... The bad smell of the body warned us that it was time
to save of it what we could, and the swelling flood, too, bid us
hasten. First of all we cut off the tusks, and sent them to the
cutter. Then the people tried to hew off the head, but notwithstanding
their good will, this work was slow. As the belly of the animal was
cut open the intestines rolled out, and then the smell was so dreadful
that I could not overcome my nauseousness, and was obliged to turn
away. But I had the stomach separated, and brought on one side. It was
well filled, and the contents instructive and well preserved. The
principal were young shoots of the fir and pine; a quantity of young
fir-cones, also in a chewed state, were mixed with the mass.... As we
were eviscerating the animal, I was as careless and forgetful as my
Jakuti, who did not notice that the ground was sinking under their
feet, until a fearful scream warned me of their misfortune, as I was
still groping in the animal's stomach. Shocked, I sprang up, and
beheld how the river was burying in its waves our five Jakuti and our
laboriously saved beast. Fortunately, the boat was near, so that our
poor workpeople were all saved, but the Mammoth was swallowed up by
the waves, and never more made its appearance."

[64] This must be incorrect (see p. 203).

[65] "Und mit Pech so durchgedrungen."

Much may be learned from this highly interesting account; it contains
the key to several questions which otherwise might have remained
unsolved. Let us see what conclusions can be derived therefrom.
_First_, its position and perfect state of preservation are sufficient
to prove that it was buried where it died. It sank in a marsh,
probably during the summer. Then came the cold of winter; the carcase,
together with the ground around it, was frozen so that decomposition
was arrested, and frozen it must have remained for many centuries till
the day when M. Benkendorf came across it. Or it may have been buried
up in a snow-drift which in time became ice.

In the region where frozen Mammoths occur (and there are at least nine
cases on record), a considerable thickness of frozen soil may be found
at all seasons of the year; so that if a carcase be once embedded in
mud or ice, its putrefaction may be arrested for indefinite ages.
According to one authority, the ground is now permanently frozen even
to the depth of four hundred feet at the town of Jakutsh, on the
western bank of the river Lena. Throughout a large part of Siberia the
boundary cliffs of the lakes and rivers consist of earthy materials
and ice in horizontal layers. Middendorf bored to the depth of seventy
feet, and after passing through much frozen soil mixed with ice, came
down upon a solid mass of pure transparent ice, the depth of which he
was unable to ascertain.

The year 1846, when M. Benkendorf saw his Mammoth, was exceptional on
account of its unusually warm summer, so that the ground of the tundra
region thawed, and was converted into a morass. Had any Mammoths been
alive then, and strayed beyond the limits of the woods into the
tundra, probably some of them would have been likewise engulphed, and,
when once covered up and protected from the decaying action of the
air, the cold of the next winter would have frozen their carcases as
this one must have been frozen up.

Truly, "there is nothing new under the sun," and the present highly
useful method of freezing meat and bringing it over from America or
New Zealand to add to our insufficient home supplies, is but a resort
to a process employed by Nature long before the age of steamships, and
perhaps even before the appearance of man on the earth!

_Secondly_, with regard to the food of the Mammoth, Benkendorf's
discovery is of great service in solving the question how such a
creature could have maintained its existence in so inhospitable and
unpromising a country. The presence of fir-spikes in the stomach is
sufficient to prove that it fed on vegetation such as is now found at
the northern part of the woods as they join the low treeless tundra in
which the body lay buried.

Before this discovery the food of the Mammoth was unknown, and all
sorts of theories were devised in order to account for its remains
being found so far north. Some thought that the Mammoth lived in
temperate regions, and that the carcases were swept down by great
floods into higher and colder latitudes. But it would be impossible
for the bodies to be hurried along a devious course for so many miles
without a good deal of injury, and probably they would fall to pieces
on the way. But, as Professor Owen has so convincingly argued, there
is no reason why herds of Mammoths should not have obtained a
sufficient supply of food in a country like the southern part of
Siberia, where trees abound in spite of the fact that during a great
part of the year it is covered with snow. And this is his line of
reasoning. The molar teeth of the elephant show a highly complicated
and peculiar structure, and there are no other quadrupeds that feed to
such an extent on the woody fibre of the branches of trees. Many
mammals, as we know, eat the leaves of trees; some gnaw the bark; but
elephants alone tear down and crunch the branches. One would think
there was but little nourishment to be got from such. But the hard
vertical plates of their huge grinders enable them to pound up the
tough vegetable tissue and render it more or less palatable. Of
course, the foliage is the most tempting, but where foliage is scarce
something more is required.

Now, in the teeth of the Mammoth the same principle of construction is
observed, only with greater complexity, for there are more of these
grinding plates and a larger proportion of dense enamel. Hence the
inference seems unmistakable that the extinct species fed more largely
on woody fibre than does the elephant of to-day. Forests of hardy
trees and shrubs still grow upon the frozen soil of Siberia, and skirt
the banks of the Lena as far north as the sixtieth parallel of

If the Mammoth flourished in temperate latitudes only, as formerly
suggested, then its thick shaggy coat becomes superfluous and
meaningless; but if it lived in the region where its body has been
found, then the argument from its teeth, and the fir-spikes found in
its stomach, is confirmed by the nature of its skin, and all the old
difficulties vanish. Professor Owen considers that we may safely infer
that, if living at the present day, it would find a sufficient supply
of food at all seasons of the year in the sixtieth parallel, and even
higher. Perhaps they migrated north during the summer; and, judging
from the present limits of arboreal vegetation, they may have been
able to subsist even in latitude 70° north, for at the extreme points
of Lapland pines attain a height of sixty feet.[66]

[66] Sir Henry Howorth, in his _Mammoth and the Flood_, suggests
another theory, and gives some valuable information.

It is often no easy matter to form conclusions with regard to the
habits of extinct animals; and too much reliance must not be placed on
arguments derived from the habits of their living descendants or their
near relations. The older geologists fell into this mistake with
regard to the Mammoth, as did even Cuvier. Modern elephants are at
present restricted to regions where trees flourish with perennial
foliage, and, therefore, it was argued that there must have been a
change of climate--either gradual or sudden, in the country of the

Cuvier, who believed in sudden revolutions on the earth's surface,
argued that the Mammoth could not possibly have lived in Siberia as it
is now; and that, at the very moment when the beast was destroyed, the
land was suddenly converted into a glacial region! ("C'est donc le
même instant qui a fait périr les animaux, et qui a rendu glacial le
pays qu'ils habitaient, cet événement a été subit, instantané, sans
aucune gradation."[67]) Sir Charles Lyell argued, from geological
evidence with regard to the rise of land along the Siberian coast,
that the climate had become somewhat more severe, and that finally the
Mammoth, though protected by its shaggy coat, died out on account of
scarcity of food.[68]

[67] _Ossemens Fossiles_, tom. i. p. 108.

[68] See _The Principles of Geology_, vol. i. chap. x.

Professor Owen is unwilling to believe that such changes as these
brought about the final extinction of the Mammoth, and he concludes
that it was quite possible for such an animal to have flourished as
near to the North Pole as is compatible with the growth of hardy trees
or shrubs.

"The fact seems to have been generally overlooked, that an animal
organised to gain its subsistence from the branches or woody fibre of
trees, is thereby rendered independent of the seasons which regulate
the development of leaves and fruit; the forest food of such a species
becomes as perennial as the lichens that flourish beneath the winter
snows of Lapland; and, were such a quadruped to be clothed, like the
reindeer, with a natural garment capable of resisting the rigours of
an arctic winter, its adaptation for such a climate would be
complete.... The wonderful and unlooked-for discovery of an entire
Mammoth, demonstrating the arctic character of its natural clothing,
has, however, confirmed the deductions which might have been
legitimately founded upon the localities of its most abundant remains,
as well as upon the structure of its teeth, viz. that, like the
Reindeer and Musk Ox of the present day, it was capable of existing in
high northern latitudes."[69]

[69] _A History of British Fossil Mammals and Birds_, by Richard Owen,
F.R.S., etc. London, 1846.

The problem of the extinction of the Mammoth is not an easy one to
solve. We can hardly account for its disappearance by calling in
geographical changes by which its range became restricted, and its
food supply diminished, so that in the competition with other
herbivorous animals this primæval giant "went to the wall," as the
saying is. Nor does Lyell's appeal to a change in climate, by which
the cold of Siberia became too intense even for the Mammoth, seem
quite satisfactory, especially when we remember how very far north fir
trees range (p. 211).

The Mammoth, probably, was endowed with a fairly tough constitution.
In Siberia it fed on fir trees. In Kentucky it fared better, and was
surrounded by such vegetation as now flourishes in that temperate
region. In the valley of the Tiber (where also its remains are found),
though during the "Glacial period" the temperature was, doubtless,
lower than at present, we cannot imagine that an arctic climate
prevailed. Thus we see that it was capable of flourishing in various
and widely separated regions where the conditions of climate and food
supply could hardly have been similar.

Professor Boyd Dawkins, whose views we are adopting here,[70] considers
that the Mammoth was exterminated by man--a simple solution of the
question, which seems to present no difficulties. That it was hunted
by the primitive folk of the "Reindeer period" in France, is proved by
its remains in the caves where men dwelt, and by a drawing cut by a
hunter of the older Stone Age on one of its own tusks! A cast of this
most interesting relic may be seen in the prehistoric collection at
the British Museum, and shows that the men of that time were not
devoid of artistic power (see Fig. 53). Some of the lines in this
illustration represent cracks in the original, so that the actual
outline is not easily made out. But here we see the head particularly
well drawn, the tusks and downward lines indicating the hairy mane.
Reindeer and other animals were also engraved on horn, etc., by the
men who were contemporary with the Mammoth.

[70] _Popular Science Review_, vol. vii. p. 275 (1868).

[Illustration: Fig. 53.--Figure of the Mammoth, engraved on Mammoth
ivory by cavemen, La Madelaine, France. In the Lartet Collection,

We know that man has exterminated a great many noble animals in his
time, and, alas! continues to do so at the present time in Africa, and
in North and South America. The giraffe and the bison, once so
plentiful, are now almost extinct. Primitive man was a hunter, and, as
he multiplied, his wants became greater, and more animals were
therefore destroyed. Probably the same explanation applies to the
great Moa bird of New Zealand, and possibly even to the Megatherium of
South America.

With regard to the tusks of the Mammoth, which are considerably larger
than those of either the African or Indian elephant, it is evident
that they must have been of some service, for Nature would never have
endowed the animal with such great and ponderous instruments--to
support which the skull is greatly modified in both the Mammoth and
elephant--without some definite purpose. We have often been asked how
the Mammoth used his tusks; now, this question can best be answered by
reference to the habits of living elephants. The elephant of to-day is
a fairly peaceable creature, but, if attacked, can despatch the
aggressor in various ways. Some enemies he can crush under his feet; a
man he can pick up with his trunk and hurl to a considerable distance,
probably with fatal results. But the tusks do not appear to be used as
weapons of offence or defence. We must consider how the animal feeds.
The general food of the elephant consists of the foliage of trees. In
Africa it feeds largely on mimosas. Now, it is clear that, in spite of
having a long trunk, an elephant cannot obtain all the leaves of a
tall tree while the tree remains standing; mimosa trees, for instance,
are often thirty feet high, and have richer foliage at the crown. So
it appears that they actually overturn them. On this point we have the
testimony of Sir Samuel Baker, who says, "The destruction caused by a
herd of elephants in a mimosa forest is extraordinary, and I have seen
trees uprooted of so large a size that I am convinced no single
elephant could have overturned them. I have measured trees four feet
six inches in circumference, and about thirty feet high, uprooted by
elephants. The natives assured me that the elephants mutually assist
each other, and that several engage together in the work of
overturning a large tree. None of the mimosas have tap-roots; thus the
powerful tusks of the elephants applied as crowbars at the roots,
while others pull at the branches with their trunks, will effect the
destruction of a tree so large as to appear invulnerable." Another
writer says the elephant also feeds on a variety of bulbs, the
situation of which is indicated by his exquisite sense of smell, and
that, to obtain these, he turns up the ground with his tusks, so that
whole acres may be seen thus ploughed up.

Now, in Siberia, where the ground would be harder, we can imagine that
the larger tusks of the Mammoth would be highly serviceable in
uprooting fir trees and breaking off their branches, for Benkendorf's
fortunate discovery informs us that such trees formed at least part of
their food.



    "Of one departed world
    I see the mighty show."

Another elephantine monster, evidently allied to the Mammoth, was the
Mastodon, a creature which there is reason to think was contemporary,
in America, with the men of prehistoric age. It was so named by Baron
Cuvier to distinguish it from the Mammoth, with which it was by others
considered identical; and his discrimination of the two forms marked
an important and early step in the history of palæontology. The chief
difference between these two extinct types lies in their molar teeth.
These, on cutting the gum, must have exhibited a number of somewhat
conical protuberances of a mammiform appearance; hence the name.[71] As
these points were worn down by mastication, the surface of the tooth
showed a series of discs of various sizes. The teeth were covered by a
very thick coat of dense, brittle enamel. There are, however,
differences in the bony framework of the animal, as well as in its
general proportions, which serve to distinguish it from the Mammoth;
but it will not be necessary to enter into these matters here, for
this is difficult ground, even to the student who is well versed in
anatomy. Notwithstanding a vast amount of observation on the subject,
considerable differences of opinion have prevailed among
palæontologists with regard to the proper relation of the Mastodon to
the Mammoth and living elephants.

