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Be sure I will not swerve from the truth in 
aught that I say, nor deceive thee ; but of all that 
the ancient one of the sea, whose speech is 
sooth, declared to me, not a word will I hide 
or keep from thee." Odyssey IV., 348-351. 
(Done into English Prose by S. H. BUTCHER and A. LANG.) 








P. 36, line 10 from top. For " 56 " read "51." 
P. 64, line 1 6 from top. Delete " Hinde and." 
P. 95, line 8 from top. The term " unconformable " is used in 

an extended sense. Fossiliferous formations (igneous 

rocks) have been thrust upwards into unconformable 

relation with later formed strata. 
P. 112, line 5 from bottom, delete "f"; line 2, delete "22"; 

and delete bottom line. 
P. 113, line 2 from bottom, delete " 19." 
P. 129, line 13 from bottom. There should be a "f" after 

" origin." 
P. 164, line 5 from bottom. For "are" read "is." 

P. 195, lines ii to 23 from top, delete from "This" to 
" chondrules." [Although nummulitic structure is clearly 
visible in chondrules, I was mistaken in supposing the 
existence and the generally known characters of these 
bodies to have been dependent on the nummulitic factor. 
Meteorites are heterogeneous masses of mineralized 
nummulites hurled up from a region of intense heat and 
pressure and plunged suddenly into an intensely cold 
vacuum. According to Dr. Brezina the chondrules may 
be the result of a " hurried crystallization."] 

P. 245, line 7 from top. For " 35 " read " 34." 

P. 270, line 17 from top. For "gives rise to" read "perhaps 
influences the form of." Line 12 from bottom. For 
" Spaerocodium " read " SphaerocodiumT 

P. 280, lines 9 and 10 from bottom. For "across" read "in 
area," and for " 3,858 " read " 4,822." 

Plate II B (facing p. 154), line 2 from bottom, 28 should be 15. 

XL STROMATOPOROIDS . . . . . .221 


APPENDIX . . ...-'. . .282 

EPILOGUE . . . . .295 

SUPPLEMENT . . . . . . 302 


v. 3 







I. THE OCEAN . . . . . . . . 21 


III. "EozooN," OR "THE DAWN ANIMAL" . . 72 

IV. THE IGNEOUS ROCKS . ... .- I ^ 92 
V. METEORITES . . . - . . . . 1 1 1 

VI. SEDIMENTARY ROCKS . . . . t . 130 

VII. MISCELLANEA . . . . . ''. . . 138 


VIII. NUMMULITES . . . . . .. . 151 


AND METEORITES . . . . . .181 



LIFE -A 20 


XI. STROMATOPOROIDS . . . x . . . 221 


APPENDIX . . .... . .282 

EPILOGUE . . . . . . 295 

SUPPLEMENT . . . . . . 302 



I, facing p. 32; II, p. 72 ; HA, p. 80; HE, p. 154; III, p. 221 ; 
IIlA, p. 221; IV, p. 226; V,p. 226; VA, p. 236; VI, p. 238; 
He, HD, HE, and XI-XXIV, 17 plates consecutively at the 
end of the book. 

I. Diatom ooze, Red clay, Girvanella. 
II. Specimen of Eozoon. 
HA. Nummulitic structure in Eozoon. 
HB. Tertiary nummulites. 

III. Stromatopora concentrica, Goldfuss' type specimen. 
IIlA. S. concentrica, variety. Several specimens. 

IV. S. concentrica magnified. 

V. Permian concretions and Devonian stromatoporoids. 
VA. Specimens of Parkeria, Loftusia, Syringosphaeria. 
VI. Sections of Parkeria. 
He. Granite and meteorites. 
UD. Eozoon and granites. 

HE. Meteorites, melted Barbados earth, Receptaculites. 
XL Chalk, flint, Eozoon, granite, Barbados earth, etc. 
XII. Oolite, dolomite, syenite. 

XIII. Totternhoe Stone, Melbourn Rock, Eozoon. 

XIV. Snake River basalt, meteorite, Eozoon. 

XV. Clee Hill diorite, Tertiary nummulite, syenite. 
XVI. Stavropol meteorite. 
XVII. Snake River basalt, mica. 
XVIII. Granite. 

XIX. Wold Cottage and Ensisheim meteorites, syenite. 
XX. Diatom ooze, red clay, chalk, diamond. 
XXI. Tenerife sulphury trachyte, red clay. 
XXII. Radiolarian chert, Mazapil and Jamestown siderites, 

XXIII. Tertiary nummulite, Ehrenberg's "morpholiths," "canals" 

in Eozoon, "spheres" in Melbourn Rock. 

XXIV. Spirodiscoid structure in cells of bean and in ganglion 
cells of human brain. 

viii List of Twenty-seven Plates 


A. Oceanic oozes, I, XX, XXI. 

B. Tertiary nummulites, KB, XV, XXIII. 


C. Limestones, flint and) 
chert. \ 

Oolite, XII. 

Dolomite, XII. 

Flint and chert, XI, XXII. 

D. Eozoon, II, HA, Ho, XI, XIII, XIV, XXIII. 

( Volcanic, XIV, XV, XXI. 

E. Igneous Rocks < Plutonic, He, HD, XI, XII, XV, XVII, 


F. Meteorites, lie, HE, XIV, XVI, XIX, XXII. 

G. Lithomorphs, I, HE, III, IIlA, IV, V, VA, VI. 
H. Miscellaneous : Mica, XVII; Diamond, XX. 

J. Protoplasm : Bean-plant and human brain, XXIV. 

Note on the Guide-Diagrams Accompanying the Photographs 

These guides have been made by tracing with a needle 
outlines on gelatine films placed over the photographs. The 
outline tracings represent only roughly and very inadequately the 
structure which I myself can see in the pictures. Often the 
pictures may at first seem to show little else than meaningless 
patches of light and shade, but certainly the more the photographs 
are studied the more they will reveal of organic structure. Under 
low powers ( X 3 to 10) the larger features of shells are to be seen, 
and under high powers the spirodisks. If in spite of prolonged 
study of the pictures and specimens errors have occasionally been 
made the matter is not serious, for the photographs from un- 
touched negatives are there to help the observer to arrive at -his 
own conclusions. 

Many of the pictures show structural details best when 
examined with a small pocket-lens X 3. A large reading-glass is 
not so useful because it is often desirable to concentrate attention 
on a small area, 


" What is wanted is, in fact, the skilled eye guided by a brain. 
Hence the need of a long and patient training of the sense of sight, 
attentive and reasoning observation of the phenomena to which it 
is directed, perfect sincerity, the entire abandonment of precon- 
ceived ideas, all united to a passionate love for science and 
truth." ' A Day in the Moon,' by the Abbe Th. Moreux , 
Director of the Bourges Observatory. [Transl.] 

THE foundations on which the stately edifice of 
modern geological science is supported are to a 
certain extent unsound, though easily to be made 

A discovery, and one, too, of a very simple 
nature, has recently been made, which will inevit- 
ably bring about a revolution in our ideas concern- 
ing the nature and origin of by far the greater part 
of the planetary crust, and will modify our concep- 
tions even of cosmic evolution. The discovery 
referred to is that of the organic origin of igneous 
rocks and meteorites. 

Huxley was fond of saying there seemed to be 
no limit to the possibilities of Nature, but at the 
present time to many men of science it seems in- 
conceivable that white-hot volcanic lava, a lump of 
granite or a stony or iron meteorite could have 
originated in any degree from the action of living 
matter. Yet, as a result of many thousands of 
extremely careful observations, I am wholly certain 

2 Introduction. 

that these bodies at least, all which I have 
examined primarily owe their existence to the 
agency of life, and moreover afford evidence of 
that agency, exactly as a mass of fossil shells or 
fossil skeletons of any sort bear witness to the 
former existence of the living organisms that made 
them. Only, in the case of the igneous rocks and 
meteorites, the fossil skeletons, owing to their 
peculiar shape and structure (see Chap. VIII.), have 
lost their individual outlines, and have become com- 
pletely mineralized and, in some cases, ore-enriched. 
The significance of the newly found facts will 
best be shown by means of a brief survey of certain 
matters of geological history. 

# # # * 


In many parts of the world,* a traveller journeying 
from the coast or the plains, preferably along the 
course of a river, to some great range of mountains, 
will probably first meet with mud-flats, sands and 
gravels. On reaching the hills and outer zone of 
the mountain-massif, the rocks will perhaps be found 
arranged in more or less horizontal layers of shales, 
sandstones, conglomerates, limestones, etc., all of 
them evidently being hardened sediments or pre- 
cipitates which, had formerly been laid down in 
water. The rocks forming the core of the mountain 
chain will be in steeply inclined layers of dense, 
finely-crystalline texture or in coarsely-crystalline 
unstratified masses. Lastly, active or extinct 
* See Appendix, Note F. 

Introduction. 3 

volcanoes, the sources of congealed rivers of once- 
molten rock, may be met with ; and rocks resembling 
the volcanic will be seen as dykes or layers (sills) 
among the sedimentary rocks. Obviously the softer 
and looser sediments on the plains would be more 
recent than the more compact strata of sedi- 
mentary rocks higher up, the latter, again, being 
less ancient than the very dense crystalline rocks 
which they partly overlap on the flanks of the 

Werner (1749-1817), the renowned professor of 
mineralogy at the mining school of Freiberg in 
Saxony, classed the rocks of the earth's crust under 
four groups, viz., the primitive (granite, gneiss, 
schists, basalt, etc.) ; the secondary, or mainly sedi- 
mentary (shales, sandstones, limestones, " newer 
basalt," etc.) ; the recent, or relatively recent, 
diluvial deposits (clays, sands, gravels, etc.) ; and 
the volcanic. He taught that a universal ocean 
once covered the globe, even above the highest 
mountain - tops. The crystalline primitive rocks 
were chemically precipitated from the waters, just 
as salt or alum might be thrown down from their 
saturated solutions. Granite, which frequently 
forms the core of great mountain chains, was sup- 
posed to constitute the primitive and universal 
foundation of the globe. 

The waters of the ocean receded, either by 
evaporation or by being whisked off by some comet 
or other heavenly body, or possibly by disappearing 
into an excavation * in the globe. All the primitive 

* Behdlter. a reservoir. 

B 2 

4 Introduction. 

layers being in place, the sedimentary strata now 
became deposited, mainly by mechanical but partly 
by chemical means, in the agitated waters.* Vol- 
canic eruptions were merely superficial recent and 
local phenomena due to combustion of deposits of 
coal or bitumen, the lava being a water-formed rock 
altered by heat. 

So far, then, according to the opinion prevailing 
at that time, the earth's crust owed its origin solely 
to the agency of water, from which it had been 
chemically and mechanically precipitated. 

A totally different view had been slowly maturing, 
however, and presently began to make its influence 

Thirty years before the rise of the Wernerian 
doctrines, the great French investigator Guettard 
discovered the extinct volcanoes of Central France. 
In 1752, in the course of a journey in the Auvergne 
district, he noticed the mile-stones were made of a 
black stone which, from its resemblance to samples 
of rock from Vesuvius, he recognized as volcanic. 
Proceeding on his way he found even the villages 
were built of this stone, and presently discovered 
the cones, craters and lava-flows of long-extinct 
volcanoes. Evidently the now peaceful country- 
side had once been the scene of great volcanic 

The curious black columnar rock called " Basalt " 

the name given to it by Pliny was known to 

exist in various parts of Europe, at Giants' Cause- 

* For simplification, no mention is made above of "transition ' 
rocks between primitive and secondary or Floetz. 

Introduction. 5 

way, and Fingal's Cave. Sometimes the rock 
forms the flat summit of a hill, and sometimes is 
sandwiched between layers of sedimentary rock. 
What was the origin of this mysterious black 
vitreous or very finely crystalline columnar rock, 
so different from the shales, sandstones and lime- 
stones ? Certainly basalt had some resemblance to 
lava, yet apparently there were no traces of volcanic 
action where basalt was found, especially no re- 
mains of cones or craters. Lava was porous and 
full of cavities, and basalt homogeneous ; and, 
further, lava was supposed not to be columnar. 
Guettard looked upon basalt as an aqueous rock 
that had been deposited from water by crystalliza- 
tion, and even twenty years after his discovery 
of the extinct volcanoes he defended this view. 
Geikie * comments on the whimsical circumstance 
of one and the same man being the parent of two 
diametrically opposed schools the Neptunists and 

In 1763 Desmarest visited Auvergne, and dis- 
covered unmistakable lava-flows showing distinct 
columnar structure. He realized at once that he 
had found the answer to the riddle of the origin of 
basalt, viz., that the rock was volcanic.- He un- 
ravelled with wonderful skill the complicated tangle 
of phenomena displayed before him. In the most 
recent eruptions the lava-streams were still con- 
nected with the craters whence they had flowed, 
and scoriae remained. In the case of older lava- 
flows the cones and ashes had all been washed 
* ' The Founders of Geology,' Sir A. Geikie. 

6 Introduction. 

away, and the lava cut into by deep valleys. Lava 
which, perhaps, had once flowed down into some 
ancient valley now capped high hills or plateaux. 
Lastly, the oldest lava was buried beneath piles of 
sedimentary strata. 

Desmarest traced all these great changes to the 
ceaseless operation of the agencies of denudation. 
It was now easy to account for the isolated masses 
and patches of basalt found in localities whence all 
other traces of volcanic action had disappeared. 

In spite of Desmarest's splendid work a fierce 
controversy arose concerning the origin of basalt, 
the upholders of the theory of aqueous origin being 
termed Neptunists and the believers in the volcanic 
origin Vulcanists. The visits of some of Werner's 
most distinguished disciples, for instance von Buch 
and d'Aubuisson, to Auvergne, and the perplexities 
that assailed them, recall the story of Balaam. 
They came, perhaps, to curse, but went away 
bestowing approval on the Vulcanists. 

So far as basalt was concerned, the views of the 
Neptunists gradually became discredited ; but a still 
greater defeat was in store for them.* 

Werner ignored the existence of great sub- 
terranean forces. The mountains were simply 
huge heaps of matter deposited in situ from the 

James Hutton (1726-1797), whom Geikie calls 
the " Father of Modern Geology," arrived at con- 

* In this general review of the Neptunist and Plutonist con- 
troversy, prominence is given rather to the period of prevalence 
of certain views than to the precise date of their origin. 

Introduction* 7 

elusions wholly different from the Wernerian. The 
folding, crumpling and uplifting of strata, which in 
some cases must necessarily * at one time have 
been horizontal, filled his mind with the idea of 
great upheaving forces. 

He clearly perceived the contest between the 
upheaving and the more obvious wearing-down 
agencies. Water was one of the tools which cut 
valleys in the uplifted masses and ultimately ground 
down the latter wholly into gravel, sand and mud. 
The sediments became hardened into rocks by heat 
and pressure, and again upheaved. He regarded 
granite and basalt as materials emanating from the 
molten interior of the earth. Great was his delight 
when he discovered in Glen Tilt veins from a mass 
of red granite penetrating the black schist and the 
limestone, thereby proving the granite had once 
been molten and that it was not " primitive " in its 
relation to the other rocks, f Not only, then, was 
basalt related to volcanic lava, but even granite was 
formerly a molten rock of a similar nature, the 
coarsely crystalline texture being due to slow 
cooling under great pressure. 

Huttonians were termed " Plutonists " and were 
regarded by Neptunists as a more extreme section 
of Vulcanists. Gradually the Plutonists, now in- 
cluding Vulcanists, prevailed, and granite basalt and 
their like universally came to be termed " Igneous 

* For how could highly-inclined strata composed of water- 
worn pebbles have been deposited in nearly vertical sheets ? 
f Hutton, * Theory of the Earth,' vol. iii. p. 13. 

8 Introduction. 

Neptunists became almost extinct, a few isolated 
cases being regarded as " eccentric." 

Now comes a strange event in the history of 
natural science,* viz., the discovery beyond the 
faintest shadow of doubt that the Neptunian 
theory is right after all. The so-called igneous 
rocks are of aqueous origin. They are marine 
formations, so far as I have observed, and fossili- 
ferous throughout. 

During the summer of 1912, in the hope of 
solving a problem presented by a remarkable sponge, 
I was led to investigate certain fossils called Stroma- 
toporoids and Eozoon (see Chapters III. and X.). 

After a prolonged controversy Eozoon had been 
finally accepted by the scientific world as a mineral 
of purely mineral origin. Dr. Carpenter, however, 
had regarded it as a gigantic reef-forming Fora- 

One day I found in one of Dr. Carpenter's 
sections something which I took to be a small 
coiled nummulite shell situated in one of the 
supposed chambers of the Eozoon. I concluded 
Dr. Carpenter was right in his theory of organic 

* Attempts have been made to prove on petrological grounds 
the purely aqueous origin of igneous rocks. I would especially 
call attention to * Essai sur la genese et 1'evolution des roches,' 
1912, by A. Yialay. I doubt if this learned treatise would ever 
have any effect against the Plutonian stronghold. The proof, 
however, that igneous rocks are fossiliferous is unanswerable, 
unless indeed we are to assume the existence of a Plutonic fauna 
living in an "inflamed sea" with shores of "burning marl'* 
(Milton, * Paradise Lost'). 

Introduction. 9 

At this stage I went on a dredging expedition to 
Porto Santo Island, and in spare time examined the 
volcanic rocks. To my amazement I found in them 
traces of Foraminiferal shells. At Madeira, also, 
the igneous rocks revealed similar structures. On 
returning to London, I examined in the Natural 
History Museum volcanic rocks from all parts of 
the world, and in every instance detected the shells. 
Lastly, I found similar objects in granite and other 
Plutonic rocks, in meteorites and in abyssal oozes. 
I published a small book entitled ' The Nummulo- 
sphere : An account of the organic origin of so- 
called Igneous Rocks and of Abyssal Red Clays,' 
with two plates of photographs of the supposed shells. 
The book was, I believe, regarded by some as a 
symptom of mental derangement on the part of the 
author. I have no cause for complaint, for my 
startling statements were not supported by sufficient 
evidence, and I had only a partial glimpse of a 
great truth. 

I found Stromatoporoids and Receptaculites, 
which are universally regarded as the remains of 
definite and distinct organisms, to be formed of 
nummulites, and concluded the latter were associated 
in colonies. These fossils are palaeontologically 
similar to igneous rocks, and hence I regarded the 
latter as masses of nummulite colonies resembling 
coral-reefs. When I made the surprising discovery 
that the above-named fossils were pseudomorphs 
made of masses of ordinary nummulite shells, the 
colony-theory of igneous rocks likewise fell to the 
ground. All alike are simply masses and lumps of 

i o Introduction. 

nummulitic rock. Continuing the study of rocks, 
I discovered in sections of Eozoon and igneous 
rocks objects which I took to be Radiolaria and 
Diatoms. Here, apparently, was a source of part of 
the silica which forms so great a proportion of the 
planetary crust. Again I published a pamphlet on 
the genesis of the igneous rocks. 

I now turned my attention to the nummulite 
shells which I had seen with the aid of a hancl-lens 
in igneous rocks, many limestones, abyssal red 
clays and meteorites. I found the shells belonged 
to the genus Nummulites. 

At the same time I discovered a singular mistake 


on my part. All the objects which I had taken 
to be skeletons of Radiolaria Diatoms and cocco- 
liths in igneous rocks I found to be portions of 
nummulite shells. The peculiar nummulitic spiral- 
disk structures (Chapter VIII.), as seen in rock- 
sections under high powers, closely resemble plank- 
ton skeletons. After a great expenditure of time 
and trouble, I had collected into four octavo plates 
thirty-eight photos of supposed plankton skeletons 
in igneous rocks. Some of the pictures are very 
deceptive and "convincing." Space can now only 
be spared for a few of the smaller ones (Plate 
II. C.). Other observers likewise have been 
deceived by these nummulitic structures in chalk, 
Eozoon, &c.* 

* The supposed Precambrian Radiolaria figured by Cayeux 
(Bull. Soc. Geol. France, 22, pi. xi. 1899), are, I believe, nummu- 
litic structures. 

Introduction. 1 1 

In spite of very careful search, I am at present 
unable to produce indubitable evidence of the 
existence of a single plankton skeleton in igneous 
rocks. Why, then, do I entitle this book ' Bentho- 
plankton'?* This name is chosen because the 
circumstantial evidence- is strongly in favour of the 
theory that a portion of the silica of igneous rocks 
comes from the skeletons of organisms, and espe- 
cially of plankton organisms. See Chapters I. 
and II. on -The Ocean" and "Chalk." The 
soluble silica of the skeletons had dissolved, and 
had silicified and silicated the nummulite shells 
amongst or above which they had fallen. 

Looking back over the history narrated above, 
it is now easy to detect the fatal flaw in the 
"Plutonic mahY't 

Ehrenberg (' Mikrogeologie,' plate xxx. B) describes parts 
of nummulites in the chalk of Riigen as crystalloids or morpho- 
liths. Sorby (Ann. Mag. N. H., 1861, viii. p. 193) confuses 
Ehrenberg's crystalloids with coccoliths. Hahn (* Die Urzelle ') 
makes several genera of algae and a worm out of the discoid 
and funnel-like parts of the pillars of the same Foraminiferan. 
The " spheres " of chalk have been mistaken for Radiolaria, 
Foraminifera, &c. (Mem. Geol. Survey, 1903, ' Cretaceous,' 

ii. P- 5 01 )- 

* Benthos organisms living at the bottom ; plankton those 
living at or below the surface of the water. A benthoplankton 
ooze or rock is one made of a mixture of benthos and plankton 
skeletons. Igneous rocks are here described as benthoplankton, 
even though no plankton skeletons persist, because the 
evidence is in favour of the theory that part of the silica of 
those rocks is derived from plankton organisms. Benthos, 
plankton, and benthoplankton are used either as adjectives or 

f Playfair's ' Illustrations,' p. 279. Adopting the analogy 
used by the illustrious Dr. Playfair, it may now be said with 

1 2 Introduction. 

When the fallacy of Werner's coal-combustion 
theory of volcanoes was detected,* lava came to be 
regarded as an " igneous " rock of deep origin 
and not as a heated superficial aqueous rock. 
One variety of the " igneous " theory for there 
are several is clearly stated by Whitney and 
Wadsworth in their memoir on the igneous 
rocks: . " The original crust of the earth must 
have been azoic, if we adopt the views held 
by the large majority of geologists that our 
globe has cooled down from a former condition 
of igneous fluidity. The volcanic and eruptive 
rocks must necessarily be azoic because they have 
come from the heated interior of the globe, reaching 
the surface in a melted condition. We do not, how- 
ever, designate the eruptive and volcanic rocks as 
* Azoic ' ; the fact that they are necessarily in this 
condition is assumed as something self-evident." f 
The Neptunian theory of the aqueous origin of 
basalt though correct was obviously a pure guess. 
Neptunists, for instance, defended with incredible 
obstinacy the view that basalt had been deposited 
from water in the place where it was found (Ap- 
pendix, Note A). Plutonists, on the other hand, 

truth that the Neptunian scale-armour is absolutely impenetrable 
to the prongs of Plutonian pitchforks. 

* For it soon became impossible to escape seeing the 
identity of the Auvergne lava and basalt. In this district basalt lies 
on granite, below which no Wernerian could imagine coal to 
exist. Here, then, were volcanic rocks remote from burning 

f Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard, 1884, vii. p. 534. 
J. D. Whitney and M. E. Wadswoith, 'The Azoic System.' 

Introduction. 1 3 

were right concerning the ascent of basalt as a 
molten magma ; but their denial of the aqueous 
origin of the rock has, for over a hundred years, 
falsified scientific speculation concerning the real 
nature of the planetary crust (Appendix, Note P). 

Volcanoes and lava streams are heaps and 
masses of silicated nummulitic limestone, i.e., they 
are of aqueous and organic origin. All the rest 
of the igneous rocks are of a similar nature 
and origin. Seeing that these rocks and the 
sediments derived from them constitute the bulk 
of the planetary crust, it follows that the litho- 
sphere is mainly composed of silicated nummu- 
litic rock. It will be shown that the ocean floor is 
almost certainly formed of nummulitic deposits, 
even in areas covered with recent plankton 

Eocene nummulitic limestones thousands of feet 
thick extend across north-west Africa, Europe and 
Asia, from Morocco and Spain to Japan, forming the 
middle and upper parts of great mountain-chains. 
This " nummulitic epoch" is not an isolated event, 
for nearly the whole planetary crust is made of 
nummulitic rocks in the form of chalk and other 
limestones and igneous rocks. Rocks are some- 
times classified as fossiliferous and unfossiliferous, 
but all are fossiliferous. Again, they are classed as 
igneous, sedimentary and precipitated ; but igneous 
rocks are precipitated, and sedimentary rocks 
are precipitated rocks ground down. Really, 
then, there is, broadly speaking, one rock, viz., 


The materials composing the vast bulk of the 
planetary crust may be classified as follows : 


(clay surface of 
ancient bentho- 
plankton de- 
posit plus 
recent bentho- 

Supramarine or 

land (hardened 


ton deposits) 


I Sediments 
of igneous 
rocks and 

- Much altered 
(igneous rocks) 

Not so much 
altered (marine 

Remarks on the above table. Marine bentho- 
plankton deposits are mainly composed of the 
skeletons of unicellular organisms ; in the case of 
non-igneous rocks, Corals Mollusca Brachiopoda 
Echinodermata and Algae contribute largely. Re- 
mains of fresh-water benthoplankton and of land 
faunas and floras are, relatively to the mass of the 
planetary crust, almost negligible ; and, moreover, 
they are mixed up with sediments of marine bentho- 
plankton. I have found nummulitic remains even 
in coal cinders, as well as in slates, sandstones, grits, 
muds, sands, etc., from many localities. 

The planetary crust, so far as it is accessible to 
observation, is composed of mineralized organic 
remains, the bulk of these being silicated nummu- 
lite shells. The lithosphere is veritably a silicated 

* * * * 

My statements concerning the igneous rocks 
have not yet been accepted. Some even declare 
it is not necessary to search these rocks in quest 

Introduction. 1 5 

of organic remains, the theory of organic origin 
being manifestly absurd. 

An attitude of this kind is not surprising in 
view of the history of the Eozoon controversy ; and 
countless observations have been made on rock- 
sections, without any trace of organic structure 
being detected. Yet how frequently evidences of 
some new truth have escaped notice till attention 
has been specially drawn to them ! 

At one time it was said no organic life could 
exist in the great abysses of the ocean. In these 
sunless depths there would be no plant life, on 
which animal life must, in the long run, subsist ; 
and further, animals, even if they could exist, would 
have to be supported by enormous cuirasses to 
withstand the assumed high pressure. In fact, it 
was physically and biologically impossible for 
animals to live in great depths. Actual dredging 
in great depths soon dispelled all these fallacies 
by revealing a rich abyssal fauna. A slender 
zoophyte dredged from 2900 fathoms in the Central 
Pacific almost melted on deck before the eyes of its 
captors. So with the theory of the existence of 
organic remains in igneous rocks. Solvitur spec- 

* * * * 

I shall now briefly reply to certain criticisms 
and objections : 

i. That no traces of organic remains could 
survive in rocks that had once been molten. 

Dr. J. F. Bottomley, of the Thermal Syndi- 

1 6 Introduction. 

cate, Newcastle-on-Tyne, very kindly undertook, 
at my request, to melt a piece of Radiolarian earth 
in an electric furnace. At about 1700 C. the 
earth completely melted, forming when cooled a 
dark glassy bead. Sections of the latter show 
very distinct organic structures. Plate II. E, 
Fig. 21, shows nummulitic structure. The photo 
shows traces of nummulitic disk-structures. 

With the kind help of Prof. W. H. Merrett and 
Mr. H. M. Chappie of the Royal School of Mines, 
pieces of the same earth were subjected to a 
temperature of 1600 C. in a Meker furnace. 
When the oxygen was turned on the earth became 
glowing white hot. Just at the melting point it 
was cooled down and sections were cut from the 
resulting slag. Radiolaria are so very clearly 
visible that it is possible to determine the species 
(Plate XL, Fig. 49). The temperature of lavas 
varies from 900 C. to 1500 C.* The melting 
point of silica is 1600 C., but that of silicates 
depends on the composition, the basic being more 
easily fusible than the acid basalt, for example, 
being more tractable than trachyte or granite. 

2. That the supposed organic remains in igneous 
rocks may be of accidental origin. 

The suggestion has been made that the skeletons 
said to be found by me in igneous rocks may be 
recent deposits or incrustations ; or the rock when 

* Fide Prof. J. P. Iddings, ' Lectures on Vulcanism,' London, 

Introduction. 1 7 

in a molten state may have licked up the organic 

If a plug of granite one hundred metres long 
and, say, one centimetre in area, were cut out of 
the De Lank granite quarry in any direction, and 
cut into sections 0*1 mm. thick (i.e., into one 
million sections), I am justified in stating that 
traces of organic remains would certainly be found 
in every section. 

3. That the author has not had sufficient ex- 
perience to justify him in publishing opinions on 
igneous rocks. 

It has more than once been hinted to me, and 
in no unfriendly manner, that I am dealing with 
matters beyond my special province. There is 
indeed an appearance of this, but in reality, so far 
as main issues are concerned, I am on my own 
ground. Knowledge of the chemical composition 
and mineral characters of every rock on earth avail 
I will not say nothing but very little. What is 
needed is some knowledge of nummulites, and 
practice in examining these shells with the hand-lens 
and compound microscope. 

Tow-netting and dredging in the Atlantic and 
Indian Ocean have familiarised me with the ex- 
ceeding richness of oceanic life. During the last 
year and a half I have travelled over England and 
Wales from Sunderland to Land's End and from 
St. David's Head to the Norfolk coast, to examine 
igneous rocks and limestones in situ and to collect 

1 8 Introduction. 

material. With the help of colleagues I have 
obtained specimens and collections of minerals from 
many parts of the world. 

Lastly and chiefly, as a result of innumerable 
microscopic observations, I have acquired a certain 
degree of specialised skill. The eye has been 
trained to appreciate delicate structure, and to 
trace the various stages of degradation and altera- 
tion in nummulite shells found in igneous and other 
rocks from the Eocene to the Laurentian. 

The book is divided into four parts. 

In Part I. evidence is brought together showing 
the strong a priori reasons for believing in a theory 
of organic origin of igneous rocks. It is pointed 
out that an origin of this kind is such as might 
well be expected to result from the operation of 
the laws of nature. 

A chapter on the ocean is followed by one on 
a typical benthoplankton rock, viz., chalk. Next 
follows a chapter on a more changed rock of a 
similar nature, viz., Eozoon, and, again, one on 
those still more changed benthoplankton struc- 
tures commonly known as igneous rocks and 
meteorites. In Part II. is given a description of 
the genus Nummulites, followed by an account of 
the occurrence of nummulites in igneous rocks, 
meteorites, etc. Part III. refers briefly to certain 
speculations on the origin of life. 

Part IV. contains a description of certain 
pseudomorphs commonly known as Stromatoporotds^ 

Introduction. 1 9 

Receptaculitidae, ArcJiaeocyathns, Girvanella, Lof- 

tusia, etc. 

* # * * 

I am deeply indebted to my colleagues in 
the Geological, Mineralogical, and Bibliographical 
Departments of the Natural History Museum for 
much kind help. Further, I have been granted 
many privileges by the Museum authorities, espe- 
cially in being permitted to study valuable type 
collections of fossils, meteorites, etc. 

I take this opportunity of expressing my grateful 
acknowledgments to Mr. L. M. Lambe, Mr. R. A. 
Johnston, and Mr. A. T. McKinnon, officers of the 
Geological Survey of Canada, who sent me at my 
request a magnificent set of minerals collected at 
Cote St. Pierre, Quebec, the classical Eozoon- 
ground, and transported with much difficulty to 
Montreal for shipment. One royal example of 
" Eozoon canadense " weighs over a sixth of a ton. 

The friendly sympathy of some who have 
followed my work has been a valuable aid. Ge- 
schworner G. Henriksenof Minde, Bergen, especially 
has endeavoured to call the attention of scientific 
men to the new discovery. 

I have been fortunate in securing the ser- 
vices of Mr. P. Highley. I think no one has 
had more experience in drawing from the micro- 
scope. He was making drawings of Eozoon for 
Dr. Carpenter forty years ago. Thanks are due 
also to Messrs. Raines, of Ealing, who have taken 
great pains to secure good photographic results, 
and to Mr. Butterworth for careful cliche work. 

C 2 

2o Introduction. 

Also I would gratefully refer here to the 
very patient and skilful work of Messrs. William 
Clowes and Sons. 


Anything of scientific value in ' Nummulosphere ' 
Parts I. and II. is incorporated in Part III. The 
first two parts, which are no longer of use, have 
been of the nature of stepping-stones that have 
helped me, in spite of much initial error, to arrive 
at the truths explained in the present work. 

Postscript. The irregularity in the numbering of the plates is 
due to the suppression of many of the earlier plates even after 
the latter had all been printed off. 

The original title of Part III. viz., " Sea-Floors or Bentho- 
plankton " (see page-headings) has been changed to " The Ocean 
Floor or Benthoplankton." The designation " Nummulosphere " 
refers to the fact that one of the concentric planetary layers (viz. 
the earth's " crust ") is almost wholly composed of mineralized 
nummulites, the other zones being atmosphere, hydrosphere and 



" Ocean, the parent of all." Iliad xiv. 246. 

THE words of the poet are literally true. For both 
the emerged land area and the submerged oceanic 
area of the planetary crust are almost wholly pro- 
ducts of the ocean, and born of its substance, and 
life is the chief agency that has brought about this 

In the course of a long sea- voyage, the traveller 
in some swift, high-decked ship, though he may 
frequently see dim forms of fish or medusae 
swimming in the depths, and also flying fish, por- 
poises, and other marine creatures, yet is apt to get 
an impression of boundless areas devoid of life. 

To him, and even to naturalists acquainted with 
the wonderful richness of oceanic life, the idea of 
the birth of the earth's crust from " the unapparent 
deep " * may well seem chimerical. Nevertheless 
the facts relating to the surface-life of the ocean, 

* Smooth tropical seas in moderate depths often seem almost 
as transparent as air or crystal. In Milton's grand line, " The 
birth of nature from the unapparent deep," the deep is the void 
of space. 

22 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

and to the nature of the ocean-floor and of 
igneous rocks, all point to the oceanic and mainly 
organic origin of the planetary crust. 

* * * * * 


If, with the aid of a water-telescope to banish 
reflections, we look down through the clear waters 
off some tropical island of the East Indies, say 
Java,* we may see on the sea-bottom great masses 
of coral, gigantic Tridacnas and huge Neptune's- 
Cup Sponges. All these massive constructions 
began life as minute soft specks of living substance, 
which, in the course of their growth, extracted from 
the sea the carbonate of lime and silica of their 
skeletons. It is not, however, these large organisms 
that we must regard as world-builders, but, rather, 
certain kinds of minute shells. The white sand on 
the floor of the submarine garden will be found to be 
very rich in small calcareous shells of Foraminifera. 
In tropical latitudes, Foraminifera sometimes form 
reefs and banks obstructing navigation. The boring 
into the Funafuti coral-atoll revealed the fact that 
the reef was to a considerable extent built of 

Nummulitic limestones many thousands of feet 
thick and chalk one thousand feet thick are 
exceedingly rich in these shells. Further, if igneous 

* " Where seas of glass with gay reflections smile 
Round the green coasts of Java's palmy isle." 

'The Botanic Garden,' Erasmus Darwin, 
t ' The Age of the Earth.' ' Funafuti : the Study of a Coral- 
Atoll.' W J. Sollas. 

The Ocean. 23 

rocks are examined with sufficient care they also 
will be found to be built chiefly of Foraminifera in 
which the carbonate of lime has become replaced by 

For one of the sources of the silica that forms 
such a large proportion of the earth's crust we must 
look elsewhere than to the floor of the sea. 

Prof. W. K. Brooks in his memoir on ' The 
Genus Salpa,' when referring to the food of 
that pelagic Tunicate, describes the mid-ocean 
surface as "a living broth." This apt comparison 
may serve to convey some idea of the abounding 
life existing in and near the ocean surface. The 
living creatures are very small and mostly of micro- 
scopic size. Prof. Brooks gives some striking 
examples of the almost incredible abundance of 
marine life : " Salpae are often found swarming at 
the surface of the ocean in numbers beyond 
description." " The smaller species are often so 
abundant that for hundreds of miles any bucketful 
of water dipped up at random will be found to 
contain hundreds of them. The food of Salpa 
consists of Radiolarians, Diatoms, and other micro- 
organisms which float in the water. The supply of 
this food is unlimited." 

G. Chierchia (' Viag. Vettor Pisani] p. 31) writes 
of the Atlantic : " The zone of equatorial calms is 
beyond measure rich in life. Sometimes the water 
looks as if it is coagulated, and this condition is 
apparent also to the touch." Concerning Copepods, 
G. S. Brady writes (' Challenger Narrative 'I. 2. 
p. 843) : " The sea from the Equator to the Poles 

24 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

supports such vast numbers of them, that it is often 
coloured by wide bands for many miles." They 
may be compared with the herbivora on land, for 
their food consists of Diatoms. Further, Brady 
says the Copepods are an important item of food 
for whales in Arctic seas. Accordingly these minute 
" sea locusts " form a link between the smallest 
plants and the largest animals. 

Haeckel (^Challenger Radiolaria') states : " Radio- 
laria occur in all seas of the world." " The de- 
velopment of Radiolaria in large masses is very 
remarkable, and in many parts of the ocean is so 
great that they play an important part in the 
economy of marine life." 

In a classical passage, Sir Joseph Hooker (' Flora 
Antarctica' I. ii. p. 505) writes: "The universal 
existence of such an invisible vegetation as that of 
the Antarctic Ocean is a truly wonderful fact, and 
the more from its not being accompanied by 
plants of a high order. During the years we spent 
there, I had been accustomed to regard the pheno- 
mena of life as differing totally from what obtains 
throughout all other latitudes ; for everything living 
appeared to be of animal origin. The ocean swarmed 
with Mollusca, and particularly entomostracous 
Crustacea, small whales and porpoises : the sea 
abounded with penguins and seals, and the air with 
birds : the animal kingdom was ever present, the 
larger creatures preying on the smaller, and these 
again on smaller still : all seemed carnivorous. 
The herbivorous were not recognised, because 
feeding on a microscopic herbage of whose true 

The Ocean. 25 

nature I had formed an erroneous impression. It 
is, therefore, with no little satisfaction that I now 
class the Diatomaceae with plants, probably main- 
taining in the South Polar Ocean that balance 
between the animal and vegetable kingdoms, which 
prevails over the surface of our globe. . . . The 
end these plants serve in the great scheme of nature 
is apparent, on inspecting the stomachs of many 

To add a final quotation, Murray and Renard 
('Deep-Sea Deposits, Challenger] p. 281) write: 
" These siliceous Algae are met with everywhere in 
the surface and sub-surface waters of the ocean. At 
times they occur near the surface in enormous 
numbers, in great floating banks many miles in 
extent and several fathoms in depth." " It is . . . 
impossible to drag a very fine tow-net through the 
sea-water anywhere without capturing . . . these 
minute organisms." 

Beyond the littoral zone the ocean appeared 
to be tenanted solely by animals which lived by 
preying on each other. On land the animal-world 
subsists in the long run on plant-life. Hooker found 
that this law holds in the ocean, but the individual 
plants are mostly invisible. The ocean is covered 
with floating prairies amid which browse the Pro- 
tozoa, Copepods, Salpas, etc., these in turn forming 
the food of marine carnivores. Since plant-life other 
than Bacteria and Fungi depends on sunlight, the 
ocean vegetation cannot live below the limit reached by 
the sun's rays and must necessarily be a floating flora. 

Prof. V. H. Blackman ('Science of the Sea,' 

26 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

p. 1 1 6) classes the oceanic phyto-plankton into six 
groups of which only one secretes silica, viz. 
the Diatoms. These microscopic algae are found 
all over the ocean, but more abundantly in 
waters of relatively low salinity (Castracane, 
* Challenger Diatomaceae '). Though the group is 
universal, yet many genera and species are restricted 
to certain areas. Castracane regards temperature 
as the chief barrier which prevents a cosmopolitan 
distribution of species. 

Whether devoured or not, the siliceous frustules 
of Diatoms sink to the bottom, and in some areas, 
especially in the Southern Ocean, form a charac- 
teristic Diatomaceous ooze. Sometimes the frustules 
appear to get dissolved, for Murray and Renard 
(' Deep-Sea Deposits,' p. 283) state : " It seems diffi- 
cult to account for the absence of Diatom remains in 
some deposits, except on the supposition of removal 
by exposure to the action of sea-water." 

It has been proved, especially by the researches 
of Hinde, Sollas, and Zittel, that the flint and chert 
of Chalk and other limestone formations is derived 
mainly from the skeletons of organisms. I think it 
is very probable that much of the silica of those 
hardened and crystallized Foraminiferal deposits 
known as igneous rocks is likewise of organic 

Diatoms* and one-celled plants may be compared 
to the base of a great pyramid of oceanic life, and 
there is reason to suppose this relation has held good 
almost from the beginning of geological time. 
* Deby regards some Diatoms as pluricellular. 

The Ocean. 27 

The Diatoms themselves have persisted as 
simple cells undergoing division, the halves 
remaining physiologically independent. As Brooks 
points out, these simple algae have led an easy 
existence immersed in a nutrient fluid bathed in 
sunshine, whereas effort is the price of advance up 
the evolutionary scale. 

These minute siliceous algae have probably 
existed from near the time when the ocean was 
born and the sun began to shine on it perhaps 
millions of centuries ago. The actual frustules 
have not yet been found among igneous rocks, 
but the circumstantial evidence that the silica and 
silicates of those organic deposits is partly derived 
from Diatoms and Radiolaria is very strong. 

The proportion of soluble silica in sea-water is 
extremely small according to Murray and Irvine* 
one part in 200,000 to 500,000. These authors 
concluded that Diatoms obtained their silica from 
suspended clay. E. J. Allen's experiments on 
Diatom-culture,f apparently showing the necessity 
for the presence of certain vitamines in the sea- 
water, reveal the complicated nature of the problem 
of metabolism in Diatoms. 

There are certain other algae that indirectly aid 
in the extraction of silica from the sea, viz. the 
zooxanthellae or " yellow cells" found in many 
Radiolaria. The symbiosis between the algae and 
their Radiolarian ally has been shown by experiment 

* ' On Silica in Seas.' Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, xviii, 
p. 236, 1891. 

t Journ. Mar. Biol. Assoc. Plymouth, x. p. 417, 1914. 

28 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

to be so effective, that the combination can be self- 
sufficing, the Radiolarian being able to live without 
capturing food. 

The Diatom mud of the Antarctic forms a 
nutritious food for fishes and other animals. 
Probably the Diatoms from the surface formed 
part of the food supply of the nummulites that 
constitute the mass of the igneous rocks, the 
Foraminifera afterwards becoming silicated by 
material derived from the frustules. 

The Diatoms and zooxanthellae depend on 
sunshine. Accordingly, I was led to modify 
Linnaeus' designation of the rocks as " daughters 
of time" and to call them ''daughters of the 


At the present day oceanic life depends on the 
simple plant vegetation at the surface, and especially 
on the Diatoms, and there is every reason to believe 
this relation has held good almost from the 
beginning of geological time i.e. the beginning of 
the formation of the earth's crust. 

The surface life of the ocean has been an im- 
portant source of the silica which forms a great 
part of the lithosphere. The planetary crust is 
mainly a product f of the evolution of life. 


* ' The Nummuiosphere,' Part II. 

t From a philosophical point of view, the earth's crust might 
be described as a by-product of the evolutionary process, psychic 
development being the aim. 

The Ocean. 29 


Until recent times the floor of the ocean beyond 
a few hundred fathoms was a region of profound 
mystery, and consequently men of science were in 
complete ignorance concerning the greater part of 
the surface of the planetary crust. During the last 
sixty years, however, human ingenuity has succeeded 
in surveying and charting the ocean floor almost as 
completely and surely as if it had been laid bare to 
ordinary observation. 

The merit of this great achievement belongs 
especially to the Challenger Expedition (1873-76), 
though great credit is due to other enterprises 
undertaken before and since that epoch-making 
voyage. As a result of these explorations it is now 
possible to picture to the mind the submerged 
mountains, valleys and plains of the ocean, the weird 
inhabitants of the abysses and the nature of the 
bottom. It is this last feature that is a matter of 
present concern. 

Sir John Murray* estimates the area of the 
surface of the globe at 197 millions of square miles, 
of which dry land occupies 54 millions and the 
ocean 143 millions. The ocean floor is covered with 
muds, " oozes " and clay. Murray classes -these 
deposits under two groups, viz. the Terrigenous, 
fringing the great land areas, and the Pelagic remote 
from land. The terrigenous deposits (littoral muds 
sands and gravels, coral sand and mud, volcanic 
sand and mud, greensand, and green red and blue 
* Scottish Geogr. Mag., iv. p. i, 1888, and vi. p. 265, 1890. 

3O Sea- Floors or Bent hop lank ton. 

muds) covering an area of 28 '6 millions of square 
miles are more or less composed of materials derived 
from land. 

The pelagic deposits, formed either of Red Clay 
or of skeletons of plankton organisms,* cover 
an area of 114 '6 millions of square miles, and 
are distributed as follows : 

depth in 

Area in 
sq. miles. 


Globigerina Ooze . 


49 '5 

[Atlantic chiefly, 
Indian Ocean, and 
[ Pacific. 

Diatomaceous Oozef 



(Southern Ocean 
{ chiefly. 

Radiolarian Ooze . 



(Indian Ocean and 
( Pacific. 

Pteropod Ooze . 



South Atlantic. 

Red Clay . . . 



; Eastern Pacific 
chiefly, Atlantic, 
and Indian Ocean. 

The results of the Challenger dredgings so far as 
concerned the first three deposits in the above list 
did not come as a surprise, for scientific men were 
already familiar with Globigerina- and Diato- 

* Nummulites are abundantly present in Globigerina and 
Diatom-oozes. In Nummulosphere I. I unnecessarily suggested 
adding the designation " palaeonummulitic " to the names in use. 
The nummulites in the above oozes are probably derived from 
subaerial and submarine eruptions. In depths greater than 2700 
fms. calcareous plankton dust is dissolved, and the clayey surface 
of the probably universal nummulitic deposit is left bare. 

| See Appendix, Note L. 

The Ocean. 31 

maceous oozes and with fossil "oceanic" deposits of 
Radiolaria ; but the " capital discovery " to use 
Huxley's expression that at a mean depth of 2730 
fathoms and over an area of 5 1 * 5 millions of square 
miles there existed a deposit of red clay, was some- 
thing wholly new and unexpected. At first the clay 
was thought to be the finest detritus of the land, but 
this hypothesis was soon found to be untenable. 

A remarkable feature about the deposit was the 
almost entire absence of shells of pelagic Foram- 
inifera, which were abundant in neighbouring areas 
of less depth, and which flourished at the surface of 
the ocean above the Red Clay. The absence of the 
shells was attributed to their being dissolved in the 
course of their very slow descent in the greatest 

Sir Wyville Thomson f came to the conclusion 
that Red Clay was the residue or ash of the 
calcareous organisms left after the removal of the 
carbonate of lime. When samples of Globigerina 
ooze were carefully washed and treated with weak 
acid, after the carbonate of lime had been removed 
there remained a small residue of reddish mud 
composed of silicate of alumina. Huxley, who 
accepted provisionally Wyville Thomson's theory, 

* Dittmar considered sea-water to be the chief dissolving 
agency of calcareous skeletons, the carbonic acid being apparently 
already held up. Murray believed carbonic acid derived from 
decomposing organic matter inside the shells to be an additional 
dissolving agency (* Challenger Narrative/ i. p. 981). Possibly, 
too, carbonic acid, however formed, would gravitate slowly to 
the deepest troughs; but if so, the amount is not sufficient to 
prevent or to destroy life. 

t Proceedings Roy. Soc. xxiii. p. 45, 1874. 

