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a-kin to those of the present day; those land animals
and mollusca, and other fresh-water animals, also
unknown, which next occupy the places, to be again
displaced, but by mollusca, and other animals similar
to those of our own seas; the relations of these various
beings with the plants, whose remains accompany
theirs; the relations of these two kingdoms with the
mineral layers which contain them; the more or less
their uniformity with one another in different basins;
all these are a series of phenomena which appears to
me to call imperiously for the profound attention of
Made interesting by the variety of the productions
of the partial or universal revolutions of this epoch,
and by the abundance of the various species which
alternately figure on the stage, this study is divested of
the dryness of that of the primordial for mations, and
does not, like it, plunge itself into hypotheses. The
facts are so close, so curious, and so evident, that they
suffice in a measure for the most ardent imagination;
and the conclusions which they arrive at from time to
time, however scrupulous the observer maybe; not
having any thing in definite, at the same time have
nothing arbitrary. Finally, it is in the events which are
nearer to our times that we can hope to find any traces
of the more ancient events and their causes, if it be
indeed allowed, after so many trials, to flatter
ourselves with such a hope.
These ideas have beset, I may say, have tormented
me, whilst I have been engaged in making researches
amongst fossil bones, the results of which I have lately
made public; researches which only comprise so small
a portion of these phenomena of the last age but one of
the earth, and which, notwithstanding, are united to all
the others in an intimate



manner. It was nearly impossible that the desire of
studying the generality of these phenomena should not
arise, at least, in a limited space around us. My
excellent friend, M. Brongniart, in whom other studies
had excited similar desires, desired me to associate
with him, and thus we have laid the first foundations
of our researches in the vicinity of Paris; but this
work, although it bears my name, is nearly all that of
my friend, from the infinite pains he has bestowed
from the commencement of our plan, and, since our
journeys, on the profound investigation of the objects,
and in classifying the whole. I have, by consent of M.
Brongniart, placed it in the second part of my
Researches, in that in which I have treated of the fossil
remains of our neighbourhood. Although relating,
apparently, to a limited country, it affords numerous
results applicable to geology generally, and in this
light may be considered as an integral part of the
present Discourse, at the same time that it is most
assuredly one of the finest ornaments of my work.(1)
We have there the history of the most recent
changes that have taken place in a particular basin, and
it leads us to the chalk formation, whose extent over
the globe is infinitely greater than that of the materials
of the basin of Paris. The chalk, which has been
considered as modern, is thus found to have a remote
origin in the ages which preceded the last catastrophe.
It forms a kind of boundary between the most recent
formations, those to which the name of Tertiary may
be applied; and the formations which are called
Secondary, those which were

(1) Separate copies have been printed, entitled, "Description Geologique
des Environs de Paris," par MM. G Cuvier and Al. ]3rongniart, second
edition, Paris, 1822, in 4to.



deposited before the chalk, but after the primitive for
mations and those termed Transition.
The recent observations of many geologists who
have followed up our views, such as MM. Buckland,
Webster, Constant-Prevost, and those of M. Brongniart
himself; have proved that these formations, posterior
to the chalk, have been reproduced in many other
basins besides that of Paris, although with some
variations; so that it has been possible to constitute an
order of succession, many of the stages of which
extend to nearly all countries that have been examined.


The most superficial strata, those deposites of mud
and clayey sand mixed with round flints transported
from distant countries, and filled with fossil remains
of land animals for the most part unknown, or at least
foreign to the country, seem principally to have
covered all the plains, filled the bottoms of all
caverns, choked up all the clefts of rocks which have
been in their way. Described with great care by M.
Buckland, under the name of diluvium, and very
different from other beds consisting of matter
deposited incessantly by torrents and rivers, which
contain only relics of the animals of the country, and
which M. Buckland distinguishes by the name of
alluvium; they form at present, in the eyes of all
geologists, the most evident proof of the immense
inundation which was the last catastrophe of this
globe. (1)

