General History of Fossil Organic Remains.
As "the variety and formation of God's creatures in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms" are specially marked out by the founder of this Treatise, as the subjects from which he desires that proofs should be sought of the power, wisdom, and goodness of he Creator; I shall enter at greater length into the Evidences of this
[107 AFFORD STRONGEST EVIDENCE OF DESIGN.] kind, afforded by fossil organic remains, than I might have done, without such specific directions respecting the source from which my arguments are to be derived. I know not how I can better fulfil the object thus proposed, than by attempting to show that the extinct species of Animals and Vegetables which have, in former Periods, occupied our Planet, afford in their fossil remains, the same evidences of contrivance and design that have been shown by Ray, Derham, and Paley, to pervade the structure of existing Genera and species of organized Beings.
From the high preservation in which we find the remains of animals and vegetables of each geological formation, and the exquisite mechanism which appears in many fossil fragments of their organization, we may collect an infinity of arguments, to show that the creatures from which all these are derived were constructed with a view to the varying conditions of the surface of the Earth, and to its gradually in creasing capabilities of sustaining more complex forms of organic life, advancing through successive stages of perfection.*
* When we speak of different forms of animal life, as possessing various degrees of perfection, we do not impute to any creature the presence of absolute imperfection, we mean only, that animals of more simple structure discharge a lower office in the gradually descending scale of animated beings. All perfection has relation to the object proposed to be attained by each form of organization that occurs in nature, and nothing can be called imperfect which fully accomplishes the end proposed:
[108 ORGANIC REMAINS,] Few facts are more remarkable in the history of the progress of human discovery, than that it should have been reserved almost entirely for the researches of the present generation, to arrive at any certain knowledge of the existence of the numerous extinct races of animals, which occupied the surface of our planet, in ages preceding the creation of man. The rapid progress, which during the last half century, has been made in the physical sciences, enables us now to enter into the history of Fossil Organic Remains, in a manner which, till within a very few years, would have been quite impracticable; during these years the anatomy of extinct species of Quadrupeds has been most extensively investigated,
thus a Polype, or an Oyster, are as perfectly adapted to their functions at the bottom of the sea, as the wings of the Eagle are perfect, as organs of rapid passage through the air, and the feet of the stag perfect, in regard to their, functions of effecting swift locomotion upon the land.
Unusual deviations from ordinary structure appear monstrosities only, until considered with reference to their peculiar use, but are proved to be instruments of perfect contrivance, when we understand the nature of the service to which they are applied: thus; the beak of the Cross Bill (Loxia curvirostra, Linn.) would be an awkward instrument if applied to the ordinary service of the beaks of tbe Passerine Order, to which this bird belongs; but viewed in relation to its peculiar function of extracting seeds from between the indurated scales of Fir cones, it is at once seen to be an instrument of perfect adaptation to its intended work.
The Perfection of an organized Body is usually considered to be in proportion to the Variety and compound Nature of its parts, as the imperfection is usually considered to be in the Ratio of its Simplicity.
[109 THEIR IMPORTANCE DULY APPRECIATED.] and the greatest of comparative anatomists has devoted much of his time arid talent to illustrate their organization . Similar inquiries have been carried on also by a host of other enlightened and laborious individuals, conducting independent researches in various countries, since the commencement of the present century; hence our knowledge of the osteology of a large number of extinct genera and species, now rests on nearly the same foundation, and is established with scarcely less certainty, than the anatomical details of those creatures that present their living bodies to our examination.
We can hardly imagine any stronger proof of the Unity of Design and Harmony of Organizations that have ever pervaded all animated nature, than we find in the fact established by Cuvier, that from the character of a single limb, and even of a single tooth or bone, the form and proportions of the other bones, and condition of the entire Animal may be inferred. This law prevails, no less universally, throughout the existing kingdoms of animated nature, than in those various races of extinct creatures that have preceded the present tenants of our planet; hence not only the framework of the fossil skeleton of an extinct animal, but also the character of the muscles, by which each bone was moved, the external form and figure of the body, the food, and habits, and haunts, and mode of life of creatures that ceased to exist before the
[110 ORGANIC REMAINS,] creation of the human race, can with a high degree of probability be ascertained.