32 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lank ton. 

writes* : "So long as the Globigerinae collected at 
the surface have not been demonstrated to contain 
the elements of clay, the Challenger hypothesis, as I 
may term it, must be accepted with reserve and 
provisionally, but, at present, I cannot but think 
that it is more probable than any other suggestion 
that has been made. Accepting it provisionally, we 
arrive at the remarkable result that all the chief 
known constituents of the crust of the earth may 
have formed part of living bodies ; that they may be 
the ' ash ' of protoplasm, . . . ." Wyville Thom- 
son's theory was incorrect, the fallacy in it having 
arisen owing to the omission to wash the samples of 
Globigerina ooze with sufficient care before dis- 
solving them in acid. There is no clay residue to 
be got from clean pelagic shells gathered from the 
surface. The residue from shells lying on the 
bottom is simply that which has permeated them 
from the surrounding clay. Murray (' Deep-Sea 
Deposits,' footnote p. 190) states that Wyville 
Thomson himself gave up the idea that the 
calcareous shells contained silicate of alumina. 

Huxley's supposition concerning the organic 
origin of all the rocks in the absence of the 
definite data now available showed prescience and 
insight on the part of its author. He clearly saw 
how defective w r ere the various theories concerning 
the nature of Red Clay, for he writes (I.e.) : " I 
think it probable that we shall have to wait some 
time for a sufficient explanation of the origin of the 

* ' On some of the Results of the Expedition of H.M.S. 
Challenger] 1875. 


Fig. i. Fragment of Diatom ooze, X 5 (Challenger), Southern 
Ocean St. 157, 1950 fms. This ooze (in the dried state) is a 
powdery mass of nummulites crammed with microscopic plankton 
skeletons, chiefly Diatoms. The faint circular or oval outlines of 
the nummulites are about 25 mm. (an inch) in diameter in the 
photo, i.e. about 5 mm. (^ inch) nat. size. 

[Nummulitic structure can be seen better in sections of this 
ooze hardened in balsam.] 

Figs. 2, 3. Fragment of Red Clay, Challenger St. 165, 
2600 fms., X 5 and 8, showing faint traces of nummulites. 
See Plate XXL, Fig. C, D. 

Fig. 4. " Girvanella problematica " (from Nicholson's u type "), 
X 260. This " labyrinthine-tubular " pattern forms a dark patch in 
the midst of clear calcite. The whole section clear and opaque 
consists of nummulite shell-structure throughout. Coils of band- 
like furrowed marginal cord are very obscurely discernible, the 
outermost forming a broad oval band. Here and there indica- 
tions of fan-like septa are visible ; also spiral disk structure. 

Fig. 5. Another patch with much larger "tubes," X 60. 
The " Girvanella " here forms a small speck in the midst of a coil 
of a nummulite, and is just visible under a lens X 10 when 
section is held up to light. Dark patch hardly in Girvanella 
condition in lower right corner shows fairly well a minute 
nummulitic spiral disk. 

[To face p. 32. 


Plate I. 



The Ocean. 33 

abyssal red clay," and again, " It must be admitted 
that it is very difficult, at present, to frame any 
satisfactory explanation of the mode of origin of 
this singular deposit of red clay." Seemingly the 
answer to the riddle of the red clay has been 
found, and that answer helps to solve at the same 
time the problem of the planetary crust as a whole. 

In 1877* Sir John Murray advocated the 
theory that the clay in pelagic deposits was a 
volcanic product derived from subaerial and to a 
lesser degree submarine eruptions. He and M. 
Renard adopted the volcanic theory in the report 
on * Challenger Deep-Sea Deposits,' M. Renard 
attributing a more important role to submarine 

In 1913 I examined the Challenger deep-sea 
deposits and found that the samples of red clay 
were masses of compressed " nummulite " shells 
with sparsely scattered plankton skeletons embedded 
in them. Further investigation has shown that 
they belong to the genus Nummulites. It is pos- 
sible to distinguish parts of the shells with a hand- 
lens, and under higher powers the nummulitic 
tubulated structure so characteristic of the genus 
(Fig. i). These clay shells are present in all 
pelagic deposits, and also in abyssal terrigenous red 
and blue muds, but in red clay their presence is not 
masked by the calcareous plankton skeletons so 
abundant in some of the other pelagic oozes. 
Naturally it is difficult to find traces of nummu- 

* ' On the distribution of Volcanic debris over the Floor of 
the Ocean.' Proc. Roy. Soc. Edin. ix. p. 247 (1876). 


34 Sea- Floors or Benthop lank ton. 

lites in a ninety per cent. Globigerina ooze, but 
they can be detected in a half and half Globigerina 
ooze such as the one from Station 129 (South 
Atlantic, 2150 fathoms), where the carbonate of 
lime and silicates are in about equal proportions. 
Traces of clay shells, perhaps of volcanic origin, 
are present even in the nearly pure Radiolarian 
ooze from Station 225, 4475 fathoms, the deepest 
Challenger sounding. 

What, then, is the origin of the clay distributed 
over the ocean floor ? I believe there are three 
sources, two of which, viz. subaerial and submarine 
volcanic eruptions, have already been indicated by 
Murray and Renard. Many of the great volcanoes 
border on the sea. During violent eruptions huge 
columns of dust and ashes are shot up miles high into 
the air, where they spread out over land and sea 
like a great pall blotting out the light for days 
together.* Air currents distribute the dust over 
vast areas, and on land, rivers carry down great 
masses of pumice to the sea, where they float for 
long periods till they sink water-logged to the 

Murray and Renard give many reasons for 
regarding submarine eruptions as a source of 

* During the eruption of Katmai in Alaska in June, 1912, 
darkness prevailed for sixty hours at Kodiak Island 100 miles 
away from the volcano, and the fumes reached Vancouver Island, 
1500 miles away, the whole country for thousands of square miles 
being covered with a layer of volcanic dust about a foot thick. 

During the Krakatoa eruption the pall of darkness extended 
276 miles away from the centre, and dust fell 1800 miles away. 
G. C. Martin, ' The recent eruption of Katmai Volcano in 
Alaska.' National Geographical Magazine, February, 1913. 

The Ocean. 35 

abyssal clay. It would be difficult on any other 
theory to account for the presence of vitreous lumps 
as large as walnuts in pelagic deposits remote from 
land. For these compact masses of volcanic glass 
could hardly have been transported either by air or 
water, but must have originated in the neighbourhood 
where they occur. 

Mr. James Chumley of the " Challenger Office," 
Edinburgh, very kindly sent me at my request a 
typical piece of volcanic glass from Station 293, 
2025 fathoms in the centre of the Western Pacific. 
The nearest land is the little speck of Easter 
Island 800 miles away. The precious fragment, 
about the size of a pea, is 7 x 5 x 5 millimetres in 
dimensions. A black glassy part is surrounded by 
brown bands of palagonite. Certainly the fragment 
has had an organic origin, for under the micro- 
scope it is not difficult to see indubitable and 
abundant evidences of nummulitic structure. 

If as Murray and Renard believe this frag- 
ment has been ejected from a submarine volcano, it 
will afford evidence concerning the deeper parts of 
the ocean floor itself. 

The presence of air- or water-borne products of 
land volcanoes on the floor of the ocean is of no 
special interest, but momentous conclusions must 
be drawn if material from some deep zone of the 
abyssal floor is found to be of organic origin. For 
we should learn that the Red Clay is not a mere 
superficial accumulation, but the surface layer of 
a deposit attaining a thickness of hundreds or 
thousands of feet like the igneous rocks and 

D 2. 

36 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

nummulitic limestones on the land or emerged area 
of the planetary crust. Subaerial and submarine 
eruptions seem to me inadequate as sources of the 
whole of the oceanic clay. Murray and Renard record 
that "the sounding-tube sometimes penetrated to a 
depth of nearly two feet in the Red Clay." 

Even if the deposit had only this small depth, it 
would be assuming a good deal to suppose that 
products of volcanic eruptions had been spread over 
an area of over 56 millions of square miles of 
ocean floor. The abyssal red clay areas are mostly 
remote from land, and probably very little air- or 
water-borne material would ever reach them. Even 
the finest land sediments would sink not very far 
from shore owing to the ionized condition of the sea- 
water.* In my opinion Red Clay is partly the decom- 
posed surface layer f of a vast formation of nummu- 
litic so-called " igneous " rock thousands of feet 

As stated above, human ingenuity has only 
succeeded in penetrating " nearly two feet " into the 
deposit. What are the grounds, then, for supposing 
that deposit to be thousands of feet thick ? 

New facts have recently come to light showing 
that the vast bulk J of the emerged or land area 
of the planetary crust is a deposit of nummulites. 

* Joly, 'Radio-activity and Geology,' p. 123. 

t It is, however, of little importance for the present argument, 
whether the clay floor of the ocean is the decomposed original 
surface of the rock, like, for example, the surface of a Cornish 
moor, or whether that floor is made of formerly deep-seated 
erupted material of the same rock. 

J I.e. igneous rocks and their sediments and most of the 
marine limestones. 

The Ocean. 37 

Certainly one third, and almost certainly the whole, 
of the oceanic area of the planetary crust is 
formed of a clay composed of silicated nummu- 
lites (admittedly derived in small part from land 
volcanoes). The difference between the emerged 
and submerged areas is simply one of position. 
Essentially and fundamentally they are identical, 
i.e. they are parts of a probably universal bentho- 
plankton deposit of silicated nummulites. 

Nature has not only helped us to understand 
the nature of the submerged ocean floor by pushing 
up above the water 54,000,000 of square miles of 
the crust of the globe for comparison, but by 
means of submarine eruptions she has provided us 
with materials, otherwise wholly unobtainable, from 
regions deep below the abyssal floor. 

The bulk of the land area, a great part and 
probably the whole of the ocean floor, and materials 
from deep below that floor are nummulitic. 

Murray and Renard write (' Deep-Sea Deposits,' 
p. 189): " With some doubtful exceptions, it has 
been impossible to recognise, in the rocks of the 
continents, formations identical with these pelagic 
deposits." Leaving aside the recent plankton 
elements of ocean deposits and the clay derived 
from subaerial eruptions, the whole of the rest of 
the clay and Red Clay seems to me to be the 
decomposed part of igneous rocks identical bio- 
logically and petrologically with igneous rocks on 

The plateau of Clee Hill or a Cornish moor are 
fundamentally identical with the abyssal ocean floor. 

38 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

In all three cases there is a surface layer of 
decomposed nummulitic rock. 

Pieces of igneous rocks from quarries show all 
gradations from the fresh dense crystalline rock to a 
thick brownish surface crust that can be powdered 
between the fingers. 

The products of abyssal submarine eruptions are 
found to be of organic origin, and to afford proof 
that Red Clay is only the surface layer of a very 
thick deposit ; but we are not dependent for our 
evidence on rare products got with great difficulty 
from the abysses of the central Pacific. Many of the 
volcanic islands scattered over the ocean rise from 
deep water. These emerged submarine volcanoes 
are masses of nummulitic rock. A lump of rotten 
trachyte containing sulphur, which I took hot from 
the upper crater of Tenerife, is little else than 
a mass of fossil nummulites (PI. XXI. Fig. A, B). 
Does it not become clear that these huge volcanic 
heaps of mineralized Foraminiferal deposits are 
simply local upheavals of a very thick universal 
formation ? 

There is one other point to mention here. 
Although the bathy metric range of many species of 
Nummulitidae is very great, yet it is wholly certain 
the huge deposits of nummulites never lived where 
their clay models are found in depths below 2,500 
fathoms. Undissolved lime has only a very pre- 
carious and limited existence in such depths. ,. It is 
improbable that the living surface layer of these 
vast deposits of shells existed in depths below 
1,000 fathoms. The ocean bottom itself affords 

The Ocean. 39 

clear evidence that over vast areas it must have 
sunk from a lesser depth to its present position.* 

Summary. The ocean floor is carpeted with 
terrigenous deposits in the neighbourhood of land 
and, in abyssal areas remote from land, with skele- 
tons of plankton organisms, excepting in certain 
very deep areas where a clayey deposit is exposed 
owing to the failure of the calcareous remains to 
reach the bottom. 

The clay apart from a limited amount due to 
subaerial eruptions is derived partly from the 
decomposed surface-material of a submarine sili- 
cated nummulitic rock, and partly from deeper- 
seated erupted material of the same rock. The 
oceanic floor and land area are respectively the sub- 
merged and emerged parts of a probably universal 
deposit of nummulite shells the Nummulosphere. 
The bulk of the emerged part of this deposit has 
become hardened, mineralized and crystallized, and 

is known as igneous rock. 



Werner believed that a universal ocean once 
covered the globe above the highest mountain-tops, 
the mountains being masses of minerals deposited 
from the sea in situ. So indeed they were, but not 

* Certain coral reefs appear to afford evidence concerning 
local sinkings of the ocean floor. Assuming that the coral at the 
lower end of the Funafuti boring was in the position in which it 
grew and that it was not talus, then the Funafuti area must have 
sunk at least 140 fathoms.. 

4O Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

in Werner's sense. Werner knew little of the 
subterranean forces of upheaval. It never occurred 
to him to level the mountains below the water, so 
he brought the water above the mountains. 

The discovery of the real nature of igneous 
rocks strongly supports the theory of a formerly 
universal ocean. The land area and the oceanic 
area of the earth's crust are now found to be 
the sunk and upheaved parts of a universal deposit 
of mineralized nummulite shells. The abyssal ocean 
floor must have sunk between one and two 
thousand fathoms. The whole land area up to 
the summits of the highest mountains has been 
below the sea. 

The mean height of the land* is only 375 
fathoms, the mean depth of the ocean 2080 fathoms. 
If the solid land were levelled beneath the ocean, 
the surface of the earth would be covered by an 
ocean with a uniform depth of two miles. 

At the present day five-sevenths of the area of 
the globe is covered with ocean. The remaining 
two-sevenths or land area would be submerged by a 
rise of between one and two thousand fathoms in 
the ocean bed ; and it must be remembered that the 
land has not been stationary, but has actually been 

Some astronomers believe the earth will in 
course of time become waterless like the moon. If 
this be so, as the earth is already very old, this 
drying up process may by this time have made 

* * On the Height of the Land and the Depth of the Ocean.' 
Sir John Murray, Scottish Geogr. Mag., p. i, January, 1888. 

The Ocean. 41 

some progress. C. L. Bloxam (' Chemistry,' ed. 
3> P- 39) writes : " In its chemical relations water 
presents this very remarkable feature, that although 
it is an indifferent oxide " (i.e. neither acid nor basic) 
" its combining tendencies extend over a wider 
range than those of any other compound." Many 
minerals hold more or less permanently in the solid 
state water of crystallization and of constitution. 

Again, living substance has extracted a vast 
quantity of solids from the " universal solvent" to 
form the planetary crust. Accordingly there was 
more liquid and less solid at one time than there 
is now, the solid kernel of the globe having been 
smaller to the extent of the thickness of the litho- 
sphere, and the ocean mantle deeper. 

The areas of existing continents were, in primi- 
tive times, much restricted in comparison with their 
present size, and even those restricted areas were 
former sea-bottoms. The possibility, however, of 
existing ocean basins having been continents must 
not be left out of account. 

The solid planetary surface with its organic crust 
has been heaving up and down like a troubled sea : 
and taking the above circumstances into account it 
is probable that the ocean has extended over a 
greater area of the globe than at present, and, during 
the earliest period, even over the whole area. 
* # * # 


An abundant siliceous micro-fauna and -flora 
live at the surface of the ocean, and probably have 

42 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

done so for aeons. The skeletons sink, in time 
dissolve, and permeate benthos deposits. The 
ocean floor is formed chiefly of ancient mineralized 
deposits of nummulites, the surface layer being 
clayey. Near land these deposits are covered with 
water- or air-borne land materials (themselves num- 
mulitic) ; and in the open ocean, in depths less than 
2700 fms., with plankton dust chiefly calcareous ; in 
greater depths the nummulite deposits are exposed 
as grown in situ or as erupted in sitii. The land 
is also composed of mineralized nummulites. Appa- 
rently the abyssal ocean-floor has sunk, for almost 
certainly nummulites did not live in depths over 
1000 fms. Probably there was once an universal 

Postscript. My first preparations of Red Clay, Globigerina 
Ooze, Diatom Ooze and sulphury trachyte from the crater of 
Tenerife consisted chiefly of crushed particles. Later, excellent 
sections were made showing nummulitic structure. The nummu- 
lites of the Diatom Ooze from the Southern Ocean (St. 157, 
1950 fms.) come probably from ice-borne erratics and pumice. 
Yet nummulitic deposits formed in situ are probably universal, 
even where covered with plankton dust. For the nummulitic 
masses (igneous rocks) of the Antarctic continent have emerged 
in an oceanic area now carpeted with Diatoms. The nummulitic 
mass of Tenerife has emerged in an area now covered with 
Globigerina ooze (see ' Challenger Deep-Sea Deposits,' Charts 5, 6). 
The volcanic glass, dredged from 2025 fms. South Pacific (St. 293, 
Challenger], occurs in Globigerina ooze, and was very probably 
erupted locally. The bulk of the land area of the globe and the 
Red Clay (1.05 million square miles) bear in themselves the 
evidence concerning their nummulitic origin. 

Note. Referring to the quotation from Bloxam on p. 41. In 
the contest between liquid and solid, notwithstanding the great 
solvent powers of water, yet the balance apparently leans towards 
solidification. Not only have the rocks of the earth's crust been 
abstracted from solution, but the minerals composing them are 
not rarely hydrated, as in the case of the serpentines for example. 



A great chapter of the history of the world is written in the 
chalk. Few passages in the history of man can be supported by 
such an overwhelming mass of direct and indirect evidence as 
that which testifies to the truth of the fragment of the history of 
the globe which I hope to enable you to read. . . . Let me add, 
that few chapters of human history have a more profound signi- 
ficance for ourselves. I weigh my words well when I assert, that 
the man who should know the true history of the bit of chalk 
which every carpenter carries about in his breeches pocket, 
though ignorant of all other history, is likely, if he will think his 
knowledge out to its ultimate results, to have a truer, and there- 
fore a better, conception of this wonderful universe, and of man's 
relation to it, than the most learned student who is deep-read in 
the records of humanity and ignorant of those of Nature. * On 
a Piece of Chalk.' Huxley. 

HUXLEY'S eloquent testimony concerning the value 
of a knowledge of chalk would, perhaps, have been 
even more emphatic had he known that the history 
of this rock was essentially an epitome of the history 
of the earth's crust as a whole : and, further, that " a 
piece of chalk " was fundamentally identical in its 
nature and origin with granite lava and meteorites, 
probably with many shooting stars, and possibly 
with some comets. For chalk is an old sea-bottom 
composed of skeletons of benthos and plankton 
organisms, the planetary crust is a still more ancient 

44 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

benthoplankton sea-bottom, and meteorites are now 
found to be lumps of ancient benthoplankton rock. 

Lastly, astronomers point out the existence of 
relationships between meteorites, shooting stars and 
certain comets. 

* * * * 

Pure chalk is mainly an accumulation of cal- 
careous and siliceous skeletons of marine organisms. 
The greatest recorded thickness of the deposit is 
1831 feet at Kharkov in Russia. The Chalk 
Ocean, according to an estimate of Dr. W. Fraser 
Hume, covered an area of 500,000 square miles, 
extending across Europe in a north and south 
direction from Sweden to Nice, and east and west 
from Scotland to Uralsk. 

In very high chalk cliffs marked differences can 
generally be seen in the character of the rock at 
different levels. Usually the upper part shows 
numerous parallel lines of flints, lower down the 
flints are fewer, and at the lowest part absent. 
These divisions were described respectively as 
" Chalk with flints," "Chalk with few flints," and 
" Chalk without flints." This classification was soon 
found to be unworkable, for sometimes flints are 
abundant in the middle division and absent in the 
upper. (Appendix, Note N.) 

Although the flints-classification broke down, yet 
more than ever as knowledge increased was the 
chalk found to be quite other than a mere homo- 
geneous mass. The devoted labours of geologists, 
especially of Hebert and Ch. Barrois, brought to 
light numerous successive zones of distinct faunas, 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 45 

recognizable to a greater or less degree over the 
whole area of the Chalk Ocean floor. 

No less than eleven of these zones, with sub- 
sidiary ones, are now accepted, each being named 
after some predominant fossil, e.g. Holaster planus 
zone, Terebratulina zone, etc. The zones are distri- 
buted in three main divisions, known in England as 
Lower, Middle, and Upper Chalk, the Middle Chalk 
being marked off from the other two by bands of 
hard nodular rock (Melbourn Rock and Chalk 

In 1837 Lonsdale showed that Foraminifera, 
small but visible to the naked eye, were very abun- 
dant in chalk. 

In 1838 Ehrenberg* discovered the important 
part taken in the formation of chalk by still smaller 
Foraminifera scarcely visible to unaided vision. 

In addition, then, to the larger fossils, Chalk 
contains very minute ones, and these latter Fora- 
minifera (chiefly), Radiolaria, Diatoms, Coccospheres, 
etc., make up the main mass or "matrix" of the 


# # * * 

At the beginning of these nummulosphere studies 
I had regarded chalk as a Globigerina ooze somewhat 
similar to that now forming over vast areas of the 
ocean floor. On one occasion when examining a 
piece of British chalk with a lens I saw something 
which started me on journeys to chalk-formations 

* * Uber die Bildung der Kreidefelsen und des Kreidemergels 
durch unsichtbare Organismen.' Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1838, 
P- 39- 

46 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

in all the counties of England south-east of a line 
from the Dorset coast to Yorkshire, for the 
purpose of collecting samples of Lower, Middle, and 
Upper Chalk, Totternhoe Stone, Melbourn Rock 
and Chalk Rock. Further, I read all the im- 
portant memoirs on the subject dating from 
Ehrenberg to the present time. As a result of 
all this reading and investigation ^of material a 
singular impression gradually arose in my mind. 

The voluminous literature on chalk reminded 
me of a performance of Hamlet without the Prince 
of Denmark. All the other familiar characters of 
the immortal drama were present, excepting the 
principal one that gave the name to the play. 
Every now and then a mysterious figure in various 
guises in reality Hamlet, though unrecognized 
would appear on the scene and flit across the 

I had found the piece of British chalk referred 
to above to be a mass of "nummulite " shells. In 

Note. When making a final revision I. deleted Fig. i illus- 
trating the nummulitic nature of chalk, owing to the figure being 
partly inaccurate and wholly inadequate to show what I can now 
see with a lens in most pieces of this rock. The following hint 
may help towards a realization of the strange truth that a 
seemingly homogeneous lump of chalk is a mass of nummulites. 
Imagine a lump of Eocene nummulitic limestone with small 
medium or large nummulites to become as soft as clay, to be 
pressed, later to be hardened, and, lastly, heated under pressure. 
There would result earthy, hard, and marmorized limestones in 
which the outlines of the shells would have disappeared. Soaking 
in accumulations of dissolved silica has resulted in silicified shell 
deposits, and heating and cooling have converted the latter into 
crystalline silicates. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 47 

the list of 350 species of Foraminifera of the Upper 
Cretaceous rocks of Great Britain given in the 
Survey Report there is no mention of a single genus 
or species belonging to the Nummulitidae, yet I 
found all the lithological varieties of chalk from all 
levels to be mainly nummulitic. The shells belong- 
to the genus Nummulites, 

Parts of the shells can be discerned with less 
difficulty in samples weathered to a certain extent 
than in freshly broken material. The outlines are 
easily destroyed by being bruised or rubbed. 

A very considerable degree of " training of the 
sense of sight " is required to enable the observer to 
distinguish the shells in sections of chalk. The 
nummulitic characters are more easily seen in 
samples poor in Globigerina.* 

The upper chalk from the old quarry at Haling 
near Croydon shows well the nummulitic element. 
One significant feature can soon be seen in any 
section of chalk under a magnification of about 450 
diameters, viz., a very finely and apparently uni- 
formly dotted appearance visible in the finely granu- 
lar matrix. The dots show up as dark points each 
in a little circle. Here and there some of the circles 
are slightly larger. Gradually as the eye acquires 
skill, it will be found the dots are really not 
uniformly scattered, but are arranged in more or 
less circular groups and disk-like groups of groups ; 

* Munier-Chalmas and Schlumberger (Bull. Soc. Geol. 
France, (3), xiii. 1885, p. 274) point out how greatly chalks 
differ in composition. Beds of Paris chalk rich in Foraminifera 
are stated to be " veritables exceptions," Bryozoa and Corals 
being abundant. 

48 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

also in thick sections series of disks may be detected 
passing down obliquely in the depth. After several 
days of practice and much patience outlines of 
layers of spiral lamina, pillars, seen transversely 
or lengthwise, furrows of marginal cord, septa and 
alar prolongations, will be made out. Where the 
shells as a whole are masked or almost obliterated 




From Totternhoe stone (middle chalk), x 65. 

by the abundance of plankton ingredients, even then 
portions of disk structure are always to be seen. 

There remains still another method of investiga- 
tion, and a highly important one. For its use will 
enable students, who at present may w r ell be sceptical 
concerning the revelations made in this chapter, to 
realize the astonishing truth that the familiar chalk 
is veritably a mass of nummulite shells reduced to 
a calcareous mud. The method referred to is that 
of maceration. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 49 

Ehrenberg found the smallest Foraminifera of 
the chalk to be embedded in a matrix of still finer 

particles, which in __ 

the memoir already 
cited he describes 
as little granular 
disks.* The latter, 
which often appear 
as beaded rings,f 
may break down 
into their constituent 
granules. Ehrenberg 
concluded that as 
chalk had been sub- 
ject to the influence 
of water and as the 
finest particles surround the small Foraminifera and 
are not sifted, therefore these granules must be 
derived from broken-down shells. He considered 
the particles to be con 
cretionary bodies of an 
inorganic nature and to 
have been precipitated 
from the dissolved calcite 


Showing granulated "disks," " rings," and 
ultimate granules mixed with known 
Foraminifera, etc., X 300 diam. After 
Ehrenberg. Abhand. Akad. Berlin, 
1838, PI. iv. Fig. 3. 

O o 
o < 
o o 

* These objects are figured 
for the first time in Poggen- 
dorfs 'Annalen,' vol. 39, 
p. 101, Plate I. 1836. 

f The ringed appearance is 
a purely optical effect due to 
the centre of the disk re- 
maining invisible, especially 
in dark-field illumination. (See 
PL xxii; Fig. E, F.) 


O O 00 
O o 


CO r 


3 c 





A, in different aspects. B, fragments 
X 300. After Ehrenberg. ' Mik- 
rogeol.' 1854, PI. xxv. Fig. II. 
B. 16. Probably figure on right 
in A is a coccolith. 

50 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

of the Foraminiferal debris. Therefore he regarded 
them as "crystalloids" or " morpholiths." He 
found some chalks (as that of Rligen) to be half 
made up of this supposed inorganic material. He 
gives numerous figures of chalk powder macerated 
in water showing Foraminifera, and also morpho- 
liths in the form of granular disks, rings and finest 

After Huxley and Wallich had discovered cocco- 


A, granulated "disklets " and "rings," and "granules," X 300. B, the 
same, X 1000. After Ehrenbergj(' Mikrogeologie,' PI. xxx. Fig. B). 

liths and coccospheres in the abyssal mud of the 
Atlantic, Sorby * concluded that Ehrenberg's crystal- 
loids were really organic objects of the nature of 
coccoliths. In one respect he was right, for these 
crystalloids are organic structures, but Ehrenberg's 
PL XXX. B (cited by Sorby) shows " crystalloids " 
which are certainly not coccoliths. In 18737 
Ehrenberg still adhered to his view that the granu- 

* Ann. Mag. N.H., VIII, p. 197. 1861. 
f Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1873, p. 361. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 51 

lar disklets were inorganic, and pointed out 
quite correctly -- how entirely they differed from 

He writes : " According to Sorby and Huxley 
the main constituent of the chalk described by me 
in 1838 as oval granulated morpholithic scales and 
their still finer granular fragments, which, along with 
Foraminifera as larger elements, often constitute half 
the mass of the common chalk consists of small 
concave animal shells named by them Coccospheres 
and Coccoliths. On the contrary, I have made it 
clear there is absolutely no cavity for the reception 
of an animal body in these chalk morpholiths 
in the form of granulated scales, and no air-vesicle 
giving evidence of a space, nor are there double 
shells for the inclusion of an animal. I have 
become ever more firmly convinced that these 
granular scales must be regarded as inorganic 
morpholithic products due to the change of double- 
refracting calcareous shells of Foraminifera into 
amorphous not doubly-refractive, peculiarly dis- 
posed (sich eigenthiimlich ordnende) calcareous 
particles," I quote this in full, because literally 
these granular scales or disks furnish the clue to 
the problem of the nature of the earth's crust. 
Although Ehrenberg misinterpreted the meaning 
of the disks (Scheibchen), yet for a period of 
nearly forty years he persistently called attention 
to their existence. In spite of this, his observations 
have been either ignored or misunderstood by other 

Murray and Blackmail judiciously describe 

E 2 

52 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

some of the bodies in chalk resembling Ehren- 
berg's crystalloids as spurious coccoliths.* 

Lohmann f thinks the crystalloids or morpho- 
liths (Ehrenberg's PL xxx. B) coccoliths, but 
concludes that Ehrenberg's descriptions make it 
difficult to arrive at a definite opinion. 

Careful microscopic examination, under very 
high powers, of macerated chalk powder shows 
the granular disks to be peculiar structures 
hitherto undescribed which go to make up the 
entire shell of nummulites (Chap. VIII.). The 
two disks to the left in Fig. 4 A are spiral 
bodies with the coils nearly in one plane and 
with radial loops or coils (" septa") in a plane at 
right angles to the plane of the main coil. The 
disks, in fact, are to a considerable degree repeti- 
tions of the complete nummulite shell. The large 
disks in Fig. 5 are masses of smaller disks 
(PI. XXIII. Fig. F). The beaded "rings" are 
not really hollow rings but solid disk bodies, a 
fact which becomes evident on careful focussing 
(PL XXIII. Fig. E, E'). 

That the above surprising statements are correct 
will soon become evident to the trained observer. 
For any section of chalk (but preferably one not 
very rich in Globigerina) will reveal the nummulites 
with their coiled marginal cord, alars J and septa 
with granulated disks in situ (PL XXII. Fig. E). 

* Phil. Trans., vol. 190 (ser. B), 1898, p. 440, pi. xvi. 
fig. 4, a-b. 

t ' Protistenkunde,' I. p. 95, 1902. 

J Abbreviation for " alar prolongations." 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones, 53 

The disks belong to various parts of nummulite 

Chalk, then, viewed as a general formation, is 
a nummulitic limestone composed of a deposit of 
nummulite shells, in which all the other ingredients 
are imbedded. 

Perhaps geological history will have few 
stranger incidents to record than the failure, 
after eighty years of scientific investigation, to 
detect the fact that chalk is mainly a deposit of 
nummulite shells. This failure, that has retarded 
the discovery of the true nature of flint, Eozoon 
and the igneous rocks, has not been due to lack of 
care on the part of very keen observers, but rather 
to the qualities of nummulites. The shells, formed 
as they are of successive layers of highly porous 
walls, are highly capillary and apt easily to become 
soaked in water and mineral solutions, to become soft 
and earthy or hard and crystalline, and in any case 
to lose their individual outlines. In purely nummulitic 
chalk, the shells may remain in situ, but where other 
fossils abound the mud nummulites may be pressed 
into cavities, or be riddled by smaller shells. 

Probably a long interval separates the Cretaceous 
from the Eocene nummulites. Very likely many 
species exist in the chalk. 

The methods recommended for the study of the 
Foraminifera of chalk are not suitable for preserving 

* It is significant that Ehrenbefg found the " morpholiths " 
in Tertiary nummulitic limestone (Abhand. Akad. Berlin, 
1855, p. 86). He would have seen them in powder scraped from 
the surface of any nummulite ! 

54 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

the nummulites : more damage is done in an instant 
of time than has been wrought by Nature in the 
course of millions of years. It might have been 
supposed that small thin-walled delicate Fora- 
minifera would have been less resistant than large 
thick-walled nummulites, but this is not the case. 
We are advised to grate the rock into a fine powder 
or to macerate lumps into a paste. I cannot 
imagine proceedings more fatal to the integrity of 
nummulite shells than to grind them to powder or 
convert them into mud. It should be stated that 
Mr. Heron-Allen's methods * of maceration are 
excellent for the smaller Foraminifera. 

I have not succeeded in isolating and cutting 
into sections the individual nummulite shells, though 
I visited the Sorbonne chiefly to examine Schlum- 
berger's beautiful sections of Foraminifera and, if 
possible, to learn something of his technique.f 

The above-detailed methods for showing the 
nummulitic characters will not leave the student in 
doubt for very long ; these are : 

1. The use of the lens, especially on weathered 
examples of chalk and rough flint. I can occasion- 
ally detect shell-outlines with the naked eye. 

2. The study of thick and thin sections (a) 
under powers of 300 to 400, showing the dotted 
appearance, the disks, pillars (series of disks) and 

* 'Prolegomena,' 1894, p. 12. 

f By the great kindness of Mr. C. S. Smith, British Consul- 
General at Barcelona, and of Mr. F. W. Abbot, I obtained a 
large quantity of the Cretaceous limestone of Trago di Noguera, 
the wonderful Foraminifera of which had been described by 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 55 

perhaps the median and lateral chambers ; (b} under 
powers of 3000 diameters, showing disk-structures. 

3. Maceration of powdered chalk in water, 
stained or not, under medium and high powers. 

The study not only of Ehrenberg's morpholiths 
but also of certain other mysterious objects abundant 
in chalk will throw light on the real nature of that 

Thin sections of the hard bands of nodular 
Melbourn Rock and Chalk Rock are very rich 
in peculiar bodies which J ukes- Browne * refers to 
as "spheres." Many theories have been held to 
account for them. Prof. Blake thought they looked 
like the hollow spheres of Orbulina nniversa. 
Messrs. Parker and Jones suggested they were the 
" separate cells of Globigerina and Dentalina, the 
former predominating." M. Cayeux, who has 
noted their extreme abundance in the chalk, refers 
to them as monolocular Foraminifera of the genus 
Fissiirina (Lagena) or Orbulina. In the zone of 
Inoceramus labiatus near Rouen, he estimates the 
spheres to form 95 to 98 per cent, of all the 
Rhizopodal fauna. 

F. Chapman believed some of them to be 
Radiolaria. In others he saw a strong resemblance 
to the globate dermal spicules of certain sponges ; 
" but the real nature of the majority of these 
calcareous spheres still remains an enigma." These 
mysterious bodies vary considerably in size, shape, 
and structure, being discoidal or oval, '08 mm. in 

* Geological Survey, 'Upper Cretaceous Rocks,' vol. 2, 
p. 501. 

56 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

diameter, with opaque centre and clear periphery, 
or clear throughout. Quite early in the present 
research I found these objects to be made up of 
nummulitic disk structures not only filling in 
the body but extending right across the " wall " 
into the surrounding matrix. I have now 
advanced much further, for I can see the exact 
position of the " spheres " in the anatomy of 
the nummulite shell. They occur most commonly 
serially along the convexity of the marginal 
cord and the edges of septa, also at the point 
where double - walled septa bifurcate within the 
concavity of the cord, also in the pillar-ends in 
the spiral lamina. Obliquely tilted disks give 
the Fissurina - aspect. Spheres, then, are clari- 
fied areas of nummulitic structure rendered glassy 
by becoming more calcitic or silicic owing to 
greater facility of diffusion of water or silica at 
those points. From overflow the areas may ex- 
tendas in " Saccammina carteri" in Carboniferous 
deposits of nummulites. In wholly silicified de- 
posits (Ordovician and Precambrian phthanites) 
the clear areas resemble Radiolaria, etc. Spheres 
abound in hard bands of chalk (Melbourn Rock 
and Chalk Rock), probably owing to increased 
formation of calcite or to a greater degree of dis- 
semination of silica in disturbed or emerged zones. 

Barrois considered the hard bands of chalk 
(banes durcis) to be due to actual emersion. Hume 
thought the hard nodular condition resulted from 
the setting up of currents owing to alteration of 
the level of land borderino- the Chalk Sea. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 57 

Whatever the cause, the effect has been to bring 
about a greater degree of dissemination of soluble 
silex and a greater degree of silicification of 
Foraminiferal structure than in ordinary chalk. It 
is only necessary to put a little acid on a thin 
section of Melbourn Rock to realize that the 
4< spheres " owe their transparency to the fact that 
they are partly silicified. In ordinary chalk small 
defined areas have not been made glassy and, 
therefore, distinct ; but the dotted disk structures 
are better seen. 

Certain beds of Carboniferous limestone are 
almost wholly composed of minute spheroidal or 
fusiform bodies about 3 * 2 mm. (^ inch) in diameter 
and frequently produced and tubular at each end. 
Often several of these bodies are joined end to end 
in a chain. The weathered surface of a limestone 
rich in these structures is coarsely warty. The 
spheroids usually have a smooth but granular wall 
surrounding a clear mass of colloidal silica or of 
crystals of calcite. Brady * considered these bodies 
to be Sandy Foraminifera related to a living 
deep-sea form described by Sars as Saccammina 
spheric a. Certainly when a chain of several little 
fusiform globules is isolated and mounted on a slide 
nothing could more closely resemble an arenaceous 

Sections of typical Saccammina limestone, how- 
ever, show that the Saccammina condition is due 
to mineralization of areas of nummulite shells, just 

* Brady, ' Monograph, Carboniferous and Permian Fora- 
minifera.' Pal. Soc., 1876. 

58 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

as in the spheres of the hard chalks. Nummulitic 
shell-structure can be traced in continuity from the 
interior through the supposed walls of the spheres 
to the surrounding matrix. Brady figures certain 
" scars" in the form of granular concentric rings 
on the "test" of the supposed shells (PL XII. 
Fig. 7, I.e.). These structures are coiled disk- 
structures. Brady's drawing shows even the 
circles of the smaller bundles, one of the latter 
being equivalent to one of Ehrenberg's disk- 
lets. I can now make out in sections viewed 
with a lens features of the larger anatomy of the 
nummulites. The chain condition is found also 
in Jurassic oolite ; and even the produced tubular 
structures occur, though only rarely, probably be- 
cause the points have been dissolved out. Brady 
speaks of extensive formations of limestones being 
wholly made of Saccammina. The Elfhills formation, 
where this pseudomorph is well developed, used 
to be considered a concretionary limestone. 

The outlines of the nummulites can be made 
out, but with difficulty, in lumps of the rock. The 
"Saccammina" condition is found in carboniferous 
and also in Ordovician limestones. 

A peculiar spherular structure exists in the rock 
known as malmstone or gaize, which outwardly 
resembles an ordinary sedimentary sandstone, and 
which indeed contains to a greater or less degree 
sedimentary particles of sand, mica, etc. The purer 
varieties contain, however, a large proportion of 
colloidal silica. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones 59 

My sections of this remarkable rock are from 
material which I collected from a pit near Devizes, 
and from the formation (referred to by Barrois) 
situated by the railway siding. 

The siliceous spherules or ''corps globuleux " 
in malmstone have been taken for Radiolaria, parts 
of siliceous sponges, silicified oolites, etc. 

Some spherules resembling botryoidal structure;* 
and varying from 20 to 33 //,, were seen, under a 
power of 3000 diameters and low illumination, to 
be nummulitic spirodisks. The spherules usually 
show a well-defined equatorial band the outermost 
coil of the disk, within which there will be lesser 
coils. The disks can frequently be seen to be 
arranged in series. 

Cayeux,* in his description of a siliceous gaize 
of Launois, has noted therein a reticulated and 
radiated structure. Under a high power " ce ciment 
presente un aspect spongieux tres particulier. Le 
ciment n'est ici qu'un veritable squelette de silice." 
The appearance of spongy structure is due to the 
glassy layers of spiral lamina, and of radiating alars 
and septa of vitrified nummulites. 

The colloidal silica apparently is derived partly 
from organisms, and partly, according to Cayeux, 
from decomposition of clay. 

A band of flint in chalk is a layer of silicified 
nummulites, the silex being derived from skeletons 
situated in and above the once-calcareous layer. 

* L. Cayeux. " Contrib. a 1'etude micrographique des 
terrains sedimentaires." Mem. Soc. Geol. Nord, torn. iv. 2, 
p. 21, 1897. 

60 Sea-Floors or Bent/iop lank ton. 

Lapparent (' Geologic ' I. p. 332, 1906) writes : 
" 1'origine de cette silice doit etre incontestablement 
cherchee dans 1'alteration de depots siliceux origin- 
airement superposes aux roches en question." 

In connection with this subject of " spheres " and 
siliceous "spherules,"! shall refer here rather than 
under "flint and chert " to an interesting discovery 
concerning certain supposed Radiolaria. 

When I found that I had mistaken for Radiolaria 
and Diatoms numerous "appearances" in igneous 
rocks, it occurred to me that other observers might 
have fallen into the same error, and I find this to 
be the case. The very transparent disk-structures 
strongly suggest Radiolarian lattices and spines, 
but very careful inspection will reveal the real 
structure. L. Cayeux * described numerous genera 
of Radiolaria and some Foraminifera from the 
Pre-cambrian phthanites of Brittany. I believe 
all these structures to be parts of the anatomy 
of nummulites. During a recent visit to Brittany I 
collected phthanites and quartzites at Port-a-le-Duc 
and Ville-au-Roi-en-Maroue near Lamballe, localities 
whence M. Cayeux obtained his material. In my 
opinion, the sections show clearly that all the 
Radiolarian Cyrtids, Dicyrtids, etc., are different 
aspects of nummulitic structure. I had made the 
same mistake in Eozoon, where I thought I had 
found seven genera of Radiolaria. 

Dr. H. Raufff was right in refusing to believe 

* Cayeux, Bull. Soc. Geol. France, xxii. p. 197, pi. xi. 1894. 
t H. Rauff. Neues Jahrb. Mineralogie I. p. 117. 1896. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 61 

in the Radiolarian nature of the very minute objects 
faithfully figured by Cayeux, but was mistaken in 
assuming" them to be of an inorganic nature : the 
statement of Hinde and Fox also, " There is no 
evidence to show that they were of organic origin." 
must be corrected.* 

In the case of very ancient formations it seems 
to me improbable that Radiolaria (or any other 
siliceous plankton) could have escaped being dis- 
solved. Accordingly I think the Radiolaria de- 
scribed by David and Howchinf from Precambrian 
rocks of South Australia may be of the same nature 
as the supposed Radiolaria in the Precambrian 
phthanites of Brittany, i.e., that they may be 
nummulitic structures. We find then that eminent 
microgeologists have seen in some of the older 
rocks certain appearances which they have mistaken 
for Radiolaria. Precisely the same appearances 
will be found in igneous rocks and meteorites. 
Dissolved silica of plankton organisms and, perhaps, 
of sponges has diffused itself through the benthos 
deposits of nummulitic shells replacing the lime. 
The sections of pillars, marginal cord and chamber- 
walls of these mineralized shells frequently present 
a striking resemblance to Spumellarian and Nassel- 
larian Radiolaria and to Diatoms. 

* Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc., vol. 51, p. 631. 18915. 

t Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 1896, p. 571. 

} The picture on the cover of ' Nummulosphere/ Part II., 
representing the genesis of igneous rocks, depicts plankton 
skeletons sinking through the water on to the heaps of nummu- 
lite shells constituting the ocean floor. 

The supposed plankton skeletons seen by me in igneous rocks 

62 Sea-Floors or Benthop Lank ton. 

Concerning the question of the relationship 
between Chalk and Globigerina ooze, Cayeux * 
clearly demonstrates that they are very distinct, 
especially with regard to the conditions of depth 
and the characters of the Invertebrate faunas. The 
common presence of Globigerina has sometimes 
led to the profound dissimilarities between the 
two deposits being overlooked ; and even in the 
Foraminiferal faunas there are essential differences. 
For Chalk is a nummulitic limestone, and at the 
present day the genus Nummulites is practically 
extinct. The nummulites met with in Globigerina 
ooze are silicated shells derived from subaerial or 
submarine eruptions. 

are really parts of nummulites. Notwithstanding this error, the 
picture symbolizes events which have almost certainly happened. 
There is no doubt whatever about the nummulitic nature of 
igneous rocks, and in my opinion no reasonable doubt as to 
the source of much of the silica. It is a strange phenomenon 
this creation of the bulk of the earth's crust out of oceanic 
deposits of skeletons of benthos organisms mineralized by 
material derived partly from the siliceous skeletons of plankton 

* Me'm. Soc. Geol. Nord, iv. p. 521. 1897. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 63 


Although it is the carbonate of lime that chiefly 
strikes the eye when looking at a chalk cliff, yet 
the silica element is almost equally important. 
Even where the silica is not collected into bands of 
tabular flint or of nodules, there is usually a good 
deal of silex disseminated throughout the whole rock. 

Seemingly it has been clearly proved, especially 
by Hinde, Sollas and Zittel, that the greater part 
of the silex of flint and chert is derived from the 
siliceous skeletons of organisms, mostly Sponges in 
the case of chalk. 

The silex of Diatoms, Radiolaria and Sponges is 
in the form of colloidal silica or opal, and is fairly 
soluble in sea-water. Accordingly this silica tends 
to accumulate on the sea-floor and to sink down a 
little way in that floor until it meets a dense stratum 
through which it cannot easily permeate. In 
course of time the silica molecules replace the 
carbonate of lime of calcareous skeletons and 
become grouped in semi-crystalline and crystalline 
arrangement, the silica then being less soluble. 

Some geologists have denied the organic origin 
of the silica, believing it to be derived from highly 
charged sea-water rather than from organic remains 
accumulated on the sea-bottom. On the one hand 
there is no evidence to show that sea-water is 
highly charged with silica ; indeed, the evidence is 
in the other direction, and on the other hand 
benthos and plankton siliceous skeletons are ex- 

64 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

tremely abundant on sea-floors and often persist 
still undissolved in flint and chert. 

Dr. Hinde,* in a paper on the organic origin of 
chert, criticises the opinion of Professor Hull, who 
considered chert to be a pseudomorphic formerly- 
calcareous rock silicified by silica of inorganic 
origin. My own extremely careful observations 
on flint, chert, and Ordovician and Precambrian 
phthanites convince me that they are all silicified 
calcareous rocks, for in every case I can detect the 
original nummulites. On the other hand, direct 
and indirect evidence are strongly in favour of the 
theory of organic origin of the silica ; in chalk-flint 
and Portland chert remains of siliceous skeletons 
still persist. (The supposed Radiolaria described 
by Hinde and Cayeux from the earlier rocks are 
appearances presented by the transparent nummu- 
litic structure.) The present theory reconciles the 
opposing views of Dr. Hinde and Professor Hull. 
For flint is not a mass of dissolved siliceous skeletons. 
It is, as Professor Hull surmised, a mass of silicified 
calcareous skeletons, amidst which, it is true, there 
are embedded a certain average proportion of 
siliceous remains perhaps no greater than in any 
other part of the whole deposit. The calcareous 
skeletons are mostly nummulites, though these have 
not yet been generally recognized. The silica of 
the flint comes from the whole mass of calcareo- 
siliceous deposit lying between two zones of flint 
and including the lower zone. 

