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Phororhacos, a Patagoman Giant of the Miocene. 


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An Account of Some of the 
Creatures of the Ancient World 



Director, American Museum of Natural History 

Handbook Series No. 4 


New York, 



Use of scientific names, ix; estimates of age of earth, x; restora- 
tions by Mr. Knight, x; Works of Reference, xi. 


Definition of fossils, 1; fossils may be indications of animals or 
plants, 1; casts and impressions, 2; why fossils are not more 
abundant, 3 ; conditions under which fossils are formed, 4 ; enemies 
of bones, 4; Dinosaurs engulfed in quicksand, 5; formation of 
fossils, 6; petrified bodies frauds, 6; natural casts, 7; leaves, 8; 
incrustations, 9; destruction of fossils, 9; references, 10. 


Methods of interrogating Nature, 11; thickness of sedimentary 
rocks, 12; earliest traces of life, 13; early vertebrates difficult of 
preservation, 13; armored fishes, 14; abundance of early fishes, 
15; destruction of fish, 16; carboniferous sharks, 19; known 
mostly from teeth and spines, 19; references, 21. 


Records of extinct animals, 23; earliest traces of animal life, 23; 
formation of tracks, 24; tracks in all strata, 24; discovery of 
tracks, 25; tracks of Dinosaurs, 26; species named from tracks, 27; 
footprints aid in determining attitude of animals, 29; tracks at 
Carson City, 30; references, 31. 


Ichthyosaurs and Plesiosaurs, 33; The Mosasaurs, 35; history of 
the first known Mosasaur, 36; jaws of reptiles, 37; extinction of 
Mosasaurs, 41; the sea-serpent, 41; Zeuglodon, 42; its habits, 43; 
Koch's Hydrarchus, 44; bones collected by Mr. Schuchert, 45; 
abundance of sharks, 47; the great Carcharodon, 47; arrange- 
ment of sharks' teeth, 48; references, 49. 



Earliest bifds, 51; wings, 53; study of young animals, 53; the 
curious Hoactzin, 53; first intimation of birds, 55; Archaeopteryx, 
55; birds with teeth, 5^; cretaceous birds, 56; Hesperornis, 57; loss 
of power of flight, 57 ; covering of Hesperornis, 59 ; attitude of Hes- 
perornis, 60; curious position of legs, 60; toothed birds disappoint- 
ing, 61; early development of birds, 61; eggs of early birds, 62; 
how flight began, 63; references, p7^ 


Size and habits, 69; covering, 69; rare in North America, 73; 
structure of wing, 73; spread of wing, 73; Pteranodon, 73; crest 
and possible uses, 76; how did he walk? 77; references, 79. 


Discovery of Dinosaur remains, 81 ; nearest relatives of Dinosaurs, 
82; relation of birds to reptiles, 82; brain of Dinosaurs, 83; parallel 
between Dinosaurs and Marsupials, 84; the great Brontosaurus, 
85; food of Dinosaurs, "86; habits of Diplodocus, 85; the strange 
Australian Moloch, 88; combats of Triceratops, 88; skeleton of 
Triceratops, 89; Trachodon and his kin, 90; Stegosaurus, the 
plated lizard, 92; Tyrannosaurus, 93; references, 95. 


Fossils regarded as sports of nature, 97; qualifications of a success- 
ful collector, 97; chances of collecting, 98; excavation of fossils, 
99; strengthening fossils for shipment 100; great size of some speci- 
mens, 101; the preparation of fossils, 101 ; mistakes of anatomists, 
102; reconstruction of Triceratops, 103; distinguishing characters 
of bones, 103; the skeleton a problem in mechanics, 104; clothing 
the bones with flesh, 106; the covering of animals, 107; outside 
ornamentation, 108; probabilitiee in the covering of animals, 108; 
impressions of extinct animals, 109; mistaken inferences from bones 
of Mammoth, 111; coloring of large land animals, 112; color 
markings of young animals, 113; references, 113. 



Legend of the Moa, 115; our knowledge of the Moas, 116; some 
Moas wingless, 117; deposits of Moa bones, 118; legend of the Roc, 
119; discovery of iEpyornis, 121; large-sounding names, 121; eggs 
of great birds, 121; the Patagonian Phororhacos, 122; the huge 
Brontornis, 123; Diatryma, 125; development of giant birds, 127; 
distribution of flightless birds, 127; relation between flightlessness 
and size, 129; references, 129. 


North America in the Eocene age, 131 ; appearance of early horses, 
132; early domestication of the horse, 135; the toes of horses, 138; 
Miocene horses small, 138; evidence of genealogy of the horse, 
139; meaning of abnormalities, 140; changes in the climate and 
animals of the West, 142; references, 143. 


The story of the killing of the Mammoth, 145; derivation of the 
word "mammoth," 145; mistaken ideas as to size of the Mammoth, 
146; size of Mammoth and modern elephants, 147; finding of an 
entire Mammoth, 148; birthplace of the Mammoth, 149; beliefs 
concerning its bones, 149; the range of the animal, 150; theories 
concerning the extinction of the Mammoth, 151; Man and Mam- 
moth, 152; origin of the Alaskan Live Mammoth Story, 153; traits 
of the Innuits, 154; an entire Mammoth recently found, 156; 
references, 157. 


Differences between Mastodon and Mammoth, 159; affinities of the 
Mastodon, 160; vestigial structures, 161; distribution of American 
Mastodon, 161 ; first noticed in North America, 163; thought to be 
carnivorous, 165; Koch's Missourium, 165; former abundance of 
Mastodons, 165; appearance of the animal, 166; its size, 168; 
was man contemporary with Mastodon? 169; the Lenape stone, 
171; legend of the big buffalo, 171; references, 173. 



Extinction sometimes evolution, 175; over-specialization as a cause 
for extinction, 176; extinction sometimes unaccountable, 176; 
man's capability for harm small in the past, 177; old theories of 
great convulsions, 178; changes in nature slow, 178; the case of 
Lingula, 180; local extermination, 180; the Moas and the Great 
Auk, 182; the case of large animals, 183; interdependence of living 
beings, 184; coyotes and fruit, 184; Shaler on the Miocene flora 
of Europe, 185; man's desire for knowledge, 186. 


Ancestors of the Elephants and Manatees, Dinosaurs, 187; Anky- 
losaurus, an animated citadel, 187; Tyrannosaurus, the most 
formidable beast of prey, 188; Brachiosaurus, the tallest reptile, 
188; the Asphalt Trap of La Brea, 188; geography of the past, 
189; references, 191. 

Index 195 


[From the First Edition, 1901] 

At the present time the interest in the ancient life of this 
earth is greater than ever before, and very considerable sums 
of money are being expended to dispatch carefully planned 
expeditions to various parts of the world to systematically 
gather the fossil remains of the animals of the past. That 
this interest is not merely confined to a few scientific men, 
but is shared by the general public, is shown by the numer- 
ous articles, including many telegrams, in the columns of 
the daily papers. The object of this book is to tell some of 
the interesting facts concerning a few of the better known 
or more remarkable of these extinct inhabitants of the 
ancient world; also, if possible, to ease the strain on these 
venerable animals, caused by stretching them so often 
beyond their due proportions. 

The book is admittedly somewhat on the lines of Mr. 
Hutchinson's "Extinct Monsters'' and "Creatures of 
Other Days," but it is hoped that it may be considered 
with books as with boats, a good plan to build after a good 
model. The information scattered through these pages has 
been derived from varied sources; some has of necessity 
been taken from standard books, a part has been gathered 
in the course of museum work and official correspondence; 
for much, the author is indebted to his personal friends, 
and for a part, he is under obligations to friends he has 
never met, who have kindly responded to his inquiries. 
The endeavor has been conscientiously made to exclude all 
misinformation; it is, nevertheless, entirely probable 
that some mistakes may have crept in, and due apology for 
these is hereby made beforehand. 

The author expects to be taken to task for the use of 
scientific names, and the reader may perhaps sympathize 


with the old lady who said that the discovery of all these 
strange animals did not surprise her so much as the fact 
that anyone should know their names when they were found. 
The real trouble is that there are no common names for 
these animals. Then, too, people who call for easier names 
do not stop to reflect that, in many cases, the scientific 
names are no harder than others, simply less familiar, and, 
when domesticated, they cease to he hard: witness mam- 
moth, elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, boa constrictor, all of 
which are scientific names. And if, for example, we were 
to call the Hyracotherium a Hyrax beast it would not be a 
name, but a description, and not a bit more intelligible. 

Again, it is impossible to indicate the period at which 
these creatures lived without using the scientific term for it 
— Jurassic, Eocene, Pliocene, as the case may be — because 
there is no other way of doing it. 

Some readers will doubtless feel disappointed because 
they are not told how many years ago these animals lived. 
The question is often asked — How long ago did this or 
that animal live? But when the least estimate puts the 
age of the earth at only 10,000,000 years, while the longest 
makes it 6,000,000,000, it does seem as if it were hardly 
worth while to name any figures. Even when we get well 
toward the present period we find the time that has elapsed 
since the beginning of the Jurassic, when the Dinosaurs 
held carnival, variously put at from 50,000,000 to 6,000,000 
years; while from the beginning of the Eocene, when the 
mammals began to gain the supremacy, until now, the 
figures vary from 3,000,000 to 25,000,000 years. So the 
question of age will be left for the reader to settle to his or 
her satisfaction. 

The restorations of extinct animals may be considered 
as giving as accurate representations of these creatures as 
it is possible to make; they were mainly drawn by Mr. 
Knight, whose name is guarantee that they are of the 


highest quality, hut a few are by Mr. Gleeson, with the aid 
of Mr. Knight's criticism. 

The endeavor has been made to indicate, at the end of 
each chapter, the museums in which the best examples of 
the animals described may be seen, and also some book or 
article in which further information may be obtained. As 
this book is intended for the general reader, references to 
purely technical articles have, so far as possible, been 
avoided, and none in foreign languages mentioned. 

For important works of reference on the subject of 
palceontology, the reader may consult "The Age of Mam- 
mals in Europe, Asia and North America,' ' by Henry 
Fairfield Osborn, "A History of Land Mammals in the 
Western Hemisphere," by W. B. Scott, and "Dragons of 
the Air," by H. C. Seeley. Of a popular nature is a new 
edition of "Extinct Monsters and Creatures of Other 
Days," by H. N. Hutchinson, "Extinct Animals," by 
E. Ray Lankester, and "Mighty Animals," by Miss 
Jennie Irene Mix, intended especially for the young. 
Interesting books on the collecting of fossils are " The Life 
of a Fossil Hunter," by C. H. Sternberg, and "Hunting 
Extinct Animals in the Patagonian Pampas," by F. B. 
Loomis. No account is taken here of the numerous tech- 
nical papers, dealing with new species, or increased knowl- 
edge of the structure, habits and relationships of long known 
species that appear in scientific journals or are issued by 
our larger museums. 

The story of Primitive Man is a subject by itself and 
is not touched upon in this book. It is related at length in 
"Men of the Old Stone Age" by Henry Fairfield Osborn and 
briefly sketched by the same master hand in the "Hall of 
the Age of Man," a Leaflet intended for use with the col- 
lections displayed in the Museum. 



Twenty years have passed since this hook was written, 
and while in that time we have added much to our knowledge 
of Animals of the Past and added many new and fine 
examples of them to our museums, the general facts in 
regard to them remain unchanged. As the stereotyped 
plates have become worn, and as there seems still a demand 
for information about " prehistoric '^ creatures, the time 
seems opportune to bring some of the chapters down to 
date, and, especially, to add some new illustrations based 
on the better and more abundant material now available. 
Naturally the majority of these cuts have been taken from 
the rich collections of the American Museum of Natural 
History which contains more complete specimens of fossil 
vertebrates than does any other museum. 

Unfortunately the writer is twenty years older than he 
was and the ideas do not come so quickly, nor the pen 
record them so readily as of yore. Worst of all, his 
brain has joined with the labor unions in demanding an 
eight hour day and refuses to work nights, so when he 
has most leisure he is least able to avail himself of it. 
Hence this revision comes at a later date than he had 
hoped for. 

New York, July 1, 




" How of a thousand snakes each one 
Was changed into a coil of stone." 

Fossils are the remains, or even the indications, of 
animals and plants that have, through natural agencies, 
been buried in the earth and preserved for long periods 
of time. This may seem a rather meagre definition, but 
it is a difficult matter to frame one that will be at once 
brief, exact, and comprehensive; fossils are not neces- 
sarily the remains of extinct animals or plants, neither 
are they, of necessity, objects that have become petri- 
fied or turned into stone. 

Bones of the Great Auk and Rytina, which are quite 
extinct, would hardly be considered as fossils; while the 
bones of many species of animals, still living, would 
properly come in that category, having long ago been 
buried by natural causes and often been changed into 
stone. And yet it is not essential for a specimen to 
have had its animal matter replaced by some mineral 
in order that it may be classed as a fossil, for the 
Siberian Mammoths, found entombed in ice, are 
very properly spoken of as fossils, although the flesh 
of at least one of these animals was so fresh that it was 
eaten. Likewise the mammoth tusks brought to 
market are termed fossil-ivory, although differing but 
little from the tusks of modern elephants. 

Many fossils indeed merit their popular appellation 
of petrifiactions, because they have been changed into 
stone by the slow removal of the animal or vegetable 
matter present and its replacement by some mineral, 
usually silica or some form of lime. But it is necessary 
to include ' indications of plants or animals' in the above 



definition because some of the best fossils may be 
merely impressions of plants or animals and no portion 
of the objects themselves, and yet, as we shall see, some 
of our most important information has been gathered 
from these same imprints. 

Nearly all our knowledge of the plants that flourished 
in the past is based on the impressions of their leaves 
left on the soft mud or smooth sand that later on hard- 
ened into enduring stone. Such, too, are the trails 
of creeping and crawling things, casts of the burrows of 
worms and the many footprints of the reptiles, great 
and small, that crept along the shore or stalked beside 
the waters of the ancient seas. The creatures them- 
selves have passed away, their massive bones even are 
lost, but the prints of their feet are as plain to-day as 
when they were first made. 

Many a crustacean, too, is known solely or mostly 
by the cast of its shell, the hard parts having com- 
pletely vanished, and the existence of birds in some 
formations is revealed merely by the casts of their 
eggs; and these natural casts must be included in the 
category of fossils. 

Impressions of vertebrates may, indeed, be almost 
as good as actual skeletons, as in the case of some fishes, 
where the fine mud in which they were buried has be- 
come changed to a rock, rivalling porcelain in texture; 
the bones have either dissolved away or shattered into 
dust at the splitting of the rock, but the imprint of 
each little fin-ray and every thread-like bone is as 
clearly defined as it would have been in a freshly pre- 
pared skeleton. So fine, indeed, may have been the 
mud, and so quiet for the time being the waters of the 
ancient sea or lake, that not only have prints of bones 
and leaves been found, but those of feathers and of the 
skin of some reptiles, and even of such soft and delicate 


objects as jelly fishes. But for these we should have 
little positive knowledge of the outward appearance of 
the creatures of the past, and to them we are occasion- 
ally indebted for the solution of some moot point in their 

The reader may possibly wonder why it is that fossils 
are not more abundant; why, of the vast majority of 
animals that have dwelt upon the earth since it became 
fit for the habitation of living beings, not a trace re- 
mains. This, too, when some objects — the tusk of the 
Mammoth, for example — have been sufficiently well 
preserved to form staple articles of commerce at the 
present time, so that the carved handle of my lady^s 
parasol may have formed part of some animal that 
flourished at the very dawn of the human race, and been 
gazed upon by her grandfather a thousand times re- 
moved. The answer to this query is that, unless the 
conditions were such as to preserve at least the hard 
parts of any creature from immediate decay, there was 
small probability of its becoming fossilized. These 
conditions are that the objects must be protected from 
the air, and, practically, the only way that this happens 
in nature is by having them covered with water, or at 
least buried in wet ground. 

If an animal dies on dry land, where its bones lie 
exposed to the summer's sun and rain and the winter's 
frost and snow, it does not take these destructive 
agencies long to reduce the bones to powder; in the 
rare event of a climate devoid of rain, mere changes of 
temperature, by producing expansion and contraction, 
will sooner or later cause a bone to crack and crumble. 

Usually, too, the work of the elements is aided by 
that of animals and plants. Every one has seen a dog 
make way with a pretty good-sized bone, and the 
Hyena has still greater capabilities in that line; and 


tjver since vertebrate life began there have been carniv- 
orous animals of some kind to play the role of bone- 
destroyers. Even were there no carnivores, there were 
probably then, as now, rats and mice a-plenty, and few 
suspect the havoc small rodents may play with a bone 
for the grease it contains, or merely for the sake of 
exercising their teeth. Now and then we come upon a 
fossil bone, long since turned into stone, on w^hich are 
the marks of the little cutting teeth of field mice, put 
there long, long ago, and yet looking as fresh as if made 
only last week. These little beasts, however, are in- 
direct rather than direct agents in the destruction of 
bones by gnawing off the outer layers, and thus per- 
mitting the more ready entrance of air and water. 
Plants, as a rule, begin their work after an object has 
become partly or entirely buried in the soil, when the 
tiny rootlets find their way into fissures, and, expanding 
as they grow, act like so many little wedges to force it 

Thus on dry land there is small opportunity for a bone 
to become a fossil; but, if a creature so perishes that 
its body is swept into the ocean or one of its estuaries, 
settles to the muddy bottom of a lake or is caught on the 
sandy shoals of some river, the chances are good that its 
bones will be preserved. They are poorest in the ocean, 
for unless the body drifts far out and settles down in 
quiet waters, the waves pound the bones to pieces with 
stones or scour them away with sand, while marine 
worms may pierce them with burrows, or echinoderms 
cut holes for their habitations; there are more enemies 
to a bone than one might imagine. 

Suppose, however, that some animal has sunk in the 
depths of a quiet lake, where the wash of the waves 
upon the shore wears the sand or rock into mud so fine 
that it floats out into still water and settles there as 


gently as dew upon the grass. Little by little the bones 
are covered by a deposit that fills every groove and pore, 
preserving the mark of every ridge and furrow; and 
while this may take long, it is merely a matter of time 
and favorable circumstance to bury the bones as deeply 
as one might wish. Scarce a reader of these lines but 
at some time has cast anchor in some quiet pond and 
pulled it up, thickly covered with sticky mud, whose 
existence would hardly be suspected from the sparkling 
waters and pebbly shores. If, instead of a lake, our 
animal had gone to the bottom of some estuary into 
which poured a river turbid with mud, the process of 
entombment would have been still more rapid, while, 
had the creature been engulfed in quicksand, it would 
have been the quickest method of all; and just such acci- 
dents did take place in the early days of the earth as 
well as now. At least two examples of the great Dino- 
saur Trachodon have been found with the bones all 
in place, the thigh bones still in their sockets and the 
ossified tendons running along the backbone as they 
did in life. This would hardly have happened had not 
the body been surrounded and supported so that every 
part was held in place and not crushed, and it is diffi- 
cult to see any better agency for this than burial in 

If such an event as we have been supposing took 
place in a part of the globe where the land was gradu- 
ally sinking — and the crust of the earth is ever rising 
and falling — the mud and sand would keep on accumu- 
llating until an enormously thick layer was formed. The 
cime or silica contained in the water would tend to 
sement the particles of mud and grains of sand into a 
polid mass, while the process would be aided by the 
tressure of the overlying sediment, the heat created by 
h \s pressure, and that derived from the earth beneath. 


During this process the animal matter of bones or other 
objects would disappear and its place be taken by lime 
or silica, and thus would be formed a layer of rock 
containing fossils. The exact manner in which this re- 
placement is effected and in which the chemical and me- 
chanical changes occur is very far from being definitely 
known — especially as the process of '^fossilization" 
must at times have been very complicated. 

In the case of fossil wood greater changes have taken 
place than in the fossilization of bone, for there is not 
merely an infiltration of the specimen but a complete re- 
placement of the original vegetable by mineral matter, 
the interior of the cells being first filled with silica and 
their walls replaced later on. So completely and 
minutely may this change occur that under the micro- 
scope the very cellular structure of the wood is visible, 
and as this varies according to the species, it is possible, 
by microscopical examination, to determine the rela- 
tionship of trees in cases where nothing but fragments 
of the trunk remain. 

The process of fossilization is at best a slow one, and 
soft substances such as flesh, or even horn, decay too 
rapidly for it to take place, so that all accounts of 
petrified bodies, human or otherwise, are either based 
on deliberate frauds or are the result of a very erroneous 
misinterpretation of facts. That the impression or cast 
of a body might be formed in nature, somewhat as casts 
have been made of those who perished at Pompei, is 
true ; but, so far, no authentic case of the kind has come 
to light, and the reader is quite justified in disbelieving 
any report of "a petrified man." 

Natural casts of such hard bodies as shells are com- 
mon, formed by the dissolving away of the original shell 
after it had become enclosed in mud, or even after this 


had changed to stone, and the fiUing up of this space by 
the filtering in of water charged with lime or silica, 
which is there deposited, often in crystalline form. In 
this way, too, are formed casts of eggs of reptiles and 
birds, so perfect that it is possible to form a pretty 
accurate opinion as to the group to which they belong. 

Sometimes it happens that shells or other small 
objects imbedded in limestone have been dissolved and 
replaced by silica, and in such cases it is possible to eat 
away the enveloping rock with acid and leave the silici- 
fied casts. By this method specimens of shells, corals, 
and bryozoans are obtained of almost lace-like delicacy, 
and as perfect as if only yesterday gathered at the sea- 
shore. Casts of the interior of shells, showing many 
details of structure, are common, and anyone who has 
seen clams dug will understand how they are formed by 
the entrance of mud into the empty shell. 

Casts of the kernels of nuts are formed in much the 
same way, and Professor E. H. Barbour has thus de- 
scribed the probable manner in which this was done. 
When the nuts were dropped into the water of the an- 
cient lake the kernel rotted away, but the shell, being 
tough and hard, would probably last for years under 
favorable circumstances. Throughout the marls and 
clays of the Bad Lands (of South Dakota) there is a 
large amount of potash. This is dissolved by water, 
and then acts upon quartz, carrying it away in solution. 
This would find its way by infiltration into the interior 
of the nut. At the same time with this process, carry- 
ing lime carbonate in solution was going on, so that 
doubtless the stone kernels, consisting of pretty nearly 
equal parts of lime and silica, were deposited within 
the nuts. These kernels, of course, became hard and 
flinty in time, and capable of resisting almost any amount 


of weathering. Not so the organic shell ; this eventually 
would decay away, and so leave the filling or kernel of 
chalcedony and lime.^ 

''Fossil leaves'' are nothing but fine casts, made in 
natural moulds, and all have seen the first stages in their 
formation as they watched the leaves sailing to the 
ground to be covered by mud or sand at the next rain, 
or dropping into the water, where sooner or later they 
sink, as we may see them at the bottom of any quiet 
woodland spring. 

Impressions of leaves are among the early examples of 
color-printing, for they are frequently of a darker, 
or even different, tint from that of the surrounding rock, 
this being caused by the carbonization of vegetable 
matter or to its action on iron that may have been 
present in the soil or water. Besides complete miner- 
alization, or petrifaction, there are numerous cases of 
incomplete or semi-fossilization, where modern objects, 
still retaining their phosphate of lime and some animal 
matter even, are found buried in rock. This takes place 
when water containing carbonate of lime, silica, or 
sometimes iron, flows over beds of sand, cementing the 
grains into solid but not dense rock, and at the same 
time penetrating and uniting with it such things as 
chance to be buried. In this way was formed the 
''fossil man" of Guadeloupe, West Indies, a skeleton of 
a modern Carib lying in recent concretionary limestone, 
together with shells of existing species and fragments 
of pottery . In a similar way, too, human remains in 
parts of Florida have, through the infiltration of water 
charged with iron, become partially converted into 

^Right here is the weak spot in Professor Barbour's explanation, and 
an illustration of our lack of knowledge. For it is difficult to see why the 
more enduring husk should not have become mineralized equally with 
the cavity within. 


limonite iron ore; and yet we know that these bones 
have been buried within quite recent times. 

Sometimes we hear of springs or waters that ''turn 
things into stone/' but these tales are quite incorrect. 
Waters there are, Uke the celebrated hot springs of 
Auvergne, France, containing so much carbonate of 
lime in solution that it is readily deposited on objects 
placed therein, coating them more or less thickly accord- 
ing to the length of time they are allowed to remain. 
This, however, is merely an encrustation, not extending 
into the objects. In a similar way the precipitation of 
solid material from waters of this description forms the 
porous rock known as tufa, and this often encloses moss, 
twigs, and other substances that are in no way to be 
classed with fossils. 

But some streams, flowing over limestone rocks, take 
up considerable carbonate of lime, and this may be 
deposited in water-soaked logs, replacing more or less 
of the woody tissue and thus really partially changing 
the wood into stone. 

The very rocks themselves may consist largely of 
fossils; chalk, for example, is mainly made up of the 
disintegrated shells of simple marine animals called 
foraminifers, and the beautiful flint-like ''skeletons" of 
other small creatures termed radiolarians, minute as 
they are, have contributed extensively to the formation 
of some strata. 

Even after an object has become fossilized, it is far 
from certain that it will remain in good condition until 
found, while the chance of its being found at all is ex- 
ceedingly small. When we remember that it is only here 
and there that nature has made the contents of the rocks 
accessible by turning the strata on edge, heaving them 
into cliffs or furrowing them with valleys and canyons, 
we realize what a vast number of pages of the fossil 


record must remain not only unread, but unseen. The 
wonder is, not that we know so httle of the history of the 
past, but that we have learned so much, for not only 
is nature careless in keeping the records — preserving 
them mostly in scattered fragments — but after they 
have been laid away and sealed up in the rocks they 
are subject to many accidents. Some specimens get 
badly flattened by the weight of subsequently deposited 
strata, others are cracked and twisted by the movements 
of the rocks during periods of upheaval or subsidence, 
and when at last they are brought to the surface, the 
same sun and rain, snow and frost, from which they once 
escaped, are ready to renew the attack and crumble 
even the hard stone to fragments. Such, very briefly, 
are some of the methods by which fossils may be formed, 
such are some of the accidents by which they may be 
destroyed; but this description must be taken as a 
mere outline and as applying mainly to vertebrates, or 
backboned animals, since it is with them that we shall 
have to deal. It may, however, show why it is that 
fossils are not more plentiful, why we have mere hints 
of the existence of many animals, and why myriads of 
creatures may have flourished and passed away without 
so much as leaving a trace of their presence behind. 


A very valuable and interesting article by Dr. Charles A. 
White, entitled " The Relation of Biology to Geological Investi- 
gation,'^ will be found in the Report of the United States National 
Museum for 1892. This comprises a series of essays on the 
nature and scientific uses of fossil remains, their origin, rela- 
tive chronological value and other questions pertaining to 
them. The United States National Museum has published a 
pamphlet, part K, Bulletin 39, containing directions for collect- 
ing and preparing fossils, by Charles Schuchert; and another ^ 
part B, Bulletin 39, collecting recent and fossil plants, by F. H. 



" We are the ancients of the earth 
And in the morning of the times.'" 

There is a universal, and perfectly natural, desire for 
information, which in ourselves we term thirst for 
knowledge and in others call curiosity, that makes man- 
kind desire to know how everything began and causes 
much speculation as to how it all will end. This may take 
the form of a wish to know how a millionaire made his 
first ten cents, or it may lead to the questions — What 
is the oldest animal? or, What is the first known 
member of the great group of backboned animals at 
whose head man has placed himself? and, What did 
this, our primeval and many-times-removed ancestor, 
look like? The question is one that has ever been full 
of interest for naturalists, and Nature has been inter- 
rogated in various ways in the hope that she might be 
persuaded to yield a satisfactory answer. The most 
direct way has been that of tracing back the history of 
animal life by means of fossil remains, but beyond a 
certain point this method cannot go, since, for reasons 
stated in various places in these pages, the soft bodies 
of primitive animals are not preserved. To supple- 
ment this work, the embryologist has studied the early 
stages of animals, as their development throws a side- 
light on their past history. And, finally, there is the 
study of the varied forms of invertebrates, some of 
which have proved to be like vertebrates in part of 
their structure, while others have been revealed as 
vertebrates in disguise. So far these various methods 
have yielded various answers, or the replies, like those 
of the Delphic Oracle, have been variously interpreted 



SO that vertebrates are considered by some to have 
descended from the worms, while others have found 
their beginnings in some animal allied to the King 

Every student of genealogy knows only too well how 
difficult a matter it is to trace a family pedigree back a 
few centuries, how soon the family names become 
changed, the line of descent obscure, and how soon 
gaps appear whose filling in requires much patient re- 
search. How much more difficult must it be, then, to 
trace the pedigree of a race that extends, not over cen- 
turies, but thousands of centuries; how wide must be 
some of the gaps, how very different may the founders of 
the family be from their descendants! The words old 
and ancient that we use so often in speaking of fossils 
appeal to us somewhat vaguely, for we speak of the 
ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, and call a 
family old that can show a pedigree running back four 
or five hundred years, when such as these are but affairs 
of yesterday compared with even recent fossils. 

Perhaps we may better appreciate the meaning of 
these words by recalling that, since the dawn of verte- 
brate life, sufficient of the earth's surface has been worn 
away and washed into the sea to form, were the strata 
piled directly one upon the other, fifteen or twenty miles 
of rock. This, of course, is the sum total of sedimen- 
tary rocks, for such a thickness as this is not to be 
found at any one locality; because, during the various 
ups and downs that this world of ours has met with, 
those portions that chanced to be out of water would re- 
ceive no deposit of mud or sand, and hence bear no 
corresponding stratum of rock. The reader may think 
that there is a great deal of difference between fifteen 
and twenty miles, but this liberal margin is due to the 
difficulty of measuring the thickness of the rocks, and in 


Europe the sum of the measurable strata is much 
greater than in North America. 

The earliest traces of animal life are found deeper still, 
beneath something like eighteen to twenty-five miles of 
rock, while below this level are the strata in which 
dwelt the earliest living things, organisms so small and 
simple that no trace of their existence has been left, 
and we infer that they were there because any given 
group starts in a modest way with small and simple 

At the bottom, then, of twenty miles of rocks the 
seeker for the progenitor of the great family of back- 
boned animals finds the scant remains of fish-like 
animals that the cautious naturalist, who is much given 
to ^^ hedging," terms, not vertebrates, but pre verte- 
brates or the forerunners of backboned animals. The 
earliest of these consist of small bony plates, and traces 
of a cartilaginous backbone from the Lower Silurian of 
Colorado, believed to represent relatives of Chimsera 
and species related to those better-known forms 
Holoptychius and Osteolepis, which occur in higher 
strata. There are certainly indications of vertebrate 
life, but the remains are so imperfect that little more 
can be said regarding them, and this is also true of the 
small conical teeth which occur in the Lower Silurian of 
St. Petersburg, and are thought to be the teeth of some 
animal like the lamprey. 

A little higher up in the rocks, though not in the scale 
of life, in the Lower Old Red Sandstone of England, are 
found more numerous and better preserved specimens of 
another little fish-like creature, rarely if ever exceeding 
two inches in length, and also related (probably) to the 
hag-fishes and lampreys that live to-day. 

These early vertebrates are not only small, but they 
were cartilaginous, so that it was essential for their 



preservation that they should be buried in soft mud as 
soon as possible after death. Even if this took place 
they were later on submitted to the pressure of some 
miles of overlying rock until, in some cases, their re- 
mains have been pressed out thinner than a sheet of 
paper, and so thoroughly incorporated into the sur- 
rounding stone that it is no easy matter to trace their 
shadowy outlines. With such drawbacks as these to 
contend with, it can scarcely be wondered at that, while 
some naturalists believe these little creatures to be re- 
lated to the lamprey, others consider that they belong 
to a perfectly distinct group of animals, and others still 
think it possible that they may be the larval or early 
stages of larger and better-developed forms. 

Cephalaspis and Loricaria 
An Ancient and a Modern Armored Fish, 

Still higher up we come upon the abundant remains of 
numerous small fish-like animals, more or less com- 
pletely clad in bony armor, indicating that they lived 


in troublous times when there was Kterally a fight for. 
existence and only such as were well armed or well 
protected could hope to survive. A parallel case exists 
to-day in some of the rivers of South America, where the 
little cat-fishes would possibly be eaten out of existence 
but for the fact that they are covered — some of them 
very completely — with plate-armor that enables them 
to defy their enemies, or renders them such poor eating 
as not to be worth the taking. The arrangement of the 
plates or scales in the living Loricaria is very sugges- 
tive of the series of bony rings covering the body of 
the ancient Cephalaspis, only the latter, so far as we 
know, had no side-fins ; but the creatures are in no wise 
related, and the similarity is in appearance only. 