Concurrent with this rapid extension of our knowledge of the comparative anatomy of extinct families of the ancient inhabitants of the earth, has been the attention paid to fossil Conchology; a subject of vast importance in investigating the records of the changes that have occurred upon the surface of our globe.
Still more recently, the study of botanists has been directed to the History of fossil vegetables; and although, from the late hour at which this subject has been taken up, our knowledge of fossil plants is much in arrear of the progress made in Anatomy and Conchology, we have already a mass of most important evidence, showing the occurrence of a series of changes in vegetable life, coextensive and contemporaneous with those that have pervaded both the higher and lower orders of the animal kingdom.
The study of Organic Remains indeed, forms the peculiar feature and basis of modern Geology, and is the main cause of the progress this science has made, since the commencement of the present century. We find certain families of Organic Remains pervading strata of every age, under nearly the same generic forms which they present among existing organizations.*
* e. g. The Nautilus, Echinus, Terebratula and various forms of Corals; and among Plants, the Ferns, Lycopodiacæ, and Palms.
[111 STUDY OF THEM INDISPENSABLE.] Other families, both of animals and vegetables, are limited to particular formations, there being certain points where entire groups ceased to exist, and were replaced by others of a different character. The changes of genera and species are still more frequent; hence, it has been well observed, that to attempt an investigation of the structure and revolutions of the earth, with out applying minute attention to the evidences afforded by organic remains, would be no less absurd than to undertake to write the history of any ancient people, without reference to the documents afforded by their medals and inscrip tions, their monuments, and the ruins of their cities and temples. The study of Zoology and Botany has therefore become as indispensable to the progress of Geology, as a knowledge of Mineralogy. Indeed the mineral character of the inorganic matter of which the Earth's strata are composed, presents so similar a succession of beds of sandstone, clay, and limestone, repeated irregularly, not only in different, but even in the same formations,* that similarity of mineral composition is but an uncertain proof of contemporaneous origin, while the surest test of
* The same formation which in England constitutes the argillaceous deposits of the London Clay, presents at Paris the sand and freestone of the Calcaire Grossier; whilst the resemblance of their Organic remains, proves the period of their deposition to have been the same, notwithstanding the difference in the character of their mineral ingredients.
[112 ORGANIC REMAINS.] identity of time is afforded by the correspond ence of the organic remains in fact without these, the proofs of the lapse of such long leriods as Geology shows to have been occupied in the formation of the strata of the Earth, would have been comparatively few and indecisive.
The secrets of Nature, that are revealed to us, by the history of fossil Organic remains, form perhaps the most striking results at which we arrive from the study of Geology. It must appear almost incredible to those who have not minutely attended to natural phenomena, that the microscopic examination of a mass of rude and lifeless limestone should often disclose the curious fact, that large proportions of its substance have once formed parts of living bodies. It is surprising to consider that the walls of our houses are sometimes composed of little else than comminuted shells, that were once the domicile of other animals, at the bottom of ancient seas and lakes.
It is marvellous that mankind should have gone on for so many centuries in ignorance of the fact, which is now so fully demonstrated, that no small part of the present surface of the earth is derived from the remains of animals, that constituted the population of ancient seas. Many extensive plains and massive mountains form, as it were, the great charnel houses of preceding generations, in which the petrified exuviæ of extinct races of animals and
[113 SUCCESSIVE STAGES OF DEPOSITION.] vegetables are piled into stupendous monuments of the operations of life and death, during almost immeasurable periods of past time. "At the sight of a spectacle," says Cuvier,* " so imposing, so terrible as that of the wreck of animal life, forming almost the entire soil on which we tread, it is difficult to restrain the imagination from hazarding some conjectures as to the causes by which such great effects have been produced."