* G. J. Hinde, ' On the Organic Origin of the Chert of the 
Carboniferous Limestone Series of Ireland.' Geol. Mag. (3) iv. 
p. 435 (1887). 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 65 

The successive layers of flints represent in a 
certain degree the material derived from successive 
ill-defined zones of organisms rather than from 
sharply defined beds. Sometimes flint is deposited 
along oblique fissures in the rock. 

When rough weathered flints are examined 
carefully with a lens, the surface will nearly always 
be seen to be made of shells of Nummulites. 
Further, even the most translucent sections of flint, 
under high powers and suitable illumination, will 
show the structure, especially the " disks" of the 
nummulite shells. All the light should be. cut off 
at first, and then the faintest glimmer admitted to 
the field. Gradually the trained eye will see the 
structural features of Nummulites. The least excess 
of light completely " drowns " the details. Flints, 


P. 64, line 1 6 from top. Delete " Hinde and." 

P. 95, line 8 from top. The term " unconformable " is used in 
an extended sense. Fossiliferous formations (igneous rocks) 
have been thrust upwards into unconformable relation with 
later formed strata. 

P. 164, line 5 from bottom. For "are" read "is." 

P. 270, line 17 from top. For "gives rise to" read "perhaps 
influences the form of." 

66 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

is formed of casts of Foraminifera (Appendix, 
Note B). Glauconite, which is a silicate of potash 
and alumina, is supposed usually to result from the 
breaking up of clay in presence of organic matter. 

Concerning " Barbados Earth," see Appendix, 
Note M. 

Scattered in the chalk are nodules of iron 
pyrites, which often " degenerate " into powdery 
lumps of oxide of iron. Country people regard the 
nodules as " thunder-bolts." Curiously enough 
these marcasite nodules actually do throw a light on 
the origin of iron meteorites. For both objects are 
" ore-enriched " masses of nummulitic rock. 

The shells are best seen on finely granular 
fractured surfaces, especially if allowed to become 
weathered a little by exposure. The marcasite 
nodules have not formed in the void. The metallic 
salts have permeated a mass of Foraminiferal shells. 
Metallic Trilobites and Ammonites are familiar 
objects : the metallic nummulite shells on the other 
hand are indistinguishably massed together. I have 
seen the nummulitic structure in ore-deposits of iron, 
tin, uranium, etc. 

" Sed calx a petrificatis." -Linnaeus. 

Calcareous formations are being built up at the 
present day ; and right down through the ages to 
the Archaean Period these deposits have come into 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 67 

existence and have persisted as records of events in 
the history of Nature. In many cases we can see 
the mass of rock to be composed to a greater 
or less degree of the calcareous skeletons of or- 
ganisms such as Corals, Crinoids, Mollusca, Poly- 
zoa, the larger Foraminifera, etc., but often nothing- 
is apparent excepting a fairly homogeneous or 
granular matrix. 

Where no fossils or only a very few are visible, 
even under the microscope, it becomes a difficult 
question to account for the presence of the carbon- 
ate of lime. 

The following extract from H. B. Brady's 
' Memoir on the Carboniferous and Permian Fora- 
minifera,' 1876, brings into relief some aspects of the 
problem referred to. He writes (p. 5) : 

" Take them as a whole, the Carboniferous 
Limestone beds of Great Britain cannot be regarded 
as a Microzoic formation in quite the sense in which 
the term is rightly applied to many Cretaceous 
rocks : indeed, as a rule, they owe their origin, so 
far as their organic constituents are concerned, 
much more to animals of higher organization and 
larger individual dimensions, such as Crinoids and 
Corals than to Microzoa. So far from owing its 
origin, like the true Chalk, chiefly to Foraminifera ; 
or, indeed to go further, so far from being a deposit 
formed directly and exclusively by the agency of 
animals secreting carbonate of lime, there are con- 
siderable areas of Carboniferous Limestone in which 
the sea appears to have deposited its excess of mineral 
constituents in accordance with chemical and physical 

F 2 

68 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

laws, without the intervention to any great extent of 
animal life. 

" This has been brought about by a precipitation 
and the subsequent coalescence of the impalpable 
particles of amorphous precipitate into minute 
spheroids, the result being a concretional or oolitic 
limestone (often fossiliferous at the same time) . . . 
There need be no difficulty in the acceptance of a 
physical explanation of this sort, even by those who 
hold most firmly the theory that all limestones have 
primarily an organic origin." 

Recently* numerous observations and experi- 
ments on the precipitation of calcium carbonate in 
sea-water have been made by and under the 
direction of Dr. T. Wayland Vaughan. Off Florida 
and the Bahamas, banks of limestone are in process 
of formation which owe their origin entirely to 
chemical precipitations from sea-water through the 
agency of Pseudomonas (Bacterium^} calcis Drew : 
and, further, oolitic banks, apparently due partly to 
the aggregation of particles of carbonate of lime 
round bubbles of gas, are in process of formation. 

Again, travertines, tufas, stalactites, amygda- 
loids, cementation of sea-floors, etc., all show that 
chemical precipitation of carbonate of lime is a very 
common occurrence. 

G. Linckf states: "Oolite consists originally 
of a modification of carbonate of lime (Aragonite) 

* Carnegie Institution of Washington, Year Books Nos. IT, 
12, 13, 1912-1914.* 

t * Ueber Bildung der Oolithe und Rogensteine.' Jenaische 
Zeitsch. Bd. 45, p. 276. 1909. 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones, 69 

in the formation of which organisms are not directly 
concerned. It is not a metabolism product of 

According to Van Hise,* " It is well known 
that it is difficult or impossible to discriminate lime- 
stones of organic or chemical origin." I would 
point out that the microscopic examination for 
nummulitic structure will be found to furnish an 
invaluable aid to diagnosis, though the test may be 
at times a little difficult to apply, as, for example, 
in the supposed non-fossiliferous matrix of Tyrol 

As a result of the examination of numerous 
marine limestones of all ages, I find that, just as in 
Chalk, a point of fundamental importance has been 
overlooked. Jurassic, Triassic, Permian, Carboni- 
ferous, Devonian, Silurian, Ordovician, Cambrian 
and Pre-Cambrian limestones are mainly nummulitic 
rocks. The " matrix," whether homogeneous can- 
non-ball-like, pisolitic, oolitic, soft or hard, earthy or 
marmorized, dolomitized, silicified, silicated, or ore- 
enriched, will in most cases be found to consist of 
a mass of nummulite shells. The shells, though 
not easy to detect, can usually be made out with 
a hand lens, and the structure, especially the dotted 
or granulated disk-like structures, can be seen in 
sections under the microscope. Accordingly the 
carbonate of lime in all these rocks is mainly 
derived from organisms. 

The oolitic structure not uncommon in calcareous 
* ' Treatise on Metamorphism,' p. 907. 

70 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

material evidently arises in many different ways. 
The Jurassic Oolites are nummulitic limestones with 
oolitic structure, and the lime is certainly derived 
from the nummulites which constitute the mass of 
the rock. The shell-structure can be best seen 
in weathered material from ancient buildings. In 
these cases the oolitic structure which masks the 
shells becomes more or less dissolved out. (See 
Chapter XII.) 

My sections of typical hand-specimens of 
Schlern and Mendola dolomite from Seiss show 
that these lumps and presumably the huge masses 
from which they were detached are nummulitic 
limestones (See Appendix, Note C). Similarly with 
sections of marbles from various parts of the world 
kindly supplied to me by Messrs. Bingham. 


Chalk is a nummulitic limestone, formed mainly 
of a deposit of shells of Nummulites, a genus 
hitherto only doubtfully known to occur before the 
Eocene. Many writers from Ehrenberg to the 
present time have seen in Chalk objects named 
." morpholiths," "spheres," etc., the nature of which 
has been doubtful, but which are now found to be 
portions of nummulite shells, the spheres being con- 
cretionary areas. Numerous other limestones from 
Jurassic to Archaean are nummulitic ; but the shells 
have escaped detection, and the carbonate of lime 
often has been regarded as a chemical deposit. 

Flint is composed mainly of nummulites in 

Chalk and Flint, and other Limestones. 7 1 

which the lime has been replaced by silica derived 
chiefly from organisms. The silicifiecl shells are 
transparent in the interior of flint, but visible again 
on rough weathered surfaces. Silicifiecl rocks of all 
ages (quartzites, jaspers, phthanites, etc.) may show 
nummulitic structure, the latter sometimes having 
been mistaken for Racliolaria, other Foraminifera, 
sponge spicules, etc. [The silicated rocks known 
as igneous (including also meteorites) are very 
ancient metamorphosed nummulitic limestones 
fundamentally similar to chalk.] 

Postscript, Note i. I have now learned to distinguish in 
sections of chalk, Mendola- and Schlern-Dolomite, Jurassic oolite 
and Carrara marble, held up to the light and examined with a lens 
(X 3 or x 10), the larger structure of the nummulite shells, viz. 
the successive coils of marginal cord and the radially disposed 
septa and alar prolongations. Certain parallel lines in the minute 
particles of calcite of Carrara marble are not due to crystalliza- 
tion but to the organic structure of the marginal cord. 

I should mention that the simple skill in detecting the 
above-named structures in the mass of calcareous particles has 
only come to me at the end of a long period of painstaking 
observation and that some patience is necessary. The faint 
outlines of the spiral central coils and radial alars of perpendicular 
sections or aspects of shells will be the first structures to be seen. 
I now prefer to use a lens magnifying only 3 diameters. 

72 Sea- Floors or BentJioplankton. 



The story of a double delusion. 

THE British sedimentary strata from recent to 
Cambrian, if piled horizontally, would at their 
thickest form a mass several miles high, the 
lower five-sixths being palaeozoic. Birds and mam- 
mals begin to appear about one-sixth of the 
way down from the top, reptiles and amphibia 
about one-third, and fishes half-way down, the 
lower half being invertebrates only.* The strata 
may be compared to the leaves of a great folio 
in which is written though very imperfectly 
the record of the evolution of life from the lower 
to the higher stages. Beneath the Cambrian are 
Precambrian formations of unknown thickness, 
chiefly crystalline, stratified, foliated or schistose 
rocks (gneisses and schists), some sandstones and 
limestones, and volcanic rocks. They are exposed 
mostly in North Britain and the Hebrides. No 
undoubted fossils have been found in them. Once 
it was thought the Cambrian period was coeval 
with the beginning of life, but now the absence of 
organic remains in the older rocks is attributed 
rather to their obliteration. 

These figures refer only to British strata. 



Reduced two-thirds. 

[By viewing the above figure at some distance, or by holding up in front of 

a light to eliminate the aggressive banded pattern, it is possible to see here 

and there faint circular and oval outlines of shells.] 

To face p. 72. 

" Eozoon" or "The Dawn Animal!' 73 

Precambrian rocks are widely distributed over 
the world, but nowhere do they attain such 
enormous development as in Canada, where they 
cover an area of about two million square miles and 
attain a thickness of several tens of thousands of 
feet (Appendix, Note D). The accumulation of 
this vast series of highly metamorphosed deposits 
possibly required a greater time than was necessary 
to form the strata ranging from the Cambrian to 
the present. So far only a few Precambrian fossils 
have been recorded from the American continent, 
some even of these being of a doubtful nature 
(Appendix, Note E). 

Forming the base of the Precambrian in Canada 
is a confused assemblage of highly crystalline 
igneous rocks to which Sir William Logan's term 
" Laurentian " * is now restricted : in contact with 
these, in the region of the Ottawa River, there 
are limestones, quartzites, gneisses, metamorphosed 
clays and sandy-clays known as the " Grenville " 
series.f These sedimentary rocks are broken into by 
masses and dykes of " Ottawa gneiss " ; the masses, 
notwithstanding their stratified structure, now 
being generally regarded as plutonic up-wellings 
(bathyliths) rather than as altered sediments. 

The Laurentian and Grenville rocks belong 
to the most ancient era, " the Archaean." They 

constitute the " fundamental or basal complex." 
* * * * 

* Called after the Laurentide mountains north of the river 
St. Lawrence. 

t J. Stansfield, ' Internat. Geol. Congress, Canada, 1913.' 
Guide Book No. 3, p. 82. Bibliogr. Index, p. 115. 


Sea-Floors or Benthop lank ton. 

In 1858 Sir William Logan, one of the great 
pioneers of Canadian geology, began to suspect 
that certain peculiar lumps of rock found in Archaean 
limestone, and which had been sent in as minerals, 
might possibly be of organic origin. Weathered 
lumps showed a layered structure (Plate II.) like 


Polished slab showing white and green bands. X 2. 
Traces of nummulitic shell structure very faintly visible in places. 

that of the palaeozoic stromatoporoids which though 
palaeozoic had come into existence ages later. 

Sections revealed a banded structure consisting 
of alternate white and green wavy bands of calcite 
and serpentine (Fig. 6). 

" Eozoon " or " The Dawn Animal." 75 

Sir W. Dawson, who supported Logan's view, 
regarded the lumps as giant Foraminifera belonging 
to the nummulite family, the white zones being the 
walls of the chambers, and the green parts the spaces 
formerly filled in with living protoplasm. The white 
zones contained systems of branching " canals." 

In 1862 Logan, when on a visit to London, 
showed the specimens to Dr. W. B. Carpenter, the 
highest authority on Foraminifera. Carpenter 
confirmed Dawson's nummulite theory, and demon- 
strated that in some specimens the green spaces 
were lined with a definite, very finely fibrillated 
layer, which he regarded as the proper tubulated 
wall of each chamber of the shell, the white bands 
with their branching "canals" being the " supple- 
mentary " skeleton commonly found in nummulitid 

In 1865, Logan, Dawson, Carpenter and Sterry 
Hunt * published a joint paper on Eozoon Canadense 
gen. et sp. nov. Dawson. This paper started a 
prolonged and stubborn controversy. 

In 1866 Professors King and Rowneyf pointed 
out that all the structures brought forward by 
Carpenter as proofs of organic origin could be 
shown to be of a purely mineral nature and origin. 
The alternating zones, and the dendritic structures 
in the white bands were common in minerals, and 
the fibrillated so-called " nummuline " or " proper 
wall " was simply a fibrous or asbestiform variety of 
serpentine known as chrysotile. 

* Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc., Feb. 1865, pp. 45-71, and plates, 
t Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc., Feb. 1866, pp. 185-218, and plates. 

7 6 

Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

In 1878 Professor Mobius of Kiel, a high 
authority on Foraminifera, published a well-illus- 

\j( \VX?N hi* 

AV V \! i cr 

U )! H //T 
rl/ \ m t f > / 


After Dawson and Carpenter. 

a, chambers of shell full of protoplasm (now green bands of serpentine) ; 
b, finely tubulated " true wall," best seen at upper part of figure where there 
is no additional calcite ; c, pseudopods j d, supplementary or additional 
deposit of calcite forming the white bands ; e, canals in the white bands. 

"Eozoon" was once a mass of nummulite shells like any lump of 
Tertiary nummulitic limestone say of Biarritz or Egypt. The living top 
layer of shells would show what "Eozoon " was like in life. 

trated memoir* on Eozoon, which latter he regarded 
as an object of purely mineral origin. 

In 1894 Professors H. J. Johnston-Lavis and 

* ' Palaeontographica ' XXV. p. 175. 

"Eozoon" or "The Dawn Animal'' 77 

J. W. Gregory * described certain bombs ejected 
from Monte Somma (Vesuvius), which have a 
zoned arrangement of calcite and silicates practically 
identical with that of " Eozoon canadense," ex- 
cepting that the silicates are not hydrated into 
serpentines and there is no " nummuline " layer of 
chrysotile (fibrous serpentine). The authors con- 
sidered the material of the bombs to be of 
Cretaceous or Jurassic age. 

The problem was now considered settled. In 
all the chief text-books Eozoon was put down as an 
object of mineral origin, and science, with evident 
relief, pronounced its requiescat in pace on the 
controversy. Any signs of recrudescence call forth 
a note of alarm "We are threatened with a 
revival ..." 

New evidence, however, renders it imperatively 
necessary to exhume the dawn-animal and hold a 
fresh inquest. This time the enquiry need only be 
brief, and beyond doubt the verdict will be final. 

Once when examining one of Carpenter's 
sections under the microscope I saw embedded in 
serpentine a very small object o* i mm. in diameter, 
which I took to be a young nummulite shell f 
(PI. XI. Fig. 42), and presently found several similar 
objects. J Further research apparently led to the 

* Sci. Trans. Roy. Dublin Soc. (ii.) V. p. 259. 1893. 

t Described, but very incorrectly, in A.M.N.H. Sept. and 
Oct. 1912. 

J Photographed better in ' Nummulosphere ' I. 1913. The 
photo on PI. XI. is too dark. 

78 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

discovery that a specimen of Eozoon was a mass of 
small " nummulite " shells. At first they seemed to 
me to be associated in colonies. The supposed 
shells, on an average about four millimetres in 
diameter, were present both in the green and 
white bands, frequently also one "shell" being 
half in the green and half in the white. Next 
I discovered in the sections under high powers 
"appearances" closely resembling Radiolaria and 

Since ' Nummulosphere ' II. was published I have 
made numerous observations on varied and abundant 
material, viz., Carpenter's collection, including 
44 Eozoon" from Scotland, Ireland, and Bavaria (sent 
by Glimbel) ; a magnificent set of specimens sent 
to me by Mr. L. Lambe from Canada ; material 
from Finland sent to me by Prof. J. J. Sederholm 
and Dr. O. Triistedt ; a typical Monte Somma 
bomb (Hamilton Coll. N. H. M.) ; also archaean 
limestone from the Sikhim Himalayas, very kindly 
obtained for me by Mr. John C. White. 

I have now found that the small disks visible 
with a hand lens, and which had been taken by 
me for small nummulites, are portions of nummulite 
shells. Further, the supposed Radiolaria and 
Diatoms are found to be appearances due to 
transparent series and groups of nummulitic disk 
structures viewed under high powers and in various 
aspects ; and, lastly, the supposed microscopic shells 
of which I had published photographs were also 
merely portions of nummulitic structure. 
* * Nummulosphere' II. 1913. 

" Eosoon" or <k The Dawn Animal." 79 

Professors King and Rowney * asked believers 
in the organic theory to reply without question- 
begging irrelevancy or reticence to eleven points, 
foram in i feral, mineralogical, chemical and geo- 

The organic theory has now taken on an almost 
entirely new aspect, and I think it will be amply 
sufficient to reply here to the first two points, which 
are the most important. 

Point No. i. The existence of an upper and 
an under " proper wall " in immediate connexion 
with a " chamber," also frequent absence of inter- 
mediate skeleton, and frequent horizontality in- 
stead of verticality of tubuli to the adjacent 

Answer. The green bands are not chamber- 
spaces formerly containing protoplasm but now 
filled in with serpentine ; there is no "proper wall " 
to the supposed "spaces," and there is no supple- 
mentary skeleton (in the form of white bands) 
between " spaces " which never existed. 

There is a lump of limestone in which silicates 
have been diffused out from some central accumula- 
tion and precipitated in zones, thereby differentiat- 
ing the lump from the common limestone matrix. 
Careful observation shows the archaean limestone 
to be a nummulitic deposit similar to Tertiary 
nummulitic limestones, but more changed owing to 
long subjection to metamorphosing agencies, and 
especially to the proximity of igneous intrusions. 
Even Cretaceous and Jurassic limestones give rise 
* { An Old Chapter in the Geological Record,' 1881. 

8o Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

to silicatic Eozoonal structure when subjected to 
volcanic heat as in the Monte Somma bombs. 

Careful observation under high powers shows 
the nummulitic disk structure underlying fine 
fibrillar pattern, just as in the striated bands 
of spiral lamina in Tertiary nummulites. (See 
Chapter VIII.) 

Mobius denied the nummulitic tubulated nature 
of the fibrils or aciculae on the ground of their occa- 
sional great length and curved shape, and their 
varied direction and " non-verticality." I have now 
found the reply to these reasonable objections. 
Very frequently in sections of Eozoon long fibrous 
bands are met with having characters such as 
Mobius described. They are portions of concentric 
bands of furrowed marginal cord with septa astride. 
The cord is really a wavy almost polygonal struc- 
ture, and the direction of series of disk structures 
varies greatly in adjacent parts. Again, in oblique 
sections of large shells across many successive 
layers of spiral lamina, there is sometimes a false 
appearance of fibrillar continuity. 

In the fine collection of serpentine minerals and 
rocks in the Natural History Museum there are a 
number of asbestiform fibrous varieties (chrysolite, 
metaxite) of this "protean mineral." Here the 
fibrous structure is a character of the mineral. I 
have found nummulitic structure persisting even in 
real asbestos, that structure being situated at any 
angle to the mineral fibre. 

Point No. 2. "The supposed 'canal-systems 
have no constant correlativeness." 




Drawn from a section of Eozoon canadense. A, C X 30 ; B, D x 90. 

A Centre of a shell showing several planes (in horizontal aspect). 
B Fragment of marginal cord, alars and pillars. C Two bands of 
marginal cord and radial alars. D Portions of marginal cord. 

To /iice p. So. 

" Eozoon" or " The Dawn Animal" 81 

Answer. King and Rowney are wholly right. 
The "canals" are due to mineralization, and 
are not canals at all, for they have never been 
hollow. PI. XXIII. Fig. G, shows two of these 
" canals." They are filled with nummulitic struc- 
ture in continuity with similar but barely visible 
structures in the adjacent calcite. Solid serpen- 
tine "casts" of the canals etched out by acid are 
solid masses of nummulitic structure and not 
structureless infillings. 

Dr. Hahn (' Die Urzelle ') was opposed to the 
nummulite theory. He writes : " The assertion 
that Eozoon is a Foraminiferan comes to grief with 
the proof that it is formed of plants." Dr. Hahn 
thought the existence of fibre-like and also of 
cup-shaped canals fatal to the Foraminiferal theory. 
He made many genera of algae out of the " canal- 
systems." (I myself at one time imagined I had 
found algae in Eozoon.) Dr. Hahn figures a worm 
with a tripartite operculum, " das erste Thier " the 
ancestor of Trilobites " which browsed on this 
succulent vegetation " (Whitney and Wadsworth). 
Some figures of the worm apparently show trans- 
verse sections of spiral lamina or cord, the oper- 
culum perhaps being a pillar-end or septum. Not- 
withstanding his mistakes, Dr. Hahn was nearer 
the truth than were some of his critics. 

On the weathered lumps of Eozoon I can trace 
with the naked eye and lens obscure outlines of 
large nummulites about an inch in diameter and in 
various aspects. Many hours of patient observa- 


82 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

tion were required at first to make out the details, 
but I can now make out with certainty numerous 
details of shell structure (PL XIII. Fig. C). 
Sections x 3 show the shells fairly well. 

Under a power of 400 diameters (16 mm., 
Oc. 1 8, a useful combination) I can now see with 
the utmost certainty abundance of nummulitic shell 
structure both in the serpentine and in the 
calcite. I had long studied my sections without 
seeing what is now so obvious. In fact it was a 
case of not seeing the wood for the trees. Any 
large transparent nummulite in horizontal aspect, 
and showing floor upon floor of spiral lamina with 
range upon range of band-like alar prolongations, 
series upon series of conical pillars, and the con- 
centric many-furrowed marginal cord, considerably 
obliterated here and there, with mottled patches of 
serpentine and calcite, would naturally be a very 
complicated mass of structure. Under lower powers 
it is difficult to trace the continuity, and under high 
ones only a very small part of a shell comes into 
the field ; for a shell an inch across, magnified 400 
diameters, would cover 120 square yards. Under 
this power the structural outlines are clear and 
indubitable. The transverse aspect shows layers 
of spiral lamina and pillars seen lengthwise. Very 
high powers show abundantly the disks, especially 
in their transverse aspect. 

The complicated and confused reticular aspect 
of the shells as viewed in transparent serpentine 
is due to radial and concentric layers being cut 
at various angles. A little training and much 

" Eozoon" or "The Dawn Animal" 83 

patience are necessary to enable the beginner 
to discern and piece together the nummulitic 
pattern. The concentric circles of furrowed 
cord and the radial alar prolongations are good 
guides to orientation in shells viewed in horizontal 

On the Origin of the banded structure in Eozoon. 

Many theories have been advocated to account 
for the white and green (calcareous and silicatic) 
zones of Eozoon. Firstly there is the organic 
theory, viz. that the calcareous zones were the 
skeleton of a Foraminiferan, the silicatic zones being 
in-fillings of the spaces of the shell. This theory 
may be finally dismissed. 

W. J. Sollas and Cole* suggest that calcareous 
and silicatic zones might arise by formation of 
successive layers of particles of carbonate of lime 
and olivine on the reef-bound shores of volcanic 
islands. I myself have seen on the beach of Porto 
Santo Island layers of calcareous grains and of 
dark green particles of augite sifted by gentle 
wave-action. In places, these sandy layers have 
been cemented into solid stone, of which I have 
specimens. The calcitic and augitic bands, how- 
ever, vary in thickness irregularly, whereas the 
bands of Eozoon diminish regularly and serially 
from a base or centre. 

Johnston- Lavis and Gregory regard the pyroxene 
lumps that often form the nucleus of the Eozoon 

* Sci. Proc. Dublin Soc. VII. p. 124. 1891. 

G 2 

84 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

as portions of an igneous magma that have been 
separated from the main source and grouted into 
a soft pasty limestone. From the nuclei thus de- 
posited silicic vapours and fluids became diffused 
outwards, combining with the magnesium, calcium 
and iron to form ferromagnesian or pyroxene com- 
pounds, these being deposited in zones gradually 
diminishing in width. Firstly a thick band is 
formed, then another not so thick, and so on, till 
the material is used up. 

There are two questions involved here, viz. the 
origin of the pyroxene and of the zonal structure 
associated with that material. Nothing could at 
first sight seem more reasonable than the views of 
these writers. There are always igneous masses or 
intrusions in the neighbourhood of Eozoon, and the 
zones of Eozoon, as viewed, actually do diminish in 
width from centre to periphery. Notwithstanding, 
the derivation of Eozoon from igneous material is 
very improbable ; and, further, possibly the zones 
did not originate quite in the manner suggested by 
Johnston-Lavis and Gregory. 

O. Trlistedt,* in a report on the ore-deposits of 
Pitkaranta, Finland, gives a picture (from a photo) of 
the limestone quarry of Hopunwaara. Fig. 8 below 
is a diagrammatic plan of the same, showing bands 
of " sahlit-skarn " (pyroxene), serpentine and Eozoon 
as they appear in the limestone. The limestone is 
separated from the granite by layers of mica-schist 
and iron-ore. 

If the lumps and bands of pyroxene had 

* Bull. Comm. Geol. Finlande. No. 19, p. 214. 1907. 

" Eozoon" or " The Dawn Animal." 85 

originated from the granite, one would expect the 
first ten metres of the limestone in the neigh- 
bourhood of the granite to be crowded with the 
pyroxene, but there is scarcely a trace, and none at 
all in the first five metres. 

Prof. T. G. Bonney,* who saw Eozoon in situ in 
the limestone at Cote St. Pierre, Quebec, figures 



Ka, limestone ; Sa, sahlite ; Se, Eozoon ; Fe, iron ore ; R, Granite ; 
Gl. mica-schist ; N, S, north, south ; m, metres. After O. Triistedt. 

masses of pyroxene or serpentine or of both minerals 
surrounded by bands of Eozoon. The conditions in 
the Laurentian and Hopunwaara limestones are 
closely similar. Prof. Sederholm, who very kindly 
sent me specimens of Hopunwaara limestone and of 
other Finland rocks, thereby supplementing a set of 
Eozoon, sahlit, etc., previously sent by Dr. Triistedt, 
writes in a letter to me : " The limestone is 

* 'The Story of our Earth.' 1893, p. 388, Fig. 131; also 
Geol. Assoc. 1895, p. 292. 

86 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Ladogian," i.e. it is to be correlated with the 

All the evidence goes to show that the lumps and 
bands of pyroxene and their surrounding zones of 
serpentine belong to the limestone itself, just as the 
lumps or bands of flint in a chalk quarry belong to 
the chalk. In the archaean limestone, owing to 
the heat from neighbouring igneous magmas, the 
silica has combined with the magnesium, calcium, 
aluminium, iron, etc., to form serpentine, loganite, 
etc., the silicates being precipitated in bands. Both 
the flint and the Eozoon are mineralized lumps or 
masses of nummulite shells, the silica probably being 
derived from organisms. 

The experiments of R. Liesegang (' Geologische 
Diffusionen ') on precipitation, show the order of 
deposition of the "rhythmical precipitations" to 
be from periphery to centre. If, as is probable, 
the same law holds for Eozoon the fine outer 
bands of ferromagnesian silicates would be thrown 
down first. 

Eozoon has been a twofold source of error. 
Firstly there was the mistake for which Dawson 
and Carpenter were chiefly responsible, that certain 
banded lumps of serpentine limestone were gigantic 
reef-like Foraminifera. After doing great service 
in destroying this illusion, the mineralogists and 
petrologists went too far and fell into error them- 
selves. Whitney and Wadsworth* write of "the 

* Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. VII. p. 534. 1884. 

" Eozoon " or " The Dawn Animal." 87 

extraordinary delusion which has prevailed among 
palaeontologists with reference to the organic nature 
of Eozoon." 

It was a case of denying not merely the organic 
nature of Eozoon qua Eozoon, but also an organic 
origin of any sort. As these authors expressly 
state, their "Azoic System" comprised a series of 
the earliest rocks which had, according to them, 
never been anything else than azoic. I have already 
given reasons for my conviction (* Nummulosphere' I.) 
that there is no " azoic system " accessible to 
investigation. Numerous later observations have 
confirmed this view. 

King and Rowney (Q.J.G.S. I.e. p. 216) regard 
Eozoon as having ''existed at one time as hornblendic 
or augitic gneiss, and that it is primarily of sedi- 
mentary origin," i.e. an azoic sediment derived from 
azoic rocks. Johnston- Lavis and Gregory (/. c.) 
consider Eozoon to be derived from igneous magmas, 
i.e. to be azoic. 

Eozoon is not an organism any more than is a 
lump of chalk or flint, but at the same time it 
resembles those objects in being of organic origin. 
For they are all masses of Foraminiferal shells, not 
much altered in the chalk, solidly silicified in the 
flint and silicated in zones in the " Eozoon." 
Seeing that Eozoon is neither a giant Foraminiferan 
nor an object of purely mineral origin, its story may 
justly be described as that of a double delusion.* 

"" One might have said " multiple delusion," but it is only 
necessary to refer here to the main points in the historic con- 

88 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

As in so many controversies there were truth and 
error on both sides. The present theory will effect 
a reconciliation. 

There is a vague and indefinite era in the history 
of the planet when geology first enters into its 
inheritance and astronomy withdraws. 

All theories of planetary origin postulate a 
nebula of some kind. The Laplacean and meteoritic 
theories assume that a hot gaseous nebula or one 
of clashing meteorites condensed into a molten 
globe on which a crust formed on cooling. The 
planetesimal theory postulates a nebula of solid and 
liquid particles all rotating in one direction round a 
solid central nucleus, the latter growing by accre- 
tion. In the first case the ocean would form rather 
by precipitation, in the second by exudation.* 

The part of the earth's crust that might be 
expected to furnish evidence concerning planetary 
origin would naturally be in the oldest zone, i.e. the 
archaean or "basal complex." 

In Canada Laurentian rocks constitute the 
lowest floor. Immediately over this lie the Gren- 
ville series in the Ottawa River region, and the 
Keewatin schists and volcanic rocks in Western 

This volcanic schistose and sedimentary series 
overlying the Laurentian igneous rocks has been a 
source of perplexity to plutonists. The problem, in 

* Chamberlin and Salisbury. c Geology, Advanced Course,' II. 

" Eozoon" or " The Dawn Animal." 89 

fact, recalls the great "Tortoise myth." Between 
the schist series and igneous rocks there is no 
intervening floor, the contact being " intrusive " 
and immediate. 

Now sediments and lavas must rest upon or 
flow over a firm floor of some sort. The difficulty 
has been met by assuming that a formerly existing 
floor has been dissolved in rising floods of molten 

Perhaps the difficulties above referred to may 
be explained in the following manner. There was 
certainly a time when " Laurentia " was being 
built up shell by shell beneath the sea. Then 
came a gradual upheaval, the lower deeper-seated 
region of the mass having undergone the plutonic kind 
of crystallization. During long ages Laurentia was 
subject to denudation. Then came a period of 
partial subsidence when the Grenville limestones 
were deposited on the submerged Laurentian floor, 
along with sediments from neighbouring land. Still 
later there was violent disturbance which once 
again melted the Ottawa gneisses and injected 
them into the crumpled layers* of the Grenville 
series, the heat giving rise here and there to 
Eozoon structure. 

The Laurentian rocks are not primeval magmas 
welling up from some very deep central source, 
but are "daughters of time," in fact old sea-floors. 
The Laurentian rocks are themselves permeated 

* See photo of contorted Grenville limestone. Canadian 
Geol. Survey, XII. J. 1899, pi. IV. Dawson's "oscular 
chimneys" in Eozoon are probably structures due to compression. 

go Sea- Floors or BentJioplankton. 

by intrusive dykes. So there are sea-floors under 
sea-floors, " deep under deep." 

Possibly the world is vastly older than has been 
usually believed. 

Certainly the Laurentian and igneous rocks have 
just as much to do with nebular hypotheses as a 
lump of chalk has and just as little. 

The conclusion is reached that hitherto we have 
been studying only a thin pellicle of organic origin 
and have in no wise got beyond the zone of life into 
the azoic. 

* * * * 

King and Rowney(' An Old Chapter ,' 1881) 

give in the course of fifty-three pages an annotated 
history of the Eozoon controversy, and refer to 108 
papers, memoirs, etc. In fact, Eozoon has a litera- 
ture of its own. Dr. Hahn ('Die Urzelle,' p. n) 
writes : " Veritably a greater riddle than Eozoon 
has rarely been proposed to natural philosophy." 
In view of the prolonged controversy what now 
seems so strange is the simplicity of the problem. 
All that is required is to examine for nummulites. 
It is surprising to find that it is possible to see with 
the naked eye the outlines of the shells on the 
surface of weathered blocks of Eozoon, and to trace 
under a weak lens a good deal of the structure. 
(See PL XIII. Fig. C, and PI. XIV. Figs. D, E). 

The discovery of the nummulites confirms the 
theory of the mineralogists that the banding was a 
purely mineralogical feature, but at the same time 
indicates the organic origin of the carbonate of lime 
and the marine origin of the silica and magnesia. 

" Eozoon *' or "The Dawn Animal" 91 

Seemingly the tria regna have each contributed 
to the making of the Dawn Animal, for it is a mass 
of nummulites mineralized by various minerals and 
especially by silica probably derived partly from 

From the point of view of rock metamorphism, 
Eozoon (limestone + silicate) is important as illus- 
trating a transition-stage between ordinary lime- 
stone (limestone + silica) [Chap. II.] and igneous 
rocks (pure silicates) [Chap. IV.]. There is a 
common nummulitic basis in all. 

Perhaps it was well that the riddle of Eozoon 
was not quickly solved, for in the prolonged efforts 
to find the answer much valuable knowledge was 


# * * * 


Specimens of " Eozoon " are lumps of nummulitic 
limestone mineralized by silicates deposited in zones. 

92 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 



"It is important to acquire a hospitable and intelligent 
preparedness to appreciate new light as it shall present itself." 
Chamber tin and Salisbury. 

SCATTERED over the face of the world are mountains 
of a very peculiar nature. They are usually conical 
and with an open bowl-shaped cavity at or near the 
summit. From time to time in the course of years 
or centuries, lumps of hot rock, clouds of ashes, 
vapours and steam are shot up from the interior 
perhaps to a great height, and floods of molten rock 
well up and flow down the mountain side. The 
name ''volcano" called after " Vulcano " or 
" Vulcan's stithy " in the Lipari Isles, expresses an 
ancient idea as to the nature of these mountains. 

The volcanic mountain, which is an accumulation 
of ejecta round a pipe leading deep beneath the 
surface, is not an essential feature. Sometimes 
the molten rock has welled up through one or many 
fissures in the ground. In Iceland in 1783 a great 
flood of lava poured out through a fissure twenty 
miles long and only a few feet wide in places, and 
submerged the country for a distance of forty miles 
from the source. 

Desmarest and Hutton showed basalt and 
granite to be rocks which had once been molten like 

The Igneous Rocks. 93 

lava, i.e., they were "igneous" rocks which had 
been pressed upwards into and, to a greater or less 
extent, through the earth's crust. 

The emission of lava through the surface is 
merely one feature of igneous activity, the latter 
consisting essentially in the ascent of molten rock 
into the overlying crust. 

With the advance of knowledge, it has become 
evident that by far the greater part of the planetary 
crust is composed of igneous rocks and of sediments 
mainly derived therefrom. 

Igneous rocks are widely and extensively distri- 
buted over the globe, and igneous phenomena have 
manifested themselves in all eras from the beginning 
of geological time up to the present. 

Sir A. Geikie enumerates six great epochs of 
igneous activity in the British Isles, viz., two 
Archaeozoic, two Palaeozoic and two Cainozoic, the 
Mesozoic era happening to fall within a period of lull. 

Among the more remarkable records of volcanic 
activity may be mentioned the lava-floods which 
poured out in Tertiary times over areas extending 
from north-west Britain and Ireland to within the 
Arctic Circle. The lava now forms great plateaux 
of basalt in N. W. Scotland, Antrim, the Hebrides, 
Faroe, Iceland and Southern Greenland. 

The great Pliocene lava-flood of Western 
America which Le Conte considered " among the 
most extraordinary in the world,"* covers an area of 
about 200,000 square miles, and has a thickness of 
from 700 to 3700 feet. The traps of the Deccan, 

* J. Le Conte, 'On the Great Lava-flood of the West.' 
American Journ. Sci., 1874, p. 167. 

94 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

poured out during the Cretaceous period, cover 
200,000 square miles, the average thickness being 
about a mile. 

Again, in a map, " South of the Amazon, Boue 

colours an area composed of rocks of this nature "" 

i.e. granitic "as equal to that of Spain, France, 

Italy, part of Germany, and the British Islands, all 

conjoined." (Darwin, ' Origin of Species.') 

In the north of England, the Great Whin Sill in 
the carboniferous limestone is estimated by Sir A. 
Geikie* to cover an area of 1000 square miles and 
to be on an average about 90 feet thick. 

The igneous rocks forming the base of the 
Archaean and said to be exposed over about one- 
fifth of the land area of the globe are thought to be 
a universal formation. 

In a region included within the states of 
Colorado, Utah and Arizona there are curious 
isolated groups of mountains not connected with 
the ordinary orographic lines, and now known to 
have been elevated by the rising up of huge loaf- 
like masses of igneous rock which have failed to 
burst through the vast but plastic f pile of sedi- 
mentary strata formerly completely and now 
partly overlying them.J Denudation has exposed 
here and there the huge igneous bosses or laccolites, 

* Sir A. Geikie, * Ancient Volcanoes of Britain,' II. p. 2. 1897. 

f " The solid crust of the earth, and the solid earth if it be 
solid, are as plastic in great masses as wax is in small." G. K. 
Gilbert. * Report on the Geology of the Henry Mountains,' p. 97, 

} G. K. Gilbert I.e. ; and W. Cross, ' The Laccolitic mountain 
groups of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.' U.S. Geol. Survey, 
i4th Ann. Rep. 1892-3, II. p. 157. 

The Igneous Rocks. 95 

thereby revealing the secret of the origin of these 
exceptional mountains, which may in a sense be 
compared to aborted volcanoes. 

The ocean floor is formed chiefly of nummulitic 
clay derived from igneous rocks (see Chapter I.). 
* * * * 

The igneous rocks are masses of compounds of 
silica, in the form of silicates, in unconformable 
relation with sedimentary strata. 

What, then, are these masses of silicates which 
from the beginning of the Archaean era have been 
bursting into and between the rocks above them, 
and erupting through and pouring over the surface 
of the land or ocean floor. What is their origin ? 
Why have they been hot and plastic at one time in 
their history ? and why have they shifted their 
position ? 

J. D. Dana writes in 1890*: " The origin of 
volcanic heat, the source of lava columns beneath 
the volcano, the cause of the ascensive force in the 
lava column, are subjects on which science has 
various opinions and no positive knowledge." Pre- 
cisely the same statement would apply to igneous 
phenomena of which the volcanic are but a part. 

With regard to the second of the three problems 
referred to by Dana, I hope to demonstrate that 
positive knowledge is now available concerning the 
source and origin of igneous material. 

If that is so, it is reasonable to expect that some 
additional light may be thrown on the other two 

* 'Characteristics of volcanoes.' J. D. Dana, 1890, p. 24. 

96 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 


Werner and his school believed lava, basalt and 
granite to be minerals precipitated from a universal 
ocean, the heated condition of lava being supposed 
to be due to burning coal-fields. Desmarest showed 
convincingly that basalt was simply an ancient lava, 
and that it got into position by flowing there as a 
molten rock, and not by being deposited as an 
aqueous sediment. Hutton proved that granite 
likewise was a once molten rock essentially similar 
to lava, but deep-seated. Accordingly lava, basalt, 
granite and their like are termed " igneous " rocks. 

Some have regarded the earth as a molten 
globe with a solid crust, and the igneous rocks as 
up-wellings from the original still molten planetary 
magma : but according to physicists the globe must 
be as rigid as steel. 

A view still held by many is that the original 
planetary material deep below the crust is at a 
temperature above normal melting-point but remains 
solid on account of pressure. When, perhaps owing 
to crust disturbances, pressure is relieved the rock 
melts and rises through the crust. 

Some, again, have regarded igneous rocks as 
metamorphosed sediments. Gradations could, it 
was supposed, be traced from recent soft sediments, 
through less recent hard shales, sandstones, etc., to 
ancient very hard crystalline gneisses and schists, 
and on by somewhat of a jump rather than a step 
even to certain igneous rocks, "and thus we look 

The Igneous Rocks. 97 

in vain for the original material " (Le Conte), but it 
is the source of the original material that we are 
in search of. 

The theory of organic origin held from time to 
time by a few " eccentrics," and usually dismissed as 
soon as mentioned is beyond any doubt the true 

Organisms in igneous rocks have often been 
described (Appendix, Note G). Sometimes the 
supposed igneous rock is really a fossiliferous 
sedimentary one changed by igneous intrusions. 
Again the " organisms " may be " structural simu- 
lations." * 

Dr. Carpenter, an expert on the microscope and 
the highest authority on Foraminifera, mistook 
mineral for Foraminiferal structure in a very ancient 
serpentine limestone not, it is true, an igneous 
rock, but containing materials akin to igneous. I, 
for my part, arrived at the truth almost by accident. 
In the course of examining certain fossils in connection 
with a problem in sponges, I drifted on to Eozoon, 
thence to the investigation of a Monte Somma 
(Eozonal) bomb, then to volcanic rocks in Porto 
Santo, and finally to igneous rocks in general. 
I continually found traces of nummulite shells. 
Although the truth was first discovered by direct 
observation, the fact of organic origin might have 
been, or rather, at the present day, might be 
suspected on (i) biological, (2) geological and (3) 
chemical grounds. 

* King and Rowney ' On the Serpentine of the Lizard.' 
Phil. Mag. (5) I. 1876, p. 280. 


98 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

1. Biological Considerations. 

The earth is an ocean planet. Five-sevenths of 
its area is now covered by ocean, and the remaining 
two-sevenths has been submerged. 

The ocean surface is rich in a simple siliceous 
flora and fauna, and the ocean floor over vast areas 
is carpeted with benthos and plankton calcareous 
remains. The Diatoms and the often symbiotic 
silica-secreting Radiolaria exist in sunshine and 
nutrient fluid, and have done so for aeons past. 

The powers of multiplication are almost un- 
limited. One diatom dividing only once in twenty- 
four hours might have a billion descendants in a 

It is not surprising that igneous rocks have been 
classified according to silica-content. The skeletons 
of silica sink to the bottom, dissolve* there, and 
become diffused through calcareous deposits. The 
silica replaces the lime of the little fossils in the 
same way as in larger fossils. (See postscript on 
p. no.) 

2. Geological Considerations. 

Immense accumulations of nummulite shells of 
Eocene age extend across N.W. Africa, Europe and 
Asia from Morocco to Japan. 

Chalk is mainly an accumulation of nummu- 

* In 'Nummulosphere' II. I wrote of siliceous skeletons forming 
centres whence silica was diffused, a residuum remaining as quartz. 
The supposed skeletons are nummulitic structures. 

The Igneous Rocks. 99 

lite shells of Cretaceous age. The soluble silica 
derived from sponges and plankton diffuses itself 
down through the mass of calcareous skeletons, re- 
placing the carbonate of lime and forming lumps and 
layers of " flint " (chiefly silicified nummulites). 

Most of the marine limestones from Eocene to 
Archaeozoic are nummulitic, even where macrozoic 
skeletons abound. 

In very ancient Archaeozoic limestones, owing 
to the heat from intrusive dykes, the silica unites 
with magnesia, alumina, iron, etc., to form silicates 
in the form of pyroxenes. 

The masses of pyroxene are often surrounded 
by a zone of banded limestone and serpentine 
(" Eozoon "). It is significant that these lumps and 
layers of silicate, which may be compared with 
lumps and layers of flint, have been mistaken for 
fragments of igneous rock projected in from in- 
trusive magmas.* Even in Cretaceous and Jurassic 
limestones silica becomes silicate when heated, as in 
the Monte Somma bombs. 

Igneous rocks are very ancient highly metamor- 
phosed nummulitic limestones from which naturally 
all the original calcium carbonate has gone, although 
a good deal of calcium and even some imprisoned 
carbonic acid may remain. 

Iddings writes : " Calcium is one of the most 
abundant and wide-spread elements in igneous 
rocks, and enters into a great variety of compounds, 

* In this instance Daubenton's name is well bestowed : 
<f Piroxene, c'est-a-dire, hole ou etranger dans le domaine du feu." 
Haiiy, 'Traite de Mine'ralogie ' III. p. 180. 

H 2 

TOO Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

the commonest of which are silicates."* The 
presence of calcalkalic felspars constitutes one of 
the chief characteristics of the great " Pacific petro- 
graphical province. "f 

3. Chemical considerations. 
A. Important constituents of sea-water. 



. chlorides and sulphates. 




oxides and silicates. 

B. Important constituents of plankton and ben- 
thos organisms. 


Calcium carbonate in skeletons. 

Magnesium carbonate 


Sodium ii- 1 

) salts in protoplasm. 


* 'Igneous Rocks' I. p. 39. 1909. 

t Iddings, 'The Origin of Igneous Rocks.' Bull. Phil. 
Soc., Washington, p. 183. 1895. 

The Igneous Rocks. 101 

C. Seven oxides, the chief constituents of igneous 
rocks (F. W. Clarke). 

Silica . . . . 59*87 

Alumina . .. < 15*02 

Iron . . . . .- S'98 

Calcium . . . . 4 '79 

Magnesium. - . . . 4' 06 

Sodium . . . . 3-39 

Potassium . . *.,*. . 2*93 


Remarks on the above tables. A. Composition 
of sea-water. Silica occurs either uncombined or 
in combination with alumina, the silicate of alumina 
being finely suspended. 

" Iron, easily detected directly" (Dittmar). 

" Aluminium : in alumina " (Dittmar). 

With the exception of gases fixed from the 
atmosphere there is reason to believe that every- 
thing solid comes from the sea. The igneous rocks 
are oceanic silicated deposits of nummulites, and 
the silica and silicate of alumina carried down 
from them by rivers return to their original source. 