Pterichthys, the wing fish, was another small, quaint, 
armor-clad creature, whose fossilized remains were 
taken for those of a crab, and once described as belong- 
ing to a beetle. Certainly the buckler of this fish, which 
is the part most often preserved, with its jointed, bony 
arms, looks to the untrained eye far more like some 
strange crustacean than a fish, and even naturalists 
have pictured the animal as crawling over the bare 
sands by means of those same arms. These fishes and 
their allies were once the dominant type of life, and 
must have abounded in favored localities, for in places 
are great deposits of their protective shields jumbled 
together in a confused mass, and, save that they have 
hardened into stone, lying just as they were washed up 
on the ancient beach ages ago. How abundant they 
were may be gathered from the fact that it is believed 
their bodies helped consolidate portions of the strata 
of the EngUsh Old Red Sandstone. Says Mr. Hutch- 
inson, speaking of the Caithness Flagstones, '^They 
owe their peculiar tenacity and durability to the dead 
fishes that rotted in their midst while yet they were only 


Soft mud. For just as a plaster cast boiled in oil becomes 
thereby denser and more durable, so the oily and other 
matter coming from decomposing fish operated on the 
surrounding sand or mud so as to make it more com- 

It may not be easy to explain how it came to pass that 
fishes dwelling in salt water, as these undoubtedly did, 
were thus deposited in great numbers, but we may now 
and then see how deposits of fresh-water fishes may have 
been formed. When rivers flowing through a stretch of 
level country are swollen during the spring floods, they 
overflow their banks, often carrying along large numbers 
of fishes. As the water subsides these may be caught in 
shallow pools that soon dry up, leaving the fishes to 
perish, and every year the Illinois game association 
rescues from the ''back waters" quantities of bass that 
would otherwise be lost. Mr. F. S. Webster has 
recorded an instance that came under his observation in 
Texas, where thousands of gar pikes, trapped in a lake 
formed by an overflow of the Rio Grande, had been, by 
the drying up of this lake, penned into a pool about 
seventy-five feet long by twenty-five feet wide. The 
fish were literally packed together like sardines, layer 
upon layer, and a shot fired into the pool would set 
the entire mass in motion, the larger gars as they 
dashed about casting the smaller fry into the air, a 
score at a time. Mr. Webster estimates that there must 
have been not less than 700 or 800 fish in the pool, from 
a foot and a half up to seven feet in length, every one 
of which perished a little later. In addition to the fish in 
the pond, hundreds of those that had died previously 
lay about in every direction, and one can readily im- 
agine what a fish-bed this would have made had the 
occurrence taken place in the past. 


From the better-preserved specimens that do now and 
then turn up, we are able to obtain a very exact idea of 
the construction of the bony cuirass by which Pterich- 
thys and its American cousin were protected, and to 
make a pretty accurate reconstruction of the entire 
animal. These primitive fishes had mouths, for eating 
is a necessity; but these mouths were not associated 
with true jaws, for the two do not, as might be supposed, 
necessarily go together. Neither did these animals 
possess hard backbones, and, while Pterichthys and its 
relatives had arms or fins, the hard parts of these were 
not on the inside but on the outside, so that the limb was 
more like the leg of a crab than the fin of a fish ; and this 
is among the reasons why some naturalists have been 
led to conclude that vertebrates may have developed 
from crustaceans. Pteraspsis, another of these little 
armored prevertebrates, had a less complicated covering, 
and looked very much like a small fish with its fore parts 
caught in an elongate clam-shell. 

The fishes that we have so far been considering — 
orphans of the past they might be termed, as they have 
no living relatives — were little fellows ; but their imme- 
diate successors, preserved in the Devonian strata, par- 
ticularly of North America, were the giants of those 
days, termed, from their size and presumably fierce 
appearance, Titanichthys and Dinichthys, and are re- 
lated to a fish, Ceratodus, still living in Australia. 

We know practically nothing of the external appear- 
ance of these fishes, great and fierce though they may 
have been, with powerful jaws and armored heads, for 
they had no bony skeleton — as if they devoted their 
energies to preying upon their neighbors rather than to 
internal improvements. They attained a length of ten 
to eighteen feet, with a gape, in the large species called 


As restored under the direction of Dr. Hussakof 
for the American Museum of Natural History. 



Titanichthys, of four feet, and such a fish might well be 
capable of devouring anything known to have lived at 
that early date. 

Succeeding these, in Carboniferous times, came a host 
of shark-like creatures known mainly from their teeth 
and spines, for their skeletons were of cartilage, and be- 
longing to types that have mostly perished, giving 
place to others better adapted to the changed conditions 
wrought by time. Almost the only living relative of 
these early fishes is a little shark, known as the Port 
Jackson Shark, living in Australian waters. Like the 
old sharks, this one has a spine in front of his back fins, 
and, like them, he fortunately has a mouthful of 
diversely shaped teeth; fortunately, because through 
their aid we are enabled to form some idea of the 
manner in which some of the teeth found scattered 
through the rocks were arranged. For the teeth were 
not planted in sockets, as they are in higher animals, 
but simply rested on the jaws, from which they readily 
became detached when decomposition set in after 
death. To complicate matters, the teeth in different 
parts of the jaws were often so unlike one another that 
when found separately they would hardly be suspected 
of having belonged to the same animal. Besides 
teeth these fishes, for purposes of offence and defence, 
were usually armed with spines, sometimes of consider- 
able size and strength, and often elaborately grooved 
and sculptured. As the soft parts perished the teeth 
and spines were left to be scattered by waves and cur- 
rents, a tooth here, another there, and a spine some- 
where else; so it has often happened that, being found 
separately, two or three quite different names have 
been given to one and the same animal. Now and then 
some specimen comes to light that escaped the thousand 
and one accidents to which such things were exposed. 



and that not only shows the teeth and spines but the 
faint imprint of the body and fins as well. And from 
such rare examples we learn just what teeth and spines 
go with one another, and sometimes find that one fish 
has received names enough for an entire school. 

These ancient sharks were not the large and powerful 
fishes that we have to-day — these came upon the scene 

The Skull and Jaws of Dinichthys 
In the American Museum of Natural History. 

later — but mostly fishes of small size, and, as indicated 
by their spines, fitted quite as much for defence as 
offence. Their rise was rapid, and in their turn they 
became the masters of the world, spreading in great 
numbers through the waters that covered the face of the 
earth; but their supremacy was of short duration, for 


they declined in numbers even during the Carbonifer- 
ous Period, and later dwindled almost to extinction. 
And while sharks again increased, they never reached 
their former abundance, and the species that arose 
were swift, predatory forms, better fitted for the struggle 
for existence. 


The early fishes make but little show in a museum, both on 
account of their small size and the conditions under which they 
have been preserved. The American Museum of Natural 
History has a fine exhibition sexies of these old fishes; the Mu- 
seum of Comparative Zoology has a large collection of them and 
there is a considerable number of fine teeth and spines of Carbonif- 
erous sharks in the United States National Museum. 

Hugh Miller's "The Old Red Sandstone'' contains some 
charming descriptions of his discoveries of Pterichthys and re- 
lated forms, and this book will ever remain a classic. 

Pterichthys the Wing Fish 

^B - /; 

\ ' '^ 









i'. ' 









^^The weird palimpsest, old and vast, 
Wherein thou hid'st the spectral past." 

The Rev. H. N. Hutchinson commences one of his 
interesting books with Emerson's saying, ''that Every- 
thing in nature is engaged in writing its own history;" 
and, as this remark cannot be improved on, it may well 
stand at the head of a chapter dealing with the foot- 
prints that the creatures of yore left on the sands of the 
sea-shore, the mud of a long- vanished lake bottom, or 
the shrunken bed of some water-course. Not only have 
creatures that walked left a record of their progress, 
but the worms that burrowed in the sand, the shell-fish 
that trailed over the mud when the tide was low, the 
stranded crab as he scuttled back to the sea — each and 
all left some mark to tell of their former presence. Even 
the rain that fell and the very wind that blew some- 
times recorded the direction whence they came, and we 
may read in the rocks, also, accounts of freshets sweep- 
ing down with turbid waters, and of long periods of 
drouth, when the land was parched and lakes and rivers 
shrank beneath the burning sun. 

All these things have been told and retold; but, as 
there are many who have not read Mr. Hutchinson's 
books and to whom Buckland is quite unknown, it 
may be excusable to add something to what has 
already been said in the first chapter of these impres- 
sions of the past. 

The very earliest suggestion we have of the presence 
of animal life upon this globe is in the form of certain 
long dark streaks below the Cambrian of England, con- 
sidered to be traces of the burrows of worms that were 



filled with fine mud, and while this interpretation may 
be wrong there is, on the other hand, no reason why it 
may not be correct. Plant and animal life must have 
had very lowly beginnings, and it is not at all probable 
that we shall find any trace of the simple and minute 
forms with which they started,^ though we should not be 
surprised at finding hints of the presence of living 
creatures below the strata in which their remains are 
actually known to occur, and in the Middle Cambrian 
Dr. Walcott has discovered an abundant fauna of 
worms, brachiopods, trilobites and other crustaceans. 

Worm burrows, to be sure, are hardly footprints, but 
tracks are found in Cambrian rocks just above the 
strata in which the supposed burrows occur, and from 
that time onward there are tracks a-plenty, for they 
have been made, wherever the conditions were favor- 
able, ever since animals began to walk. All that was 
needed was a medium in which impressions could be 
made and so filled that there was imperfect adhesion 
between moulcl and matrix. Thus we find them formed 
not only by the sea-shore, in sands alternately dry and 
covered, but by the river-side, in shallow water, or even 
on land where tracks might be left in soft or moist earth 
into which wind-driven dust or sand might lodge, or 
sand or mud be swept by the mimic flood caused by a 
thunder shower. 

So there are tracks in strata of every age; at first 
those of invertebrates: after the worm burrows the 

'Within the last few years what are believed to be indications of 
bacteria have been described from carboniferous rocks. Naturally 
such announcements must be accepted with great caution, for while there 
is no reason why this may not be true, it is much more probable that 
definite evidence of the effects of bacteria on plants should be found than 
that these simple, single-celled organisms should themselves have been 


curious complicated trails of animals believed to be akin 
to the king crab; broad, ribbed, ribbon-like paths 
ascribed to trilobites; then faint scratches of insects, 
and the shallow, palmed prints of salamanders, and the 
occasional slender sprawl of a lizard; then footprints, 
big and little, of the horde of Dinosaurs and, finally, 
miles above the Cambrian, marks of mammals. Some- 
times, like the tracks of salamanders and reptiles in the 
carboniferous rocks of Pennsylvania and Kansas, these 
are all we have to tell of the existence of air-breathing 
animals. Again, as with the iguanodon, the foot to fit 
the track may be found in the same layer of rock, but 
this is not often the case. 

Although footprints in the rocks must often have 
been seen, they seem to have attracted little or no notice 
from scientific men until about 1830 to 1835, when they 
were almost simultaneously described both in Europe 
and America; even then, it was some time before they 
were generally conceded to be actually the tracks of 
animals, but, like worm burrows and trails, were looked 
upon as the impressions of sea- weeds. 

The now famous tracks in the ''brown stone" of the 
Connecticut Valley seem to have first been seen by 
Pliny Moody in 1802, when he ploughed up a specimen 
on his farm, showing small imprints, which later on 
were popularly called the tracks of Noah's raven. The 
discovery passed without remark until in 1835 the 
footprints came under the observation of Dr. James 
Deane, who, in turn, called Professor Hitchcock's 
attention to them. The latter at once began a system- 
atic study of these impressions, publishing his first 
account in 1836 and continuing his researches for many 
years, in the course of which he brought together the 
fine collection in Amherst College. At that time Dino- 
saurs were practically unknown, and it is not to be 


wondered at that these three-toed tracks, great and 
small, were almost universally believed to be those of 
birds. So it is greatly to the credit of Dr. Deane, who 
also studied these footprints, that he was led to suspect 
that they might have been made by other animals. 
This suspicion was partly caused by the occasional 
association of four and five-toed prints with the three- 
toed impressions, and partly by the rare occurrence of 
imprints showing the texture of the sole of the foot, 
which was quite different from that of any known bird. 

In the light of our present knowledge we are able to 
read many things in these tracks that were formerly 
more or less obscure, and to see in them a complete 
verification of Dr. Deane^s suspicion that they were not 
made by birds. We see clearly that the long tracks 
called Anomoepus, with their accompanying short fore 
feet, mark where some Dinosaur squatted down to rest 
or progressed slowly on all-fours, as does the kangaroo 
when feeding quietly ;i and we interpret the curious 
heart-shaped depression sometimes seen back of the feet, 
not as the mark of a stubby tail, but as made by the 
ends of the slender pubes, bones that help form the hip- 
joints. Then, too, the mark of the inner, or short first, 
toe, is often very evident, although it was a long time 
before the bones of this toe were actually found, and 
many of the Dinosaurs now known to have four toes 
were supposed to have but three. 

It seems strange, and it is strange, that while so 
many hundreds of tracks should have been found in the 
limited area exposed to view, so few bone.s have been 
found — our knowledge of the veritable animals that 

^It is to be noted that a leaping kangaroo touches the ground neither 
with his heel nor his tail, but that between jumps he rests momentarily 
on his toes only; hence impressions made by any creature that jumped 
like a kangaroo would be very short. 


made the tracks being a blank. A few examples have, 
it is true, been found, but these are only a tithe of 
those known to have existed ; while of the great animals 
that strode along the shore, leaving tracks fifteen inches 
long and a yard apart pressed deeply into the hard sand, 
not a bone remains. The probability is that the strata 
containing their bones lie out to sea, whither their bodies 
were carried by tides and currents, and that we may 
never see more than the few fragments that were scat- 
tered along the sea-side. 

That part of the Valley of the Connecticut wherein 
the footprints are found was either part of a river bed or 
of a long, narrow estuary running southward from 
Turner's Falls, Mass., where the tracks are most abun- 
dant and most clear. The topography was such that 
this river, or estuary, was subject to sudden and great 
fluctuations of the water-level, large tracts of shore 
being now left dry to bake in the sun, and again covered 
by turbid water which deposited on the bottom a layer 
of mud. Over and over again this happened, just as to- 
day it occurs along such streams as the Potomac, form- 
ing layer upon layer of what is now stone, sometimes the 
lapse of time between the deposits being so short that 
the tracks of the big Dinosaurs extend through several 
sheets of stone ; while again there was a period of drouth 
when the shore became so dry and firm as to retain but a 
single shallow impression. 

Something of the wealth of animal life that roamed 
about this estuary may be gathered from the number of 
different footprints recorded on the sands, and these are 
so many and so varied that Professor Hitchcock in two 
extensive reports enumerated over 150 species, repre- 
senting various groups of animals. One little point 
must, however, be borne in mind, that mere size is no 
sure indication of differences in dealing with reptiles, 

28 Animals of the past 

for these long-lived creatures grow almost continuously 
throughout life, so that one animal even may have left 
his footprints over and over in assorted sizes from one 
end of the valley to the other. 

The slab shown on the following page is a remarkably 
fine example of these Connecticut River footprints; it 
shows in relief forty-eight tracks of the animal originally 
called Brontozoum sillimanium and six of a lesser species. 
It was quarried near Middletown, in 1778, and for sixty 
years did duty as a flagstone, fortunately with the face 
downwards. When taken up for repairs the tracks were 
discovered, and later on the slab, which measures three 
by five feet, was transferred to the museum of Amherst 

There is an interesting parallel between the history of 
footprints in England and America, for they were 
noticed at about the same time, 1830, in both countries; 
in each case the tracks were in rocks of Triassic age, 
and, in both instances, the animals that made them have 
never been found. In England, however, the tracks 
first found were those ascribed to tortoises, though a 
little later Dinosaur footprints were discovered in the 
same locality. Oddly enough these numerous tracks 
all run one way, from west to east, as if the animals 
were migrating, or were pursuing some well-known and 
customary route to their feeding grounds. 

For some reason Triassic rocks are particularly rich 
in footprints; for from strata of this same age in the 
Rhine Valley come those curious examples so like the 
mark of a stubby hand that Dr. Kaup christened the 
beast supposed to have made them Cheirotherium, 
beast with a hand, suggesting that they had been made 
by some gigantic opossum. As the tracks measure five 
by eight inches, it would have been rather a large speci- 
men, but the mammals had not then arisen, and it is 


generally believed that the impressions were made by huge 
(for their kind) salamander-like creatures, known as laby- 
rinthodonts, whose remains are found in the same strata. 
Footprints may aid greatly in determining the atti- 
tude assumed by extinct animals, and in this way they 
have been of great service in furnishing proof that many 
of the Dinosaurs walked erect. The impressions on the 
sands of the old Connecticut estuary may be said to 
show this very plainly, but in England and Belgium is 
evidence still more conclusive, in the shape of tracks 
ascribed to the Iguanodon. These were made on soft 
soil into which the feet sank much more deeply than in 
the Connecticut sands, and the casts made in the natural 
moulds show the impression of toes very clearly. If the 
animals had walked flat-footed, as we do, the prints of 
the toes would have been followed by a long heel mark, 
but such is not the case; there are the sharply defined 
marks of the toes and nothing more, showing plainly that 
the Iguanodons walked, like birds, on the toes alone. 
More than this, had these Dinosaurs dragged their tails 
there would have been a continuous furrow between the 
footprints; but nothing of this sort is to be found; on 
the contrary, a fine series of tracks, uncovered at 
Hastings, England, made by several individuals and 
running for seventy-five feet, shows footprints only. 
Hence it may be fairly concluded that these great 
creatures carried their tails clear of the ground, as 
shown in the pictures of Trachodon, the weight of the 
tail counterbalancing that of the body. Where crocodil- 
ians or some of the short-limbed Dinosaurs have crept 
along there is, as we should expect, a continuous furrow 
between the imprints of the feet. This is what foot- 
prints tell us when their message is read aright; when 
improperly translated they only add to the enormous 
bulk of our ignorance. 


Some years ago we were treated to accounts of 
wonderful footprints in the rock of the prison-yard at 
Carson City, Nev., which, according to the papers, not 
only showed that men existed at a much earlier period 
than the scientific supposed, but that they were men of 
giant stature. This was clearly demonstrated by the 
footprints, for they were such as might have been made 
by huge moccasined feet, and this was all that was neces- 
sary for the conclusion that they were made by just such 
feet. For it is a curious fact that the majority of man- 
kind seem to prefer any explanation other than the 
most simple and natural, particularly in the case of 
fossils, and are always looking for a primitive race of 
gigantic men. 

Bones of the Mastodon and Mammoth have again 
and again been eagerly accepted as those of giants; a 
salamander was brought forward as evidence of the 
deluge (homo diluvii testis) ; ammonites and their allies 
pose as fossil snakes, and the ''petrified man" flourishes 
perennially. However, in this case the prints were 
recognized by naturalists as having most probably been 
made by some great ground sloth, such as the Mylodon 
or Morotherium, these animals, though belonging to a 
group whose headquarters were in Patagonia, having 
extended their range as far north as Oregon. That the 
tracks seemed to have been made by a biped, rather 
than a quadruped, was due to the fact that the prints 
of the hind feet fell upon and obliterated the marks of 
the fore. Still, a little observation showed that here 
and there prints of the fore feet were to be seen, and on 
one spot were indications of a struggle between two of 
the big beasts. The mud, or rather the stone that had 
been mud, bears the imprints of opposing feet, one set 
deeper at the toes, the other at the heels, as if one animal 
had pushed and the other resisted. In the rock, too, 


are broad depressions bearing the marks of coarse hair, 
where one creature had apparently sat on its haunches 
in order to use its fore Umbs to the best advantage. 
Other footprints there are in this prison-yard; the 
great round ''spoor" of the mammoth, the hoofs of a 
deer, and the paws of a wolf (?), indicating that here- 
about was some pool where all these creatures came to 
drink. More than this, we learn that when these prints 
were made, or shortly after, a strong wind blew from 
the southeast, for on that face of the ridges bounding 
the margin of each big footprint, we find sand that 
lodged against the squeezed-up mud and stuck there to 
serve as a perpetual record of the direction of the wind. 


Almost every museum has some specimen of the Connecticut 
Valley footprints, but the largest and finest collections are in the 
museums of Amherst College, Mass., and Yale University, 
although, owing to lack of a Museum building, none of the Yale 
specimens are now on exhibition. The collection at Amherst 
comprises most of the types described by Professor E. Hitch- 
cock in his " Ichnology of New England,^' a work in two fully 
illustrated quarto volumes. Other footprints are described and 
figured by Dr. J. Deane in " Ichnographs from the Sandstone of 
the Connecticut River. '^ They have been carefully re-studied by 
Dr. R. S. Lull who has gathered much new information in regard 
to the animals represented. The results of his studies are recorded 
in a book entitled "Triassic Life of the Connecticut Valley," 
published by the State of Connecticut. 

The Track of a Three-toed Dinosaur 



« 12; 

^ S 



P S 

'"' c 
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There rolling monsters armed in scaly pride, 
Flotnce in the billows, and dash round the tide. 
There huge Leviathan unwieldy moves, 
And through the waves a living island roves. 

History shows us how in the past nation after nation 
has arisen, increased in size and strength, extended its 
bounds and dominion until it became the ruUng power 
of the world, and then passed out of existence, often so 
completely that nothing has remained save a few 
mounds of dirt marking the graves of former cities. 
And so has it been with the kingdoms of nature. Just 
as Greece, Carthage, and Rome were successively the 
rulers of the sea in the days that we call old, so, long 
before the advent of man, the seas were ruled by succes- 
sive races of creatures whose bones now lie scattered 
over the beds of the ancient seas, even as the wrecks 
of galleys lie strewn over the bed of the Mediterranean. 
For a time the armor-clad fishes held undisputed sway; 
then their reign was ended by the coming of the sharks, 
who in their turn gave way to the fish-lizards, the Ich- 
thyosaurs and Plesiosaurs. 

These great marine reptiles are best known from 
Europe where they seem to have abounded in the 
ancient seas. They were long ago graphically described 
by Buckland though, so far as size goes, they hardly 
merit the adjective of gigantic, so liberally bestowed 
upon them. Nevertheless they were big for reptiles 
and some of them were real giants, fifty feet in length, 
which is pretty good even for a dinosaur. 

Each had peculiarities of its, or rather their own, for 
while it is convenient to speak of Ichthyosaur and 



Plesiosaur, there were many species of assorted sizes. 
The Ichthyosaurs, especially the smaller kinds, were, so 
to speak, reptilian porpoises, far more so than was 
imagined, provided, however, with four useful paddles 
instead of two, in addition to a powerful tail whose 
shape and use were long unsolved problems. The great 
majority of the specimens discovered had the last 
section of the long tail bent at an angle to the rest of the 
backbone and this was interpreted as indicating the 
existence of a flattened tail, something like that of a 
newt or salamander, that ''flopped" over in the dead 
animal, twisting the hinder portion of the tail to one 
side. And so for many years the Ichthyosaurus was 
figured with a compressed tail. But when, later on, a 
finely preserved specimen came to light, lying upon one 
side and having the tail in place, lo it was much like 
the tail of a shark, only reversed, the lower lobe being 
longer than the upper. The meaning of this is that the 
reptile wished to come to the surface now and then to 
breathe while the shark goes down in search of food, or 
to escape from danger. One feature shown in the more 
perfect specimens was quite unsuspected, and that was 
the existence of a high back fin precisely like that of a 

Buckland described the Plesiosaur as ''a snake, 
threaded through the body of a turtle" and this will 
serve pretty well for the long-necked species, even 
though the ''shell," or carapace, of the turtle is lacking, 
the body of the long-necked sea reptile apparently 
having been covered with smooth skin. Whether or not 
the snake-like neck had any of the mobility of a serpent 
is a matter still in dispute, but we would remind those 
who claim that on account of their biconcave vertebrae 
the Plesiosaurs must have been a stiff-necked generation, 
that animals frequently do things that are theoretically 


impossible. 1 On the other hand, it is doubtful if any 
of them could tie their necks into knots as Cope allowed 
Elasmosaurus to be depicted. 

Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaur played their roles of 
rulers of the seas in the Pageant of the Past and in due 
time passed off the stage of life to give place to others. 

The next group of reptiles to appear on the scene, 
the great marine reptiles called Mosasaurs, practically 
extended their empire around the world, from New 
Zealand to North America. 

We properly call these reptiles great, for so they 
were; but there are degrees of greatness, and there is a 
universal tendency to think of the animals that have be- 
come extinct as much greater than those of the present 
day, to magnify the reptile that we never saw as well as 
the fish that ''got away," and it may be safely said that 
the greatest of animals will shrink before a two-foot 
rule. As a matter of fact, no animals are known to have 
existed that were larger than the whales; and, while 
there are now no reptiles that can compare in bulk with 
the Dinosaurs, there were few Mosasaurs that exceeded 
in size a first-class Crocodile. An occasional Mosasaur 
reaches a length of forty feet, but such are rare indeed, 
and one even twenty-five feet long is a large specimen, - 
while the great Mugger, or Man-eating Crocodile, 
grows, if permitted, to a length of twenty-five or even 

^A striking instance of this is shown in some of Dimock's wonderful 
photographs of leaping Tarpon in which the head is shown bent at an 
angle to the body that is quite impossible — theoretically. 

2It is surprising to find Professor Cope placing the length of the Mosa- 
saurs at 70, 80, or 100 feet, as there is not the slightest basis for even the 
lowest of these figures. Professor Williston, the best authority on the 
subject, states, in his volume on the "Cretaceous Reptiles of Kansas," 
that there is not in existence any specimen of a Mosasaur indicating a 
greater length than 45 feet. 


thirty feet, and need not be ashamed to match his bulk 
and jaws against those of most Mosasaurs. 

The first of these sea-reptiles to be discovered has 
passed into history, and now reposes in the Jardin des 
Plantes, Paris, now Musee d'Histoire Naturelle, after 
changing hands two or three times, the original owner 
being dispossessed of his treasure by the subtleties of 
law, while the next holder was deprived of the specimen 
by main force. Thus the story is told by M. Faujas St. 
Fond, as rendered into English, in Mantell's ^'Petrifac- 
tions and their Teachings": ''Some workmen, in 
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 wrecks pre- 
sided over the arduous task of separating the mass of 
stone containing these remains from the surrounding 
rock. His labors were rewarded by the successful ex- 
trication 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 the 
precious relic. It remained for years in his possession, 
and Hoffman died without regaining his treasure. 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 meantime, the canon of St. Peter's, shrewdly sus- 
pecting the reason why such pecuhar favor 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 
interesting objects in that magnificent collection." 
And there it remains to this day. 

The seas that rolled over western Kansas were the 
headquarters of the Mosasaurs, and hundreds — aye, 
thousands — of specimens have been taken from the 
chalk bluffs of that region, some of them in such a fine 
state of preservation that we are not only well ac- 
quainted with their internal structure, but with their 
outward appearance as well. They were essentially 
swimming lizards — great, over-grown, and distant rela- 
tives of the Monitors of Africa and Asia, especially 
adapted to a roving, predatory life by their powerful 
tails and paddle-shaped feet. Their cup-and-ball 
vertebrae indicate great flexibility of the body, their 
sharp teeth denote ability to capture slippery prey, and 
the structure of the lower jaw shows that they probably 
ate in a hurry and swallowed their food entire, or bolted 
it in great chunks. The jaws of all reptiles are made up 
of a number of pieces, but these are usually so spliced 
together that each half of the jaw is one inflexible, or 
nearly inflexible, mass of bone. In snakes, which swal- 
low their prey entire, the difficulty of swallowing 
animals greater in diameter than themselves is sur- 
mounted by having the two halves of the lower jaw 
loosely joined at the free ends, so that these may spread 
wide apart and thus increase the gape of the mouth. 
This is also helped by the manner in which the jaw is 
joined to the head. The pelican solves the problem by 

Drawn by ./. M Gleeson 

One of the Rulers of the Cretaceous Seas. 



the length of his mandibles, this allowing so much 
spring that when open they bow apart to form a nice 
little landing net. In the Mosasaurs, as in the cormo- 
rants, among birds, there is a sort of joint in each^half 

Jaw of Mosasaur showing the joint that increased rhe 
swallowing capacity of that reptile. 

of the lower jaw which permits it to bow outward when 
opened, and this, aided by the articulation of the jaw 
with the cranium, adds greatly to the swallowing capac- 
ity. Thus in nature the same end is attained by very 
different methods. To borrow a suggestion from Profes- 
sor Cope, if the reader will extend his arms at full 
length, the palms touching, and then bend his elbows 
outw^ard he will get a very good idea of the action of a 
Mosasaur's jaw. The western sea was a lively place in 
the day of the great Mosasaurs, for with them swam the 
king of turtles, Archelon, as Mr. Wieland has fitly 
named him, a creature a dozen feet or so in length, 
with a head a full yard long, while in the shallows 
prowled great fishes with massive jaws and teeth like 

There, too, was the great, toothed diver. Hesperornis 
(see page 58), while over the waters flew pterodactyls, 
with a spread of wing of twenty feet, largest of all flying 
creatures; and, not improbably — nay, very probably — 
fish-eaters, too; and when each and all of these were 
seeking their dinners, there were troublous times for 
the small fry in that old Kansan sea. 



The Giant Sea Turtle Archelon 

A contemporary of the Mosasaurs 

From the specimen in the Yale University Museum 

If they came to the surface they were snapped up by 
Pteranodon; if they sought safety in deep waters 
Portheus pounced upon them, while at intermediate 
depths Hesperornis made their lives miserable and 
existence precarious; small wonder that, like the huge 


sharks of later days, all these voracious, highly special- 
ized creatures passed out of existence. 

And then there came a change; to the south, to the 
west, to the north, the land was imperceptibly but surely 
rising, perhaps only an inch or two in a century, but 
still rising, until ''The Ocean in which flourished this 
abundant and vigorous life was at last completely 
inclosed on the west by elevations of sea-bottom, so 
that it only communicated with the Atlantic and 
Pacific at the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Sea." 

The continued elevation of both eastern and western 
shores contracted its area, and when ridges of the sea- 
bottom reached the surface, forming long, low bars, 
parts of the water-area were included, and connection 
with salt-water prevented. Thus were the living beings 
imprisoned and subjected to many new risks to life. 
The stronger could more readily capture the weaker, 
while the fishes would gradually perish through the con- 
stant freshening of the water. With the death of any 
considerable class, the balance of food-supply would be 
lost, and many large species would disappear from the 
scene. The most omnivorous and enduring would 
longest resist the approach of starvation, but would 
finally yield to inexorable fate — the last one caught by 
the shifting bottom among shallow pools, from which 
his exhausted energies could not extricate him."^ 

Like the ' 'Fossil man'' the sea-serpent flourishes 
perennially in the newspapers and, despite the fact that 
he is now mainly regarded as a joke, there have been 
many attempts to habilitate this mythical monster 
and place him on a foundation of firm fact. The most 

^Cope: "The Vertebrata of the Cretaceous Formations of the West," 
p. 50, being the ''Report of the United States Geological Survey of the 
Territories," Vol. II. 


earnest of these was that of M. Oudemans, who ex- 
pressed his behef in the existence of some rare and huge 
seal-like creature whose occasional appearance in 
southern waters gave rise to the best authenticated 
reports of the sea-serpent. Among other possibilities 
it has been suggested that some animal believed to be 
extinct had really lived over to the present day. Now 
there are a few waifs, spared from the wrecks of ancient 
faunas, stranded on the shores of the present, such as 
the Australian Ceratodus and the Gar Pikes of North 
America, and these and all other creatures that could 
be mustered in were used as proofs to sustain this 
theory. If, it was said, these animals have been spared, 
why not others? If a fish of such ancient lineage as the 
Gar Pike is so common as to be a nuisance, why may 
there not be a few Plesiosaurs or a Mosasaur somewhere 
in the depths of the ocean? The argument was a good 
one, the more that we may ''suppose" almost anything, 
but it must be said that no trace of any of these 
creatures has so far been found outside of the strata in 
which they have long been known to occur, and all the 
probabilities are opposed to this theory. Still, if some 
of these creatures had been spared, they might well 
have passed for sea-serpents, even though Zeuglodon, 
the one most like a serpent in form, was the one most 
remotely related to snakes. 

Zeuglodon, the yoke-tooth, so named from the shape 
of its great cutting teeth, was indeed a strange animal, 
and if we wonder at the Greenland Whale, whose head 
is one-third its total length, w^e may equally wonder at 
Zeuglodon, with four feet of head, ten feet of body, and 
forty feet of tail. No one, seeing the bones of the trunk 
and tail for the first time, would suspect that they be- 
longed to the same animal, for while the vertebrae of the 
body are of moderate size, those of the tail are, for the 


bulk of creature, the longest known, measuring from 
fifteen to eighteen inches in length, and weighing in a 
fossil condition fifty to sixty pounds. In life, the ani- 
mal was from fifty to seventy feet in length, and not 
more than six or eight feet through the deepest part of 
the body, while the tail was much less; the head was 
small and pointed, the jaws well armed with grasping 
and cutting teeth, and just back of the head was a pair 
of short paddles, not unlike those of a fur seal. It is 
curious to speculate on the habits of a creature in which 
the tail so obviously wagged the dog and whose articula- 
tions all point to great freedom of movement up and 
down. This may mean that it was an active diver, 
descending to great depths to prey upon squid, as the 
Sperm- Whale does to-day, while it seems quite certain 
that it must have reared at least a third of its great 
length out of water to take a comprehensive view of its 
surroundings. And if size is any indication of power, 
the great tail, which obviously ended in flukes like those 
of a whale, must have been capable of propelling the 
beast at a speed of twenty or thirty miles an hour. 
Something of the kind must have been needed in order 
that the small head might provide food enough for the 
great tail, and it has been suggested that inability to do 
this was the reason why Zeuglodon became extinct. 
On the other hand, it has been ingeniously argued that 
the huge tail served to store up fat when food was 
plenty, which was drawn upon when food became scarce. 
The fur seals do something similar to this, for the males 
come on shore in May rolling in blubber, and depart in 
September lean and hungry after a three months' fast. 
Zeuglodons must have been very numerous in the old 
Gulf of Mexico, for bones are found abundantly through 
portions of our Southern States ; it was also an inhabit- 
ant of the old seas of southern Europe, but, as we shall 


see, it gave place to the great fossil shark, and this in 
turn passed out of existence. Still, common though its 
bones may be, stories of their use for making stone walls 
— and these stories are still in circulation — resolve 
themselves on close scrutiny into the occasional use of a 
big vertebra to support the corner of a corn-crib. 