[71] Greek--_mastos_, teat; _odous_, _odontos_, tooth.

[Illustration: Fig. 54.--Skeleton _Mastodon arvernensis_, Pliocene,

At the entrance of the Geological Gallery in the Natural History
Museum, South Kensington, the reader will see a magnificent skeleton
of an American Mastodon, of which more presently. On this specimen our
artist has based his restoration, Plate XXI. A large part of the great
gallery referred to is devoted to the fossil remains of proboscideans;
that is, creatures provided with a long proboscis, or trunk, such as
elephants and Mastodons. This collection, from widely different
quarters, is the largest and most complete in the world. By comparing
the specimens of teeth in the cases, and looking at the fine specimens
of skulls, and the numerous bones and tusks in the side cases, the
reader will carry away a better idea than we can convey by
description. Fig. 54 shows the skeleton of Mastodon arvernensis with
two very long tusks. Mastodon augustidens had four tusks, two in each
jaw, but one of those in the lower jaw sometimes dropped out as the
animal grew older.

[Illustration: Plate XXI.


No genus of quadrupeds has been more extensively diffused over the
globe than the Mastodon. From the tropics it has extended both north
and south into temperate regions, and in America its remains have been
discovered as high as latitude 66° N. But the true home of the
Mastodon giganteus, in the United States, like that of M. augustidens
in Europe, lies in a more temperate zone, and, as Professor Owen says,
we have no evidence that any species was specially adapted, like the
Mammoth, for braving the rigours of an arctic winter.

Now, we know from trustworthy geological evidence that the Mastodon is
a much older form of life than the Mammoth. The record of the rocks
tells us that it first put in an appearance in an early Tertiary
period known as the Miocene (see Table of Strata, Appendix I.), and in
the Old World lived on to the end of the succeeding Pliocene period.
But in America several species, especially M. giganteus, survived till
late in the Pleistocene period, where it was probably seen by
primitive men. This is all that is known about its geographical range,
and its antiquity or range in time; some day, perhaps before very
long, palæontologists may be able to trace the great proboscideans
further back in time, and to show from what form of animal they were
derived. Strange as it may seem, anatomists declare that they show
some remote affinity with the rodents, or gnawing animals, and, in
some respects, even with Sirenians, such as the Manatee (see Chapter
XVI.). But at present the evolution of this remarkable group of
animals is an unsolved problem. Those strange animals, the Dinocerata,
from Wyoming, described in Chapter X., may perhaps give some
indication as to the direction in which we must look for the
elephant's ancestors. We noticed that their limbs were decidedly
elephantine (see p. 150), but they had no trunks, and their skulls
showed curious prominences like horn-cores; their teeth too are very

The visitor to the Geological Collection at South Kensington will also
notice a splendid cranium of an elephant, with very long tusks, from
the famous Sivalik Hills of Northern India[72] (Stand D on plan). It
belonged to Elephas ganesa, one of the largest of all the fossil
elephants known. The total length of the cranium and tusks is fourteen
feet, and the tusks alone measure ten feet six inches in length! This
remarkable specimen was presented by Sir William Erskine Baker, K.C.B.

[72] There is some difficulty in determining the precise geological
age of the strata in question, on account of the curious mixture of
fossil forms of life they contain; but many authorities consider them
to be of older Pliocene age.

But to return to our Mastodon. It was early in the eighteenth century
that the teeth and bones of the Mastodon were first described,[73] and
it is curious to observe how differently scientific discoveries were
regarded in those days; for this society of learned men published in
these _Transactions_ a letter from Dr. Mather to Dr. Woodward, in
which the former gives an account of a large work in manuscript, but
does not name the author. This book, which appears to have been a
commentary on the Bible, Dr. Mather recommends "to the patronage of
some generous Moecenas to promote the publication of it," and
transcribes, as a specimen, a passage announcing the discovery at
Albany, now the capital of New York State, in the year 1705, of
enormous bones and teeth. These relics he considered to belong to a
former race of giants, and appeals to them in confirmation of Genesis
vi. 4 ("The Nephilim (giants) were in the earth in those days").

[73] _Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society_, 1714, vol.

Portions of the skeleton of Mastodon, discovered in 1801, were sent to
England and France, and two complete specimens were at length put
together in America. One of these was exhibited as a Mammoth, in
Bristol and London, by Mr. C. W. Peale, a naturalist, by whom they
were found in marly clay on the banks of the Hudson, near Newburgh, in
the State of New York.

Previous to this, in 1739, a French officer, M. de Longueil, traversed
the virgin forests bordering on the river Ohio, in order to reach the
Mississippi, and the Indians who escorted him accidentally discovered,
on the borders of a marsh, various bones, some of which seemed to be
those of unknown animals. In this turfy marsh, known as the Big Bone
Lick, or Salt Lick, in consequence of the saltness of its waters,
herds of wild animals collect together, attracted by the salt, for
which they have a great liking. This is probably the reason why so
many bones have accumulated here. M. de Longueil carried away some
bones and teeth, and, on his return to France, presented them to
Daubenton and Buffon. The former declared the teeth to be those of a
hippopotamus, and the tusk and gigantic thigh-bone he reported to
belong to an elephant. Buffon, however, did not share this opinion,
and succeeded in converting Daubenton, as well as other French
naturalists, to his views. He gave to this fossil animal the name of
"the Elephant of Ohio," but formed an exaggerated idea of its size.

This discovery produced a great impression in Europe. The English,
becoming masters of Canada by the peace of 1763, sought eagerly for
more remains. Croghan, the geographer, visited the Big Bone Lick, and
found there some more bones of the same kind. He forwarded many cases
to different naturalists in London.

Sir Henry Howorth, in his recent work, _The Mammoth and the Flood_ (in
which are brought forward certain views not shared by most
geologists), mentions that in 1762 the Shawnee Indians found, some
three miles from the river Ohio, the skeletons of five Mastodons, and
reported that one of the heads had a long nose attached to it, below
which was the mouth. Several explorers report discoveries of a like
nature, which, if they may be trusted, and if they really refer to the
Mastodon, and not the Mammoth, seem to show that portions of the skin
and hairy covering have been seen. If so, their preservation is
probably due to the saltness of the waters of this marsh, for salt is
a good preservative. In _The American Journal of Science_,[74] Dr. Koch
reports the discovery of a Mastodon's skeleton, of which the head and
fore foot were well preserved, also large pieces of the skin, which
looked like freshly tanned leather. But some of these accounts refer
to tufts of hair--in one case three inches long.

[74] Vol. xxxvi. p. 199.

The great skeleton of Mastodon americanus already referred to was
purchased by the trustees of the British Museum, of Mr. Albert Koch, a
well-known collector of fossil remains, who had exhibited it in the
Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, in 1842 and 1843, under the name of "the
Missouri Leviathan," an enormous and ill-constructed monster, made up
of the bones of this skeleton, together with many belonging to other
individuals, in such a way as to horrify an anatomist and appeal all
the more forcibly to the imagination of the public. From this
heterogeneous assemblage of bones those belonging to the same animal
have now been selected and articulated in their proper places. The
height of this specimen is nine feet and a half, and the total length
about eighteen feet.

According to Mr. Koch, the remains exhibited by him were found in
alluvial deposits on the banks of a small tributary of the Osage
River, in Benton County, Missouri. The bones were embedded in a brown,
sandy deposit, full of vegetable matter, in which were recognised
remains of the cypress, tropical cane, swamp moss, etc., and this was
covered by blue clay and gravel to a thickness of about fifteen feet.
Mr. Koch personally assured Dr. Mantell that an Indian flint
arrow-head was found beneath the leg-bones of this skeleton, and that
four similar weapons were embedded in the same stratum. He declared
that he took them out of the bed with his own hands.

In the Pier-case (No. 38), near the Mastodon americanus, may be seen
fifteen heads and jaws, together with other parts of the skeleton,
mostly obtained from the same locality, but some of them came from the
"Big Bone Lick," Kentucky.

A fine specimen, obtained from a marsh near Newburgh, by Dr. Warren,
measured eleven feet in height, and seventeen in length, while the
tusks were nearly ten feet long, not including the portion in the long
sockets of the cranium. Twenty-six species of Mastodon are known.

An interesting find was that of Dr. Barton, a professor of the
University of Pennsylvania. At a depth of six feet, and under a great
bank of chalk, bones of the Mastodon were found sufficient to form a
skeleton, and in the middle of the bones was seen a mass of vegetable
matter enveloped in a kind of sac (which probably was the stomach of
the animal). This matter was found to be composed of small leaves and
branches, amongst which was recognised a species of rush yet common in
Virginia. In North America, where the Mastodon survived into the
period of primitive man, various strange legends exist that seem to
refer to it. Traditions were rife among the Red Men concerning this
giant form and its destruction.

A French officer named Fabri informed M. Buffon, the naturalist, that
the "savages" (Indians) regarded the bones found in various parts of
Canada and Louisiana as belonging to an animal which they named
"Father of the Ox." The Shawnee Indians believed that with this
enormous animal there existed men of proportionate development, and
that the Great Being destroyed both with thunderbolts. Those of
Virginia state that as a troop of these terrible animals were
destroying the deer, bisons, and other animals created for the use of
Indians, the Great Man slew them all with his thunder, except the Big
Bull, who shook off the thunderbolts as they fell on him, till at
last, being wounded in the side, he fled towards the great lakes,
where he lies to this day.

This is one of the songs which Fabri heard in Canada: "When the great
_Manitou_ descended to the earth, in order to satisfy himself that the
creatures he had created were happy, and he interrogated all the
animals, the bison replied that he would be quite contented with his
fate in the grassy meadows, where the grass reached his belly, if he
were not also compelled to keep his eyes constantly turned towards the
mountains to catch the first sight of the 'Father of the Ox,' as he
descended, with fury, to devour him and his companions." Many other
tribes repeat similar legends.

The bones with which Mazuyer practised his famous deception were those
of a Mastodon (see p. 196).

[Illustration: Fig. 55.--Head of Woolly Rhinoceros, partly restored by
M. Deslongchamps.]

Contemporary with the Mammoth in Siberia and in Northern and Western
Europe, was the "Woolly Rhinoceros" (Rhinoceros tichorhinus). Its body
has been found in frozen soil in Siberia, with the skin, the two
horns, the hair, and even the flesh preserved, as in the case of the
Mammoth. It had a smooth skin without folds, covered with a fine curly
and coarse hairy coat, to enable it to withstand the rigours of an
arctic climate. The traveller Pallas gives a long account of one of
these creatures, which was taken out of the ice, with its skin, hair,
and flesh preserved. The following is a brief summary of his
narrative. The body was observed in December, 1771, by some Jakuts
near the river Vilui, which discharges itself into the Lena below
Jakutsk in Siberia, latitude 64° north. It lay in frozen sand upon the
banks of the river. A certain Russian inspector had sent on to
Irkutsk the head and two feet of the animal, all well preserved. The
rest of it was too much decomposed, and so was left. The head was
quite recognisable, since it was covered with its leathery skin. The
eyelids had escaped total decay (see Fig. 55). The skin and tendons of
the head and feet still preserved considerable flexibility. He was,
however, compelled to cross the Baikal lake before the ice broke up,
and so could neither draw up a sufficiently careful description nor
make sketches of those parts which were sufficiently preserved. Plate
XXII. is a restoration.

[Illustration: Plate XXII.


Contemporary with the Mammoth.]

The rhinoceros in question was neither large for its species nor
advanced in age; but it was at least fully grown. The horns were gone,
but had left evident traces on the head. The skin which covered the
orbits of the eyes and formed the eyelids was so well preserved, that
the openings of the eyelids could be seen, though deformed and
scarcely penetrable to the finger. The foot that was left--after some
parts had unfortunately been burned while left to dry slowly on the
top of a furnace--was furnished with hairs. These hairs adhering in
many places to the skin, were from one to three lines in length,
tolerably stiff and ash-coloured. What remained proved that the foot
was covered with bunches of hair hanging down.

Like the Mammoth and the Mastodon, its contemporaries, the Woolly
Rhinoceros has given rise to some curious legends. In the city of
Klagenfurt, in Carinthia, is a fountain on which is sculptured the
head of a monstrous dragon with six feet, and a head surmounted by a
stout horn. According to popular tradition, still prevalent at
Klagenfurt, this dragon lived in a cave, whence it issued from time to
time to frighten and ravage the country. A bold cavalier killed the
dragon, paying with his life for this proof of courage. The same kind
of legend seems to be current in every country, such as that of the
valiant St. George and the dragon, and of St. Martha, who about the
same time conquered the famous _Tarasque_ of the city of Languedoc,
which bears the name of Tarascon.

But at Klagenfurt the popular legend has happily found a mouthpiece;
the head of the pretended dragon killed by the valorous knight is
preserved in the Hôtel de Ville, and this head has furnished the
sculptor of the fountain with a model for the head of his statue. Herr
Unger, of Vienna, recognised at a glance the cranium of the fossil
rhinoceros; its discovery in some cave had probably originated the
fable of the knight and the dragon. It is always interesting to
discover a scientific basis for fables which otherwise it would be
difficult to account for.