The deeper we descend into the strata of the Earth, the higher do we ascend into the archæological history of past ages of creation. We find successive stages marked by varying forms of animal and vegetable life, and these generally differ more and more widely from existing species, as we go further downwards into the receptacles of the wreck of more ancient creations.
When we discover a constant and regular assemblage of organic Remains, commencing with one series of strata, and ending with another, which contains a different assemblage, we have herein the surest grounds whereon to establish those Divisions which are called geological formations, and we find many such Divisions succeeding one another, when we investigate the mineral deposits on the surface of the Earth .
* Cuvier rapport sur le progrès des sciences naturelles, p. 179.
[114 DISCOVERY OF LINKS IN CREATION.] The study of these Remains presents to the Zoologist a large amount of extinct species and genera, bearing important relations to existing forms of animals and vegetables, and often supplying links that had hitherto appeared deficient, in the great chain whereby all animated beings are held together in a series of near and gradual connexions.
This discovery, amid the relics of past creations, of links that seemed wanting in the present system of organic nature, affords to natural Theology an important argument, in proving the unity and universal agency of a common great first cause; since every individual in such an uniform and closely connected series, is thus shown to be an integral part of one grand original design.
The non-discovery of such links indeed, would form but a negative and feeble argument against the common origin of organic beings, widely separated from one another; because, for aught we know, the existence of intervals may have formed part of the original design of a common creator; and because such apparent voids may perhaps exist only in our own imperfect knowledge; but the presence of such links throughout all past and present modifications of being, shows an unity of design which proves the unity of the intelligence in which it originated.
It is indeed true that animals and vegetables
[115 PROGRESS OF ANIMAL LIFE.] of the lower classes prevailed chiefly, at the commencement of organic life, but they did not prevail exclusively; we find in rocks of the transition formation, not only remains of radiated and articulated animals and mollusks, such as Corals, Trilobites, and Nautili; but we see the vertebrata also represented by the Class of Fishes. Reptiles have been found in some of the earliest strata of the secondary formations.* In the foot steps on the New Red sandstone, we have probably the first traces of Birds and Marsupialia. (See Pl. 26a. and Pl. 26'.) The bones of Birds occur in the Wealden formation of Tilgate forest, and those of Marsupialia in the Oolite at Stonesfield. (See Pl. 2. Figs. A. B.) In the midway regions of the secondary strata, are the earliest remains yet discovered of Cetacea. In the tertiary formations, we find both Birds, Cetacea, and terrestrial Mammalia, some referrible to existing genera, and all to existing orders. See Pl. 1, fig. 73-101.
Thus it appears, that the more perfect forms of animals become gradually more abundant, as we advance from the older into the newer series of depositions: whilst the more simple orders, though often changed in genus and species, and
* E. g. In the Magnesian Conglomerate of Durdham Down near Bristol, and in the bituminous marl slate, (Kupferschiefer) of Mansfeld in the Hartz.
There is, in the Oxford Museum, an ulna from the Great Oolite of Enstone near Woodstock, Oxon, which was examined by Cuvier, and pronounced to be cetaceous; and also a portion of a very large rib, apparently of a whale, from the same locality.
[116 PROOFS OF LONG LAPSE OF TIME.] sometimes losing whole families, which are replaced by new ones, have pervaded the entire range of fossiliferous formations.
The most prolific source of organic remains has been the accumulation of the shelly coverings of animals which occupied the bottom of the sea during a long series of consecutive generations. A large proportion of the entire substance of many strata is composed of myriads of these shells reduced to a comminuted state by the long continued movements of water. In other strata, the presence of countless multitudes of unbroken corallines, and of fragile shells, having their most delicate spines, still attached and undisturbed, shows that the animals which formed them, lived and died upon or near the spot where these remains are found.