The scientific name of Zeuglodon is Basilosaurus, 
cetoides, the whale-like king lizard — the first of these 
names, Basilosaurus, having been given to it by the 
original describer. Dr. Harlan, who supposed the animal 
to have been a reptile. Now it is a primary rule of 
nomenclature that the first name given to an animal 
must stick and may not be changed, even by the act of a 
zoological congress, so Zeuglodon must, so far as its 
name is concerned, masquerade as a reptile for the rest 
of its paleontological life. This, however, really matters 
very little, because scientific names are simply verbal 
handles by which we may grasp animals to describe 
them, and Dr. Le Conte, to show how little there may 
be in a name, called a beetle Gyascutus. Owen's name 
of Zeuglodon, although not tenable as a scientific name, 
is too good to be wasted, and being readily remembered 
and easily pronounced may be used as a popular name. 

One might think that a creature sixty or seventy feet 
long was amply long enough, but Dr. Albert Koch 
thought otherwise, and did with Zeuglodon as, later on, 
he did with the Mastodon, combining the vertebrae of 
several individuals until he had a monster 114 feet long! 
This he exhibited in Europe under the name of Hy- 
drarchus, or water king, finally disposing of the com- 
posite creature to the Museum of Dresden, where it 
was promptly reduced to its proper dimensions. The 
natural make-up of Zeuglodon is sufficiently composite 
without any aid from man, for the head and paddles are 
not unlike those of a seal, the ribs are like those of a 


manatee, and the shoulder blades are precisely like those 
of a whale, while the vertebrae are different from those 
of any other animal, even its own cousin and lesser 
contemporary Dorudon. There were also tiny hind legs 
tucked away beneath skin, but these, as well as many 
other parts of the animal's structure were unknown, 
until Mr. Charles Schuchert collected a series of speci- 
mens for the National Museum, from which it was pos- 
sible to restore the entire skeleton. Owing to a rather 
curious circumstance the first attempt at a restoration 
was at fault; among the bones originally obtained by 
Mr. Schuchert there were none from the last half of the 
tail, an old gully having cut off the hinder portion of the 
backbone and destroyed the vertebrae. Not far away, 
however, was a big lump of stone containing several 
vertebrae of just the right size, and these were used as 
models to complete the papier-mache skeleton shown at 
Atlanta, in 1894. But a year after Mr. Schuchert col- 
lected a series of vertebrae, beginning with the tip of the 
tail, and these showed conclusively that the first lot of 
tail vertebrae belonged to a creature still undescribed 
and one probably more like a whale than Zeuglodon him- 
self, whose exact relationships are a little uncertain, as 
may be imagined from what was said of its structure. 
Mixed with the bones of Zeuglodon was the shell of a 
turtle, nearly three feet long, and part of the backbone 
of a great water-snake that must have been twenty-five 
feet long, both previously quite unknown. One more 
curious thing about Zeuglodon bones remains to be told, 
and then we are done with him ; ordinarily a fossil bone 
will break indifferently in any direction, but the bones of 
Zeuglodon are built, like an onion, of concentric layers, 
and these have a great tendency to peel off during the 
preparation of a specimen. 

Jaws of the Giant Fossil Shark 
The teeth are real, but the jaws are of necessity restored. 
In the American Museum of Natural History. 



And now, as the wheels of time and change rolled 
slowly on, sharks again came uppermost, and the 
warmer Eocene and Miocene oceans appear to have 
fairly teemed with these sea wolves. There were small 
sharks with slender teeth for catching little fishes, there 
were larger sharks with saw-like teeth for cutting slices 
out of larger fishes, and there were sharks that might 
almost have swallowed the biggest fish of to-day whole, 
sharks of a size the waters had never before contained, 
and fortunately do not contain now. We know these mon- 
sters mostly by their teeth, for their skeletons were 
cartilaginous, and this absence of their remains is prob- 
ably the reason why these creatures are passed by while 
the adjectives huge, immense, enormous are lavished on 
the Mosasaurs and Plesiosaurs — animals that the great- 
toothed shark, Carcharodon megalodon, might well have 
eaten at a meal. For the gaping jaws of one of these 
sharks, with its hundreds of gleaming teeth must, at a 
moderate estimate, have measured not less than six 
feet across. 

The great White Shark, the man-eater, so often found 
in story books, so rarely met with in real life, attains a 
length of thirty feet, and a man just makes him a good, 
satisfactory lunch. Now a tooth of this shark is an inch 
and a quarter long, while a tooth of the huge Megalodon 
is commonly three, often four, and not infrequently five 
inches long. Applying the rule of three to such a tooth 
as this would give a shark 120 feet long, bigger than 
any whale, to whom a man would be but a mouth- 
ful, just enough to whet his sharkship's appetite. Even 
granting that the rule of three unduly magnifies the 
dimensions of the brute, and making an ample reduction, 
there would stiU remain a fish between seventy-five and 
one hundred feet long, quite large enough to satisfy 
the most ambitious of tuna fishers, and to have made 


bathing in the Miocene ocean unpopular. Con- 
temporary with the great-toothed shark was another 
and closely related species that originated with him in 
Eocene times, and these two may possibly have had 
something to do with the extinction of Zeuglodon. This 
species is distinguished by having on either side of the 
base of the great triangular cutting teeth a little projec- 
tion or cusp, like the ''ear'' on a jar, so that this species 
has been named auriculatus, or eared. The edges of the 
teeth are also more saw-like than in those of its greater 
relative, and as the species must have attained a length 
of fifty or sixty feet it may, with its better armature, 
have been quite as formidable. And, as perhaps the 
readers of these pages may know, the supply of teeth 
never ran short. Back of each tooth, one behind an- 
other arranged in serried ranks, lay a reserve of six or 
seven smaller, but growing teeth, and whenever a tooth 
of the front row was lost, the tooth immediately behind 
it took its place, and like a well-trained soldier kept the 
front line unbroken. Thus the teeth of sharks are con- 
tinually developing at the back, and all the teeth are 
steadily pushing forward, a very simple mechanical 
arrangement causing the teeth to lie flat until they reach 
the front of the jaw and come into use. 

Once fairly started in life, these huge sharks spread 
themselves throughout the warm seas of the world, for 
there was none might stand before them and say nay. 
They swarmed along our southern coast, from Maryland 
to Texas; they swarmed everywhere that the water 
was sufficiently warm, for their teeth occur in Tertiary 
strata in many parts of the world, and the deep-sea 
dredges of the Challenger and Albatross have brought 
up their teeth by scores. And then — they perished, 
perished as utterly as did the hosts of Sennacherib. 
Why? We do not know. Did they devour everything 


large enough to be eaten throughout their habitat, and 
then fall to eating one another? Again, we do not 
know. But perish they did, while the smaller white 
shark, which came into being at the same time, still 
lives, as if to emphasize the fact that it is best not to 
overdo things, and that in the long run the victory is not 
always to the largest. 


The finest Mosasaur skeleton ever discovered, an almost com- 
plete skeleton of Tylosaurus dyspelor, 29 feet in length, may he 
seen at the head of the staircase leading to the Hall of Paleon- 
tology, in the American Museum of Natural History, New York. 
Another good specimen may he seen in the Yale University 
Museum, which prohahly has the largest collection of Mosa- 
saurs in existence. Another fine collection is in the Museum of 
the State University of Kansas, at Lawrence. These animals 
are descrihed in Water Reptiles of the Past and Present hy S. 
W. Williston 

The hest Zeuglodon, the first to show the vestigial hind legs 
and to make clear other portions of the structure, is in the United 
States National Museum. 

The great sharks are known in this country hy their teeth only, 
and, as these are common in the phosphate heds, specimens may 
he seen in almost any collection. In the United States National 
Museum, the jaws of a twelve-foot hlue shark are shown for 
comparison. The largest tooth in that collection is 5% inches 
high and 5 inches across the hase. It takes five teeth of the hlue 
shark to fill the same numher of inches. 

There is a technical — and; consequently, uninteresting — ac- 
count of Zeuglodon in Vol. XXIII of the ^^Proceedings of the 
United States National Museum," page 327, and a full account 
of the skeleton, illustrated is given hy Mr. Gidley in the Proceed- 
ings of the U. S. National Museum for 1913, Volume 44, 
pages 649-664- 

The Earliest known bird. From the specimen in the Berhn Museum 




" With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way, 
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies." 

When we come to discuss the topic of the earliest 
bird — not the one in the proverb — our choice of sub- 
jects is indeed Hmited, being restricted to the famous 
and oft-described Archseopteryx from the quarries of 
Solenhofen, which at present forms the starting-point 
in the history of the feathered race. Bird-Uke, or at 
least feathered, creatures, must have existed before this, 
as it is improbable that feathers and flight were acquired 
at one bound, and this lends probability to the view that 
at least some of the tracks in the Connecticut Valley 
are really the footprints of birds. Not birds as we now 
know them, but still creatures wearing feathers, these 
being the distinctive badge and livery of the order. For 
we may well speak of the feathered race, the exclusive 
prerogative of the bird being not flight but feathers ; no 
bird is without them, no other creature wears them, so 
that birds may be exactly defined in two words, 
feathered animals. Reptiles, and even mammals, may 
go quite naked or cover themselves with a defensive 
armor of bony plates or horny scales; but under the 
blaze of the tropical sun or in the chill waters of arctic 
seas birds wear feathers only, although in the penguins 
the feathers have become so changed that their identity 
is almost lost. 

So far as flight goes, there is one entire order of mam- 
mals, whose members, the bats, are quite as much at 
home in the air as the birds themselves, and in bygone 
days the empire of the air belonged to the pterodactyls ; 
even frogs and fishes have tried to fly, and some of the 
latter have nearly succeeded in the attempt. As for 


Nature's four methods of making a wing. Bat, Pterodactyl, 
Archaeopteryx, Bird. 



wings, it may be said that they are made on very 
different patterns in such animals as the pterodactyl, 
bat, and bird, and that while the end to be achieved is 
the same, it is reached by very different methods. The 
wing membrane of a bat is spread between his out- 
stretched fingers, the thumb alone being left free, while 
in the pterodactyl the thumb is wanting and the mem- 
brane supported only by what in us is the little finger, 
a term that is a decided misnomer in the case of the 
pterodactyl. In birds the fingers have lost their in- 
dividuality, and are modified for the attachment or 
support of the wing feathers, but in Archseopteryx the 
hand had not reached this stage, for the fingers were 
partly free and tipped with claws. 

We get some side lights on the structure of primitive 
birds by studying the young and the earlier stages of 
living species, for in a very general way it may be said 
that the development of the individual is a sort of rough 
sketch or hasty outline of the development of the class 
of which it is a member; thus the transitory stages 
through which the chick passes before hatching give us 
some idea of the structure of the adult birds or bird-like 
creatures of long ago. Now, in embryonic birds the 
wing ends in a sort of paw and the fingers are separate, 
quite different from what they become a little later on, 
and not unlike their condition in Archseopteryx, and 
even more like what is found in the wing of an ostrich. 

Then, too, there are a few birds still left, such as the 
ostrich, that have not kept pace with the others, and 
are a trifle more like reptiles than the vast majority 
of their relatives, and these help a little in explaining 
the structure of early birds. Among these is a queer 
bird with a queer name, Hoactzin, found in South 
America, which when young uses its little wings much 
like legs, just as we may suppose was done by birds of 



old, to climb about the branches. Mr. Quelch, who 
has studied these curious birds in their native wilds of 
British Guiana, tells us that soon after hatching, the 
nestlings being to crawl about by means of their legs and 
wings, the well-developed claws on the thumb and finger 
being constantly in use for hooking to surrounding ob- 
jects. If they are drawn from the nest by means of their 
legs, they hold on firmly to the twigs, both with their 
bill and wings ; and if the nest be upset they hold on to 
all objects with which they come in contact by bill, 
feet, and wings, making considerable use of the bill, 
with the help of the clawed wings, to raise themselves 
to a higher level. ^ 

Thus, by putting these various facts together we ob- 
tain some pretty good ideas regarding the appearance 
and habits of the first birds. The immediate ancestors 
of birds, their exact point of departure from other 
vertebrates, is yet to be discovered; at one time it was 
considered that they were the direct descendants of 
Dinosaurs, or that at least both were derived from the 
same parent forms, and while that view was almost 
abandoned, it is again being brought forward with 
much to support it. It has also been thought that birds 
and those flying reptiles, the pterodactyls, have had a 
common ancestry, and the possibility of this is still 
entertained. Be that as it may, it is safe to consider that 
back in the past, earlier than the Jurassic, were creat- 
ures neither bird nor reptile, but possessing rudi- 
mentary feathers and having the promise of a wing in 
the structure of their fore legs, and some time one of 
these animals may come to light; until then Archse- 
opteryx remains the earliest known bird. 

^Mr. Beebe who has also studied the Hoactzins in their native wilds 
says that they do not use their bills. 


In the Jurassic, then, when the Dinosaurs were the 
lords of the earth and small mammals just beginning to 
appear, we come upon traces of full-fledged birds. The 
first intimation of their presence was the imprint of a 
single feather found in that ancient treasure-house, the 
Solenhofen quarries; but as Hercules was revealed 
by his foot, so the bird was made evident by the feather 
whose discovery was announced August 15, 1861. And 
a little later, in September of the same year, the bird 
itself turned up, and in 1877 a second specimen was 
found, the two representing two species, if not two 
distinct genera. These were very different from any 
birds now living — so different, indeed, and bearing 
such evident traces of their reptilian ancestry, that it is 
necessary to place them apart from other animals in a 
separate division of the class birds. 

Archseopteryx was considerably smaller than a crow, 
with a stout little head armed with sharp teeth (as 
scarce as hens' teeth was no joke in that distant period), 
while as he fluttered through the air he trailed after 
him a tail longer than his body, beset with feathers on 
either side. Everyone knows that nowadays the feath- 
ers of a bird's tail are arranged like the sticks of a fan, 
and that the tail opens and shuts like a fan. But in 
Archseopteryx the feathers were arranged in pairs, a 
feather on each side of every joint of the tail, so that on a 
small scale the tail was something like that of a kite; 
and because of this long, lizard-like tail this bird and his 
immediate kith and kin are placed in a group dubbed 
Saururae, or lizard tailed. 

Because impressions of feathers are not found all 
around these specimens some have thought that they 
were confined to certain portions of the body — the 
wings, tail, and thighs— the other parts being naked. 
There seems, however, no good reason to suppose that 


such was the case, for it is extremely improbable that 
such perfect and important feathers as those of the 
wings and tail should alone have been developed, while 
there are many reasons why the feathers of the body 
might have been lost before the bird was covered by 
mud, or why their impressions do not show. 

It was a considerable time after the finding of the first 
specimen that the presence of teeth in the jaws was 
discovered, partly because the British Museum speci- 
men was imperfect, 1 and partly because no one sus- 
pected that birds had ever possessed teeth, and so no 
one ever looked for them. When, in 1877, a more com- 
plete example was found, the existence of teeth was un- 
mistakably shown; but in the meantime, in February, 
1873, Professor Marsh had announced the presence of 
teeth in Hesperornis, and so to him belongs the credit 
of being the discoverer of birds with teeth. 

The next birds that we know are from our own 
country, and although separated by an interval of 
thousands of years from the Jurassic Archseopteryx, 
time enough for the members of one group to have quite 
lost their wings, they still retain teeth, and in this 
respect the most bird-like of them is quite unlike any 
modern bird. These come from the chalk beds of west- 
ern Kansas, and the first specimens were obtained by 
Professor Marsh in his expeditions of 1870 and 1871, 
but not until a few years later, after the material had 
been cleaned and was being studied, was it ascertained 
that these birds were armed with teeth. The smaller of 
these birds, which was apparently not unlike a small gull 
in general appearance, was, saving its teeth, so thor- 
oughly a bird that it may be passed by without 

^The skull was lacking, and a part of the upper jaw lying to one side 
was thought to belong to a fish. 


further notice, but the larger was remarkable in many- 
ways. Hesperornis, the western bird, was a great diver, 
in some ways the greatest of the divers, for it stood 
higher than the king penguin, though more slender and 
graceful in general build, looking somewhat like an 
overgrown, absolutely wingless loon. 

The penguins, as everyone knows, swim with their 
front limbs — we can't call them wings — which, though 
containing all the bones of a wing, have become trans- 
formed into powerful paddles; Hesperornis, on the 
other hand, swam altogether with its legs — swam so well 
with them, indeed, that through disuse the wings 
dwindled away and vanished, save one bone. This, 
however, is not stating the theory quite correctly; of 
course the matter cannot be actually proved. Hesperor- 
nis was a large bird, upwards of five feet in length, and 
if its ancestors were equally bulky their wings were quite 
too large to be used in swimming under water, as are 
those of such short-winged forms as the Auks which 
fly under the water quite as much as they fly over it. 
Hence the wings were closely folded upon the body so 
as to offer the least possible resistance, and being dis- 
used, they and their muscles dwindled, while the bones 
and muscles of the legs increased by constant use. By 
the time the wings were small enough to be used in so 
dense a medium as water the muscles had become too 
feeble to move them, and so degeneration proceeded 
until but one bone remained, a mere vestige of the wing 
that had been. The penguins retain their great breast 
muscles, and so did the Great Auk, because their wings 
are used in swimming, since it requires even more 
strength to move a small wing in water than it does to 
move a large wing in the thinner air. As for our 
domesticated fowls — the turkeys, chickens, and ducks 
— there has not been sufficient lapse of time for their 

O S 



muscles to dwindle, and besides artificial selection, the 
breeding of fowls for food has kept up the mere size of 
the muscles, although these lack the strength to be 
found in those of wild birds. 

As a swimming bird, one that swims with its legs 
and not with its wings, Hesperornis has probably never 
been equalled, for the size and appearance of the bones 
indicate great power, while the bones of the foot were 
so joined to those of the leg as to turn edgewise as the 
foot was brought forward and thus to offer the least 
possible resistance to the water. It is a remarkable 
fact that the leg bones of Hesperornis are hollow, re- 
markable because as a rule the bones of aquatic animals 
are more or less solid, their weight being supported by 
the water; but those of the great diver were almost as 
light as if it had dwelt upon the dry land. That it did 
not dwell there is conclusively shown by its build, and 
above all by its feet, for the foot of a running bird is 
modified in quite another way. 

The bird was probably covered with smooth, soft 
feathers, something like those of an Apteryx; this we 
know because Professor Williston found a specimen 
showing the impression of the skin of the lower part of 
the leg as well as of the feathers that covered the 
'Hhigh" and head. While such a covering seems rather 
inadequate for a bird of such exclusively aquatic habits 
as Hesperornis must have been, there seems no getting 
away from the facts in the case in the shape of Professor 
Williston's specimen, and we have in the Snake Bird, 
one of the most aquatic of recent birds, an instance of 
similarly poor covering. As all know who have seen 
this bird at home, its feathers shed the water very im- 
perfectly, and after long-continued submersion become 
saturated, a fact which partly accounts for the habit the 
bird has of hanging itself out to dry. 


The restoration which Mr. Gleeson has drawn differs 
radically from any yet made, and is the result of a 
careful study of the specimen belonging to the United 
States National Museum. No one can appreciate 
the peculiarities of Hesperornis and its remarkable 
departures from other swimming birds who has not seen 
the skeleton mounted in a swimming attitude. The 
great length of the legs, their position at the middle of 
the body, the narrowness of the body back of the hip 
joint, and the disproportionate length of the outer toe 
are all brought out in a manner which a picture of the bird 
squatting upon its haunches fails utterly to show. As 
for the tail, it is evident from the size and breadth of 
the bones that something of the kind was present; it 
is also evident that it was not like that of an ordinary 
bird, and so it has been drawn with just a suggestion of 
Archseopteryx about it. 

The most extraordinary thing about Hesperornis, 
however, is the position of the legs relative to the body, 
and this is something that was not even suspected until 
the skeleton was mounted in a swimming attitude. As 
anyone knows who has watched a duck swim, the usual 
place for the feet and legs is beneath and in a line with 
the body. But in our great extinct diver the articula- 
tions of the leg bones are such that this is impossible, 
and the feet and lower joint of the legs (called the 
tarsus) must have stood out nearly at right angles to 
the body, like a pair of oars. This is so peculiar and 
anomalous an attitude for a bird's legs that, although 
apparently indicated by the shape of the bones, it was 
at first thought to be due to the crushing and con- 
sequent distortion to which the bones had been sub- 
jected, and an endeavor was made to place the legs 
in the ordinary position, even though this was done at 
the expense of some little dislocation of the joints. But 


when the mounting of the skeleton had advanced further 
it became more evident that Hesperornis was not an 
ordinary bird, and that he could not have swum in the 
usual manner, since this would have brought his great 
knee-caps up into his body, which would have been un- 
comfortable. And so, at the cost of some little time and 
trouble, 1 the mountings were so changed that the legs 
stood out at the sides of the body, as shown in the 
picture, a position that was verified later on by the 
discovery of the specimen now in the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History in which the limbs lay in just 
the position given them by Mr. Gleeson. 

A final word remains to be said about toothed birds, 
which is, that the visitor who looks upon one for the 
first time will probably be disappointed. The teeth are 
so loosely implanted in the jaw that most of them fall 
out shortly after death, while the few that remain are 
so small as not to attract observation. 

By the time the Eocene Period was reached, even 
before that, birds had become pretty much what we 
now see them, and very little change has taken place in 
them since that time; they seem to have become so 
exactly adapted to the conditions of existence that no 
further modification has taken place. This may be ex- 
pressed in another way, by saying that while the Mam- 
mals of the Eocene have no near relatives among those 
now living, entire large groups having passed completely 

^The mounting of fossil bones is quite a different matter from the 
wiring of an ordinary skeleton, since the bones are not only so hard that 
they cannot be bored and wired like those of a recent animal, but they 
are so brittle and heavy that often they will not sustain their own weight. 
Hence such bones must be supported from the outside, and to do this so 
that the mountings will be strong enough to support their weight, allow 
the bones to be removed for study, and yet be inconspicuous, is a difl&cult 


out of existence, the few birds that we know might, so 
far as their appearance and affinities go, have been killed 

Were we to judge of the former abundance of birds 
by the number w^e find in a fossil state, we should con- 
clude that in the early days of the world they were re- 
markably scarce, for bird bones are among the rarest of 
fossils. But from the high degree of development evi- 
denced by the few examples that have come to light, 
and the fact that these represent various and quite 
distinct species, ^ we are led to conclude that birds were 
abundant enough, but that we simply do not find them. 

Several eggs, too — or, rather, casts of eggs — have 
lately been found in the Cretaceous and Miocene strata 
of the West; and, as eggs and birds are usually asso- 
ciated, we are liable at any time to come upon the bones 
of the birds that laid them. 

To the writer's mind no thoroughly satisfactory ex- 
planation has been given for the scarcity of bird re- 
mains; but the reason commonly advanced is that, 
owing to their lightness, dead birds float for a much 
longer time than other animals, and hence are more 
exposed to the ravages of the weather and the attacks of 
carrion-feeding animals. It has also been said that the 
power of flight enabled birds to escape calamities that 
caused the death of contemporary animals; but all 
birds do not fly; and birds do fall victims to storms, 
cold, and starvation, and even perish of pestilence, like 
the Cormorants of Bering Island, whose ranks have 
twice been decimated by disease. 

^But three birds, besides a stray feather or two, are so far known from 
the Eocene of North America. One of these is a fowl not very unlike 
some of the small cm'assows of South America; another is a little bird, 
supposed to be related to the sparrows, while the third is a large bird of 
uncertain relationships figured in the chapter on feathered giants. 


It is true that where carnivorous animals abound, 
dead birds do disappear quickly; and my friend Dr. 
Stejneger tells me that, while hundreds of dead sea- 
fowl are cast on the shores of the Commander Islands, 
it is a rare thing to find one after daylight as the bodies 
are devoured by the Arctic foxes that prowl about the 
shores at night. But, again, as in the Miocene of South- 
ern France and in the Pliocene of Oregon, remains of 
birds are fairly numerous, showing that, under proper 
conditions, their bones are preserved for future refer- 
ence, so that we may hope some day to come upon speci- 
mens that will enable us to round out the history of bird 
life in the past. 

We are as much as ever in the dark as to how birds 
began, but quite recently (1915) Mr. Beebe has brought 
forward some evidence as to how flight began. There 
are two principal theories as to how this originated, 
one that it was brought about by jumping up, the other 
that it was brought about by j umping down. According 
to one view, the about-to-be birds ran along the ground, 
or jumped into the air waving their fore limbs vigorously, 
until the time came when the wings were sufficiently 
developed to raise their owner into the air. Those who 
hold the other view consider that ffight' began by 
animals leaping from trees and instinctively spreading 
their limbs to catch at anything convenient to break 
their fall. 

Advocates of the first theory cannot bring forward a 
single creature that to-day habitually runs along the 
ground before taking flight; the best they can do is to 
adduce the flying fish which is not to the point at all, 
especially since a large number of observers say that the 
flying fish does not fly, although in this we believe them 


Those who favor the jumping down theory, as 
opposed to the jumping up, can on the contrary show 
almost every stage in the progress from flightlessness to 
flight, beginning with hzards that, Hke the iguana, 
jump boldly from their abiding places on the branches, 
to the flying lemur that can sail — or parachute — for a 
hundred yards or more. Even snakes that drop from 
trees have developed — or there has been deevloped in 
them — an ability to hollow in the under side of the body, 
which affords some slight resistance to the air. Not 
only this, but true flight has also been developed in three 
classes of vertebrates: reptiles, birds and mammals, in 
the order of their appearance in time ; and if it failed to 
develop in fishes and amphibians, it may well be 
ascribed to the fact that neither of these groups were 
tree climbers and when tree frogs did appear they were 
too highly specialized to make a success of flight. 

As to fishes, they were handicapped by the structure 
of their fore limbs, and although representatives of 
several orders have essayed to fly, only two groups, the 
Characinidse and Exocoetidse, have met with any meas- 
ure of success — and many people aver that neither of 
these really fly. 

Also it is worthy of note that none of the flying or 
sailing animals use the hind legs actively; bats, flying 
squirrels, even flying fish, simply use the hind limbs as 
adjuncts to flight, holding them motionless to spread a 
membrane or form a kitelike support for the hinder end 
of the body. The hind legs are used to jump with, not 
run with, save in sea birds that, like the albatross in a 
calm, may run a quarter of a mile before getting headway 
enough to launch himself into the air. But where would 
a lizard get a good straight away level stretch? 

The new evidence that Mr. Beebe brings forward to 
show that flight began by sailing, consists of a series of 



sprouting quills, found in newly hatched birds of several 
species, running from the outer, upper part of the leg 
just below the knee, nearly to the base of the tail. These 
quills are placed just where, if developed, they would 
form a sort of winglet on either side, which combined 
with the tail would afford excellent support for the hind 
part of the body during flight. Just such tufts of feath- 
ers are known to have occurred in ArchoBopteryx (Berlin 
specimen), and Mr. Beebe concludes that, like the back 
fins of the flying fish, they served to support the hinder 
part of the body as the creature sailed — or as our 
English cousins prefer to put it — parachuted through 
the air. For Mr. Beebe doubts that even Archceop- 
teryx was capable of true flight, believing that the fore 
limbs, like the hind, were rigidly extended at right 
angles to the body and not flapped. 

A most striking bit of evidence is the fact that just as 
overlapping coverts are found above the secondaries of 
the bird's wing and alternately with them, so the bristle- 
like quills on the thigh of the pigeon are surmounted by 
a series of quills placed precisely like the wing coverts. 

The value of any character or piece of evidence does 
not lie in its size but in its constancy, or in its apparent 
relation to other characters, so these little bristle-like 
feathers of the nestling dove, according to Mr. Beebe, 
hint at a time when, as just noted, they served a use- 
ful purpose and were sufficiently developed to support, 
or help support, the hinder portion of the body. At this 
stage in the development of birds, which should be some- 
where near the lower Jurassic, about seven million years 
ago, both fore and hind limbs bore feathers; but 
neither pair of limbs took an active part in aerial loco- 
motion, their function being that of planes, purely pas- 
sive. This phase of the development Mr. Beebe terms 




Stages in the Development of Flight 
Tetrapteryx, Archaeopteryx, Hypothetical Stage, Modern Bird. 
After Beebe. 

the Tetrapteryx or four-winged stage. At this stage, to 
quote from Mr. Beebe, '' flight was merely gliding, the 
fingers were too free, the arm bones too delicate, the 
sternum small or absent, and these facts considered in 
connection with the small, weak pelvis, make it impos- 
sible to picture the creature as flying skilfully about. 


In succeeding generations the pelvic wings would be- 
come more and more reduced. Having arisen from 
among the surrounding scales, they had for a time vol- 
planed through the air of early ages, a structure passive 
and, as future centuries would show, of merely transi- 
tory function. Yet they were of tremendous importance 
in allowing the pectoral scales to develop, to become 
feathers, and then to assume an importance which was 
to make the class of birds supreme in the air. Yet the 
function of the pelvic wings had been so passive and 
negative that no special muscling had been necessary, 
no increase or coalescence of bony tissue. Little by 
little the line of feathers and their coverts sank into 
insignificance and became lost among the body plum- 
age. It affords an excellent example of what Professor 
Henry F. Osborn would call the phylogenetic accelera- 
tion of a character, followed by its gradual reduction. 

Millions of years after they were of use, the feathers of 
the pelvic wing are still reproduced in embryo and 
nestling. And for some unknown reason. Nature makes 
each squab pass through this Tetrapteryx stage. The 
line of feathers along the leg of the young bird repro- 
duces in this diminutive, useless way the glory that once 
was theirs. No fossil bird of the ages prior to Archceop- 
teryx may come to light, but the memory of Tetrap- 
teryx lingers in every dove-cote." 

Thus were scaly, creeping reptiles transformed into 
feathered, flying birds. 


The first discovered specimen of Archceopteryx, Archce- 
opteryx macrura, is in the British Museum, the second more 
complete example is in the Royal Museum of Natural History, 
Berlin. The largest collection of toothed birds, including the 
types of Hesperornis, Ichthyornis and others, is in the Yale 



University Museum, at New Haven. The United States Na- 
tional Museum at Washington has a fine mounted skeleton of 
Hesperornis, the American Museum of Natural History another, 
and the State University of Kansas, at Lawrence, has the ex- 
ample showing the impressions of feathers. 

For scientific descriptions of these birds the reader is referred 
to Owen's paper "On the Archceopteryx of von Meyer, with a 
Description of the Fossil Remains, etc.,'' in the " Transactions of 
the Philosophical Society of London for 1863," page 33, and 
"Odontornithes, a Monograph of the Extinct Toothed Birds of 
North America," by 0. C. Marsh. Much popular and scientific 
information concerning the early birds is to be found in Newton's 
"Dictionary of Birds," and " The Story of Bird Life," by W. P. 
Py craft; the "Structure and Life of Birds," by F. W. Headley; 
" The Story of the Birds," by J. Newton Baskett. ^ 

Mr. Beebe's theories of the beginning of fiight may be found 
in Zoologica; Vol. II, No. 2, 1915, under the title The Tetrap- 
teryx Stage in the Ancestry of Birds. 

Arc H^OPTERYX, £B Restored by Pycraft 



The Flying Reptiles, Pterodactyls, or as Professor 
Seeley has aptly termed them, Dragons of the Air, were 
passed over in previous editions of this book, but they 
well deserve a chapter, the more that when the Mosa- 
saurs were the rulers of the seas the pterodactyls held 
and had held for ages the empire of the air. For in the 
Jurassic, when birds in the shape of Archseopteryx were 
just beginning to flutter, pterodactyls had long since 
solved the problem of flight and were present, big and 
little, in swarms. They must have been particularly 
abundant about the Solenhofen Sea of Central Europe 
whose soft, muddy bottom, long ago hardened to rock, 
furnishes the best lithographic stone, for in this stone 
beautifully preserved by Nature's lithography occur the 
remains of many species ranging in size from that of a 
sparrow to that of a hawk. 

And just as Pterodactyls played the part of birds as 
regards flight, so they seem like the birds to have been 
creatures of varying size and diverse habits. 

There were pterodactyls as big as an albatross and 
that, like the albatross, sailed majestically over the sea; 
others, no bigger than a sparrow, fluttered^ merrily over 
the land in pursuit of insects: there were pterodactyls 
with long tails, pterodactyls with short tails and ptero- 
dactyls with no tails at all; and while some flew by day, 
others, to judge from the size of their eyes, anticipated 
the owls and flew by night. 

As to the covering of pterodactyls, the evidence and 
balance of opinion is that unlike most reptiles, they were 

^This has been questioned, owing to the peculiar structure of the 
wing and it is possible that even the small pterodactyls sailed like our 


o e 

^ i 

a i 




A small, no-tailed Pterodactyl 
Drawn hy Miss E. B. Seeley. From Seeley's "Dragons of the Air'' 
By permission of Methuen and Co. 

naked and quite smooth. The appearance of some 
specimens suggested that the wings were covered with 
small scales or undeveloped feathers but closer examina- 
tion showed that these were only fine wrinkles. 

Extraordinary creatures they were and most uncanny 
they must have seemed flitting through the air at night- 


fall in pursuit of insects on which it seems probable 
that the smaller species fed. 

For reasons unknown they were either sparsely repre- 
sented in North America during the Jurassic period or 
their fa^:orite cemetery has not come to Ught: at any 
rate scarcely any examples have been found and those 
in fragmentary condition. 

Later on, in the Cretaceous, Pterodactyls became 
abundant and in what is now the State of Kansas 
reached their greatest size in the shape of Pteranodon 
or Ornithostoma. 