The same rhinoceros was once a denizen of our country, and its remains
are met with in caves and river-gravels. Specimens of its skull have
also been dredged up by fishermen from the "Dogger Bank" in the North



     "To discover order and intelligence in scenes of apparent
     wildness and confusion is the pleasing task of the geological
     inquirer."--Dr. Paris.

Of all the monsters that ever lived on the face of the earth, the
giant birds were perhaps the most grotesque. An emu or a cassowary of
the present day looks sufficiently strange by the side of ordinary
birds; but "running birds" much larger than these flourished not so
very long ago in New Zealand and Madagascar, and must at one time have
inhabited areas now sunk below the ocean waves.

The history of the discovery of these remarkable and truly gigantic
birds in New Zealand, and the famous researches of Professor Owen, by
which their structures have been made known, must now engage our

In the year 1839 Professor Owen exhibited, at a meeting of the
Zoological Society, part of a thigh-bone, or femur, 6 inches in
length, and 5-1/2 inches in its smallest circumference, with both
extremities broken off. This bone of an unknown struthious bird was
placed in his hands for examination, by Mr. Rule, with the statement
that it was found in New Zealand, where the natives have a tradition
that it belonged to a bird now extinct, to which they give the name
Moa. Similar bones, it was said, were found buried on the banks of the

A minute description of this bone was given by the professor, who
pointed out the peculiar interest of this discovery on account of the
remarkable character of the existing fauna of New Zealand, which still
includes one of the most extraordinary birds of the struthious order
("running birds"), viz. the Apteryx, and also because of the close
analogy which the event indicated by the present relic offers to the
extinction of the Dodo in the island of Mauritius. On the strength of
this one fragment he ventured to assert that there once lived in New
Zealand a bird as large as the ostrich, and of the same order. This
conclusion was more than confirmed by subsequent discoveries, which he
anticipated; and, as we shall see, his estimate was a most moderate
one, for the extinct bird turned out to be considerably larger than
the ostrich.

Later on he received from a friend in New Zealand news of the
discovery of more bones. In 1843 a collection of bones of large birds
was sent to Dr. Buckland, Dean of Westminster, by the Rev. William
Williams, a zealous and successful Church missionary, long resident in
New Zealand. On sending off his consignment Mr. Williams wrote a
letter, of which we give the greater part below.

     /* "Poverty Bay, New Zealand, February 28, 1842.

     "Dear Sir, */

     "It is about three years ago, on paying a visit to this
     coast--south of the East Cape, that the natives told me of
     some extraordinary monster, which they said was in existence
     in an inaccessible cavern on the side of a hill near the
     river Wairoa; and they showed me at the same time some
     fragments of bone taken out of the beds of rivers, which they
     said belonged to this creature, to which they gave the name

     "When I came to reside in this neighbourhood I heard the same
     story a little enlarged; for it was said that this creature
     _was still existing_ at the said hill, of which the name is
     Wakapunake, and that it is guarded by a reptile of the lizard
     species [genus]; but I could not learn that any of the
     present generation had seen it. I still considered the whole
     as an idle fable, but offered a large reward to any one who
     would catch me either the bird or its protector...."

     These offers procured the collection of a considerable number
     of fossil bones, on which Mr. Williams, in his letter, makes
     the following observations:--

     "None of these bones have been found on the dry land, but are
     all of them from the banks and beds of fresh-water rivers,
     buried only a little distance in the mud.... All the streams
     are in immediate connection with hills of some altitude.

     "2. This bird was in existence here at no very distant time,
     though not in the memory of any of the inhabitants; for the
     bones are found in the beds of the present streams, and do
     not appear to have been brought into their present situation
     by the action of any violent rush of waters.

     "3. They existed in considerable numbers"--an observation
     which has since been abundantly confirmed.

     "4. It may be inferred that this bird was long-lived, and
     that it was many years before it attained its full size."
     This is doubtful.

     "5. The greatest height of the bird was probably not less
     than fourteen or sixteen feet." Fourteen is probably the
     extreme limit.

     "Within the last few days I have obtained a piece of
     information worthy of notice. Happening to speak to an
     American about these bones, he told me that the bird is still
     in existence in the neighbourhood of Cloudy Bay, in Cook's
     Straits. He said that the natives there had mentioned to an
     Englishman belonging to a whaling party that there was a bird
     of extraordinary size to be seen only at night, on the side
     of a hill near the place, and that he, with a native and a
     second Englishman, went to the spot; that, after waiting some
     time, they saw the creature at a little distance, which they
     describe as being about fourteen or sixteen feet high. One of
     the men proposed to go nearer and shoot, but his companion
     was so exceedingly terrified, or perhaps both of them, that
     they were satisfied with looking at the bird, when, after a
     little time it took alarm, and strode off up the side of the

     "This incident might not have been worth mentioning, had it
     not been for the extraordinary agreement in point of size of
     the bird"--with his deductions from the bones. "_Here_ are
     the bones which will satisfy you that such a bird _has been_
     in existence; and _there_ is said to be the _living bird_,
     the supposed size of which, given by an independent witness,
     precisely agrees." In spite, however, of several tales of
     this kind, it is almost certain that these birds are now
     quite extinct.

The leg-bones sent to London greatly exceeded in bulk those of the
largest horse. The leg-bone of a tall man is about 1 ft. 4 in. in
length, and the thigh of O'Brien, the Irish giant, whose skeleton,
eight feet high, is mounted in the Museum of the Royal College of
Surgeons, is not quite two feet. But some of the leg-bones (tibiæ) of
Moa-birds measure as much as 39 inches.

In 1846 and 1847 Mr. Walter Mantell, eldest son of Dr. Mantell, who
had resided several years in New Zealand, explored every known
locality within his reach in the North Island. He also went into the
interior of the country and lived among the natives for the purpose of
collecting specimens, and of ascertaining whether any of these
gigantic birds were still in existence; resolving, if there appeared
to be the least chance of success, to penetrate into the unfrequented
regions, and obtain a live Moa. The information gathered from the
natives offered no encouragement to follow up the pursuit, but tended
to confirm the idea that this race of colossal bipeds was extinct. He
succeeded, however, in obtaining a most interesting collection of the
bones of Moa-birds, belonging to birds of various species and genera,
differing considerably in size. This collection was purchased by the
trustees of the British Museum for £200. Another collection was made
by Mr. Percy Earle from a submerged swamp, visible only at low water,
situated on the south-eastern shore of the Middle Island. This
collection also was purchased by the trustees for the sum of £130. Mr.
Walter Mantell, who described this locality, near Waikouaiti,
seventeen miles north of Otago, thinks it was originally a swamp or
morass, in which the New Zealand flax once grew luxuriantly. The
appearance and position of the bones are similar to those of the
quadrupeds embedded in peat-bogs, as, for instance, the great Irish
elk (see next chapter). They have acquired a rich umber colour, and
their texture is firm and tough. They still contain a large proportion
of animal matter. Unfortunately, even when Mr. Walter Mantell visited
this spot, the bed containing the bones was rapidly diminishing from
the inroads of the sea, and perhaps by this time is entirely washed
away. Mr. W. Mantell, however, obtained fine specimens and feet of a
large Moa-bird (Dinornis) in an upright position; and there seems to
be little doubt that the unfortunate bird was mired in the swamp, and
perished on the spot.

The bones which he obtained from the North Island presented a
different appearance, being light and porous, and of a delicate
fawn-colour. They were embedded in loose volcanic sand. Though
perfect, they were as soft and plastic as putty, and required most
careful handling. They were dug out with great care, and exposed to
the air and sun to dry before they could be packed up and removed.

The natives were a great source of trouble to him, for as soon as they
caught sight of his operations they came down in swarms--men, women,
and children, trampling on the bones he had laid out to dry, and
seizing on every morsel they could get. The reason of this was that
their cupidity and avarice had been excited by the large rewards given
by Europeans in search of these treasures. Mixed with the bones he
found fragments of shells, and sometimes portions of the windpipe, or

One portion of an egg which he found was large enough to enable him
to calculate the size of the egg when complete. "As a rough guess, I
may say that a common hat would have served as an egg-cup for it: what
a loss for the breakfast-table! And if many native traditions are
worthy of credit, the ladies have cause to mourn the extinction of the
Moa: the long feathers of its crest were by their remote ancestors
prized above all other ornaments; those of the White Crane, which now
bear the highest value, were mere pigeon's feathers in comparison."

The total number of species of Moa once inhabiting New Zealand was
probably at least fifteen, and, judging from the enormous
accumulations of their bones found in some districts, they must have
been extremely common, and probably went about in flocks. "Birds of a
feather _flock_ together" (proverb).

It is justly concluded, both from the vast number of bones discovered,
and from the fact of their great diversity in size and other features,
that they must have had the country pretty much to themselves; or, in
other words, they enjoyed immunity from the attacks of carnivorous
quadrupeds. In whatever way the Moas originated in New Zealand, it is
evident that the land was a favourable one, for they multiplied
enormously, and spread from one end to the other. Not only was the
number of individuals very large, but they belonged (according to Mr.
F.W. Hutton) to no less than seven genera, containing twenty-five
different species, a remarkable fact which is unparalleled in any
other part of the world. The species described by Professor Owen in
his great work,[75] vary in size from 3 ft. to 12 or even 14 ft. in
height, and differ greatly in their forms, some being tall and
slender, and probably swift-footed like the ostrich, whilst others
were short and had stout limbs, such as Dinornis elephantopus (Fig.
56), which was undoubtedly a bird of great strength, but very
heavy-footed. Dinornis crassus also had stout limbs. (See Plate

[75] Memoir on _The Extinct Wingless Birds of New Zealand_. London,
1878. The beautiful drawing by Mr. Smit (Plate XXIV.) is from a
photograph in this valuable work representing the late Sir Richard
Owen standing in his academic robes by the side of a specimen of the
skeleton of the great Dinornis maximus.

[Illustration: Plate XXIII.


_Dinornis giganteus._ _D. elephantopus._

Height 12 feet. A smaller species.]

[Illustration: Fig. 56.--_A._ Skeleton of the Elephant-footed Moa,
_Dinornis elephantopus_, from New Zealand. _B._ Leg-bones of _Dinornis
giganteus_, representing a bird over 12 ft. high. _r_, _b_,

The Natural History Museum at South Kensington contains a valuable
collection of remains of Moa-birds. These skeletons may be seen in
Gallery No. 2 (at the end of the long gallery) in the glass cases R,
R´, and S. Dinornis elephantopus (elephant-footed) is in front of the
window. In D. giganteus the leg-bone (see Fig. 56) attains the
enormous length of 3 ft., and in an allied species it is even 39 in.!
The next bone below (cannon bone) is sometimes more than half the
length of the leg-bone (tibia).

A skeleton in one of the glass cases has a height of about 10-1/2 ft.,
and it is concluded that the largest birds did not stand less than 12
ft., and possibly were 14 ft. high!

Dinornis parvus (the dwarf Moa) was only three feet high.

In 1882 the trustees obtained, from a cave in Otago, the head, neck,
two legs, and feet of a Moa (D. didinus), having the skin, still
preserved in a dried state, covering the bones, and some few feathers
of a reddish hue still attached to the leg (Table case 12). The rings
of the windpipe may be seen _in situ_, the sclerotic plates of the
eye, and the sheaths of the claws. One foot also shows the hind claw
still attached.

From traditions and other circumstances it is supposed that the
present natives of New Zealand came there not more than about six
hundred years ago, and there is reason to believe that the ancient
Maoris, when they landed, feasted on Moa-birds as long as any
remained. Their extermination _probably_ only dates back to about the
period at which the islands were thrice visited by Captain Cook,
1769-1778. The Moa-bird is mixed up with their songs and stories, and
they even have a tradition of caravans being attacked by them. Still,
some people believe that they were killed off by the race which
inhabited New Zealand before the Maoris came. But they must have been
there up to a time not far removed from the present. It is even said
that the "runs" made by them were visible on the sides of the hills up
to a few years ago; and possibly they may still be visible. The
charred bones and egg-shells have been found mixed with charcoal where
the native ovens were formerly made, and their eggs are said to have
been found in Maori graves. Mr. Hutton considers that in the North
Island they were exterminated three or four centuries ago, while in
the South Island they may have lingered a century longer.

The nearest ally of the Moa is the small Apteryx, or Kiwi, of New
Zealand, specimens of which may be seen at the Natural History Museum,
at the end of the long gallery devoted to living birds. This bird,
however, has a long pointed bill for probing in the soft mud for
worms, whereas the bill of the Moa was short like that of an ostrich.

Another difference between the two is that, while the Kiwi still
retains the rudiments of wing-bones, the Moa had hardly a vestige of

In Australia the remains have been found of a bird probably related to
the Cassowaries, but at present imperfectly known. To this type of
struthious, or running bird, the name Dromornis has been given.