Strata thus loaded with the exuviæ of innumerable generations of organic beings, afford strong proof of the lapse of long periods of time, wherein the animals from which they have been derived lived and multiplied and died, at the bottom of seas which once occupied the site of our present continents and islands. Repeated changes in species, both of animals and vege tables, in succeeding members of different form ations, give further evidence, not only of the lapse of time, but also of important changes in the physical condition and climate of the ancient earth.
Besides these more obvious remains of
[117 MICROSCOPIC CHAMBERED SHELLS.] Testacea and of larger animals, minute examination discloses occasionally prodigious accumulations of microscopic shells that surprise us no less by their abundance than their extreme minuteness; the mode in which they are sometimes crowded together, may be estimated from the fact that Soldani collected from less than an ounce and a half of stone found in the hills of Casciana, in Tuscany, 10,454 microscopic chambered shells. The rest of the stone was composed of fragments of shells, of minute spines of Echini, and of a sparry calcareous matter.
Of several species of these shells, four or five hundred weigh but a single grain; of one species he calculates that a thousand individuals would scarcely weigh one grain. (Saggio Orittografico, 1780, pag. 103, Tab. III. fig. 22, H. 1.) He further states that some idea of their diminutive size may be formed from the circumstance that immense numbers of them pass through a paper in which holes have been pricked with a needle of the smallest size.
Our mental, like our visual faculties, begin rapidly to fail us when we attempt to comprehend the infinity of littleness towards which we are thus conducted, on approaching the smaller extremes of creation.
Similar accumulations of microscopic shells have been observed also in various sedimentary deposits of freshwater formation. A striking
[118 MICROSCOPIC SHELLS OF CYPRIS.] example of this kind is found in the abundant diffusion of the remains of a microscopic crustaceous animal of the genus Cypris. Animals of this genus are enclosed within two flat valves, like those of a bivalve shell, and now inhabit the waters of lakes and marshes. Certain clay beds of the Wealden formation below the chalk, are so abundantly charged with microscopic shells of the Cypris Faba, that the surfaces of many laminæ into which this clay is easily divided, are often entirely covered with them as with small seeds. The same shells occur also in the Hastings sand and sandstone, in the Sussex marble, and in the Purbeck limestone, all of which were deposited during the same geological epoch in an ancient lake or estuary, wherein strata of this formation have been accumulated to the thickness of nearly 1000 feet. (See Dr. Fitton's Geol. sketch of Hastings, 1833, p. 68.)
We have similar evidence of the long duration of time, in another series of Lacustrine formations, more recent than the chalk, viz, in the great freshwater deposits of the tertiary period in central France; here the district of Auvergne presents an area of twenty miles in width, and eighty miles in length, within which strata of gravel, sand, clay, and limestone have been accumulated by the operations of fresh water, to the thickness of at least seven hundred feet. Mr. Lyell, in his Principles of Geology, 3rd ed. vol. iv. p. 98, states that the foliated character of
[119 FOSSIL INDUSIÆ.] many of the marly beds of this formation is due to the presence of countless myriads of similar exuviæ of the Cypris which give rise to divisions in the marl as thin as paper. Taking this fact in conjunction with the habit of these animals to moult and change their skin annually, together with their shell, he justly observes that a more convincing proof of the tranquillity of the waters, and of the slow and gradual process by which the lake was filled up with fine mud cannot be desired .
Another proof of the length of time that must have elapsed during the deposition of these tertiary freshwater formations in Auvergne, is afforded near Cleremont by the occurrence of beds of limestone several feet in thickness, almost wholly made up of the Indusiæ, or Caddis-like coverings, resembling the cases that enclose the larvæ of our common May-fly.