Nature's varied ways of making a wing were con- 
sidered in the chapter on Birds of Old, and it will 
be remembered that in Pterodactyls the wing was 
formed by a membrane stretched between the little 
finger and the side of the body. In Pteranodon this 
little finger was nine feet long, the wings having a spread 
of from fifteen to occasionally twenty feet, the maxi- 
mum reached by any flying animal. 

The condor and albatross are to-day the largest 
flying creatures and they have a spread of wing from a 
little under nine feet to from ten to ten and one-half 
feet. Albatross are said to exceed this and I have seen 
some that I should have estimated at twelve feet, but 
even this is far under the fifteen to twenty feet of 

Structurally, Pteranodon was a marvel of lightness, the 
great wing bones being scarcely thicker than a sheet of 
blotting paper, the body little more than an appendage 
to the wings. For though having twice the spread of 
wing of a swan, Pteranodon probably did not weigh 
more than twenty-five pounds, possibly not even so 
much as that. 

Professor Langley was much interested in Pteranodon 
because not only was it the greatest flying creature but 

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because, as indicated by the limited area for the attach- 
ment of wing muscles, its flight was performed with 
very small expenditure of power: thus while the model 
aeroplane, the first that actually flew, required one and 
one-half horse power for its thirty pounds weight, 
Pteranodon, it is estimated, used but thirty-six thou- 
sandths of a horse power for the same purpose. 

One feature of Pteranodon, the extraordinary crest 
shown in the picture, has been the cause of much argu- 
ment; for a time it was even a moot question whether 
or not he had one. Professor Marsh said he did. Profes- 
sor Williston as vigorously said he didn't, and both 
were right; some had huge crests, some had none, and 
why they did or didn't no one really knows. Much 
ink and paper have been expended in expounding 
theories in regard to the use of the crest, the writers 
apparently forgetting that it was quite as often absent 
as present; furthermore that animals have an unfortu- 
nate habit of doing things that are theoretically impos- 
sible and are often provided with appendages of no 
apparent use. To add a few more theories, it is here 
suggested that the presence or absence of a crest was a 
sexual distinction, or that it may have served as a 
counterpoise to the long beak; finally that it does not 
seem at all necessary that it should have served any 
useful purpose whatever, being a danger signal that the 
day of the pterodactyl was drawing to a close. ^ 

Not the least interesting of the problems concerning 
Pteranodon and other Pterodactyls is how did he carry 
himself on land, and having come to earth — or sea — 
how did he get under way a^ain, what did he do with 

^Professor Beecher considers that the development of spines or of 
superfluous crests and bosses is an indication of deterioration and indi- 
cates approaching extinction. 


those enormous wings? For his joints indicate that 
these wings could not be folded snugly about the body 
like those of a bat or a bird ; from their very size some 
other method was necessary and it would seem that he, 
as well as other flying dragons, walked as shown in the 
picture with wings pointed upwards. 

There have been various speculations as to how the 
smaller pterodactyls carried themselves and our illus- 
trations show two suggestions as to how they might 
have walked, on all fours or erect. And Frank Buck- 
land, we think it was he, thought that Pterodactyls 
might have had almost as varied modes of locomotion 
as Milton's fiend who 

With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way 

And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. 

There is no more reason to suppose that pterodactyls 
big and little all behaved alike any more than all birds 
fly, or swim, or run alike. 

The albatross, among the modern monarchs of the air, 
can not rise from the deck of a ship and has great diffi- 
culty even in rising from the surface of a calm sea, not 
infrequently paddling and flapping for a hundred 
yards or more before clearing the water. On the other 
hand, the ostrich that can outrun a horse can not fly 
at all and between these two extremes we have every 
imaginable condition of flying and running, to say 
nothing of swimming and jumping. 

Lastly — to repeat an oft propounded query (p. 659 
Greatest Flying Creature) — do Pteranodon and the big 
birds of to-day mark the limit of size that may be at- 
tained by flying creatures, do Nature's flying machines 
stop at a weight of twenty-five or thirty or at the out- 
side forty pounds? To reverse the proposition, is the 
ostrich big because he doesn't fly or, doesn't he fly be- 
cause he is big? 


An occasional bold spirit, undeterred by the assertion 
that feathers could not have been evolved twice, has 
ventured to suggest that the ostrich never did fly and 
that he is descended from quite a different ancestor 
than that from which flying birds are derived. If 
nature can put a back fin on a reptile as well as on a 
porpoise and if it apparently serves no useful purpose in 
either case, why could she not have developed feathers 
twice in the course of many million years? It may not be 
probable but it js surely possible and I for one see no 
impossibility in ostriches having descended from one 
group of reptiles and the fan-tailed birds, through 
Archseopteryx, from another. 


The American Museum of Natural History and Yale 
University Museum each have a fine, mounted skeleton of 
Pteranodon and Yale University has one of the very few speci- 
mens of pterodactyls showing the imprint of the wing membrane. 

By far the best account of Pterodactyls in general is to be 
found in Seeley's "Dragons of the Air" in which they are dis- 
cussed from all points of view. " The Greatest Flying Creature " 
(Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1901) gives much in- 
formation in regard to wing area and other problems of flight. 

In the "Mronautical Journal'^ for October, 1914, pages 324- 
343, will be found articles by H. B. Hawkins, D. M. S'. 
Watson and G. Howard Short, On the Flight of Pterodactyls 
and the Wing Adjustments of Pterodactyls in which these sub- 
jects are considered at length. 





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h^K^Im^' '^^ vILw^ vw^^hh^ 


^^^^^^Bfll^^k^ V ^^^^|r l^Sel^ 



"Shapes of all sorts and sizes, great and small." 

A few million years ago, geologists and physicists do 
not agree upon the exact number, although both agree 
upon the millions, when the Rocky Mountains were not 
yet born and the now bare and arid western plains a 
land of lakes, rivers, and luxuriant vegetation, the 
region was inhabited by a race of strange and mighty 
reptiles upon whom science has bestowed the appro- 
priate name of Dinosaurs, or terrible lizards. 

Our acquaintance with the Dinosaurs is com- 
paratively recent, dating from the early part of the 
nineteenth century, and in America, at least, the date 
may be set at 1818, when the first Dinosaur remains 
were found in the Valley of the Connecticut, although 
they naturally were not recognized as such, nor had the 
term been devised. The first Dinosaur to be formally 
recognized as representing quite a new order of reptiles 
was the carnivorous Megalosaur, found near Oxford, 
England, in 1824. 

The scientific name Dinosauria was used by Richard 
Owen in 1842, but I do not know when it became 
anglicized as Dinosaur. 

For a long time our knowledge of Dinosaurs was very 
imperfect and literally fragmentary, depending mostly 
upon scattered teeth, isolated vertebrae, or fragments of 
bone picked up on the surface or casually encountered 
in some mine or quarry. Now, however, thanks mainly 
to the labors of American palaeontologists, thanks also 
to the rich deposits of fossils in our Western States, we 
have an extensive knowledge of the Dinosaurs, of their 
size, structure, habits, and general appearance. 



There are to-day no animals living that are closely 
related to them; none have lived for a long period of 
time, for the Dinosaurs came to an end in the Cretace- 
ous, and it can only be said that the crocodiles, on the 
one hand, and the ostriches, on the other, are the nearest 
existing relatives of these great reptiles. 

For, though so different in outward appearance, birds 
and reptiles are structurally quite closely allied, and 
the creeping snake and the bird on which it preys are 
relatives, although any intimate relationship between 
them is of the serpent's making, and is strongly objected 
to by the bird. 

But if we compare the skeleton of a Dinosaur with 
that of an ostrich — a young one is preferable — and with 
those of the earlier birds, we shall find that many of the 
barriers now existing between reptiles and birds are 
broken down, and that they have many points in com- 
mon. In fact, save in the matter of clothes, wherein 
birds differ from all other animals, the two great groups 
are not so very far apart. 

The Dinosaurs were by no means confined to North 
America, although the western United States seem to 
have been their headquarters, but ranged pretty much 
over the world, for their remains have been found in 
every continent, even in far-off New Zealand. 

In point of time they ranged from the Trias to the 
Upper Cretaceous, their golden age, marking the cul- 
minating point of reptilian life, being in the Jurassic, 
when huge forms stalked by the sea-shore, browsed 
amid the swamps, or disported themselves along the 
reedy margins of lakes and rivers. 

They had their day, a day of many thousand years, 
and then passed away, giving place to the superior race 


of mammals which was just springing into being when 
the huge Dinosaurs were in the heyday of their exist- 

And it does seem as if in the dim and distant past, as 
in the present, brains were a potent factor in the struggle 
for supremacy ; for, though these reptiles were giants in 
size, dominating the earth through mere brute force, 
they were dwarfs in intellect. 

The smallest human brain thkt is thought to be 
compatible with life itself weighs a little over ten ounces, 
the smallest that can exist with reasoning powers is 
two pounds; this in a creature weighing from 120 to 
150 pounds. 

What do we find among Dinosaurs? Trachodon, 
which may have walked where Baltimore now stands, 
was twenty-five feet in length and stood a dozen feet 
high in his bare feet, had a brain smaller than a man's 
clenched fist, weighing less than one pound. 

Brontosaurus, in some respects the biggest brute that 
ever walked, was but little better off, and Triceratops, 
and his relatives, creatures having twice the bulk of an 
elephant, weighing probably over ten tons, possessed a 
brain weighing not over two pounds! 

How much of what we term intelligence could such a 
creature possess — what was the extent of its reasoning 
powers? Judging from our own standpoint and the 
small account of intellect apparent in some humans with 
much larger brains, these big reptiles must have known 
just about enough to have eaten when they were hungry, 
anything more was superfluous. 

However, intelligence is one thing, life another, and 
the spinal cord, with its supply of nerve-substance, 
doubtless looked after the mere mechanical functions of 
life; and while even the spinal cord is in m^ny cases 



quite small, in some places, particularly in the sacral 
region, it is subject to considerable enlargement. This 
is notably true of Stegosaurus, where the sacral en- 
largement is twenty times the bulk of the puny brain — a 
fact noted by Professor Marsh, and seized upon by the 
newspapers, which announced that he had discovered a 
Dinosaur with a brain in its pelvis. 

Skulls of Triceratops and Trachodon 
Illustrating the small size of the brains, shown in black. The brains of 
these animals, twice the bulk of an elephant, were the size of a man'sfist. 

In their great variety of size and shape the Dinosaurs 
form an interesting parallel with the Marsupials of 
Australia. For just as these are, as it were, an epitome 
of the class of mammals, mimicking the herbivores, car- 
nivores, redents and even monkeys, so there are carniv- 
orous and herbivorous Dinosaurs — Dinosaurs that 


dwelt on land and others that habitually resided in the 
water, those that walked upright and those that crawled 
about on all fours ; and, while there are no hints that 
any possessed the power of flight, some members of the 
group are very bird-like in form and structure, so much 
so that it has been thought that the two may have had a 
common ancestry. 

The smallest of the Dinosaurs whose acquaintance we 
have made were little larger than chickens; the largest 
claim the distinction of being the largest known quad- 
rupeds that have walked the face of the earth, the giants 
not only of their day, but of all time, before whose huge 
frames the bones of the Mammoth, that familiar by- 
word for all things great, seem shght. 

For Brontosaurus, the Thunder Lizard, beneath 
whose mighty tread the earth shook, and his kindred 
were from 40 to 70 feet long and 10 to 14 feet high, their 
thigh bones measuring 5 to 6 feet in length, while some 
of the vertebrae were 4}^ feet high, exceeding in dimen- 
sions those of a whale. 

The group to which Brontosaurus belongs, including 
Diplodocus and Morosaurus, is distinguished by a 
large, though rather short, body, very long neck and tail, 
and, for the size of the animal, a very small head. In 
fact, the head was so small and, in the case of Diplodo- 
cus, so poorly provided with teeth that it must have 
been quite a task, or a long-continued pleasure, according 
to the state of its digestive apparatus, for the animal to 
have eaten its daily meal. 

An elephant weighing 5 tons eats 100 pounds of hay 
and 25 pounds of grain for his day's ration; but, as this 
food is in a comparatively concentrated form, it would 
require at least twice this weight of green fodder. 

It is a difficult matter to estimate the weight of a live 
Diplodocus or a Brontosaurus, but it is pretty safe to 

86 Animals of the past 

say that it would not be far from 25 tons, and that one 
would devour at the very least something over 700 
pounds of leaves or twigs or plants each day — more, if 
the animal felt really hungry. 

But here we must, even if reluctantly, curb our imagi- 
nation a little and consider another point: the cold- 
blooded, sluggish reptiles, as we know them to-day, do 
not waste their energies in rapid movements, or in 
keeping the temperature of their bodies above that of 
the air, and so by no means require the amount of food 
needed by more active, warm-blooded animals. Alli- 
gators, turtles, and snakes will go for weeks, even 
months, without food, and while this applies more 
particularly to those that dwell in temperate climes and 
during their winter hibernation practically suspend the 
functions of digestion and respiration, it is more or less 
true of all reptiles. And as there is little reason for 
supposing that reptiles behaved in the past very differ- 
ently from what they do in the present, these great 
Dinosaurs may, after all, not have been gifted with 
such ravenous appetites as one might fancy. Still, 
it is dangerous to lay down any hard and fast laws con- 
cerning animals, and he who writes about them is con- 
tinually obliged to qualify his remarks — in sporting 
parlance, to hedge a little, and in the present instance 
there is some reason, based on the arrangement of verte- 
brae and ribs, to suppose that the lungs of Dinosaurs 
were somewhat like those of birds, and that, as a corol- 
lary, their blood may have been better aerated and 
warmer than that of living reptiles. But, to return to 
the question of food. 

From the peculiar character of the articulations of 
the limb-bones, it is inferred that these animals were 
largely aquatic in their habits, and fed on some abun- 
dant species of water-plants. One can readily see the 


advantage of the long neck in browsing off the vegetation 
on the bottom of shallow lakes, while the animal was 
submerged, or in rearing the head aloft to scan the sur- 
rounding shores for the approach of an enemy. Or, 
with the tail as a counterpoise, the entire body could be 
reared out of water and the head be raised some thirty 
feet in the air. 

Triceratops, he of the three-horned face, had a re- 
markable skull which projected backward over the neck, 
like a fireman's helmet, or a sunbonnet worn hind side 
before, while over each eye was a massive horn directed 
forward, a third, but much smaller horn being some- 
times present on the nose. 

The little '^ Horned Toad," which isn't a toad at all, 
is the nearest suggestion we have to-day of Triceratops ; 
but, could he realize the ambition of the frog in the 
fable and swell himself to the dimensions of an ox, he 
would even then be but a pigmy compared with his 
ancient and distant relative. 

So far as mere appearance goes he would compare 
very well, for while so much is said about the strange 
appearance of the Dinosaurs, it is to be borne in mind 
that their peculiarities are enhanced by their size, and 
that there are many lizards of to-day that lack only 
stature to be even more bizarre; and, for example, 
were the Australian Moloch but big enough, he could 
give even Stegosaurus ^'points" in more ways than one. 

Standing before the skull of Triceratops, looking 
him squarely in the face, one notices in front of each 
eye a thick guard of projecting bone, and while this must 
have interfered with vision directly ahead it must 
have also furnished protection for the eye. So long as 
Triceratops faced an adversary he must have been 
practically invulnerable, but as he was the largest 
animal of his time, excepting always Tyrannosaurus, 


upward of twenty-five feet in length, it is probable that 
his combats were mainly with those of this own kind 
and the subject of dispute some fair female upon whom 
two rival suitors had cast covetous eyes. What a sight 
it would have been to have seen two of these big brutes 
in mortal combat as they charged upon each other with 
all the impetus to be derived from ten tons of infuriate 
flesh ! We may picture to ourselves horn clashing upon 
horn, or glancing from each bony shield until some skil- 
ful stroke or unlucky slip placed one combatant at the 
mercy of the other, and he went down before the blows 
of his adversary '^as falls on Mount Alvernus a thunder- 
smitten oak." 

A pair of Triceratops horns in the National Museum 
bears witness to such encounters, for one is broken mid- 
way between tip and base; and that it was broken 
during life is evident from the fact that the stump is 
healed and rounded over, while the size of the horns 
shows that their owner reached a ripe old age. 

For, unlike man and the higher vertebrates, reptiles 
and fishes do not have a maximum standard of size 
which is soon reached and rarely exceeded, but continue 
to grow throughout life, so that the size of a turtle, a 
crocodile, or a Dinosaur tells something of the duration 
of its life. 

Before quitting Triceratops let us glance for a 
moment at its skeleton. Now among other things a 
skeleton is the solution of a problem in mechanics, and 
in Triceratops the head so dominates the rest of the 
structure that one might almost imagine the skull was 
made first and the body adjusted to it. The great head 
seems made not only for offence and defence; the 
spreading frill serves for the attachment of muscles to 
sustain the weight of the skuU, while the work of the 
muscles is made easier by the fact that the frill reaches 


SO far back of the junction of head with neck as to 
largely counterbalance the weight of the face and jaws. 
When we restored the skull of this animal it w^as found 
that the centre of gravity lay back of the eye. Several 
of the bones of the neck are united in one mass to furnish 
a firm attachment for the muscles that support and 
move the skull, but as the movements of the neck are 
already restricted by the overhanging frill, this loss of 
motion is no additional disadvantage. 

To support all this weight of skull and body requires 
very massive legs, and as the fore legs are very short, 
this enables Triceratops to browse comfortably from 
the ground by merely lowering the front of the head. 

These forms we have been considering were the giants 
of the group, but a commoner species, Trachodon, 
though less in bulk than those just mentioned, was still 
of goodly proportions, for, as he stalked about, the top 
of his head was twelve feet from the ground. 

Trachodon and his kin seem to have been abundant, 
for they have a wide distribution, and many specimens, 
some almost perfect, have been discovered in this 
country and abroad. We might say that so far as 
North America was concerned they were during the 
Cretaceous period what deer are to-day, the most com- 
mon and characteristic of herbivores. No less than 
twenty-nine Iguanodons, a European relative of 
Trachodon, were found in one spot in mining for coal at 
Bernissart, Belgium. Here, during long years of Creta- 
ceous time, a river slowly cut its way through the coal- 
bearing strata to a depth of 750 feet, a depth almost 
twice as great as the deepest part of the gorge of 
Niagara, and then, this being accomplished, began the 
work of fijling up the valley it had excavated. It was 
then a sluggish stream with marshy borders, a stream 
subject to frequent floods, when the water, turbid with 


8 § 
I (3 


mud and laden with sand, overflowed its banks, leav- 
ing them, as the waters subsided, covered thickly with 
mud. Here, amidst the luxuriant vegetation of a semi- 
tropical climate, lived and died the Iguanodons, and 
here the pick of the miner rescued them from their long 
entombment to form part of the treasures of the mu- 
seum at Brussels. 

Like other reptiles, living and extinct, Trachodon 
was continually renewing his teeth, so that as fast as 
one tooth was worn out it was replaced by another, a 
point wherein Trachodon had a decided advantage over 
ourselves. On the other hand, as there was a reserve 
supply of something like 400 teeth in the lower jaw 
alone, what an opportunity for the toothache! 

And then we have a multitude of lesser Dinosaurs, 
including the active, predatory species with sharp claws 
and double-edged teeth. Megalosaurus, the first of the 
Dinosaurs to be really known, was one of these carnivor- 
ous species, and from our West comes a near relative, 
Ceratosaurus, the nose-horned lizard, a queer beast with 
tiny fore legs, powerful, sharp-clawed hind feet, and 
well-armed jaws. A most formidable foe he seems, the 
more that the hollow bones speak of active movements, 
and Professor Cope pictured him or a near relative, 
vigorous!}^ engaged in combat with his fellows, or prey- 
ing upon the huge but helpless herbivores of the marshes, 
leaping, biting, and tearing his enemy to pieces with 
tooth and claw. 

Professor Osborn, on the other hand, is inclined to 
consider him as a reptilian hyena, feeding upon carrion, 
although one c£ n but feel that such an armament is not 
entirely in the interests of peace. 

Last, but no means least, are the Stegosaurs, or plated 
lizards, for not only were they beasts of goodly size, 
but they were among the most singular of all known 


animals, singular even for Dinosaurs. They had 
diminutive heads, small fore legs, long tails armed on 
either side near the tip, with two pairs of large spines, 
while from these spines to the neck ran series of large, 
but thin, and sharp-edged plates standing on edge, so 
that their backs looked like the bottom of a boat 
provided with a number of little centreboards. These 
plates were arranged in two rows down the back, but 
what is most extraordinary is that they were not dis- 
posed in pairs, but alternately, a method not known to 
occur in any other animal. 

The largest of these plates were two feet in height and 
length, and not more than an inch thick, except at the 
base, where they were enlarged and roughened to give a 
firm hold to the thick skin in which they were imbedded. 
Be it remembered, too, that these plates and spines 
were doubtless covered with horn, so that they were 
even longer in life than as we now see them. The tail 
spines varied in length, according to the species, from 
eight or nine inches to nearly three feet, and some of 
them have a diameter of six inches at the base. They 
were sa\ ung by a tail eight to ten feet long, and as a 
visitor was heard to remark, one wouldn't like to be 
about such an animal in fly time. 

The discoveries of the past twenty years have brought 
to light many new dinosaurs, as well as material that 
has enabled us to complete our knowledge of others 
that were imperfectly known. 

Chief among these is Tyrannosaurus, mightiest of all 
animals that have walked the face of the earth, reaching 
to a length of 47 feet, standing 18 to 20 feet high, its 
powerful legs ending in long, sharp claws and its massive 
jaws bristling with curved, doubled-edged teeth, three 
to six inches in length. The creature well deserves the 
name Tyrannosaurus rex (King of the Tyrant Reptiles) 







p a 
p 2 

i ^ 


fa ^ 


bestowed upon him by Professor Osborn, for, apparently 
nothing could have withstood the attack of this monster 
beast of prey unless possibly some relative like Tricera- 
tops, armed to resist frontal attacks, or that ''walking 
armored citadel," Ankylosaurus, squatting down and 
striking right and left with club-shaped tail. The ex- 
istence of this great beast was known from a few leg 
bones found by Mr. Hatcher before 1890, but these 
merely hinted at its size and power and it remained for 
Mr. Barnum Brown to gather the material that made it 
possible to reconstruct the skeleton, the greatest prize 
being the huge skull which must really be seen to be 

Such were some of the strange and mighty animals 
that once roamed this continent from the valley of the 
Connecticut, where they literally left their footprints on 
the sands of time, to the Rocky Mountains, where the 
ancient lakes and rivers became cemeteries for the en- 
tombment of their bones. 

The labor of the collector has gathered their fossil 
remains from many a Western canyon, the skill of the 
preparator has removed them from their stony 
sepulchres and the study of the anatomist has restored 
them as they w^ere in life. 


Most of our large museums have on exhibition fine speci- 
mens of many Dinosaurs, comprising skulls, limbs, and large 
portions of their skeletons. The American Museum of Natural 
History, New York, has by far the largest and finest display, 
including as it does many unusually complete skeletons and fine 
skulls: among them are the huge Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, 
Gorgosaurus, Monoclonius and Struthiomimus. Of special note 
is the " mummied '^ Trachodon, showing a great part of the skin 
of the animal. The first actual skeleton of a Dinosaur to be 
mounted in this country was the Trachodon at the Yale Univer- 


sity Museum, where other striking pieces are also to he seen. The 
United States National Museum is particularly rick in examples 
of the great, horned Triceratops, while the Carnegie Museum, 
Pittsburgh, has the best Diplodocus. The United States Na- 
tional Museum and Yale University have each a mounted skeleton 
of Stegosaurus. The Field Columbian Museum and the Univer- 
sities of Wyoming and Colorado have good collections. 

The largest single bone of a Dinosaur is the thigh bone of 
Brachiosaurus in the Field Columbian Museum, this measuring 
6 feet 8 inches in length. The height of a complete hind leg of 
Brontosaurus in the American Museum of Natural History is 10 
feet, while a single claw measures 6 by 9 inches. The skeleton of 
Triceratops in the United States National Museum measures 25 
feet from tip of nose to end of tail and is 10 feet 6 inches to the top 
of the backbone over the hips, this being the highest point. The 
head is 5 feet 6 inches long in a straight line and 4 feet 3 inches 
across the frill. There is a skull in the Yale University Museum 
even larger than this. 

Numerous technical articles relating to Dinosaurs are scat- 
tered through various scientific journals, notably in the Memoirs 
and Bulletins of the American Museum of Natural History, 
where they may be easily found by the student. 

If the reader wishes to know more about Dinosaurs, where their 
remains are found and how they are collected, he will find the 
information in Handbook No. 5, Dinosaurs, by W. D. Matthew, 
and also in various articles scattered through the pages of the 
American Museum Journal, Natural History. 

A Bit of the Skin of Trachodon 
Somewhat Reduced. In the American Museum of Natural History. 



"And the first Morning of Creation wrote 
What the Last Dawn of Beckoning shall read." 

It is quite possible that the reader may wish to know 
something of the manner in Avhich the specimens 
described in these pages have been gathered, how we 
acquire our knowledge of Brontosaurus, or any of the 
many other ''sauruses/' and how their restorations 
have been made. 

There was a time, not so very long ago, when fossils 
were looked upon as mere sports of Nature, and little 
attention paid to them; later their true nature was 
recognized, though they were merely gathered hap- 
hazard as occasion might offer. But now, and for many 
years past, the fossil-bearing rocks of many parts of the 
world have been systematically worked, and from the 
material thus obtained we have acquired a great deal of 
information regarding the inhabitants of the ancient 
world. This is particularly true of our own western 
country, where a vast amount of collecting has been 
done, although very much remains to be done in the 
matter of perfecting this knowledge, and hosts of new 
animals remain to be discovered. For this information 
we are almost as much indebted to the collector who has 
gathered the needed material, and the preparator whose 
patience and skill have made it available for study, 
as to the palaeontologist who has interpreted the 
meaning of the bones. 

To collect successfully demands not only a knowl- 
edge of the rocks in which fossils occur and of the 
localities where they are best exposed to view, but an 
eye quick to detect a piece of bone protruding from a 



rock or lying amongst the shale, and, above all, the 
ability to work a deposit to advantage after it has been 
found. The collector of living animals hies to regions 
where there is plenty for bird and beast to eat and drink, 
but the collector of extinct animals cares little for what 
is on the surface of the earth; his great desire is to see 
as much as possible of what may lie beneath. So the 
prospector in search of fossils betakes himself to some 
region where the ceaseless warfare waged by water 
against the dry land has seamed the face of the earth 
with countless gullies and canyons, or carved it into 
slopes and bluffs in which the edges of the bone-bearing 
strata are exposed to view, and along these he skirts, 
ever on the look-out for some projecting bit of bone. 
The country is an almost shadeless desert, burning hot 
by day, uncomfortably cool at night. Water is scarce, 
and when it can be found, often has little to commend it 
save wetness; but the collector is buoyed up through all 
this with the hope that he may discover some creature 
new to science that shall not only be bigger and uglier 
and stranger than any heretofore found, but shall be 
the long-sought form needed for the solution of some 
difficult problem in the history of the past. 

Now collecting is a lottery, differing from most lot- 
teries, however, in that while some of the returns may be 
pretty small, there are few absolute blanks and some re- 
markably large prizes, and every collector hopes that it 
may fall to his lot to win one of these, and is willing to 
work long and arduously for the chance of obtaining it. 

It may give some idea of the chances to say that some 
years ago Dr. Wortman spent almost an entire season 
in the field without success, and then, at the eleventh 
hour, found the now famous skeleton of Phenacodus, or 
that a party from Princeton actually camped within 
100 yards of a rich deposit of rare fossils and yet failed 
to discover it. 


Let US, however, suppose that the reconnoissance has 
been successful, and that an outcrop of bone has been 
found, serving Hke a tombstone carven with strange 
characters to indicate the burial-place of some primeval 
monster. Possibly Nature long ago rifled the grave, 
washing away much of the skeleton, and leaving little 
save the fragments visible on the surface; on the other 
hand, these pieces may form part of a complete skeleton, 
and there is no way to decide this important question 
save by actual excavation. The manner of disinterment 
varies, but much depends on whether the fossil lies in 
comparatively loose shale or is imbedded in the solid 
rock, whether the strata are level or dip downward 
into the hillside. If, unfortunately, this last is the 
case, it necessitates a careful shoring up of the excava- 
tion with props of cotton-wood or such boards as may 
have been brought along to box specimens, or it may 
even be necessary to run a short tunnel in order to get 
at some coveted bone. Should the specimen lie in shale, 
as is the case with many of the large reptiles that have 
been collected, much of that work may be done with 
pick and shovel; but if it is desirable or necessary to 
work in firm rock, drills and hammers, wedges, even 
powder, may be needed to rend from Nature her long- 
kept secrets. In any event, a detailed plan is made of 
the excavation, and each piece of bone or section of rock 
duly recorded therein by letter and number, so that 
later on the relation of the parts to one another may be 
known, or the various sections assembled in the work- 
room exactly as they lay in the quarry. Bones which lie 
in loose rock are often, one might say usually, more or 
less broken, and when a bone three, four, or even six 
feet long, weighing anywhere from 100 to 1,000 pounds, 
has been shattered to fragments the problem of remov- 
ing it is no easy one. But here the skill of the collector 


comes into play to treat the fossil as a surgeon treats a 
fractured limb, to cover it with plaster bandages, and 
brace it with splints of wood or iron so that the speci- 
men may not only be taken from the ground but endure 
in safety the coming journey of a thousand or more 
miles. For simpler cases or lighter objects strips of 
sacking, or even paper, applied with flour and water, 
suffice, or pieces of sacking soaked in thin plaster may be 
laid over the bone, first covering it with thin paper 
in order that the plaster jacket may simply stiffen and 
not adhere to it. Collecting has not always been carried 
on in this systematic manner, for the development of the 
present methods has been the result of years of ex- 
perience ; formerly there was a mere skimming-over of 
the surface in what Professor Marsh used to term the 
potato-gathering style, but now the effort is made to 
remove specimens intact, often imbedded in large 
masses of rock, in order that all parts may be preserved. 
We will take it for granted that our specimens have 
safely passed through all perils by land and water, 
road and rail; that they have been quarried, boxed, 
carted over a roadless country to the nearest railway, 
and have withstood 2,000 miles of jolting in a freight- 
car. The first step in reconstruction has been taken; 
the problem, now that the boxes are reposing on the 
work-room floor, is to make the blocks of stone give ud 
the secrets they have guarded for ages, to free the bones 
from their enveloping matrix in order that they may 
tell us something of the life of the past. The method 
of doing this varies with the conditions under which the 
material has been gathered, and if from hard clay, chalk, 
or shale, the process, though tedious enough at best, 
is by no means so difficult as if the specimens are im- 
bedded in solid rock. In this case the fragments from a 
given section of quarry must be assembled according to 


the plan which has been carefully made as the work of 
exhumation progressed, all pieces containing bone must 
be stuck together, and weak parts strengthened with 
gum or glue. Now the mass is attacked with hammer 
and chisel, and the surrounding matrix slowly and care- 
fully cut away until the contained bone is revealed, a 
process much simpler and more expeditious in the telling 
than in the actuality; for the preparator may not use 
the heavy tools of the ordinary stone-cutter; sometimes 
an awl, or even a glover's needle, must suffice him, and 
the chips cut off are so small and such care must be 
taken not to injure the bone that the work is really 
tedious. This may, perhaps, be better appreciated by 
saying that to clean a single vertebra of such a huge 
Dinosaur as Diplodocus may require a month of con- 
tinuous labor, and that a score of these big and com- 
plicated bones, besides others of simpler structure, are 
included in the backbone. The finished specimen 
weighs over 120 pounds, while as originally collected, 
with all the adherent rock, the weight was twice or 
thrice as great. Such a mass as this is comparatively 
small, and sometimes huge blocks are taken containing 
entire skulls or a number of bones, and not infre- 
quently weighing a ton. The largest single specimen 
is a skull of Triceratops, collected by Mr. J. B. Hatcher, 
which weighed, when boxed, 6,850 pounds. 

Or, as the result of some mishap, or through the work 
of an inexperienced collector, a valuable specimen may 
arrive in the shape of a box full of irregular fragments of 
stone compared with which a dissected map or an old- 
fashioned Chinese puzzle is simplicity itself, and one 
may spend hours looking for some piece whose proper 
location gives the clew to an entire section, and days, 
even, may be consumed before the task is completed. 
While this not only tries the patience, but the eyes 


as well, there is, nevertheless, a fascination about this 
work of fashioning a bone out of scores, possibly hun- 
dreds, of fragments, and watching the irregular bits of 
stone shaping themselves into a mosaic that forms a 
portion of some creature, possibly quite new to science, 
and destined to bear a name as long as itself. And thus, 
after many days of toil, the bone that millions of years 
before sank into the mud of some old lake-bottom or was 
buried in the sandy shoals of an ancient river, is brought 
to light once more to help tell the tale of the creatures of 
the past. 

One bone might convey a great deal of information; 
on the other hand it might reveal very little ; for, while 
it is very painful to say so, the popular impression that 
it is possible to reconstruct an animal from a single bone, 
or tell its size and habits from a tooth is but partially 
correct, and sometimes 'Hhe eminent scientist" has 
come to grief even with a great many bones at his dis- 
posal. Did not one of the ablest anatomists describe 
and figure the hip-bones of a Dinosaur as its shoulder- 
blade, and another, equally able, reconstruct a reptile 
''hind side before," placing the head on the tail! This 
certainly sounds absurd enough; but just as absurd 
mistakes are made by men in other walks of life, often 
with far more deplorable results. 