Now, it is a remarkable fact that remains of another giant bird and
its eggs have been found on the opposite side of the great Indian
Ocean, namely, in the island of Madagascar, the existence of which was
first revealed by its eggs, found sunk in the swamps, but of which
some imperfect bones were afterwards discovered. One of these eggs was
so enormous that its diameter was nearly fourteen inches, and was
reckoned to be as big as three ostrich eggs, or 148 hen's eggs! This
means a cubic content of more than two gallons! The natives search for
the eggs by probing in the soft mud of the swamps with long iron rods.
A large and perfect specimen of an egg of this bird, such as was
recently exhibited at a meeting of the Zoological Society, is said to
be worth £50. What the dimensions of Æpyornis were it is impossible to
say, and it would be unsafe to venture a calculation from the size of
the egg.[76] The reader who wishes to see some of the remains of this
huge bird may be referred to the Natural History Museum. In wall case
No. 25, Gallery 2 (Geological Department), may be seen a tibia and
plaster casts of other bones; also two entire eggs, many broken
pieces, and one plaster cast of an egg found in certain surface
deposits in Madagascar. In the same case may be seen bones of the Dodo
from the isle of Mauritius. Unlike New Zealand, Madagascar possesses
no living wingless bird. But in the neighbouring island of Mauritius
the Dodo has been exterminated less than three centuries ago. The
little island of Rodriguez, in the same geographical province, has
also lost its wingless Solitaire.

[76] From the size of a femur and tibia of _Æpyornis_ preserved in the
Paris Museum, it could not have been less in stature than the Dinornis
elephantopus of New Zealand.

It will thus be seen that we have three distinct groups of giant land
birds--the Moas, the Dromornis, and the Æpyornis,--occupying areas at
present widely separated by the ocean.

This raises the difficult but very interesting question, how they got
there; and the same applies to their living ancestors. The ostrich
proper, Struthio camelus, inhabits Africa and Arabia; but there is
evidence from history to show that it formerly existed in Beluchistan
and Central Asia. And, going still further back, the geological record
informs us that, in the Pliocene period, they inhabited what is now
Northern India. In Australia we have the Cassowary (Casuarius) and the
Emeu (Dromaius); in New Zealand, the Apteryx (or Kiwi). Now, as none
of these birds can either fly or swim, it is impossible that they
could have reached these regions separated as they now are; and it is
hardly likely that they arose spontaneously in each district from
totally different ancestors. But the new doctrine of evolution affords
a key to the problem, and tells us that they all sprang from a common
ancestor, of the struthious type (probably inhabiting the great
northern continental area), and gradually migrated south along land
areas now submerged. In this way we get some idea of the vast changes
that have taken place in the geography of the world during later
geological periods. Perhaps they were compelled to move south until
they reached abodes free from carnivorous enemies. Having done so,
they evidently flourished abundantly, especially in New Zealand, where
there are so few mammals, except those recently introduced by man.

In North America Professor Cope has reported a large wingless fossil
bird from the Eocene strata of New Mexico. In England we have two
such--namely, the Dasornis, from the London Clay of Sheppey (Eocene
period), and the Gastornis, from the Woolwich beds near Croydon, and
from Paris (also Eocene).

It will thus be seen that big struthious birds have a long history,
going far back into the Tertiary era, and that they once had a much
wider geographical range than they have now. Doubtless, future
discoveries will tend to fill up the gaps between all these various
types, both living and extinct, and to connect them together in one
chain of evolution.

The last great find of Moa-birds in New Zealand took place only last
year, and was reported by a correspondent to the _Scotsman_ (November
13, 1891), writing from Oamaru. In the letter that appeared at the
above date, our friend Mr. H. O. Forbes announces the discovery of an
immense number of bones, estimated to represent at least five hundred
Moas! They were found in the neighbourhood of Oamaru. And, after some
preliminary remarks, he continues as follows:--

"The part of the field on which the remains were found bears no traces
of any physical disturbance--_e.g._ of earthquake, or flood, or
hurricane--that would account for the sudden destruction of a flock or
'mob' of Moas. The Moa, when alive, carried in its crop--like our own
hens--a quantity of stones to serve as a private coffee-mill for
digestive grinding; stones which, being somewhat in proportion to the
magnitude of the giant bird, form, when found in one place, a 'heap'
of stones which are easily identified as a Moa heap, and nothing else.
And in the present case the heap was here and there found in such
relation to the bones of an individual bird as to show that the Moa
must have died on that spot, and remained there quietly undisturbed.
Further, the number of birds represented by the exhumed remains is so
great that the living birds could not have stood together on the space
of ground on which the remains were found lying. And there is not on
any of the bones any trace of such violence as must have left its mark
if the death of the birds had been caused by a Moa-hunting mankind.
Finally, it does not appear that in this particular district there
ever has been, at any traceable period of the physical history of the
land, a forest vegetation, such as might suggest that the catastrophe
was caused by fire.

"The question how to account for the slaughter is raised likewise by
two previous finds of Moa bones. The first of these, at Glenmark, in
Canterbury, was the most memorable, because, being the first, it made
the deepest impression. The second great find, far inland, up the
Molineux River, otherwise the Clutha, was beneath the diluvium that is
now worked by the gold-digger. The spot must have been the site of a
lagoon, at one point of which there was a spring. Round about this
point there were found the remains of, it was reckoned, five hundred
individual Moas. The bones were quietly _laid_ there, with, in some
cases, the 'heap' of digestive stones _in situ_ along with the
skeletons. And Mr. Booth, whose elaborate investigation of this case
is recorded in the annual volume of _The New Zealand Institute_,
suggested the theory that the climate of New Zealand was changing to a
degree of cold intolerable to Moa nature; and that the birds, fleeing
from its rigour, sought comfort in the spring of water, sheltering
their featherless breast in it, and so dozing out of this troubled
life. And in this new find the wonder comes back unmitigated, as a
mystery unsolved. For here is no bog deep enough, as in the first
instance, nor lagoon spring, as in the second, to account for that
multitude of giant birds dying in one spot.

"Another curious puzzle is, on close inspection, found everywhere in
the Moa bone discoveries. It is hardly possible to make sure that the
bones of any one complete Moa skeleton all belong to the same
individual I heard some one say the other day that it is not certain
that any Moa in any earthly museum has all his own bones, and only his

"A main interest of such a find lies not in the power of supplying
museums with specimens of what is rapidly disappearing from the face
of the world, but in the possibility of finding species of Moa that
have not hitherto been tabulated. Whether any new species have been
brought to light on this occasion the experts will not say until there
has been time to make a careful study of the bones, nor do they
venture on any theory to account for there being so many individual
birds dead in that one place, where there appears to be no room for
the explanations offered in connection with previous great finds. The
date of these birds appears to be earlier than that of the coming of
the Maoris into New Zealand, say five or six hundred years ago, as the
Maori memory appears to have in it no trace of feasting on these giant
Moas, but celebrates the rat-hunt in its ancient heroic song. And your
readers may picture their appearance by noticing the fact that one of
the recently found bones must have belonged to a Moa fourteen feet

     Note.--For further information on this interesting subject,
     the reader is referred to a paper in _Natural Science_,
     October, 1892, by Mr. F. W. Hutton. In a valuable paper, read
     before the Royal Geographical Society by Mr. H. O. Forbes,
     March 13, 1893, the lecturer alluded to the important fact
     that bone belonging to big extinct struthious birds have been
     discovered in Patagonia. This is interesting news as bearing
     upon the theory of a former Antarctic continent connecting
     Australia and New Zealand with South Africa, and perhaps even
     with South America. After the lecture, to which we listened
     with great interest, the subject was discussed by Mr. Slater,
     Dr. Günther, and Dr. Henry Woodward. For ourselves we can see
     no great difficulty in accepting the theory that such a
     continent once existed, though it is out of harmony with the
     now rather fashionable theory of "the permanence of ocean
     basins"--a doctrine which seems to have been pressed too far.



     "And, above all others, we should protect and hold sacred
     those types, Nature's masterpieces, which are first singled
     out for destruction on account of their size, or splendour,
     or rarity, and that false detestable glory which is accorded
     to their most successful slayers. In ancient times the spirit
     of life shone brightest in these; and when others that shared
     the earth with them were taken by death they were left, being
     more worthy of perpetuation. Like immortal flowers they have
     drifted down to us on the ocean of time, and their
     strangeness and beauty bring to our imaginations a dream and
     a picture of that unknown world, immeasurably far removed,
     where man was not: and when they perish, something of the
     gladness goes out of nature, and the sunshine loses something
     of its brightness."--W. H. Hudson, in _The Naturalist in La

Among the extinct animals of prehistoric times the "Great Irish
Elk,"[77] as it is generally called, deserves special notice, both from
the enormous size of its antlers, and from the fact that its remains
are exceedingly plentiful in Ireland.

[77] The term "Elk" is misleading, for it is not an elk (_alces_) at
all, but a true _Cervus_ (stag). It should be called "the Great Irish

This magnificent creature, so well depicted by our artist (Plate
XXV.), was, however, by no means confined to Ireland; its remains are
found in many parts of Great Britain, particularly in cave deposits,
and also on the Continent. Some writers think that it was contemporary
with men in Ireland; it may have been so, but at present the question
cannot be considered as proved. Mr. R. J. Ussher, who found its
remains in a cave near Cappagh, Cappoquin, thinks he has obtained
evidence to show that it was hunted by man at the time when he hunted
reindeer in this part of Europe, but the age of the strata containing
the remains is doubtful. Again, there is a rib in the Dublin Museum
with a perforation which is sometimes taken to be the result of a
wound from a dart, arrow, or spear; but the wound may have been
inflicted by one of the sharp tynes in a fight between two bucks.

Dr. Hart mentions the discovery of a human body in gravel, under
eleven feet of peat, soaked in bog-water, in good preservation, and
completely clothed in antique garments of hair, which it has been
conjectured might be that of the Great Deer. But if some individual
animal had perished and left its body under the like circumstances,
its hide and hair ought equally to have been preserved. Dr. Molyneux,
to whom we owe the first account of its discovery, says that its
extinction in Ireland has occurred "so many ages past, as there
remains among us not the least record in writing, or any manner of
tradition, that makes so much as mention of its name; as that most
laborious inquirer into the pretended ancient but certainly fabulous
history of this country, Mr. Roger O'Flaherty, the author of _Ogygia_,
has lately informed me."[78]

[78] _Philosophical Transactions_, vol. xix. p. 490.

In the romance of the "Niebelungen," now immortalised by Wagner, which
was written in the thirteenth century, the word _shelch_ occurs, and
is applied to one of the beasts slain in a great hunt a few hundred
years before that time in Germany. This word has been cited by some
naturalists as probably signifying the Great Irish Deer. But this is
mere conjecture, and the word might apply to some big Red Deer. The
total silence of Cæsar and Tacitus respecting such remarkable animals
renders it highly improbable that they were known to the ancient

[Illustration: Fig. 57.--Skeleton of Great Irish Deer, _Cervus
giganteus_, from shell-marl beneath the peat, Ireland. Antlers over 9
feet across.]

Two entire skeletons of the male, with antlers measuring a little over
nine feet from tip to tip, and one skeleton of the hornless doe, are
to be seen set up in the middle of the long gallery No. 1 at the
Natural History Museum. The drawing in Fig. 57 is from a specimen in
the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons (Lincoln's Inn Fields).
The height of this specimen to the summit of the antlers is 10 ft. 4
in. The span of the antlers, from tip to tip, is 8 ft. (in the living
Moose it is only 4 ft). The weight of the skull and antlers together
is 76 lbs., but those of another specimen belonging to the Royal
Dublin Society weigh 87 lbs. This great extinct deer surpassed the
largest Wapite (Cervus Canadensis) in size, and its antlers were very
much larger, wider, and heavier. In some cases the antlers have
measured more than 11 ft. from tip to tip. The body of the animal, as
well as its antlers, were larger and stronger than in any existing
deer. The limbs are stouter, as might be expected from the great
weight of the head and neck. Another and more striking feature is the
great size of the vertebræ of the neck; this was necessary in order to
form a column capable of supporting the head and its massive antlers.
(See Plate XXV.)

[Illustration: Plate XXV.


Height to the summit of the antlers 10 feet; spread of antlers 11

The first tolerably perfect skeleton was found in the Isle of Man, and
presented by the Duke of Athol to the Edinburgh Museum. It was figured
in Cuvier's _Ossemens Fossiles_. Besides those already mentioned at
South Kensington and Dublin, there is one in the Woodwardian Museum at

It cannot be doubted that, like all existing deer, the animal shed its
antlers periodically, and such shed antlers have been found. When it
is recollected that all the osseous matter of which they are composed
must have been drawn from the blood carried along certain arteries to
the head, in the course of a few months, our wonder may well be
excited at the vigorous circulation that took place in these parts.

In the Red Deer the antlers, weighing about 24 lbs., are developed in
the course of about ten weeks; but what is that compared to the growth
of over 80 lbs. weight in some three or four months?

It is a mistake to suppose that the remains discovered in Ireland were
found in peat; they occur not in the peat, but in shell-marls and in
clays _under the peat_. This is an important point For if the remains
_were_ found in the peat, they would prove that the Great Deer
survived into a later period; instead of being (as is believed from
geological evidence) contemporary with the Mammoth and Woolly
Rhinoceros in this country, and then disappearing from view. As
already stated, it existed on the Continent, and may there have been
exterminated by man.