Mr. Lyell states that a single individual of these Indusiæ is often surrounded by no less than a hundred minute shells of a small spiral univalve, (Paludina), fixed to the outside of this tubular case of a larva of the genus Phryganea. See Lyell's Principles of Geology, 3rd edit. vol. iv. p. 100. It is difficult to conceive how strata like these, extended over large tracts of country, and laid one above another, with beds of marl and clay between them, should have contained the coverings of such multitudes of aquatic animals, by any other process than that of
[120 DEPOSITS IN ESTUARIES.] gradual accumulation during a long series of years.
In the case of deposits formed in estuaries, the admixture and alternation of the remains of fluviatile and lacustrine shells with marine Exuviæ, indicate conditions analogous to those under which we observe the inhabitants both of the sea and rivers existing together in brackish water near the Deltas of the Nile,* and other great rivers. Thus, we find a stratum of oyster shells, that indicate the presence either of salt or brackish water, interposed between limestone strata filled with freshwater shells among the Purbeck formations; so also in the sands and clays of the Wealden formation of Tilgate forest, we have freshwater and lacustrine shells intermixed with remains of large terrestrial reptiles, e. g. Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylæosaurus; with these we find also the bones of the marine reptiles Plesiosaurus, and from this admixture we infer that the former were drifted from the land into an estuary which the Plesiosaurus also having entered from the sea, left its bones in this common receptacle of the animal and mineral exuviæ of some not far distant land.
Another condition of organic remains is that
* See Madden's Travels in Egypt, vol. ii. p. 171-175.
For the detailed history of the organic remains of the Wealden formation, see Mr. Mantell's highly instructive and accuratc volumes on the geology of Sussex.
[DEPOSITS NEAR SEA SHORES.] of which a well known example occurs in the oolitic slate of Stonesfield, near Oxford. At this place a single bed of calcareous and sandy slate not six feet thick, contains an admixture of terrestrial animals and plants with shells that are decidedly marine; the bones of Didelphys, Megalosaurus, and Pterodactyle are so mixed with Ainmonites, Nautili, and Belemnites, and many other species of marine shells, that there can be little doubt that this formation was deposited at the bottom of a sea not far distant from some ancient shore. We may account for the presence of remains of terrestrial animals in such a situation by supposing their carcases to have been floated from land at no great distance from their place of submarine interment.
A similar explanation may be given of the mixture of the bones of large terrestrial mammalia with marine shells, in the Miocene Tertiary formations of Touraine, and in the Crag of Norfolk .
Cases of Animals destroyed suddenly.
The cases hitherto examined, are examples of the processes of slow and gradual accumulations in which are preserved the remains of marine, lacustrme, and terrestrial animals that perished during extended periods of time, by natural death. It remains to state that other causes seem to have operated occasionally, and at distant intervals, to produce a rapid accumulation
[122 ANIMALS DESTROYED SUDDENLY.] of certain strata, accompanied by the sudden destruction, not only of testacea, but also of the higher classes of the then existing inhabitants of the seas. We have analogous instances of sudden destruction operating locally at the present time, in the case of fishes that perish from an excessive admixture of mud with the water of the sea, during extraordinary tempests; and also from the sudden imparting of heat, and noxious gases, to water in immediate contact with the site of submarine volcanoes. A sudden irruption of salt water into lakes or estuaries, previously occupied by fresh water, or the sudden occupation of a portion of the sea, by an immense body of freshwater from a bursting lake, or unusual land flood, is often fatal to large numbers of the inhabitants of the waters thus respectively interchanged.*
The greater number of fossil fishes present no appearance of having perished by mechanical violence; they seem rather to have been destroyed by some noxious qualities imparted to the waters in which they moved; either by sudden change of temperature, or an admixture
* See account of the effects of an irruption of the sea into the freshwater of the lake of Lowestoffe, on the coast of Suffolk. Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, No. 25, p. 372.
M. Agassiz has observed that a sudden depression to the amount of 15° of the temperature of the water in the river Glat, which falls into the lake of Zurich caused the immediate death of thousands of Barbel.