B. Constituents of plankton and benthos organ- 
isms. Silica. According to Murray and Irvine * the 
silica-secreting organisms get that material, not from 
silica, which is only present in minute quantities, 
but from silicate of alumina finely suspended. Their 
culture-experiments showed that Diatoms flourished 
when fine clay was added. Amorphous silica was 
useless, but silicic acid jelly nutritious. At the 
present day the mechanically suspended silicate of 

* Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, xviii. p. 237, 1890-1. 

IO2 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

alumina appears to be a fine sediment derived from 
igneous rocks. There was certainly a time when 
there were no igneous rocks, and probably an era 
when there were neither land nor rivers nor sedi- 
ment. Did the first silica-secreting organisms get 
their silica from finely suspended silicate of alumina ? 

Magnesium. Analysis of shells of two repre- 
sentatives of Nummulitidae contained 5 per cent, 
of magnesium carbonate (Brady). (Probably some 
of the magnesium in limestones is derived from 
calcareous algae.) (See also Appendix Note H.) 

Willstatter* has shown that magnesium is present 
in chlorophyll, and not iron, as usually believed. 

C. Constituents of igneous rocks. All the con- 
stituents enumerated are present in the sea, and all 
except alumina are found in benthos and plankton 
organisms. The alumina may have been directly 
deposited from the sea. [The history of the dis- 
covery of the composition of Acantharia skeletons 
leads me to hazard the suggestion that possibly 
some of the 15*02 per cent, of alumina in igneous 
rocks may be due to an extinct race of plankton 
organisms. Acantharia skeletons were first thought 
tobe organic (' Acanthin,' Haeckel). ThenShevyakov 
believed them to be made of a double silicate of 
aluminium and calcium, and finally Butschli dis- 
covered they were composed of sulphate of strontium. 
Who would have suspected these wonderful skeletons, 
which bear impress of the effect of aeons of evolu- 
tion, to be composed of sulphate of strontium !] 

* R. Willstatter. In Liebig's { Annalen d. Chemie,' vol. 350, 
p. 65, 1906. 

The Igneous Rocks. 103 

Metamorphism . 

According to Aristotle we understand a thing 
when we see the cause of it. A knowledge of the 
origin of the igneous rocks and of the manner of 
accumulation of the materials composing them will 
throw light on problems of metamorphism. Igneous 
rocks are oceanic deposits of nummulites mineralized 
by silica, magnesium, aluminium, etc. 

At the beginning of the chain there are sunlight, 
protoplasm and the minerals of the sea, and at the 
end a crystalline mass of silicates. What are the 
intervening links ? 

Limestones and silica (chalk and flint) may be 
indicated as the second link, and limestone with 
silicates (Eozoon) as the third. In link No. 3, 
heat of intrusive magmas has caused the silica to 
combine with magnesium, aluminium, iron, etc., 
to produce silicates * in the form of pyroxene : 
the peripheral banding is a mere detail. In 
the final stage, if limestone had been present, the 
carbonic acid would have gone and the calcium 
would have combined with the seven other chief 
oxides which form the crystalline mass of silicates. 
Limestone may have been replaced long before the 
igneous stage as in flint, phthanite, etc. The exist- 
ence of silica-aluminium and ferro-magnesian groups 
of silicates is attributed to magmatic differentiation. 

"" At first sight glauconite seems to be one of the silicates 
outside the igneous rock group, but perhaps this mineral should 
be regarded as an altered product of igneous rocks. 

IO4 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Magmatic differentiation. 

It may well seem incredible to a petrologist 
unfamiliar with biology and palaeontology that 
sunshine and living matter could be the parents of 
such a heterogeneous progeny as the igneous rocks. 
Yet the origin and metamorphoses of the bentho- 
plankton deposits known as " igneous rocks " are 
traceable. For some reason these very ancient 
mineralized organic deposits have become heated 
even above melting point. Chemical changes have 
thereby become greatly facilitated. The silicic acid 
with its four grades of acidity * has formed various 
compounds with the chief bases mentioned above. 
When the hot solid mass of silicates (or oxides) be- 
comes liquid, the solid containing-walls constitute a 
reservoir. If the magma is pressed up through the 
overlying crust and through the surface it will flow 
out as a lava, with or without explosions and the 
formation of a cone of solid ejecta. 

A certain sequence has been discovered in the 
character of the lavas erupted during successive 
phases in the " life-history" of a volcano. 

" The general succession is from a rock of 
average composition through less silicious and 
more silicious ones to rocks extremely low in silica 
and others extremely high in silica that is, the 
series commences with a mean and ends with 
extremes/'f At Porto Santo, for instance, the 
black heavy basalt low in silica (basic) is covered by 
the pale-coloured light trachyte high in silica (acid). 

* Ortho-, meta-, poly-, and di-silicic acid. 

| Iddings. Bull. Phil. Soc. Washington, XII. p. 145. 1892. 

The Igneous Rocks. 105 

Both rocks must have come from the same 
reservoir. The chief differentiating cause is said 
to be temperature. The magma near the walls of 
the reservoir and its conduits is cooler than that in 
the centre. 

" The chemical differentiation of igneous mag- 
mas, which appears to be due to so simple a cause 
as temperature in different parts of the magma, 
leads to an endless series of variations " (Iddings 
I.e. p. 164). 

Igneous rocks of any particular district, however 
much they may differ from each other, yet gener- 
ally show what Iddings terms a " consanguinity." 
Further, groups of districts forming some great 
" petrographical province" possess certain charac- 
teristics distinguishing them from the rocks of other 
provinces. Finally the igneous rocks as a whole 
are regarded by some eminent authorities as de- 
rivatives from some great primeval common magma. 

Seeing that an oceanic organic deposit is parent 
of the igneous rocks, it is not surprising that traces 
of their common origin are discernible. 

Variations in rate of cooling give rise to great 
differences in texture. Granite, rhyolite and an 
obsidian may have precisely the same chemical 
composition, but in the case of the volcanic glass 
the magma has cooled and set so quickly that the 
molecules have become fixed in position before they 
could marshal themselves in crystalline order. The 
slow-cooling granite, on the other hand, is a crystal- 
line mass. 

* * * * 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 


The interior of the earth must be in an intensely 
heated condition. Hot and boiling rocks, forced up 
from below, can actually be seen accumulating in 
heaps and pouring out in floods over the surface ; 
and further, it is found that the temperature rises 
on an average i C. for every 32 metres of vertical 
descent into the earth. 

This heat continually flowing out from within 
has naturally been regarded as part of the original 
stock of a cooling planet. The sky is crowded with 
glowing-hot bodies, and perhaps the earth was once 
in a similar condition. Even so, it does not follow 
that the heat now escaping must be accounted for 
in this way. 

When Lord Kelvin attempted to calculate the 
age of the earth on the basis of its having been 
a once-glowing but gradually cooling mass, he 
arrived at an estimate of 20 to 40 million years. 
The geologists protested that the time was wholly 
inadequate to account for the vast accumulation of 
sedimentary strata. The biologists, too, though 
ready " to set their clock " in accordance with Lord 
Kelvin's estimate if compelled to do so, were never- 
theless inclined to suspect some flaw in his 

Within the last twenty years a source of energy 
wholly unsuspected, but yet omnipresent, has been 
brought to light, viz., radioactivity. 

Prof. Joly writes concerning the new science 

The Igneous Rocks. 107 

of radioactivity : " First definitely opened up in 
1898 by Mme. and M. Curie, when polonium and 
radium were discovered, to-day we are in possession 
of established views in contradiction to the tenets of 
centuries."* It has been found that uranium is the 
parent of a series of substances, of which radium is 
one. The unstable atoms of these elements are 
undergoing disintegration and discharging energy, 
part of the latter being manifested as heat. 
Radioactive substances are universally distributed in 
the crust of the earth and in the ocean, but in varying 
amount. They are more abundant in igneous rocks 
than in sedimentary, in red clay than in Globigerina 
ooze, in the land than in the ocean. 

According to authorities who have studied the 
problems relating to the effects of radioactivity in 
geology, this form of energy is a source of the 
heat of the deep-seated igneous rocks. 

The scaffolding of the earth's crust was formed 
in the ocean and out of sea-water. Accordingly 
the general prevalence of radioactive matter in 
igneous rocks and in sediments derived from 
them, is what might be expected. The uranium 
entering the ocean along with the sediments from 
igneous rocks has only comeback to its original source. 
Prof. Joly estimates that io 6 tonnes of radio-active 
substances have been received and again precipitated 
on to the ocean floor in the course of geological time. 
He writes :f "Presumably all this radioactive 

* Joly. ' Radioactivity and Geology/ p. i. 1909. 
f ' On the Radium-Content of Sea-Water.' Phil. Mag. 
(6) XVIII. p. 407. 1909. 

io8 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

material has been at one time in solution or sus- 
pension in the ocean, whose waters, for all that we 
could have anticipated, might have possessed a 
content of radium some fifty times greater than the 
figures appear to indicate." 

The discovery of the origin and history of 
igneous rocks will lead, I believe, to a revival of 
the theory of chemical activity as an important 
source of the heat that has melted those rocks. 
Lord Kelvin preferred the view that " the earth is 
merely a warm chemically inert body." The inert 
masses of silicates constituting the igneous rocks, 
however, were at one time benthoplankton mixtures 
of silicic acid, alkalies, alkaline earths, oxides of 
iron, phosphates, sulphates, etc. The older and 
deeper zones of this mixture would be buried 
beneath a thick pile of strata and permeated with 
water and mineral solutions. A spark may set a 
forest ablaze. Heat arising locally in the deposit 
would hasten chemical activities all round, leading 
to ever-increasing accumulations of heat. The 
inert silicates of igneous rocks are the end term of 
a long series of changes, and may be compared to 
a spent conflagration. 

Limestone seems inert, but the heat of a magma 
will cause the silica to combine with magnesium, 
etc., to form silicates as in the Canadian, Finland 
and Vesuvian " Eozoon " ; and the heat of a kiln 
will make lime quick, the latter giving out heat 
when slaked. 

The Igneous Rocks. 109 


The deep-seated rocks, though at a temperature 
above normal melting-point would be solid owing 
to high pressure. Relief of pressure would cause 
them to melt and move in the direction of least 
resistance. If, as is stated, the nucleus of the 
earth contract more than the crust, the latter, 
owing to adjustment to a smaller radius, will be 
thrown into folds. The ascent of molten rocks 
through the overlying crust is characteristic of 

sinking areas ; (Geikie). 

# # # # 


Hitherto igneous rocks have not been allotted a 
chronological position proper to themselves. They 
have been regarded as primeval and beyond chrono- 
logy, but nevertheless they are daughters of time. 
The date affixed is that of the strata into which 
they have been intruded, and, further, it has 
been the custom to regard the invaded overlying 
strata as older than the intrusive. Writing of the 
Laurentian granites, Chamberlinand Salisbury state,* 
"but it is now known that they are intrusive into 
the schist series. They are therefore younger than 
the latter." Now that the igneous rocks must take 
their place in the palaeontological series, the lower 
rocks will be regarded as the older and first formed. 

An igneous rock has two dates, the first being 
its date of actual formation shell by shell in the 

* 'Geology, Advanced Course' II. p. 143. 1906. 

iio Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

ocean, and the second its time of uprising into the 
overlying crust. 


The known crust of the earth is mainly a meta- 
morphosed silicatic deposit of organic origin pre- 
cipitated from the ocean. The deeper zones of this 
deposit are heated above their standard-pressure 
melting-points, but remain solid owing to high 
pressure. Crustal movements, due to shrinkage 
and adjustment have led to relief of pressure 
followed by melting, and uprise of the molten 
material along lines of least resistance. 

The cause of the heating of "igneous" rocks 
is now being attributed to radioactivity. Radioactive 
elements are disseminated throughout the earth's 
crust and the ocean. Seeing that the lithosphere 
is a product of the ocean, the uranium family of 
elements diffused through the earth's crust must 
necessarily have had a similar source. Probably 
chemical activity has been an important source of 
the heat. 

Postscript, Note i. There are no authentic records of Diatom 
remains before the Carboniferous (Castracane). What are the 
reasons for assuming that the silica of igneous rocks is probably 
derived in part from Diatoms ? Firstly, these rocks are seen to 
be deposits of marine shells. If the silica of the immensely thick 
deposits did not come from the sea, where did it come from? 
Secondly, oceanic life at present depends on unicellular plants and 
especially on Diatoms, and there is no reason for assuming that 
a different relation held in the past. 

Note 2. I have seen a recent shell of Lagena marginata with 
Diatoms completely embedded in the wall. Here we have a 
picture in miniature of the great planetary deposit of silicated 
shells. It is doubtful whether sponges were accountable for 
much or any of the silica during the earliest era. 



"We cannot but agree with the common opinion which 
regards meteorites as fragments broken from larger masses, 
and we cannot be satisfied without trying to imagine what were 
the antecedents of those masses." Lord Kelvin. 

" For there is almost as good a trade in exposing cosmogonies 
as in constructing them. But no special opprobrium attaches to 
failure, because everybody has failed, from Laplace down, or up, 
as you are pleased to consider." P. Lowell. 

EVERY now and again a strange and startling event 
happens ; suddenly in the midst of a great light 
followed by a loud detonation something falls out of 
the sky and strikes the earth. No wonder such 
objects have been regarded with awe and veneration, 
and that temples have been built to enshrine these 
visible and tangible messengers from the invisible 
powers. The thunderbolt was the special appanage 
of high Jove. A stone in the temple of Apollo at 
Delphi, and also " Diana of the Ephesians " were 
probably sky stones. In B.C. 204 a black stone 
which had long been worshipped as Cybele the 
mother of the gods was removed from Phrygia 
to Rome with great ceremony, the guardians of the 
Sybilline Books having decreed that its presence 
was necessary for the safety of Rome. 

In the wall of the Kaaba at Mecca is a sacred 
stone which for ages has been the omphalos of the 

1 1 2 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Mohammedan world. According to scientific travel- 
lers the stone is probably a meteorite. Mohammed 
alleged it was a gift from the Angel Gabriel. 

At the present day these rare and wonderful 
sky stones are the special objects of pride of our 
great Museums. 

The evidence that meteorites have fallen from 
the heavens is now clear, as the following narratives, 
selected from many, may show. 

" The oldest undoubted sky-stone still preserved is that which 
was long suspended by a chain from the vault of the choir of the 
parish church of Ensisheim in Elsass, and is now kept in the Rath- 
haus of that town. The following is a translated extract from a 
document which was preserved in the church : 

' On the 1 6th of November, 1492, a singular miracle happened : 
for between n and 12 in the forenoon, with a loud crash of 
thunder and a prolonged noise heard afar off, there fell in 
the town of Ensisheim a stone weighing 260 Ibs. It was 
seen by a child to strike the ground in a field near the 
canton called Gisgaud, where it made a hole more than five 
feet deep. It was taken to the church as being a miraculous 
object. The noise was heard so distinctly at Lucerne, Villing 
and many other places, that in each of them it was thought 
that some houses had fallen. King Maximilian, who was 
then at Ensisheim, had the stone carried to the castle : after 
breaking off two pieces, one for the Duke Sigismund of Austria, 
and the other for himself, he forbade further damage, and 
ordered the stone to be suspended in the parish church.' " * 


"About three o'clock in the afternoon of December 13, 1795, 
a labourer working near Wold Cottage, a few miles from Scar- 
borough, in Yorkshire,! was terrified to see a stone fall about ten 
yards from where he was standing. The stone, weighing 56 Ibs., 

* Copied from an ' Introduction to the Study of Meteorites,' 
loth Edition, 1908. British Museum (Natural History), pp. 19, 22. 
t 'Nature,' Oct. 9, 1902, p. 578. 

Meteorites. 113 

was found to have gone through 12 inches of soil and 6 inches 
of solid chalk rock. No thunder, lightning, or luminous meteor 
accompanied the fall ; but in the adjacent villages there was 
heard an explosion likened by the inhabitants to the firing of guns 
at sea, while in two of them the sounds were so distinct of some- 
thing singular passing through the air towards Wold Cottage, that 
five or six people went to see if anything extraordinary had 
happened to the house or grounds. No stone presenting the same 
characters was known in the district. The stone is preserved in 
the Museum Collection." * 

On September 13, 1902, a meteorite fell at 
Crumlin near Belfast. The evidence given below 
was gathered by Sir L. Fletcher on the spot and 
within about a fortnight of the occurrence.f 

"At 10.30. A.M. on September 13, which was a cloudy morning, 
W. John Adams, who is in the employment of Mr. Walker at 
Crosshill farm, was gathering apples from a tree on the edge of the 
cornfield and near the house ; he was startled by a noise of such a 
character that he thought it was due to the bursting of the boiler 
at the mill, which is about a mile to the south and situated near 
Crumlin railway station. 

"Another loud noise like that of escaping steam, was followed 
by the sound as of an object striking the ground near by, and a 
cloud of dust immediately arose above the standing corn at a spot 
only twenty yards away from where he was at work. Adams ran 
through the corn towards the cloud of dust and found a hole in 
the soil ; whereupon he hurried to the farmyard for a spade, and 
within a quarter of an hour of the fall had extracted a black, dense 
stone, which had penetrated the soil to the depth of one and a half 
feet and had been stopped by impact against a much larger 
terrestrial stone. 

" The black stone was hot and, according to Mr. Walker, was 
still warm to the touch even an hour later. There was a sulphur- 
ous odour. Two other men were working at a haystack twenty 
yards further away from the hole made by the stone and also 
heard the sounds. 

* Copied from ' An Introduction to the Study of Meteorites/ 
loth Edition, 1908. British Museum (Natural History), pp. 
19, 22. 

t ' Nature,' Oct. 9, 1902, p. 578. 


ii4 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

" The detonation was remarked at places five miles to the 
north, nine miles to the east, eleven miles to the south east, 
thirteen miles S.S.W. by south. Mrs. Walker said that some of 
the hearers had taken the sound to herald the arrival of the Day 
of Judgment. 

"The stone weighs 9 Ibs. 5^ oz. ; it is 7^ inches long, 6J 
inches wide, and 3^ inches thick. Its form is irregular and 
distinctly fragmental." 

* * * * 

It is curious to reflect that the idea of stones 
falling from the sky was at one time ridiculed by 
the learned as a popular superstition, the objects in 
question being regarded by them as ordinary volcanic 
ejecta. When the truth became known, meteorites 
were regarded with special interest, but men of 
science still held very divergent opinions concerning 
the nature and origin of these bodies. 

Meteorites are classed under three groups, viz. 
the purely metallic (siderites) composed mainly of 
iron alloyed with nickel, the siderolites composed of 
iron and stone and the aerolites or purely stony. 
The three groups belong to one class, for the stony 
pass by gradations into the purely metallic. 

Meteorites are covered with a thin usually black 
crust due to fusion of the outer surface during the 
passage through the air, the interior being lighter 
in colour. Stony meteorites are usually friable, 
and can almost be crumbled between the fingers ; 
sections show a granular glassy structure, with, in 
many cases, peculiar aggregations of granules 
(chondrules) having a radiating or reticulate pattern. 
The chondrules are said to be due to rapid crystal- 

The elements present in meteorites are the same 

Meteorites. 1 1 5 

as those known on earth, but some (e.g. phos- 
phorus) occasionally exist in a free state, such as 
would be impossible under ordinary conditions on 
this planet. 

Meteorites contain well-known terrestrial miner- 
als, viz. olivine, felspar (oligoclase), etc. ; and several 
which are unknown on earth, viz. troilite (proto- 
sulphide of iron), schreibersite (phosphide of iron 
and nickel), etc. They also contain gases occluded 
within their substance, viz. carbonic acid most 
abundant in aerolites, carbon monoxide abundant 
in siderites ; also hydrogen, in greater volume in 
the former than in the latter. 

The theories of origin of meteorites may roughly 
be grouped under three headings, viz. : 

(1) Accretion of particles. 

(2) Fragments of a disrupted heavenly body. 

(3) Ejecta from volcanoes existing (a) on 
cosmical bodies outside the solar system ; (6) on 
bodies within the solar system (excluding the earth) ; 
and (c) on the earth. 

(i) Accretion theories. 

Dr. H. C. Sorby* believed that particles of 
matter at the solar surface were collected together 
by gravitation, fused into masses, and ejected during 
violent disturbances. Meteorites, then, according to 
this theory were portions of the sun. 

Arrheniusf believes that the sun and stars by 

* * Nature' XV. p. 497. 1877. 

t ' Worlds in the Making,' 1908. ' The Life of the Universe/ 

I 2 

n6 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

means of radiation-pressure are continually driving 
out small particles of cosmic " dust " into space and 
that these become mutually attracted, thereby in 
time forming larger or smaller aggregates in the 
shape of cosmic dust and meteorites. 

" By the action of radiation pressure small 
globules (spherical drops of matter) condensed in 
the solar atmosphere are pushed away from the sun 
and wander through space with velocities perhaps 
nearly equal to that of light. It is not improbable 
that the strange messengers from other worlds, the 
so-called meteorites, are composed of such spherules 
which had been driven into space. The meteorites 
are distinguished by an entirely peculiar structure 
and composition, from all the rocks and minerals 
known on earth, from the so-called plutonic, which 
have been formed by the congelation of the liquid 
interior of the earth, as well as from the neptunic 
which have been formed upon the bottom of the 
sea." "These little drops which are ejected and 
propelled by the sun will collect chiefly in the 
external portions of the nebulae which owe their 
luminescence to the electrically charged dust. In 
the intense cold of the nebulae the drops will con- 
dense part of these gases, in particular the hydro- 
carbons and carbon monoxide, upon their surface. 
When such masses collide with one another they 
will be cemented by these materials. In this way 
small drops of spherules will grow into meteorites, 
which will continue their migration through space." 

Meteorites. 1 1 7 

2. The " Cosmic catastrophe" theory. 

According to P. Lowell * the solar system may 
have begun in a catastrophic approach of two dead 
and dark suns, not necessarily crashing into one 
another, but coming sufficiently close to set up tidal 
stresses resulting in each sun being torn into 

There would be a big mass and lesser ones and 
tiny fragments. The large central and the lesser 
masses would become hot and nebulous from the 
mutual clashings. Consequently the very small 
residual fragments would represent a condition of 
things before the origin of the nebular phase of the 
solar system ! " These things the meteorites 
are the oldest bits of matter we may ever touch." 
" Here the meteorites tell us of another, an earlier 
stage of our solar system, one that mounts back 
to before even the nebula arose to which we owe 
our birth." 

" For the large body to whose dismemberment 
the meteorites were due can have been no other 
than the one whose cataclysmic shattering produced 
that very nebula which was for us the origin of 

The meteorites " tell us of a nebula made up of 
meteorites out of which our planets were by 
agglomeration formed, and of which material they 
are the last ungathered remains, and they speak of 
times more remote, when our nebula was a cold 

* ' The Evolution of Worlds.' * Mars as the Abode of Life.' 

1 1 8 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Suess * is led to regard the meteorites as 
planetary fragments, possibly parts of an anonymous 
body once occupying the gap between Mars and 

3. Volcanic theories. 

Tschermak believed that meteorites have had a 
volcanic source on some celestial body or bodies. 

Sir Robert Ball wrote,f " With reference to the 
origin of meteorites it is difficult to speak with any 
degree of confidence. Every theory of meteorites is 
in itself improbable, so it seems the only course 
open to us is to choose that view of their origin 
which seems least improbable." Accordingly Ball 
chose the volcanic theory, and then set about to dis- 
cover the most probable volcanic source. Firstly he 
eliminated space beyond the solar system, on 
account of the extreme improbability of bodies from 
such distances hitting such a microscopic globule as 
our planet. For various other reasons the sun and 
larger planets were excluded. The moon might 
have been a source, but there are no active 
volcanoes visible, and meteorites which would quickly 
traverse a distance equal to the space between us 
and the moon, arrive at the present time. 

By a process of elimination the earth was selected 
as the possible source. Ball points out that the 
probability of ejecta from the earth being again 
recaptured is considerable, because, assuming 
meteorites travel on a closed orbit round the sun, 

* ' The Face of the Earth' IV. p. 543. 1909. 
t 'The Story of the Heavens,' p. 359, and 'Nature/ 1879, 
XIX. p. 493. 

Meteorites. 119 

they must necessarily cross the track of the earth's 
orbit, and may do so at a moment when the earth 
is at the same point as the meteorite. 

Of 50,000 bombs ejected with a " 3-mile power " 
from the planet Ceres, only one would cross the 
earth's orbit. Of 50,000 bombs ejected with " 6- 
mile power " from the earth, 50,000 would cross the 
earth's orbit (Ball). 

The difficulty about terrestrial origin is the need 
for assuming volcanic eruptions of such terrific force 
that they could eject a body with an initial velocity 
of six miles a second. Even bombs of Krakatoa 
were said to have had a velocity not exceeding one 
mile a second. A body ejected with a force below 
a six-mile power would fall back on to the earth, 
but if at a higher the earth's attraction would not 
be able to draw it back, and it would probably 
revolve round the sun in an orbit of its own. Ball 
supposed that during the very early stages of our 
planetary history there may have been much fiercer 
eruptions than at later epochs. 

Having found traces of organic structure in 
igneous rocks, I naturally proceeded to examine 
meteorites. I soon discovered evidence of the 
existence of similar structure in them also, and 
presently found what I took to be remains of Radio- 
laria and Diatoms. Just as in the igneous rocks, 
the Foraminiferal shells turned out to be nummulites 
and the supposed plankton remains to be parts of 
those shells. 

I have been allowed the great privilege of 

I2O Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

studying the whole of the unique collection of 
sections of the British Museum meteorites and have 
now arrived at complete certainty. Not only can I 
see though with difficulty the nummulite shells 
with a lens, but under higher powers can make out 
spiral laminae, furrowed marginal cord, septa, alar 
prolongations and disks so clearly that for me at 
any rate any further doubt is out of the question. 
I can trace again with difficulty the Foraminiferal 
outlines even in siderites. Rust from the great 
Melbourne meteorite also reveals nummulitic 

Nummulitic structure is clear enough to my 
practised sight in meteorite sections containing 
stone and iron, and it is only a step to the 
completely iron meteorites. Accordingly the true 
nature of meteorites is now definitely discovered. 
These bodies are lumps of mineralized and ore- 
enriched nummulitic rock. They are portions of 
benthoplankton sea-bottoms, in which the benthos 
deposit of nummulites has become silicated by 
silica in all probability derived from plankton 
organisms. In my opinion, meteorites have no 
more to do with nebular and prenebular theories 
than have lumps of chalk. 

The evidence is now overwhelmingly in favour 
of a theory of terrestrial origin. There is, it is true, 
some adverse evidence, but rather of a negative 
kind, viz., the absence of proof that a terrestrial 
volcano could eject a meteorite with an initial 
velocity of more than six miles a second. Sir 
Robert Ball assumed that sufficiently powerful 

Meteorites. 1 2 1 

eruptions might have occurred in some early azoic 
period, but the meteorites are of organic origin, 
therefore they were erupted after the time when 
the ocean had become the abode of life. Even in 
historic times we know of eruptions e.g., Krakatoa, 
so terrific that the explosion was heard 3000 miles 
away. In the long course of geologic time, much 
greater eruptions than that of Krakatoa may have 
occurred. Volcanic blocks and bombs are known 
to be hurled miles high with great velocity. Why 
assume the impossibility of their being hurled to a 
much greater height with a much greater velocity 
than hitherto suspected ? 

Dr. Otto Hahn * believed in the organic origin 
of meteorites, but he fails to produce any evidence 
in support of his theory. He mistook the chondrules 
of aerolites for Sponges, Corals, and Crinoids. These 
bodies are peculiar formations of a mineral nature, 
but at the same time they ow r e their characters in 
some measure to the structure of the underlying 
organic basis. 

Further, he considered the Widmanstatten 
figures of siderites to be " for the most part plant- 
cells and not crystals." (Appendix, Note G.) 

Looking back on the various theories referred 
to above, we may at once dismiss the accretion 
theories of Sorby and Arrhenius. 

It is very unlikely, too, that Lowell's cata- 
strophic theory will bear the additional strain that 
will now have to be imposed upon it. For we 
would have to assume the dark or dead sun had 

* ' Die Meteorite (Chondrite) und ihre Organismen.' 1880. 

122 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

an ocean floor carpeted with nummulites, and 
products of a plankton fauna and flora, etc. 

At the same time Lowell's ingenious theory of 
the catastrophic origin of the solar system is 
considered to be based on the laws of probability, 
and events such as he describes have perhaps 
actually happened in the universe ; but the meteorites 
(terrestrial organic sautes] in our museums afford 
no evidence in support of that theory. 

When we come to the volcanic theory, we must 
assume that the planet whence the meteorites were 
shot off was the abode of life and that things were 
much the same as on this earth. When I am 
examining nummulitic structure in igneous rocks 
or in meteorites, I am scarcely aware of any differ- 
ence, though the material, it is true, is brecciated 
in the case of the meteorites. The organic structure 
is identical in both. 

Meteorites contain minerals not only not known 
to exist on this earth, but which could not exist 
under ordinary conditions where water and oxygen 
are present. This fact, which at first sight might 
seem to dispose of the terrestrial theory, is by no 
means antagonistic. When conditions are varied 
in laboratory experiments, different results are 
obtained. In the case of meteorites Nature has 
performed an unusual experiment. In the course 
of a few seconds masses of mineral compounds (or 
metals) have been suddenly transferred from an 
environment subjected to heat and high pressure 
to one of intense cold and no pressure. Is it 

Meteorites. 123 

surprising that the companies of molecules suddenly 
thrust out of their familiar aqueous and gaseous 
environment have started making new alliances ? 
Accordingly the existence in meteorites of minerals 
not actually known on earth is no valid argument 
against the terrestrial theory. 

On the other hand, the fact that aerolites are 
mainly composed of pyroxene compounds, with a 
certain percentage of felspar and iron, is one rather 
in favour of an earthly origin. Prof. Judd * gives 
a diagram illustrating the relations between terres- 
trial rocks and meteorites (which last he designates 
extra-terrestrial). The aerolites, siderolites, and 
siderites closely compare respectively with en- 
closures in basalt, the basalt of Ovifak, Greenland, 
and the iron masses of Ovifak. 

" The Asiderites " (aerolites without iron) "are 
quite identical in composition with the ultra-basic 
lavas of our globe " (Judd). Ultra-basic " nodules " 
of nearly the same composition as meteorites are 
found in basalt, and in the centre of volcanic 

Dr. G. T. Prior in a paper ' On the remarkable 
similarity in chemical and mineral composition of 
chondritic meteoric stones ' f has pointed out "the 
practical identity in chemical composition of different 
meteoric stones." They contain 74 per cent, of 
silicate of magnesia and iron (Olivine and Bronzite), 

* 'Volcanoes,' p. 322. 

\ See analyses of Baroti and Wittekranz meteorites. 
G. T. Prior, Min. Mag., XVII., pp. 27, 31. 1913. 

124 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

10 per cent, of silicate of alumina, with sodium, 
calcium and a trace of potassium (soda-lime felspar), 
15 per cent, iron alloys and protosulphide (nickeli- 
ferous iron and troilite) and i per cent. Chromite. 
Here are all the eight familiar elements of igneous 
rocks, of benthoplankton organisms and sea-water, 
viz., O. Si. Fe. Al. Mg. Ca. Na. K. Lockyer ('The 
Meteoritic Hypothesis,' p. 25) marks in italics the 
statement that magnesium is present in all siderites. 
It is also common in the sea, in limestone deposits 
formed in the sea, and in igneous rocks. 

The sea is the common parent of benthoplankton, 
igneous rocks, and meteorites, these being one and 
the same material variously modified by time and 


* * * * 


What first induced men of science to pay atten- 
tion to the popular belief that meteorites were 
really sky-stones was the discovery that these 
bodies had approximately the same composition 
even though found in far-apart localities. Meteor- 
ites are ultra-basic, that is to say, there is only a 
low percentage of silicic acid (silica) and a high one 
of bases, especially of magnesium. A simple ex- 
planation now, I think, offers itself. 

In Chapter IV. it was suggested that Eozoon 
and Monte Somma bombs might be regarded as 
transition-stages between ordinary limestones and 
igneous rocks. The silicatic element of Eozoon and 
the bombs is ultra-basic. In the case of the Cana- 

Meteorites. 125 

dian and Finland and Vesuvian Eozoon it is abun- 
dantly clear that heat has caused the silica to unite 
with bases to form silicates. It may well be that 
while some great volcanic outburst was developing, 
the gathering high temperature caused the silica of 
overlying limestones to unite with magnesium, etc., 
to form olivine. When the explosion came the 
fixed lid of the cauldron was shattered with terrific 
force, and masses would be torn off from the sides 
of the volcanic pipe. It may be, then, that meteor- 
ites had never reached the fourth or igneous-rock 
stage of metamorphism, and therefore had never 
been products of magmatic differentiation. The 
absence of quartz would perhaps be due to the fact 
that the very fierce eruptions did not happen to take 
place where there were overlying volcanic rocks of 
the nature of rhyolites, nor in the neighbourhood 
of richly siliceous limestones. 

* * * * 

The differences in the densities of meteorites 
have led to the supposition that these objects may 
have come from different zones of some cosmic 
body, viz., the pure siderites from a very deep or 
nuclear zone, the siderolites from a higher, and the 
aerolites from a still more superficial zone. 

Walterhausen (1853) regarded the earth as a 
body composed of concentric shells, lighter acid 
rocks being at the surface, heavier basic rocks 
deeper and metallic zones still deeper. Suess,* 
again, assumes the existence of three zones or 
envelopes as determining the structure of the earth, 

* 'The Face of the Earth/ IV. p. 544. 1909. 

126 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

viz., the deepest or barysphere of nickel and iron, 
the middle Silica-Magnesium zone and the surface 
Silica-Aluminium zone. 

Dr. Leigh Fermor,* in a paper on the origin of 
meteorites, is led to assume the existence of a 
garnetiferous zone between a central metallic and 
a plutonic zone. Consequently he makes use of 
the term " infra-plutonic " for the garnet zone. 

Whether the lithosphere is sorted into zones or 
not, it is only one common organic deposit. Cer- 
tainly the siderites are not " iron dug from central 
gloom." It is by no means certain they originate 
from a specially deep zone. Probably all the iron 
in the known crust of the earth has one common 
primal origin the sea. 

The deeper layers of the mineralized oceanic 
organic deposit have been heated, and have risen 
up in the form of dykes, bosses, and sills pene- 
trating the overlying crust and even breaking 
through the surface. Upheaved portions of this 
same deposit have been ground down and leached, 
the soluble iron salts becoming deposited along 
certain planes of fissures and faults (veins). There 
is no evidence to show that the basal part of the 
nummulosphere (or lithosphere) is richer in metal 
than the higher levels. In the case of veins, at any 

* ' Preliminary Note on the Origin of Meteorites.' Journal 
and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, VIII., 1912, 
p. 315. I would point out that we have not yet arrived even at 
a plutonic zone, let alone an infra-plutonic. I find traces of 
oceanic organic life in garnetiferous schists from Sikhim and 
Tyrol. The birthplace of siderites is in Neptune's territory. 
This criticism is merely one of nomenclature. 

Meteorites. 1 2 7 

rate, some practical mining engineers are wholly 
opposed to the ancient theory of persistence of ore 
deposit in depth.* 

According to the Hon. R. J. Strutt, the earth's 
interior can hardly consist mainly of iron, for the 
mean density of the earth is only 5 * 5, while that 
of iron is 7-7 (P.R.S. [A] 77, p. 484. 1906). 


In the chapter on chalk I have ventured to 
suggest the possibility of a relationship between 
chalk and some comets. 

If astronomers are correct in assuming there is a 
connection between meteorites, shooting-stars, and 
comets, then assuredly there is a justification for 
this apparently audacious suggestion. As a result 
of innumerable, long-continued and patient observa- 
tions, I have arrived at the conviction that 100 per 
cent, of the magnificent collection of meteorites I 
have examined are bodies of organic origin. 

It is not unreasonable to assume that some of 
the " shooting " or " falling stars " that do not 
happen to reach our earth may also be of similar 

* * Persistence of Ore in Depth.' T. A. Rickard. A paper 
discussed at a meeting of the Institution of Mining and Metal- 
lurgy, Nov. 1914. I have to thank Mr. G. Henriksen for this 
interesting reference. 

f Tschermak and Sir Robert Ball regarded the meteorites on 
the one hand, and the almost imponderable shooting stars and 
comets on the other, as wholly distinct classes of objects. 

128 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Even the great showers of shooting-stars may 
be related to the meteorites captured by the earth. 
Perhaps it is not merely a coincidence that during 
one of these displays a siderite fell, viz., at Mazapil, 

Sir Norman Lockyer considers the difference 
between an ordinary meteorite and a shooting-star 
to be merely one of size.* A shooting-star weighing 
only one grain and moving thirty miles a second, 
would possess an energy of 55,675 foot-pounds. 
No wonder it makes a splash in the aerial ocean 
into which it plunges ! 

If we could imagine some terrific volcanic 
eruption, capable of overcoming diminished aerial 
resistance and gravitational pull, it would not 
perhaps be difficult to account for the 33-year 
showers of shooting stars. A violent preliminary 
discharge would cleave the heated rarefied column 
of air like a battering-ram, and a closely following 
rush of matter would take place in a partial vacuum. 
The Alaskan volcano Katmai covered the country in 
a thick bed of dust over thousands of square miles. 
If a column of such material got shot out into space 
it would become drawn out into a great band of 
dust, each particle of which would become a shoot- 
ing-star when, with its acquired orbital velocity, it 
re-entered our atmosphere. 

According to a theory held at the present day 
the nuclei of comets are made up of clashing 
meteorites, the latter not present in sufficient 
numbers to obscure the stars in front of which the 

* 'The Meteoritic Hypothesis,' 1890. 

Meteorites. 129 

comet may be passing. If the meteorite-theory of 
comets be true, then some of the meteorites may- 
be of the same terrestrial origin as those in our 
museums. It has been suggested that the Mazapil 
siderite is part of the broken up Biela's comet. 

Probably other bodies in the solar system and 
in the universe eject yolcanically from their 
mass materials which escape the gravitation- 
pull of the parent body, and, further, catastrophes 
may have broken up planets and dark suns. How- 
ever that may be, it is not improbable in face of the 
new facts, that all terrestrial captures are of terres- 
trial origin. 

I find the brown-coloured " chondres " or 
spherules from oceanic abyssal deposits to be 
organic,* but I could discern no trace of organic 
structure in the black magnetic spherules though 
it is probably there. 

I do not believe there is positive evidence of the 
existence on earth of any cosmic masses or particles 
that are of non-terrestrial origin. 


Meteorites are mineralized and often ore-en- 
riched lumps of nummulitic rock which have been 
ejected from volcanoes. On palaeontological and 
other grounds these bodies may be assumed to be 
of terrestrial origin. 

I have to thank Mr. James Chumley for kind permission to 
make a microscopic preparation of one of these objects. 

t O. C. Farrington (Meteorites, 1915) thinks the abundance 
of meteorites constitutes an objection to the theory of earthly 
origin. Meteorites could hardly be plentiful, or the market value 
would not be so high. 


130 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 



A SCENE in which there is a river cutting through a 
gap in the chalk and flint cliffs to enter the sea 
represents in miniature the history of the earth's 
crust. For the chalk is a raised sea-bottom com- 
posed of an accumulation of calcareous and siliceous 
skeletons of sea-creatures. The siliceous remains 
have mostly dissolved, and the silica, wherever it 
has penetrated, has replaced the carbonate of lime 
of the calcareous skeletons. At the mouth of the 
river there are shoals of mud, and at the foot of 
the cliffs boulders, gravel and sand. Submarine 
deposits of these materials will become hardened 
into rocks, and perhaps in course of time elevated 
above the sea. 

Almost all the rocks which make up the crust of 
the earth are either accumulations of skeletons or 
of fragments of those skeletons. 

The silicated deposits of nummulites i.e. the 
igneous rocks have been upheaved and broken up 
into coarser or finer fragments and particles by the 
action of heat, frost and water. 

The conclusive proof that the sedimentary rocks 
are mainly derived from mineralized deposits of 
nummulites is established simply by examining 

Sedimentary Rocks. 131 

particles of sand, mud or clay under a microscope. 
Portions of the shell-structure almost imperishably 
preserved will generally be seen (Fig. 9). 

Showing the nummulitic disk structure. X 100. 

Dust from a London street, mud trom the 
Thames, flint sand from Brighton, granite sand or 
clay from Cornwall, earth from the fields, volcanic 
sands from any part of the world, all show 
disk-structure of nummulite shells.* Similarly 
with slates, and with shales and sandstones from 
all horizons. A sandstone, without any apparent 
organic remains, is nevertheless fossiliferous through- 
out, only the fossils are in very small fragments. 
The known fossils in sedimentary rocks are buried 
in the debris of fossils of an earlier period or era. 

The crust of the earth is mainly built of minute 
disks, the smallest visible being '25 to i //, in 

* I have heard of unbelievers who would as soon expect to 
find nummulites in their carpet, in horse-manure, or in coal- 
cinders as in igneous rocks. I fear none of these materials 
will be found to have escaped nummulitic admixture. Dirty 
boots, gritty fodder and poor coal would furnish plenty of 
nummulitic structure in each of the materials enumerated. 

K 2 

132 Sea Floors or Benthoplankton. 

diameter, the disks form the nummulite shell, and 
nummulite shells the scaffolding of the earth's 

Note on gneisses and crystalline schists. " The 
question of the origin and meaning of the banded, 
foliated, and allied structures exhibited by crystalline 
rocks over large tracts of the earth's surface, is one 
of the oldest problems of geology, and still awaits 
a solution."* A. HARKER. 

Distributed over vast areas of the earth's surface 
there are formations possessing characters both of 
sedimentary and of igneous rocks : for on the one 
hand they are crystalline and apparently devoid of 
fossils, and on the other stratified and banded in a 
manner suggestive of sedimentation. At one time 
these rocks, of which the gneisses and schists are 
the most typical examples, were regarded as 
ancient sediments laid down in water, and " meta- 
morphosed " into a crystalline condition by the 
action of heat. 

There are many instances of sedimentary rocks 
becoming crystalline in the neighbourhood of 
intrusive igneous rocks (contact metamorphism), 
and it was assumed that ancient sediments ex- 
tending over vast areas might similarly have become 
modified by subterranean heat (regional meta- 

In 1884 J. Lehmann f published a great work 

* ' The Problem of the Gneissic Rocks.' Trans. Hull 
Geol. Soc., 1906, vol. vi., p. 24. 

\ ' Untersuchungen liber die Entstehung der altcrystallinischen 
Schiefergesteine,' 1884. 

Sedimentary Rocks. 133 

illustrated by an atlas of photographs, showing that 
a stratified structure was often brought about in 
igneous rocks as a result of pressure. Now meta- 
morphic rocks are especially found in mountainous 
regions, where there has necessarily been great 
dislocation and pressure. Hence he concluded that 
metamorphic rocks might in many cases be igneous 
rocks modified by mechanical means. 

At the present day the tendency is to judge 
each case on its own merits. 

Sir A. Geikie wrote, in his critical appreciation of 
Lehmann's work, " The question is attacked on all 
sides" ('Nature,' June 5, 1884, p. 121). There is, 
however, one side whence no attack has yet been 
delivered. I find as a matter of observation that 
the metamorphic rocks are replete with organic 
structure.* They are not only masses of crystalline 
minerals, but also masses of mineralized nummulites. 
Just as the arrangement and condition of the 
minerals afford evidence concerning events in the 
history of the rock, so likewise does the condition of 
the nummulitic material. 

I have not yet been able to follow this clue very 
far, but I believe the organic factor will yield 
evidence of considerable diagnostic value. 

In garnetiferous schist of Tyrol, for example, 
the nummulitic material is in a condition somewhat 
resembling that of slate. A section of slate 
transverse to the plane of cleavage shows bands and 

* Nummulite structure is visible in many of Lehmann's 
photographs, viz. II. 3; III. 4; VI. 3, 4; VII. 4; IX. T; 
XVI. 6 ; XXI. 6 ; XXIII. 3 ; etc. 

134 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

strings of rods, here and there intertwined around 
flat plates ; the former are compressed spiral laminae. 
The same appearances occur in some parts of my 
sections of the schist, especially where the garnets 
are not too abundant. Accordingly these observa- 
tions seem to point to the conclusion that the schist 
is a metamorphosed nummulitic mud. 

In the case of Ottawa banded gneiss, portions of 
a shell can be seen traversed by more than one 
band. The banding, at any rate, cannot here be 
due to sedimentation. On the other hand, 
mechanical pressure is probably not the only force 
that has been at work, but also thermal, aqueous 
and chemical agencies. 

Lastly the organic structure must be considered 
as one of the determining factors in mineral arrange- 
ment (see Chapter IX.). 

Both igneous and metamorphic rocks are meta- 
morphosed nummulitic deposits, whether primary or 
sedimentary. Accordingly Lyell's term "meta- 
morphic " cannot logically be restricted to the 
gneisses and schists. 

GLAUCONITIC DEPOSITS. Glauconite is a granular 
greenish mineral now forming deposits on the ocean 
floor, mostly in depths of about 100 fathoms, and off 
bold coast lines. 

The green grains are either shapeless or in the 
form of casts of calcareous mainly Foraminiferal 
shells. The mineral is composed "of hydrous silicate 
of potash and of ferric oxide, containing variable 
quantities of alumina, ferrous oxide, magnesia and 

Sedimentary Rocks. 135 

often lime."* Glauconite occurs in geological 
formations down to the Cambrian. 

The most approved explanation is that the 
sediments of igneous rocks, especially those with 
potash felspar, permeate the shells as fine mud, and 
that the latter becomes decomposed by acid resulting 
from the action of organic matter. 

A new feature of interest about this mineral is 
the discovery of persisting nummulitic structure. 
In some beautiful casts of decalcified Rotalia and 
Globigerina from the glauconitic core of Norwich 
potstones, I can clearly see the dotted disks. Thus 
we have Cretaceous (or other) Foraminifera filled 
with Foraminiferal debris of the ages when the 
igneous rocks were formed. 

A. Vialayf takes a glauconitic deposit as the 
starting point of his evolutionary rock series, viz. 
ultra-basic, basic and acid. However logical the 
theory may be from the chemical point of view, yet 
actually the course of events has probably been 
different. For glauconite is the offspring, and not 
the progenitor, of igneous rocks. The learned 
author rightly postulates an aqueous origin for the 
latter. He believes their metamorphosis to have 

taken place a froid. 

* * # # 

An esteemed correspondent writes to me: "I 
cannot agree with you when you speak of ' the 
organic origin of igneous rocks.' I think it should 

* Murray and Renard : * Challenger Deep-Sea Deposits,' 
1891, pp. 378-391. 

t A. Vialay. * Essai sur la Genese et revolution des Roches,' 
1912, p. 94. 

136 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

be the sedimentary origin of igneous rocks. If the 
so-called igneous rocks are largely composed of 
organic remains, surely they are far from exclusively 
made of that material." A band of chalk-flint 
will be found to be a mass of silicified once-cal- 
careous fossils, these being chiefly nummulites. 
When that flint is ground down into sand it will 
still be possible to see the remains of nummulites. 
I find the same structure in the grains of all the 
sandstones I have examined. Similarly granite 
will be found to be a mineralized deposit of nummu- 
lite shells. The granite sand, mud and clay also 
show the almost indestructible nummulitic structure. 
The original granite may itself be a sediment or 
it may be in the condition of a primary deposit. 
Whether the rock is primary or ground down, if I 
find traces of organic structure in nearly every 
particle even though that structure be mineralized 
by silica magnesium or iron, or by alumina, which 
is not known to be secreted by organisms, yet I 
should feel justified in speaking of the organic 
nature and origin of the rock. 