Mr. W. Williams, who has explored several peat-bogs in Ireland,
marking the site of ancient lakes, and found many specimens in beds
underlying the peat, has given much interesting information bearing
upon the question of the period when the Great Deer inhabited Ireland,
and the manner in which it was preserved in the lake-beds.[79] He spent
ten weeks in 1876-77, excavating deer remains in the bog of
Ballybetagh, and subsequently made similar excavations in the counties
of Mayo, Limerick, and Meath. These peat-bogs occupy the basins of
lakes, the deeper hollows of which have long since been silted up with
marls, clays, and sands, and in this silt, or mud, the plants which
produced the peat grew. In all the bogs examined he found a general
resemblance in the order of succession of the beds, with only slight
variations in the nature of the materials such as might be easily
accounted for by differences in the surrounding rocks. In these
deposits the geologist may read, as in a book, the successive changes
in climate that have taken place since the time when the country was
deeply covered with snow and ice during the Glacial period.

[79] _Geological Magazine_, new series, vol. viii. (1881), p. 354.

He found at the bottom of the old Ballybetagh Lake, and resting on the
true Boulder Clay (a product of the ice-sheet), a fine stiff clay
which seems to have been brought in by the action of rain washing fine
clay out of the Boulder Clay, that nearly covered the land, and
depositing it in the lake. This action probably took place during a
period of thaw, when the climate was damp, from the melting of so much
ice, and the rainfall considerable. Then the climate improved, the
cold of the Glacial period passed away, and the climate became warm.
During this phase the next stratum was formed, consisting chiefly of
vegetable remains. The summers must have been unusually warm, dry, and
favourable to the growth of vegetation on the bed of the lake. About
this time the Great Irish Deer appeared on the scene, for its remains
were found resting on this layer, or stratum, in a brownish clay.
This deposit also was the product of a time when the climate was mild.
It is a true lake-sediment, with seams of clay and fine sand, the
latter having been brought down by heavy rainfall from the hills, just
as at the present day.

Now, we have to consider how these Great Deer got buried in this
deposit. How did they get drowned? They may have gone into the lakes
to escape from wolves, or possibly to escape from ancient Britons (but
that is still doubtful). Perhaps they went into the water to wallow,
as is usual with deer, or they may have ventured to swim the lakes
(see p. 19). To enter the lake from a sandy shore would be easy
enough, but, on reaching the other side, they might find a soft mud
instead, into which their small feet would sink; and the more they
plunged and struggled, the worse became their plight, until at last,
weary and exhausted, the heavy antlers pressed their heads down under
the water, and they were drowned.

It does not follow, according to this theory, that either the entire
animal ought to be found, or even its legs, sticking in the clay. For
a few days it might remain so, but the motion of the waters of the
lake would sway the body to and fro, while the gases due to
decomposition would render it buoyant, and perhaps raise it bodily off
the bottom. Then it might float before the wind, its head hanging
down, till it reached the lee-side of the lake. Then the antlers would
get fastened in mud near the shore, thus mooring the body until at
last so much of the flesh of the neck had decayed that the body got
separated from it, leaving the head and antlers near the shore.

Nearly a hundred heads had been found in this lake previous to Mr.
Williams's explorations, and yet scarcely six skeletons. At first it
is somewhat puzzling to account for this scarcity of skeletons
compared with heads; but very likely the bodies, minus their heads,
were carried right out of the lake, down a river, and perhaps reached
the sea or got stranded somewhere down the river in such a way that
the bones were never covered up. But in the Limerick bogs heads and
skeletons were often found together. In that district the lakes were
probably shallow and with but a feeble current, and so the body never
floated away. This explanation by Mr. Williams seems satisfactory.

He reports that the female skulls were rarely met with. Either they
were more timid in swimming lakes, or, having no antlers, they may
have succeeded in getting out, or the care of their young ones may
have kept them out of the lakes during the summer months. The clay in
which the remains occur is succeeded by another bed of pure clay,
which _never_ yields any skulls or bones. This, Mr. Williams thinks,
was deposited at a time when the climate was more or less severe, and
the musk-ox, reindeer, and other arctic animals came down from more
northern regions, even down to the south of France. He concludes that
this period marks the extinction of the Great Deer in Ireland, whether
rightly or wrongly it is hard to say. Many observers are inclined to
think that it lived on to a later period. An interesting fact, having
some bearing on the question, is this: that the bones in some cases
even yet retain their marrow in the state of a fatty substance, which
will burn with a clear lambent flame. Evidence such as this seems to
point to a more recent date for its extinction.

Steller's Sea-Cow.[80]

[80] For fuller information, see the _Geological Magazine_, decade
iii. vol. ii. p. 412. Paper by Dr. Henry Woodward, F.R.S.

The Sirenia of the present day form a remarkable group of aquatic
herbivorous animals, really quite distinct from the Cetacea (whales
and dolphins), although sometimes erroneously classed with them. In
the former group are the Dugong and the Manatee. These creatures pass
their whole life in the water, inhabiting the shallow bogs, estuaries,
and lagoons, and large rivers, but never venturing far away from the
shore. They browse beneath the surface on aquatic plants, as the
terrestrial herbivorous mammals feed upon the green pastures on land.

Not a few of the tales of mermen and mermaids owe their origin to
these creatures, as well as to seals, and even walruses. The
Portuguese and Spaniards give the Manatee a name signifying
"Woman-fish," and the Dutch call the Dugong the "Little Bearded Man."
A very little imagination, and a memory only for the marvellous,
doubtless sufficed to complete the metamorphosis of the half-woman, or
man, half-fish, into a siren, a mermaid, or a merman. Hence the
general name Sirenia.

The Manatee (_Manatus_) inhabits the west coast and rivers of tropical
Africa, and the east coast and rivers of tropical America, the West
Indies, and Florida.

The Dugong (_Halicore_) extends along the Red Sea coasts, the shores
of India, and the adjacent islands, and goes as far as the northern
and eastern coasts of Australia.

[Illustration: Fig. 58.--Skeleton of _Rhytina gigas_ (Steller's
"Sea-Cow"), from a peat deposit, Behring's Island.]

The most remarkable Sirenian is the Rhytina gigas, or "Steller's
Sea-Cow." Early in 1885 the trustees of the British Museum acquired a
nearly complete skeleton of this animal, now extinct, from peat
deposits in Behring's Island, of Pleistocene age. Formerly it was
abundant along the shores of Kamtchatka, the Kurile Islands, and
Alaska. It was first discovered by the German naturalist, Steller,
who, in company with Vitus Behring, a captain in the Russian Navy and
a celebrated navigator of the northern seas, was with his vessel and
crew cast away upon Behring's Island (where Behring died) in 1741.
Steller's original description is preserved in the _Memoirs of the
Academy of Sciences St. Petersburg_. He saw it alive during his long
enforced residence on the island. In the course of forty years,
1742-1782, it appears to have been exterminated, probably for the sake
of its flesh and hide, around both Behring's Island and Copper Island,
to the shores of which it was, in Steller's time, limited.

Fig. 58 shows its skeleton, 19 ft. 6 in. long, now preserved in the
Geological Collection at South Kensington (Glass-case N). The
skeletons are found, in the islands, at a distance from the shore in
old raised beaches and peat-mosses, deeply buried and thickly
overgrown with grass. They are discovered by boring into the peat with
an iron rod, just as timber is found in Irish peat-bogs. (See
restoration, Plate XXVI.)

Steller records that when he came to Behring's Island, the Sea-cows
fed in the shallows along the shore, and collected in herds like
cattle. Every few minutes they raised their heads in order to get more
air before descending again to browse on the thick sea-weed (probably
Laminaria) surrounding the coast. With regard to their habits, they
were very slow in their movements: mild and inoffensive in
disposition. Their colour was dark brown, sometimes varied with spots.
The skin was naked; but thick, hard, and rugged. They are said to have
sometimes reached a length of thirty-five feet, when full grown. Most
of their time was spent in browsing, and whilst so occupied, were not
easily disturbed. Their attachment to each other was great, so that
when one was harpooned, the others made great attempts to rescue it.
According to Steller, they were so heavy that it required forty men
with ropes to drag the body of one to land.

[Illustration: Plate XXVI.


Found alive by Steller at Behring's Island. Length 19 feet 6 inches.]

When, in 1743, the news of the discovery of Behring Island reached
Kamtchatka, several expeditions were fitted out for the purpose of
hunting the sea-cow and the various fur-bearing animals, such as the
sea-otter, fur seal, and blue fox, which are found there; and very
soon many whaling vessels began to stop there to lay in a supply of
sea-cow meat for food. So great was the destruction wrought by these
whalers and fur-hunters that in 1754, only thirteen years after its
discovery, the sea-cow had become practically exterminated. In 1768,
according to the investigations of Dr. L. Stejneger of the U. S.
National Museum, Washington, who has made a most careful study of the
question, this large and important marine mammal became wholly
extinct, the last individual ever seen alive having been killed in
that year; and the fate which overtook Rhytina so speedily has almost
become that of the buffalo, and will as certainly become that of the
fur seal unless it be protected.

It may interest the reader, especially if he be a traveller, to know
that, besides the fine specimen of Rhytina in the Natural History
Museum, already alluded to, good skeletons are possessed by the
Museums of St. Petersburg, Helsingsfors (Finland), Stockholm, U. S.
National Museum, Washington, as well as portions of skeletons by other

The Sirenians are an ancient race, for their remains have been found
in Tertiary strata, of various ages, from Eocene to Pleistocene, over
the greater part of Europe--in England, Holland, Belgium, France,
Germany, Austria, and Italy; also near Cairo. In the New World, fossil
Sirenians have been found in South Carolina, New Jersey, and Jamaica.

Another European species is the Halitherium, from the Miocene rocks of
Hesse-Darmstadt, of which a cast may be seen in the Natural History
Museum, South Kensington. Its length is 7 ft. 8 in. The teeth in this
form resembled those of the Dugong.

The Rhytina was probably intermediate between the Dugong and the
Manatee, judging from the casts of its brain-cavity. Its brain was
very small considering the size of the animals. Altogether, as many as
fourteen fossil genera and thirty species are known. Evidently, then,
the old Sirenia were once a much more flourishing race. At present,
they are confined exclusively to the tropical regions of the earth,
and their past distribution, as revealed to the geologists, adds one
more proof to the now well-established fact, that throughout most of
the Tertiary era the climate of northern latitudes was very much
warmer than now--in fact, sub-tropical. What cause, or causes, brought
about so great a change, we cannot stay to consider here.

In conclusion, it only remains to express a hope that the reader may
have been interested in our humble endeavours to describe some of the
largest, most strange, and wonderful forms of life that in remote ages
have found a home on this planet. And perhaps a few of our readers may
be induced to add a new and never-failing interest to their lives by
searching in the stony record for traces of the world's "lost
creations." If so, our labour will not have been in vain.


Table of Stratified Rocks.

  Periods.    |   Systems.       |          Formations.          |
  Quaternary. |                 {|Terrestrial, Alluvial,         |
              |=RECENT=         {| Estuarine, and Marine Beds of |
              |                 {| Historic, Iron, Bronze, and   |
              |                 {| Neolithic Ages                |
              |                  |                               |
              |                 {|Peat, Alluvium, Loess          |Dominant
              |                 {|Valley Gravels, Brickearths    | type,
              |                 {|Cave-deposits                  |Man
              |=PLEISTOCENE=    {|Raised Beaches                 |
              |                 {|Palæolithic Age                |
              |                 {|Boulder Clay and Gravels       |
  CAINOZOIC.  |                 {|Norfolk Forest-bed Series      |
  Tertiary.   |=PLIOCENE=       {|Norwich and Red Crags          |
              |                 {|Coralline Crag (Diestian)      |
              |                  |                               |
              |=MIOCENE=         |Oeningen Beds Freshwater, etc. |
              |                  |                               |
              |                 {|Fluvio-marine Series           |
              |                 {|  (Oligocene)                  |Dominant
              |=EOCENE=         {|Bagshot Beds      }(Nummulitic | types,
              |                 {|London Tertiaries }   Beds)    |Birds
  ------------+------------------+-------------------------------| and
  SECONDARY,  |                 {|Maestricht Beds                |Mammals
  OR MESOZOIC.|                 {|Chalk                          |
              |=CRETACEOUS=     {|Upper Greensand                |
              |                 {|Gault                          |
              |                 {|Lower Greensand } Neocomian    |
              |                 {|Wealden         }              |
              |                 {|Purbeck Beds                   |
              |                 {|Portland Beds                  |
              |                 {|Kimmeridge Clay                |
              |                 {|  (Solenhofen Beds)            |
              |=JURASSIC=       {|Corallian Beds                 |
              |                 {|Oxford Clay                    |Dominant
              |                 {|Great Oolite Series            | type
              |                 {|Inferior Oolite Series         |Reptilia
              |                 {|Lias                           |
              |-------------- ---+-------------------------------|
              |                 {|Rhætic Beds                    |
              |=TRIASSIC=       {|Keuper                         |
              |                 {|Muschelkalk                    |
              |                 {|Bunter                         |
  PRIMARY,    |=PERMIAN or      {|Red Sandstone, Marl  }         |
     OR       |DYAS=            {|Magnesian Limestone, }Zechstein|
              |                 {|  etc.               }         |Dominant
  PALÆOZOIC.  |                 {|Red Sandstone and Conglomerate | type,
              |                 {|Rothliegende                   |Fishes
              |                  |                               |
              |=CARBONIFEROUS=  {|Coal Measures and Millstone    |
              |                 {|  Grit                         |
              |                 {|Carboniferous Limestone Series |
              |                  |                               |
              |=DEVONIAN & OLD  {|Upper Old Red Sandstone        |
              | RED SANDSTONE=  {|Devonian                       |
              |                 {|Lower Old Red Sandstone        |
              |                  |                               |
              |=SILURIAN=       {|Ludlow Series                  |
              |                 {|Wenlock Series                 |
              |                 {|Llandovery Series              |
              |                 {|May Hill Series                |
              |                  |                               |
              |=ORDOVICIAN=     {|Bala and Caradoc Series        |
              |                 {|Llandeilo Series               |
              |                 {|Llanvirn Series                |
              |                 {|Arenig and Skiddaw Series      |
              |                  |                               |
              |=CAMBRIAN=       {|Tremadoc Slates                |
              |                 {|Lingula Flags                  |
              |                 {|Menevian Series                |
              |                 {|Harlech and Longmynd Series    |
              |=EOZOIC-ARCHÆAN= {|Pebidian, Arvonian, and        |Dominant
              |                 {|  Dimetian                     | type,
              |                 {|Huronian and Laurentian        |Inverte-
              |                  |                               | brata