[123 FISHES OF MONTE BOLCA AND NAPLES.] of carbonic acid, or sulphuretted hydrogen gas, or of bituminous or earthy matter in the form of mud.
The circumstances under which the fossil fishes are found at Monte Bolca seem to indicate that they perished suddenly on arriving at a part of the then existing seas, which was rendered noxious by the volcanic agency, of which the adjacent basaltic rocks afford abundant evidence. The skeletons of these fish lie parallel to the laminæ of the strata of the calcareous slate; they are always entire, and so closely packed on one another, that many individuals are often contained in a single block. The thousands of specimens which are dispersed over the cabinets of Europe, have nearly all been taken from one quarry. All these fishes must have died suddenly on this fatal spot, and have been speedily buried in the calcareous sediment then in the course of deposition. From the fact that certain individuals have even preserved traces of colour upon their skin, we are certain that they were entombed before decomposition of their soft parts had taken place.*
* The celebrated fish (Blochius longirostris) from this quarry, described as petrified in the act of swallowing another fish (Ithiolitologia Veronese, Tab. XII.) has been ascertained by M. Agassiz to be a deception, arising from the accidental juxta position of two fishes. The size of the head of the smaller fish supposed to be swallowed, is such as never could have entered the diminutive stomach of the putative glutton; moreover it does not enter within the margin of its jaws.
[124 ANIMALS SPEEDILY BURIED.] The fishes of Torre d'Orlando, in the Bay of Naples, near Castelamare, seem also to have perished suddenly. M. Agassiz finds that the countless individuals which occur there in Jurassic limestone, all belong to a single species of the genus Tetragonolepis. An entire shoal seems to have been destroyed at once, at a place where the waters were either contaminated with some noxious impregnation, or overcharged with heat.*
In the same manner also, we may imagine deposits from muddy water, mixed perhaps with noxious gases, to have formed by their sediments a succession of thick beds of marl and clay, such as those of the Lias formation; and at the same time to have destroyed, not only the Testacea and lower orders of animals inhabiting the bottom, but also the higher orders of marine creatures within the regions thus invaded. Evidence of the fact of vast numbers of fishes and saurians having met with sudden death and immediate burial, is also aflbrded by the state of entire preservation in which the bodies of hundreds of them are often found in the Lias.
* The proximity of this rock to the Vesuvian chain of volcanic eruptions, offers a cause sufficient to have imparted either of these destructive powers to the waters of a limited space in the bay of Naples, at a period preceding those intense volcanic actions which prevailed in this district during the deposition of the Tertiary strata, and which are still going on there.
[125 FISHES IN THE HARTZ.] It sometimes happens that scarcely a single bone, or scale, has been removed from the place it occupied during life; this condition could not possibly have been retained, had the uncovered bodies of these animals been left, even for a few hours, exposed to putrefaction, and to the attacks of fishes and other smaller animals at the bottom of the sea.*
Another celebrated deposit of fossil fishes is that of the cupriferous slate surrounding the Hartz. Many of the fishes of this slate at Mansfeldt, Eiseleben, &c. have a distorted attitude, which has often been assigned to writhing in the agonies of death. The true origin of this condition, is the unequal contraction of the muscular fibres, which causes fish and other animals to become stiff, during a short interval between death and the flaccid state preceding decomposition. As these fossil fishes maintain the altitude [sic.] of the rigid stage immediately succeeding death, it follows that they were buried before putrefaction had commenced, and apparently in the same bituminous mud, the influx of which had caused their destruction . The dissemination of Copper and Bitumen through the slate
* Although it appears from the preservation of these animals, that certain parts of the Lias were deposited rapidly, there are also proofs of the lapse of much time during the deposition of other parts of this formation. See Notes in future Chapters on Coprolites and fossil Loligo.