No one would deny the organic origin of a 
silicified fossil sea-urchin ; and if the fossil were 
broken up into small particles, these latter would 
not lose their claim to organic origin. Similarly 
with Tertiary nummulites, and similarly too with all 
the rest of the nummulites which make up nearly 

the whole of the earth's crust. 

* * * * 

That in every pinch of sand or mud from any 
part of the world some or frequently all of the 

Sedimentary Rocks. 137 

particles should show nummulitic structure is a fact 
not so surprising as might appear. 

For aeons a simple universal rhizopodal " bathy- 
bius " * has been building a scaffolding composed 
almost wholly of nummulites, which have become 
mineralized by material derived partly from plank- 
ton. This huge deposit has been heaving up and 
down, and here and there elevated above the 
ocean surface.f Instantly Nature attacks the mass 
with a meteorological broom and sweeps it back 
again as sand, mud, etc. The igneous rocks, their 
sediments, and the main mass of most of the lime- 
stones are nummulitic, the proportion of preserved 
skeletons of later and higher organisms entombed in 
the sediments of igneous rocks and in limestones 
being very small. 

A mountain range (like all the rest of the earth's 
crust) with a plutonic core flanked by schists, sedi- 
mentaries, intrusives and limestones, is one thing, 
viz. benthoplankton, in various states. 

'" The meaning of " bathybius " here differs slightly from 
that of the term as originally employed. It is not a case of 
a continuous plasmodium of protoplasm, but of a layer of little 
separate masses. 

t F. Ratzel (' Anthropo-Geographie,' Ed. 3, I. p. 207) com- 
pares the ocean to a mantle seemingly with holes in it (i.e. the 
land). Nature is always repairing the rents. According to one 
estimate it would require six million years to sweep away the 
present land areas. 

Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 



The Age of the Earth. 

LEAVING aside the astronomical phase of the earth's 
history, and coming to the geological period dating 
from the birth of the ocean, it is obvious that the 
discovery of the oceanic and organic origin of the 
lithosphere, or rather of all that we know or are likely 
to know of that " sphere," will materially affect all 
future calculations of geological age. 

Hitherto an estimate has been arrived at by 
calculating the thickness of the whole mass of 
ordinary sediments, and also some average rate 
of deposition. Sollas, calculating the earth's 
sediments at a thickness of 50 miles, reckons they 
have taken 26 million years to form. Lapparent's 
estimate is 75 to 80 millions, Geikie's 100 millions. 

These calculations leave out of consideration 
the fact that the igneous rocks much more bulky 
than all the sediments and limestones put together, 
are themselves metamorphosed oceanic sediments 
probably both precipitated and also precipitated- 
ground-down or detrital. Consequently future 
estimates must take in the igneous rocks. 

Another method of reckoning the geological age 
is one based on " solvent denudation." A calcula- 

Miscellanea. 139 

tion is made of all the sodium in the ocean, and of 
the amount of sodium annually carried there by the 
rivers of the world. Assuming the ocean was 
fresh water to start with, the amount now present 
divided by the quantity annually added would give 
the number of years required to accumulate the 
salts. Joly considers 1 1 1 million years to be the 
best estimate. 

The lithosphere with its sodium-content is an 
oceanic deposit. There is no evidence to show that 
the sodium now in the ocean is derived wholly from 
the leaching of the upheaved part of that deposit. 
Probably the ocean has been abundantly salt from 
the beginning. The sodium in the sea is in the 
form of chloride. The sodium base in igneous 
rocks is mostly combined with silicic acid, only a 
residual trace of sodium chloride remaining under 
protection in quartz crystals, etc. 

Recent estimates of duration based on the 
disintegration of uranium and its products yield 
enormous periods of time varying from 240 to 
11,470 millions of years.* Joly adds " That we 
have much to learn is indeed probable." 

My sections of Uraninite from Joachimsthal 
and Cornwall show indubitable traces of organic 
structure. Accordingly the uranium very probably 

* Quoted by Joly in ' The Birth-time of the World.' Science 
Progress, July, 1914. Seeing that radioactive substances and 
their products of disintegration are found together in igneous 
rocks, i.e. in nummulitic deposits, well might the poet ask 

" What oldest star the fame can save 
Of races perishing to pave 
The planet with a floor of lime?" 

140 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

came from the sea. The possibility of the metal 
having been deposited from water ascending from 
sources below the nummulosphere does indeed 
exist, but the ocean seems the more likely source. 

Reviewing the deeply interesting but somewhat 
conflicting results referred to above, one looks back 
to the non-scientific chroniclers of former times 
almost with a feeling of envy. Archbishop Usher, 
for instance, quite definitely and to the satisfaction 
of himself and his contemporaries for his results 
were accepted by the compilers of the authorized 
version of the Bible fixed to a moment the date 
and time of the creation of the world, viz. precisely 
at midnight preceding the beginning of October 
23rd, B.C. 4004. (Appendix, Note J.) 

On certain Hypotheses concerning the Origin of 
Life on the Earth. 

It seems something of a paradox that at the 
moment when the organic origin of meteorites is 
definitely proved, the improbability indeed, the 
absurdity, of the theory of conveyance of life to this 
planet by meteorites should be demonstrated. For 
when all the different factors are considered, the 
terrestrial origin ot meteorites will be generally 
accepted. Accordingly if these bodies were the 
bringers of life to a lifeless planet, they must either 
have picked up or spontaneously developed the 
germs on the way. Now, too, that the whole 
planetary crust veritably a life-worn mould is 
found to be a product of life, why should we look 

Miscellanea. 141 

elsewhere for the origin of something so abundantly 
and universally present here. The mere fact of 
human agency having so far failed to create living 
from not-living material is no proof that Nature has 
failed to evolve life on this planet. 

Again, Arrhenius' version of the panspermia 
theory, viz. that living particles are being driven 
through space by radiation pressure, is not founded 
on evidence. It has already been shown in 
Chapter V. that the theory of the formation of 
meteorites by accretion of similarly driven particles 
of matter is now obviously untenable. 

Note on Precioits Stones. 

I have found traces of organic structure in 
several of the precious stones, viz., ruby, sapphire, 
emerald, garnet and diamond. 

The persistence of such traces may well seem 
almost incredible, but the careful examination of 
sections under high powers leaves me in no doubt. 
Rubies and sapphires consist of nearly pure alumina 
(A1 2 O 3 ) with a trace of chromium. They come 
mostly from the lime-felspars of Burmah. The 
matrix of this rock has the usual nummulitic 

Anything visible even under the highest powers 
of the microscope is of Brobdingnagian proportions 
in " molecule-land." According to Lord Kelvin, a 
drop of water magnified to the size of the earth 
would reveal the molecules as objects smaller than 
cannon-balls but larger than shot. If owing to 
molecular change the Brobdingnagian nummulitic 

142 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

disks are composed of some highly intractable 
substance there is no reason why they should not 
escape destruction when subjected to very high 
temperature. Barbados earth, a nummulitic rock 
rich in Radiolaria, after boiling reveals the disk 

I have seen very distinct traces of nummulitic 
structure in diamonds (Fig. 10). With the kind 
permission of Mr. W. Busch of the Premier (Trans- 
vaal) Diamond Co., I was able on several occasions 
to examine some hundreds of rough stones. Igneous 
rocks being nummulitic, it is not surprising that 
precious stones composed of silicates and of alumina 
should show traces of nummulitic structure, but it 
seems very remarkable that carbon molecules should 
replace other molecular nummulitic scaffoldings. 
The drawings have been made from a small diamond 
in my own collection (see also Plate XX., Figs. D, E). 
Further, in some curious black diamonds* which 
Mr. P. R. Frames, the Transvaal representative of 
the Premier Diamond Co., very kindly brought to 
me, traces of nummulitic structure are visible. 
These stones contain three forms of carbon, viz., 
soft graphite, hard graphite, and ordinary white 

In specimens of graphite mixed with Wollastonite 
rock (silicate of calcium) I am firmly persuaded, 
after prolonged and close observation, that I can see 
casts of nummulites with a hand lens. The 
Wollastonite rock itself is nummulitic. Carbon 

* Described by D. P. McDonald in Trans. Geol. Soc. South 
Africa, XVI. 1913, p. 156. 

Miscellanea . 143 

dissolved in molten magmas may separate out as 
graphite or as diamond. In Moissan's experiments 
diamonds resulted from the solidification of metal 
carbides (' Ore Deposits,' Beyschlag, Vogt, and 
Krusch, I., 1914, p. 129). 




A, marginal cord and pillar. B, disk -structure. C, portion of marginal 
cord, and of three rows of disks in perspective. All X 1300. 

144 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 


Darwin wished for " some doubly rich millionaire 
who would take it into his head to have borings made 
in some of the Pacific and Indian atolls, and bring 
home cores for slicing from a depth of 500 to 600 feet." 

Thanks to the enterprise of Profs. Sollas and 
David a boring of this kind was actually accom- 
plished, and with very successful results. A still 
greater or at least more difficult enterprise would be 
to bore or run a shaft through the nummulosphere 
down to the really plutonic or azoic zone below the 
domain of Neptune. 

Although the accumulated pile of sedimentary 
strata at maximum would be many miles thick, 
perhaps the average depth of the earth's crust if 
uniformly spread would not be very great. The 
lowest Archaean formations the fundamental gneiss, 
granite gneiss and the gneiss of Finland, N.W. Scot- 
land, central Europe and Canada are undoubtedly of 
organic origin. The place to choose for the boring 
should obviously be in the floor or sides of some de- 
pression where these most ancient rocks are exposed. 

If all difficulties, such as those arising from 
temperature or from a possible up-welling of lava, 
could be overcome what might we expect to find ? 
From the nature of its formation particle by particle 
on the sea-floor, the known crust of the earth is a 
heterogeneous mixture. Possibly the sub-crustal 
region would be more homogeneous. The term 
" crust " is here limited to the oceanic deposits, 
whatever is lower being a "zone." Prof. Milne 
(Recent advances in Seismology. P.R.S. [A] 77, 

Miscella nea . 145 

p. 369, 1906) estimates that there is an outer zone 
of rock thirty miles thick resembling that of the 
surface. The nummulosphere crust would con- 
stitute only a fraction of this zone, for the dissolving 
powers of the ocean are not unlimited an old anti- 
Wernerian argument. 

The Nummulosphere in Arts and Crafts. 

Apart from recent organic substances, most of 
the materials used in the arts have a nummulitic 
origin, and it is surprising to what an extent the 
nummulitic structure persists. 

Architecture, sculpture, and painting depend on 
nummulitic material in the form of igneous rocks, 
limestones, sandstones, and clays. 

The terracotta and the bricks and slates of the 
Natural History Museum are found by observation 
to be replete with nummulitic structure. The mate- 
rials of the Greek marble statuary and of the basaltic 
monsters from Easter Island also have a common 
origin. Sections of most of the jewels, of jade 
ornaments, of soapstone images, of crockery and 
porcelain, and of a meerschaum pipe, have all 
revealed a nummulitic groundwork. Nummulitic 
structure can be detected without much difficulty 
in oil paintings, the pigments of which are vol- 
canic clays. I made a preparation of rust from 
an old iron saucepan, and found the ubiquitous 
nummulitic structure. 

" The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
the solemn temples," and the crust of "the great 
globe itself" were once dissolved in the sea. 


146 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 



IN the preceding chapters, facts concerning organic 
life at the surface and on the floor of the ocean 
during present and past times have been brought 
forward to show that an organic origin of the 
planetary crust is rather what we should expect to 

Detailed investigation now confirms this ex- 
pectation by revealing the fact that the lithosphere 
is mainly composed of a mineralized deposit of 
Foraminiferal shells belonging to the genus Num- 
mulites, the deposit being either " primary " (i.e., as 
originally accumulated) or detrital. 

The more recent primary deposits (Cainozoic to 
Archaeozoic) either unaltered, or silicified into 
flints, gaizes, phthanites, etc. are composed chiefly 
of calcium carbonate or silica, wholly or partly of 
organic origin. In the more ancient deposits, 
commonly known as igneous rocks, the silica has 
entered into combination with various bases, viz., 
oxides of Al. Ca. Mg. K. Na. Fe. derived from 
the ocean partly through the agency of living 
matter to form silicates. Chemical activity has 
been favoured by high temperature, possibly due in 

The Direct Evidence. 


greater or less degree to the storing-up of heat 
derived from radio-active sources. 

A short account of Foraminifera and more 
especially of nummulites will now be given. A 
chapter on the generally known and fairly well- 
preserved nummulites of the Eocene period will 
be followed by one on the nummulites of igneous 
rocks and meteorites. Pre-Eocene nummulitic 
limestones from Mesozoic to basal Archaeozoic have 
already been referred to in Chapters II. and III. 

I. n. 




[See p. 161.] 

I. Spirodisk in horizontal, and II., in vertical aspect. Each figure shows 
three orders of dimensions, viz., a, b, c, like, say, a cog-wheel with cog 
themselves cogged. 

If, again, c were enlarged it also would show spirodisks with descending 
orders of size down to the limits of microscopic vision. 

L 2 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 



IF shelly sands, especially from near low-tide mark, be 
examined with a hand-lens, probably some tiny little shells 
like Hlliputian Pearly Nautiluses, Florence oil-flasks, or 
porcelain-white millet seeds will be detected. Twenty to 
fifty of them could be laid in a line an inch long (Fig. u). 


D, Miliolina. E, Textttfaria, 

A, Rotalia. B, Nodosaria. C, Lagena. 
A, C, D, E x 30. B x 15. 

Naturalists first regarded some of them as minute Nautilus 
shells. Fig. 12 shows a section of a coiled shell, the 
interior being divided by a series of " septa " or partitions, 
each with a V-shaped row of pores or " foramina." The 


A, exterior. B, end view showing V-shaped row of pores in final septum. 
C, section of shell showing septa. 

Foraminifera. 149 

real Pearly Nautilus has similar partitions, but all are 
joined by a coiled tube or siphon. D'Orbigny (1826) 
called the very small shells Cephalopoda Foraminifera and 
the real Nautilus group Cephalopoda Siphonifera. 

In 1835 Dujardin collected in the mud and on sea- 
weeds the living creatures whose empty dead shells alone 
had hitherto been studied. So far from the little creatures 
having mouth, stomach, heart, etc., he found the shells to 
be filled merely with a granular jelly which extended itself 



[Rows of dots on shell are incorrectly copied. They should be bars or 

outwards in the form of a network of trunks and threads. 
The animals moved about by extending the threads or 
"pseudopods" * which served also as organs for the capture 
of food particles. He called these organisms Rhizopoda.t 

* Pseudes, false or resembling, poda feet, 
f Rhiza, branched, root-like, poda feet. 


Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Later the group, now usually called Foraminifera (after 
d'Orbigny), was removed to the Protozoa or simplest 
primitive animals. 

There are thousands of species, most of them very 
small, although some the giants of their tribe are over 
an inch in diameter. They are nearly all marine, and 
mostly live on the sea-bottom at all depths from shallow 
water to the abysses. A few species live floating on the 
surface of the ocean, the commonest of these being 


(From photo.) 

Globigerina bulloides. Over an area of 49 million square 
miles and at depths of about 2,000 fathoms the ocean floor 
is carpeted with a pinkish-white mud called Globigerina 
ooze, chiefly composed of shells which have rained down 
from the surface. 

The skeletons of Foraminifera are mostly made of 
carbonate of lime, but some are built of agglutinated 
sandy or other foreign particles. The essential feature is 
not so much the skeleton as the nature of the body itself 
with its branching network of pseudopods. 

The calcareous shells are either porcellanous or vitreous. 
The former kind have one or a few large orifices, the rest 

Nummulite$i 1 5 1 

of the shell being imperforate at least in the adult stage. 
The vitreous shells, in addition to a main opening, have 
minute pores all over the walls. 

The great variety of shells can be grouped under a few 
types. The shell may consist of a single chamber (Fig. 
1 1 C) or of several in a row (Fig. 1 1 B). The chambers 
may alternate on each side of a line (Fig. 1 1 E) or may 
form a spiral or cyclical series (Fig. 11 A and Fig. 12). 

Foraminifera reproduce themselves chiefly by division 
of the protoplasm within or outside the shell, into creeping 
amoebulae or motile biflagellate spores. A new shell is 
secreted by an amoebula or by a cell formed by the union 
of a pair of spores. There is an " alternation of genera- 
tions." A " megalospheric " generation, having a shell with 
a large central chamber forms the biflagellate spores, pairs 
of which unite to form a cell which secretes a " micro- 
spheric " shell with a small central chamber. The proto- 
plasm of the latter divides up into amoebulae, each one of 
which forms a megalospheric shell. The two kinds of 
shell which are nearly always found associated were once 
thought to belong to distinct species. 

Brady divides the group into ten families. Only the 
tenth the Nummulitidae, and only one genus, viz. Num- 
mulites, concern the present work. 

The important part taken by Foraminifera in the 
formation of the earth's crust is already well known, but 
it is now found that nearly the whole lithosphere is 
composed of mineralized deposits of nummulites. 

" Ce genre de debris organiques." -Joly and Leymerie. 

NUMMULITES furnish a powerful instrument for 
the solving of problems of the highest importance 
in geology, petrology, and meteoritology. Accord- 
ingly a short account of their structure is given below. 

Nummulites are not common objects of the 

152 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

country in Great Britain, because the Eocene strata 
in which they abound as recognizable fossils are 
here relatively thin and difficult to find,* but in many 
parts of the old world, in North Africa, Europe and 
Asia there are Eocene nummulitic limestones of 
great thickness and vast extent. 


Nummulites are mentioned by ancient writers. 
Strabo, for instance, refers to their presence in the 
sands around the pyramids of Egypt, and to the 
common belief that they were petrified lentils. In 
some countries they were believed to be pieces of 
money turned into stone.f Leaving aside the 
numerous popular legends, we find that even the 
learned had many and various theories concerning 
these shells. They were regarded as corals, as 
"worms with shells," or, again, as Cephalopods. 

Some naturalists, misled by the appearance of 
transverse sections of shells as seen on rock surfaces, 
supposed them to be petrified willow leaves. Ac- 
cording to another theory the shells were opercula 
of Ammonites. Ehrenberg thought they were the 
supporting skeleton of certain Jelly-fish (Porpita). 
It was only after Dujardin's discovery that nummu- 
lites were placed in the group of Foraminifera and 
among the Protozoa or simplest animals. 

In 1848 Joly and Leymerie wrote an important 
historical and scientific memoir on nummulites. In 

* The Nnmmulinazone at the base of the Barton Beds at 
Highcliff, Hants, is only 8 inches thick and not easy to locate. At 
Selsey, again, some of the Bracklesham strata containing nummu- 
lites can only be seen at low spring tides. 

f The hybrid Graeco-Latin word nummulites is derived from 
j money, and lithos^ stone. 

Numimilites. 153 

1853 a splendid foundation for systematic arrange- 
ment was laid by d'Archiac and ably extended and 
built upon by Dr. de la Harpe, Max de Hantken 
and others. Carpenter did excellent work on the 
minute anatomy. The mysterious problem of the 
reproduction of nummulites and other Foraminifera 
has been dealt with by Munier-Chalmas and 
Schlumberger, Lister, Schaudinn, and Winter. 

Nummulites are shaped like biconvex lenses or 
disks, and vary in diameter from i to 107 mm. (^V to 
about 4^ inches).* The surface may show radiating 
sinuous lines or a reticulate pattern, and may be 
smooth or visibly granular. To the naked eye 
there is no perceptible orifice. 

The shells have the singular and convenient 
characteristic of splitting into two equal plano- 
convex half-disks when heated and suddenly thrown 
into cold water. Each flat inner face of the split 
shell reveals one half of a spiral cavity with few or 
many turns, divided up into numerous chambers by 
septa or partitions also in halves (Plate II. B). 
Fitting the halves together again will help the 
observer to realize the shape of the whole spiral 
cavity and septa. 

There is a central chamber either extremely 
small and invisible to the naked eye, or fairly large 
and easily visible. 

A section through the central median plane is 
called " perpendicular," as in the case of a coin 

: " D'Archiac describes gigantic specimens of N. complanata 
from Crete, 107 x 3 mm. (' Mon.' p. 88). 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 




A. N. variolaria % nat. size. B. N. curvispira, X 4. C. N. curvispira, 
a, b, d, nat. size ; r, x 4 ; <?, X 2 ; in various aspects. This species really 
megalospheric phase of JV. gizehensis. D. N. guettardi, a, b t c, nat. size; 
d t x 4. E. A 7 , gizehensis in microspheric phase, a, b, shell nat. size. 
c alar prolongations on peripheral part of surface of an interior coil of spiral 
lamina, x 4. F. N. (Operculina) murchisoni, with only a few rapidly- 
widening turns of spira, a, nat. size, b, trans, sect., X 2. 

PLATE lie 

Fig. A Niiinmulitcs gizeJiensis, microspheric form, perpendicular section 
through central median (splitting) plane X 4. 

Fig. B Transverse section of a shell, willow pattern X 6. 

Fig. C Megalospheric shells of a related species, central median 
plane X 10. 

[The megalospheric phase of N. gize/iensis is N. citrvispira,s\\o\v\\ in Fig. 28, a-e.] 
All from Great Pyramid of Gizeh. 

To face p. 154. 

Nil mm n lites. 155 

standing on edge, and cloven in half between the 

When a shell is broken in half like a biscuit, 
the section is termed " transverse." A transverse 
section through the centre reveals the so-called 


rt, outer coil of shell ; b, b 1 ', b", three preceding coils ; c, septa ; d, aperture 
in septum : e, alar prolongations ; /, edges of spiral lamina,/' surface of final 
coil (same as a) ; g, marginal cord, g', g" vessels in septa and walls ; h^ 
central chamber. 

willow-pattern, in the form of a series of apparently 
separate pointed ovals one within another, the ovals 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

being the broken edges of the coils of the continuous 

What makes a nummulite so puzzling at first 
sight is its apparently circular outline. How can 
there be embracing spiral coils in a circular disk ? 
As a matter of fact the disk is not circular. 
Although it is almost impossible to see it, the 
apex of the V-shaped terminal opening of the last 
coil projects a little beyond the margin of the 

A B 


A, coiled up ; B, uncoiled. To help to explain continuous embracing 
spiral, spiral lamina, marginal cord. 

preceding coil, and the embracing arms of that V 
extend to the centre. 

Let there be imagined an embracing-spiral shell 
with only a few wide-apart coils, and with the 
embracing arch of the terminal opening high and 
well-separated from the margin of the preceding 
coil (Fig. 1 7 A). If such a shell, placed on edge and 
with the mouth upwards, could be unrolled, a double 
or bent lamina, V- or U-shaped in section, would 
result ; the flaps would be low and close together at 



the beginning (small central coil), gradually be- 
coming higher and wider apart towards the end 
(final coil and edge of mouth) (Fig. 18 B). The 
V-shaped spirally-coiled lamina is termed the SPIRAL 
LAMINA, the edge at the bend being known as the 


A model illustrating the spiral lamina, septa, 
etc., can be made from a clock spring by bending 

FIG. 1 8. 

A. N. plamilata showing a furrowed "marginal cord" or edge of last 
coil but one ; a septum ; and slit-like orifice between lower edge of septum 
and marginal cord of preceding coil, X 25. B, C, E, shells X 2 ; D, nat. 
size. Shells whole and in section. After d'Archiac. 

diamond - shaped segments of variously - coloured 
papers round the successive coils, and bringing 
the points to the centre. Pieces of card shaped 
like a V with a broad apex can be inserted between 
the coils to represent septa and alar prolonga- 
tions or "alars." The spring itself represents the 
marginal cord ; but in the shell the width increases 
gradually from the innermost to the outermost coil. 

158 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

The successive coils of the spiral lamina are not 
in contact, but separated by a space widening from 
centre to periphery, the wide marginal part being 
divided into chambers by the septa. In some 
species the narrow inner region of the inter-laminar 
spaces is divided by straight or slightly sinuous 
radial lines or walls continuous with the septa ; in 
other species these lines are very sinuous, and in 
other again joined into a network. These septal 


x 260. 

threads (filets cloisonnaires, d'Archiac) or " alar 
prolongations " of the septa appear on the successive 
surfaces of the spiral lamina as radial sinuous or 
reticulate lines or patterns, which serve as characters 
for dividing the genus into its main groups. 

The MARGINAL CORD is the ribbon-like edge of 
the spiral lamina. The surface of the cord is 
marked with fine furrows and ridges, and hence 



Carter termed it the "spicular" cord from a fancied 
resemblance to sponge spicules (Figs. 18-20). 


Very little appears to be known concerning the 
finer structure of nummulites, and it is a strange 
paradox that some new light should be thrown on 



X 260. 

this subject as a result of the study of silicated 
nummulites of igneous rocks and meteorites rather 
than of calcareous shells of Eocene limestones.* 

* The reasons for this may be partly chemical, partly optical. 
Carbonic acid and pure water would act more powerfully on 
calcareous than on silicated shells, and the nummulitic deposits 
constituting igneous rocks may often have become mineralized 

160 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

For it was only after finding certain structures in 
silicated shells that I was led to seek for and to 
find similar structures in the Tertiary nummulites. 

My observations on the finer microscopic 
structure are incomplete, but are published in the 



rt, rows of pillars in section in spiral lamina, a' ends of pillars forming 
granules on surface of successive coils of spiral lamina ; b, &', septa of 
chambers; t, marginal cord ; d, orifice in each septum ; e, canals. 

belief that they will afford some help in interpreting 
the photographs of sections of igneous rocks and 

before exposure to the above named dissolving agencies. Again, 
in the so-called canals of Eozoon details of shell structure are 
much more clearly seen in the serpentine than in the adjoining 
calcite. One half of a " disk " may be easily visible in the 
serpentine, and the other half almost invisible in the calcite 
(PI. xxiii, Fig. G.). 

Nnmmulites. \ 6 1 

Just as Tertiary nummulites are recognized when 
seen, so the universal pre-Tertiary shells possessing 
precisely the same general characters, can be 
detected, though they require more careful observa- 
tion. Accordingly, a complete investigation of the 
minute anatomy though very desirable, is not 
essential for the recognition of nummulitic structure 
in igneous rocks and meteorites, for I can now 
recognize the larger features of shells even with a 

A thorough investigation of the minute structure 
of nummulites will, I believe, throw light not only 
on the - mutual affinities of the great groups of 
Foraminifera, but also on the structure of rhizopodal 

One of the characteristics of nummulites is the 
" tubulated " structure of the shell-walls, tubuli 
being very fine vertical parallel passages through 
which the protoplasm of the interior communicates 
with the outside. In many ''perforate" Forami- 
nifera these passages are little else than circular 
holes or pores. 

When microscopically examining nummulites or 
sections of igneous rocks I was continually seeing 
granular or dotted disk-like structures. These I 
took to be places of junction of ends of bundles of 
tubules, bundles in cross-section, groups of bundles 
of short tubuli, or, lastly, disk-like groups of tubuli 
arranged in radial horizontal rather than longitudinal 
direction. Very naturally, at first I was thoroughly 
possessed by the idea of tubules, and thought the disks 


1 62 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

must be joined together by parallel longitudinal lines 
of tubules, even though I failed to detect these lines. 

Presently, however, I found the disks showed a 
spiral plan and also a radial structure. The spirals, 
with coils alternately and slightly above and below 
a median plane appeared to be replicas in miniature 
of the marginal cord, and the radii to be edges of 
disks in the position of septa and in a plane vertical 
to the plane of the " parent " spiral. Seemingly, the 
disks were to some extent repetitions of the structure 
of the shell as a whole. See Diagram, p. 147. 

The first disks definitely to be located were 
rather large ones nearly half a millimetre in 
diameter, at the outer convex surface of outer coils 
of the marginal cord between any pair of septa. 
Later I found that the ridged and laminated 
structure of the whole cord was made up of disks, 
as also were the septa and alars. Next it became 
apparent that the little spiral-radial disks were 
themselves constructed of smaller disks also on a 
spiral and radial plan, and these latter again of still 
smaller. Under a magnification of 4000 diameters 
I could make out disks i /x (^ihro f an mcn ) m 
diameter, each with a circle of points (about '25 p. 
in size), i.e. visible and definitely arranged organic 
structures. Probably improved optical apparatus 
would resolve even these points into " spiro- 
disks," and possibly the structural repetitions 
may go on even until molecular dimensions are 
reached. These little calcareous models of proto- 
plasmic architecture will, I believe, throw light on 
the structure of the protoplasm that built them, for 


the granular protoplasm of Foraminifera also 
appears to me to show a spirodiscoid structure 
discernible by means of the granules. 

The planetary crust is almost wholly built of 
" spirodisks," the smallest visible unit of structure 
being about '25 /x (TWOCTO f an inch) m diameter. 

The successive layers of spiral lamina seen in 
a transverse section of a nummulite (Figs. 22, 23) 

FIG. 22. TRANSVERSE SECTION OF Nummulites laevigata 


show alternate clear and striated vertical bands. 
The clear bands are the " pillars," and the striated 
ones the " tubulated " or inter-pillar areas. Key- 
serling, Joly and Leymerie, and d'Archiac regarded 
the pillars as wide-open channels which became, 
rilled with calcite (remplissage, d'Archiac) during 
fossilization. Carpenter described the pillars as 
solid non-tubulated structures serving as wedges of 
support for the tubulated walls. Careful examina- 

M 2 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

tion will show the hyaline and apparently structure- 
less pillars to be replete with disk structures. 
Further, a still closer scrutiny will show the tubu- 
lated areas also to be full of disks, but here the 
.dominating tubulated-striated pattern (Plate XXIII. 
Figs. A-D) renders their detection difficult. 

The conclusion reached is that the whole 
nummulite shell -- the septa and alars, and the 

A B 



A. N. scabra, X 24. B. N. deshayesi, X 28. p, pillar areas. After 

spiral lamina, marginal cord, pillars and inter-pillar 
tubulated areas, are built of "disks" having spiral 
and radial construction. 

In the inter-pillar tubulated areas the common 
mass of spirodiscoid structure constituting the wall 
is penetrated by " tubuli." 

Nummulites. 165 

If the above observations are correct, the fact 
of a nummulite shell being built of spirodiscoid 
elements is not so surprising as might appear. For 
when a recent and related form, such as Polystomella 
crispa, is about to undergo division, the protoplasm 
leaves the shell and divides up into numerous 
microscopic particles, and each one or pair of the 
latter proceeds to build a new spiral shell. 

A nummulite has been regarded by some as a 
kind of colony. E. Van den Broeck considered the 
successive chambers or segments as units of a 
colony. He asks how else can we regard the 
successive Lagena-\\\& segments of a Nodosaria 
(Bull. Soc. Beige Geol., vii, p. 21, 1893). Schlum- 
berger refers to this " ancienne hypothese " as 
" inadmissible " (Feuille des Jeunes Naturalists, 
1896, p. 86). 

An examination both of vitreous and porcellanous 
shells (Lagena, Truncat^llina, Polystomella, Milio- 
lina, Biloculina, Orbitolites, Alveolina] shows that 
these also have a spirodisk structure. So far, 
photographs have not been sufficiently good for 
publication. Under very high powers (3,000 to 
4,000 diam.) the shell-substance is seen to be very 
finely granular and the granules to have a spiro- 
discoid plan. 

Lastly, I firmly believe I have found the finely 
granular protoplasm of three of the above-named 
shells, of Gromia, and of the lobose Protozoan 
Amoeba likewise to show the same arrangement. 

1 66 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

The fact of the earth's crust being mainly com- 
posed of spirodiscoid skeletons of (nummulitic) 
protoplasm may be significant from points of view 
other than those of systematic zoology, and may 
point to the possibility of a widespread spiro- 
discoid construction of living matter, even though 
it may not be possible to detect the latter. These 
suggestions are based on careful but insufficient 
observations, and are mentioned merely for the 
purpose of calling attention to the matter. (See 
Postscript, p. 1 80.) 

REPRODUCTION. Students of nummulites were 
greatly mystified at one time at finding supposed 
species always in couples. N. gizehensis, for 
instance, is invarably found with N. curvispira, and 
so on with every well-known species (Plate II. B). 
Generally one of the couple is considerably smaller 
than the other, the smaller being much more nume- 
rous. On splitting the shells the smaller are seen 
to have a large central chamber (Form A) and the 
larger a very small one (Form B). After much con- 
troversy it was discovered by Munier-Chalmas that 
the two forms belonged to one and the same 
species. Later the " dimorphism " was found to 
be associated with "alternation of generations." 
Study of nearly related living Foraminifera showed 
that the protoplasm of Form A (megalospheric) 
divides up into bi-flagellate spores pairs of which 
conjugate to form a cell which secretes a micro- 
spheric shell. The protoplasm of the latter forms 
amoebulae each one of which secretes a megalo- 
spheric shell. The division of the protoplasm may 

Nummulites. 167 

take place within the parent shell, in the interior of 
which the little shells will be seen (Miliolina), or 
outside the parent shell (Polystomella). 

Sometimes shells form buds, which separate 
from the parent at a certain stage.* 


FOOD SUPPLY. Whence did the nummulites get 
their food ? The investigations ot Gwyn Jeffreys, 
Wyville Thomson and Carpenter point to the con- 
clusion that deep-sea benthos organisms live mostly 
on decayed organic matter sunk down from above. 
A research of Mobiusf showed that in some areas a 
good deal of decayed shallow-water vegetation 
drifted down to deeper zones. At the present day 
the Antarctic mud is so rich in diatomaceous proto- 
plasm that fishes feed on it, and the Foraminifera 
are crammed with Diatoms. The abundance of 
silica in igneous rocks is in itself suggestive of a 

plankton food supply for the nummulites. 


CLASSIFICATION. The classification of num- 
mulites is a matter of great difficulty. Carpenter 
was inclined to the view that in the genus Num- 
mulites there was really only one species, with 
numerous varieties. D'Archiac and de la Harpe 

* Heron-Allen. Phil. Trans., 1915, vol. 206, p. 245. In 
' Nummulosphere ' I, I stated, under the influence of the Eozoon 
delusion, that with a little poetic licence the planet might be 
compared to a gigantic budding reef-like Rhizopod encrusting 
a foreign body. Really it is a case of a mass of separate 

\ Mobius. ' Whence comes the nourishment of the animals 
of the deep seas?' A.M.N.H., 1871, (4) viii. p. 193 (Transl.). 
Many references to literature. 

1 68 Sea- Floors or Bentkoplankton. 

both refer to the difficulty of arriving at specific 
characters. Owing to the great abundance of the 
material it is often possible to find gradations 
between very distinct forms. 

D'Archiac made use of the surface markings on 
the spiral lamina or wall of the shell to constitute 
the main groups. A modification of this system 
was adopted by de la Harpe, who defined Num- 
mulites as a form with completely embracing coils. 
The genus was divided into two main groups (a) 
the radiate, with separate straight or sinuous radial 
lines, and (6) the reticulate with a network of linear 
markings.* Each of these groups was again divided 
into granulate and non-granulate forms according to 
whether granules were a marked feature or not. 
The groups were again sub-divided into forms with 
a small central chamber and those with a large one. 

The last feature is now known to be merely a 
different phase in one and the same species. 
Apparently the granular or non-granular character of 
the surface is due to variations in the degree of 
development of the ends of the pillars, these ends 
being flush with the surface in non-granular forms. 
(De la Harpe had adopted Carpenter's view that the 
pillars were solid imperforate wedges of support.) 

The characters available are radial or reticulate 
markings, granular or non-granular character, 
thickness of spiral lamina, size and shape of 
chambers, form and size of the shell as a whole. 

Hantken, who investigated the Tertiary num- 

* Zittel adopts three of d'Archiac's divisions Radiate, 
Sinuate and Reticulate ; de la Harpe merges the first two into one. 

Numni u lites. 1 6 9 

mulitic formations of Hungary, was the first to 
demonstrate that different horizons were charac- 
terised by different species of nummulites. His 
diagrams* show the strata with their distinct num- 
mulitic faunas. Probably similar zones exist in all 
the limestones and igneous rocks, and we may pos- 
sibly be able to locate the zones whence meteorites 
were derived. 

De la Harpe writes of the difficulty involved by 
the immense amount of material which, however, 
included only Tertiary nummulites. What would 
he have thought of the addition of the nummulite 
faunas of most of the Mesozoic, Palaeozoic and 
Archaeozic formations and the igneous rocks ! A 
gigantic task awaits future nummulitologists. 

times the Nummulitic ocean and seas extended 
across the Old World from north-west Africa to 
Japan. The floor of this ocean is now elevated to 
form the middle and upper parts of many mountain 
ranges along the great belt above referred to. 
These ancient sea-floors form Himalayan peaks 
19,000 feet above sea -level. 

It is wholly certain that nummulitic deposits 
were formed in all eras all over the globe, and it is 
probable that during the early part of the Archaeo- 
zoic era they were laid down in a universal ocean 

;: ~ * The stratigraphical importance of nummulites in the 
early Tertiary strata of the mountains of S.W. Hungary/ Proc. 
Roy. Hungarian Acad. Sci., Buda-Pesth, V., 1875, No. 6. Also 
de la Harpe. Mem. Soc. Pal. Suisse, 1880, VII. p. 68. 

170 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton, 

wherever the undulating floor was at a suitable depth. 
For igneous, i.e. nummulitic, rocks are universal. 

The area of distribution (in space) must now be 
extended to outer space ; for the meteorites now 
resting in museums, and possibly, therefore, some of 
the comets and shooting stars, are nummulitic rocks. 

The bathymetric range of nummulites probably 
varied within considerable limits. For they are 
found mixed both with shallow and fairly deep- 
water organisms, with calcareous algae and with 
crinoids and glass-sponges. A moderate depth of 
about one hundred or of a few hundred fathoms was 
perhaps most suited to them. Apparently the 
shallow muddy waters of estuaries were not con- 
genial, for the nummulitic strata of the Bracklesham 
and Barton beds are thin, and (excepting N. laevi- 
gata) the species very small. The nummulites of 
deposits thousands of feet thick, as in " The 
Dolomites " of Tyrol, may, like certain coral-atolls, 
have been formed on sinking ground. 

Further, what is now the abyssal floor of the 
ocean must once have been in relatively shallow 
water, for that floor is a deposit of nummulites. 
This fact will, perhaps, further discredit the theory of 
the permanence of ocean basins. It is certain that the 
highest mountain peaks,* whether formed of igneous 
rocks, limestones, or sediments, were once sea-floors, 
and it is equally certain that the abyssal floor of the 
ocean was once relatively shallow now in one area, 

* A section of nummulitic limestone from a peak in Kashmir 
i9,coo feet above sea-level is figured in the Guide to the Coral 
Gallery of the Natural History Museum. 

Nummulites. 171 

now in another. The ocean level has been stable, 
but the ocean floor continually heaving up and down. 
If there is now the roar of traffic where there was once 
"the stillness of the central sea," it is possible there 
were continents where there are now the deepest 


DISTRIBUTION IN TIME. Nummulites have 
hitherto been supposed to be characteristic of the 
early part of the Tertiary era. There are a very 
few doubtful records of the occurrence of the genus 
(sensu strict o] in Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous 
and recent times.* D'Archiac calls the Eocene 
" the nummulitic epoch." Carpenter writes, " There 
is no fact in Palaeontology more striking than the 
sudden and enormous development of the num- 
mulitic type in the early part of the Tertiary period 
and its almost equally sudden diminution bordering 
on extinction." 

There is no longer reason to regard as singular 
the existence of thick and extensive belts of num- 
mulitic limestones in the Eocene period. For the 
chalk ocean was similarly nummulitic, and also the 
ocean during the mesozoic, palaeozoic and archaeo- 
zoic eras.f 

* See list by de la Harpe. Me'm. Soc. Pal. Suisse, ed. 3, 
p. 37, VII., 1880-1, p. 68, footnote; also Zittel, ' Grundziige/ 
ed. 3, p. 37. 

| At one place in England it is possible to see nummulites of 
several eras mingled together, or in close proximity, viz., at 
Selsey. There are Cainozoic (Eocene, Bracklesham ;) Mesozoic 
(Cretaceous silicified nummulites, i.e., flints) ; ? Palaeozoic quart- 
zite and sandstone (ice-borne erratics) ; and Archaeozoic or pre- 
Archaeozoic igneous rocks (also ice-borne erratics). 

172 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

It is, however, a remarkable fact that the genus 
Nummulites is almost extinct.* 


" What could have been the conditions which so 
specially favoured their production at the period in 
question, . . . and what change in these conditions 
put a sudden and almost complete stop to these 
operations constitute most interesting subjects for 
physiological and geological enquiry." (Carpenter). 

The earth's crust is mainly composed of num- 
mulites. The genus has persisted throughout im- 
measurable aeons from near the beginning of 
geological time almost up to the middle of the 
present era, but is now wholly or almost wholly ex- 
tinct. What have been the causes of this remark- 
able phenomenon ? The solution of the problem must 
be sought by enquiry into the conditions presum- 
ably favourable and unfavourable to the existence 
of these organisms. Three important conditions of 
environment are (i) depth; (2) temperature; and 
(3) the presence or absence of detritus. 

(i) Judging from the cretaceous nummulitic 
deposit (i.e., chalk), the faunas buried therein are 
not abyssal ; some of the organisms belong to rather 

* Excluding doubtful records, there are probably only two 
recent species, and these small, viz., N. planulata ( Arctic seas), 
and N. cumingii (tropical seas). Williamson records recent 
N. radiata from Portsmouth, but Brady excludes it from his 
synopsis of British recent species (Journ. Roy. Micr. Soc., 1887, 
part 2, p. 872). 

Nummulites. 173 

shallow water, others to fairly deep, but not very 
deep water. Of the 197 millions of square miles 
of nummulitic deposits, over 130 millions are now 
in depths below 1,000 fathoms, and, as might be 
expected, no living nummulites are to be found. 
Further, I hope it may be permissible to add, by 
way of balancing accounts, that the 54 millions of 
square miles of nummulitic deposits pushed above 
the ocean as land are no longer a suitable abode for 
living nummulites ! The presence of nummulite 
skeletons on mountain tops and abyssal ocean floors 
is a clear proof that the raised and sunk areas must 
at one time in the course of the secular see-saw 
have been at levels suitable to the existence of vast 
masses of nummulites. The absence of the living 
shells over an area of 13 millions of miles still has 
to be accounted for. 

(2) It would appear that nummulites preferred 
a temperature not too low. The chalk and Eocene 
oceans were within the temperate zone. The vast 
deposits of Triassic nummulites forming the Schlern 
and Mendola dolomites in South Tyrol were laid 
down in warm, temperate, or sub-tropical seas where 
coral reefs grew. Apparently, then, low tempera- 
ture would kill off nummulites in high latitudes and 
in considerable depths. The former existence of 
these organisms within the Arctic circle and close 
to the South Pole may be accounted for on the 
reasonable assumption that the temperature in those 
latitudes has been higher from time to time. The 
presence of certain fossil plants in the south-polar 
regions affords evidence of a milder climate. The 

174 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

specimens of igneous rocks dragged back by Captain 
Scott and his party from the neighbourhood of the 
South Pole are nummulitic. A piece of diorite from 
the neighbourhood of Beardmore glacier, not far 
from the South Pole, shows nummulitic structure 
plainly under a hand-lens, and the volcanic rocks of 
Erebus and Terror are made of nummulites. 

After eliminating regions too deep, too cold, 
or emerged, there still remain a few million miles 
offering moderate depths and equable temperature. 
Why have the marvellously persistent nummulites 
failed (or almost failed) to survive even there ? 
In the Eocene ocean and seas the shells apparently 
flourished best in clear water remote from land. 
Where the sea was shallow, and turbid owing to 
land detritus carried down by rivers the shell 
deposits were thin and the shells usually small as 
in the British Eocene formations. 

There is reason to believe that the final extinc- 
tion of Nummulites over 'areas where the genus 
might otherwise have persisted in abundance may 
have been due to the ushering in of a Globigerina 
epoch, i.e. an epoch of calcareous Foraminiferal 

Zittel's useful charts of distribution-in-time of 
various families of Foraminifera (' Grundzuge,' ed 
3, 1910, p. 37) reveal a remarkable fact. Globi- 
gerina is stated to begin in the Cambrian * ; then 

* Although I have not seen the phosphatic nodules of the 
Cambrian of New Brunswick stated by W. D. and G. F. Matthew 
(Trans. New York Acad. Sci., 1893, xn - P- To8 ; and l8 95> 
XIV., p. 1 01, PL I. figs, i 8#) to contain Globigerina and 
^ I am convinced there is here an error of interpretation. 

Nummulites. 1 7 5 

during the remainder of the Palaeozoic era there is 
no record. During the Mesozoic era and the early 
part of the Gainozoic (Eocene and Oligocene) the 
genus exists but not abundantly. Suddenly, at the 
beginning of the Miocene and on to the present 
time Globigerina becomes abundantly prevalent, i.e., 
at the time when Nummulites becomes almost 
extinct, Globigerina becomes abundant. 

At the present time Globigerina flourishes over 
the whole of the tropical and temperate areas of the 
ocean and forms deposits over 49 million square 
miles of ocean floor. Doubtless the 51 million 
miles of red clay would also be covered with 
Globigerina if the shells were not dissolved when 
sinking to depths below 2,500 fathoms. Possibly 
these calcareous plankton shells containing the 
corpses of Foraminifera were obnoxious to the heavy 
nummulites which were choked by the accumulating 
debris * or succumbed to microbic invasion. Globi- 
gerina, it is true, is found in the chalk, but not to 
the- extent at one time believed. Nemo fuit repente 
iurpissimus, nor did the nummulites become utterly 
decadent all at once ; but after enduring for im- 

In the course of the present work I was at one time continually 
mistaking nummulitic structures for Globigerina and Orbulina. 
The same mistake has been made in the case of the " spheres " in 
chalk. Apparently the true Globigerina record begins with the 
Mesozoic era. 

.* Sponges seem able to protect themselves from mud and 
plankton debris by developing lids and sieves. Again, certain 
cup-shaped glass sponges appear to have given rise to sitz-bath- 
shaped forms, and finally, by loss of the cavity and lengthening 
and narrowing of the back of the " bath " to sword-shaped 

176 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

measurable aeons, they at last all but died out in 
the Miocene or possibly Pliocene period. 

PHYLOGENETIC NOTE. It seems singular that 
nummulites, regarded as the highest type of 
Foraminifera, should prevail in the oldest known 
rocks. The shell, although apparently very com- 
plicated, is built on a simple plan, viz., that of an 
embracing spiral. The thickness of the walls is not 
perhaps a character denoting high organization, 
but the canal system in the walls, and the double- 
walled septa are considered to be features of a 
highly developed type. 

It may be assumed that nummulites and other 
many-chambered Foraminifera are descended from 
one-chambered ancestors, and the latter from forms 
without shell. In the life cycle of nummulites, 
the protoplasm of the microspheric shell breaks up 
into amoebulae, bodies which probably exhibit the 
ancestral characters not only of Foraminifera but 
of the whole of the Protozoa. 