Mr. Henry Lee, formerly naturalist to the Brighton Aquarium, discusses
the question of "The Great Sea-Serpent" in an interesting little book,
entitled _Sea Monsters Unmasked_, illustrated (1883), published as one
of the Handbooks issued in connection with the International Fisheries
Exhibition. He goes fully into the history of the subject, and shows
how some of the appearances described may be accounted for; but yet is
inclined to think that there may exist in the sea animals of great
size unknown to science, and concludes as follows:--

"This brings us face to face with the question, 'Is it, then, so
impossible that there may exist some great sea creature, or creatures,
with which zoologists are hitherto unacquainted, that it is necessary
in every case to regard the authors of such narratives as wilfully
untruthful or mistaken in their observations, if their descriptions
are irreconcilable with something already known?' I, for one, am of
the opinion that there is no such impossibility. Calamaries or squids
of the ordinary size have, from time immemorial, been amongst the
commonest and best known of marine animals in many seas; but only a
few years ago any one who expressed his belief in one formidable
enough to capsize a boat or pull a man out of one was derided for his
credulity, although voyagers had constantly reported that in the
Indian seas they were so dreaded that the natives always carried
hatchets with them in their canoes, with which to cut off the arms or
tentacles of these creatures, if attacked by them. We now know that
their existence is no fiction; for individuals have been captured
measuring more than fifty feet, and some are reported to have measured
eighty feet in total length. As marine snakes some feet in length, and
having fin-like tails adapted for swimming, abound over an extensive
range, and are frequently met with far at sea, I cannot regard it as
impossible that some of these also may attain to an abnormal and
colossal development. Dr. Andrew Wilson, who has given much attention
to this subject, is of the opinion that 'in this huge development of
ordinary forms we discover the true and natural law of the production
of the giant serpent of the sea.' It goes far at any rate towards
accounting for its supposed appearance. I am convinced that whilst
naturalists have been searching amongst the vertebrata for a solution
of the problem, the great unknown, and therefore unrecognised,
Calamaries, by their elongated cylindrical bodies and peculiar mode of
swimming, have played the part of the sea-serpent in many a
well-authenticated incident. In other cases, such as those mentioned
by 'Pontoppidan' (_History of Norway_), the supposed vertical
undulations of the snake seen out of water have been the burly bodies
of so many porpoises swimming in line--the connecting undulations
beneath the surface have been supplied by the imagination. The dorsal
fins of basking sharks, as figured by Dr. Andrew Wilson, may have
furnished the 'ridge of fins;' an enormous conger is not an
impossibility; a giant turtle may have done duty, with its propelling
flippers and broad back; or a marine snake of enormous size may really
have been seen. But if we accept as accurate the observations recorded
(which I certainly do not in all cases, for they are full of errors
and mistakes), the difficulty is not entirely met, even by this last
admission, for the instances are very few in which an Ophidian
proper--a true serpent--is indicated. There has seemed to be wanting
an animal having a long snake-like neck, a small head, and a slender
body, and propelling itself by paddles.

"The similarity of such an animal to the Plesiosaurus of old was
remarkable. That curious compound reptile, which has been compared
with 'a snake threaded through the body of a turtle,' is described by
Dean Buckland as having 'the head of a lizard, the teeth of a
crocodile, a neck of enormous length resembling the body of a serpent,
the ribs of a chameleon, and the paddles of a whale.' In the number of
its cervical vertebræ (about thirty-three) it surpasses that of the
longest-necked bird, the swan.

"The form and probable movements of this ancient Saurian agree so
markedly with some of the accounts given of 'the great sea-serpent,'
that Mr. Edward Newman advanced the opinion that the closest
affinities of the latter would be found to be with the Enaliosaurians,
or Marine Lizards, whose fossil remains are so abundant in the Oolite
and the Lias. This view has been taken by other writers, and
emphatically by Mr. Gosse. Neither he nor Mr. Newman insist that 'the
great unknown' must be the Plesiosaurus itself. Mr. Gosse says, 'I
should not look for any species, scarcely for any genus, to be
perpetuated from the Oolitic period to the present. Admitting the
actual continuation of the order Enaliosauria, it would be, I think,
quite in conformity with general analogy to find some salient features
of several extinct forms.'

"The form and habits of the recently recognised gigantic cuttles
account for so many appearances which, without knowledge of them, were
inexplicable when Mr. Gosse and Mr. Newman wrote, that I think this
theory is not forced upon us. Mr. Gosse well and clearly sums up the
evidence as follows: 'Carefully comparing the independent narratives
of English witnesses of known character and position, most of them
being officers under the Crown, we have a creature possessing the
following characteristics: (1) The general form of a serpent; (2)
great length, say above sixty feet; (3) head considered to resemble
that of a serpent; (4) neck from twelve to sixteen inches in diameter;
(5) appendages on the head, neck, or back, resembling a crest or mane
(considerable discrepancy in details); (6) colour, dark brown or
green, streaked or spotted with white; (7) swims at surface of the
water with a rapid or slow movement, the head and neck projected and
elevated above the surface; (8) progression steady and uniform, the
body straight, but capable of being thrown into convolutions; (9)
spouts in the manner of a whale; (10) like a long "nun-buoy."' He
concludes with the question, 'To which of the recognised classes of
created beings can this huge rover of the ocean be referred?'

"I reply, 'to the Cephalopoda.' There is not one of the above
judiciously summarised characteristics that is not supplied by the
great Calamary, and its ascertained habits and peculiar mode of

"Only a geologist can fully appreciate how enormously the balance of
probability is contrary to the supposition that any of the gigantic
marine Saurians of the secondary deposits should have continued to
live up to the present time. And yet I am bound to say that this does
not amount to an impossibility, for the evidence against it is
entirely negative. Nor is the conjecture that there may be in
existence some congeners of these great reptiles inconsistent with
zoological science. Dr. J. E. Gray, late of the British Museum, a
strict zoologist, is cited by Mr. Gosse as having long ago expressed
his opinion that some undescribed form exists which is intermediate
between the tortoises and the serpents." (This is quoted by Mr. Lee in
a footnote.)

"Professor Agassiz, too, is adduced by a correspondent of the
_Zoologist_ (p. 2395), as having said concerning the present existence
of the Enaliosaurian type, that 'it would be in precise conformity
with analogy that such an animal should exist in the American seas, as
he had found numerous instances in which the fossil forms of the old
world were represented by living types in the new.'

"On this point, Mr. Newman records in the _Zoologist_ (p 2356), an
actual testimony which he considers 'in all respects the most
interesting natural history fact of the present century.' He writes--

"'Captain the Hon. George Hope states that when in H.M.S. _Fly_, in
the Gulf of California, the sea being perfectly calm, he saw at the
bottom a large marine animal with the head and general figure of the
alligator, except that the neck was much longer, and that instead of
legs the creature had four large flappers, somewhat like those of
turtles, the anterior pair being larger than the posterior, the
creature was distinctly visible, and all its movements could be
observed with ease; it appeared to be pursuing its prey at the bottom
of the sea; its movements were somewhat serpentine, and an appearance
of annulations, or ring-like divisions of the body, was distinctly
perceptible. Captain Hope made this relation in company, and as a
matter of conversation. When I heard it from the gentleman to whom it
was narrated, I inquired whether Captain Hope was acquainted with
those remarkable fossil animals, Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri, the
supposed forms of which so nearly corresponded with what he describes
as having seen alive, and I cannot find that he had heard of them; the
alligator being the only animal he mentioned as bearing a partial
similarity to the creature in question.'

"Unfortunately, the estimated dimensions of this creature are not

"That negative evidence alone is an unsafe basis for argument against
the existence of unknown animals, the following illustrations will

"During the deep-sea dredgings of H.M.S. _Lightning_, _Porcupine_, and
_Challenger_, many new species of mollusca and others, which had been
supposed to have been extinct ever since the Chalk, were brought to
light; and by the deep-sea trawlings of the last-mentioned ship there
have been brought up from great depths fishes of unknown species, and
which could not exist near the surface, owing to the distention and
rupture of their air-bladder when removed from the pressure of deep

"Mr. Gosse mentions that the ship in which he made the voyage to
Jamaica was surrounded in the North Atlantic, for seventeen continuous
hours, by a troop of whales of large size, of an undescribed species,
which on no other occasion has fallen under scientific observation.
Unique specimens of other Cetaceans are also recorded.

"We have evidence, to which attention has been directed by Mr. A. D.
Bartlett, that 'even on land there exists at least one of the largest
mammals, probably in thousands, of which only one individual has been
brought to notice, namely, the hairy-eared, two-horned rhinoceros (_R.
Lasiotis_), now in the Zoological Gardens, London. It was captured in
1868, at Chittagong, in India, where for years collectors and
naturalists have worked and published lists of the animals met with,
and yet no knowledge of this great beast was ever before obtained, nor
is there any portion of one in any museum. It remains unique.

"I have arrived at the following conclusions: 1. That without
straining resemblances, or casting a doubt upon narratives not proved
to be erroneous, the various appearances of the supposed 'great
sea-serpent' may now be nearly all accounted for by the forms and
habits of known animals; especially if we admit, as proposed by Dr.
Andrew Wilson, that some of them, including the marine snakes, may,
like the cuttles, attain to extraordinary size. 2. That to assume that
naturalists have perfect cognisance of every existing marine animal of
large size, would be quite unwarrantable. It appears to me more than
probable that many marine animals, unknown to science, and some of
them of gigantic size, may have their ordinary habitat in the sea, and
only occasionally come to the surface; and I think it not impossible
that amongst them may be marine snakes of greater dimensions than we
are aware of, and even a creature having close affinities with the old
sea-reptiles whose fossil skeletons tell of their magnitude and
abundance in past ages.

"It is most desirable that every supposed appearance of 'the Great
Sea-Serpent' shall be faithfully noted and described; and I hope that
no truthful observer will be deterred from reporting such an
occurrence by fear of the disbelief of naturalists or the ridicule of



[81] From Mr. Leith Adams's Monograph on _British Fossil Elephants_.
Palæontographical Society, London. 1877.



  _Cornwall and Devonshire._--None.
  _Somersetshire._--Hinton, Larkhall, Hartlip, St. Audries,
     Weston-super-Mare, Chedzoy, Freshford.
  _Gloucestershire._--Gloucester, Barnwood, Beckford, Stroud,
  _Dorsetshire._--Bridport, Portland Fissure.
  _Hampshire._--Gale Bay, Newton.
  _Wiltshire._--Christian Malford, Fisherton, Milford Hill, near
  _Berkshire._--Maidenhead, Taplow, Reading, Hurley Bottom.
  _Oxfordshire._--Yarnton, Bed of the Cherwell, City of Oxford,
     Wytham, Culham.
  _Essex._--Lexden, Orford, Hedingham, Lamarsh, Isle of Dogs,
     Walton-on-the-Naze, Ilford (the finest specimen, see p. 187),
     Wenden, Harwich, Colchester, Ballingdon, Walthamstow.
  _Hertfordshire._--Camp's Hill.
  _Sussex._--Bracklesham Bay, Brighton, Lewes, Valley of Arun,
  _Suffolk._--Ipswich, Hoxne.
  _Norfolk._--Bacton, Cromer, Yarmouth.
  _Cambridge._--Barrington, Barnwell, Chesterton, Great Shelford,
     Barton, Westwick Hall.
  _Huntingdonshire._--Huntingdon, St. Neots.
  _Bedfordshire._--Leighton Buzzard.
  _Middlesex._--At London, under various streets, etc., viz., St.
     James's Square, Pall Mall, Kensington, Battersea,
     Hammersmith, and, recently (1892), in Endsleigh Street.
     Turnham Green. In the bed of the Thames at Millbank,
     Brentford, Kew, Acton, Clapton, etc. Kingsland.
  _Surrey._--Wellington, Tooting, Peckham, Dorking, Peasemarsh,
     near Guildford.
  _Kent._--Crayford, Erith, Dartford, Aylesford, Hartlip,
     Otterham, Isle of Sheppey, Broughton Fissure, Medway,
     Sittingbourne, Newington, Green Street Green, Bromley,
  _Buckinghamshire._--Fenny Stratford.
  _Northamptonshire._--Oundle, Kettering, Northampton.
  _Warwickshire._--Rugby, Wellesborne, Lawford, Bromwich Hill,
     Halston, Newnam.
  _Worcestershire._--Stour Valley, Droitwich, Banks of Avon,
     Fladbury, Malvern.
  _Leicestershire._--Kirby Park.
  _Staffordshire._--Copen Hall, Trentham.
  _Yorkshire._--Whitby, Aldborough, Gristhorpe Bay, Harswell,
     Leeds, Bielbecks, Brandsburton, Middleton, Overton, Alnwick,


  Between Edinburgh and Falkirk.
  Chapel Hall in Lanarkshire, and Bishopbriggs.
  At Clifton Hall.