Before passing to the restoration of the exterior of 
animals it may be well to say something of the manner 
in which the skeleton of an extinct animal may be re- 
constructed and the meaning of its various parts inter- 
preted. For the adjustment of the muscles is depend- 
ent on the structure of the skeleton, and putting on the 
muscles means blocking out the form, details of external 
appearance being supplied by the skin and its accessories 
of hair, scales, or horns. Let us suppose in the present 
instance that we are dealing with one of the great 


reptiles known as Triceratops whose remains are among 
the treasures of the National Museum at Washington, 
for the reconstruction of the big beast well illustrates the 
methods of the palaeontologist and also the troubles by 
which he is beset. Moreover, this is not a purely 
imaginary case, but one that is very real, for the skeleton 
of this animal which was shown at Buffalo was restored 
in papier-mache in exactly the manner indicated. We 
have a goodly number of bones, but by no means an 
entire skeleton, and yet we wish to complete the 
skeleton and incidentally to form some idea of the 
creature's habits. Now we can interpret the past only 
by a knowledge of the present, and it is by carefully 
studying the skeletons of the animals of to-day that we 
can learn to read the meaning of the symbols of bones 
left by the animals of a million yesterdays. Thus we 
find that certain characters distinguish the bone of a 
mammal from that of a bird, a reptile, or a fish, and 
these in turn from one another, and this constitutes the 
A B C of comparative anatomy. And, in a like manner, 
the bones of the various divisions of these main groups 
have to a greater or less extent their own distinguish- 
ing characteristics, so that by first comparing the bones 
of extinct animals with those of creatures that are 
now living we are enabled to recognize their nearest 
existing relative, and then by comparing them with one 
another we learn the relations they bore in the ancient 
world. But it must be borne in mind that some of the 
early beasts were so very different from those of to-day 
that until pretty much their entire structure was known 
there was nothing with which to compare odd bones. 
Had but a single incomplete specimen of Triceratops 
come to light we should be very much in the dark con- 
cerning him; and although remains of some thirty 
individuals have been discovered, these have been so 


imperfect that we are very far from having all the in- 
formation we need. A great part of the head, with its 
formidable looking horns, is present, and although the 
nose is gone, we know from other specimens that it, too, 
was armed with a knob, or horn, and that the skull 
ended in a beak, something like that of a snapping 
turtle, though formed by a separate and extra bone; 
similarly the end of the lower jaw is lacking, but we may 
be pretty certain that it ended in a beak, to match that 
of the skull. The large leg-bones of our specimen are 
mostly represented, for these being among the more 
solid parts of the skeleton are more frequently preserved 
than any others, and though some are from one side and 
some from another, this matters not. If the hind legs 
were disproportionately long it would indicate that our 
animal often or habitually walked erect, but as there is 
only difference enough between the fore and hind limbs 
to enable Triceratops to browse comfortably from the 
ground we would naturally place him on all fours, even 
were the skull not so large as to make the creature too 
top-heavy for any other mode of locomotion. Were 
the limbs very small in comparison with the other bones, 
it would obviously mean that their owner passed his 
life in the water. For a skeleton has a two-fold meaning, 
it is the best, the most enduring, testimony we have as 
to an animal's place in nature and the relationships it 
sustains to the creatures that lived with it, before it, 
and after it. More than this, a skeleton is the solution 
of a problem in mechanics, the problem of carrying a 
given weight and of adaptation to a given mode of life. 
Thus the skeleton varies according as a creature dwells 
on land, in the water, or in the air, and according as it 
feeds on grass or preys upon its fellows. 

And so the mechanics of a skeleton afford us a clew 
to the habits of the living animal. Something, too, may 


be gathered from the structure of the leg-bones, for soUd 
bones mean either a sluggish animal or a creature of 
more or less aquatic habits, while hollow bones em- 
phatically declare a land animal, and an active one at 
that; and this, in the case of the Dinosaurs, hints at 
predatory habits, the ability to catch and eat their 
defenceless and more sluggish brethren. A claw, or, 
better yet, a tooth, may confirm or refute this hint; 
for a blunt claw could not be used in tearing prey limb 
from limb, nor would a double-edged tooth, made for 
rending flesh, serve for champing grass. 

But few bones of the feet, and especially the fore feet, 
are present, these smaller parts of the skeleton having 
been washed away before the ponderous frame was 
buried in the sand, and the best that can be done is to 
follow the law of probabilities and put three toes on the 
hind foot and five on the fore, two of these last without 
claws. Here the law of probabilities failed : there were 
four toes and a vestige of the fifth on the hind feet, 
shown by complete specimens in the American Museum 
of Natural History. The single blunt round claw a- 
mong our bones shows, as do the teeth, that Triceratops 
was herbivorous; it also pointed a little downward, and 
this tells that in the living animal the sole of the foot 
was a thick, soft pad, somewhat as it is in the elephant 
and rhinoceros, and that the toes were not entirely free 
from one another. There are less than a dozen vertebrae 
and still fewer ribs, besides half a barrelful of pieces, 
from which to reconstruct a backbone twenty feet long. 
That the ribs are part from one side and part from an- 
other matters no more than it did in the case of the 
leg-bones; but the backbone presents a more difficult 
problem, since the pieces are not like so many check- 
ers — all made after one pattern — but each has an indi- 
viduality of its own. The total number of vertebrae 


must be guessed at, perhaps it would sound better to say 
estimated, but it really means the same), and knowing 
that some sections are from the front part of the verte- 
bral column and some from the back we must fill in the 
gaps as best we may. It may be said that since the re- 
storation was made for Buffalo, the actual skeleton has 
been mounted by Mr. C. W. Gilmore, and due to more 
careful study and aided by more material, he has made 
the number of trunk vertebrae two less than were origi- 
nally ascribed to it. The ribs offer a little aid in this 
task, giving certain details of the vertebrae, while those 
in turn tell something about the adjoining parts of the 
ribs. We finish our Triceratops with a tail of moderate 
length, as indicated by the rapid taper of the few verte- 
brae available, and from these we gather, too, that in life 
the tail was round, and not flattened, and that it neither 
served for swimming nor for a balancing pole. And so, 
little by little, have been pieced together the fragments 
from which we have derived our knowledge of the past, 
and thus has the palaeontologist read the riddles of the 

To make these dry bones live again, to clothe them 
with flesh and reconstruct the creature as he was or may 
have been in life, is, to be honest, very largely guess- 
work, though to make a guess that shall come any- 
where near the mark not only demands a thorough 
knowledge of anatomy — for the basis of all restoration 
must be the skeleton — but calls for more than a passing 
acquaintance with the external appearance of living 
animals. And while there is nothing in the bones to 
tell how an animal is, or was, clad, they will at least 
show to what group the creature belonged, and, that 
known, there are certain probabilities in the case. 
A bird, for example, would certainly be clad in feathers. 
Going a little farther, we might be pretty sure that the 


feathers of a water-fowl would be thick and close; 
those of strictly terrestrial birds, such as the ostrich and 
other flightless forms, lax and long. These are general 
propositions; of course, in special cases, one might easily 
come to grief, as in dealing with birds like penguins, 
which are particularly adapted for an aquatic life, and 
have the feathers highly modified. These birds depend 
upon their fat, and not on their feathers, for warmth, 
and so their feathers have become a sort of cross be- 
tween scales and hairs. Hair and fur belong to mam- 
mals only, although these creatures show much variety 
in their outer covering. The thoroughly marine whales 
have discarded furs and adopted a smooth and slippery 
skin,i well adapted to movement through the water, 
relying for warmth on a thick undershirt of blubber. 
The earless seals that pass much of their time on the 
ice have just enough hair to keep them from absolute 
contact with it, warmth again being provided for by 
blubber. The fur seals, which for several months in the 
year dwell largely on land, have a coat of fur and hair, 
although warmth is mostly furnished, or rather kept in, 
by fat. 

No reptile, therefore, would be covered with feathers, 
neither, judging from those we know to-day, would they 
be clad in fur or hair; but, such coverings being barred 
out, there remain a great variety of plates and scales to 
choose from. Folds and frills, crests and dewlaps, like 

^The reader is warned that this is a mere figure of speech for, of 
course, the process of adaptation to surroundings is passive, not active, 
although there is a most unfortunate tendency among writers on evo- 
lution, and particularly on mimicry, to speak of it as active. The 
writer believes that no animal in the first stages of mimicry, consci- 
ously mimics or endeavors to resemble another animal or any part of 
its surroundings, but a habit at first accidental may in time become 
more or less conscious. 


beauty, are but skin deep, and, being thus superficial, 
ordinarily leave no trace of their former presence, and in 
respect to them the reconstructor must trust to his 
imagination, with the law of probabilities as a check rein 
to his fancy. This law would tell us that such orna- 
ments must not be so placed as to be in the way, and 
that while there would be a possibility — one might 
even say probability — of the great, short-headed, 
iguana-like Dinosaurs having dewlaps, that there 
would be no great likelihood of their possessing ruffs 
such as that of the Australian Chlamydosaurus 
(mantled lizard) to flap about their ears. Even Stego- 
saurus, with his bizarre array of great plates and spines, 
kept them on his back, out of the way. Such festal 
ornamentation would, however, more likely be found in 
small, active creatures, the larger beasts contenting 
themselves with plates and folds. 

Spines and plates usually leave some trace of their 
existence, for they consist of a superstructure of skin or 
horn, built on a foundation of bone; and while even 
horn decomposes too quickly to '^ petrify," the bone will 
become fossilized and changed into enduring stone. 
But while this affords a pretty sure guide to the general 
shape of the investing horn, it does not give all the 
details, and there may have been ridges and furrows and 
sculpturing that we know not of. 

Knowing, then, what the probabilities are, we have 
some guide to the character of the covering that should 
be placed on an animal, and if we may not be sure as to 
what should be done, we may be pretty certain what 
should not. 

For example, to depict a Dinosaur with smooth, 
rubbery hide walking about on dry land would be to 
violate the probabilities, for only such exclusively 
aquatic creatures as the whales among mammals, and 


the salamanders among batrachians, are clothed in 
smooth, shiny skin. There might, however, be reason 
to suspect that a creature largely aquatic in its habits 
did occasionally venture on land, as, for instance, 
when vertebrae that seem illy adapted for carrying the 
weight of a land animal are found in company with 
huge limb-bones and massive feet we may feel reason- 
ably certain that their owner passed at least a portion 
of his time on terra fir ma. 

So much for the probabilities as to the covering of 
animals known to us only by their fossil remains; but 
it is often possible to go beyond this, and to state 
certainly how they were clad. For while the chances are 
small that any trace of the covering of an extinct animal, 
other than bony plates, will be preserved. Nature does 
now and then seem to have relented, and occasionally 
some animal settled to rest where it was so quickly 
and quietly covered with fine mud that the impression 
of small scales, feathers, or even smooth skin, was pre- 
served; curiously enough, there seems to be scarcely 
any record of the imprint of hair. Then, too, it is to be 
remembered that while the chances were very much 
against such preservation, in the thousands or millions 
of times creatures died the millionth chance might come 

Silhouettes of those marine reptiles, the Ichthyosaurs, 
have been found, probably made by the slow carboniza- 
tion of animal matter, showing not only the form of the 
body and tail, but revealing the existence of an unsus- 
pected back fin. And yet these animals were apparently 
3lad in a skin as thin and smooth as that of a whale, 
impressions of feathers were known long before the dis- 
;overy of Archseopteryx ; a few have been found in the 
jreen River and Florissant shales of Wyoming, and a 
3esperornis in the collection of the State University 

^ is 

O £« 



of Kansas shows traces of the existence of long, soft 
feathers on the legs and very clear imprints of the 
scales and reticulated skin that covered the tarsus. 
From the Chalk of Kansas, too, came the example of 
Tylosaur, showing that the back of this animal was 
decorated with the crest shown in Mr. Knight's restora- 
tion, one not unlike that of the modern iguana. From 
the Laramie sandstone of Montana Mr. Hatcher and 
Mr. Butler have obtained the impressions of portions 
of the skin of the great Dinosaur, Trachodon, which 
show that the covering of this animal consisted largely, 
if not entirely, of small, irregularly hexagonal horny 
scutes, slightly thickened in the centre. Here again 
time has proved helpful and two fairly complete, 
'^mummied" specimens of Trachodon have been found 
by Mr. Charles Sternberg, in which a great portion of 
the skin has been preserved. These animals apparently 
died and shriveled up before they decayed. They were 
then swept into water and engulfed in quicksand or else 
covered with drifting sand. The quarries of lithographic 
stone at Solenhofen have yielded a few specimens of 
flying reptiles, pterodactyls, which not only verify the 
correctness of the inference that these creatures pos- 
sessed membranous wings, like the bats, but show the 
exact shape, and it was sometimes very curious, of this 
membrane. And each and all of these wonderfully 
preserved specimens serve both to check and guide the 
restorer in his task of clothing the animal as it was in life. 
And all this help is needed, for it is an easy matter to 
make a wide-sweeping deduction, apparently resting on 
a good basis of fact, and yet erroneous. Bones of the 
Mammoth and Woolly Rhinoceros, found in Siberia 
and Northern Europe, were thought to indicate that at 
the period when these animals lived the climate was 
mild, a very natural inference, since the elephants and 


rhinoceroses we now know are all inhabitants of tropical 
climes. But the discovery of more or less complete 
specimens makes it evident that the climate was not 
particularly mild ; the animals were simply adapted to 
it; instead of being naked like their modern relatives, 
they were dressed for the climate in a woolly covering. 
We think of the tiger as prowling through the jungles of 
India, but he ranges so far north that in some localities 
this beast preys upon reindeer, Avhich are among the 
most northern of large mammals, and there the tiger is 
clad in fairly thick fur. 

When we come to coloring a reconstructed animal we 
have absolutely no guide, unless we assume that the 
larger a creature the more soberly will it be colored. 
The great land animals of to-day, the elephant and 
rhinoceros, to say nothing of the aquatic hippopotamus, 
are very dully colored, and while this sombre coloration 
is to-day a protection, rendering these animals less easily 
seen by man than they otherwise would be, yet at the 
time this color was developing man was not nor were 
there enemies sufficiently formidable to menace the 
race of elephantine creatures. 

For where mere size furnishes sufficient protection 
one would hardly expect to find protective coloration as 
well, unless indeed a creature preyed upon others, when 
it might be advantageous to enable a predatory animal 
to steal upon its prey. 

Color often exists (or is supposed to) as a sexual char- 
acteristic, to render the male of a species attractive to, 
or readily recognizable by, the female, but in the case of 
large animals mere size is quite enough to render them 
conspicuous, and possibly this may be one of the factors 
in the dull coloration of large animals. 

Aids, or at least hints, to the coloration of extinct 
animals are to be found in the coloration of the young of 


various living species, for as the changes undergone by 
the embryo are in a measure an epitome of the changes 
undergone by a species during its evolution, so the brief 
color phases or markings of the young are considered to 
represent the ordinary coloring of distant ancestors. 
Young thrushes are spotted, young ostriches and grebes 
are irregularly striped, young lions are spotted, and in 
restoring the early horse, or Hyracothere, Professor 
Osborn had the animal represented as faintly striped, 
for the reason that zebras, the wild horses of to-day, 
are striped, and because the ass, which is a primitive 
type of horse, is striped over the shoulders, these being 
hints that the earlier horse-like forms were also striped. 
Thus just as the skeleton of a Dinosaur may be a 
composite structure, made up of the bones of a dozen 
individuals, and these in turn mosaics of many frag- 
ments, so may the semblance of the living animal be 
based on a fact, pieced out with a probability and com- 
pleted by a bit of theory. 


There is a large series of restorations of extinct animals, 
prepared by Mr. Charles R. Knight, under the direction of 
Professor Osborn, in the Halls of Palceontology of the American 
Museum of Natural History, noteworthy among them being the 
Murals in the Hall of the Age of Man depicting the mammals by 
which primitive man was surrounded in the days when the earth 
was young. 

Should the reader visit Princeton, he may see in the museum 
there a number ofB. Waterhouse Hawkins's creations — creations 
is the proper word — which are of interest as examples of the early 
work in this line. 

The ''Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1900" con- 
tains an article on " The Restoration of Extinct Animals,'' pages 
479-492, which includes a number of plates showing the progress 
that has been made in this direction. 

55 O 
O o 

S § ^ 

^ <:^ c3 
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There ivere giants in the earth in those days.^' 

Nearly every group of animals has its giants, its 
species which tower above their fellows as Goliath of 
Gath stood head and shoulders above the Philistine 
hosts; and while some of these are giants only in com- 
parison with their fellows, belonging to families whose 
members are short of stature, others are sufficiently 
great to be called giants under any circumstances. 
Some of these giants live to-day, some have but recently 
passed away, and some ceased to be long ages before 
man trod this earth. The most gigantic of mammals — 
the whales — still survive, and the elephant of to-day 
suffers but little in comparison with the mammoth of 
yesterday; the monstrous Dinosaurs, greatest of all 
reptiles — greatest, in fact, of all animals that have 
walked the earth — flourished thousands upon thou- 
sands of years ago. As for birds, some of the giants 
among them are still living, some existed long geologic 
periods ago, and a few have so recently vanished from 
the scene that their memory still lingers amid the haze of 
tradition. The best known among these, as well as the 
most recent in point of time, are the Moas of New 
Zealand, first brought to notice by the Rev. W. Colenso, 
later on Bishop of New Zealand, one of the many mis- 
sionaries to whom Science is under obligations. Early 
in 1838, Bishop Colenso, while on a missionary visit 
to the East Cape region, heard from the natives of 
Waiapu tales of a monstrous bird, called Moa, having 
the head of a man, that inhabited the mountain-side 
some eighty miles away. This mighty bird, the last of 
his race, was said to be attended by two equally huge 



lizards that kept guard while he slept, and on the 
approach of man wakened the Moa, who immediately 
rushed upon the intruders and trampled them to death. 
None of the Maoris had seen this bird, but they had 
seen and somewhat irreverently used for making parts 
of their fishing tackle, bones of its extinct relatives, and 
these bones they declared to be as large as those of an ox. 

About the same time another missionary, the Rev. 
Richard Taylor, found a bone ascribed to the Moa, 
and met with a very similar tradition among the 
natives of a near-by district, only, as the foot of the 
rainbow moves away as we move toward it, in his case 
the bird was said to dwell in quite a different locality 
from that given by the natives of East Cape. While, 
however, the Maoris were certain that the Moa still 
lived, and to doubt its existence was little short of a 
crime, no one had actually seen it, and as time went on 
and the bird still remained unseen by any explorer, hope 
became doubt and doubt certainty, until it even became 
a mooted question whether such a bird had existed 
within the past ten centuries, to say nothing of having 
lived within the memory of man. 

But if we do not know the living birds, their remains 
are scattered broadcast over hillside and plain, concealed 
in caves, buried in the mud of swamps, and from these 
we gain a good idea of their size and structure, while 
chance has even made it possible to know something 
of their color and general appearance. This chance 
was the discovery of a few specimens, preserved in ex- 
ceptionally dry caves on the South Island, which not 
only had some of the bones still united by ligaments, 
but patches of skin clinging to the bones, and bearing 
numerous feathers of a chestnut color tipped with 
white. These small, straggling, rusty feathers are not 
much to look at, but when we reflect that they have 



been preserved for centuries without any care whatever, 
while the buffalo bugs have devoured our best Smyrna 
rugs in spite of all possible precautions, 
our respect for them increases. 

From the bones we learn that there 
were a great many kinds of Moas, 
twenty at least, ranging in size from 
those little larger than 
a turkey to that giant 
among giants, Dinornis 
maximus, which stood 
at least ten feet high,i 
or two feet higher than 
the largest ostrich, and 
may well claim the dis- 
tinction of being the 
tallest of all known 
birds. We also learn 
from the bones that 
not only were the Moas 
flightless, but that 
many of them were 
absolutely wingless, 
being devoid even of 
such vestiges of wings 
as we find in the Cas- 
sowary or Apteryx. 

iThe height of the Moas, 
and even of some species of 
vEpyornis is often stated to 
be twelve or fourteen feet, 
but such a height can only be 
obtained by placing the skel- 
eton in a wholly unnatural 

Leg bones of horse compared with 
those of a Moa. 


But if Nature deprived these birds of wings, she 
made ample amends in the matter of legs, those of 
some species, the Elephant-footed Moa, Pachyornis 
elephantopus, for example, being so massively built as 
to cause one to wonder what the owner used them for, 
although the generally accepted theory is that they 
were used for scratching up the roots of ferns on which 
the Moas are believed to have fed. And if a blow from 
an irate ostrich is sufficient to fell a man, what must 
have been the kicking power of an able-bodied Moa? 
Beside this bird the ostrich would appear as slim and 
graceful as a gazelle beside a prize ox. 

The Moas were confined to New Zealand, some species 
inhabiting the North Island, some the South, very few 
being common to both, and from these peculiarities of 
distribution geologists deduce that at some early period 
in the history of the earth the two islands formed one, 
that later on the land subsided, leaving the islands 
separated by a strait, and that since this subsidence 
there has been sufficient time for the development of the 
species peculiar to each island. Although Moas were 
still numerous when man made his appearance in this 
part of the world, the large deposits of their bones indi- 
cate that they were on the Avane, and that natural 
causes had already reduced the feathered population of 
these islands. A glacial period is believed to have 
wrought their destruction, and in one great morass, 
abounding in springs, their bones occur in such enor- 
mous numbers, layer upon layer, that it is thought the 
birds sought the place where the flowing springs might 
afford their feet at least some respite from the biting 
cold, and there perished miserably by thousands. 

What Nature spared man finished, and legends of 
Moa hunts and Moa feasts still lingered among the 
Moaris when the white man came and began in turn the 


extermination of the Maori. The theory has been ad- 
vanced, with much to support it, that the big birds 
were eaten off the face of the earth by an earher race 
than the Maoris, and that after the extirpation of the 
Moas the craving for flesh naturally led to cannibalism. 
But by whomsoever the destruction was wrought, the 
result was the same, the habitat of these feathered 
giants knew them no longer, while multitudes of charred 
bones, interspersed with fragments of eggshells, bear 
testimony to former barbaric feasts. 

It is a far cry from New Zealand to Madagascar, 
but thither must we go, for that island was, pity we 
cannot say is, inhabited by a race of giant birds from 
whose eggs it has been thought may have been hatched 
the Roc of Sindbad. Arabian tales, as we all know, lo- 
cate the Roc either in Madagascar or in some adjacent 
island to the north and east, and it is far from unlikley 
that legends of the ^Epyornis, backed by the substantial 
proof of its enormous eggs, may have been the slight 
foundation of fact whereon the story-teller erected his 
structure of fiction. True, the Roc of fable was a 
gigantic bird of prey capable of bearing away an ele- 
phant in its talons, while the ^pyornis has shed its 
wings and shrunk to dimensions little larger than an 
ostrich, but this is the inevitable result of closer ac- 
quaintance and the application of a two-foot rule. 

Like the Moa the ^pyornis seems to have lived 
in tradition long after it became extinct, for a French 
history of Madagascar, published as early as 1658 
makes mention of a large bird, or kind of ostrich, 
said to inhabit the southern end of the island. Still, 
in spite of bones having been found that bear evident 
traces of the handiwork of man, it is possible that this 
and other reports were due to the obvious necessity of 
having some bird to account for the presence of the eggs. 

H .t: 
2 ^ 


8 o 



The actual introduction of the iEpyornis to science 
took place in 1834, when a French traveller sent Jules 
Verreaux, the ornithologist, a sketch of a huge egg, say- 
ing that he had seen two of that size, one sawed in twain 
to make bowls, the other, traversed by a stick, serving 
in the preparation of rice uses somewhat in contrast 
with the proverbial fragility of egg-shells. A little later 
another traveller procured some fragments of egg-shells, 
but it was not until 1851 that any entire eggs were 
obtained, when two were secured, and with a few bones 
sent to France, where Geoff roy St. Hilaire bestowed 
upon them the name of Mpyornis maximus (the great- 
est lofty bird). Maximus the eggs remain, for they still 
hold the record for size; but so far as the bird that is 
supposed to have laid them is concerned, the name was a 
little premature, for other and larger species subse- 
quently came to hand. Between the ^Epyornithes and 
the Moas Science has had a hard time, for the supply of 
big words was not large enough to go around, and 
some had to do duty twice. In the way of generic 
names we have Dinornis, terrible bird; iEpyornis, 
high bird; Pachyornis, stout bird; and Brontornis, 
thunder bird, while for specific names there are robustus, 
maximus, titan; gravis, heavy; immanis, enormous; 
crassus, stout; ingens, great; and elephantopus, ele- 
phant-footed — truly a goodly array of large-sounding 
words. But to return to the big eggs! Usually we look 
upon those of the ostrich as pretty large, but an ostrich 
egg measures 4^ by 6 inches, while that of the ^Epyornis 
is 9 by 13 inches; or, to put it another way, it would 
hold the contents of six ostrichs' eggs, or one hundred 
and forty-eight hens' eggs, or thirty thousand humming 
birds' eggs ; and while this is very much smaller than a 
water-butt, it is still as large as a bucket, and one or two 
such eggs might suffice to make an omelet for Gargantua 


himself. About thirty eggs of the .Epyornis have been 
discovered and a number of them have found their way 
to this country, with the natural result that their 
market price has dropped from five or six hundred 
dollars to one hundred and fifty or less. 

The size of an egg is no safe criterion of the size of the 
bird that laid it, for a large bird may lay a small egg, 
or a small bird a large one. Comparing the egg of the 
great Moa with that of our ^pyornis one might think 
the latter much the larger bird, say twelve feet in 
height, when the facts in the case are that while there 
was no great difference in the weight of the two, that 
difference, and a superiority of at least two feet in 
height, are in favor of the bird that laid the smaller 
egg. The record for large eggs, however, belongs to 
the Apteryx, a New Zealand bird smaller than a hen, 
though distantly related to the Moas, which lays an 
egg about one-third of its own weight, measuring 3 by 
5 inches; perhaps it is not to be wondered at that the 
bird lays but two. 

Although most of the eggs of these big birds that 
have been found have literally been unearthed from the 
muck of swamps, now and then one comes to light in a 
more interesting manner as, for example, when a 
perfect egg of ^pyornis was found afloat after a hurri- 
cane, bobbing serenely up and down with the weaves 
near St. Augustine's Bay, or when an egg of the Moa 
was exhumed from an ancient Maori grave, where for 
years it had lain unharmed, safely clasped between the 
skeleton fingers of the occupant. 

More recent in point of discovery, but older in point 
of time, are the giant birds from Patagonia, which are 
burdened with the name of Phororhacidse, a name that 
originated in an error, although the error may well be 
excused. The first fragment of one of these great birds 


to come to light was a portion of the lower jaw, and this 
was so massive, so un-bird-like, that the finder thought 
it belonged to one of the great ground sloths and dubbed 
it Phororhacos, and so it must remain. 

It is a pity that all the large names were used up 
before this group of birds was discovered, and it is 
particularly unfortunate that Dinornis, terrible bird, 
was applied to the root-eating Moas, for these Pata- 
gonian birds, with their massive limbs, huge heads and 
hooked beaks, were truly w^orthy of such a name; and 
although in nowise related to the eagles, they may in 
habit have been terrestrial birds of prey. Not all the 
members of this family are giants, for as in other groups, 
some are big and some little, but the largest among them 
might be styled the Daniel Lambert of the feathered 
race. Brontornis, for example, the thunder bird, or as 
the irreverent translate it, the thundering big bird, 
had leg-bones larger than those of an ox, the drumstick 
measuring 30 inches in length by 2}^ inches in diameter, 
or 4% inches across the ends, while the tarsus, or lower 
bone of the leg to which the toes are attached, w^as 16K 
inches long and 5K inches wide where the toes join on. 
Bear this in mind the next time you see a large turkey, 
or compare these bones with those of an ostrich: but 
lest you may forget, it may be said that the same bone of 
a fourteen-pound turkey is 5}^ inches long, and one inch 
wide at either end, while that of an ostrich measures 
19 inches long and 2 inches across the toes, or 3 at the 
upper end. 

If Brontornis was a heavy-limbed bird, he was not 
without near rivals among the Moas, while the great 
Phororhacos, one of his contemporaries, was not only 
nearly as large, but quite unique in build. Imagine a 
bird seven or eight feet in height from the sole of his big, 
sharp-claw^ed feet, to the top of his huge head, poise this 



head on a neck as thick as that of a horse, arm it with a 
beak as sharp as an ice-pick and almost as formidable, 
and you have a fair idea of this feathered giant of the 
ancient pampas. The head indeed was truly colossal 
for that of a bird, measuring 23 inches in length by 7 
in depth, while that of the racehorse Lexington, and he 

Skull of Phororhacos compared with that of the race horse Lexington. 

was a good-sized horse, measures 22 inches long by 5K 
inches deep. The depth of the jaw is omitted because 
we wish to make as good a case as possible for the bird, 
and the jaw of a horse is so deep as to give him an undue 
advantage in that respect. 

We can only speculate on the food of these great birds, 
and for aught we know to the contrary they may have 
caught fish, fed upon carrion, or used their powerful 
feet and huge beaks for grubbing roots; but if they were 


not more or less carnivorous, preying upon such reptiles, 
mammals and other birds as came within reach, then 
nature apparently made a mistake in giving them such a 
formidable equipment of beak and claw. So far as 
habits go we might be justified in calling them cursorial 
birds of prey. 

We really know very little about these Patagonian 
giants, but they are interesting not only from their 
great size and astounding skulls, but because of the 
early age (Miocene) at which they lived and because in 
spite of their bulk they are in nowise related to the 
ostriches, but belong near the heron family. As 
usual, we have no idea why they became extinct, 
but in this instance man is guiltless, for they lived and 
died long before he made his appearance, and the ever- 
convenient hypothesis '^ change of climate" may be 
responsible for their disappearance. Still another extinct 
feathered giant is an ostrich-like bird known as yet 
only from eggs from the loess or wind-blown earth 
deposits along the banks of the Yellow River, China. 
About thirty of these eggs, looked upon as those of a 
dragon, have now come to light. 

The lapse of time has brought to us knowledge or 
rather information of another ''feathered giant" whose 
existence was hinted at in 1876 by the discovery of a few 
toe bones to which Professor Cope applied the name 

This proves not to be a relative of the ostriches, as 
was supposed from its size, nor a near relative of the 
giant birds of Patagonia as I suggested, but, though not 
unlike Phororhacos in bulk and general appearance, to 
stand in an order or suborder of its own. 

As pointed out by Professor Cope, mere size is not a 
character and we may recall that the nearest relative of 
the Sperm Whale is but six to nine feet long and weighs 



The unique specimen in the American Museum of Natural History 



only a few hundred pounds so that his big relation 
might almost swallow him at a gulp. And Dialryma 
in spite of its size has naught to do with ostriches though 
its real relationships are, as is often the case, so obscured 
by specialization that its real affinities are doubtful, 
the more that some of the parts that would throw most 
light upon the problem are crushed and distorted. 

Thus in some ways Diatryma is an aggravation; it 
gives us no help in understanding the inter-relation- 
ships of birds, but offers an additional puzzle to be 
solved : we can only say that it is one of the largest of 
the true birds, those provided with a fan-shaped tail. 
At any rate it is the earliest known giant bird and 
another bit of evidence of the rapidity with which birds 
developed once they were fairly started on their career. 

Something, perhaps, remains to be said concerning 
the causes which seem to have led to the development of 
these giant birds, as well as the reasons for their flight- 
less condition and peculiar distribution, for it will be 
noticed that, with the exception of the African and 
South American ostriches the great flightless birds as a 
rule are, and were, confined to uninhabited or sparsely 
populated islands, and this is equally true of the many 
small, but equally flightless birds. It is a seemingly 
harsh law of nature that all living beings shall live in a 
more or less active struggle with each other and with 
their surroundings, and that those creatures which 
possess some slight advantage over their fellows in the 
matter of speed, or strength, or ability to adapt them- 
selves to surrounding conditions, shall prosper at the 
expense of the others. In the power of flight, birds 
have a great safeguard against changes of climate with 
their accompanying variations in the supply of food, 
and, to a lesser extent, against their various enemies, 
including man. This power of flight, acquired early in 


their geological history, has enabled birds to spread 
over the length and breadth of the globe as no other 
group of animals has done, and to thrive under the most 
varying conditions, and it would seem that if this power 
were lost it must sooner or later work harm. Now to- 
day we find no great flightless birds in thickly populated 
regions, or where beasts of prey abound; the ostriches 
roam the desert wastes of Arabia, Africa and South 
America where men are few and savage beasts scarce, 
and against these is placed a fleetness of foot inherited 
from ancestors who acquired it before man was. The 
heavy cassowaries dwell in the thinly inhabited, 
thickly wooded islands of Malaysia, where again there 
are no large carnivores and where the dense vegeta- 
tion is some safeguard against man; the emu comes 
from the Australian plains, where also there are no 
four-footed enemies^ and where his ancestors dwelt in 
peace before the advent of man. And the same things 
are true of the Moas, the ^pyornithes, the flightless 
birds of Patagonia, the recent dodo of Mauritius and the 
solitaire of Rodriguez, each and all of which flourished 
in places where there were no men and practically no 
other enemies. Hence we deduce that absence of 
enemies is the prime factor in the existence of flightless 
birds, 2 although presence of food is an essential, while 
isolation, or restriction to a limited area, plays an im- 
portant part by keeping together those birds, or that 
race of birds, whose members show a tendency to dis- 
use their wings. It will be seen that such combinations 

^The dingo, or native dog, is not forgotten, but, like man, it is a com- 
paratively recent animal. 