Prof. Minchin in his great work, * An Intro- 
duction to the Study of the Protozoa ' (p. 465) 
writes, " We may, then, regard as the most ancestral 
type in the Protozoa a minute amoebula-form, in 
structure a true cell, with nucleus and cytoplasm 
distinct, which moved by means of pseudopodia." 
Before the great planetary nummulitic deposits 
were formed, probably there existed a period during 
which the ocean floor was more or less covered 
with the shell-less amoebula-ancestors of nummu 

Nummulites. 177 

Huxley's " Bathybius theory," although based 
on an error, is now seen to be not far from the 
truth. He mistook gelatinous networks with 
calcareous particles found in bottles of preserved 
abyssal Atlantic ooze for specimens of a primitive 
form of living matter spread over the ocean floor. 
The jelly was found to be a precipitate of sulphate 
of lime in alcohol, the calcareous particles being 
coccoliths. It is now apparent that the whole 
ocean floor actually has been covered with rhizo- 
podal lime-secreting protoplasm in the form of little 
separate masses. 

What is the origin of this benthos protoplasm, 
distributed at one time or another over the whole 
surface of the planet, and the builder, moreover, of 
the original calcareous scaffolding of the litho- 
sphere ? 

Did the amoebula-ancestors of nummulites 
originate on the sea-bottom, or were they immi- 
grants from elsewhere ? 

Before attempting to answer this question it will 
be desirable to make a few observations on the 
simplest forms of life. 

The simplest of all are the bacteria living 
particles which are not even cells, for they are 
commonly devoid of a definite nucleus. Above 
the bacteria come the simplest plants and animals 
(Protophyta and Protozoa), the simpler forms of 
which consist of a single nucleated cell, the presence 
of the nucleus marking a higher grade. 

The distinction between plants and animals, so 


178 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

obvious in the higher types, is often ill-defined and 
vague in the lowest, identical groups of the latter being 
frequently claimed both by botanists and zoologists. 

The Protozoa gain their subsistence in four 
ways, viz., the holozoic or purely animal way of 
capturing and feeding on other organisms ; the 
holophytic or purely plant * way of subsisting on 
inorganic materials through the agency of chloro- 
phyll in presence of sunlight ; the saprophytic (or 
saprozoic) way of living on the products of 
metabolism or decomposition of organisms ; and 
the parasitic way. 

Many of the Protozoa vary their mode of 
nutrition either in different phases of their life-cycle 
or even during one and the same phase. Euglena 
for example, which by reason of its chlorophyll is 
holophytic in sunlight, loses its green colour and 
becomes saprophytic in the dark. 

The four modes of nutrition come under two 
categories, viz., the independent (the best-known 
example being the holophytic), and the dependent 
comprising the other three. A holophytic organism 
is entirely independent of the existence of any other 
form of life, and simply requires sunshine and the 
presence of suitable inorganic materials. Organisms 
with animal, saprophytic or parasitic characters 
are dependent directly or indirectly on other 

The primitive (igneous) rocks are composed of 

* The Protozoan and animal nature of holophytic Protozoa 
is shown chiefly in the affinities with the holozoic forms, in the 
general life history, in the absence of cellulose, etc. 

Numimilites. 1 79 

nummulites mineralized by silica (combined to form 
silicates). There are reasons for believing that the 
silica is partly derived from plankton organisms. 

The continuous rain of plankton material from 
ocean surface to ocean floor suggests a plankton 
origin for the primitive forms of benthos life, includ- 
ing the amoebula-ancestor of nummulites. 

Primitive independent organisms reaching the 
bottom alive might continue to exist, but in the 
absence of sunlight they would, like Euglena, take 
to a saprophytic or an animal mode of nutrition. 

The discovery of the organic origin of the 
earth's crust may throw light on problems concerning 
the origin of life on this planet. 

From its beginning life may have originated 
on a planetary scale, or indeed, in view of the 
importance of sunlight in relation to life, it might 
be said on a solar scale. 

The whole animal world in the great ocean 
basins is ultimately dependent on minute forms of 
vegetable plankton, and, moreover, has been so 
during the long course of evolution. Many facts 
seem to point to the conclusion that life began in 
the sunlit surface waters of the ocean. 

The sequence of events leading to the formation 
of the earth's crust might well have been universal 
sunshine on a universal ocean engendering universal 
primitive " independent " plankton, whence was 
derived primitive benthos whenever an area of the 
ever-undulating ocean floor came within suitable 
bathymetric range. 

Apart from theory there is the sunshine, the 

N 2 

180 Sea-Floors or Benthop lank ton. 

broad ocean surface, the vegetable plankton, the 
animal benthos, and the earth's crust made of 
benthos skeletons mineralized by silica very pro- 
bably derived in part from plankton skeletons. 

Postscript. I am finding more and more the idea of spirality 
to be of the greatest help in tracing nummulitic structure in rock 
sections under the microscope. Often it is as if a plan had been 
given of a complicated labyrinth. 

A spirodisk of any dimensions, say from '5 to '005 mm. will 
always have in relation with it a spiral series of spirodisks of a 
lesser order and in planes vertical to the larger one. Similarly 
each lesser spirodisk will have its primary coil with series of 
lesser secondary ones, and so on to the limits of microscopic 
vision, and, I believe, far beyond. Any primary coil has some- 
what the aspect of a " marginal cord," and the secondaries of 
that coil the aspect of " septa " of a nummulite or cogs of a cog- 
wheel. Similarly the "septa" or "cogs" are themselves 
" marginal cords " with " septa " or " cogs " of a diminished 

It will now be necessary to work out the structure of the 
nummulite shell in terms of spirodisks and to learn how the 
spiral lamina, marginal cord and septa are built up, and the 
relation of tubules to the spirodisks. 

All calcareous Foraminiferal shells appear to be built of 
spirodisks. The primitive form was probably one-chambered 
and spheroidal, with the wall composed of spirodisks. Whether 
spiral shells owe their form to retention of a shape impressed on 
them by inherent qualities of protoplasm, or whether the form 
has been moulded by forces of the environment it is hard to say : 
the antiquity and universality of nummulites rather suggest that 
the first-named cause has at least contributed. One might then 
suppose the assumed inherent spiral tendency to have become 
overpowered in non-spiral forms. A Lagena, a Biloculina * and 
a nummulite certainly have two, and probably three orders of 
structure, of which only the first has hitherto been recognized : 
viz. (i) the visible shell; (2) the microscopic spirodisk structure 
composing that shell ; and (3) ultra-microscopic spirodisk structure 
(see p. 147, diagram: p. 162 : and Chapter X.). 

* See Appendix. Note R. 



" A vast thickness of solid rock . . . formed of little else than 
their remains." Carpenter, on the enormously thick and exten- 
sive deposits of Tertiary nummulites, his words being equally 
descriptive of igneous rocks. 

NOTHING at first sight could appear more remote 
from anything of an organic nature than a lump of 
granite, seemingly a confused mass of quartz, felspar 
and mica. Apparently, too, the rock has once been 
in a molten or semi-molten condition, and has 
slowly cooled down and become crystallized under 
enormous pressure deep in the interior of the earth. 
Accordingly, in the apparent absence of direct 
evidence, it is not surprising that the significant 
hints afforded by oceanic biology and by geology 
concerning the genesis of the earth's crust have 
not been duly appreciated. Happily, however, the 
igneous rocks bear in themselves clear and positive 
evidence of their oceanic and organic origin during 
some remote aeon of the past. For they are not 
merely masses of minerals, but mineralized masses 
of nummulites. 

The failure to detect the prevailing nummulitic 
nature of the earth's crust notwithstanding the 

1 82 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lank ton. 

countless observations on rocks and rock-sections is 
indeed a strange phenomenon, and one worth 
enquiring into. 

After d'Archiac had established a " nummulitic 
epoch " *, usually any supposed nummulites found 
in non-Tertiary strata were either considered not 
to be nummulites at all, or the strata were 
regarded as really Tertiary.f 

Again, it has been assumed that high tempera- 
ture would obliterate all traces of organic structure 
in igneous rocks if anything of the kind had ever 
existed there ; and further, any supposed organic 
forms have been put down either as pseudomorphic J 
or wholly phantasmal. Actual experiment shows, 

* " Et jamais le mot horizon n'a etc plus heureusement employe 
que pour Vere des nummulites, que pour ce court espace de temps 
qui vit naitre, se developper et presque disparaitre tout a fait ce 
genre encore si enigmatique." * Histoire du progres de la. 
Geologic,' 1850, iii. p. 214. 

\ " Although nummulites have been described as existing at 
periods anterior to this, it seems probable that such descriptions 
have been founded on the occurrence of other helicoid Forami- 
nifera bearing an incomplete resemblance to them." Carpenter, 
Introduction, p. 276. Giimbel (Neues Jahrb. 1872, xiii. p. 251), 
criticizing Fraas' account of three species of supposed nummulites 
in the Cretaceous rocks of Palestine, concludes that the traveller 
had mistaken the age of the beds which Giimbel regarded as 
probably Tertiary, " but does not give any very clear ground for 
this conclusion " (Brady). 

Easily recognizable nummulites, however, are nearly always 
Tertiary. Even the supposed Carboniferous N. pristina (Brady) 
is now said to be Tertiary, ^dk a pencil note in an N.H.M. copy 
of Nicholson's Palaeontology referring to a paper on this matter 
by Van den Broeck. 

\ King and Rowney, 'An Old Chapter of the Geological 
Record with a New Interpretation : or, Rock-metamorphism and 
its Resultant Imitations of Organisms,' 1 88 1 . Often these supposed 
imitations are really organic structures, and often not so. 

Structure of Igneous Rocks and Meteorites. 183 

however, that organic structure is not wholly 
dissolved away even in boiling rocks, and that it 
easily survives in white hot slags. Experience and 
training of the sense of sight are the remedies 
against illusion and misinterpretation. 

The omnipresent nummulites have escaped 
detection not so much on account of certain 
tendencies of the human mind, but rather owing to 
their own qualities. 

The shell is built of a series of slightly separated 
layers on each side of a hollow median region, 
and each layer is highly porous. No apparatus 
could be better adapted for capillarity and permea- 
tion by fluids. The effect on the shells varies with 
the nature of the permeating material. Water 
and carbonic acid tend to soften and disinte- 
grate them, as in chalk ; or partial solution and re- 
deposition may cause the mass to become hard 
and crystalline or oolitic. Colloid silica, again, may 
replace the more soluble carbonate of lime, so that 
the shells become silicified, homogeneous and 
transparent. Heat causes silica to enter into com- 
bination with various bases to form silicates. The 
heat may come from volcanoes as in the Jurassic 
Monte Somma bombs ; from intrusive magmas as 
in Eozoon ; or from some not certainly known cause, 
as in igneous rocks. The cooled rocks become 
masses of crystalline silicates, the outline of the 
nummulites being much broken up. 

Apart from chemical processes, mechanical 
pressure tends to mould these deposits of lens- 
shaped shells into homogeneous masses in which 

184 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

the outlines of individual nummulites become more 
and more obliterated. 

Lastly, in the case of the main mass of most of 
the sedimentary rocks, the breaking down of the 
mineralized shells into particles so conceals the 
nummulitic structure that it can only be seen by 
examining those particles under rather high powers 
of the microscope. 

Accordingly, what with pressure, solution, 
mineralization, clarification, crystallization and 
pulverization, the nummulosphere has remained a 
terra incognita despite the fact that it confronts us 
on all sides in the mountains and plains and cities. 

The nummulites of the " nummulitic epoch " are 
easily seen, and those of all the preceding epochs 
not easily seen. The explanation of the enigma 
of the Tertiary nummulites is simply that the 
individual forms of the shells of the older deposits 
have become more or less obliterated, or, at any 
rate, difficult to trace. 


The study of lumps and sections of Tertiary 
nummulitic rocks will form a good introduction to 
that of the igneous rocks. The eye will become 
familiarized with the appearance of the shells in 
horizontal, oblique and transverse aspects and 
sections. Further the effects of the various kinds 
and degrees of mineralization, crystallization and 
degradation of nummulitic structure can be observed, 
for there is a considerable range of variation in such 
processes even in the Tertiary rocks. The num- 

Structure of Igneous Rocks and Meteorites. 185 

mulitic structure of igneous rocks can be detected 
by the naked eye, the hand lens, and the micro- 

It will be well to recapitulate briefly certain 
points. The shell is lens-shaped, and varies (in 
Tertiary species) from i to 107 mm. in diameter. 
The surface shows linear and granular markings. 
The bulk of the shell is composed of layers of the 
spiral lamina (Figs. 21, 22). A transverse section 
reveals a series of pointed ovals one within another 
(willow-pattern). The walls of the ovals show 
alternating opaque and crystalline bands. 

A transverse section or aspect with its em- 
bracing gothic arches is easy to understand. 

On the other hand, a horizontal view of a large 
transparent shell with its many layers of striated 
spiral lamina, each layer having numerous pillars 
expanding towards the periphery, with its spiral 
series of septa and chambers in the central plane, 
with tier upon tier of radial, sinuous or reticulate 
alar prolongations, and with its many-coiled spiral of 
the furrowed marginal cord, the whole often very 
variously mineralized, such a view requires long and 
patient observation to enable the observer to 
interpret and to piece together the numerous details. 
One might almost compare a transparent nummu- 
lite viewed in perspective under magnification to 
a many-roomed crystal mansion. An advance was 
made in this research when I found that the 
nummulite shells of igneous rocks and of Eozoon 
were sometimes of large size, viz. 25 mm. (i inch) 
or more in diameter, and that certain well-defined 

1 86 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lanklon, 

circular areas and patches in these rocks were not 
small shells but portions of marginal cord or spiral 
lamina of large ones. 

The most persistent structure is the furrowed 
marginal cord. 

(1) Detection by unaided vision. It is usually 
difficult to see the shells on a fresh crystalline 
surface of rock, but after careful preliminary study 
with a lens they can not infrequently be traced by 
the naked eye on weathered and disintegrated 
surfaces. Manoeuvring the rock in the light will 
often help the eye to distinguish the large oval and 
circular outlines of the shells. Much nummulitic 
structure can be seen in photographic negatives, the 
camera having wonderful discriminating powers. 
On a weathered block of Canadian Eozoon about 
15 square inches in area, I can now make out six 
or seven shell outlines ; also I can distinguish 
the nummulites in weathered basalt and granite. 
Probably an untrained observer would fail to see 
anything of the kind, but would have less difficulty 
in seeing under high magnification nummulitic 
structure in every particle from the surfaces in 

(2) The use of a hand-lens. A surface of rock 
shows shells whole or in section, and in many 
aspects horizontal, transverse, or oblique. A hori- 
zontal aspect (en face] will show segments (single or 
concentric) of marginal cord, and series of arches of 
alar prolongations and septa. 

Transverse sections or fractures will show em- 
bracing gothic arches with striated walls, portions 

Structure of Igneous Rockz and Meteorites. 187 

of marginal cord with septa seen in perspective as 
transverse bars across the cord. 

Photographic negatives enlarged two or three 
times are very helpful indeed. It must be re- 
membered that a shell only i inch in diameter will 
occupy 1 6 square inches under a low magnification 
of only four diameters. 

A very careful study of some of the large photo- 
graphs in Dr. Clinch's memoir on Spongiostromids 
will enable a trained observer to realize the effect 
of slight magnification, for Spongiostromids are 
simply deposits of Carboniferous nummulites. 

(3) The study of sections under the microscope. 
Under low powers it is often possible to see portions 
of shell with various structures still in normal 
relation to each other. For instance a transverse 
section or aspect will show two or three embracing 
gothic arches with striated walls and with pillars in 
radial series ; also the furrowed marginal cord with 
fan-like septa astride, and again the band-like edges 
of alar prolongations. If any doubts remained, a 
high power will reveal perforated disk-structures in 
various aspects, and it will then become impossible 
for any instructed observer to doubt the significance 
of what he sees. 


The igneous rocks have once been semi-molten 
or molten. Those masses which have reached the 
surface in a heated condition, i.e., the volcanic or 
superficial igneous rocks, have cooled quickly, and 
consequently have formed a glassy ground-mass 

i88 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lank ton. 

usually with a varying number of very minute 
crystals embedded in it. Dykes and sills, occupying 
an intermediate position, have somewhat larger 
crystals visible to the naked eye or with the aid 
of a lens. The deep-seated abyssal or plutonic 
rocks, owing to very slow cooling, have large 

The condition of the nummulite shells of volcanic, 
intermediate and plutonic rocks naturally varies 
correspondingly. The nummulites of volcanic rocks 
will have a glassy ground-mass usually with 
innumerable small embedded crystals which to some 
extent map out the various structures of the shell. 
A plutonic nummulite, on the other hand, may be 
wholly formed of quartz or felspar, but usually of 
several little masses of minerals. 

A short description will now be given of the 
nummulitic features of a few typical examples of 
igneous rocks. 

A. Basalt from Snake River, North- West 

This rock, covering an area of a fifth of a 
million square miles to an average depth of 2000 
feet, forms " the world's greatest lava flow." 

I failed to come across an example of this basalt 
in London, but an application to the United States 
Geological Survey for a hand-specimen was favour- 
ably received. 

* Plutonic rocks now at the surface have been uncovered 
owing to denudation. The macro-crystalline nature is in itself a 
proof of slower cooling and therefore of a former deep-seated 

Structure of Igneous Rocks and Meteorites. 1 89 

This specimen is a smooth water-worn boulder. 
The freshly-fractured surface is black, and with a 
finely granular glistening appearance. Very careful 
observation with a lens ( x 10) will show here and 
there defined circular areas about i to 2 mm. in 
diameter, and indications of pointed ovals of the 
spiral lamina. It would be well for the observer to 
leave aside these obscure indications for a time and 
turn to the transparent sections. (Probably roughly 
weathered surfaces of the rock would show shell 
structure clearly.) Careful and detailed observation 
of sections with lens and microscope will lead to an 
astonishing revelation. At first sight nothing is 
to be seen excepting a confused medley of small 
linear crystals, granules and light and dark patches 
(Plates XIV. A, and XVII. A). 

Gradually a plan becomes dimly discernible in 
the midst of the apparent confusion. Frequently 
a banded arrangement will be seen with the linear 
crystals in straight lines or in convergent conical 
groups across the width of a band. The granules 
will often be found in circular groups. Again a 
concentric plan may be observed, the concentric 
lines or bands being broad and furrowed and with 
rows of beads across the width. Both the light 
structureless glassy patches and the black ones 
break up irregularly the circular groups of granules 
or the linear parallel and convergent groups of 
linear crystals. 

What we have been studying are strangely 
metamorphosed silicated nummulites. The broad 
bands are the successive layers of the spiral lamina. 

Sea-Floors or Bent ho plankton. 

The furrowed concentric bands with transverse 
beads are portions of marginal cord and septa 
(Fig. 24). If after much careful observation 
doubts still exist, higher powers will reveal abun- 
dant disk-structure in every crystal, and in the 
vitreous patches. 

The conclusion will force itself irresistibly upon 
the trained observer that the world's greatest lava 
flow is a mass of silicated nummulites. 



Fragment of marginal cord of a nummulite. X zoo. 

The mineral characters of Snake River basalt 
resemble to some extent those of the Renazzo 
meteorite figured and described by Tschermak.* 
His figure (Plate XV. Fig. 4, x 160) shows linear 
crystals, granules and glassy and black patches just 
as in the basalt. He calls the augite crystals 
spreuformige (chaff-like), a term admirably descrip- 
tive of the augite crystals of the basalt. The figure 
shows well a portion of parallel-banded marginal 
cord with a transverse row of beads. 

In both basalt and meteorite the linear crystals 

* G. Tschermak, ' Die mikroskopische Beschaffenheit der 
Meteoriten,' 1885. 

Structure of Igneoiis Rocks and Meteorites. 191 

are augite, the granules olivine, and the dark patches 

B. Syenite from the Plaitenscher Grund, near 

This rock exhibits, as is well known, a finely 
layered arrangement. Pressure, chemical action, 
and perhaps also the organic factor may have 
contributed to produce this structure. The rock 
is a mass of large nummulites compressed and 
mineralized. Some large sections viewed with 
a lens show series of bands finely striated 
across their breadth. Patches of dark green 
hornblende are situated often at fairly regular in- 
tervals between the bands. Other sections show 
a reticulate pattern of broad transparent bands, 
with the hornblende patches showing an obscurely 
marked concentric plan. The reticulate pattern is 
formed by radial alar prolongations crossing concen- 
tric marginal cords. Under low or high powers the 
syenite is seen to be a mass of nummulitic structure 
throughout (Plates XII. C, XV. C, and XIX. C). 

C. C lee Hill Basalt. 

According to Sir A. Geikie, the summit of Clee 
Hill is a sill formed by the outspread of this rock> 
which is known as an olivine-dolerite. I collected 
numerous specimens in all states of preservation. 
The weathered surfaces of long-exposed blocks 
viewed with a lens show the shells in horizontal 
and transverse aspect or section, but not immedi- 
ately to the untrained eye. Sections reveal the 

1 92 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

nummulitic structure very clearly. The soil of the 
heath and the fine soil of rabbit burrows preserve 
even in the finest particles clear evidence of their 
origin (Plate XV. A). 

D. Porphyritic Rocks. 

Sections of precious porphyry (from Mons 
Porphyritis) show the shell structure clearly in the 
large crystals. There sometimes appears to be a 
continuity of organic structure between crystals and 
matrix. If so, the large crystals could not have been 
greatly displaced floating objects. The organic factor 
will furnish diagnostic evidence on these points. 

A rhombic porphyry picked up on the Yorkshire 
coast, and forming part of an erratic from Norway, 
shows light-coloured ovals which, I believe, actually 
are in some cases central blocks of large nummu- 
lites. In a section of nummulitic limestone from 
Kalibagh, Scinde, some of the shells cut across trans- 
versely exhibit oval central areas homogeneous and 
translucent, somewhat resembling the rhomboidal 
patches of the porphyry. The latter are certainly 
masses of nummulitic structure, whatever their pre- 
cise position in the shell. 

E. Cornish Granite from De Lank Quarry. 

The De Lank is a typical grey granite with 
quartz, felspar and mica. On weathered blocks I 
can see outlines of large shells, especially in the 
rotten felspar, in which sections of spiral lamina and 
pillar-ends can be made out without much difficulty. 

The shell-structure is best preserved, or, rather, 

Structure of Igneous Rocks and Meteorites. 193 

best seen, in the felspar, but it is possible to detect 
it even in quartz and mica. 

As in the case of Clee Hill dolerite, the organic 


Portion of nummulite in transverse aspect. X 65. 

structure is preserved in the smallest particles of 
earth or clay, and can be seen under very high 
magnification. (Plate XVIII. A, B.) 


(Plates XIV. B ; XVI. A-D ; XIX. A, B ; XX. C, D. E.) 

Meteorites are nothing else than mineralized or 
ore-enriched masses of nummulite shells. On the 
surface both of the stony and iron kinds it is possible 
to see outlines of shell-structure, especially the 
small circular pillar-ends, and pillar and inter-pillar 


]Q4 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

areas of spiral lamina, and portions of marginal 

A section of a stony meteorite viewed with a 
lens shows a minutely granular structure with dark 
patches of nickel-iron, each surrounded by a reddish 
zone of diffused rust. In addition, in most of the 
stony meteorites, there are areas circular or fan- 
shaped as viewed in section the chondrules, 
showing a radiating or reticulate pattern. 

Under a hand-lens it is not difficult to trace out 
larger or smaller parts of nummulite shells in hori- 
zontal or transverse aspect or section ; also series of 
pillar-ends, marginal cord, and especially portions 
of willow-pattern. All these objects are easily 
visible to the trained eye in the Wold Cottage 
and Stavropol meteorites. 

The finding of the organic pattern in the seem- 
ingly confused mass of granules is now amazingly 
simple to me, but formerly, before I had arrived at 
the ultimate point of the truth, even though near to 
it, many hours of careful search were needed to find 
some obscure indication of organic structure. Now 
it is easy to see in a few moments abundance of 
such structure. The use of the highest powers, 
again, will reveal disk-structure in almost every 

An interesting point now comes out, viz., 
that the chondrules are to some extent based on 
organic structure, even though the " mineralizing 
power " may get the upper hand, so to speak, of the 
organic paths and partly obliterate and overflow 
beyond them. The large coarse chondrules with 

Structure of Igneoiis Rocks and Meteorites. 195 

radiating pattern of thick bars are usually thick 
marginal cords in transverse section. Fine and 
small fan-like reticulate chondrules occur in pillar 
areas in the spiral lamina, and appear fan-shaped 
or circular according to the plane of section or 
aspect. One thing is wholly certain, viz., that these 
chondrules are crammed with the organic structure 
peculiar to nummulites, viz. the " granulated" disk- 
like structure. 

Some stony meteorites are devoid of chondrules. 
This is probably owing to the usually persistent 
nummulitic structure having become nearly or wholly 
obliterated at some period in the history of the rock. 
Chondrules are considered to be peculiar to 
meteorites, but apparently their existence is merely 
due to the fact that certain of the stronger and more 
resistant structures of the nummulite shell stand out 
conspicuously from their surroundings. A vertical 
transverse section of a thick marginal cord of a 
large shell shows fan-like radiating bands and also 
less-marked concentric lines. The concentric and 
radial patterns become exaggerated in the chon- 
drules. There is a certain degree of mineral dif- 
ferentiation even in the calcareous Tertiary shells. 
The pillars, for example, are as transparent as 
crystal, but the inter-pillar areas striated. In the 
long history of mineralized nummulites these dif- 
ferentiations persist and give rise to further 

However much the purely mineral may over- 
power the organic it is nearly always possible to 
discern the constraint imposed by the latter upon 

o 2 

196 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

the former. Even in asbestos, labradorite, obsidian 
mica and meteoric iron, the organic pattern still holds 
its own, though to a very attenuated degree. The 
form of the scaffolding built up by life remains here 
and there, but the original material has been replaced. 
Igneous rocks often show coarse patterns (based 


Transverse aspect and section of a nummulite showing spiral lamina. X 85. 

on nummulitic structure) only requiring to be 
brought into relief with a little extra temperature to 
make chondrules. 

Photographs of sections of meteorites often show 
the nummulitic structure fairly well. 

Tschermak figures on Plate IX. Fig. 3 of his 
great atlas a section (x 160) of the chondritic 

Structure of Igneous Rocks and Meteorites. 197 

meteorite of Seres, and describes it as follows : 
" Oblique section through an olivine crystal. The 
crystal is forced open on the right side, and there 
have been pressed in from the ground mass two 
antler-like glass-inclusions which are arranged 
symmetrically on each side of a middle line. 
Accordingly, the crystal appears to be divided into 
several walls symmetrically ranged against a middle 
wall. The surroundings consist of olivine granules." 
Tschermak is unconsciously describing definite 
organic structure. The antler-shaped bodies on 
each side of a horizontal line belong to a segment 
of furrowed marginal cord with a septum or base of 
a septum across it. At the upper end of the crystal 
the cord is seen in section with striae radiating down 
to a defined semicircular edge. Within the right 
margin of the photograph a second marginal cord 
runs parallel to the first. In the lower left corner is 
a third piece of cord with a pointed-gothic septum 
leaning back to the right. The olivine grains are 
here and there in obscurely circular groups or groups 
of groups, these apparently being sections of pillars 
coming off at right angles to the marginal cords. 

With or without a hand-lens I can trace organic 
structure, sometimes with much difficulty, but usually 
with great ease, in every photograph of Tschermak's 
great work. 

Purely Metallic Meteorites. 

There is a continuous series from completely stony 
to pure iron meteorites, i.e. from stony masses of 
nummulites to completely ore-enriched masses of 

198 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

these shells. Patches of metal are scattered about 
in the walls of the shells in the former, and this 
metal does not fill empty gaps but is nummulitic 
structure composed of iron and nickel molecules. 

The iron may have been reduced by the carbon 
monoxide often found along with the dioxide. 
When a siderolite returns to our planet the pure 
iron again combines with oxygen, and a reddish 
halo spreads into the surrounding minerals. I can 
certainly make out disk-structure in the rusty debris 
of the great Melbourne meteorite, as well as in 
the rust of an old iron saucepan which I submitted 
to microscopic examination. 

It is possible also to make out the disks on the 
surface of patches of pure nickel-iron in sections of 
meteorites viewed by reflected light under high 
powers. The dots are seen arranged in circular 
groups, each dot having a shining point in the 
centre of a circular area. Lastly, I am certain 
I can trace nummulites even with a hand-lens. 
(Plate XXII.) 

Metallic fossils (e.g. of Trilobites) are not un- 
common ; marcasite nodules, again, are masses of 
nummulites in sulphide of iron. I have found num- 
mulitic structure in samples of haematite, clay iron 
stone and other iron ores. 

* * * * 

Petrological note. The lithosphere being a 
mineralized deposit of nummulites, Petrology will 
learn much concerning the arrangement of minerals 
in rocks by studying the structure of nummulites. 
In the past, if anyone asserted that he saw traces of 

Structure of Igneous Rocks and Meteorites. 1 99 

organic structure among the crystalline masses of 
minerals, he was told that probably he was look- 
ing at some pseudomorphic resemblance wholly 
mineral in origin. In future, when nummulitic 
structure and its gradual transformation and de- 
gradation have been duly studied, it will be seen 
that the mineral structure of igneous rocks is to no 
small degree constrained to follow the path laid 
down by previously existing organic structure. 
Many times I have traced the parallel striations 
of the spiral lamina gradually becoming fainter till 
there remained rows of straight lines in a crystal. 

Postscript. Note i. I can now detect distinctly and with 
certainty abundant nummulitic structure in the purely metallic 
Mazapil siderite. The structure is visible with a hand-lens and 
by reflected light under medium and high powers (see photos, 
Plate XXII. C, D). The meteorite fell during a display of 
shooting stars. If, as some believe, this meteorite be part of 
Biela's comet, the discovery of the real nature of the Mazapil 
iron will strengthen the theory that many shooting stars and some 
comets may be composed of nummulitic material. 

Note 2. All siderites are almost certainly products of terres- 
trial metallurgy. The richness of certain areas, as Mexico,* in 
supposed siderites may be due not to showers of many or dis- 
persal of one of these bodies, but simply to volcanic activities in 
regions rich in ore-bearing strata. A siderite is an eject that has 
left a volcano with a six mile power. Masses of nickel-iron 
ejected with less power would quickly return to the earth probably 
to the west of and not far from the point of ejection. 

Note 3. The nummulitic nature of granite can be made out 
with certainty and after very little trouble, on the level but 
unpolished "under" surfaces of the little sample blocks used by 
stone merchants. Not only can the circular oval or willow- 
pattern outlines be seen, but details of the spiral lamina and 
chambers, the latter commonly outlined by shining dots formed 
by in-filling minerals such as quartz. I can see the outlines with 
the naked eye, but much better with a lens x 3 or x 10. Some 
samples of Petersham and Swedish granite show the shells very 
well. The nummulites are more easily seen than in chalk ! 

* Fletcher, Min. Mag. ix. p. 91 (1890). 

2OO Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 



" O Thou who hast come safely into this Being's Land j 
Strange, thou thyself not knowest, how thou didst reach its 

Jelaleddin (Hastie's version). 

IN this chapter an attempt will be made to indicate 
briefly the bearing of the nummulosphere discovery 
on certain biological questions. 

The present research will, I believe, throw light 
on problems concerning the place of origin ot 
terrestrial life, the conditions that prevailed on the 
earth when life began, the nature of the first formed 
living matter, and, lastly, the structure of protoplasm. 

Certain of the efforts that have been made to 
seek life's origin " from afar," will perhaps some 
day seem overstrained. The theory, for instance, 
that life was brought here on meteorites will now 
be obviously untenable, seeing that these bodies are 
merely mineralized masses of nummulites almost 
certainly cast off from this earth and recaptured. 
Again, there is no evidence to show that life came 
in the form of particles "fleeting thro' the bound- 
less universe " and driven hither and thither by 
" radiation pressure." (Arrhenius, who favours this 
panspermia theory, believes meteorites to have been 

Problems Relating to the Origin of Life. 201 

formed by the coming together of mutually-attracted 
particles of matter, but this hypothesis is now clearly 
seen to be unsound. See Plates XVI and XIX. A.) 
Life is universal from pole to pole and from the 
summits of the mountains to the floor of the ocean 
abysses, and the nummulosphere research shows 
this universal existence to have endured back to 
some remote aeon. Facts of this nature, if they do 
not forbid, should at least discourage the adoption 
of far-fetched theories when a very simple one is 
available, and seemingly the reasonable inference to 
be drawn is that of the terrestrial origin of life. 
* * * * 

Having found the earth's crust to be a deposit 
of nummulites mineralized by silica derived partly 
from plankton, and the benthos rhizopodal bathy- 
bius probably to have had a plankton ancestry 
(Chap. VIII.), it is necessary to go a stage further 
and enquire as to the origin of the primordial living 
matter or " heliobius " (sun-life) that came into 
existence presumably * on the surface of the ocean. 

Many now hold the belief that organic evolution 
follows on uninterruptedly from what Sir Norman 
Lockyer terms inorganic evolution. As heavenly 
bodies from the hottest suns to planets diminish in 
temperature their materials are able to form ever 
more complex alliances. " As matter is allowed 

'"" Oceanic animal life at the present time depends on a 
plankton heliobius (Diatoms, Zooxanthellae, etc.), and there is 
no reason to assume that this relation has not existed from the 
beginning, the sun-formed colloids constituting the basic food- 
supply of the animal world. 

2O2 Sea-Floors or Bent ho plankton. 

capacity for assuming complex forms those complex 
forms appear " in accordance with what Professor 
B. Moore terms " The Law of Complexity." * 

Very different pictures are drawn of the con- 
dition of the earth's surface when life first became 
possible. Professor Minchin, for instance, conjures 
up a vision of a hot crust formed over molten 
magma, the latter continually breaking through, 
with condensing vapours exploding into steam, 
and general conditions favouring a great synthesis 
of chemical compounds. "It is conceivable," he 
cautiously remarks, "that this period of chaos, of 
storm and stress on a gigantic scale, might have 
been the womb of life." f 

Carl Snyder, on the other hand, is forced to the 
conclusion that the early conditions "were probably 
not immeasurably different from such as obtain 
now."J He doubts whether life could have begun 
in the sea, chiefly on chemical grounds. Apparently 
a sufficient concentration of carbon dioxide and 
nitrogen compounds would be more likely to take 
place on volcanic land areas than in sea or air. 

For me, a piece of igneous rock conjures up 
a picture of the sun shining on the waters of a 
universal ocean. For igneous rocks are silicated 
nummulitic deposits, the silica of which was in all 
reasonable probability derived partly from plankton 

* * The Origin and Nature of Life,' 1912. 

f ' Speculations with regard to the Simplest Forms of Life and 
their Origin on the Earth.' Journ. Quekett Micr. Club, vol. XL, 

J 'The Physical Conditions at the Beginning of Life,' 
' Science Progress,' vol. III., April, 1909. 

Problems Relating to the Origin of Life. 203 

vegetation ; and there is no reason to suppose that 
the still more remote, possibly askeletal, ancestors 
of the rock-forming organisms existed under con- 
ditions differing from those that prevailed later 
when the skeletons were accumulating. It is 
doubtful whether volcanic phenomena will throw 
any light on problems concerning the synthesis of 
protoplasm, but it is certain that the slaggy and 
crystalline masses of marine fossils constituting 
existing volcanic and other igneous rocks do tell us 
unmistakably of the conditions under which those 
materials accumulated. 

There is a grand simplicity about Nature's 
methods. The planetary crust apparently has been 
built out of sea-water and chiefly by protoplasm, 
and it is probable that protoplasm itself has been 
formed originally out of sun-lit sea water. 

If the theory that life originated at the ocean 
surface is true, then the earliest form of life was 
probably of the " independent " kind, like that of 
green plants. Some naturalists believe, however, 
that animal life came first, and that its food supply 
consisted of simpler organic nitrogen compounds 
gradually evolved in the ; course of ages and cul- 
minating in the formation of living matter itself, 
or as Sir Ray Lankester tersely expresses it, the 
earliest forms of life fed on the products of their 
own antecedent evolution. There certainly appear 
to be strong reasons for this theory, in view of the 
enormous complexity of the proteins that form the 
basis of protoplasm. Even the simplest proteins, 

2O4 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

the protamines, have a molecular weight of over 
1000, and a minimum estimate for haemoglobin is 
16,600 ! Emil Fischer, making use of the most 
ingenious and laborious methods, so far has succeeded 
in building up a compound with a known molecular 
weight of 1213. 

Nature has been called an expert geometrician, 
and a skilful mathematician, but above all she is a 
marvellous chemist, and beyond doubt she can 
accomplish rapidly and with the greatest ease 
syntheses at present wholly beyond the powers of 
man to achieve. 

Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen 
(C.O.H.N.) constitute the pillars of the temple of 
life, and carbon may be said to be the great main 
central pillar. 

The problem of the building up by green plants 
of carbohydrates out of inorganic materials seems to 
be fairly solved. The theory of von Baeyer that 
formaldehyde was an intermediate product between 
water-and-carbonic-acid and the starches and sugars 
is now definitely proved. F. L. Usher and J. H. 
Priestley * have shown that in presence of sunlight 
and chlorophyll there is a " photolysis " of CO 2 re- 
sulting in the formation of formaldehyde (CH 2 O) 
and hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ). An enzyme splits 
up the latter into water and oxygen, and the 
formaldehyde becomes condensed into a carbohydrate 

* * A Study of the Mechanism of Carbon Assimilation in 
Green Plants.' Proc. Roy. Soc. [B], 77, 1906, p. 369, and 78, 
1907, p. 318. 

Problems Relating to the Origin of Life. 205 

in presence of living protoplasm. These processes 
take place so rapidly that the formaldehyde has 
only recently been detected in the living plant. 
Dr. S. B. Schryver,* by means of a new method 
the use of phenylhydrazine can detect formalde- 
hyde in the proportion of one part in a million. 

Both formaldehyde and hydrogen peroxide are 
very poisonous to plant life, but the transformation 
takes place so rapidly that in healthy plants no harm 
arises. Usher and Priestley state that starch can 
be detected in previously starchless filaments of 
Spirogyra after three minutes exposure to light. 
CO 2 can be photolysed independently of chlorophyll. 
Usher and Priestley have obtained Formic acid 
from CO 2 .H 2 O, by using Uranium sulphate as an 
optical sensitizer. Again W. Lob has obtained form- 
aldehyde by exposing a mixture of water vapour 
and carbon dioxide to the action of the silent 
electric discharge. (Zeitsch. Elektrochem. 1905-6.) 

Willstater has shown magnesium to be the 
essential metallic constituent of chlorophyll ; and 
Fenton, by using a solution of carbon dioxide in 
water containing bars of magnesium, has observed 
the splitting up of CO 2 and the production of form- 

Proteins are split up by digestion into simpler 
bodies the peptones, and the latter can be split 

" ' Photochemical Formation of Formaldehyde in Green 
Plants.' Proc. Roy. Soc. [B] 82, 1910, p. 226. 

f Journ. Cheni. Soc. Trans., 1907, p. 6.91. 

206 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

(by hydrolysis) into the still simpler " amino-acids." * 
Most of the proteins contain twenty or more 
different amino-acids, all with complicated formulae. 
Emil Fischer has separated out many of these 
bodies, and, further, by synthesizing them has 
produced numerous substances which he terms 
" polypeptides " from their resemblance to the 
natural peptones. In spite of their complexity the 
amino-acids, the peptones and the proteins are all 
endless variations on one theme, viz. NH. CH. 
CO.OH (i.e. on C.O.H.N.). 

If Nature has shown such marvellous ingenuity 
in the production of C.O.H. compounds from water 
and carbonic acid, why should it be supposed that 
her resourcefulness and rapidity of action stop short 
when the N element comes in ? 

Very little seems to be known concerning the 
mode of assimilation of the nitrogen of inorganic 
nitrogen compounds by green plants. As soon as 
links or simple chains of NH. CH. CO.OH 
bodies have arisen, it is conceivable that complicated 
chains would soon arise, for the simple chains 
have hungry links ready to grapple each other, the 
acid and amine links of one chain respectively with 
the amine and acid links of other chains. Emil 
Fischer has forged chains of eighteen amino-acid 
residues (an octo-deca peptide, viz. leucyl-triglycyl- 
octoglycyl-glycin C 48 H so O 19 N l8 ), and it is probable 

* The amines are regarded as derived from ammonia by 
substitution of hydrocarbons for hydrogen, and the "acids" as 
derived from hydrocarbons by substitution of the carboxyl group 
CO.OH for hydrogen. 

Problems Relating to the Origin of Life. 207 

that bodies as complicated as the proteins will be 
produced artificially. 

At the present day the warm ocean surface 
flooded with sunshine is at times like a living jelly. 
There is now a good deal of evidence in favour of 
the view that life was born in the sun-lit sea-water * 
rich in magnesium chloride, carbonic acid and 
simple nitrogen compounds. Presumably the 
nascent light-sundered atoms and radicals would 
rapidly build up not only C.O.H. but Mg. 
C.O.H.N.f compounds, and a plankton heliobius 
would arise, and perhaps from the latter a benthos 
bathybius in the form of amoebulae. The latter 
would form calcareous shells, as do the young of 
Polystomella at the present day ; and the shells 
would become mixed up with silica skeletons as 
now happens. 

* * * * 

In 1853 and later Pasteur was led by his 
researches on the behaviour of crystals and solutions 
of the tartaric acids and their salts towards polarized 
light, to formulate his theory of the molecular 

* Plain water is now believed to be a highly complicated 
material formed of hydrone polyhydrones and hydronols, and is 
no longer represented by the simple formula H 2 O, but by a bewil- 
dering series of symbols filling half an octavo page. (A dream of 
fair Hydrone. H.E.Armstrong * Science Progress' III., 1909.) 

f Willstater contrasts the constructive or synthesizing " life with 
magnesium " with the destructive (abbauende) " life with iron." 
Liebig's ' Annalen,' 350, p. 65, 1906. Also Schryver Th e 
Chemistry of Chlorophyll,' * Science Progress ' III (2) 1909, p. 425. 

208 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

asymmetry of natural organic products.* He 
pointed out that this behaviour could be explained 
by assuming that the atoms of the chemical 
molecules of optically active substances (e.g. dextro- 
and laevo-tartaric acids) were arranged in a right 
or left spiral sense, and that therefore they rotated 
the plane of polarization ; and that in optically 
inactive bodies such as racemic and meso-tartaric 
acids there were respectively inter- and intra- 
molecular blendings of right and left spiralities, and 
accordingly the plane of polarization was not rotated. 
In 1858 Kekule founded his " Structur-theorie " 
concerning the mode of linking of atoms, and 
showed it was possible to explain the constitution 
of organic compounds by assuming that Carbon had 
four units of affinity. In 1874 Le Bel and Van 
t'Hoff independently established the science of 
Stereo-chemistry which is concerned with the 
arrangement of atoms in space. The four directed 
attractive powers of Carbon were assumed to radiate 
from the centre in more than one plane. If these 
powers acted along lines making equal angles with 
each other, the four attracted atoms or groups 
would be at the solid angles of a tetrahedron, the 
latter being regular or irregular according to whether 
the atoms or groups were equally or unequally 
attracted. If the four attracted atoms or groups 
are all different, the carbon atom is termed " asym- 

* Pasteur. * Recherches sur la Dyssymetrie moleculaire des 
produits organiques naturels.' Paris, 1861. Rather rare, but 
the Alembic Club published a translation in 1897. See also a 
commentary on Pasteur's research in Prof. F. R. Japp's " Stereo- 
chemistry and Vitalism." Brit. Assoc. Report, 1898, p. 813. 

Problems Relating to the Origin of Life. 209 

metric,' and any compound C R, R 2 R 3 R 4 could 
exist in two " enantiomorphs " (opposite forms). 
A continuous curve passing through the four 
attracted groups will form a screw-like spiral. The 
enantiomorphs are similar in all respects excepting 
that their crystals are, as with the right and left 
hand, non-superposable mirror-images of each other, 
and that their solutions are optically active in an 
opposite sense. 

The finding of spirodiscoid structure in num- 
mulites and in Rhizopodal protoplasm acquires 
significance from the point of view of the theories 
of Pasteur, of Kekule and of Le Bel and Van 
t'Hoff. Perhaps the most stupendous visible 
manifestation of spirality on this planet is shown by 
the planetary -deposit of nummulites.* Not only 
are the shells spiral, but they are built of spiral 
bricks ; and now it is found that the protoplasm that 
built the shells and made the bricks, is itself visibly 
spiral. Natural organic products are optically 
active, i.e. their molecules may be assumed to be 
built on a spiral plan, and seemingly the spirality 
seen under the microscope is a visible expression 
of the invisible spirality revealed by polarized light. 

Concerning the cause of molecular asymmetry 
in natural organic products, Pasteur asks, " Ces 
actions dissymetriques placees peut-etre sous des 

The prevailing spirality visible in the materials of the 
earth's crust is not a property of matter per se, but a property 
impressed upon matter by life, for the crust is a deposit of 
mineralized nummulites. 

2io Sea-Floors or Bent hop lank ton. 

influences cosmiques, resident elles dans la lumiere, 
dans I'electricite, dans le magnetisme, dans la 
chaleur ?...!! n'est pas meme possible aujourd'hui 
d'emettre a cet egard les moindres conjectures.'' 
Various lines of research appear to favour the 
suggestion that light has been the agency that may 
have brought about gyrate and active rather than 
racemate and inactive characters of living matter. 

In i85ojamin* showed that a straight pencil 
of polarized rays when reflected from water took 
an elliptical course. Cotton f found that circularly 
polarized light was affected differently and had a 
different effect on active and inactive salts of 
organic compounds (viz. tartaric and racemic cupric 
ammonium salts). Byk J pointed out that wherever 
there is water, i.e. over the greater area of the 
planet, there is circularly polarized light, and that 
this would have the effect of producing a unilateral 
(einseitig) fauna and flora. 

Apparently sunlight falling on a universal ocean 
would produce a universal unilateral plankton 
heliobius, whence perhaps the universal unilateral 
benthos bathybius would arise. Accordingly, 
assuming the spirality of nummulites to be an 
expression of molecular spirality, the spirality of 
the nummulosphere may be due to the effects of 
circularly-polarized light on living matter. How 
reasonable to assume that a great planetary 

'"' 'Comptes Rendus' 36, 1850, p. 696. 
t ' Ann. China. Phys.' (7) viii. p. 373, 1896. 
\ ' Zeitsch. physikal. Chemie.' 49, p. 641, 1904. Also A. W. 
Stewart, ' Science Progress' II. 2, p. 449, 1908. 

Problems Relating to the Origin of Life. 2 1 1 

phenomenon such as the nummulosphere should 
be due to all-pervading cosmic influences ! 

If light, elliptically and circularly polarized has 
been the agency that has brought about asymmetry 
in living matter, then there would be an additional 
argument in favour of the theory that life originated 
at the surface of the ocean, and that the asymmetric 
bathybial life was derived from heliobial life. 
# # # # 

Problems concerning the essential nature of 
existence are generally held to be insoluble owing 
to the limitations of the human intellect. The 
following quotation from H. Spencer expressing 
this view, will not, I hope, be wholly out of place in 
a chapter of scientific speculations on the origin of 
life :- 

" Having, throughout life, constantly heard the 
charge of materialism made against those who 
ascribed the more involved phenomena to agencies 
like those which produce the simplest phenomena, 
most persons have acquired repugnance to such 
modes of interpretation. Such an attitude of mind, 
however, is significant not so much of reverence for 
the Unknown Cause, as of irreverence for those 
familiar forms in which the Unknown Cause is 
manifested to us. Men who have not risen above 
that vulgar conception which unites with matter the 
contemptuous epithets 'gross' and 'brute,' may 
naturally feel dismay at the proposal to reduce the 
phenomena of Life, of Mind, and of Society, to a 
level with those which they think so degraded. 
The course proposed does not imply a degradation 

P 2 

212 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lanton. 

of the so-called higher, but an elevation of the 
so-called lower. 