[126 ORGANIC REMAINS PRESERVED] that contains so many perfect fishes around the Hartz, seems to offer two other causes, either of which may have produced their sudden death.*
From what has been said respecting the general history of fossil organic Remains, it appears that not only the relics of aquatic, but also those of terrestrial animals and plants, are found almost exclusively in strata that have been accumulated by the action of water. This circiimstance is readily explained, when we consider that the bones of all dead creatures that may be left uncovered upon dry land, are in a few years entirely destroyed by various animals, and the decomposing influence of the atmosphere. If we except the few bones that may have been collected in caves, or buried under land slips, or the products of volcanic Eruptions, or in sand drifted by the winds, it is only in strata formed
* Under the turbulent conditions of our planet, whilst strati~ fication was in progress, the activity of volcanic agents, then frequent and intense, was probably attended also with atmospheric disturbances affecting both the air and water, and producing the same fatality among the then existing Tribes of fishes, that is now observed to result from sudden and violent changes in the electric condition of the atmosphere. M. Agassiz has observed that rapid changes in the degree of atmospheric pressure upon the water, affect the air within the swimming bladders of fishes, sometimes causing them to be distended to a fatal degree, and even to burst. Multitudes of dead fishes, that have thus perished during tempests, are often seen floating on the surface, and cast on the shores of the lakes of Switzerland.
Captain Lyon states, that in the deserts of Africa, the bodies of camels are often desiccated by the heat and dryness
[127 BY THE AGENCY OF WATER.] by water that any remains of land animals can have been preserved.
We continually see the carcases of such animals drifted by rivers in their seasons of flood, into lakes, estuaries, and seas; and although it may at first seem strange to find terrestrial remains, imbedded in strata formed at the bottom of the water, the difficulty vanishes on recollection that the materials of stratified rocks are derived in great part from the Detritus of more
of the atmosphere, and become the nucleus of a sand hill; which the wind accumulates around them. Beneath this sand they remain interred like the stumps of palm trees, and the buildings of ancient Egypt.
In a recent paper on the geology of the Bermudas (Proceed ings of Geol. Soc. Lond. Ap. 9, 1834), Lieutenant Nelson describes these islands as composed of calcareous sand and limestone, derived from comminuted shells and corals; he considers great part of the materials of these strata to have been drifted up from the shore by the action of the wind. The surface in many parts is composed of loose sand, disposed in all the irregular forms of drifted snow, and presents a surface covered with undulations like those produced by the ripple of water upon sand on the sea shore. Reccnt shells occur both in the loose sand and solid limestone, and also roots of the Palmetto now growing in the island. The N. W. coast of Cornwall affords examples of similar invasions of many thousand acres of land by Deluges of sand drifted from the sea shore, at the villages of Bude, and Perran Zabulo; the latter village has been twice destroyed, and buried under sand, drifted inland during extraordinary tempests, at distant intervals of time. See Trans. of Geol. Soc. of Cornwall, vol. ii. p. 140. and vol. iii. p. 12. See also De la Beche's Geological Manual, 3rd edit. p. 84, and Jameson's Translation of Cuvier's Theory of the Earth, 5th ed Note G.
[128 IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIC REMAINS.] ancient lands. As the forces of rains, torrents, and inundations have conveyed this detritus into lakes, estuaries, and seas, it is probable that many carcases of terrestrial and amphibious animals, should also have been drifted to great distances by currents which swept such enormous quantities of abraded matter from the lands; and accordingly we find, that strata of aqueous formation have become the common repository not only of the Remains of aquatic, but also of terrestrial animals and vegetables.
The study of these Remains will form our most interesting and
subject of inquiry, since it is in them that we shall find the great
key whereby we may unlock the secret history of the earth. They are
which contain the evidences of revolutions and catastrophes, long
to the creation of the human race; they open the book of nature, and
the volumes of science, with the Records of many successive series of
and vegetable generations, of which the Creation and Extinction would
been equally un known to us, but for recent discoveries in the science