2Note that in Tasmania, which is very near Australia, both in space 
and in the character of its animals, there are two carnivorous mammals, 
the Tasmanian "Wolf" and the Tasmanian Devil, and no flightless 


of circumstances will most naturally be found on islands 
whose geological history is such that they have had 
no connection with adjacent continents, or such a very 
ancient connection that they were not then peopled 
with beasts of prey, while subsequently their distance 
from other countries has prevented them from receiv- 
ing such population by accident in recent times and 
has also retarded the arrival of man. 

Once established, Sightlessness and size play into 
one another's hands; the flightless bird has no limit 
placed on its size^ while granted a food supply and im- 
munity from man; the larger the bird the less the 
necessity for wings to escape from four-footed foes. 
So long as the climate was favorable and man absent, 
the big, clumsy bird might thrive, but upon the coming 
of man, or in the face of any unfavorable change of 
climate, he would be at a serious disadvantage and 
hence whenever either of these two factors has been 
brought to bear against them the feathered giants have 


There is a fine collection of mounted skeletons of various 
species of Moas in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at 
Cambridge, Mass., and another in the American Museum of 
Natural History, New York. A few other skeletons and numer- 
ous bones are to be found in other institutions, but the author is 
not aware of any egg being in this country. Eggs of jEpyornis 
may be seen in most of the large museums in the United States, 
the prices ranging from £200 down to £30, this last being much 
less than prices paid for eggs of the great auk. But then, the great 
auk is somewhat of a fad, and there are just enough eggs in 
existence to bring one into the market every little while. Besides, 

^While we do not know the limit of size to a flying creature, none has 
as yet been found whose wings would spread over twenty feet from tip 
to tip, and it is evident that wings larger than this would demand great 
strength for their manipulation. 


the number of eggs of the great auk is a fixed quantity, while no 
one knows how many more of /Epyornis remain to he discovered 
in the swamps of Madagascar. No specimens of the gigantic 
Patagonian birds are now in this country, but a fine example of 
one of the smaller forms, Pelycornis, including the only breast- 
bone yet found, is in the Museum of Princeton University. The 
only skeleton of Diatryma is in the American Museum of Natural 

The largest known tibia of a Moa, the longest bird-bone known, 
is in the collection of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, 
New Zealand; it is 3 feet 3 inches long. This, however, is ex- 
ceptional, the measurements of the leg-bones of an ordinary 
Dinornis maximus being as follows: Femur, 18 inches; tibia, 
32 inches; tarsus, 19 inches, a total of 5 feet 9 inches. The egg 
measures 10% by 6)2 inches. 

There is plenty of literature, and very interesting literature, 
about the Moas, but, unfortunately, the best of it is not always 
accessible, being contained in the "New Zealand Journal of 
Science" and the " Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.'^ 
The volume of " Transactions'' for 1893, being Vol. XXVI, con- 
tains a very full list of articles relating to the Moas, compiled 
by Mr. A. Hamilton; it will be found to commence on page 229. 
There is a good article on Moa in Newton's "Dictionary of 
Birds, " a book that should be in every library. 



"Said the little Eohippus 

I am going to be a horse 
And on my middle finger-nails 
To run my earthly course." 

The American whose ancestors came over in the 
'^ Mayflower" has a proper pride in the length of the 
Une of his descent. The Enghshman whose genealogical 
tree sprang up at the time of William the Conqueror has, 
in its eight centuries of growth, still larger occasion for 
pluming himself on the antiquity of his family. But 
the pedigree of even the latter is a thing of yesterday 
when compared with that of the horse, whose family 
records, according to Professor Osborn, reach backward 
for something like 2,000,000 years. ^ And if, as we have 
been told, '4t is a good thing to have ancestors, but 
sometimes a little hard on the ancestor," in this instance 
at least the founders of the family have every reason to 
regard their descendants with undisguised pride. For 
the horse family started in life in a small way, and the 
first of the line, the Eohippus, was "a little animal no 
bigger than a fox, and on five^ toes he scampered over 
Tertiary rocks," in the age called Eocene, because it was 
the morning of life for the great group of mammals 
whose culminating point was man. At that time, west- 
ern North America was a country of many lakes, for 
the most part comparatively shallow, around the reedy 
margins of which moved a host of animals, quite unlike 

'This is a minimum estimate, made twenty years ago and the time is 
now regarded as vastly longer, even so great as 25,000,000 years. 

^Four, to be exact; but we prefer to sacrifice the foot of Eohippus 
rather than to take liberties with one of the feet of Mrs. Stetson's poem. 




those of to-day, and yet foreshadowing them, the fore- 
runners of the rhinoceros, tapir, and the horse. 

The early horse — we may call him so by courtesy, 
although he was then very far from being a true horse — 
was an insignificant little creature, apparently far less 
likely to succeed in life's race than his bulky competitors, 
and yet, by making the most of their opportunities, 

Skeleton of the Modern Horse and of His Eocene Ancestor. 

his descendants have survived, while most of theirs 
have dropped by the wayside; and finally, by the aid 
of man, the horse has become spread over the length 
and breadth of the habitable globe. 

Now right here it may be asked. How do we know that 
the little Eohippus was the progenitor of the horse, and 
how can it be shown that there is any bond of kinship 


between him and, for example, the great French Per- 
cheron? There is only one way in which we can obtain 
this knowledge, and but one method by which the rela- 
tionship can be shown, and that is by collecting the fossil 
remains of animals long extinct and comparing them 
with the bones of the recent horse, a branch of science 
known as Palaeontology. It has taken a very long time 
to gather the necessary evidence, and it has taken a vast 
amount of hard work in our western Territories, for 
'Hhe country that is as hot as Hades, watered by stag- 
nant alkali pools, is almost invariably the richest in 
fossils." Likewise it has called for the expenditure of 
much time and more patience to put together some of 
this petrified evidence, fragmentary in every sense of 
the word, and get it into such shape that it could be 
handled by the anatomist. Still, the work has been 
done, and, link by link, the chain has been constructed 
that unites the horse of to-day with the horse of very 
many yesterdays. ^ 

^Many years ago in 1876, in his address on the "Demonstrative 
Evidence of Evolution," Huxley said: 

" . . . the general principles of the hypothesis of evolution lead 
to the conclusion that the horse must have been derived from some 
quadruped which possessed five complete digits on each foot; which 
had the bones of the forearm and of the leg complete and separate; 
and which possessed forty-four teeth, among which the crowns of the 
incisors and grinders had a simple structure ; while the latter gradually 
increased in size from before backwards, at any rate in the anterior 
part of the series, and had short crowns. 

And if the horse has been thus evolved, and the remains of the differ- 
ent stages of its evolution have been preserved, they ought to present us 
with a series of forms in which the number of the digits becomes re- 
duced; the bones of the forearm and leg gradually take on the equine 
condition; and the form and arrangement of the teeth successively 
approximate to those which obtain in existing horses. 

Let us turn to the facts and see how far they fulfil these requirements 
of the doctrine of evolution." 


The very first links in this chain are the remains of 
the bronze age and those found among the ruins of the 
ancient Swiss lake dwellings ; but earlier still than these 
are the bones of horses found abundantly in northern 
Europe, Asia, and America. The individual bones and 
teeth of some of these horses are scarcely distinguishable 
from those of to-day, a fact noted in the name, Equus 
fraternus, applied to one species; and when teeth alone 
are found, it is at times practically impossible to say 
whether they belong to a fossil horse or to a modern 
animal. But when enough scattered bones are gathered 
to make a fairly complete skeleton, it becomes evident 
that the fossil horse had a proportionately larger head 
and smaller feet than his existing relative, and that he 
was a little more like an ass or zebra, for the latter, spite 
of his gay coat, is a near relative of the lowly ass. More- 
over, primitive man made sketches of the primitive 
horse, just as he did of the mammoth, and these indicate 
that thq horse of those days was something like an 
overgrown Shetland pony, low and heavily built, large- 
headed and rough-coated. For the old cave-dwellers of 
Europe were intimately acquainted with the prehistoric 
horses, using them for food, as they did almost every 
animal that fell beneath their flint arrows and stone 
axes. And if one may judge from the abundance of 
bones, the horses must have roamed about in bands, 
just as the horses escaped from civilization roam, or 
have roamed, over the pampas of South America and 
the prairies of the West. 

The horse was just as abundant in North America in 
Pleistocene time as in Europe ; but there is no evidence 
to show that it was contemporary with early man in 
North America, and, even were this the case, it is gen- 
erally believed that long before the discovery of America 
the horse had disappeared. And yet, so plentiful and so 


fresh are his remains, and so much like those of the 
mustang, that the late Professor Cope was wont to say 
that it almost seemed as if the horse might have lingered 
in Texas until the coming of the white man. And Sir 
William Flower wrote: ''There is a possibihty of the 
animal having still existed, in a wild state, in some parts 
of the continent remote from that which was first 
visited by the Spaniards, where they were certainly 
unknown. It has been suggested that the horses which 
were found by Cabot in La Plata in 1530 cannot have 
been introduced." 

Still we have not the least little bit of positive proof 
that such was the case, and although the site of many an 
ancient Indian village has been carefully explored, no 
bones of the horse have come to light, or if they have 
been found, bones of the ox or sheep were also present to 
tell that the village was occupied long after the advent 
of the whites. It is also a curious fact that until the dis- 
covery of the Prjevalsky horse in Central Asia, in 1879, 
there was no evidence that truly wild horses had lived 
down to the present time, unless indeed those found on 
the steppes north of the Sea of Azof be wild, and this is 
very doubtful. But long before the dawn of history the 
horse was domesticated in Europe, and Caesar found the 
Germans, and even the old Britons, using war chariots 
drawn by horses — for the first use man seems to have 
made of the horse was to aid him in killing off his fellow- 
man, and not until comparatively modern times was the 
animal employed in the peaceful arts of agriculture. 
The immediate predecessors of these horses were con- 
siderably smaller, being about the size and build of a 
pony, but they were very much like a horse in structure, 
save that the teeth, were shorter. As they lived during 
Pliocene times, they have been named ''Pliohippus." 

The Developmen 




Hind Foot 


le Toe 

■a 4'-^ dibits 

ee To es 

hin^ the tfroiind 

eeTo e5 

de lots 

n| tli( {round; 

I of 5'-di^it 

One Toe 

5plinl5 of 
2»J«nd 4*digil, 

Th ree To es 

5ide loej 

ll touching rhcjnwnd 

Th ree To es 

5ide foes 
■■chinj th« grown 

T hree To es 

Splints of 
I'-'anJ 5 'i' digits 

l^ Crowned, 

W) wilhOMt 



otlietical Ancestors with hive I'oes on Each Foot 
and Teeth like those of Monkeys etc 

The Premolar Teeth 

become more and more 

like true molars 




Going back into the past a step farther, though a 
pretty long step if we reckon by years, we come upon 
a number of animals very much like horses, save for 
certain cranial peculiarities and the fact that they had 
three toes on each foot, while the horse, as every one 
knows, has but one toe. Now, if we glance at the 
skeleton of a horse, we will see on either side of the 
canon-bone, in the same situation as the upper part of 
the little toes of the Merychippus, or Hippotherium, as 
these three-toed horses are called, a long slender bone, 
termed by veterinarians the splint bone; and it re- 
quires no anatomical training to see that the bones in 
the two animals are the same. The horse lacks the 
lower part of his side toes, that is all, just as man will 
very probably some day lack the last bones of his little 
toe. We find an approach to this condition in some of 
the Hippotheres even, known as Protohippus, in which 
the side toes are quite small, foreshadowing the time 
when they shall have disappeared entirely. It may also 
be noted here that the splint bones of the horses of the 
bronze age are a little longer than those of existing 
horses, and that they are never united with the large 
central toe, while nowadays there is something of a 
tendency for the three bones to fuse into one, although 
part of this tendency the writer believes to be due to 
inflammation set up by the strain of the pulling and 
hauling the animal is now called upon to do. Some of 
these three-toed Hippotheres are not in the direct line of 
ancestry of the horse, but are side branches on the 
family tree, having become so highly specialized in 
certain directions that no further progress horseward 
was possible. 

Backward still, and the bones we find in the Miocene 
strata of the West, belonging to those ancestors of the 
horse to which the name of Mesohippus has been given 


because they are midway in time and structure between 
the horse of the past and present, tell us that then all 
horses were small and that all had three toes on a foot, 
while the fore feet bore even the suggestion of a fourth 
toe. From this to our Eocene Eohippus with four 
toes is only another long-time step. We may go even 
beyond this in time and structure, and carry back the 
line of the horse to animals which only remotely re- 
sembled him and had five good toes to a foot; but 
while these contained the possibility of a horse, they 
made no show of it. 

Increase in size and decrease in number of the toes 
were not the only changes that were required to trans- 
form the progeny of the Eohippus into a horse. 
These are the most evident; but the increased com- 
plexity in the structure of the teeth was quite as 
important. The teeth of gnawing animals have often 
been compared to a chisel which is made of a steel plate 
with soft iron backing, and the teeth of a horse, or of 
other grass-eating animals, are simply an elaboration of 
this idea. The hard enamel, which represents the steel, 
is set in soft dentine, which represents the iron, and in 
use the dentine wears away the faster of the two, so that 
the enamel stands up in ridges, each tooth becoming, 
as it is correctly termed, "sl grinder." In a horse the 
plates of enamel form curved, complex, irregular pat- 
terns; but as we go back in time, the patterns become 
less and less elaborate, until in Eohippus, standing at 
the foot of the family tree, the teeth are very simple in 
structure. Moreover, his teeth were of limited growth, 
while those of the horse grow for a considerable time, 
thus compensating for the wear to which they are sub- 

We have, then, this direct evidence as to the 
genealogy of the horse, that between the little Eocene 


Eohippus and the modern horse we can place a series of 
animals by which we can pass by gradual stages from 
one to the other, and that as we come upw ard there is an 
increase in stature, in the complexity of the teeth, and 
in the size of the brain. At the same time, the number 
of toes decreases, which tells that the animals were 
developing more and more speed ; for it is a rule that the 
fewer the toes the faster the animal : the fastest of birds, 
the ostrich, has but two toes, and one of^ these is mostly 
ornamental; and the fastest of mammals, the horse, 
has but one. 

All breeders of fancy stock, particularly of pigeons 
and poultry, recognize the tendency of animals to 
revert to the forms whence they were derived and 
reproduce some character of a distant ancestor; to 
''throw back," as the breeders term it. If now, instead 
of reproducing a trait or feature possessed by some 
ancestor a score, a hundred, or perhaps a thousand years 
ago, there should reappear a characteristic of some 
ancestor that flourished 100,000 years back, we should 
have a seeming abnormality, but really a case of rever- 
sion; and the more we become acquainted with the 
structure of extinct animals and the development of 
those now living, the better able are we to explain these 
apparent abnormalities. 

Bearing in mind that the two splint bones of the 
horse correspond to the upper portions of the side toes of 
Merychippus and Mesohippus, it is easy to see that if 
for any reason these should develop into toes, they 
would make the foot of a modern horse appear like that 
of his distant ancestor. While such a thing rarely 
happens, yet now and then nature apparently does 
attempt to reproduce a horse's foot after the ancient 
pattern, for occasionally we meet with a horse having, 
instead of the single toe with which the average horse is 


satisfied, one or possibly two extra toes. Sometimes the 
toe is extra in every sense of the word, being a mere 
duphcation of the central toe; but sometimes it is an 
actual development of one of the splint bones. No less 
a personage than Julius Caesar possessed one of these 
polydactyl horses, and the reporters of the Daily Roman 
and the Tiherian Gazette doubtless wrote it up in good 
journalistic Latin, for we find the horse described as 
having feet that were almost human, and as being 
looked upon with great awe. While this is the most 
celebrated of extra-toed horses, other and more plebeian 
individuals have been much more widely known through 
having been exhibited throughout the country under 
such titles as ^^ Clique, the horse with six feet," ''the 
eight-footed Cuban horse," and so on; and possibly 
some of these are familiar to readers of this page. 

So the collateral evidence, though scanty, bears out 
the circumstantial proof, derived from fossil bones, 
that the horse has developed from a many-toed an- 
cestor; and the evidence points toward the little Eohip- 
pus as being that ancestor. It remains only to show 
some good reason why this development should have 
taken place, or to indicate the forces by which it was 
brought about. We have heard much about ''the sur- 
vival of the fittest," a phrase which simply means that 
those animals best adapted to their surroundings will 
survive, while those ill adapted will perish. But it 
should be added that it means also that the animals 
must be able to adapt themselves to changes in their 
environment, or to change with it. Living beings can- 
not stand still indefinitely; they must progress or perish. 
And this seems to have been the cause for the extinction 
of the huge quadrupeds that flourished at the time of the 
three-toed Miocene horse. They were adapted to their 
environment as it was ; but when the western mountains 


were thrust upward, cutting off the moist winds from 
the Pacific, making great changes in the rainfall and 
climate to the eastward of the Rocky Mountains, these 
big beasts, slow of foot and dull of brain, could not keep 
pace with the change, and their race vanished from the 
face of the earth. The day of the little Eohippus was 
at the beginning of the great series of changes by which 
the lake country of the West, with its marshy flats and 
rank vegetation, became transformed into dry uplands 
sparsely clad with fine grasses. On these dry plains the 
advantage in the struggle for existence; and while the 
four-toed foot would keep its owner from sinking in 
soft ground, he was handicapped when it became a 
question of speed, for not only is a fleet animal better 
able to flee from danger than his slower fellows, but in 
time of drouth he can cover the greater extent of terri- 
tory in search of food or water. So, too, as the rank 
rushes gave place to fine grasses, often browned and 
withered beneath the summer's sun, the complex tooth 
had an advantage over that of simpler structure, while 
the cutting-teeth, so completely developed in the horse 
family, enabled their possessors to crop the grass as 
closely as one could do it with scissors. Likewise, up to 
a certain point, the largest, most powerful animal will 
not only conquer, or escape from, his enemies, but pre- 
vail over rivals of his own kind as well, and thus it came 
to pass that those early members of the horse family 
who were preeminent in speed and stature, and harmon- 
ized best with their surroundings, outstripped their 
fellows and transmitted these qualities to their progeny, 
until, as a result of long ages of natural selection, there 
was developed the modern horse. The rest man has 
done: the heavy, slow-paced dray horse, the fleet 
trotter, the huge Percheron, and the diminutive pony 
are one and all the recent products of artificial selection. 




The best collection of fossil horses, and one specially arranged 
to illustrate the line of descent of the modern horse, is to he found 
in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, 
hut some good specimens, of particular interest hecause they were 
described hy Professor Marsh and studied hy Huxley are in the 
Yale University Museum. They are referred to in Huxley's 
"American Addresses; Lectures on Evolution. " 

" The Horse,'' hy Sir W. H. Flower, discusses the horse in a 
popular manner from various points of view and contains 
numerous references to hooks and articles on the subject from 
which anyone wishing for further information could obtain it, 
hut best of all is our own Guide Leaflet No. 36, hy W. D. Matthew 
and S. H. Chubb on the Evolution of the Horse in Nature and 
under Domestication. 


"The little Eohippus no bigger than a Fox." 
In the American Museum of Natural History 

The Beresovka Mammoth 
Partially uncovered. Note the attitude of the animal as if endeavoring 
to climb out of a pit, and in the background the imdercut, overhanging bank. 



'^His legs were as thick as the bole of the beech, 
His tusks as the buttonwood white, 
While his lithe trunk wound like a sapling around 
An oak in the whirlwind's might." 

In the October number of McClure's Magazine for 1899 was published a 
short story, "The Killing of the Mammoth," by "H. Tukeman," which, 
to the amazement of the editors, was taken by many readers not as fiction, 
but as a contribution to natural history. Immediately after the appear- 
ance of that number of the magazine, the authorities of the Smithsonian In- 
stitution, in which the author had located the remains of the beast of his 
fancy, were beset with visitors to see the stuffed mammoth, and the daily mail 
of the Magazine, as well as that of the Smithsonian Institution, was filled 
with inquiries for more information and for requests to settle wagers as to 
whether it was a true story or not. The contribution in question was printed 
purely as fiction, with no idea of misleading the public, and was entitled 
a story in the table of contents. We doubt if any writer of realistic fiction 
ever had a more general and convincing proof of success. 

About three centuries ago, in 1696, a Russian, one 
Ludloff by name, described some bones belonging to 
what the Tartars called ^^Mamantu"; later on, 
Blumenbach pressed the common name into scientific 
use as ^'Mammut," and Cuvier gallicized this into 
''Mammouth," whence by an easy transition we get 
our familiar mammoth. We are so accustomed to use 
the word to describe anything of remarkable size that 
it would be only natural to suppose that the name Mam- 
moth was given to the extinct elephant because of its 
extraordinary bulk. Exactly the reverse of this is true, 
however, for the word came to have its present meaning 
because the original possessor of the name was a huge 
animal. The Siberian peasants called the creature 
^^Mamantu," or '' ground-dweller, '^ because they be- 
lieved it to be a gigantic mole, passing its life beneath 




the ground and perishing when by any accident it saw 
the light. The reasoning that led to this belief was very 
simple and the logic very good ; no one had ever seen a 
live Mamantu, but there were plenty of its bones lying 
at or near the surface; consequently if the animal did 
not live above the ground, it must dwell below. 


The Mammoth 

by Charles R. Knight 

To-day, nearly every one knows that the mammoth 
was a sort of big, hairy elephant, now extinct, and nearly 
every one has a general idea that it lived in the North. 
There is some uncertainty as to whether the mammoth 
was a mastodon, or the mastodon a mammoth, and there 
is a great deal of misconception as to the size and 
abundance of this big beast. It may be said in passing 
that the mastodon is only a second or third cousin of 


the mammoth, but that the existing elephant of Asia is 
a very near relative, certainly as near as a first cousin, 
possibly a very great grandson. Popularly, the mam- 
moth is supposed to have been a colossus somewhere 
from twelve to twenty feet in height, beside whom mod- 
ern elephants would seem insignificant; but as ''trout 
lose much in dressing," so mammoths shrink in measur- 
ing, and while there were doubtless Jumbos among them 
in the way of individuals of exceptional magnitude, the 
majority were decidedly under Jumbo's size, averaging 
no larger in fact than a good-sized Indian Elephant, or 
from nine to ten feet high. Our own mammoth from 
Indiana stands as mounted, ten feet six inches 
at the shoulders, but the restored leg bones are 
admittedly too long. This apphes to the mammoth 
par excellence, the species known scientifically as Elephas 
primigenius, whose remains are found in many parts of 
the Northern Hemisphere and occur abundantly in 
Siberia and Alaska. There were other elephants than 
the mammoth, and some that exceeded him in size, 
notably Elephas antiquus of southern Europe, and 
Elephas imperator of our Southern and Western States, 
but even the largest cannot positively be asserted to 
have exceeded a height of thirteen feet. Tusks offer 
convenient terms of comparison, and those of an aver- 
age fully grown mammoth are from eight to ten feet in 
length; those of the famous St. Petersburg specimen 
measuring nine feet three inches. So far as the writer is 
aware, the largest tusks actually measured are two from 
Alaska, one twelve feet ten inches long, weighing 190 
pounds, reported by Mr. Jay Beach; and another 
eleven feet long, weighing 200 pounds, noted by Mr. 
T. L. Brevig. Compared with these we have the big 
tusk that used to stand on Fulton Street, New York, 
just an inch under nine feet long, and weighing 184 


pounds, or the largest shown at Chicago in 1893, which 
was seven feet six inches long, and weighed 176 pounds. 
The largest, most beautiful tusks, probably, ever seen 
in this country were a pair brought from Zanzibar and 
displayed by Messrs. Tiffany & Company in 1900. The 
measurements and weights of these were as follows: 
length along outer curve, ten feet and three-fourths of 
an inch, circumference one foot, eleven inches, weight, 
224 pounds; length along outer curve, ten feet, three 
and one-half inches, circumference two feet and one- 
fourth of an inch, weight, 239 pounds. As regards size 
of tusks it is to be borne in mind that in the good old 
days animals lived out their alloted lives and that in the 
case of the mammoth his tusks had a chance to reach 
their full growth, while now-a-days few elephants with 
large tusks are allowed to reach their maximum growth. 
For our knowledge of the external appearance of the 
mammoth we are indebted to the more or less entire 
examples which have been found at various times in 
Siberia, but mainly to the noted specimen found in 1799 
near the Lena, embedded in the ice, where it had been 
reposing, so geologists tell us, anywhere from 10,000 
to 50,000 years. How the creature gradually thaw^ed 
out of its icy tomb, and the tusks were taken by the dis- 
coverer and sold for ivory; how the dogs fed upon the 
flesh in summer, while bears and wolves feasted upon it 
in winter; how the animal was within an ace of being 
utterly lost to science when, at the last moment, the 
mutilated remains were rescued by Mr. Adams, is an 
old story, often told and retold. Suffice it to say that, 
besides the bones, enough of the beast was preserved 
to tell us exactly what was the covering of this ancient 
elephant, and to show that it was a creature adapted to 
withstand the northern cold and fitted for living on the 
branches of the birch and hemlock. 


The exact birthplace of the mammoth is as uncertain 
as that of many other great characters ; but his earhest 
known resting-place is in the Cromer Forest Beds of 
England, a country inhabited by him at a time when the 
German Ocean was dry land and Great Britain part of 
a peninsula. Here his remains are found today, while 
from the depths of the North Sea the hardy trawlers 
have dredged hundreds, aye thousands, of mammoth 
teeth in company with soles and turbot. If, then, the 
mammoth originated in western Europe, and not in that 
great graveyard of fossil elephants, northern India, east- 
ward he went spreading over all Europe north of the 
Pyrenees and Alps, save only Scandinavia, whose 
glaciers offered no attractions, scattering his bones 
abundantly by the wayside to serve as marvels for 
future ages. Strange indeed have been some of the 
tales to which these and other elephantine remains 
have given rise when they came to light in the good old 
days when knowledge of anatomy was small and 
credulity was great. The least absurd theory concern- 
ing them was that they were the bones of the elephants 
which Hannibal brought from Africa. Occasionally 
they were brought forward as irrefutable evidences of 
the deluge; but usually they figured as the bones of 
giants, the most famous of them being known as Teuto- 
bochus. King of the Cimbri, a lusty warrior said to have 
had a height of nineteen feet. Somewhat smaller, but 
still of respectable height, fourteen feet, was "Littell 
Johne" of Scotland, whereof Hector Boece wrote, con- 
cluding, in a moralizing tone, ''Be quilk (which) it 
appears how extravegant and squaire pepill grew in 
oure regioun afore they were effeminat with lust and 
intemperance of mouth." More than this, these bones 
have been venerated in Greece and Rome as the remains 
of pagan heroes, and later on worshipped as relics of 


Christian saints. Did not the church of Valencia 
possess an elephant tooth which did duty as that of St. 
Christopher, and, so late as 1789, was not a thigh-bone, 
figuring as the arm-bone of a saint, carried in proces- 
sion through the streets in order to bring rain? 

Out of Europe eastward into Asia the mammoth 
took his way, and having peopled that vast region, took 
advantage of a land connection then existing between 
Asia and North America and walked over into Alaska, 
in company with the forerunners of the bison and the 
ancestors of the mountain sheep and Alaskan brown 
bear. Still eastward and southward he w^ent, until he 
came to the Atlantic coast, the latitude of southern 
New York roughly marking the southern boundary of 
the broad domain over which the mammoth roamed 
undisturbed. 1 Not that of necessity all this vast area 
was occupied at one time ; but this was the range of the 
mammoth during Pleistocene time, for over all this 
region his bones and teeth are found in greater or less 
abundance and in varying conditions of preservation. 
In regions like parts of Siberia and Alaska, where the 
bones are entombed in a wet and cold, often icy, soil, 
the bones and tusks are almost as perfectly preserved 
as though they had been deposited but a score of years 
ago, while remains so situated that they have been sub- 
jected to varying conditions of dryness and moisture are 
always in a fragmentary state. Many bones of the 
mammoth and some fine skulls have been unearthed 
during the extensive mining operations of the past 
twenty-five years, but owing to cost of transportation, 
lack of communications and distances to be traversed 

'This must be taken as a very general statement, as the distinction 
between and habitats of Elephas primigenius and Elephas columhi, the 
southern mammoth, are not satisfactorily determined; moreover, the 
two species overlap through a wide area of the West and Northwest. 


it has not been possible for any scientific institution to 
avail itself of any of these discoveries so much valuable 
material has been lost to science. As previously noted, 
several more or less entire carcasses of the mammoth 
have been discovered in Siberia, only to be lost; and, 
while no entire animal has so far been found in Alaska, 
some day one may yet come to light. That there is 
some possibility of this is shown by the discovery, 
recorded by Mr. Dall, of the partial skeleton of a mam- 
moth in the bank of the Yukon with some of the fat still 
present, and although this had been partially converted 
into adipocere, it was fresh enough to be used by the 
natives for greasing, not their boots, but their boats. 
Quite recently Judge Worcester reports the finding of a 
specimen on which much of the flesh was present and 
large quantities of the hair and wool. And up to the 
present time this is the nearest approach to finding a 
live mammoth in Alaska. 

As to why the mammoth became extinct, we know 
absolutely nothing, although various theories, some 
much more ingenious than plausible, have been ad- 
vanced to account for their extermination — they 
perished of starvation; they were overtaken by floods 
on their supposed migrations and drowned in detach- 
ments; they fell through the ice, equally in detachments, 
and were swept out to sea. But all we can safely say is 
that long ages ago the last one perished off the face of 
the earth. Strange it is, too, that these mighty beasts, 
whose bulk was ample to protect them against four- 
footed foes, and whose woolly coat was proof against 
the cold, should have utterly vanished. 

A most ingenious and rather plausible theory has re- 
cently been advanced by M. Neuville that this was due 
to the lack of oil glands which were absent in the mam- 
moth as well as in existing elephants : thus there was no 


oily secretion to repel water and when exposed to rain 
or melting snow the wool became water-soaked, ofttimes 
frozen, so that after all the mammoth perished from 
cold. This sounds well, but fails to account for the dis- 
appearance of such southern species as the Imperial 
and Columbian mammoths which went the way of 
their northern relative. 

Mammoths ranged from England eastward to New 
York, almost around the world; from the Alps to the 
Arctic Ocean; and in such numbers that to-day their 
tusks are articles of commerce, and fossil ivory has its 
price current as well as wheat. Mr. Boyd Dawkins 
thinks that the mammoth was actually exterminated 
by early man, but, even granting that this might be 
true for southern and western Europe, it could not be 
true of the herds that inhabited the wastes of Siberia, 
or of the thousands that flourished in Alaska and 
the western United States. So far as man is concerned, 
the mammoth might still be living in these localities, 
where, before the discovery of gold drew thousands 
of miners to Alaska, there were great stretches of 
wilderness wholly untrodden by the foot of man. 
Neither could this theory account for the disappearance 
of the mastodon from North America, where that 
animal covered so vast a stretch of territory that man, 
unaided by nature, could have made little impression 
on its numbers. That many were swept out to sea by 
the flooded rivers of Siberia is certain, for some of the 
low islands off the coast are said to be formed of sand, 
ice, and bones of the mammoth, and thence, for hun- 
dreds of years, have come the tusks which are sold in the 
market beside those of the African and Indian elephants. 
That man was contemporary with the mammoth in 
southern Europe is fairly certain, for not only are the 
remains of the mammoth and man's flint weapons found 


together, but in few instances some primeval Landseer 
graved on slate, ivory, or reindeer antler a sketchy out- 
line of the beast, somewhat impressionistic perhaps, but 
still, like the work of a true artist, preserving the salient 
features. We see the curved tusks, the snaky trunk, 
and the shaggy coat that we know belonged to the mam- 
moth, and we may feel assured that if early man did not 
conquer the clumsy creature with fire and flint, he yet 
gazed upon him from the safe vantage point of some 
lofty tree or inaccessible rock, and then went home to 
tell his wife and neighbors how the animal escaped be- 
cause his bow missed fire. Later the artists of the Cro- 
Magnon race depicted him time and again, singly and 
in herds, on the walls of the caves of southern France 
and Spain so that we have a pretty clear idea of the 
animal, how he resembled and how he differed from his 
nearest relative, the Asiatic Elephant, and with this 
knowledge, plus the skill of the trained modern artist, 
Mr. Knight has portrayed him on the walls of the Hall 
of the Age of Man. That man and mammoth lived 
together in North America is uncertain; so far there is 
no evidence to show that they did, although the absence 
of such evidence is no proof that they did not. That 
any live mammoth has for centuries been seen on the 
Alaskan tundras is utterly improbable, and on Mr. C. 
H. Townsend seems to rest the responsibility of having, 
though quite unintentionally, introduced the Alaskan 
Live Mammoth into the columns of the daily press. It 
befell in this wise: Among the varied duties of our 
revenue marine is that of patrolling and exploring the 
shores of arctic Alaska and the waters of the adjoining 
sea, and it is not so many years ago that the cutter 
Corwin, if memory serves aright, held the record of 
farthest north on the Pacific side. On one of these 
northern trips, to the Kotzebue Sound region, famous 


for the abundance of its deposits of mammoth bones, ^ 
the Corwin carried Mr. Townsend, then naturahst to 
the United States Fish Commission. At Cape Prince of 
Wales some natives came on board bringing a few bones 
and tusks of the mammoth, and upon being questioned 
as to whether or not any of the animals to which they 
pertained were living, promptly replied that all were 
dead, inquiring in turn if the white men had ever seen 
any, and if they knew how these animals, so vastly 
larger than a reindeer, looked. 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, there was on board a 
text-book of geology containing the well-known cut of 
the St. Petersburg mammoth, and this was brought 
forth, greatly to the edification of the natives, who were 
delighted at recognizing the curved tusks and the bones 
they knew so well. Next the natives wished to know 
what the outside of the creature looked like, and as Mr. 
Townsend had been at Ward's establishment in Roches- 
ter when the first copy of the Stuttgart restoration was 
made, he rose to the emergency, and made a sketch. 
This was taken ashore, together with a copy of the cut 
of the skeleton that was laboriously made by an Innuit 
sprawled out at full length on the deck. Now the 
Innuits, as Mr. Townsend tells us, are great gadabouts, 
making long sledge journeys in winter and equally 
long trips by boat in summer, while each season they 
hold a regular fair on Kotzebue Sound, where a thou- 
sand or two natives gather to barter and gossip. On 
these journeys and at these gatherings the sketches were 
no doubt passed about, copied, and recopied, until a 
large number of Innuits had become well acquainted 
w4th the appearance of the mammoth, a knowledge that 

^Elephant Point, at the mouth of the Buckland River, is so named 
from the numbers of mammoth bones which have accumulated there. 


naturally they were well pleased to display to any white 
visitors. Also, like the Celt, the Alaskan native delights 
to give a "soft answer, '^ and is always ready to furnish 
the kind of information desired. Thus in due time the 
newspaper man learned that the Alaskans could make 
pictures of the mammoth, and that they had some 
knowledge of its size and habits; so with inference and 
logic quite as good as that of the Tungusian peasant, 
the reporter came to the conclusion that somewhere in 
the frozen wilderness the last survivor of the mammoths 
must still be at large. And so, starting on the Pacific 
coast, the Live Mammoth story wandered from paper 
to paper, until it had spread throughout the length and 
breadth of the United States, when it was captured by 
Mr. Tukeman, who with much artistic color and some 
realistic touches, transferred it to McCIure's Magazine, 
and — unfortunately for the officials thereof — to the 
Smithsonian Institution. 