  _Waterford._--Near Whitechurch (but somewhat doubtful).


  _Devonshire._--Kent's Cavern, Oreston, Beach Cave, Brixham.
  _Somerset._--Hutton Cave, and a cave near Wells, Wookey Hole,
     Bleadon Cave, Box Hill, near Bath, Durdham Down, Sandford
  _Kent._--In Boughton Cave, near Maidstone.
  _Nottinghamshire._--In Church Hole.
  _Derbyshire._--In Cresswell Crags, Robin Hood Cave, Church Hole.
  _Glamorganshire._--In Long Hole, Spritsail Tor, Paviland.
  _Caermarthen._--In Coygan Cave.
   _Waterford._--In Shandon Cave.



1. Popular Works.

  _The Story of the Earth and Man._ By Sir Wm. Dawson.
  _The Mammoth and the Flood._ By Sir Henry Howorth.
  _Works by Doctor Gideon A. Mantell_:--
      _Medals of Creation._
      _Wonders of Geology._
      _Petrifactions and their Teaching._
  _Phases of Animal Life._ By R. Lydekker.
  _Science for All._ 5 vols. (Chapters on Extinct Animals.)
  _Our Earth and its Story_, vol. ii.
  _Winners in Life's Race._ By Arabella Buckley.
  _The Autobiography of the Earth._ By Rev. H. N. Hutchinson.
  _Sea Monsters Unmasked._ By H. Lee.

2. Works of Reference.

  _A Manual of Palæontology._ 2 vols. By Prof. Alleyne Nicholson, and
      R. Lydekker.
  _The Life-History of the Earth._ By Prof. Alleyne Nicholson.
  _Origin of Species._ By C. Darwin. Also _The Journal of Researches._
  _The Old Red Sandstone._ By Hugh Miller.
  _Sketch Book of Popular Geology._ By Hugh Miller.
  _Early Man in Britain._ By Prof. Boyd Dawkins.
  _The English Encyclopedia._ (The 2 vols. on Natural History contain
      much information on extinct animals.)
  _The Encyclopedia Britannica._ Ninth Edition.
  _Memoirs of the Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri._ By Thos. Hawkins.
  Phillips's _Manual of Geology_. New Edition, by Prof. H. G. Seeley
    and R. Etheridge.
  _The Book of the Great Sea-Dragons._ By Thos. Hawkins.
  _The Geographical and Geological Distribution of Animals._ By
      A. Heilprin.
  _Prehistoric Europe._ By Prof. James Geikie.
  _Palæontological Memoirs._ By Hugh Falconer, M.D.
  _Mammals, Living and Extinct._ By Prof. Flower and R. Lydekker.
  _British Fossil Mammals and Birds._ By Sir R. Owen.
  _A Manual of Palæontology._ By Sir R. Owen.
  _A Catalogue of British Fossil Vertebrata._ By A. S. Woodward and
      C. D. Sherborn.

3. Monographs.

  _The Dinocerata._ By Prof. O. C. Marsh. _United States Geological
      Survey_, vol. x. Washington, 1884.
  _The Odontornithes_, a Monograph on the Extinct Toothed Birds of North
      America. By Prof. O. C. Marsh. New Haven, Connecticut, 1880.
  _The Vertebrata of the Tertiary Formations._ By Prof. E. D. Cope.
      Washington, 1883.
  _The Vertebrata of the Cretaceous Formations of the West._ By Prof.
      E. D. Cope. Washington, 1875.
  _Contributions to the Extinct Vertebrate Fauna of the Western
      Territories._ By Joseph Leidy. Washington, 1873.
  (The last three are in the reports of the _United States Geological
      Survey of the Territories_.)
  _The British Merostomata_ (Palæontographical Society). By Dr. Henry
      Woodward, F.R.S.
  Monographs by Sir Richard Owen.
  _A History of British Fossil Reptiles._ 4 vols. (Cassell.) (Most of
      which has been previously published in the _Monographs of the
      Palæontographical Society_.)
  _On the Megatherium, or Giant Ground Sloth of America._ London, 1860.
  _On the Mylodon._ London, 1842.
  _On the Extinct Wingless Birds of New Zealand._ London, 1878.
      Reprinted from _The Transactions of the Zoological Society_.

4. Journals.

The student should consult the numerous papers by Prof. Marsh in _The
American Journal of Science_; and by Prof. Cope in _The American
Naturalist_. Many of Prof. Marsh's papers have also appeared in _The
Geological Magazine_ and in _Nature_. The two latter journals contain
many other valuable papers (and reviews of Monographs, etc.), too
numerous to be separately mentioned. Some are referred to in the text.
_The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society_ contains many papers
on Extinct Animals. See also papers in _Natural Science_ and



[Illustration: Fig. 59.--_Ichthyosaurus tenuirostris_, from

It was unfortunate that news of the highly interesting discovery at
Würtemberg came too late for our artist to make a new drawing for our
first edition, to show the dorsal fin and large tail-fin, etc.,
described by Dr. Fraas.[82] This has now been done, as shown in Plate
II. By the courtesy of the proprietors of _Natural Science_, we are
enabled to reproduce two drawings (Fig. 59) from the September number,
illustrating a paper by Mr. Lydekker, in which he gives a _résumé_ of
the latest intelligence with regard to Ichthyosaurian reptiles.

[82] Ueber einen neuen Fund von _Ichthyosaurus_ in Würtemberg. _Neues
Jahrbuch f. Mineralogie_, 1892, vol. ii. pp. 87-90. The same author
has published a valuable monograph, with beautiful plates, entitled
_Die Ichthysaurier der Süddentschen Trias- und Jura-Ablagerungen_.
4to. Tübingen, 1891.

In the present year (1892) there has been discovered in the Lias of
Würtemberg the skeleton of an Ichthyosaur, in which the outline of the
fleshy parts is completely preserved (see lower figure). The reader
will see from the figure that the tail-fin is very large, and the
backbone appears to run into the lower lobe. Such a tail-fin as this
impression indicates must have resembled that of the shark's, only it
is wider; but the shark's backbone runs into the _upper_ lobe. Sir
Richard Owen long ago foretold the existence of this appendage, and
the discovery, coming now (when his life is despaired of), adds one
more tribute to his genius. Behind the triangular fin on the back
comes a row of horny excrescences reminding us of those of the crested

As Dr. Fraas remarks, this discovery shows how closely analogous
Ichthyosaurs were in form to fishes, and further justifies the title
of "fish-lizards." He considers that they did _not_ visit the shore.
The reader will find much valuable matter in Mr. Lydekker's paper,
above referred to. The following extract refers to the question of
their reproduction: "It has long been known that certain large
skeletons of Ichthyosaurs from the Upper Lias of Holzmaden, in
Würtemberg, and elsewhere, are found with the skeletons of one or more
much smaller individuals enclosed partly or entirely within the cavity
of the ribs [a specimen is figured]. Of such skeletons there are four
in the museum at Stuttgart, two in that of Tübingen, one at Munich,
and others in Gent and Paris. Of these, two in Stuttgart, as well as
the two in Tübingen, contain but a single young skeleton, while one of
those at Stuttgart has four, the Munich specimen five, and the
remaining Stuttgart example upwards of seven young. Some of these
young and, presumably, foetal Ichthyosaurs have the head turned
towards the tail of the parent, while in others it is directed the
other way. That these young have not been swallowed by the larger
individuals within whose ribs they are found is pretty evident from
several considerations. In the first place, their skeletons are always
perfect. Then they never exceed one particular size, and always belong
to the same species as the parent. Moreover, it would appear to be a
physical impossibility for one Ichthyosaur of the size of the
Stuttgart specimen to have had seven smaller ones of such dimensions
in its stomach at one and the same time. We may accordingly take it
for granted that these imprisoned skeletons were those of foetuses. It
is, however, very remarkable, that, so far as we are aware, all the
skeletons with foetuses belong to one single species; thus suggesting
that this particular species was alone viviparous."

It is to be hoped that further discoveries will be made, such as may
finally settle this question. One would have expected that in some
cases the young ones, if foetal, would be imperfectly developed.



  Æpyornis. Vid. Moa-bird.
  Agassiz, 27
  "Age of Reptiles," 63, 107;
    "Age of Mammals," 147
  Air, action of, 10
  Allosaurus, 83
  Ancients, ideas of the, 35, 61, 155, 195, 199
  Apatosaurus, 70
  Aqueous rocks, 14
  Arbroath paving-stone, 26
  Armadillo. Vid. Glyptodon.
  Articulata, 25
  Atlantosaurus, 70


  Backbone of fishes, 49
  "Bad Lands" of Wyoming, 157
  Baker, Sir Samuel, on Crocodiles, 48;
    on Elephants, 215
  Basalt, 14
  Berossus, the Chaldæan, 34
  Birds, fossilisation of, 19;
    ancestry of, 63, 109.
    Vid. Hesperornis, Moa.
  Blackie, Prof. J. S., on Ichthyosaurus, 37
  "Breaks," 21, 147
  Brontops, 160
  Brontosaurus, 66;
    vertebræ of, 68;
    habits of, 69
  Buckland, Dean, 37, 46, 53, 73, 75-77, 124, 126, 180
  Buffon, 5, 223


  Cautley, Captain, 162
  Cave-earth, 10
  Ceratosaurus, 84
  Cetiosaurus, 73, 74
  _Challenger_, H.M.S., 20
  Chinese legends of Mammoth, 199
  Clidastes, 144, 145
  Climate, of Lias period, 51;
    of Eocene period, 159;
    of Tertiary era, 163
  Collini, 123
  Compsognathus, 86
  Conybeare, Rev., on Plesiosaurus, 52, 58;
    on Sea-serpents, 135
  Cope, Prof. E. D., on Sea-serpents, 139, 141, 143;
    on Eocene wingless bird, 237
  Correlation, law of, 6, 43, 54, 88, 161
  Crustaceans, 24
  Cuvier, 2, 5, 7, 63, 73, 76;
    on Ichthyosaurus, 36;
    on Plesiosaurus, 53;
    on Iguanodon teeth, 90, 91;
    on Pterodactyls, 121, 122, 126;
    on Mosasaurus, 135, 136;
    on Tertiary animals, 148;
    on Megatherium, 179;
    on Mammoth, 193, 212;
    on Mastodon, 217


  Darwin, Charles, 20;
    on extinct Sloths, 181
  Dawkins, Prof. Boyd, 10;
    on Mammoth, 213
  De la Beche, Sir Henry, 37, 52
  Denudation, 21
  Dimorphodon, 124
  Dinocerata, 149;
    skull and limbs of, 150;
    where found, 155
  Dinornis. Vid. Moa-bird.
  Dinosaurs, chaps. v., vi., vii.;
    anatomy of, 64;
    geographical range of, 75;
    classification of, 65;
    relations of, 65.
    Vid. also Allosaurus, Atlantosaurus, Brontosaurus,
        Ceratosaurus, Cetiosaurus, Compsognathus, Diplodocus,
        Hadrosaurus, Hoplosaurus, Hylæosaurus, Iguanodon,
        Megalosaurus, Morosaurus, Ornithopsis, Pelorosaurus,
        Polacanthus, Scelidosaurus, Triceratops.
  Diplodocus, 72
  Dollo, M., 99
  Draco volans, 122
  Dragons, in mythology, 61;
    Flying Dragons, 121;
    legends of, 225


  Earth-drama, the, 4
  Elephas ganesa, 220;
    E. primigenius. Vid. Mammoth.
  Eobasileus (Cope), 154
  Eocene period, 149, 153, 158
  Eurypterus, 29
  Evolution, of Ichthyosaurs, 50;
    of Plesiosaurs, 59;
    of Dinosaurs, 64, 108;
    of Dinocerata, 153;
    of Sloths, 186
  Explorations, in Rocky Mountains, by Marsh, 119, 120;
    in Kansas, by Cope, 140, 145;
    in Wyoming, by Leidy, 157;
    in Uinta Basin, by Marsh, 159;
    in Sivalik Hills, by Falconer, 165;
    in Siberia, 201, 204


  Falconer, Hugh, 162
  Floods, destruction of animals by, 17
  Flying Dragons (Pterodactyls), early discovery of, 123;
    Pterodactylus macronyx, 124;
    P. crassrostris, 125;
    P. spectabilis, 126;
    differences between (Pterodactyls) and Birds, 127;
    Rhamphorhynchus, 128;
    Pterodactyls from the Greensand, 129;
    American Pterodactyls, 129;
    bones of ditto, 130;
    habits of, 131
  Footprints, of birds and reptiles, 13, 79;
    of Brontosaurus, 66;
    Iguanodon, 102;
    supposed human footprints, 185
  Forbes, Mr. H. O., on Moa-birds, 237
  Fossils, how preserved, 9-23;
    changes in, 22