" May we not without hesitation affirm that a 
sincere recognition of the truth that our own and 
all other existence is a mystery absolutely and for 
ever beyond our comprehension, contains more of 
true religion than all the dogmatic theology ever 
written." (' First Principles,' Herbert Spencer.) 

Concerning matter and spirit the same philo- 
sopher writes " The one is no less than the other to 
be regarded as but a sign of the Unknown Reality 
which underlies both." 

" The belief in an omnipresent and inscrutable 
Power is one which the most inexorable logic 
shows to be more profoundly true than any religion 

Lithomorphs. 213 



LINNAEUS wrote : " Petrifacta non a cake, sed 
calx a petrifactis "- fossils are not produced by 
limestone, but limestone by fossils. 

In the next two chapters certain supposed fossils 
will be described, which are veritably nothing but 
products of limestone. Some of these objects are 
so wonderfully fashioned, as regards shape, surface- 
pattern and interior " structure," that it is not 
surprising they have long deceived palaeon- 

The shaping effect of chemical and physical 
forces acting on limestone is already well known, 
but the additional evidence now brought to light as 
to their marvellous constructive and pattern-making 
powers will come almost as a new revelation to 
science. That- this statement is no exaggeration is 

* At a time when there was much dispute concerning the true 
nature of fossils, a learned theologian uttered the warning that 
these bodies were not relics of formerly-living creatures, but 
objects fashioned by "The Adversary" and "planted" by him 
in the course of his numerous journeyings up and down in the 
earth, in order to deceive mankind. If so, the evil " designs " of 
this personage have had no small measure of success. This 
interesting theory, however, though partly correct, is untenable 
as regards the agency that fashioned the pseudomorphs, for here, 
apparently, the real chiseller was carbonic acid water. 

214 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

shown by the voluminous records in palaeontological 
literature concerning supposed orders, families, 
genera and species of animals and plants that have 
never existed, founded as they were on pseudo- 
morphic lumps of rock artistically fashioned by 
concretionary forces. 

Some pseudomorphs mislead no one, or only 
the ignorant, but even trained observers have been 
deceived by others. Among the latter kind are the 
following : Stromatoporoids, Eozoon, Spongio- 
stromidae, Archaeocyathidae, Receptaculitidae, Lof- 
tusia, Parkeria, Cyclocrinus, Syringosphaeridae, 
Girvanella, Vermiporella, Palaeoporella, Saccammina 
carteri, Mitcheldeania, and Oldhamia. Probably 
the list could be considerably extended. 

Prof. H. Rauff, in a critical review of certain 
theories regarding the systematic position of the 
Receptaculitidae, writes :* " Every attempt to prove 
definitely that the Receptaculitidae are Siphoneae 
(calcareous algae) becomes shattered on the at last 
exposed rocks. On the other hand we must admit 
that owing to a number of new elements of com- 
parison a path (perspective) has been opened up, 
the exploration of which might lead to results not 
wholly unpromising or fruitless." These words by 
an eminent palaeontologist well express the feeling 
almost of despair concerning the solution of certain 
problems in palaeontology. 

There exists, however, among the rocks a safe 
channel through which not merely one long-storm- 

* 'Verhand. Naturver. Preuss. Rheinl. Westph. Sitzungsb.' 
1892. Vol. 49, p. 90. 

Lithomorphs. 2 1 5 

buffeted ship, but a richly-freighted argosy, can be 
safely piloted into harbour. The " Nummulitic 
Channel," for such is its name, has escaped discovery 
owing to being covered with flotsam and jetsam 
(osmotic patterns) carried by currents. 

Leaving aside metaphor, and coming to facts, 
it will be found that the above-named pseudo- 
morphs are lumps of nummulitic limestone. Train- 
ing of the sense of sight will enable the observer to 
see the nearly, but not wholly, obliterated shell 
structure both in the lighter and in the darker parts 
of the patterns, and also continuity of structure 
passing right across dark and light pseudomorphic 
areas into the amorphous matrix of the imbedded 

We are dealing with concretionary patterns in 
ancient limestones, and happily these limestones 
are not homogeneous precipitates of inorganic 
origin, but masses of broken-down nummulite 
shells. Had it not been for this last fact, there 
would have been no clue whatever to the nature 
of these pseudomorphs, and it is fairly certain that 
disputes would have been going on for all time. 

Precautions are necessary in the use of this 
simple and invaluable diagnostic sign. A fossil 
sea-urchin in the chalk often has its shell filled with 
nummulitic material. How are we to know that a 
Silurian Cyclocrinus, for example, is not a hollow 
body filled in with clastic nummulitic material ? 
The reply is that the nummulitic structure is 
continuous over the whole pattern, and into the 

216 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

It is something of a paradox that one and the 
same research should lead to results apparently 
pointing in opposite directions. On the one hand 
these nummulosphere studies have led to the dis- 
covery of the organic origin of the igneous rocks, 
and on the other to that of the inorganic origin ot 
many supposed organic forms. Petrologists have 
concluded that the author has been deceived by 
mineral simulations of organic structure ; but the 
statement that Receptaculites was a pseudomorph 
drew from a palaeontologist the reply, " You will 
never get me to believe that ! " 

Certainly patience and practice are necessary 
to enable the observer to detect and follow the 
nummulitic structure in the at first apparently 
structureless and confused mass of shining 
granules. A medium power of about 400 diameters 
is, I find, best for detecting successive coils of 
furrowed marginal cord with bases of septa passing 
across the ridges as if binding them together. 
Then there are the willow-pattern edges of the 
striated and pillared spiral lamina, and the disk 
structure ; and, again, under very high powers, of 
2000 to 3000 diameters, the characteristic disk 
structure. From much practice, I can now see 
more nummulitic structure in a few minutes than I 
could formerly see in as many hours. 

The removal of a large number of forms from 
the organic kingdom to the ranks of " concretions " 
and " pseudomorphs " renders necessary an attempt 

Lithomorpks. 217 

to classify these groups of objects ; but firstly it is 
desirable to give them a definite name. The 
supposed organic forms mentioned in the preceding 
sections were referred to as pseudomorphs, but when 
their real nature is known, many of them will cease 
to give the impression of resembling organic 
structures, and further, their kinship with objects 
never regarded as pseudomorphic will be recognized ; 
moreover, science has not to do with fancied organic 
resemblances but with real similarities and 
dissimilarities. Accordingly " pseudomorph " is 

The term " concretion " has strong claims, but 
is, I think, hardly satisfactory as a group-name for 
the numerous and diverse objects now to be classi- 
fied. The fur deposited round some nucleus in a 
kettle is a concretion, and so also are the wonderful 
objects known as Cyclocrinus, Parkeria and Recepta- 
culites. For these and similar calcareous or 
originally calcareous bodies with a certain shape 
and structure due to the operation of purely chemico- 
physical agencies, the name " lithomorph " (" forms 
in stone ") is suggested. 

The characters available for a classification of 
lithomorphs are shape and structure. The shape 
may be spherical or massive, the former including 
spherical and oval shapes, and the latter massive, 
hemispherical, conical and branched forms. The 
structure or pattern may be prevailingly concentric, 
or prevailingly radial, or lastly " stromatic," i.e. 
with " layer upon layer" rather than with "layer 
within layer." By taking both shape and structure 

2i8 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

(or pattern) into account, lithomorphs may be 
arranged as follows : 

Group I. CONCENTRIC. Structure predominantly 
concentric, or spiral ; shape spherical 
or oval. Examples : 
Parkeria, etc., Loftusia, oolite * and 
pisolite, final stage of certain Fulwell 
Group II. RADIAL. Structure predominantly radial, 

shape various. 

Sub-group a. Shape spherical, oval or 
cup-shaped; structure " tubular "f or 
columnar, often with facetted surface : 
Cyclocrinus etc., Receptaculitidae, 
Archaeocyathidae, Syringosphaeridae. 
Sub-group b. Shape nodular or doubt- 
ful ; structure tufted- " tubular " or 
flabelliform, sometimes facetted : 
Palaeoporella, Vermiporella etc., Orto- 
nella, Solenopora, Mitcheldeania, Old- 
Sub-group c. Shape doubtful, structure 

vermiform-" tubular" : Girvanella. 
Group III. STROMATIC. Shape often massive ; 
with reticular pattern ; usually with 

* Oolite grains may have " a concentric and radiate, or 
simply a concentric or radiate structure." Mem. Geol. Survey. 
IV. 1894. 'Lower Oolitic Rocks of England,.' p. 6. All the 
figures show the completely and the predominantly concentric 
types. Some Parkeria-patterns, too, might almost be classified as 

t The " tubes " are not hollow and never have been. There 
is only a tubular appearance or pattern. 

L ithonwrphs. 2 1 9 

obscurely marked radial and tan- 
gential elements : 

Stromatoporoids, Spongiostromids, 
Eozoon, many Fulwell concretions. 
Remarks. Of living things it is said " crescunt 
et vivunt," and further, they reproduce themselves. 
Consequently there is a relationship between parent 
and offspring : " lapides crescunt " only, but for all 
that, some concretions are known to undergo a 
remarkable series of changes,* and, further, these 
bodies are formed in accordance with certain laws. 
Consequently it may be possible to arrive at a 
natural classification. Some petrologists speak of 
a " natural history " of igneous rocks and attempt to 
establish a natural system of classification. 

The laws of rhythmical precipitation and 
arrangement of suspended particles have been much 
studied by Liesegangf and Hatschek, and may 
throw light on concretionary processes. 

One might conceive the idea of a hypothetical 
lithomorph-shape in the form of a permeable sphere 
of carbonate of lime suspended in a saturated solution 
of carbonate of lime in carbonic acid and water. 
Diminution of solvent power would lead to a pre- 
cipitation of carbonate of lime, concentrically and 
radially, or concentrically or radially the patterns 
varying with the conditions. 

* Mr. G. Abbott's mince-pie-shaped concretions in Fulwell 
quarry appear to begin as excentrically radiate masses of pillars, 
and to develop into bodies with concentric laminae. Further, there 
might be different stages in different parts of the same concretion, 
certainly a trying object to fit into any scheme of classification ! 

f R. Liesegang, ' Geologische Diffusionen,' 1914. 

22o Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

A chronological arrangement brings out inter- 
esting features. Eozoon * lithomorphs are mostly 
Precambrian. Archaeocyathidae are characteristic 
of Cambrian rocks ; Stromatoporoids of Ordovician, 
Silurian and Devonian, a few also (fide Giirich and 
Dupont) occur in the Carboniferous ; Recepta- 
culitidae in the Silurian and Devonian chiefly ; 
Cyclocrinus Silurian ; Spongiostromids in the Car- 
boniferous, etc. Further, palaeontologists find these 
lithomorphs to be useful indicators of horizons. 
The fact of their not being organisms will not 
destroy, though it may somewhat diminish, their 
value in these respects. Just as an art-expert 
knows the period of a work of art by its style, so a 
palaeontologist may learn much from the " style " 
of a lithomorph. 

An attempt to arrange lithomorphs according to 
shape and pattern will at least afford an order of 
description for the present occasion, and may 
perhaps serve as a basis for future discussion. 

The first of the two following chapters will be 
devoted to Stromatoporoids on account of the 
historical interest of these objects, and the second 
to a very brief account of the rest of the litho- 
morphs mentioned in the classification. 

* Eozoon is doubtfully included as a lithomorph, for it is a 
lump of limestone with silicatic layers. The limestone itself is 
not lithomorphic. 

To fact /. 221. 

Plate III . 

Percy Highley, del et litk. 

C . Ho dg es & Son. imp 

Stromatopora Concentric a, Goldfuss. 

Stromatoporoids. 2 2 1 



IN some of the very ancient limestones there are 
curious objects varying in size from a few cubic 
inches to a cubic foot or more, of hemispherical, 
conical or massive shape, and with a layered 
structure. They are usually composed of carbonate 
of lime, but occasionally of silica. 

Goldfuss, in his great folio ' Petrefacta Ger- 
maniae ' (1826), was the first to describe and figure 
objects of this kind, which he found chiefly in the 
Devonian limestone of Gerolstein in the Eifel. 

Examples from this neighbourhood often have 
alternating dense and porous concentric layers. 
(See Plate III., copied from the original figure.) 
Goldfuss placed the specimens in a new genus and 
species, Stromatopora * concentrica, which he ranked 
among the corals near Millepora. This very 
pardonable mistake was the parent of a long line 
of errors. 

Gradually as the Palaeozoic limestones of the 
Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian periods became 
better known, numerous other " fossils," akin to 
Stromatopora, were discovered. Succeeding writers 
devoted memoirs and monographs to the description 

* I.e. bodies with (dense and) porous layers. 

222 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

of these objects, and many and diverse were the 
views as to their nature. 

Below is an incomplete list, compiled as far as 
1886 from Nicholson's monograph, giving the 
names of writers with their opinion concerning the 
systematic position of Stromatoporoids * : 

Goldfuss, 1826. Hydrocorallinae. 

Steininger, 1834. Sponges. 

F. Rcemer, 1843-4. Corals. 

Hall, 1847. Alcyonarians near Tubipora. 

D'Orbigny, 1850-51. Sponges. 

The two Sandbergers, 1850-56. Polyzoa. 

F. Roemer, 1851-56. Polyzoa, but later tabulate corals like 
Favosites and Chaetetes. 

Billings, 1857. Beatricea (a Stromatoporoid), a plant. 

Eichwald, 1860. Horny Sponges. 

Hyatt, 1865. Some Stromatoporoids regarded as Cephalopoda. 

Baron von Rosen, 1867. Horny Sponges. 

Dr. G. Lindstrom, 1870. Foraminifera, and, in 1873, Labechia 
allied to Hydractinia. 

Salter, 1873. Calcareous Sponges. 

Nicholson, 1873-4. Calcareous Sponges. 

Dawson, 1875. Between Foraminifera and Sponges. 

Sollas, 1877. Hexactinellid Sponges, and, later, partly Siliceous 
Sponges, partly Hydrozoa. 

Carter, 1877. Hydrozoa. 

Nicholson, 1886 (the 'Monograph'). Partly Hydroida, partly 

Zittel, 1903. Hydrozoa. 

Geikie, 1903. Polyzoa. 

Steinmann, 1907. Hydrozoa. 

Kirkpatrick, August 1912: Sponges. September 1912: Fora- 

It is only necessary to refer here to the view 
advocated by Lindstrom and later by Carter, that 
Stromatoporoids are Hydrozoa. This opinion, 

'" This name, first used by Nicholson and Murie, means " like 
or akin to Stromatopora" 



adopted by Nicholson in his monograph (1886- 
1892), is the one held generally at the present day. 

Apart from the layered structure, Stromato- 
poroids often differ but little in outward appearance 
from ordinary lumps of limestone. When, however, 


A, horizontal, E, vertical section, showing network, x 3. 

the specimen is polished, or, still better, when cut 
into thin transparent slices, a curious pattern in the 
form of a network of "fibres" becomes visible in 
the stony matrix, the fibres being arranged roughly 
in two sets, viz., (i) vertical or radial, and (2) 
horizontal or concentric. 

224 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Stromatoporoids present two main types of 
pattern. In one the fibres form a continuous net- 
work in which the radial and concentric sets are not 
sharply distinguishable from each other, the fibres, 
too, often being curved and irregular (curvilinear 
type of Carter) : in the other type the vertical 
radial fibres are straight and sharply defined, and 
give off at fairly regular intervals horizontal radial 
spokes which unite with those from neighbouring 


If page be held slanting and at a distance, coils of a broad spiral 
band of a shell will be dimly seen. X 10. 

vertical fibres to form series of horizontal floors per- 
forated by triangular meshes (rectilinear type, Carter). 
The fibres appear to be either solid or minutely 
porous and ''tubulated."* The spaces between the 
fibres in the first group were supposed to contain 

* M. Heinrich, in a recent memoir on Stromatoporoids, divides 
the group into solid-fibred and porous-fibred, and eliminates 
Labechiidae and Idiostromidae (Journ. Geol. p. 57, 1916). Transl. 

Stromatoporoids. 225 

polyps. Stromatoporoids were divided into two 
main groups, viz., those with a continuous network 
of curvilinear tubulated fibres, and those with the 
straight radial or vertical fibres and tiers of 
horizontal floors. The first group was supposed 
to be related to Millepora, and the second to 
Hydractinia, the zoophyte which encrusts Gastro- 
pod shells inhabited by Hermit Crabs. The basal 
layer of this zoophyte has fibres arranged somewhat 
as in the second type described above. Accordingly 
Nicholson considered Stromatoporoids to be Hydro- 
zoa partly akin to Millepora, partly to Hydractinia. 
Sometimes in the second group the fibres of the 
horizontal floors are in the form of curved plates 
(Beatricea and Labechia), giving rise to a vesiculated 
appearance in sections. In the first group some of 
the genera are branched and not massive (S tacky- 
odes, Amphipora). 

When first I examined sections of Stromato- 
poroids under high powers I observed series of ring- 
shaped bodies resembling certain kinds of sponge 
spicules, and thereupon concluded that the supposed 
fossils were sponges. Later, certain appearances led 
me to regard Stromatoporoids as Foraminifera united 
in colonies. At last the simple truth was discovered, 
viz., that these "fossils" were lumps of nummulitic 
limestone composed of nummulite shells of the 
ordinary type. This view has now been amply 

How has it come about that for ninety years 
many eminent experts have been so completely 


226 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

deceived ? My own experiences in this research 
lead me to assign the cause partly to the tyranny 
of the fixed idea. At first sight this statement may 
seem paradoxical in view of the diversity of opinion 
concerning Stromatoporoids, which have been 
regarded as Protozoa, Sponges, Hydrozoa, 
Anthozoa, Mollusca, and even in one case, plants. 
The idea that Stromatoporoids were not fossils at all 
does not seem to have occurred to anyone. I, for 


Marked areas shown in photos on Plate IV. X 18. 

my part, after many mistakes, hit upon the truth 
deductively. In view of the all-prevailing num- 
mulitic nature of most of the limestones, it occurred 
to me that Stromatoporoids might be masses of 
nummulites segregated in a common nummulitic 
matrix. Innumerable observations have confirmed 
the truth of this deduction. 

Stromatopora concentrica. 

Figs. 1-4. All from a slide in Nicholson's collection 
(P. 5869) figured in his monograph PI. XL, Fig. 16. Figs, i, 2 
are from the marked areas shown in Fig. 29 on p. 226. A lens 
X 3 should be used. All X 260. 

The whole slide shows nothing else than nummulitic shell 
structure throughout. 

The photos were originally taken to show light and dark 
areas with continuity of structure throughout light and dark, 
thereby showing the light spaces could hardly be former polyp 
tubes filled in with calcite. Figs, i, 2, represent each an area 
of 5 mm. (^o of an inch). Owing to the remarkable character 
of repetition on a continually increasing or diminishing scale, 
nummulitic structure has somewhat the same aspect under very 
low or very high powers. A very small area highly magnified 
may reveal a surprising amount of structure. Fig. 2 shows 
strands of curved marginal cord passing from side to side and 
" septa " of spirodisk from above downwards. Notice in central 
part of lower half of Fig. 2 a well-defined broad oval ring lying 
sideways. In the interior of the right end of the oval are six or 
seven very well-defined little disks in succession round the bend. 
Arches, bands and disks visible over the field. 

\Tofacep. 226. 


Plate IV. 

Stromatoporoids. 227 

In addition to having investigated thoroughly 
specimens and sections of the unique Nicholson 
collection in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.), I have 
visited formations where Stromatoporoids abound, 
viz., Silurian limestones at Dudley and Much 
Wenlock, and Devonian limestones at Teignmouth 
beach and Darlington and at Gerolstein. At the 
Bonn Museum of Natural History I saw the type 
specimen of Slromatopora concentrica. 

Stromatoporoids have been mistaken for fossils 
on account of their SHAPE, SURFACE MARKINGS, 


The SHAPE, which is commonly hemispherical, 
massive, conical or pinnacle-like, is often well-defined, 
resembling blocks of coral and especially Millepora. 
It scarcely seems credible that some of these forms 
result from the operation of purely physical causes, 
yet such is the case. Labechia is especially re- 
markable, for here there appears to be a definite 
under-surface marked with concentric rings and 
bands, and an upper tuberculated surface ; also the 
branched forms present a very deceptive resemblance 
to coral-like growths. 

I derived much instruction from the investigation 
of a fine collection of " concretions " exhibited in 
the Natural History Museum. The specimens, 
which came from the Permian limestone quarries of 
Fulwell near Sunderland, were collected by Mr. 
George Abbott, who has done great service to 
science by presenting sets of these wonderful objects 
to public institutions. While I was planning a visit 

Q 2 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

to Fulwell, I received from Mr. Abbott an invitation, 
which I gratefully accepted, to go over the quarries 
under his guidance. 

The limestone formation is about 200 feet thick 
and covers an area of two square miles. In many 
places and on a vast scale the formerly homogeneous 
mass of limestone has become sculptured into 
coralloid forms. Mr. Abbott* has traced a definite 

(P. 5984. 264 f. N.H.M.) Showing " vesicular " structure, x 18. 

" evolutionary " series of stages, from forms with 
pillars to solid masses with concentric bands. 

I was struck with the frequent resemblances 
between the Permian concretions and the Silurian 
and Devonian Stromatoporoids (Plate V.). 

No one has thought of regarding the Permian 
bodies as fossils ; there is almost as little reason for 

* ' Discoid Limestones which simulate Organic Characters,' 

Stromatoporoids. 229 

considering the earlier Palaeozoic bodies as such. 
Careful observation reveals the common nummulitic 
foundation of both. 

The SURFACE of Stromatoporoids is often 
nodulated in a fairly regular way suggestive of 
organic growth ; and further, certain meandrine 
markings and stellate groups of ridges and furrows 
resemble orifices of polyps or oscules of sponges. 

The LAYERED STRUCTURE, to which the Stromato- 
poroids owe their name, is suggestive of zones of 
organic growth, but is due to the operation of 
physical causes. 

The existence of the PATTERN of so-called fibres, 
although it did not originate the fossil theory, has 
been the chief reason for the maintenance of the 
latter at the present day. 

The fibres have been mistaken for the skeletal 
network of horny calcareous or siliceous sponges, for 
the skeleton of a large Foraminiferan, and for 
various types of coral skeleton. The fibres and 
clear spaces between them are simply darker and 
lighter or opaque and crystalline areas in a mass 
of nummulitic limestone. Careful and detailed 
observation shows the nummulitic structure through- 
out, and in continuity across light and dark spaces. 

Concentric coils of spiral lamina crossed by 
radial alar prolongations, and also layers of spiral 
lamina are visible, especially in transverse sections 
of " Actinostroma clathratum" 

230 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Fig. 31 shows a transverse section of one end 
of a shell in " Stromatopora concentrica " ; here the 
striated and pillared structure of successive walls 
is seen, and under high powers the character- 
istic nummulitic disk structure. Strange to relate 


Part of nummulite in transverse section, showing willow pattern, the 
spiral lamina and pillars ; X 100. 

Nicholson referred to " tubuli " as possible evidence 
of Foraminiferal nature, but ended in comparing 
these appearances with the canaliculi of Millepora. 
(See his ' Monograph,' footnote p. 66.) 

Stromatoporoids. 231 

I can now see even with a hand-lens a good deal 
of nummulitic structure on weathered surfaces of 
specimens, but practice and patience are required 
here as well as in detecting that structure in 

The photographs on Plate IV. were originally 
taken simply to show the light and dark spaces, but 
with a lens it is possible to make out serial rows of 
disks. The pictures represent a very small part of 
a shell which, if only an inch in diameter, would 
cover about 50 square yards under a magnification 
of 260 diameters. 

Certain Stromatoporoids are traversed by long 
crystal " tubes" or ''columns" disposed at right 
angles to the concentric layers of the fossil. 
Nicholson, who calls these structures " Caunopora- 
tubes," writes concerning them : " The singular 
fossils for which the generic names of Caunopora 
and Diapora have been proposed are known, to their 
cost, by all students of the Stromatoporoids. They 
have proved a fertile source of difference of opinion." 

According to one view, fossils with these 
" tubes " were distinct genera of Stromatoporoids. 
Prof. Roemer considered them to be due to the 
commensalism of Stromatoporoids with certain 
corals. According to a third opinion, the " tubes " 
were states or conditions of certain individuals. 
This last view, held by Nicholson himself, is the 
one that is nearest the truth. For the tubes are 
nothing but peculiar mineralizations taking place in 
certain masses of nummulitic limestone. 

232 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

The nummulitic nature of the rock probably 
had much to do with the creation of this pattern. 
Series of "pillars" often blend to form clear 
columns in Nummulites (Fig. 23 A). In a section 
of Stromatoporella biic he lien sis I can see alars and 
marginal cords in the Caunopora-tubes. At one 
time I mistook these structures for the expression 
of the segments of Annelids. Nicholson, again, 
refers to " funnel-shaped tabulae " in the tubes. 
These structures are, perhaps, series of minute 
nummulite septa. 

The greater resistance of the tubes to weathering 
sometimes produces extraordinary results. A 
specimen of Stromatopora Hiipschii (Nicholson's 
' Monograph,' PI. XXII. Fig. 7) somewhat re- 
sembles a mass of Tubipora musica, the Organ-pipe 

The patterns in the early Palaeozoic limestones 
result from the operation of chemical and physical 
causes, apparently the chief of these being the 
dissolving action of water and carbonic acid acting 
under certain conditions. These solvents affect all 
limestones, but not usually with the result of creating 
Stromatoporoids. Sections of chalk or of Fulwell 
limestone, for instance, are opaque and homo- 
geneous. Why, then, should sections of portions of 
the older limestones show a mottled pattern of clear 
and opaque areas ? The answer appears to be that 
the metamorphosing agencies have been acting on 
the older rocks for a much longer time, and, further, 
their action has been supplemented by crustal 

Stromatoporoids. 233 

disturbances, and often by the neighbourhood of 
volcanic centres. Pressure, which, as Dr. J. 
Lehmann demonstrated, produces such powerful 
effects on metamorphic rocks, would also modify 
the structure of limestones. 

Of late years many observations and experi- 
ments, especially by Hatschek and Liesegang, 
have demonstrated the tendency of particles thrown 
down in fluid or colloid menstrua to be rhythmi- 
cally precipitated, that is to say in concentric rings 
separated by clear zones. 

Sometimes the patterns formed by these 
experimental rhythmical precipitations curiously 
resemble those of Stromatoporoids and kindred 

If the water and carbonic acid permeating a 
limestone dissolve out and hold the carbonate of 
lime in saturated solution, any diminution of the 
carbonic acid would cause the lime to be precipitated 
in concentric zones as in oolite, or in radial-concentric 
patterns as in many Stromatoporoids. 

In Beatricea and Labechia the wavy vesicular 
patterns give the impression of being due to forces 
acting in a rhythmical and undulatory fashion. In 
the former " genus " the shape is frequently that 
of a hollow cylinder, and the wavelets are in con- 
centric series and convex outwards. (See Nicholson's 
4 Monograph,' PL VIII. Figs. 1-3.) 

The agencies which have led to the forma- 
tion of Stromatoporoids have acted not on homo- 

234 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

geneous limestones but on hardened nummulitic 

In Tertiary nummulites the pillars are more 
transparent than the rest of the shell, this being due 
apparently to differences in the organic structure. 
Further, in Stromatoporoid masses of nummulites, 
certain of the stronger portions of the shells are 
more opaque, especially at points where alar pro- 
longations cross coils of marginal cord. Whether 
these nodal points offer greater resistance to 
leaching, or whether they capture more precipi- 
tated material it is difficult to say. 

What with variations in composition, solvent 
power, temperature, direction and impinging force 
of leaching fluids on the one hand, and of size, 
thickness, and mode of arrangement of nummulite 
shells on the other, it is not surprising that several 
families and genera and numerous species of 
Stromatoporoids have been formed.* 

SUMMARY. In the earlier Palaeozoic limestones or 
in their dlbris are found lumps of rock known as 
Stromatoporoids, and generally supposed to be 
fossil Hydrozoa. The lumps have a banded 
structure, and when polished or cut into sections 
show a reticular or wavy pattern. The specimens 

* Personally I have the impression that the degrees of differ- 
ence have been somewhat exaggerated; and there would be a 
tendency to do this in the endeavour to find good systematic 
characters. It is significant that Prof. Roemer (in 1844) "arrived 
at the conclusion that almost all the species of Stromatoporoids 
described by former observers might be regarded as variations 
of a single type." (Nicholson, /.<:., p. 7.) 

Stromatoporoids. 235 

are lumps of nummulitic limestone. Nummulitic 
structure can be seen, but not without difficulty, in 
weathered surfaces with the aid of a lens. Spiral 
coils of marginal cord, alar prolongations, and disk 
structures are visible in thin sections under higher 
magnification. The reticular and mottled patterns 
are the expression of clear and opaque areas in the 
rock, and are due to the operation of chemical 
and physical agencies. Stromatoporoids are litho- 

POSTSCRIPT. Perhaps the best and simplest 
method of detecting the nummulitic nature of 
Stromatoporoids and other lithomorphs would be 
to examine photographs (and negatives) made from 
large thin sections natural size or magnified only 
two or three diameters. 

236 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 



IN the Philosophical Transactions for 1869 Car- 
penter and Brady wrote a joint memoir entitled 
' Description of Parkeria and Loftusia, two gigantic 
types of Arenaceous Foraminifera,' illustrated by 
nine plates, Parkeria being described by Carpenter, 
and Loftusia by Brady. Since the memoir was 
published, various other opinions have been held 
concerning these types, which have been regarded as 
porcellanous Foraminifera and as Hydrozoa. 

The structure and pattern are so remarkable 
that it is not surprising their real nature has been 
misunderstood. It scarcely seems credible that 
the wonderful lace-like patterns seen in the sections 
could have been fashioned by purely physical 
agencies, yet such is the fact. 


In the Upper Cretaceous formation known as 
Cambridge Greensand there are found spherical 
stone balls about half an inch to nearly three inches 
in diameter, with smooth or slightly papillated sur- 
face (Plate V. A, Fig. D). The fractured surfaces of 


A, \'t Loltusiaperbica, whole and in section. C Syringosphueria, a Kurakoram stone. 
D Parkeria. All natural size. 

To face p. 236. 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 237 

a broken ball often show no structure or very 
little, but polished sections or thin slices reveal a 
beautiful pattern of concentric circles and radial 
spokes in a translucent matrix (Plate VI.). Be- 
tween the circles and surrounding the radii there 
are labyrinthine networks of lace-like traceries. 
Sometimes in the centre of the sphere there is a 
conical area with several horizontal platforms, or 
there may be de'lris of sand and sponge spicules, 
or again no noticeable structure or material. The 
balls are commonly composed of carbonate of lime, 
the "fibres" being opaque or semi-crystalline, and 
the " spaces " transparent and crystalline. Some- 
times both fibres and spaces may be made of 
phosphate of lime. Again, the fibres may be of 
phosphate of lime and the spaces empty, or the 
spaces may be filled with silica. 

Dr. Carpenter concluded that these balls were 
specimens of a gigantic Sandy Foraminiferan, which 
he named Parkeria after a distinguished colleague. 

He believed that in the living animal the 
" spaces " were filled with protoplasm, and that the 
" fibres" constituted the skeleton, the latter being 
formed of calcareous sand particles picked up by 
the animal, and held together by a cement of 
carbonate and phosphate of lime. The conical 
central structure constituted the primary and initial 

Carter, who took up the problem of Parkeria in 
1876,* considered the fossil to be a Hydrozoan near 

* A.M.N.H., 1877 ( 4 ),xix.p. 55. 

238 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Hydractinia and allied to the Stromatoporoids. 
For him the central structures when present were 
simply some foreign objects around which the 
Hydroid began to grow. The fibres were not built 
of foreign calcareous particles but were solid 
structures formed by the animal itself. In a 
succeeding paper he described the central conical 
construction as an area modified by the growth of a 
saprolegnious alga Millarella. The " lynx-eyed 
Carter " certainly made some valuable and signifi- 
cant observations. He detected on the surface of 
Parkeria, Loftusia and of Stromatopora groups 
of pores : see his Plate viii. Figs. 16, 18, 19, in 
Annals (4) xix. In one place* he even remarks 
" I have alluded to the absence of the foraminated 
areas ; but I think I can see one of these. ..." 
Again he writes " one of the chief characters of 
Foraminifera is their foraminated areas." 

Nicholson j" adopted Carter's Hydrozoan theory. 
He figures the zoophyte Parkeria growing round 
the supposed chambered shell of a young Ammonite 
(Annals I.e. Plate iii. Fig. 6), just as Hydractinia 
invests a Gastropod. 

Steinmann J and Zittel placed Parkeria among 
the Hydrozoa. 

Numerous and very careful observations of 
specimens and sections have shown me beyond any 
doubt that specimens of Parkeria are lithomorphic 

" A.M.N.H., 1876 (4), xviii., p. 209. 

t A.M.N.H., 1888 (6), i., p. 3. 

\ ' Palaontologie,' 1907, p. 152. 

' Grundziige,' 1910, p. 119. 


A, B Unpolished and polished surfaces viewed by reflected light X 4. 
C Section viewed by transmitted light X 5. 

To face p. 238. 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 239 

lumps of nummulitic limestone, with the nummulites 
almost obliterated, and with the lithomorph pattern in 
the form of concentric zones and radial spokes. I 
can actually see with the naked eye the faint circular 
and oval outlines of nummulites about an inch in 
diameter on the surface of a large specimen in the 
Natural History Museum. A lens (x 10) shows 
some of the structure of the worn-down shells, viz. 
edges of spiral lamina, radial alar prolongations, and 
traces of willow pattern. Under high powers, too, 
I can see series of nummulitic disk structures both 
in the "fibres" and in the "spaces." Parkeria 
then is a lithomorph of similar nature to an oolitic 
granule, but the latter is only a minute part of one 
shell, and the former a mass of many shells. 

If I had believed in the fossil nature of Parkeria 
and of Beatricea I would probably have made the 
former a synonym of the latter. The supposed 
central Ammonite or tabulated cone of Parkeria 
may be compared with the hollow tabulated space 
in Beatricea ; and the concentric wavy pattern of 
the latter is rather like that of the Parkeria pattern, 
though less elaborate. It is significant too that 
A. Hyatt regarded Beatricea as a Cephalopod ! 
Again, Carter describes a Parkeria nodosa, and 
Billings a Beatricea nodulosa. 

Many circumstances conspired to deceive in- 
vestigators, but especially the apparent existence of 
" fibres " and " spaces " ; and when specimens were 
found with empty spaces between fibres, and with 
spaces filled in with silica, the deception became 


Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

The genesis of Parkeria may have been some- 
what as follows : a nummulitic limestone permeated 
by water charged with carbonic acid and super- 
saturated with carbonate of lime ; lowering of solvent 
power, and deposition of the lime in concentric 
and radial precipitations over sundry areas ; 

nat. size. 

occasional dissolving out of the more soluble spaces 
between the less soluble fibres, the spaces being 
left empty or filled in with silica ; and segregation 
of the hard spheres from the softer matrix. 

In the Geological Survey Memoir, * Cretaceous 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 241 

Rocks,' I., 1900, Parkeria is recorded as a Hydro- 
zoan, and the Cambridge Greensand specimens as 
" derived " fossils. Even so, the spherical shape is 
due primarily rather to the concretionary nature of 
the objects than to the fact of their having been 
rolled about. 

Green (? glauconitic) grains are common in 
Parkeria, as also, and to a much greater extent, in 
the nummulite zone of the Lower Barton Beds. 

There are Fulwell concretions very similar to 
Parkeria, but without the finer traceries (Fig. 32). 
In both the Permian and Cretaceous lithomorphs 
the matrix is nummulitic. 


In 1855 W. K. Loftus, in a memoir on the 
geology of the Turko-Persian frontier, refers to 
certain spindle-shaped stony fossils about two to 
three inches long which he found embedded in a 
blue marly Eocene limestone in the Bakhtiyari 
mountains. Loftus believed the fossils to be 
gigantic Foraminifera allied to Alveolina. In 1869 
Brady * investigated some of Mr. Loftus's 
specimens and concluded they were gigantic Sandy 
Foraminifera comparable with the porcellanous 
Alveolina on the one hand and vitreous Fusulina 
on the other. On Plate 77 Fig. i (I.e.], he figures 
several specimens embedded in a rich Foraminiferal 
limestone matrix. 

Carter, who regarded Loftusia as a Hydrozoan, 

* Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., 1869, p 739. 



Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

thought the existence of the network structure of 
the central spaces was fatal to the Foraminiferal 
theory. Steinmann records Loftusia as a Fora- 
miniferan ; and Zittel, as a Hydrozoan. 

Brady compares Loftusia to a loosely rolled scroll 
(of paper) drawn together at each end. The spiral 


Half of section, X 3. 

space is subdivided along the length by septa 
passing obliquely from wall to wall, and a second 
set of septa pass at right angles from the first set 
to the main spiral wall. Accordingly there is a 
spiral labyrinthine pattern. Several small Fora- 
miniferal shells seen in the sections were supposed 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 243 

to have been gathered up and incorporated by the 

As in the case of Parkeria, these oval bodies are 
simply concretionary lumps of Foraminiferal, mainly 
nummulitic, limestone, with a lithomorphic pattern. 
It required long and patient observation to enable 
me to distinguish the nearly obliterated nummulitic 
structure but the latter exists throughout the lumps. 
The smaller Foraminifera are not particles collected 
by a gigantic species, but simply smaller species, 
existing in a Foraminiferal deposit composed chiefly 
of nummulites. 

Among the Fulwell specimens exhibited in the 
Natural History Museum there is an oval concretion, 
but with large rounded ends and very probably 
without the pattern. Some of the Loftusias also 
have rounded ends. 


Limestone shows various kinds of texture, but 
none more remarkable than the oolitic, in which 
the rock resembles petrified fish roe, hence the name 
" oolite " or " egg-stone " (Fig. 34). Several theories 
have been put forward to account for this condition. 
Dana regarded oolite as granular coral mud, and 
Sorby thought that oolite grains were formed by 
deposition of calcite round drifting particles. 
Another theory attributes the formation :^f the 

* G. M. Dawson (A.M.N.H. (5), II., p. 344, 1878) describes 
a small species, L. columbiana (8x5 mm.), from the Carboni- 
ferous limestone of Frazer River, B.C. Whether the supposed 
fossil is a Foraminiferan or a lithomorph I do not know. 

R 2 

244 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

granules to the presence of an alga. Dr. Rothpletz 
showed that certain concretionary granules in Salt 
Lake were formed by algae ; and, indeed, there is 
often a curious structure in oolite termed Girvanella, 
commonly supposed to be a calcareous alga. The 
difficulty about the reef-theory lies partly in the 
absence of any trace of coral structure in the grains, 
and partly in the non-existence of remains of real 
coral-reefs in the contemporaneous strata. 

Without attempting in this brief note to examine 
critically the various theories concerning the origin 
of oolite rocks and oolitic structure, I shall give 
the results of my own observations on Jurassic oolitic 
rocks of the west of England. I paid five visits to 
oolite districts, viz., to Bath, Cheltenham and Port- 
land, and collected samples from ancient churches 
in these localities and in London ; and lastly I 
examined with lens and microscope sections of 
fresh and weathered rocks. As a result of these 
observations, I have made the surprising discovery 
that typical Jurassic oolites are nummulitic rocks 
formed of deposits of nummulite shells, and that the 
oolite grains are portions of these shells modified by 
concretionary action. A large nummulite shell an 
inch in diameter would contain or be made up of some 
hundreds of these concretions (Plate XIII. Fig. A). 

In some large sections taken from three sides of 
a cube of Portland oolite I can now without difficulty 
make out the concentric coils of furrowed cord and 
radiating septa and alars, sometimes with the con- 
cretions filling the chambers of the shell and 
modified in shape according to their position in the 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 


shell. In the marginal cord the grains run in 
parallel rows following the cord structure. It is 
clear that oolite grains are not concretions formed 
round sedimentary particles, but that they have 
been formed in situ. The photograph (Plate 
XIII. Fig. A) shows outlines of a shell. Even in 
cliche Fig. 35, obscure circular and radial shell- 
outlines are faintly perceptible. 

Although I only discovered the fact at the very 


From photo of rough surface of piece of rock. X 3. 

end of my investigation, I can now detect on 
weathered specimens of oolite the faint outlines of 
large nummulite shells in various aspects transverse, 
oblique or horizontal. The transverse section shows 
traces of willow-pattern and successive bands of 
spiral lamina, the parallel and divergent striae 
being replaced by rows of granules. 

A lens x 3 will suffice to show the definite and 

246 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

by no means accidental grouping and orientation of 
the granules. The horizontal aspect of shells will 
show circular groups of granules corresponding to 
the tops of pillars. These observations are difficult, 
but I am convinced the facts are correctly stated. 
Large transparent sections viewed with a lens and 
by transmitted light will also show outlines of 
nummulite shells an inch or more in diameter. 

I first got on to the nummulite track by dis- 
covering with a lens circular porous areas in 
weathered oolite from ancient abbeys (viz. West- 
minster and Bath). I took the circles for small 
shells, but really they were septa and marginal 
cord or pillar and inter-pillar areas of spiral lamina 
of large shells. The weathering had partly dis- 
solved out the masking concretionary pattern and 
left traces of original nummulitic structure. 

The nucleus of each granule often consists of a 
little mass of nummulitic shell-material. At first 
I mistook sieve-like perforated disk structures of 
nummulites for Radiolaria. Concretions may form 
round any nucleus, such as a Radiolarian or a joint 
of a Crinoid, but in pure typical oolite I have found 
either no structure at all or a nucleus of nummulitic 

The cause of this strange concretionary process 
in oolitic rocks has been put down either to 
mechanical or to organic agencies, but probably the 
true explanation is that of physico-chemical action 
in the solid rock. The sequence may have been as 
follows : soaking of the very porous nummulitic 

Certain Other Lit homo rpJ is. 247 

deposits by water and carbonic acid super-saturated 
with carbonate of lime derived partly from other 
strata, partly from the stratum about to undergo 
concretionary change ; diminished solvent power 
followed by concentric deposition round the partly 
dissolved groups of disk-structures or in the spaces 
of the median plane of the nummulites. 

Pisolite or Pea-Grit is usually regarded as a 
sedimentary formation. The concretions have a 
concentric structure. The Girvanella-pattern is 
often present, and sometimes surrounds a Crinoid 
joint. I find abundance of nummulitic structure in 
sections of this rock. 

Concretions are sometimes of large size as in the 
cannon-ball bed at Roker. 

Lindstrom describes a bed of " ball-stones " in 
the upper Silurian of Gotland, some of which are 
over a yard in diameter. He refers to them as 
corals (Coenostroma discoideutri), and Nicholson calls 
them Stromatoporoids. Judging from sections 
named S. discoidea in the Nicholson Collection 
they are huge concretionary masses of nummulitic 


In Silurian limestones both of the old and new 
world there are found little stalked spherical or 
pear-shaped bodies an inch or more in diameter and 
with a tessellated surface ; each tile may have a 
pattern of spokes radiating from a central knob or 
circle. A vertical section shows a surface layer of 
small cup-like cavities each closed by its tile or lid ; 

248 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

frequently, also, there are lance-shaped rods 
radiating excentrically from some point to the 
surface. Between the rods there are slender radial 
spaces ending in a "pore" in the floor of a surface 
cup. At one point on the surface of the fossil there 
is an appearance of an opening. 

These wonderful and mysterious objects have 
been a continual source of bewilderment to palaeon- 

In 1840 Eichwald described them as Crinoids. 
Since then they have been looked upon as Protozoa, 
Sponges, Receptaculites, Anthozoa and Calcareous 
Algae. Dr. E. Stolley, who has done the most 
thorough work on these and similar Silurian forms, 
gives over sixty references to literature in his 
account of the genus.* After many failures, at last 
light appeared to be thrown on this obscure problem 
by researches in recent algology. 

Some of the Siphonaceous algae are spherical or 
pear-shaped, with tessellated calcareous surface, and 
with a radial arrangement of densely packed 
branches. In 1893 ('Ann. Jardin Botan. Buitenzorg,' 
vol. xi.) Solms-Laubach described a siphonaceous 
alga Bornetella oligospora, with many apparent 
resemblances to the Silurian (or Ordovician) fossils. 
Bornetella (Neomeris) capitata Agardh, again, is a 
stalked spherical form to which Cyclocrinus bears 
resemblance. Accordingly recent authorities place 
this and kindred fossils among the calcareous algae. 

Sections of Cyclocrinus from the Ordovician of 

* 'Archiv. Anthropol. Geol. Schleswig-Holstein,' i. p. 216. 

Certain OtJier Lithomorphs. 




a, Cyclocrinus, X 4; 6, section of Coelosphaeridium, X 2 ; r, section of 
Cyclocrinus, x 2*5 ; d, lids of Cyclocrinus x 8 ; *, ditto, another pattern, 
X I2'5 ; /, Silurian limestone of Estland, showing sections of three specimens 
in contact, without radials (N.H.M., Bather), nat. size ; , ^, Isckadites 
murchisoni, rough copy after Rauff ; /, Parkeria, with conical axial body ; 
/, Fulwell concretion, section showing central concentric and peripheral 
radial-tubular structure, X \, after G. Abbott. Figs, a-t, after Dr. Stolley. 

250 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

Estland, East Baltic, show these fossils to be 
spherical facetted lumps of nummulitic limestone, 
with the nummulitic structure in continuity through- 
out the whole mass. Further, in a large section 
of a boulder from the same locality (V. 3960, 
N.H.M., Coll. F. A. Bather) there are many Cyclo- 
crinus sections appearing like circles with merely 
a rim of cups and without radial rods. 

Sometimes adjoining circles in contact are in- 
complete, one pressing into the other. Sections 
show the nummulitic structure passing continuously 
from the circles to the embedding matrix. 

Cyclocrinus is a concretionary lithomorph and 
owes its structure to the action of physical causes. 
A comparison with other lithomorphs such as 
Receptaculites, Parkeria, Fulwell concretions, etc., 
will, I think, explain the course of " evolution " of 
this marvellous lithomorph. In some of the Fulwell 
concretions, as Mr. G. Abbott has shown, there is 
an initial stage with pillars radiating from an 
excentric point. Sometimes the densely-packed 
radial pillars have radial spaces between them, the 
pillars themselves being as walls to those spaces, so 
that an appearance of radial tubes arises. Further 
in the apparent course of evolution of certain mince- 
pie-shaped concretions, Mr. Abbott found that the 
pillars disappeared and that they were replaced by 
concentric laminae. In Cyclocrinus there are densely- 
packed lance-shaped rods with fine radial spaces 
between. The ends of the radii surround the ends 
of the spaces, which are usually hemispherical. 
Sometimes the radial spaces open out gradually 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 251 

as in 4i Coelosphaeridium," but in Cyclocrinus the 
spaces open abruptly, by means of a circular pore, 
into the floor of a hemispherical cup ; or rather it 
should be said that the radial linear spaces expand 
suddenly into hemispherical spaces. 

The areas which cover the spaces at the surface 
become differentiated out as hexagonal lids, on each 
of which patterns arise. 

The stalk or stem, leading into the interior 
excentric area whence the rods radiate out, is a 
common feature in lithomorphs. 