And now, once for all, it may be said that there is no 
mounted mammoth to awe the visitor to the national 
collections, and with the exception of the largely re- 
stored specimen in St. Petersburg there is none else- 
where. And yet there seems no good and conclusive 
reason why there should not be : true, there are no live 
mammoths to be had at any price ; neither are their car- 
casses to be had on demand ; still there is good reason to 
believe that a much smaller sum than that said to have 
been paid by Mr. Conradi for the mammoth which is 
not in the Smithsonian Institution, would place one 
there. It probably could not be done in one year; it 
might not be possible in five years; but should any man 
of means wish to secure enduring fame by showing the 
world the mammoth as it stood in life, a hundred cen- 
turies ago, before the dawn of even tradition, he could 
probably accomplish the result by the expenditure of a 


far less sum than it would cost to participate in an inter- 
national yacht race. 

In the first edition of this book, just after the 
above lines were written it was noted that another well 
preserved example of the animal had been discovered in 
Siberia and that an expedition was on the way to secure 
it. It is painful to record that this expedition was only 
partially successful. It naturally took time for the 
report of the discovery to travel from Siberia to St. 
Petersburg and for the dispatch of the party to secure it, 
so that while the body was discovered in 1900, the work 
of exhumation did not begin until September, 1901. 

Then too the official who was to have seen that the 
body was covered during the winter in order to preserve 
it from the attacks of wolves, was taken ill, so that the 
carcass was left exposed. The result was that much of 
the animal that might otherwise have been saved was 
lost by decay and the attacks of wild animals, though 
enough was left to add materially to our knowledge of 
the animal and to permit of its restoration. 

This find threw much light on the problem of how the 
Mammoths came to be imbedded in ice or frozen soil, 
since the theory that this was due to some cataclysm 
that caused an almost instantaneous change in climate 
was long ago abandoned. Briefly, it is supposed to have 
been brought about by the giving away of the earth, 
precipitating the mammoth into a big crevasse formed 
by the sliding away of the bank, undercut by the river 
in flood. Some of the bones were broken, as if by a fall, 
and the attitude of the animal indicated that it had 
made desperate efforts to extricate itself from the trap 
into which it had fallen and in this attitude the re- 
stored animal has been mounted in the museum in 
St. Petersburg. 1 

^A full account of this find is given in the Report of the Smithsonian 
% Institution for 1903. 



The mounted skeleton of the mammoth in the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History is the only one on exhibition in the 
United States, although almost every museum has teeth or odd 
bones of the animal. Remains of the mammoth are common 
enough but, save in Alaska, they are usually in a poor state of 
preservation or consist of isolated bones or teeth. A great many 
more or less complete skeletons of mammoth and some fine skulls 
have been found by gold miners in Alaska, and with proper care 
some of these could undoubtedly have been secured. Naturally, 
however, the miners do not feel like taking the time and trouble 
to exhume bones whose value is uncertain, while the cost of 
transportation precludes the bringing out of many specimens. 

Some reports of mammoths have been based on the bones of 
whales, including a skull that was figured in the daily papers. 

The tusk obtained by Mr. Beach and mentioned in the text 
still holds the record for mammoth tusks. The greatest develop- 
ment of tusks occurred in Elephas ganesa, a species found in 
Pliocene deposits of the Siwalik Hills, India. This species 
appears not to have exceeded the existing elephant in bulk, but 
the tusks are twelve feet nine inches long, and two feet two inches 
in circumference. How the animal ever carried them is a 
mystery, both on account of their size and their enormous leverage. 
The persistence of error is well shown by the many restorations 
of Mammoth and Mastodon in which the tusks are represented 
as curving outwards. This probably came about through the 
transposition of the tusks in the St. Petersburg specimen and 
this in turn was not unlikely due to the fact that the mounter 
thought that they ought to be different from those of existing 
elephants. The error was perpetuated in the restorations in the 
first edition of "Animals of the Past,^' though shortly after the 
publication of the book Mr. Knight's suspicions were aroused 
and these soon became certainties that the tusks were transposed. 
As for teeth, an upper grinder of Elephas columbi in the United 
States National Museum is ten and one-half inches high, nine 
inches wide, the grinding face being eight by five inches. This 
tooth, which is unusually perfect, retaining the outer covering of 
cement, came from Afton, Indian Territory, and weighs a little 
over fifteen pounds. The lower tooth, shown in Fig. 38, is twelve 
inches long, and the grinding face is nine by three and one-half 
inches; this is also from Elephas columbi. Grinders of the 



Northern Mammoth are smaller, and the plates of enamel thinner, 
and closer to one another. Mr. F. E. Andrews, of Gunsight, 
Texas, reports having found a femur, or thigh-hone five feet four 
inches long, and a humerus measuring four feet three inches, 
probably from the Imperial Mammoth, these being the largest 
bones on record indicating an animal fourteen feet high. 

There is a vast amount of literature relating to the mammoth, 
some of it very untrustioorthy . A list of all discoveries of speci- 
mens in the flesh is given by Nordenskiold in " The Voyage of 
the Vega," and " The Mammoth and the Flood," by Sir Henry 
Howorth, is a mine of information. Mr. Townsend's "Alaska 
Live-Mammoth Story" may be found in "Forest and Stream" 
for August U, 1897. 

The Mammoth as Engraved by a Primitive Artist 
on a Piece of Mammoth Tusk. 



" ... who shall place 
A limit to the giant's unchained strength?" 

The name mastodon is given to a number of species 
of fossil elephants differing from the true elephants, of 
which the mammoth is an example, in the structure of 
the teeth. In the mastodons the crown, or grinding face 
of the tooth, is formed by more or less regular A-shaped 
cross ridges, covered with enamel, while in the elephants 
the enamel takes the form of narrow, pocket-shaped 
plates, set upright in the body of the tooth. More- 
over, in the mastodons the roots of the teeth are long 
prongs, while in the elephants the roots are small and 
irregular. A glance at the cuts will show these distinc- 
tions better than they can be explained by words. Back 
in the past, however, we meet, as we should if there is 
any truth in the theory of evolution, with elephants 
having an intermediate pattern of teeth. 

There is usually, or at least often, another point of 
difference between elephants and mastodons, for many 
of the latter not only had tusks in the upper, but in the 
lower jaw, and these are never found in any of the true 
elephants. The lower tusks are longer and larger in the 
earlier species of mastodon than in those of more recent 
age and in the latest species, the common American 
mastodon, the little lower tusks were usually shed early 
in life. These afford some hints of the relationships of 
the mastodon; for in Europe are found remains of a 
huge beast well called Dinotherium, or terrible animal, 
which possessed lower tusks only, and these, instead of 
sticking out from the jaw are bent directly downwards. 
No perfect skull of this creature has yet been found, but 




it is believed to have had a short trunk. For a long time 
nothing but the skull was known, and some naturalists 
thought the animal to have been a gigantic manatee, or 
sea cow, and that the tusks were used for tearing food 
from the bottom of rivers and for anchoring the animal 
to the bank, just as the walrus uses his tusks for digging 
clams and climbing out upon the ice. In the first 
restorations of Dinotherium it is represented lying 
amidst reeds, the feet concealed from view, the head 
alone visible, but now it is pictured as standing erect, 
for the discovery of massive leg-bones has definitely 
settled the question as to whether it did or did not have 

Tooth of Mastodon and Mammoth 

There is another hint of relationship in the upper 
tusks of the earlier mastodons, and this is the presence 
of a band of enamel running down each tusk. In all 
gnawing animals the front, cutting teeth are formed of 
soft dentine, or ivory, faced with a plate of enamel, just 
as the blade of a chisel or plane is formed of a plate of 
tempered steel backed with soft iron; the object of this 
being the same in both tooth and chisel, to keep the 
edge sharp by wearing away the softer material. In 
the case of the chisel this is done by a man with a grind- 
stone, but with the tooth it is performed automatically 
and more pleasantly by the gnawing of food. In the 


mastodon and elephant the tusks, which are the repre- 
sentatives of the cutting teeth of rodents, are wide 
apart, and of course do not gnaw anything, but the pres- 
ence of these enamel bands hints at a time when they 
and their owner were smaller and differently shaped, 
and the teeth were used for cutting. Thus, great though 
the disparity of size may be, there is a suggestion that 
through the mastodon the elephant is distantly related 
to the mouse, and that, could we trace their respective 
pedigrees far enough, we might find a common ancestor. 

This presence of structures that are apparently of no 
use, often worse than useless, is regarded as the survival 
of characters that once served some good purpose, like 
the familiar buttons on the sleeve or at the back of a 
man's coat, or the bows and ruffles on a woman's dress. 
We are told that these are put on 'Ho make the dress 
look pretty," but the student regards the bows as 
vestiges of the time when there were no buttons and 
hooks and eyes had not been invented, and dresses were 
tied together with strings or ribbons. As for ruffles, 
they took the place of flounces, and flounces are vestiges 
of the time when a young woman wore the greater part 
of her wardrobe on her back, putting on one dress above 
another, the bottoms of the skirts showing like so many 
flounces. So buttons, ruffles, and the vermiform appen- 
dix of which we hear so much all fall in the category of 
vestigial structures. 

Where the mastodons originated, we know not: 
Sefior Ameghino thinks their ancestors are to be found 
in Patagonia, and he is very probably wrong; Professor 
Cope thought they came from Asia, and he is probably 
right; or they may have immigrated from the conven- 
ient Antarctica, which is called up to account for vari- 
ous facts in the distribution of animals. Neither do we 
at present know just how many species of mastodons 


there may have been in the Western Hemisphere, for 
most of them are known from scattered teeth, single 
jaws, and odd bones, so that we cannot tell just what 
differences may be due to sex or individual variation.^ 
It is certain, however, that several distinct kinds, or 
species, have inhabited various parts of North America, 
while remains of others occur in South America. The 
mastodon, however, the one most recent in point of 
time, and the best know^n because its remains are scat- 
tered far and wide over pretty much the length and 
breadth of the United States, and are found also in 
southern and western Canada, is that on w^hich the law 
of priority seems to have inflicted the inappropriate 
name of Mammut americanum though dissenters who 
feel that it is better to be true than to be consistent still 
cling to Mastodon americanus, and unless otherwise 
specified this alone will be meant when the name 
mastodon is used. In some localities the mastodon 
seems to have abounded, but between the Hudson and 
Connecticut Rivers indications of its former presence are 
rare, and east of that they are practically wanting. The 
best preserved specimens come from Ulster and Orange 
Counties, New York, for these seem to have furnished 
the animal with the best facilities for getting mired. 
Just west of the Catskills, parallel with the valley of the 
Hudson, is a series of meadows, bogs, and pools marking 
the sites of swamps that came into existence after the 
recession of the mighty ice-sheet that long covered 
eastern North America, and in these many a mastodon, 
seeking for food or water, or merely wallowing in the 
mud, stuck fast and perished miserably. And here to- 

'Note: At the present writing Professor Osborn is engaged in the 
task of examining all types and available specimens of Mastodons and 
Mammoths with a view to determining just how many species there 
are and what are their inter-relationships and lines of descent. 


day the spade of the farmer as he sinks a ditch to drain 
what is left of some beaver pond of bygone days, strikes 
some bone as brown and rugged as a root, so Uke a 
piece of water-soaked wood that nine times out of ten 
it is taken for a fragment of tree-trunk. 

The first notice of the mastodon in North America 
goes back to 1712, and is found in a letter from Cotton 
Mather to Dr. Woodward (of England?) written at 
Boston on November 17th, in which he speaks of a large 
work in manuscript entitled Bihlia Americana, and 
gives as a sample a note on the passage in Genesis (VI. 
4) in which we read that ''there were giants in the earth 
in those days." We are told that this is confirmed by 
''the bones and teeth of some large animal found lately 
in Albany, in New England, which for some reason he 
thinks to be human; particularly a tooth brought from 
the place where it was found to New York in 1705, being 
a very large grinder, weighing four pounds and three 
quarters; with a bone supposed to be a thigh-bone, 
seventeen feet long," the total length of the body being 
taken as seventy-five feet. Thus bones of the mastodon, 
as well as those of the mammoth, have done duty as 
those of giants. 

And as the first mastodon remains recorded from 
North America came from the region west of the 
Hudson, so the first fairly complete skeleton also came 
from that locality, secured at a very considerable out- 
lay of money and a still more considerable expenditure 
of labor by the exertions of C. W. Peale. This specimen 
was described at some length by Rembrandt Peale in a 
privately printed pamphlet, now unfortunately rare, 
and described in some respects better than has been 
done by any subsequent writer, since the points of differ- 
ence between various parts of the mastodon and ele- 
phant were clearly pointed out. This skeleton was ex- 


hibited in London, and afterwards at Peale's Museum in 
Philadelphia where, with much other valuable material, 
it was destroyed by fire. 

Struck by the evident crushing power of the great 
ridged molars, Peale was led to believe that the. 
mastodon was a creature of carnivorous habits, and so 
described it, but this error is excusable, the more that 
to this day, when the mastodon is well known, and its 
description published time and again in the daily papers, 
finders of the teeth often consider them as belonging to 
some huge beast of prey. 

Since the time of Peale several fine specimens have 
been taken from Ulster and Orange Counties, among 
them the well-known ''Warren Mastodon,'' and there is 
not the slightest doubt that many more will be recov- 
ered from the meadows, swamps, and pond holes of 
these two counties. 

The next mastodon to appear on the scene was the 
so-called Missourium of Albert Koch, which he con- 
structed somewhat as he did the Hydrarchus of several 
individuals pieced together, thus forming a skeleton 
that was a monster in more ways than one. To heighten 
the effect, the curved tusks were so placed that they 
stood out at right angles to the sides of the head, like the 
swords upon the axles of ancient war chariots. Like 
Peale's specimen this was exhibited in London, and 
there it still remains, for, stripped of its superfluous 
bones, and remounted, it may now be seen in the British 

Many a mastodon has come to light since the time of 
Koch, for while it is commonly supposed that remains 
of the animal are great rarities, as a matter of fact they 
are quite common, and it may safely be said that during 
the seasons of ditching, draining, and well-digging not a 
week passes without one or more mastodons being un- 


earthed. Not that these are complete skeletons, very 
far from it, the majority of finds are scattered teeth, 
crumbling tusks, or massive leg-bones, but still the 
mastodon is far commoner in the museums of this 
country than is the African elephant, for at the present 
date there are a dozen or more of the former to two of 
the latter, the skeleton of Jumbo in the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History and a female in the United 
States National Museum. If one may judge by the 
abundance of bones, mastodons must have been very 
numerous in some favored localities such as parts of 
Michigan, Florida, and Missouri and about Big Bone 
Lick, Ky. Perhaps the most noteworthy of all deposits 
is that at Kimmswick, about twenty miles south of St. 
Louis, where in a limited area Mr. L. W. Beehler ex- 
humed bones representing several hundred individuals, 
varying in size from a mere baby mastodon up to the 
great tusker whose wornout teeth proclaim that he had 
reached the limit of even mastodonic old age. The spot 
where this remarkable deposit was found is at the foot of 
a bluff near the junction of two little streams, and it 
seems probable that in the days when these were larger 
the spring floods swept down the bodies of animals that 
had perished during the winter to ground in an eddy 
beneath the bluff. Or as the place abounds in springs 
of sulphur and salt water it may be that this was where 
the animals assembled during cold weather, just as the 
moas are believed to have gathered in the swamps of 
New Zealand, and here the weaker died and left their 

The mastodon must have looked very much like any 
other elephant, though a little shorter in the legs and 
much more heavily built than either of the living species, 
while the head was a trifle flatter and the jaw decidedly 
longer. The tusks are a variable quantity, sometimes 





merely bowing inwards, occasionally curving upwards to 
form a half circle ; they were never so long as the largest 
mammoth tusks, but to make up for this they were a 
shade stouter for their length. As the mastodon ranged 
well to the north it is fair to suppose that he may have 
been covered with long hair, a supposition that seems to 
be borne out by the discovery, noted by Rembrandt 
Peale, of a mass of long, coarse, woolly hair buried in one 
of the swamps of Ulster County, New York. 

As for the size of the mastodon, this, like that of the 
mammoth, is popularly much overestimated, and it is 
more than doubtful if any attained the height of a full- 
grown Asiatic elephant. The largest femur, or thigh- 
bone, that has come under the writer's notice was one he 
measured as it lay in the earth at Kimmswick, and this 
was just four feet long, three inches shorter than the 
thigh-bone of Jumbo. Several of the largest thigh- 
bones measured show so striking an unanimity in size, 
between 46 and 47 inches in length, that we may be 
pretty sure they represent the average old ''bull" 
mastodon, and if we say that these animals stood ten 
feet high we are probably doing them full justice. An 
occasional tusk reaches a length of nine feet, but seven 
or eight is the usual size, with a diameter of as many 
inches, and this is no larger than the tusks of the African 
elephant would grow if they had a chance. It is painful 
to be obliged to scale down the mastodon as we have 
just done the mammoth, but if any reader knows of 
specimens larger than those noted, he should by all 
means publish their measurements.^ 

^As skeletons are sometimes mounted, they stand a full foot or more 
higher at the shoulders than the animal stood in life, this being caused by 
raising the body until the shoulder-blades are far below the tips of the 
vertebrae, a position they could never assume in life. 


The disappearance of the mastodon is as difficult to 
account for as that of the mammoth, and, as will be 
noted, there is absolutely no evidence to show that man 
had any hand in it. Neither can it be ascribed to change 
of climate, for the mastodon, as indicated by the wide 
distribution of its bones, was apparently adapted to a 
great diversity of climates, and was as much at home 
amid the cool swamps of Michigan and New York as on 
the warm savannas of Florida and Louisiana. Certainly 
the much used, and abused, glacial epoch cannot be 
held accountable for the extermination of the creature, 
for the mastodon came into New York after the reces- 
sion of the great ice-sheet, and tarried to so late a date 
that bones buried in the swamps retain much of their 
animal matter. So recent, comparatively speaking, has 
been the disappearance of the mastodon, and so fresh- 
looking are some of its bones, that Thomas Jefferson 
thought in his day that it might still be living in some 
part of the then unexplored Northwest. 

It is a moot question whether or not man and the 
mastodon were contemporaries in North America, and 
while many there be who, like the writer of these lines, 
believe that this was the case, an expression of belief is 
not a demonstration of fact. The best that can be said 
is that there are scattered bits of testimony, slight 
though they are, which seem to point that way, but no 
one so strong by itself that it could not be shaken by 
sharp cross-questioning and enable man to prove an 
alibi in a trial by jury. For example, in the great bone 
deposit at Kimmswick, Mo., Mr. Beehler found a flint 
arrowhead, but this may have lain just over the bone- 
bearing layer, or have got in by some accident in ex- 
cavating. How easily a mistake may be made is shown 
by the report sent to the United States National Mu- 
seum of many arrowheads associated with mastodon 


bones in a spring at Aft on, Indian Territory. This 
spring was investigated, and a few mastodon bones and 
flint arrowheads were found, but the latter were in a 
stratum just above the bones, although this was over- 
looked by the first diggers. ^ Koch reported finding char- 
coal and arrowheads so associated wdth mastodon bones 
that he inferred the animal to have been destroyed by 
fire and arrows after it became mired. It has been said 
that Koch could have had no object in disseminating 
this report, and hence that it may be credited, but he 
had just as much interest in doing this as he did in 
fabricating the Hydrarchus and the Missourium, and 
his testimony is not to be considered seriously. It 
seems to be with the mastodon much as it is with the 
sea-serpent; the latter never appears to a naturalist, 
remains of the former are never found by a trained 
observer associated with indications of the presence of 
man. Perhaps an exception should be made in the case 
of Professor J. M. Clarke, who found fragments of 
charcoal in a deposit of muck under some bones of 

We may pass by the so-called ''Elephant Mound," 
which to the eye of an unimaginative observer looks as 
if it might have been intended for any one of several 
beasts ; also, with bated breath and due respect for the 
bitter controversy waged over them, pass we by the 
elephant pipes. There remains, then, with an excep- 
tion to be noted, not a bit of man's handiwork, not a 
piece of pottery, engraved stone, or scratched bone that 
can unhesitatingly be said to have been wrought into 

^This locality was carefully investigated by Mr. W. H. Holmes of the 
United States National Museum who found bones of the mastodon and 
Southern Mammoth associated with arrowheads. But he also found 
fresh bones of bison, horse, and wolf, showing that these and the arrow- 
heads had simply sunk to the level of the older deposit. 


the shape of an elephant before the coming of the white 
man. True, there is ''The Lenape Stone," found near 
Doyleston, Pa., in 1872, a gorget graven on one side 
with the representation of men attacking an elephant, 
while the other bears a number of figures of various 
animals. The good faith of the finder of this stone is un- 
impeachable, but it is a curious fact that, while this 
gorget is elaborately decorated on both sides, no similar 
stone, out of all that have been found, bears any image 
whatsoever. On the other hand, if not made by the 
aborigines, who made it, why was it made, and w^hy 
did nine years elapse between the discovery of the first 
and second portions of the broken ornament? These are 
questions the reader may decide for himself : the author 
will only say that to his mind the drawing is too elabo- 
rate, and depicts entirely too much to have been made 
by a primitive artist. A much better bit of testimony 
seems to be presented by a fragment of Fulgur shell 
found near Holly oak, Del., and now in the United 
States National Museum, which bears a very rudely 
scratched image of an animal that may have been in- 
tended for a mastodon or a bison. This piece of shell is 
undeniably old, but there is, unfortunately, the un- 
certainty just mentioned as to the animal depicted. 
The familiar legend of the Big Buffalo that destroyed 
animals and men and defied even the lightnings of the 
Great Spirit has been thought by some to have origi- 
nated in a tradition of the mastodon handed down from 
ancient times; but why consider that the mastodon is 
meant? Why not a legendary bison that has increased 
w4th years of story-telling? And so the co-existence of 
man and mastodon must rest as a case of not proven, 
although there is a strong probabihty that the two did 
live together in the dim ages of the past, and some day 
the evidence may come to light that will prove it beyond 


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a per ad venture. If scientific men are charged with 
obstinacy and unwarranted incredulity in declining to 
accept the testimony so far presented, it must be re- 
membered that the evidence as to the existence of the 
sea serpent is far stronger, since it rests on the testimony 
of eye-witnesses, and yet the creature himself has never 
been seen by a trained observer, nor has any specimen, 
not a scale, a tooth, or a bone, ever made its way into 
any museum. 

The ''exception" alluded to above is the discovery of 
a humerus of Virginia Deer on one side of which is 
scratched a rude effigy of what unmistakably suggests 
an elephant. This was discovered by Mr. Jay L. B. 
Taylor, in April, 1921, in Jacobs Cavern, near Pineville, 
Missouri. Other engraved bones were found with this, 
as well as flint implements, the bones being in 
such condition that some crumbled to pieces in drying, 
before their condition was realized and steps taken to 
preserve them. The discovery is described at length, 
by Mr. Taylor, in Natural History for November- 
December, 1921. It is hoped to make a careful explora- 
tion of the cavern during 1922. 


There are at least a dozen mounted skeletons of the Mastodon 
in the United States, and the writer trusts he may be pardoned for 
mentioning only those which are most accessible. These are in 
the American Museum of Natural History, New York, which now 
possesses the famous and practically perfect Warren Mastodon; 
the Brooklyn Museum; the State Museum, Albany, N. Y.; 
U. S. National Museum, Washington, D. C; Field Columbian 
Museum, Chicago; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburg; Museum of 
Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Mass. 

The heaviest pair of tusks is in the possession of T. 0. Tuttle, 
Seneca, Mich., and they are nine and one-half inches in diameter, 
and a little over eight feet long; very few tusks, however, reach 
eight inches in diameter. The thigh-bone of an old male mastodon 



measures from forty-five to forty-six and one-half inches long, the 
humerus from thirty-five to forty inches. The height of the 
mounted skeleton is of little value as an indication of size, since 
it depends so much upon the manner in which the skeleton is 
mounted. The grinders of the mastodon have three cross ridges, 
save the last, which has four, and a final elevation, or heel. This 
does not apply to the teeth of very young animals. The presence 
or absence of the last grinder will show whether or not the animal 
is of full age and size, while the amount of wear indicates the 
comparative age of the specimen. 

The skeleton of the " Warren Mastodon" is described at length 
by Dr. J. C. Warren, in a quarto volume entitled "Mastodon 
Giganteus." There is much information in a little book by J. P. 
MacLean, "Mastodon, Mammoth, and Man," but the reader 
must not accept all its statements unhesitatingly. The first 
volume, 1887, of the New Scribner's Magazine contains an 
article on "American Elephant Myths," by Professor W. B. 
Scott, but he is under an erroneous impression regarding the 
size of the mastodon, and photographs of the Maya carvings 
show that their resemblance to elephants has been exaggerated 
in the wood cuts. The story of the Lenape Stone is told at length 
by H. C. Mercer in " The Lenape Stone, or the Indian and the 

The Much Discussed Lenape Stone, Reduced. 



^'And Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp 
Abode his destined Hour and went his way." 

It is often asked 'Svhy do animals become extinct?" 
but the question is one to which it is impossible to give 
a comprehensive and satisfactory reply; this chapter 
does not pretend to do so, merely to present a few 
aspects of this complicated, many-sided problem. 

In very many cases it may be said that actual ex- 
termination has not taken place, but that in the course 
of evolution one species has passed into another; 
species may have been lost, but the race, or phylum 
endures, just as in the growth of a tree, the twigs and 
branches of the sapling disappear, while the tree, as a 
whole, grows onward and upward. This is what we see 
in the horse, which is the living representative of an 
unbroken line reaching back to the little Eocene Eohip- 
pus. So in a general way it may be said that much of 
what at the first glance we might term extinction is 
really the replacement of one set of animals by another 
better adapted to surrounding conditions. 

Again, there are many cases of animals, and particu- 
larly of large animals, so peculiar in their make up, so 
very obviously adapted to their own special surround- 
ings that it requires little imagination to see that it 
would have been a difficult matter for them to have re- 
sponded to even a slight change in the world about 
them. Such great and necessarily sluggish brutes as'^^ 
Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, with their tons of flesh, 
small heads, and feeble teeth, were obviously reared in 
easy circumstances, and unfitted to succeed in any 
strenuous struggle for existence. Stegosaurus, with 
his bizarre array of plates and spines, and huge-headed 



Triceratops, had evidently carried specialization to an 
extreme, while in turn the carnivorous forms must have 
required an abundant supply of slow and easily cap- 
tured prey. 

Coming down to a more recent epoch, when the big 
Titanotheres flourished, it is easy to see from a glance 
at their large, simple teeth that these beasts needed an 
ample provision of coarse vegetation, and as they seem 
never to have spread far beyond their birthplace, 
climatic change, modifying even a comparatively 
limited area, would suffice to sweep them out of exist- 
ence. To use the epitaph proposed by Professor Marsh 
for the tombstone of one of the Dinosaurs, many a 
beast might say, ''I, and my race perished of over 
specialization. '' To revert to the horse it will be re- 
membered that this very fate is believed to have over- 
taken those almost horses the European Hippotheres ; 
they reached a point where no further progress was 
possible, and fell by the wayside. 

There is, however, still another class of cases where 
species, families, orders, even, seem to have passed out 
of existence without sufficient cause. Those great 
marine reptiles, the Ichthyosaurs, of Europe, the Plesio- 
saurs and Mosasaurs, of our own continent, seem to 
have been just as well adapted to an aquatic life as the 
whales, and even better than the seals, and we can see 
no reason why Columbus should not have found these 
creatures still disporting themselves in the Gulf of 
Mexico. The best we can do is to fall back on an un- 
known ''law of progress," and say that the trend of life 
is toward the replacement of large, lower animals by 
those smaller and intellectually higher. 

But why there should be an allotted course to any 
group of animals, why some species come to an end when 
they are seemingly as well fitted to endure as others now 


living, we do not know, and if we say that a time comes 
when the germ-plasm is incapable of further subdivi- 
sion, we merely express our ignorance in an unnecessary 
number of words. The mammoth and mastodon have 
already been cited as instances of animals that have un- 
accountably become extinct, and these examples are 
chosen from among many on account of their striking 
nature. The great ground sloths, the Mylodons, 
Megatheres, and their allies, are another case in point. 
At one period or another they reached from Oregon to 
Virginia, Florida, and Patagonia, though it is not 
claimed that they covered all this area at one time. 
And, while it may be freely admitted that in some por- 
tions of their range they may have been extirpated by a 
change in food-supply, due in turn to a change in 
climate, it seems preposterous to claim that there was 
not at all times, somewhere in this vast expanse of 
territory, a climate mild enough and a food-supply 
large enough for the support of even these huge, slug- 
gish creatures. We may evoke the aid of primitive man 
to account for the disappearance of this race of giants, 
and we know that the two were coeval in Patagonia, 
where the sloths seem to have played the role of do- 
mesticated animals, but again it seems incredible that 
early man, with his flint-tipped spears and arrows, 
should have been able to slay even such slow beasts as 
these to the very last individual. 

Of course, in modern times man has directly extermi- 
nated many animals, while by the introduction of dogs, 
cats, pigs, and goats he has indirectly not only thinned 
the ranks of animals, but destroyed plant life on an 
enormous scale. But in the past man's capabilities for 
harm were infinitely less than now, while of course the 
greatest changes took place before man even existed, 
so that, while he is responsible for the great changes that 


have taken place in the world's flora and fauna during 
recent times, his influence, as a whole, has been insig- 
nificant. Thus, while man exterminated the great 
northern sea-cow, Rytina, and Pallas's cormorant on 
the Commander Islands, these animals were already 
restricted to this circumscribed area^ by natural causes, 
so that man but finished what nature had begun. The 
extermination of the great auk in European waters was 
somewhat similar. There is, however, this unfortunate 
difTerence between extermination wrought by man and 
that brought about by natural causes: the extermina- 
tion of species by nature is ordinarily slow, and the 
place of one is taken by another, while the destruction 
wrought by man is rapid, and the gaps he creates re- 
main unfilled. 

Not so very long ago it was customary to account for 
changes in the past life of the globe by earthquakes, 
volcanic outbursts, or cataclysms of such appalling 
magnitude that the whole face of nature was changed, 
and entire races of living beings swept out of exist- 
ence at once. But it is now generally conceded that 
while castatrophes have occurred, yet, vast as they may 
have been, their effects were comparatively local, and, 
while the life of a limited region may have been ruth- 
lessly blotted out, life as a whole was but little affected. 
The eruption of Krakatoa shook the earth to its centre 
and was felt for hundreds of miles around, yet, while it 
caused the death of thousands of living beings, it re- 
mains to be shown that it produced any effect on the 
life of the region taken in its entirety. 

Changes in the life of the globe have been in the main 
slow and gradual, and in response to correspondingly 

'It is possible that the cormorant may always have been confined to 
this one spot, but this is probably not the case with the sea-cow. 


slow changes in the level of portions of the earth's 
crust, with their far-reaching effects on temperature, 
climate, and vegetation. Animals that were what is 
termed plastic kept pace with the altering conditions 
about them and became modified, too, while those that 
could not adapt themselves to their surroundings died 

How slowly changes may take place is shown by the 
occurrence of a depression in the Isthmus of Panama, in 
comparatively recent geologic time, permitting free 
communication between the Atlantic and Pacific, a sort 
of natural inter-oceanic canal. And yet the alterations 
wrought by this were, so to speak, superficial, affecting 
only some species of shore fishes and invertebrates, 
having no influence on the animals of the deeper waters. 
Again, on the Pacific coast are now found a number of 
shells that, as we learn from fossils, were in Pliocene 
time common on both coasts of the United States, and 
Mr. Dall interprets this to mean that when this con- 
tinent was rising, the steeper shore on the Pacific side 
permitted the shell-fish to move downward and adapt 
themselves to the ever-changing shore, while on the 
Atlantic side the drying of a wide strip of level sea-bottom 
in a relatively short time exterminated a large propor- 
tion of the less active mollusks. And in this instance 
'' relatively short " means positively long; for, compared 
to the rise of a continent from the ocean's bed, the flow 
of a glacier is the rapid rush of a mountain torrent. 