  Geikie, Sir Archibald, on scenery of a western plateau, 156
  "Generalised types," 150
  Geography of Wealden period, 96;
    of Cretaceous period, 141, 147;
    of Eocene period, 149, 159, 160;
    of Miocene period, 161;
    of Pliocene period, 163
  Giants, stories of, founded on discoveries of bones, 40, 155,
      195-198, 220, 225
  Glyptodon, 189


  Hadrosaurus, 97
  Harrison, Mr. J., discovers Scelidosaurus, 105
  Hawkins, Mr. T., his collection of fossil reptiles, 41;
    his books, 40
  Hoffman, 134
  Home, Sir Everard, 38
  Hoplosaurus, 74
  Humboldt, 18
  Huxley, on Dinosaurus, 63, 64, 77, 85, 87;
    on origin of birds, 64
  Hylæosaurus, 103


  Ice Age, or Glacial Period, 163, 197, 229
  Ichthyornis, 109
  Ichthyosaurus, 33;
    Scheüchzer on, 38;
    droppings of, 44;
    I. tenuirostris, 44, 264;
    Owen on habits of, 45;
    eyes of, 46;
    jaws of, 48;
    vertebræ of, 49;
    ancestry of, 50;
    part played by, 50;
    tail-fin, 49;
    range of, 51;
    Sauranodon, 51;
    toothless forms of, 51.
    Vid. Cuvier.
  Iguana, teeth of, 92
  Iguanodon, discovery of teeth, 90;
    Dr. Wollaston, 91;
    origin of name, 92;
    jaws of, 93, 94;
    food of, 96, 101;
    discovery of Belgian specimens, 98;
    figure of skeleton, 100;
    impressions of feet, 102;
    thumb of, 101;
    habits of, 103;
    restoration by W. Hawkins, 104
  Ilia, 113
  Imperfection of the record, 20
  Impressions, of leaves, 12;
    of cuttle-fishes, 13;
    of jelly-fishes, 13;
    of fish-lizards, 47 and Appendix V.
  Irish Elk, 240


  King Crabs, habits of, 31
  König, 38


  Laramie beds, 116
  Lariosaurus, 59
  Legends. Vid. Giants.
  Leidy, Professor, 143
  Leiodon, 142
  Lias rocks, 35, 38, 40, 43, 47
  Lyell, Sir Charles, on floods, 17;
    on ideas of the ancients, 34;
    on sudden destruction of fish-lizards, 51;
    on tracks in Connecticut Sandstone, 81;
    on Mammoth, 213


  Mammals, evolution of, 152
  Mammoth, distinct from living elephants, 193;
    finding of, by Adams, 201;
    by Benkendorf, 205;
    how preserved, 209;
    food of, 210;
    extinction of, 213;
    primitive drawing of, 214;
    legends of, 195-200
  Mantell, Dr. G. A., 63;
    on "Medals of Creation," 85;
    discovery of Iguanodon, 93, 98;
    on jaws and teeth of ditto, 96;
    on Wealden strata, 96;
    discovery of Hylæosaurus, 103;
    on analogies of Iguanodon and Sloths, 96;
    on discovery of Mosasaurus, 135
  Mantell, Mr. Walter, on Moa-birds, 230-232
  Marsh, Prof. O. C., on classification of Dinosaurs, 65;
    on Brontosaurus, 66;
    on Atlantosaurus, 70;
    his collection at Yale College, 72;
    on Megalosaurus, 78;
    on tracks of Dinosaurs, etc., 79;
    on Ceratosaurus, 84;
    on ancient vertebrate life in America, 110;
    on reptiles and birds, 109;
    on Stegosaurus, 110, 114;
    on Triceratops, 115, 119;
    his collection of Pterodactyls, 129;
    on Sea-serpents, 139;
    on Dinocerata, 149, 153;
    on explorations in the Far West, 159, 160;
    on footprints of Mylodon, 185
  Mastodon, 218;
    bones and teeth first described, 220;
    discovery of, by M. de Longueil, 221;
    exhibited as "the Missouri Leviathan," 222;
    legends of, 225
  Medals of Creation. Vid. Mantell.
  Megaceros. Vid. Irish Elk.
  Megalosaurus, 76;
    localities of, 76;
    teeth of, 77;
    habits of, 78;
    skeleton of, 78 (Fig. 8)
  Megatherium, 181;
    habits of, 182
  Miller, Hugh, 26
  Miocene period, 161, 219
  Moa-birds, first discovery of, 227;
    letter to Prof. Owen, 228;
    W. Mantell on, 230;
    species of, 232;
    native traditions of, 234;
    Æpyornis, 235;
    geographical distribution of giant birds, 236;
    a new find of Moas, 237
  Monitors, 136
  Morosaurus, 71
  Mosasaurus, head, etc.,
    found by Hoffman, 134;
    origin of name, 135;
    head of, 137;
    structure of, 142;
    habits of, 139;
    Cuvier's opinion of, 136;
    Cope on Sea-serpents, 139;
    Marsh's collection of ditto, 139
  Museum at Brussels, 99
  Mylodon, 183, 185


  Neusticosaurus, 59
  New Red Sandstone period, 79;
    tracks in New Red Sandstone, 80
  Nodules, phosphatic, 13


  Old Red Sandstone, 26, 27
  Omosaurus, 110
  Ornithopoda, a group of Dinosaurs, 87
  Ornithopsis, 74
  Ornithosauria, 132. Vid. Pterodactyls.
  Owen, Sir R., 2, 37, 40, 88;
    on Ichthyosaurus, 45, 49;
    on Plesiosaurus, 54, 58;
    on Dinosaurs, 64, 73;
    on Cetiosaurus, 73;
    on Megalosaurus, 77;
    on Iguanodon, 95;
    on Scelidosaurus, 106;
    on Pterodactyls, 125, 130;
    on Sea-serpents, 138;
    on Megatherium, 181;
    on Mammoth, 210-212;
    on Mastodon, 219;
    on Dinornis, 227, 232


  Parish, Sir Woodbine, 177, 178
  Pauw, M. de, 99
  Peat, human bodies in, 18;
    Deer in, 244
  Pelorosaurus, 74
  Petrifactions, 9
  Phillips, Prof., on Megalosaurus, 76
  Plesiosaurus, origin of name, 52;
    length of, 55;
    skin, 54;
    limbs, 54, 57;
    habits, 57, 58;
    relations, 59, 60.
    Vid. Buckland, Conybeare, and König.
  Pliosaurus, 59, 60
  Polacanthus, 106
  Pterodactyls, C. Kingsley on, 121;
    origin of name, 122;
    sizes of, 122;
    first discovery of, 123;
    structure of, 123, 124;
    Dimorphodon, 124;
    P. spectabilis, 126;
    Condyle of, 127;
    Ramphorhynchus, 128;
    specimens at Yale College, U.S., 129;
    range in time, 132;
    whether warm-blooded, 130.
    Vid. Seeley, Marsh, Owen.
  Pterygotus, 26
  Pythonomorphs. Vid. Sea-serpents.


  Ramphorhynchus. Vid. Pterodactyls.
  Record, imperfection of the, 19
  Rhinoceros; tichorhine or woolly, 224;
    legends founded on, 225
  Rhytina, or "Sea-Cow," 246
  Rocks, how made, 14-16


  Sacrum, the, 113
  Sauranodon. Vid. Ichthyosaurus.
  Scelidosaurus, discovery of, 105
  Scelidotherium, 183
  Sclerotic plates, of Ichthyosaurus, 46
  Sea-Cow. Vid. Rhytina.
  Sea-scorpions, 25;
    habits of, 31;
    relations of, 24, 29, 32;
    discovery of, 26;
    "Seraphim," 27;
    Woodward on, 31;
    range in time of, 33
  Sea-serpents, Chap. IX.
    Vid. Mosasaurus, Leiodon, Clidastes.
  Seeley, Prof. H. G., on Dinosaurs, 65, 72, 74;
    on Pterodactyls, 131
  Sivalik Hills, 162-170
  Sivatherium, 163-169
  Sloths. Vid. Megatherium, Scelidotherium, Mylodon.
  Solenhofen limestone, or lithographic stone of Bavaria,
      13, 85, 86, 125
  Specialisation, 119, 151
  Stegosaurus, 110;
    skeleton figured, 117;
    restoration of, 113;
    second brain, 113;
    discovery of, 110, 111;
    bony plates, 115
  Steller's "Sea-Cow," vid. Rhytina.
  St. Fond, M. Faujas, 135
  Stonesfield slate, 76
  Stratified rocks, table of, Appendix I.;
    how formed, 14-16
  Stylonurus, 30
  Sydenham, models of extinct animals at Crystal Palace, 34


  Theropoda, 75
  Tinoceras, 149, 151
  Triceratops, 115;
    teeth of, 118;
    skull, 116;
    spines, etc., 119;
    extinction of, 119
  Trilobites, 25


  Uintatherium, 154
  Uniformity, 17


  Vegetation of Jurassic period, 70;
    of Wealden period, 96;
    of Eocene period in America, 159
  Von Meyer, on Dinosaurs, 64


  Water, action of, on organic matter, 10, 11;
    on fossils, 12
  Waterhouse Hawkins, 34, 103
  Wealden strata, 96, 97, 103
  Williams, Mr. R., on Great Irish Deer, 244
  Wings, of Pterodactyls, 122, 125, 127, 129;
    of Moa-bird, 227
  Woodward, Dr. Henry, 31, 33, 149, 246
  Workmen (in pits and quarries), carelessness of, 23, 41, 198


    _Recently Published, by the same Author. Price 5s._



    BY THE

    Rev. H. N. HUTCHINSON, B.A., F.G.S.,



     "This work belongs to that useful class whose intention is to
     arouse interest in the works of nature, and quicken the
     faculty of observation."

    _Manchester Guardian._

     "It tells in the pleasantest way the first things that
     geologists learn and teach crabbedly about the heaving up of
     hills, the wearing of them down by the weather, the breaking
     out of volcanoes, and kindred matters."--_Scotsman._

     "The author is a man of wide geological and physiographical
     reading, possessed of the gift of clearly interpreting the
     writers he reads, and of reproducing their facts and
     conclusions in easily understood and even attractive
     language."--_Science Gossip._

     "It will be read with pleasure and profit by the tourist who
     likes to know just enough about the sundry points of interest
     connected with the scene of his wanderings to make the
     enjoyment of his outing intelligent."--_Nature._

     "Mr. Hutchinson's book deals with the slow moulding of
     mountain forms by streams and by weathering, and with the
     forces by which mountains have been upheaved, and will double
     the pleasure of a mountain trip. It is of a handy and
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     reproductions of photographs by the late Mr. W.

     "A charmingly written and beautifully illustrated account of
     the making of the mountains. An admirable gift
     book."--_Yorkshire Post._

     "This is a popular and well illustrated account of mountains
     and how they were made. The illustrations are especially
     excellent, being reproductions of photographs taken by the
     late Mr. W. Donkin, Messrs. Walentine and Sons (Dundee), and
     Mr. Wilson (Aberdeen). Mr. Hutchinson writes interestingly,
     and evidently knows geology and physiography."--_Journal of

SEELEY AND CO., Limited, Essex Street, Strand.

_Recently Published, by the same Author_



    BY THE

    Rev. H. N. HUTCHINSON, B.A., F.G.S.

    _Crown 8vo, cloth, with 27 Illustrations, price 7s. 6d._

Contents.--1. Cloud-land, or Nebular Beginnings--2. The Key to
Geology--3. An Archaic Era--4. Cambrian Slates--5. The Slates and
Ashes of Siluria--6. The Old Red Sandstone--7. The Mountain
Limestone--8. Forests of the Coal-period--9. A Great Interval--10. The
Cheshire Sandstones--11. New Phases of Life--12. Bath Oolites--13. An
Age of Reptiles--14. The Chalk Downs--15. The New Era--16. The Ice-Age
and Advent of Man.


     "His sketch of historic geology has a genuine continuity. It
     is so written as to be understanded of plain people, and is
     illustrated by some very good woodcuts and
     diagrams."--_Saturday Review._

     "This most interesting book."--_Spectator._

     "A delightfully written and thoroughly accurate popular work
     on geology, well calculated to engage the interest of readers
     in the fascinating study of the Stony Science."--_Science

     "In this work the Rev. H. N. Hutchinson produces a popular
     account of geological history, and explains the principles
     and methods by which that history has been read. He
     endeavours to interpret the past by the light of the present,
     first acquiring a knowledge, by direct observation and
     self-instruction, of the chief operations now taking place on
     the earth's surface, and then employing this knowledge to
     ascertain the meaning of the record of stratified rocks. This
     principle of 'uniformity' knocked the old teaching of
     catastrophism on the head. The author is accurate in all his
     details, yet his subject is touched into something not at all
     unlike romance. The illustrations are good."--_National

London: EDWARD STANFORD, 26 & 27, Cockspur Street, S.W.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note

Spelling and hyphenation was standardized. All OE and oe ligatures were
converted to "Oe" and "oe" respectively. The word Garuda has a macron
over the u in the printed version.

Missing endquote from the quoted passage, beginning in the last paragraph
on page 85, was confirmed by consulting Mantell's "The Medals of Creation"
(p. 17).

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