(1) See Professor Buckland's great work, called'Reliquæ Diluvianæ,



Between this diluvium and the chalk, are formations
alternately filled with the productions of fresh water
and salt water, which mark the irruptions and retreats
of the sea, to which, since the deposition of the chalk
layer, this portion of the globe has been subjected;
first, mans and millstones and hollow silex, filled with
fresh water shells like those of our marshes and pools;
under them are marls, sand stones, and limestone, all
the shells of which are marine; oysters, &c.
Still deeper are fresh water formations of a much
more remote period, and particularly those famous
gypsum deposites in the vicinity of Paris, which have
afforded the means of adorning the edifices of this fine
city with so much facility, and where we have
discovered entire genera of land animals, of which no
traces have been elswhere detected.
They rest on those equally remarkable beds of
limestone, of which our capital is built, and in the
more or less close composition of which the patience
and sagacity of the savans of France have already
detected more than eight hundred species of shells, all
marine, but the greater part unknown in the seas now
existing. They also contain bones of fishes, of
cetaceous and other marine mammiferous animals.
Under the marine limestone is another fresh water
deposite, formed of clay, in which are interposed great
layers of lignite (brown coal,) or that fossil coal of
more recent origin than the common coal. Amongst the
shells always of fresh water, there are also some bones;
but it is remarkable that they are bones of reptiles and
not of mammifera. It is filled

London 1823,' in 4to. pp. 185, et seq. and the article 'EAU' by M.
Brongniart, in the 14th volume of the Dictionary of Natural Sciences.



with crocodiles and tortoises; but the genera of extinct
mammifera, which are deposited in the gypsum, are
not there to be found. They did not as yet exist in that
country when these clays and lignites were formed.
This fresh water formation, the most ancient that
has been with certainty detected in our neighbourhood,
and which supports all the formations which we have
just enumerated, is itself supported and environed
entirely by chalk, a formation, vast from its thickness
and by its extent, which shows itself in very distant
countries, such as Pomerania and Poland; but which, in
our environs, pervades with a sort of continuity Berri,
Champagne, Picardy, Upper Normandy and a part of
England, and also forms a great circle, or rather basin,
in which the formations of which we have been
speaking are contained, but the borders of which they
also cover in those places where they were less
In fact, it is not in our basin alone that these kinds
of formations are deposited. In other countries, where
the surface of the chalk offered similar cavities; in
those even where there was no chalk, and where the
most ancient formations alone offered themselves as
supporters, circumstances often brought deposites more
or less like our own, and containing similar organic
Our fresh water shell formations of the second stage
have been found in England, Spain, and even to the
confines of Poland.
The marine shells placed between them have been
discovered along the whole chain of the Appenines.
Some of the quadrupeds of our gypsum deposites,
the palæotheria for instance, have also left some of the
remains in the gypseous formations of Velai, and in
the molasse quarries of the south of France.



Thus the partial revolutions which took place in our
environs, between the epoch of the chalk and that of
the general deluge, and during which the sea was
thrown upon our districts or retired from them,
occurred also in a multitude of other countries. The
globe underwent a long series of variations and
changes, probably very rapid, since the deposites they
have left no where show much thickness or solidity.
The chalk was produced by a sea more tranquil and
uninterrupted; it contains only marine productions,
amongst which there are however somevertebrated
animals of most peculiar kinds; but the wholeclass of
reptiles and fishes; great tortoises, enormous lizards,
and similar animals.
The formations previous to the chalk, and in the
hollow of which it is deposited, as the layers of our
neighbourhood are, form a great part of Germany and
England; and the efforts recently made by the learned
of these two countries, similar to ours, and by
employing the same principles, united to those which
had been previously tried by the school of Werner,
will soon leave nothing to be desired in addition to our
knowledge of them. MM. Humboldt and de Bonnard in
France and Germany; Messrs. Buckland and Conybeare
in England, have given us the most perfect and
complete tables of them.

The table annexed, which was kindly drawn out for
me by M. de Humboldt, to adorn my work, not only
has the secondary formations, but the whole series of
strata arranged, from the most ancient that are known,
to the most recent and superficial. It is in a manner the
summary of the labours of all geologists.