Then, too, while a tendency to vary seems to be in- 
herent in animals, some appear to be vastly more sus- 
ceptible than others to outside influences, to respond 
much more readily to any change in the world about 
them. In fact. Professor Cook has recently suggested 
that the inborn tendency to variation is sufficient in 
itself to account for evolution, this tendency being 


either repressed or stimulated as external conditions 
are stable or variable. 

The more uniform the surrounding conditions, and 
the simpler the animal, the smaller is the liability to 
change, and some animals that dwell in the depths of 
the ocean, where light and temperature vary little, if 
any, remain at a standstill for long periods of time. 

The genus Lingula, a small shell, traces its ancestry 
back nearly to the base of the Ordovician system of 
rocks, an almost inconceivable lapse of time, while one 
species of brachiopod shell endures unchanged from the 
Trenton Limestone to the Low^er Carboniferous. In 
the first case one species has been replaced by another, 
so that the shell of to-day is not exactly like its very re- 
mote ancestor, but that the type of shell should have 
remained unchanged when so many other animals have 
arisen, flourished for a time, and perished, means that 
there was slight tendency to variation, and that the sur- 
rounding conditions were uniform. Says Professor 
Brooks, speaking of Lingula: '^The everlasting hills 
are the type of venerable antiquity; but Lingula has 
seen the continents grow up, and has maintained its in- 
tegrity unmoved by the convulsions which have given 
the crust of the earth its present form." 

Many instances of sudden but local extermination 
might be adduced, but among them that of the tile-fish 
is perhaps the most striking. This fish, belonging to a 
tropical family having its headquarters ih the Gulf of 
Mexico, was discovered in 1879 in moderately deep 
water to the southward of Massachusetts and on the 
edge of the Gulf Stream, where it was taken in consider- 
able numbers. In the spring of 1882 vessels arriving at 
New York reported having passed through great 
numbers of dead and dying fishes, the water being 
thickly dotted with them forj miles. [From samples 


brought in, it was found that the majority of these were 
tile-fish, while from the reports of various vessels it 
was shown that the area covered by dead fish amounted 
to somewhere between 5,000 and 7,500 square miles, 
and the total number of dead was estimated at not far 
from a hillion. This enormous and widespread destruc- 
tion is believed to have been caused by an unwonted 
duration of northerly and easterly winds, which drove 
the cold arctic current inshore and southwards, chilling 
the warm belt in which the tile-fish resided and killing 
all in that locality. It was thought possible that the 
entire race might have been destroyed, but, while none 
were taken for many years, in 1899 and in 1900 a 
number were caught, showing that the species was be- 
ginning to reoccupy the waters from which it had been 
driven years before, and since then it has become rela- 
tively abundant. 

The effect of any great fall in temperature on animals 
specially adapted to a warm climate is also illustrated 
by the destruction of the Manatees in the Sebastian 
River, Florida, by the winter of 1894-95, which came 
very near exterminating this species. Readers may re- 
member that this was the winter that wrought such 
havoc with the blue-birds, while in the vicinity of Wash- 
ington, D. C, the fish-crows died by hundreds, if not by 

Fishes may also be exterminated over large areas by 
outbursts of poisonous gases from submarine volcanoes, 
or more rarely by some vast lava flood pouring into the 
sea and actually cooking all living beings in the vicinity. 
And in the past these outbreaks took place on a much 
larger scale than now, and naturally wrought more 
widespread destruction. 

A recent instance of local extermination is the total 
destruction of a humming-bird, Bellona ornata, peculiar 


to the island of St. Vincent, by the West Indian hurri- 
cane of 1898, but this is naturally extirpation on a very 
small scale. 

Still, the problems of nature are so involved that while 
local destruction is ordinarily of little importance, or 
temporary in its effects, it may lead to the annihilation 
of a species by breaking a race of animals into isolated 
groups, thereby leading to inbreeding and slow decline. 
The European bison, now confined to a part of 
Lithuania and a portion of the Caucasus, seems to be 
slowly but surely approaching extinction in spite of all 
efforts to preserve the race, and no reason can be 
assigned for this save that the small size of the herds 
has led to in-breeding and general decadence. ^ 

In other ways, too, local calamity may be sweeping in 
its effects, and that is by the destruction of animals 
that resort to one spot during the breeding season, like 
the fur-seals and some sea-birds, or pass the winter 
months in great flocks or herds, as do the ducks and elk. 
The supposed decimation of the Moas by severe w inters 
has been already discussed, and the extermination of 
the great auk in European waters was indirectly due to 
natural causes. These birds bred on the small, almost 
inaccessible island of Eldey, off the coast of Iceland, 
and when, through volcanic disturbances, this islet 
sank into the sea, the few birds were forced to other 
quarters, and as these were, unfortunately, easily 
reached, the birds were slain to the last one. 

From the great local abundance of their remains, it 
has been thought that the curious short-legged Pliocene 
rhinoceros, Teleoceras fossiger, was killed off in the West 
by blizzards when the animals were gathered in their 

'It is reported to have been totally exterminated during the great 
war, partly for food, and partly to show that there was no longer any 
restraint on the people. 


winter quarters, and other long-extinct animals, too, 
have been found under such conditions as to suggest a 
similar fate. 

Among local catastrophes brought about by unusually- 
prolonged cold may be cited the decimation of the fur- 
seal herds of the Pribilof Islands in 1834 and 1859, 
when the breeding seals were prevented from landing 
by the presence of ice-floes, and perished by thousands. 
Peculiar interest is attached to this case, because the 
restriction of the northern fur-seals to a few isolated, 
long undiscovered islands, is believed to have been 
brought about by their complete extermination in other 
localities by prehistoric man. Had these two seasons 
killed all the seals, it would have been a reversal of the 
customary extermination by man of a species reduced 
in numbers by nature. 

In the case of large animals another element probably 
played a part. The larger the animal, the fewer young, 
as a rule, does it bring forth at a birth, the longer are 
the intervals between births, and the slower the growth 
of the young. The loss of two or three broods of spar- 
rows or two or three litters of rabbits makes com- 
paratively little difference, as the loss is soon supplied, 
but the death of the young of the larger and higher 
mammals is a more serious matter. A factor that has 
probably played an important role in the extinction of 
animals is the relation that exists between various 
animals, and the relations that also exist between 
animals and plants, so that the existence of one is de- 
pendent on that of another. Thus no group of living 
beings, plants or animals, can be affected without in 
some way affecting others, so that the injury or destruc- 
tion of some plant may result in serious harm to some 
animal. In this connection it has been suggested that 
volcanic eruptions covering the earth for miles around 


with ashes, kiUing off the vegetation, may have brought 
about or hastened the extermination of some of our 
western mammals during Tertiary time. Nearly every- 
one is famihar with the classic example given by Darwin 
of the effect of cats on 'the growth of red clover. This 
plant is fertilized by bumble bees only, and if the field 
mice, which destroy the nests of the bees, were not kept 
in check by cats, or other small carnivores, their increase 
would lessen the numbers of the bees and this in turn 
would cause a dearth of clover. 

The yuccas present a still more wonderful example of 
the dependence of plants on animals, for their existence 
hangs on that of a small moth whose peculiar structure 
and habits bring about the fertilization of the flower. 
The tw^o probably developed side by side until their 
present state of inter-dependence was reached, when 
the extinction of the one would probably bring about 
that of the other. 

It is this inter-dependence of living things that makes 
the outcome of any direct interference with the natural 
order of things more or less problematical, and some- 
times brings about results quite different from what 
were expected or intended. 

The gamekeepers on the grouse moors of Scotland 
systematically killed off all birds of prey because they 
caught some of the grouse, but this is believed to have 
caused far more harm than good through permitting 
weak and sickly birds, that would otherwise have fallen 
a prey to hawks, to live and disseminate the grouse 

The destruction of sheep by coyotes led the State of 
California to place a bounty on the heads of these 
animals, with the result that in eighteen months the 
State was called upon to pay out $187,485. As a result 
of the war on coyotes the animals on which they fed, 


notably the rabbits, increased so enormously that in turn 
a bounty was put on rabbits, the damage these animals 
caused the fruit-growers being greater than the losses 
among sheep-owners from the depredations of coyotes. 
And so, says Dr. Palmer, '^In this remarkable case of 
legislation a large bounty was offered by a county in the 
interest of fruit-growers to counteract the effects of a 
State bounty expended mainly for the benefit of sheep- 
owners !"i 

Professor Shaler, in noting the sudden disappearance 
of such trees as the gums, magnolias, and tulip poplars 
from the Miocene flora of Europe has suggested that this 
may have been due to the attacks, for a series of years, 
of some insect enemy like the gipsy moth, and the 
theory is worth considering, although it must be looked 
upon as a possibility rather than a probability. Still, 
anyone familiar with the ravages of the gipsy moth in 
Massachusetts, where the insect was introduced by 
accident, can readily imagine what might have been the 
effect of some sudden increase in the numbers of such a 
pest on the forests of the past. Trees might resist the 
attacks of enemies and the destruction of their leaves for 
two or three years, but would be destroyed by a few 
additional seasons of defoliation. 

Ordinarily the abnormal increase of any insect is 
promptly followed by an increase in the number of its 
enemies; the pest is killed off, the destroyers die of 
starvation and nature's balance is struck. But if by 
some accident, such as two or three consecutive seasons 
of wet, drought, or cold, the natural increase of the 
enemies was checked, the balance of nature would be 
temporarily destroyed and serious harm done. That 

iThis state of things is still (1921) going on as may be seen by the 
reports of the Biological Survey, Department of Agriculture. 


such accidents may occur is familiar to us by the damage 
wrought in Florida and other Southern States by the 
unwonted severity of the winters of 1893, 1895, and 

If any group of forest trees was destroyed in the 
manner suggested by Professor Shaler, the effects would 
be felt by various plants and animals. In the first 
place, the insects that fed on these trees would be forced 
to seek another source of food and w^ould be brought 
into a silent struggle with forms already in possession, 
while the destruction of one set of plants would be to the 
advantage of those with which they came into competi- 
tion and to the disadvantage of vegetation that was 
protected by the shade. Finally, these changed condi- 
tions would react in various ways on the smaller birds 
and mammals, the general effect being, to use a well- 
worn simile, that like of casting a stone into a quiet pool 
and setting in motion ripples that sooner or later reach 
to every part of the margin. 

It is scarcely necessary to warn the reader that for the 
most part this is purely conjectural, for from the nature 
of the case it is bound to be so, as is the suggestion that 
the horse was exterminated in North America by the 
tsetse fiy. But it is one of the characteristics of edu- 
cated man that he wishes to know the why and where- 
fore of everything, and is in a condition of mental un- 
happiness until he has at least formulated some 
theory which seems to harmonize with the visible facts. 
And from the few glimpses we get of the extinction of 
animals from natural causes we must formulate a 
theory to fit the continued extermination that has been 
taking place ever since living beings came into the world 
and were pitted against one another and against their 
surroundings in the silent and ceaseless struggle for 



The twenty years that have elapsed since this book was 
issued have added much to our knowledge of Animals of 
the Past and have greatly increased our acquaintance 
with the structure of these creatures, big and little, and 
of the conditions under which they lived. And through 
our increased knowledge of animals, we gain a better 
knowledge of ancient geography, of the former extent 
of the continents and of the way in which the present 
distribution of land animals has been brought about. 

Exploration of the desert region of the Fayum, north- 
eastern Africa, has led to the discovery of the ancestor 
of the elephant; and as the horse is descended from a 
four-toed ancestor no bigger than a colhe dog, so the 
elephant, and his extinct gigantic relatives, the mam- 
moth and mastodon, probably trace their pedigree back 
to a creature in size and appearance something between 
a pig and a tapir, with only good-sized canine teeth to 
suggest the future appearance of tusks: Moeritherium 
this animal has been called. In this same region lived a 
race of huge animals, curiously suggestive of the Ti- 
tanotheres of our western Miocene. Here, too, have 
been found the forerunners of our modern sea cows, 
manatees and dugongs, very much like their modern 
relatives, but possessing — as theoretically they should — 
hind paddles as well as fore. 

The additions to our knowledge of .those huge and 
ever-interesting reptiles, the Dinosaurs, have been 
many and important. 

From the Cretaceous of Alberta comes Ankylosaurus 
clad in armor of bony plates from tip of nose to end of 
tail, a beast some 15 feet long aptly described by Lull 
as ''the most ponderous animated citadel the world has 



ever seen." And yet he and his kindred have been 
swept out of existence as completely as if he were naked. 
From our west, too comes Tyrannosaurus, well-named 
tyrant lizard, for he was absolutely the most formidable 
creature that ever stalked the earth; a creature stand- 
ing when erect 18 feet high, with talons fit to hold an ox, 
and double-edged dagger-like teeth two and three inches 
long set in a mouth with a yard wide gape. Seemingly 
nothing living could have withstood the attack of such a 
monster: and yet he, too, played his part and suc- 
cumbed to the slow and insidious attacks of a changing 
climate and gradually progressing world of life. 

Brontosaurus and Diplodocus no longer hold the 
record for size : discoveries in Central Africa and in our 
own western states have revealed the former existence 
of still more gigantic reptiles, peculiar in the great 
length of their fore legs, standing as high as a small 
house and with a body quite as large. An idea of their 
size may be gained from the fact that the thigh bone of 
one of these creatures, called Brachiosaurus, was 6 feet 9 
inches long and a rib 9, feet in length. 

Discoveries in Russia, the United States and Africa 
have thrown much additional light on the strange rep- 
tiles of the Permian age and increased the probability 
that in them we have a clue to the ancestors of mammals. 

Our knowledge of the past history of birds remains 
practically unchanged, we know a few more species; 
one or two remarkable forms, like the giant vulture of 
La Brea, greatest of the birds of flight, but we have no 
new light on the origin and early variations of birds. 

One of the most interesting discoveries, partly be- 
cause of its peculiar nature, has been that of the asphalt 
beds at La Brea, Southern California. Here the soft, 
sticky beds of asphalt, besprinkled with little pools of 
water, served as a gigantic trap for unsuspecting 


animals of the Pleistocene. Hither, if we read the story 
aright, came great ground sloths to quench their thirst 
and here they became first caught, then engulfed in the 
treacherous pitch. It needs the pen of Wells to depict 
the tragedies that took place about this innocent look- 
ing, black-hearted lake of pitch; to tell of the mighty 
struggles of ponderous Mylodon to free himself from the 
trap only at each throe to sink a little deeper in its semi- 
solid depths. Then we see the prowling wolf of those 
days and the vicious sabre-toothed tiger snarling and 
quarreling over their helpless, hapless prey only to find 
themselves in turn trapped and slowly sucked down to 
death. Nor did the chain of destruction end here, for 
birds of prey, eagles and vultures, flocking to the scene, 
also became ensnared and perished miserably. Truly, 
as Dr. White so well put it. Nature is extravagantly 
wasteful and terribly cruel. 

From the discoveries thus briefly touched upon, we 
are enabled to make certain general deductions in re- 
gard to the geography of the past. It is clear that for a 
long time Africa and South America were, like Australia, 
independent continents within which were slowly de- 
veloped peculiar and curious forms. Later on, when 
Africa was united with Europe and Asia, its huge ele- 
phants migrated east and west into new territory and 
established themselves for a while over practically the 
whole northern hemisphere. Similarly, South America, 
in Pliocene times, was united with North America and 
the Giant Ground Sloths, Megatherium and Mylodon, 
with some of the quaint armored glyptodons, slowly 
made their way along the coast to Florida and even 
South Carolina. 

And then came the evening of these races of great 
lumbering animals and one by one they fell by the way- 


side leaving only two species of elephants as reminders 
of the time when the greater part of the world was 
theirs. 1 

It has been, and it is, an ever-changing world. The 
great difference between past and present is that now 
by the agency of man it is changing much more rapidly. 
Man with his disregard of the past and small thought of 
the future destroys in a year what it took Nature ages 
to produce — man sweeps away forests, the growth of 
centuries, and with them wipes out of existence races of 
animals that represent the culmination of thousands of 
years of evolution ever onward and upward. So 
rapidly is this extermination taking place that Professor 
Osborn believes that ^'By the middle of this century 
man will be alone amid the ruins of the mammalian 
world he has destroyed, the period of the Age of Mam- 
mals will have entirely closed, and the Age of Man will 
have reached a numerical climax, from which some 
statisticians believe it will probably recede, because we 
are approaching the point of the overpopulation of the 
earth in three of the five great continents." 

With the disappearance of the forests comes the 
shrinking of streams and at the same time the sweeping 
away by floods of fertile soil that results from long ages 
of growth. 

Moreover, man turns his attention to his fellow man 
and blots out whole races, or, if they survive, it is with 
changed customs. 

We live, as we are often told, in a period of transition 
and no one with certainty may predict the outcome. 
Meanwhile Nature, who has in Time a mute but resist- 

'The African Elephant has been subdivided into about a dozen species, 
but whether these are all good species or simply local races or sub- 
species remains to be shown. 


less ally, smiles at, or tolerates, the ravages of puny 
man. There is good reason to believe that we of the 
northern hemisphere may be living in the midst of an 
interglacial epoch, and, if this be so, that even now 
slowly but relentlessly the hosts of the ice king are being 
marshalled to dispossess man of his fair heritage in the 
north. Twice, at least, in the past, our northern states, 
as well as Europe, have been buried beneath thousands 
of feet of ice and snow even as is the south pole to-day. 
Gradually is being assembled the army that will sweep 
man before it even as it did the mammoth and mastodon 
in past ages : advancing a few feet this year, retreating 
a foot or two next season, but never losing all the ground 
it has gained, the great ice sheet is slowly shaping out of 
mist and snow the vast fighting machine that will drive 
man from the populous cities of the north. And who 
shall say that 100,000 years from now, when the great 
earth pendulum has swung the other way, some race of 
supermen, working northwards as the climate changes, 
may not be investigating the site of this museum and 
reconstructing the habits of the poor, unintelligent 
inhabitants of what was once New York. 

American Museum of Natural History 
May 1,1922. 


Examples of the various animals mentioned in this chapter, as 
well as in the others, will be found in the American Museum of 
Natural History. Among them may be mentioned a mounted 
skeleton of Brontosaurus, two of Trachodon (Thespesius) and the 
remarkable " mummied '' specimen showing the texture of the 
skin. A single skeleton of the great predatory Tyrannosaurus is 
shown, pending the construction of an addition to the Museum 
that will provide room for two complete skeletons. 

The historic Warren Mastodon was acquired some years ago 
and is placed near the skeleton of a mammoth from Indiana. 


The past history of the horse is very corrfpletely illustrated not 
only by many examples of feet and skulls, hut by numerous com- 
plete skeletons showing well the progress from the little four-toed 
Eohippus — as he is now called — to the modern horse. What 
differences in size and build have taken place in recent times 
through the agency of man is shown by skeletons of recent horses 
varying in size and build from the massive dray horse to the 
graceful Arabian and the Shetland Pony. Those especially 
interested in the horse may obtain very complete information from 
the Guide Leaflet on the Evolution of the Horse. 

Other exhibits deal with the brief {comparatively) but remark- 
able career of the great Titanotheres, and the evolution of the 
camel, while the great Mylodon and his relatives and the asphalt 
trap of La Brea with its prey are both displayed. 



The asterisk denotes that the animal or object is figured on or 
opposite the page referred to. 

^pyornis, egg of, 121, 120,* 122, 130 

eggs found in swamps, 122; found floating, 122 

eggs used for bowls, 121 

origin of fable of Roc, 119 
Alaskan Live Mammoth Story, 153-155 
Ankylosaurus, 95, 187 
Anomoepus tracks, 26 
Apteryx egg, 122 
Archffiopteryx, description of, 55, 56 

discovery of, 56 

earliest known bird, 51* 

restoration, 68* 

specimens of, 55, 56 

wing, 52,* 66* 
Archelon, a great turtle, 39, 40* 
Asphalt beds at La Brea, 188 

Basilosaurus, 44 

See also Zeuglodon 
Beehler, L. W., 166, 169 
Birds, always clad in feathers, 51, 106 

earliest, 51 

first intimation of, 55 

rarity of fossil, 62 

related to reptiles, 82 

wings of embryonic, 67 

with teeth, 56, 61 
Bison, European, 182 
Books of reference, 10, 21, 31, 49, 68, 79, 96, 113, 130, 143, 

158, 174, 192 


196 INDEX 

Breeding of large animals, 183 

Brontornis, size of leg-bones, 123 

Brontosaurus, 80,* size of bones, 85, 96, 188 

Brooks, W. K., on Lingula, 180 

Buffalo legend, 171 

Buttons as vestigial structures, 161 

Carcharodon auriculatus, 48 

megalodon, 47 

teeth, 47, 48 

estimated size, 47 
Carson City footprints, 30 
Casts, how formed, 6, 7 
Cats and clover, 184 
Cephalaspis, 14,* 15 
Ceratosaurus, habits, 92 
Changes in Nature slow, 179 
Cheirotherium, 28 
Chlamydosaurus, 108 
Cold, effects of, on animals, 181, 182, 183 
Cold winters, 181 
Collecting fossils, 10, 97-100 
Color of large land animals, 112 

of young animals, 112, 113 
Covering of extinct animals sometimes indicated, 109, 111 
Coyotes, effect of their destruction on fruit, 185 
Cycnorhampus, 71* 

Dall, W. H., theory as to extinction of mollusks, 227 
Delabeche's restorations, 114* 
Diatryma, 125-127, 126,* 130 
Dimorphodon, 74*, 75* 
Dinichthys, 18* 

skull and jaws of, 20* 

INDEX 197 

Dinosaurs, bones of, 95, 96, 187 

brain of, 83 

collections of, 95 

compared to marsupials, 84 

first discovered, 81 

food required by, 86 

footprints of, 22,* 31* 

hip-bones mistaken for shoulder-blade, 102 

Professor Marsh's epitaph for, 176 

range, 82 

recognized as new order of reptiles, 81 

related to ostrich and alligator, 82 

size of, 85, 86 

tracks, ascribed to birds, 26 
Dinotherium, 160 
Diplodocus, estimated weight, 85; size, 188 

supposed habits, 86 

Egg of .Epyornis, 120,* 122; Apteryx, 122; Ostrich, 120,* 121; 

Moa, 120,* 122 
Eggs, casts of, 62 
Elephant, size, 147; ancestor of, 187 

size of tusks, 147, 148 
Elephas ganesa, tusks, 157 
Encrustations, 9 

Eohippus, 131, 132,* 140, 142, 143* 
Extermination. See Extinction 
Extinction, ascribed to great convulsions, 178 

ascribed to primitive man, 151, 177 

of Dinosaurs, 221 

local, 225 

by man, 177, 178 

of Marine Reptiles, 176 

often unaccountable, 176, 177 

of Pliocene rhinoceros, 182 

198 INDEX 

Extinction, sometimes evolution, 175, 176 
of Titanotheres, 176 

Feathers, imprints of, 55, 109, 111 
Fishes, abundance of, 15 

armored, 14, 15, 17 

collections of, 21 

killed by cold, 180, 181 

killed by volcanoes, 181 
Fish-crows, killed by cold, 181 
Flesh does not petrify, 6 
Flight, 51, 52,* 53, 63-68, 73-79, 127, 128 
Flightless birds, absent from Tasmania, 128 

present distribution, 128, 129 

relation between flightlessness and size, 129 
Flying Reptiles, 69-79 
Folds and frills, 107 
Footprints, collections of, 31 

books on, 31 

See also under Tracks 
Fossil birds, rarity of, 62 
Fossil man, 8 

Fossilization a slow process, 6 
Fossils, conditions under which they are formed, 3-6 

collecting, 97-100 

definition of, 1 

deformation of, 9, 10 

impressions, 2 

not necessarily petrifactions, 2 

preparation of, 100-102 

why they are not more common, 3, 9, 10 
Fowls, muscles of, 57-59 
Frill of Triceratops, 89 
Fur-seals killed by ice-floes, 183 

INDEX 199 

Gar pikes, destruction of, 16 

Giant birds, reasons for distribution and flightlessness, 127 

Giant Moa, 117 

leg compared with that of horse, 117* 
Giant Sloth, 189; domesticated by man, 117 

struggle between, 30 

tracks at Carson City, 30 
Great Auk, extermination of, 182 
Grouse on Scotch moors, 184 

Hawkins, B. W., restorations by, 113 
Hesperornis, description of, 57-61 

impressions of feathers, 109-111 

position of legs, 60 

restoration of, 58* 
Hippotherium, 138 
Hoactzin, habits of, 53 
Horn does not petrify, 108 
Horse, abundant in Pleistocene time, 134 

books on, 143 

of bronze age, 134, 138 

collections of fossil, 143 

development of, 136,* 139-142 

differences between fossil and living, 134 

early domestication, 135 

evidence as to genealogy, 139-141 

extra-toed, 140 

found in South America in 1530, 135 

of Julius Caesar, 141 

none found wild in historic times, 135 

Pliocene, 135 

possibility of existence in America up to the time of its 
discovery, 135 

primitive, 131, 132* 

200 INDEX 

Horse, sketched by primitive man, 134 

teeth of, 139 

three-toed, 138 
Humming-bird, exterminated by hurricane, 181 
Hydrarchus, 44 

Ichthyosaurs, silhouettes of, 109 
Ichthyosaurus, 32*-35 
Iguanodons, found at Bernissart, 90 
Impressions of feathers, 109, 111 

of scales, 109 

of skin, 109 
Inbreeding, effects of, 182 
Information, sources of, ix 
Innuits, habits, 154 

Interdependence of animals and plants, 183-186 
Ivory, fossil, 1, 3, 152 

Jaw of Mosasaur, 37, 39* 
of reptiles, 37 
of fossil shark, 46* 

KilHng of the Mammoth, story, 145, 155 
Kimmswick, deposit of Mastodon bones, 166 
Knight, Charles R., restorations by, 113 
Koch's Hydrarchus, 44 
Missourium, 164,* 165 

Leaves, impressions of, 2, 8 

Leg of Brontornis, 123 

Leg of the Great Brontosaurus, 85 

of Giant Moa, 117* 

position in Hesperornis, 60 

position in ducks, 60 
Lenape Stone, 171, 174* 

INDEX 201 

Life, earliest traces of, 23, 31 
Lingula, antiquity of, 180 

Professor Brooks on, 180 
Loricaria, 14,* 15 

Mammoth, adapted to a cold climate, 112 
Alaskan Live, Story, 153-155 
believed to live underground, 145 
bones taken for those of giants, 149 
contemporary with man, 152 
derivation of name, 145 
description, 146 

discovery of entire specimens, 148, 150 
distribution, 149, 150 
drawn by early man, 153, 158* 
entire specimens obtainable, 155 
reasons for extermination, 151 
killing of the, 145, 155 
Hterature on, 158 
misconception as to size, 147 
mounted skeleton, 147 
not now living, 153 
preservation of remains, 151 
skeletons in Alaska, 147, 157 

Mammoth, at St. Petersburg, 147 
Beresovka, 144* 
engraving on tusk, 158* 
restoration, 146* 
size, 147 

size of tusks, 147, 157, 159 
teeth, 157, 160* 

teeth dredged in North Sea, 149 
tusks brought into market, 152 

202 INDEX 

MaD contemporary with Mammoth, 152 

fossil, 8 

of Guadeloupe, 8 
Manatees killed by cold, 181 
Marsh, Prof. 0. C, collection of fossil horses, 143 

on Dinosaurs, 176 

on toothed birds, 56, 68 
Mastodon, bones taken for those of giants, 163 

thought to be carnivorous, 165 

covering, 168 

description, 166 

distribution, 161, 168, 169 

extinction, 169 

literature, 174 

and man, 170 

first noticed in America, 163 

origin unknown, 161 

outhne on bone, 172* 

remains abundant, 165 

remains in Ulster and Orange counties, New York, 162, 

restoration, 167* 
Mastodon, size, 168 

skeletons on exhibition, 173 

species, 162 

teeth, 159, 160,* 174 

tusks, 160 

Warren, 165, 173 
Mesohippus, 138 
Mimicry, not conscious, 107 
Missourium of Koch, 164,* 165 
Moas, collections of, 129 

contemporary with man, 118 

deductions from distribution, 118 

destruction of, 118 

INDEX 203 

Moas, discovery of bones, 116 

elephant-footed, 118 

feathers of, 116 

Giant, 117* 

supposed food of, 118 

legends of, 115 

literature, 130 

scientific names, 121 

size of, 117 

species of, 117 
Mosasaurs, abundance of, in Kansas, 37 

books on, 49 

collections of, 49 

extinction of, 41 

first discovery, 36 

jaw of, 39* 

range of, 33 

restoration 38* 

size of, 35 
Mylodon, 189; tracks at Carson City, 30 

Names, scientific, reasons for using, ix, x 
Nature, balance of, 186 
Nuts, fossil, 7 

Oldest animals, 13 

vertebrates, 11-14 
Ostrich egg, 121 
Over-specialization, 175 

Peale, C. W., 163 

Peale, Rembrandt, 163, 165 

Pelican, mandible, 39 

Penguins, depend on fat for warmth, 107 

feathers highly modified, 107 

swim with wings, 57 

204 INDEX 

Petrified bodies, 6 
Phororhacos, description of, 122 

mistaken for mammal, 123 

Patagonian bird, 122 

related to heron family, 125 

restoration, frontispiece 

skull, 123, 124* 
Plesiosaurus, 33-35 
Protohippus, 138 
Pteranodon, 70,* 72* 
Pteraspis, 17 
Pterichthys, 15, 17, 21* 

mistaken for crab, 15 
Pterodactyls, impressions of wings, 111 

from Kansas, 39 

wing, 52* 

flying reptiles, 69-79 
Pycraft, W. P., restoration of Archseopteryx, 68* 

Radiolarians, 9 
Rhamphorhynchus, 78* 
Reconstruction of animals, 106, 108, 112 
Reptiles, fasting powers of, 86 

growth throughout life, 89 

jaws, 37 

flying, 69-79 
Restorations, x 

Archseopteryx, 68* 

Delabeche's, extinct animals, 114* 

Hesperornis, 58* 

Mammoth, 146* 

Mastodon, 167* 

Phororhacos, frontispiece 

progress in, 113 

Stegosaurus, 91* 

INDEX 205 

Restorations, Triceratops, 87* 

Tylosaurus, 38* 
Reversion of fancy stock, 140 
Rhinoceros, exterminated by cold, 182 
Roc, legend of, 119 
Rocks, thickness of sedimentary, 113 
Ruffles on dresses, 161 
Schuchert, Charles, on collecting fossils, 10 

collector of Zeuglodon bones, 45 
Seals, covering of, 107 
Sea-serpent, belief in, 41 

possibility of existence, 42 
Shaler, Professor, on changes in Miocene flora of Europe, 185, 

Sharks, early, 20 

Great-toothed, 47 

known from spines and teeth, 19 

Port Jackson, 19 

teeth of, 49 

White, or Man-Eater, 47 
Skeleton, basis of all restorations, 106 

best testimony of animal's relationships, 105 

information to be derived from, 102-107 

a problem in mechanics, 89, 104 

reconstruction of, 102 

relation of, to exterior of animal, 102, 106 

of Triceratops, 88, 89 
Spines and plates, 108 
Stegosaurus, description of, 92 

restoration of, 91* 
Survival of the fittest, 141 

Teeth, birds with, 56 

of gnawing animals, 139, 160 
of grass-eaters, 139 

206 INDEX 

Teeth, of horse, 139 

of mammoth, 159, 160* 

of mastodon, 159, 160* 

of sharks, 19 

of Trachodon, 92 
Tiger, preying on reindeer, 112 
Tile-fish, destruction of, 181 
Titanichthys, 17, 19 
Toothed birds, collections of, 67 

discovery of, 56 
Townsend, C. H., 153-155 
Trachodon, abundance of, 90, 92 

brain of, 83 

skull of, 84* 

(Same as Claosaurus) 

engulfed in quicksand, 5 

impressions of skin, 97,* 110,* 111 

teeth of, 92 

at Yale, 95 
Tracks, ascribed to birds, 26 

ascribed to giants, 30 

animals known from, 27 

collections of, 31 

of Connecticut Valley, 25 

deductions from, 29 

of Dinosaurs, 22,* 25, 26, 27-29, 31* 

discovery in England and America, 25, 28 

how formed, 24, 27 

at Hastings, 29 
Tracks, of Mylodon, 30 

of worms, 2, 23 
Triceratops, brain, 83 

broken horn, 89 

description, 88-90 

restoration, 87* 

skull, 84* 

INDEX 207 

Tufa, 9 

Tukeman, killing of the Mammoth, 145, 155 

Tylosaurus, 38* 

Tyrannosaums, 188; skull of, 94* 

Variation in animals, 179 
Vertebrates, oldest, 13 
Vestigial structures, 161 
Volcanic outbursts, 181 

Webster, F. S., on destruction of gar pikes, 16 
White, C. A., on the nature and uses of fossils, 10 
White Shark, 47 
Wings, 51, 52,* 53 

of embryonic birds, 53 
Wood, fossil, 6 
Worm trails, 2, 23 

Yucca, fertilization, 184 

Zeuglodon, abundance of remains, 43 
same as Basilosaurus, 44 
description, 42, 45 
habits, 43 

Koch's restoration, 44 
name, 42 

once numerous, 43 
size, 42 

specimen of, 49 
structure of bones, 45 
teeth, 43 


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