IMAGE Revolutions06.jpg



Beneath the chalk are green sands, the lower layers
of which have some organic remains. Still deeper are
ferruginous sands. In many countries, both these are
strongly marked with sand-stone layers, in which are
also found lignites, amber, and relics of animals.
Under this, is the vast mass of strata composing the
chain of Jura and the mountains which form its
continuation into Swabia and Franconia; the main
ridge of the Appenines, and a vast many beds in France
and England. It consists of calcareous slates rich in
fish and crustaceous animals; extensive beds of oolites,
or of a granular limestone: marl, gray limestone,
having pyrites characterised by the presence of
ammonites; oysters with bentyalves, termed gryphææ;
and of reptiles more and more singular in construction
and character.
Extensive layers of sand and sandstone, often
bearing vegetable impressions, support all these beds
of Jura, and are themselves supported by a layer of
limestone, which is so replete with numerous shells
and zoophytes, that Werner has called it by the too
common name of shelly lime-stone, and which other
sandstone strata, of the sort called variegated
sandstone, separate from a limestone still more
ancient, not less incorrectly called alpine limestone;
because it composes the high Alps of the Tyrol, but
which in fact is found in our eastern provinces, and
throughout the whole south of Germany.
It is in this limestone, termed shelly, that the vast
masses of gypsum and rich layers of salt are deposited;
and beneath it are thin layers of coppery slates, very
rich in fish, and amongst which are also found
freshwater reptiles. The coppery slate is supported by a
red sandstone of the period when



those famous layers of coal were deposited, the
resource whence the present generation is supplied, and
the remains of the earliest vegetable productions which
ornamented the face of the globe. We find, from the
trunks of ferns, whose impressions they have
preserved, how much these ancient forests differed
from the present.
We next arrive at those transitive formations in
which primæval nature, a nature inanimate and solely
mineral, seemed still to contend for empire with
animated nature. Black limestone, and slates which
only present crustacea and shells and species now
extinct, are presented alternately with the remains of
primitive formations, and announce to us the fact of
our having reached the most ancient formations that it
has been permitted to us to discover; those ancient
foundations of the actual coating of the globe, the
marble and primitive slates, the gneisses, and finally
the granites.
Such is the exact arrangement of the succes sive
masses with which nature has enveloped this earth.
Geology has detected it by combining the lights of
mineralogy with those furnished by the sciences of
organic structure and existence; an order so new and
pregnant with fact, that it has only been acquired since
the actual proofs offered to observation have been
preferred to fantastic systems, and contradictory
conjectures, on the primary origin of the globe, and all
those phenomena, which in no-wise resembling those
to which we are accustomed, could neither detect
therein, to throw a light on the facts, materials to
produce it, or a touchstone to try and prove. Some
years since, the majority of geologists might be
compared to historians who were only interested in the
history of France with regard to what passed amongst
the Gauls before Julius Cæsar;



but yet these historians, in composing their romances,
availed themselves of their acquaintance with
subsequent facts, while the geologists alluded to
entirely neglected the posterior occurrences which
alone could cast any light on the obscurity of former
In conclusion, it only remains for me to present the
result of my individual researches, or in other words
the summary of my great work. I shall enumerate the
animals that I have discovered, in an order the reverse
of that which I have followed in enumerating the
formations. By going deeper and deeper into the series
of layers, I got more and more remote as to the epochs
of time. I shall now commence with the most ancient
formations, and mention the animals found in them,
and passing from epoch to epoch, point out those
which successively present themselves, in proportion as
they approach more nearly to the present age.


We have seen that zoophytes, mollusca, and certain
crustacea begin to appear in the transition formations;
there may be even at that period bones and skeletons of
fishes; but they are at a very considerable distance
from the epoch in which we discover the remains of
animals which live on the earth and breathe the air of
The vast beds of coal, and the, trunks of palms and
ferns of which they retain the impressions, although
already evidencing dry lands, and a vegetation thereon,
do not yet show any bones of quadrupeds, nor even of
oviparous quadrupeds.

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