I have spoken of cups and cavities and canals, but 
really the lithomorph is in its origin solid throughout, 
the supposed cavities being merely clear areas of 
calcite. It is this idea of cavities that has been the 
chief cause of deception. It is true that variation in 
hardness and solubility may lead to the clear areas 
being dissolved away, thus leaving real cavities, and 
these again may become filled with some foreign 
material. When the results which Nature can 
achieve by purely physical means are so extra- 
ordinary, it is not surprising that the literature of 
palaeontology is crowded with descriptions of 
concretions mistaken for animal and plant remains. 

The discovery of the truth has been rendered 
possible owing to the persistence of nummulitic 
structure in the lithomorphs and in the matrix out 
of which they have become segregated by the action 
of concretionary forces. Further help has been 
afforded by a comparative study of the various types 
of lithomorphs and of the changes they appear to 

252 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 


Prof. H. Rauff, in the preface of his memoir on 
the Receptaculitidae,* writes: " With respect to the 
problem of the true nature of the Receptaculitids 
my researches end only in the sad result that these 
interesting bodies will once more be cast out of 


Silurian, Niagara group. (P. 6514, N.H.M.) x f . 

'The System,' again to wander around without 

In the earlier chapters of the book of life there 
are mysterious signs and characters to the meaning 
of which there appears to be no satisfactory clue 
at least if we may judge from the fact that a dozen 

* ' Untersuchungen Organisation u. systematische Stellung 
d. Receptaculitiden.' Abhand. Akad. Wiss. Miinchen, Bd. xvii. 
p. 6.45. 1892. 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 253 

experts may have come to as many different 
conclusions concerning them. 

I am certain that at last the true explanation of 
the receptaculites has now been found, and it is one 
which seems to me more interesting than any of 
the hypotheses hitherto put forward. Apparently 
the real truth has never even been suspected, 
because, in the absence of clear evidence, it would 
have seemed too improbable to have been thought of. 


(P. 4232, N.H.M.) x <;. 

Receptaculites and kindred objects are typically 
spheroidal or pear-shaped bodies from one to several 
inches in diameter or length, with a facetted or 
geometrically-patterned surface. They have the 
appearance of being hollow bodies filled in with the 
matrix of the surrounding rock. Prof. Rauff regards 
cup-, dish- or plate-shaped forms as imperfect 
examples of completely spheroidal ones. A fracture 
or section shows the wall of the sphere to be built 


Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

up of curiously shaped " elements " or blocks fitted 
against each other with their long axis radial. 

Each " element " typically has six parts, viz. (i) 
an outer diamond-shaped facet, beneath which lie 
(2-5) four tangential arms, and (6) a fifth long radial 
arm or column projecting inwards and expanding 
into a foot, which along with other " feet " helps to 
form the inner surface of the wall of the hollow 


Near Gerolstein. Author's collection. 

sphere. Between the radials or columns there are 
"spaces." One ot the four tangential arms is fused 
to the facet. The radial arm is hollow. There is 
an under and an upper pole marked by areas of 
peculiar facets. Receptaculites are found in ancient 
rocks from Lower Silurian to Carboniferous. Rauff 
showed that their original composition was calcareous, 
though some may have become silicified subsequently. 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 255 

Receptaculites have been regarded as fossilized 
fir-cones ; corals ; Crinoids ; Foraminifera ; calcareous 
algae (Siphoneae verticillatae) related to the 
Dactyloporidae, or to such Dasycladaceae as Borne- 
tella ; primitive types of Sponges ; gemmules of 
Fresh -water Sponges; peculiar Hexactinellid 
Sponges ; Tunicata. 

Prof. RaufT himself concludes as follows (I.e. p. 
717) : " For the moment we must be content with 
an * Ignoramus,' and can only say that the Receptacii- 
litidae form a peculiar family which after their death 
failed to leave behind any similarly organized repre- 
sentatives either in the ancient or modern world." 

FIG. 39. R. NEPTUNI x 3*5. 

Author's collection. See photo from this, Plate II. E 22, and Fig. 40. 

The results of my own research can be summed 
up in a few words. 

I find receptaculites to be lithomorphs for the 
moment they may be called pseudomorphs. They 
are forms of limestone which have become differ- 
entiated out of the matrix in which they are 
embedded, by the action of chemical and physical 
forces. How can this be known ? By the simple 
fact that the limestone of which these bodies are 
composed is nummulitic limestone, which may 
occasionally be silicified. The patterns, the spaces 

256 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

and the interior of the globular bodies are all com- 
posed solely of nummulitic material which can be 
made out when very carefully examined in thin 
slices (Fig. 40, and photo PL II. E 22), or even in 
the mass with a hand-lens. 

How can the peculiar shape and structure of 
receptaculites be accounted for ? 



Transverse section of nummulite X 250 ; from section shown in Fig. 39. 

Just as a comparison of living organisms with 
each other helps us to arrive at a knowledge of their 
mutual relationships and of the manner in which 
they have evolved, so with lithomorphs. 

In lithomorphs there appear to be two dominant 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 257 

types of pattern, viz., concentric and radial. In the 
various stages of development of certain litho- 
morphs the "evolution" of which is known, the 
pattern may be predominantly radial at one stage, 
and predominantly concentric at another ; and, 
further, both types may be present at the same 
time in one and the same specimen. 

Mr. G. Abbott after a twelve years' search found 
certain mince-pie-shaped or biconvex concretions in 
situ in the rocks at Fulwell. He found that these 
bodies were formed in the first stage of pillars 
radiating from some excentric point to the surface. 
In the second stage the pillars became regularly 
and serially nodular, in the third the nodules joined 
laterally to form concentric bands with spaces still 
between, and lastly the spaces were filled up, and 
a solid mass with a finely concentric structure 
resulted. Sometimes concretions exhibited partly 
the radial, partly the concentric type. This inte- 
resting discovery teaches us there may be an 
" evolution " in the formation of lithomorphs. 

Another discovery made by Mr. Abbott was. 
that of the fusion of the pillars of pillared forms in 
such a way as to form tubes. 

Turning now to the concretions of the palaeozoic 
rocks older than the Permian, we find a much more 
finished type of " art." Were it not for the fact 
that Coelosphaeridium^ Cyclocrinus and Receptaculites 
resembled the Permian concretions in being wholly 
composed of nummulitic limestone, we could never 
have suspected that these bodies have evolved from 
lithomorphs with simple radial and concentric 

258 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

patterns. I must refer once more to one or 
two details mentioned under Cyclocrinus. In the 
spherical Coelosphaeridium the radial pillars are 
always present, and the spaces between the pillars 
expand gradually up to the surface of the sphere. 
In Cyclocrimts the radial pillars are frequently 
absent and there remains only a thin surface zone 
of cup-like patterns, each " cup " having a " lid " 
often of marvellous design and, still more strange, 
apparently a " pore " in the floor. In some examples 
of Cyclocrinus, however, the radial pattern exists, 
or rather I will venture to say, persists. The space 
between the radial pillars is linear or thread-like and 
of uniform diameter, till it arrives at the floor of the 
" cup " into the cavity of which it suddenly expands. 

Coming to the " Receptaculitidae," in the Re- 
ceptacnlites-\.ypz of receptaculite the supposed in- 
filling matrix in the assumed hollow interior is 
simply a part of the lithomorph without visible 

The " wall " is a peripheral zone which has 
retained some of the radial and concentric structure 
as in certain examples of Cyclocrinus. 

In the Polygonosphaerites-\y^ of receptaculite 
the radial element is wanting. In the Ischadites 
type the wall is very thick and the central " cavity" 
relatively small. The centre whence the radial 
pillars radiate in receptaculites and kindred bodies 
is usually excentric. 

Frequently these ancient lithomorphs are stalked. 
The continuation of the homogeneous stalk struc- 
ture into the interior point whence radii originate, 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 259 

may be compared with a variety of " phragmacone " 
in Parkeria (Fig. 35 ?'). 

G. Abbott finds the surface of the biconvex 
Permian concretions rough and tuberculated in the 
first stage. A Permian body exhibited in the 
Natural History Museum has a facetted surface, 
but somewhat irregular, it is true. 

It must be remembered that in the first instance 
there are no " spaces " in a lithomorph, but simply 
a solid lump of rock with a pattern. Later, cavities 
may arise by solution and removal of more soluble 

The Permian lithomorphs are to the Silurian 
as the works of art of the craftsman period are to 
those of the great period of any school of art. 

The "evolution" of complex inorganic structures 
such as Cyclocrinus suggests a comparison with 
processes of organic evolution. A homogeneous 
lump of limestone undergoes a change into a 
mass of excentrically radiate pillars crowded to- 
gether. The central and peripheral parts become 
differentiated. The peripheral parts undergo 
further differentiation both radially and concen- 
trically, and the outer concentric plates themselves 
develop radial patterns, knobs, etc., each variation 
as it arises becoming a starting point for further 
variations, just as in organic life. 


In the most ancient palaeozoic limestones, viz. 
the Cambrian, remarkable cup- or vase-shaped 
objects of an unknown nature are found. Like 

S 2 

260 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

the Cambrian limestones themselves they are prac- 
tically of world-wide distribution. 

Billings in 1861 was the first to describe one of 
these forms which he named Archaeocyathus. 

In 1910 Dr. J. Griffith Taylor* published a 
beautiful memoir illustrated with ninety-four collo- 
type and fifty text figures, in which reference is 
made to no less than eighty species of these 
"fossils." Dr. Taylor's material came from a for- 
mation extending 400 miles north and south in the 
Adelaide district, the fossiliferous strata being 
about 800 feet thick. The formation has been 
compared with a great barrier reef. Dr. Taylor 
records the singular fact that with very rare 
exceptions there were no other fossils than 

The interval between the inner and outer 
surface of the typically stalked cup is divided by- 
vertical radial septa and horizontal tabulae into 
cubical spaces. Sometimes the inner and outer 
wall, and the septa and tabulae are all perforated 
by pores. 

Archaeocyathids have been regarded as Cal- 
careous Sponges, Hexactinellid Sponges, a new 
class of Sponges near Calcarea (Dr. Taylor), Corals 
of various kinds, and as Calcareous Algae. The 
porous inner walls and certain other structures 
recall Sycon sponges. The radial septa on the 

* 'The Archaeocyathinae of the Cambrian of South Australia.' 
Mem. Roy. Soc. South Australia, vol. ii., 1910. 

\ One recalls Carpenter's description of tertiary nummuKtic 
limestones composed of " little else than Nummulites." 

Certain Other Lithonwrphs. 261 

other hand, suggest coral structure, Dr. Bornemann, 
who seemed to incline to the coral theory, thought 
the pores might be for the emission of whip-like 

I had the good fortune to have access to some 
of Dr. Taylor's South Australian material. A 
section of a typical mass of Archaeocyathid lime- 
stone, including outer and inner walls and septa of 
Archaeocyathids, showed the material to be num- 
mulitic throughout, the supposed fossils being 
merely concretionary or lithomorphic patterns in 
the common mass. Along with considerable 
differences, there are certain resemblances between 
Silurian Receptaculitid and Cambrian Archaeo- 
cyathid lithomorphs. The perforations might be 
compared with the patterns of circles on the cuplids 
of certain " species " of Cyclocrinus (Fig. 35 e)\* 
for along with differentiation in pattern there is 
often difference in degree of solubility, so that 
circles might easily become pores. 


In a report on the results of the Second Yarkand 
Mission (1879), Prof. M. Duncan described certain 
large oval or spherical stone balls collected from 
Tertiary limestones in the Karakoram Mountains. 
The balls are an inch or two in diameter and often 
have a nodulated surface. On section they reveal 
a radiating pipe-like pattern. 

* Dr. Stolley, 'Archiv. Anthrop. Geol. Schleswig-Holstein,' 
i. pp. 196-7, figs. 14-16. 1896. 

262 Sea- Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

At first they were regarded as Crinoids, corals, 
or Foraminifera. Prof. M. Duncan placed them 
in " a new order of Rhizopoda called the Syringo- 
sphaeridae" I have examined specimens and 
sections of those objects and find them to be con- 
cretionary lumps of nummulitic limestone. The 
lithomorphic pattern is radial- 4 ' tubular," although 
there are no hollow tubes. Certain other forms 
apparently allied Syringosphaeridae are Ellips- 
actinia Steinmann, Sphaeractinia Steinm., and 
Heterastridium Reuss., but I have not seen sections 
under the microscope and am not certain. 


In 1878 Dybowski * established a genus Soleno- 
pora for certain small spheroidal fossils about a 
cubic inch in size occurring in the Silurian of the 
East Baltic. Sections showed the lumps to be 
formed of extremely fine apparently parallel-tubular 
structures. Dybowski believed the tubes contained 
polyps, and that the fossils were corals. Nicholson j* 
found similar fossils in the Ordovician limestone at 
Craighead, Ayrshire, and regarded Solenopora as a 
Hydrozoan. Soon Dybowski's coral theory became 
discredited, for seemingly 150 polyps would have 
only a square millimetre of area in which to perform 
their evolutions. A much more plausible theory 
was adopted to the effect that the fossil was a 

"" ' Die Chaetetiden ostbaltischen Silur-Formation,' pi. ii. 
fig. ii a, b. 

t 'Geol. Mag.' (3), vol. ii. p. 529, 1885, and vol. v. p. 19, 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 


calcareous alga related to Lithothamnion. In 1894 
Dr. A. Brown * wrote a paper on the structure and 
affinities of Solenopora. His plate giving figures of 
sections of Lithothamnion and Solenopora certainly 
reveals striking superficial resemblances. 

Dr. Rothpletz f also has put the genus among 
the Coralline algae. 

My own observations are based on sections of 


yffi.Jfo , >' - 


FIG. 41. SOLENOPORA COMPACTA x 10. From Ordovician 

limestone, Craighead (R. 475, N.H.M.). 

Nummulitic pattern faintly visible over whole field beneath 

dominant patterns. 

Solenopora compacta, Billings, from the Ordovician 
limestone of Craighead, Ayrshire. At first sight 
nothing could seem more reasonable than the 
coralline-alga theory. I have seen a thick bed of 

* ' Geol. Mag.' (iv.), vol. i. p. 145. 1894. 

t 'Kalkalgen Obersilur Gottlands,' p. 7. 1913. 

264 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

corallines of Miocene age in the islet of Cima near 
Porto Santo, with the algal structure very well 
preserved ; and many species of Tertiary and 
Cretaceous Lithothamnions are known. The 
" cells " of Solenopora though extremely large in 
comparison with those of known coralline algae yet 
might pass for a large variety of such cells. 

When I came to examine sections of the Ayrshire 
Solenopora critically and with extreme care, I not 
only found nummulitic structure throughout, but 
saw that the supposed cells could not possibly be of 
the nature of algal cells. For as Dybowski pointed 
out, the longitudinal outlines are very distinctly 
wavy. Further, under high powers it will be found 
that there is no structure in these outlines qua 
outlines ; they are simply dark zones, and nummu- 
litic disk structures may be partly in the dark 
zone and partly in the adjoining more transparent 
areas. The supposed ends of the algal cells 
(" tabulae " on the coral theory) are not infrequently 
arranged in fine concentric zones, though often the 
fine lines appear to be broken up into bars, each bar 
being confined to a separate tube. Accordingly in 
some places there is a network pattern of longi- 
tudinal and transverse lines, the former being by far 
the more predominant (compare Fig. 28 of Clathro- 
dictyon). I am convinced that the Craighead 
Solenopora is a lithomorph. 

As for the many other species, also H. Yabe's* 
new Japanese genus Metasolenopora, I think it 
probable, judging from the photographs (vide 

* 'Science Reports, Tohuku Imp. Univ.,' ser. 2, Bd. i. 1912. 

Certain Other LitJiomorphs. 265 

memoirs by Rothpletz and Yabe), that these forms 
also are lithomorphs. 

The lithomorph pattern is so strong and the 
nummulitic structure so faint that much patience is 
needed for the detection of the latter. I am fairly 
certain I can make out nummulitic details both in 
the lower and upper half of Dr. Rothpletz' photo of 
Solenopora gotlandica (PL I. Fig. 3, I.e.). Fig. 2 
when examined with a lens x 10 shows disk- 
structures and a curious pattern of fine closely- 
set transverse lines other than the main zonal 

In some of the sections of Girvan limestone 
perhaps two genera of ''calcareous algae" and also 
stromatoporoid patterns may be found in a very 
small area (e.g. Girvanella, Solenopora, and 
Beatricea, or Labechia-like vesicular pattern). In 
such a section there is nothing but a common basis 
of nummulitic limestone in which is woven a 
wonderful variety of osmotic patterns. 


Dr. E. Stolley * describes certain funnel- or club- 
shaped calcareous bodies of Silurian age, varying 
from 2 to 14 mm. in length, found by him in the 
diluvium of East Holstein. The objects may be 
hollow, with a pore below and a depression at the 
upper end, and with a facetted surface. He regards 

* E. Stolley, * Ueber silurische Siphoneen,' Neues Jahrb., 1893, 
, P- 135- 

266 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

them as calcareous algae related to Bornetella 
(Siphoneae Verticillatae). 

Thanks to the courtesy of Dr. Stolley I have 
some authentic pieces of limestone rich in these 
objects. In my sections I can find nothing else 
than nummulitic structure throughout, both in clear 
and opaque areas. I am led, then, to regard these 
curious objects and markings as purely concretionary. 
Among this group I would place the Silurian 
Rhabdoporella ; and also Ortonella described by Prof. 
Garwood from carboniferous limestone. I have not 
seen examples of these two forms. 


This form was first described from the Car- 
boniferous marly limestone at Mitcheldean by E. 
Wethered, who writes (Geol. Mag. 1886, p. 535) : 
"The organism consists of a series of concentrically 
arranged layers or laminae penetrated by systems 
of tubuli . . . The tubuli are separated by the 
skeleton fibre, which is itself penetrated by a 
minute canal system." Mr. Wethered refers the 
genus to Stromatoporoids ; and records the opinions 
of experts who pointed out to him the resemblances 
to Parkeria and Girvanella. 

I collected specimens of marly limestone from 
the quarry at Mitcheldean whence Mr. Wethered 
got his material, and have examined a microscopic 
slide of Mitcheldeania nicholsoni Wethered, pre- 
sented by Mr. Wethered himself. 

The limestone shale is mainly nummulitic, and 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 267 

Mitcheldeania is a lithomorphic pattern comparable 
with that of Girvanella and Syringosphaeria. 

Mitcheldeania gregaria Nicholson (Geol. Mag. 
1888, p. 17), from Carboniferous limestone at 
Kershope Foot, Roxburgh, is likewise nummulitic, 
as is evident from samples which I obtained from 
the locality. 

See also some interesting notes on Mitchel- 
deania by Prof. Garwood, who regards this form as 
a calcareous alga (Geol. Mag. 1913, p. 546). 


The study of a photograph published by Ch. 
Barrois,* of Oldhamia from the Pyrenees, leads me 
to believe that the structure therein depicted is 
nummulitic. The furrowed and banded marginal 
cords and fan-like banded septa astride of them 
would, when compressed, tend to form serial fan- 
like ribbed structures. 

I firmly believe that the above suggestions will 
furnish the true explanation of the Oldhamia figured 
by Barrois, and probably of all other Oldhamias. 
Sollas showed that these structures in the hardened 
Cambrian mud were definite and solid, and not mere 

* Ch. Barrois, ' Note sur 1'existence du Genre Oldhamia 
dans les Pyrenees.' Annal. Soc. Geol. Nord, xv. p. 154. 
1888. An account of the various theories concerning this form, 
and also many references to literature, are given. 

268 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 


In 1880 Nicholson and Etheridge* discovered 
in the ancient limestones of Girvan in Ayrshire 
curious little irregular brown or grey calcareous 
patches about 2 mm. in diameter, and with a very 
remarkable structure. Sections examined under 
the microscope revealed a dense labyrinthine mass 
of coiled solid "tubes," each about "04 mm. (-0016 
inch) in diameter. (Photo, PI. I. Figs. 4, 5.) 

Brady believed these bodies were allied to the 
sandy Foraminiferan Hyperammina vagans which 
consists of a plexus of coiled tubules. Nicholson 
partly adopted this view, but thought it well to place 
the fossils in a new genus and species, Girvanella 
problematica. Girvanella has since been found 
in many palaeozoic and mesozoic limestones, and 
Rhumbler places even certain living Foraminifera in 
the genus. In certain Silurian strata in the Baltic 
region, thick layers of limestones are mainly com- 
posed of masses or ''knolls" of Girvanella each 
perhaps several centimetres in diameter. 

Many and varied opinions have been published 
in the now considerable literature on this subject. 
Girvanella has been regarded as Foraminiferan, 
as masses of worm tubes, as a Blue-Green Alga, 
as a Sponge, Hydrozoan (Stromatoporoid), as a 
calcareous alga related to the Codiaceae. At the 
present time, opinion is divided between the 
calcareous-algal and the Foraminiferal theories. 

* 'Silurian Fossils of Girvan,' i. 1878-80. 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 


Owing to the kindness of Prof. A. W. Gibb 
of the University of Aberdeen, I had the good 
fortune to obtain some of Dr. Nicholson's own 
Girvan material, from which I was allowed to cut 
sections. These show abundance of " Girvanella 

Girvanella is beyond any shadow of doubt a 




From Nicholson's Girvan material. A, Two marginal cords, also 
a pillar, X 260. B, disk structure from same section, X 65. 

pattern in nummulitic limestone. With careful 
observation it is possible to detect the nummulitic 
structure beneath and in the pattern and continuing 
into the surrounding clear part of the limestone. 
One feature can soon be made out under a power 
of about 400 diameters, viz., a finely punctate 
appearance due to the disk-structure, each dark 
point being surrounded by a circle. The successive 

270 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

"disks," furrowed marginal cord, septa, alar pro- 
longations, etc., all require great patience for their 
detection, but they exist. 

The sets of parallel curved tubes or bands 
common in Girvanella are formed by curved, fur- 
rowed and banded marginal cord. The rows of 
little circles (mistaken by some observers for cells 
of blue-green algae) belong to bases of septa astride 
of the cord, or to the ends of fan-like septa. 
Accordingly, although Girvanella is a concretionary 
structure, the pattern is not quite in the same 
category as those radio-concentric ones that are 
independent of nummulitic structure, e.g. Parkeria, 
simple oolite granules (without Girvanella pat- 
tern), etc. 

Girvanella, then, is a pattern in chiaroscuro 
mainly oscuro. The nummulitic structure gives rise 
to that pattern, and I doubt whether Girvanella 
could form in any other limestone than a num- 
mulitic one. 

Spaerocodium Rothpletz is very probably a litho- 
morph akin to Girvanella. The " schlauchformige 
zellen " and supposed " Sporangia " must, I believe, 
be interpreted in a sense otherwise than that implied 
by these designations. In Dr. Rothpletz' photo of 
S. gotlandiciim (PL IV. Fig. i, Kalkalg Gottlands) 
I am fairly certain I can detect the underlying 
nummulitic structure. 

In oolite grains there may be successive zones of 
ordinary oolitic pattern and of Girvanella structure. 
Wethered figures a pisolite grain with Girvanella 
surrounding a Crinoid joint. 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 271 


Dr. G. Gtirich, having discovered a Stromato- 
poroid in the Carboniferous limestones near Cracow, 
resolved to study Carboniferous Stromatoporas of 
other localities, and especially those of Belgium. 

He investigated at the Brussels Museum the 
magnificent series of large thin plaques of the 
Belgian rocks. 

In the thin sections of the Carboniferous lime- 
stones of the Viseen of the province of Namur he 
observed certain obscurely defined masses with 
granular, nodular or vesicular structure, which he 
regarded as incrusting organisms. On account of 
the stratified and spongy reticular structure of 
certain typical forms, he called them Spongio- 
stromids, and placed the group in a new order of 
Protozoa. His memoir* is illustrated with nume- 
rous large photographs on 22 double quarto plates. 

In 1913 Dr. Rothpletzf described a Spongio- 
stromid from the Silurian of Gottland, and expresses 
the belief that these organisms are Hydrozoa. 

In the summer of 1913 I visited the Brussels 
Museum and examined the types of Spongiostromids 
described by Dr. Gtirich . I found in every instance 
that they were concretionary masses of nummulitic 
limestone, slightly differentiated out from the 

* 'Mem. Musee Roy. Hist. Nat. Belgique,' 1906. 
t Swedish Geol. Survey, 1913. ' Ueber die Kalkalgen, 
Spongiostromen . . . Obersilur Gottlands,' Prof. A. Rothpletz. 

272 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

surrounding matrix as is commonly the case in 

The collotype photographs, though excellent for 
the purpose of showing stratified vesicular and other 
structure, do not rev.eal clearly the nummulitic 
structure. At the same time, I myself from very 
careful study of these photographs and from much 
general experience in the matter of nummulites, can 
make out parts of large shells in horizontal transverse 
and oblique aspects and also marginal cord and 
disk structure in most of the plates. The latter will 
bear being looked at with a lens x 4. Careful note 
must be taken of the three degrees of magnification 
of the photos, viz. o, 5, and 20. 

The " stercomes," dark oval bodies, which Dr. 
Gtirich regarded as excrementitious pellets of the 
supposed Rhizopod, are merely peculiar mineraliza- 
tions. The occasional regular arrangement appears 
to me to depend partly on the construction of 
nummulites with their layers of spiral lamina and 
coils of marginal cord. I think the serial arrange- 
ment of mineral patches in certain silicated nummu- 
litic deposits (e.g. hornblende in Dresden syenite) 
may be due partly and remotely to the nummulitic 
character of the rock, even though other causes 
have been at work. 


Mr. G. Abbott points out that Atikokania, 
described by Dr. C. W. Walcott as a fossil possibly 
related to Sponges, is probably a concretion similar 

Certain Other Lithomorphs. 273 

to some of the Fulwell forms with radial pattern. 
The discovery of general nummulitic structure 
would confirm Mr. Abbott's supposition. 

The same test might be applied to certain other 
dubious Precambrian forms such as Cryptozoon. 


Dr. D. Ellis * has published a very interesting 
account of certain appearances he has found in 
Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks, and which he 
interprets as being due to fossil micro-fungi. I 
have examined the two plates of photographs 
accompanying the memoir, and I would suggest 
that another interpretation is possible and indeed 
probable. Dr. Glirich describes stercomes in the 
Carboniferous limestones, and Dr. Hahn algal 
sporangia in Eozoon. The latter objects I know 
to be disk structures. 

The dark lines, bands, and ampulla-like objects 
shown in Dr. Ellis's photographs I take to be 
mineral markings in nummulitic structures. 

Dr. Ellis (I.e. p. 114) describes the limestone 
(Froclingham ore) in which he found the supposed 
micro-organisms as a rock formed of oolitic grains 
and of non-oolitic fragments of irregular shape, 
both structures being embedded in calcite. He 
states that the non-oolitic fragments were of an animal 
nature, and represented the last stage of decom- 

" * Fossil Micro-organisms from the Jurassic and Cretaceous 
Rocks of Great Britain.' Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, xxxv. 
parts i. and ii. p. no, 2 plates. 1915. 


274 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

position of a comparatively large animal. The 
photograph on PL I. Fig. i appears to me to show 
traces of marginal cord and nummulitic disks. In 
Fig. 2, also, I can see faintly defined bands, which 
are probably alar prolongations. I suggest, then, 
that the irregular fragments embedded in calcite 
are not decomposed parts of an animal, but simply 
nummulitic limestone and that the supposed fossil 
micro-organisms are appearances due to mineraliza- 
tions of various kinds. 

Summary. Limestones are peculiarly liable to 
concretionary changes due to deposition of car- 
bonate of lime from solution. The concretions 
often have a definite shape and a concentric and 
radial structure and pattern. The term lithomorph 
is suggested for objects of this kind. Many of 
the lithomorphs found in limestones of all ages 
from Tertiary to Precambrian, have such won- 
derful and highly differentiated patterns, that they 
have been mistaken for the skeletal remains of 
animals and plants, and it is not surprising that 
numerous and varied interpretations have been 
made concerning them. The clue that led to the 
discovery of the truth was the fact that most of 
the limestones are mainly nummulitic, that the litho- 
morphic patterns have arisen in this common matrix, 
and that with due patience and care the nummulitic 
structure can be traced throughout the outlines of 
the patterns and the matrix. 

Summary. 275 


Vast deposits of nummulites extending across 
the old world from N.W. Africa to Japan, and 
thousands of feet thick in places, were formed 
during the Eocene period, i.e., in relatively recent 
times geologically speaking. This epoch has 
been termed "The Nummulitic Epoch," and 
d'Archiac refers to it as the " nummulitic enigma" 
owing to the seemingly sudden apparition of these 
enormous deposits and to their equally sudden 

There is, however, no enigma so far as pre- 
decessors to the Eocene deposits are concerned, 
for the Chalk ocean was nummulitic, and also seas 
and oceans throughout the Mesozoic, Palaeozoic 
and Archaeozoic Eras, the last provisionally 
including the igneous rocks. In the text an 
attempt is made to account for the dying out of 
nummulites about the middle of the present era. 

The marine limestones are benthoplankton de- 
posits. They contain a varying amount of silica, 
magnesium, etc., derived from the sea by deposition 
or through the agency of life. Silica is separated 
either directly from the sea, or according to Sir J. 
Murray from silicate of alumina in the sea, by 
Diatoms, Radiolaria and Sponges. In the earliest 
period the universally distributed silica of the 

t igneous rocks was probably derived in part from 
universally distributed simple plankton organisms. 
Dissolved silica has become diffused through 
T 2 

276 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

the deposits of nummulites, etc., and has silicified 
them to form flint, chert, malmstone, phthanites. 
IT, In the most ancient nummulitic deposits, the 
action of heat has caused the silica to enter into 
combination with aluminium, magnesium, calcium, 
iron, sodium and potassium to form silicates. These 
crystalline masses of silicates are known as igneous 
rocks. The nummulitic structure is to be seen 
without difficulty by the trained observer. 

The heating of the oldest silicated deposits of 
shells has been attributed to contraction of the 
earth (due to cooling in cold space), followed by 
folding and crumpling of the crust in the course of 
adjustment to the shrinking nucleus. According 
to another theory the heat existing in the deeper 
parts of the earth's crust and continuously and 
everywhere passing through to the surface is 
derived from radio-active sources. Uranium and 
thorium and their derivatives exist in the sea, and 
fairly abundantly in the deposits (the earth's crust) 
derived from the sea. The radio-active energy 
ultimately becomes manifested as heat. It has 
been pointed out that, although the amounts of 
uranium, etc., are relatively small, the materials 
are universally disseminated and have been 
continuously active for incalculable periods of time. 

The softened or melted rocks become squeezed 
up through the overlying crust in which they form 
dykes and sills ; or the material may pour out or 
burst out through the surface and form lava flows 
and conical heaps. If the force of eruption is very 
great, lumps and dust may burst through the 

Summary. 277 

atmosphere and escape terrestrial control. Such 
material in the course of its new orbit will cross 
from time to time the earth's orbit. If the earth 
happens to be there at the same moment, the 
fragments and particles travelling with terrific 
velocity will plunge into our aerial ocean and be 
seen as shooting stars and meteorites. I have 
found nummulitic structure in all the meteorites I 
have examined in the British Museum. 

Emerged areas of ocean floor and also deep- 
seated crystalline silicated nummulitic deposits 
exposed by denudation or extrusion become ground 
down by meteorological agencies into fragments 
and particles to form sedimentary rocks. Num- 
mulitic structure is commonly visible even in the 
smallest particles. 

* * * * 

The new facts that have come to light lead to 
the inference that life originated at the sunlit 
surface of the ocean, because independent life came 
first and the sun is the initial quickener of that 
most abundant form of independent life, the holo- 
phytic or plant form ; and, further, they point to 
the probable existence of a former universal ocean. 
For aeons life has been extracting solid material 
(the known crust of the earth) from the ocean and 
depositing it on the ocean floor. Therefore the 
ocean must once have been considerably deeper. 
Seeing the relatively small bulk and area of the 
present emerged part of the ever-undulating ocean 

278 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

floor, it is probable that during the earliest phases 
the whole floor was submerged. The fact of 
silicated benthoplankton being universal from pole 
to pole,* favours the theory of a universal plankton 
origin of life rather than a local benthos one 
restricted to regions fringing upheaved areas. 

Possibly that manifestation of the infinite and 
eternal energy known as life arose concomitantly 
with the formation of plankton colloidal particles 
containing a substance sensitive to sunlight, and 
capable of " assimilating " carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, 
silica, etc., from inorganic material. In time a 
primitive plankton flora would arise, and also a 
rhizopodal (amoebula) benthos fauna f by vertical 
migration to depths in which photosynthesis would 
cease and be replaced by the animal mode of 


# * * # 

The earth is an ocean planet, and its crust is a 
deposit mainly derived from the ocean through the 
agency of life. Leaving aside considerations of 
systematic biology, it may be said that the volume j 
of the earth's crust has been woven by two films of 
protoplasm ever renewed a plankton film and a 

* Igneous rocks exist not far from both poles. 

\ There may be phylogenetic significance in nummulites 
having a flagellula and an amoebula phase, a free-swimming and 
a creeping phase ; further, the tempting antithesis " ancestral 
plankton and benthos" suggests itself. W. K. Brooks points 
out that most of the modern plankton had a benthos ancestry, 
but apparently this benthos fauna had plankton ancestors which 
" discovered the bottom." 

f Calcium carbonate of the benthos scaffolding of nummu- 
lites has been replaced by Si. Al. Mg. K. Na. Fe. molecules 
partly with and partly without an organic history. 

Summary. 279 

benthos film, the scaffolding of benthos shells being 
the warp and the plankton-derived silica the woof. 

So far as concerns the proof of the nummulo- 
sphere theory it is a question of the recognition 
partly with the aid of the microscope of num- 
mulitic structure in pre-Eocene limestones, igneous 
rocks and sedimentary particles. To recognize this 
structure in pre-Eocene rocks, it is desirable to be 
familiar with its appearance in Eocene rocks. In 
the latter, even the experts have not detected 
certain important structures, viz. the spiral disks. 
The individual shells in masses of nummulites 
tend to lose their outlines, and, owing to the 
porous structure, easily to become soaked and 
mineralized. Accordingly the nummulites older than 
the Eocene have hitherto escaped detection. Train- 
ing of the sense of sight will reveal their existence. 

* * * * 

Nummulites as viewed in thick sections of 
transparent crystalline rock will be seen under an 
unfamiliar aspect not figured in text-books, which 
usually depict the many-chambered spirally coiled 
median (splitting) plane and the willow patterns. 
In the crystalline rocks the more or less obliterated 
shells will appear in any aspect or section as com- 
plicated many-layered objects. For many months I 
wandered about in these ruined labyrinths without 
understanding the plan, which is now fairly clear 
to me. Portions of furrowed and banded marginal 
cord with bases of septa across furnish perhaps 

280 Sea-Floors or Bent hop lankton. 

the best clue to orientation, for portions of cord 
concentric to the first will probably be traceable. 
With these clues even a beginner may hope to 
find his way about without much difficulty. 
Let a diagram of a shell an inch in diameter and 
lying flat be roughly sketched under a magnification 
of five diameters. Make a spiral of a few coils in 
the area of 25 square inches, the coil-outline being- 
drawn (over a small segment) with five or six 
parallel lines (furrowed and banded marginal cord). 
Draw a narrow radial band or loop from centre to 
first innermost coil, then one to the second and so 
on to the last, each being nearly over and embracing 
the preceding one. In the actual shell there would 
be radial series all " round the clock." Some idea 
will be gained of the complicated nature of a trans- 
parent many-layered shell with concentric and 
radial pattern. Then, too, there are the furrowed 
marginal cord and the coiled disk structures. High 
powers reveal ever smaller disk structure. A shell 
an inch across magnified 2,500 diameters would 
cover 3,858 square yards. 

I have examined igneous rocks from many parts 
of the world and from all horizons and have never 
failed to detect nummulitic structure, and can now 
do so with ease and certainty in most cases. 
* * * * 

During the last three years I have studied 
nummulites of Eocene formations, and have made 
some tens of thousands of careful observations on 
nummulitic structure in rocks other than Eocene. 

The opinions of those who have never seen 



either a nummulite shell or sections of one under a 
microscope will not be of value concerning the struc- 
ture of nummulites. 

When I look back on the distance I have 
travelled, continually losing my way at first and 
being deceived by false appearances, I realize the 
necessity of warning future travellers of the need 
for patient observation. 

"So might I 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea." 

* "Proteus geron halios nemertes" "Proteus, the ancient 
one of the sea, whose testimony is true," or " Old sea-tell-truth." 


NOTE A. Wernerian perversity (p. 12). 

" I heard the Professor, in a field-lecture at Salisbury 
Crags, discoursing on a trap dyke, with amygdaloid margins 
and the strata indurated on each side, with volcanic rocks 
all around us, say that it was a fissure filled with sediment 
from above, adding with a sneer that there were men who 
maintained that it had been injected from beneath in a 
molten condition. When I think of this lecture, I do not 
wonder that I determined never to attend to geology." 
* Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,' vol. I. chapter II. 
"Autobiography," p. 41. 1887. 

Seeing that Werner did not bring forward a particle of 
evidence in support of his theory of the aqueous origin of 
granite and basalt, the ultimate rejection of that theory by 
the scientific world is not a matter for surprise. Not only 
was Werner ignorant of the organic basis of these rocks, 
but also of the fact that they were once in a semi-molten or 
molten condition. 

NOTE B. Potstones (p. 66). 

Potstones are common round Norwich, and are often 
seen in the village gardens. The classical quarry at 
Horstead, figured in Lyell's ' Elements/ is quite grown 
over, but good examples are to be found elsewhere, 
notably at Whittingham. These curious objects have 
been taken for gigantic sponges. One theorist thought 
they were due to lightning forming tubes of fused sand ! 
The theory which attributes their formation to sagging- 
down of the heavy silica into soft areas and hollows in the 
chalk, seems a reasonable one. In the thick tabular 
masses of flint the upper surface is usually more or less 

Appendix. 283 

flat and smooth, and the lower provided with great bosses. 
A potstone is a still more gravitating mass. Where 
vertical pipes are formed, the horizontal tabular layers 
are further apart, as if the vertical masses had drained off 
the material. 

In one quarry near Norwich I dissected out a slender 
green glauconite pencil-thick axis or core through two pot- 
stones and a portion of a third through 4 feet 1 1 inches 
in all, till I came to a solid floor of flint and a layer of 
water. Many of the green grains are casts of Foramini- 
fera. Mr. Leney, the curator of the Norwich Museum, 
showed me a potstone with a lateral branch of glauconite 
running from the central axis to a hole in the side of the 
potstone. Possibly the core results from a surface-layer 
of shells and clay sediment being carried down in the 
vortex of the sinking funnel. These surface-shells would, 
perhaps, still contain animal matter which is supposed to 
set up the changes resulting in the formation of glauconite. 
At the same time, a difficulty about this view is that the 
core is continuous even when there is an interval between 
the stones, which latter might be compared to huge cylin- 
drical beads on a thread of glauconite. 

NOTE C. The Dolomites of South Tyrol (p. 70). 

The dolomite mountains of South Tyrol are among the 
grandest limestone formations on the globe. Huge pillars 
or cimas, slender campaniles and long curved walls rise 
sheer for thousands of feet. These remarkable Triassic 
rocks have been the subject of much controversy, and a 
general agreement as to their real nature and mode of 
formation has not yet been arrived at. In 1860 Richthofen 
advocated the view that the " Schlern " dolomite the 
crystalline unstratified rock which forms the bulk of many 
of the dolomites could be accounted for on Darwin's 
coral-atoll theory, the almost total absence of coral being 
attributed to its obliteration by dolomitization. 

D. Stur (1868, 1871), on the other hand, concluded 
that Schlern dolomite was merely part of a great series of 
sedimentary limestones, tuffs and clays, and that it had no 
definite horizon. " There are some localities where the 

284 Appendix. 

whole of the sedimentary strata are represented by dolo- 
mite, and other areas where the dolomite appears first in 
the upper horizons and rests on the lower sedimentary 

Giimbel (1873), who rejected what he terms "the very 
convenient reef theory," regarded Schlern dolomite as 
occupying a distinct horizon characterized by the presence 
of a calcareous alga Diplopora anmilata Schafhautl, another 
species D. pauciforata Giimbel being found in the older 
Mendola dolomite. He considered the isolated massifs 
to be parts of a once continuous formation broken up by 
volcanic upheavals, followed by ages of denudation. 

He (and Lepsius in 1878) explained the great variation 
in thickness within small areas as being due to inequalities 
resulting from upheavals and heaping up of volcanic 

Mojsisovics in his great work * Die Dolomit-Riffe von 
Siid-Tirol und Venetian, 1 1879, supported the coral-reef 

Suess (1888) asserts "that the expression 'reef is 
justifiable, can scarcely be doubted." 

Mrs. Ogilvie Gordon (1893-5), who wrote a brilliant 
series of stratigraphical papers on the Triassic rocks of 
South Tyrol, regarded the Schlern dolomite as an ordinary 
marine deposit and not as coral-reefs. She showed that 
frequently the dolomite masses along with their accom- 
panying sedimentary strata had been twisted round and 
shifted by crust movements in Tertiary times. 

E. W. Skeats (1905) believed in the reef theory on 
account of the chemical purity of the rock and its freedom 
from residues. A typical Schlern dolomite contained 0*55 
per cent, residue ; a Mendola sample 0-93 per cent. 

Dr. Rothpletz (1894 and 1899) considered the Schlern 
massif by no means comparable with reefs like those of 
the Pacific, but rather with certain submarine banks such 
as the North Dacia Bank or " Coral-patch," * which rises 

* J. Y. Buchanan, Proc. Roy. Soc., Edinburgh, XIII. p. 431, 
1885 ; also Langenbeck, ' Koralleninseln und Korallenriffe,'p. 32, 1899. 
Buchanan regarded the Dacia Bank as a very thick accumulation of 
organic remains possibly on a volcanic rock, and this also was 

Appendix. 285 

abruptly from the abyssal floor of the Atlantic off Morocco. 
If the term reef were used, its significance must be altered 
and extended. He believed in the " localized " character 
of the dolomite of the Schlern massif, as opposed to 
the theory of its being part of an extensive continuous 

Amidst all these conflicting opinions, I find that, as in 
the case of Chalk and many other limestones, an important 
feature has been overlooked, viz., the organic structure 
of the main mass of the rock. My sections of typical 
lumps of Schlern and Mendola dolomite show them to 
be made of nummulite shells, i.e., Schlern dolomite is 
mainly a nummulitic limestone. It is almost impossible to 
detect the shells in the solid rock, so greatly has the latter 
become crystallized ; and it is difficult to make out the 
nummulitic structure in sections. Large and rather thick 
sections cut from three sides of a cube of rock show the 
shells in various aspects when held up to the light and 
examined with hand-lenses magnifying 3 to 10 diameters. 
With patience it is possible to discriminate spiral laminae, 
alars, marginal cord, etc., of large shells. Under higher 
powers also (e.g. 300 diameters), I can now see all these 
structures with singular clearness. I find 2 mm. Oc. 18, 
tube drawn out, diaphragms nearly closed the best 
combination for the smallest disks. What seem like 
transparent luminous flakes under lower powers and 
a fair amount of light, will, in dim light, slowly reveal 
well-defined disk structures. Each disk is spirally coiled 
in one plane, with series of smaller spirals situated at 
intervals round the larger spiral and in planes vertical to 
that of the latter. 

Transparent sections of Schlern rock viewed with a lens 
show a meandrine pattern formed by opaque and clear 
calcite, recalling some of the " Stromatoporoid " patterns. 

the view of Dr. Rothpletz ; but the evidence seems inconclusive. 
Perhaps the bank is a volcanic rock (like the emerged Porto Santo 
Island not very far away) with only a thin layer of coral. The dead 
coral on the top of the plateau is tinged black with manganese ; this 
deposition would hardly have taken place if the coral grew on the 
summit of a high pillar of purely calcareous remains. 

286 Appendix. 

The Mendola rock-sections, on the other hand, are more 
like those of Carrara marble, i.e., uniformly granular and 
clear. The nummulitic structure is to be detected here as 
in the Schlern material. 

The larger fossils are not common in Schlern dolomite, 
Mollusca, Echinoderms, Corals (rarely) and Calcareous 
Algae being found. 

Mojsisovics (I.e. p. 500) writes of " der grossen armuth 
des ungeschichteten Dolomits an fossilresten," and Roth- 
pletz (1899) of "der eigentlich Schlerndolomit ganz 
fossilarm " (Zeitsch. Deutsch. Geol. Gesellsch. Verhand. 
p. 105), but the rock is a mass of fossils * throughout, 
though for the most part they are only to be recognized 
with some difficulty. 

The discovery of the mainly nummulitic nature of 
Schlern dolomite will not finally solve the complicated 
problems concerning the character of the formation and 
its stratigraphical relations, but may throw fresh light on 
the subject. 

Atoll-crowned Christmas Island (Indian Ocean), which 
has from certain points of view the aspect of a miniature 
terraced dolomite cima, is partly composed of Orbitoidal 
limestone : and, moreover, the remarkable calcareous 
sponge-fauna f recalls that of St. Cassian. Sollas has 
pointed out, too, how large a share Foraminifera take in 

Yet the huge masses of Triassic nummulitic limestone 
known as Schlern dolomite sandwiched between sedi- 
mentary strata and occurring in a district that has been 
subject to violent disturbances, and also to the influence of 
the usual unceasing agencies of denudation for immeasur- 

* Prof. Skeats examined thirty-eight sections of Schlern dolomite. 
He found calcareous algae in three, doubtful ditto in five ; coral in 
one, doubtful coral (meandrine pattern) in eleven ; mollusc shell in 
one ; echinoderm spine in one ; no trace of fossils in seventeen 
(i.e. 45 per cent.). I think it not improbable that there is nummu- 
litic structure in all, excepting perhaps where algae are massed 
together. Prof. Skeats was unable to find any trace of organisms 
in a specimen of Mendola dolomite. (Q. J. G. S., 1905.) 

t Kirkpatrick, Proc. Roy. Soc. vol. 83, p. 124, and vol. 84, p. 579 ; 
and A.M.N.H. July 1911, p. 177. 

Appendix. 287 

able ages * may perhaps be relics of a formerly continuous 
deposit on an uneven and unstable bottom, rather than 
reefs even in the extended sense of the term f 

NOTE D. Precambrian sticcession in Canada (p. 73). 

A joint-committee of the Canadian and American 
Geological Surveys adopted the following order of suc- 
cession for the Precambrian rocks of the Lake Superior 
region : 






Intrusive contact 

The Report of the Committee is published in " The 
Journal of Geology," 1905, XIII. p. 89. The Laurentian 
and Keewatin comprise the Archaean, and the Huronian 
and Keweenawan the Algonkian. 

The Grenville series overlying the Laurentian in 
Eastern Ontario and Quebec is generally regarded as 
Archaean, although it is uncertain to what extent it is 
correlated with the Keewatin. The " basal complex " is 

* Concerning denudation in the Andes, Darwin writes : " It is 
not possible for the mind to comprehend, except by a slow process, 
any effect which is produced by a cause repeated so often that the 
multiplier itself conveys an idea not more definite than the savage 
implies when he points to the hairs of his head." ' Voyage of the 

f The poverty of the Marmolata in magnesium may be due to the 
accumulation of the deposit in rather deep water, the ordinary 
dolomite rock having accumulated in relatively shallow warm water 
and in the coralline zone. Dana attributed dolomitization to deposi- 
tion of magnesium salts from the warm water of lagoons. Dr. A. G. 
Hogbom believes calcareous algae contribute a considerable per- 
centage of magnesium (Neues. Jahrb. Min. 1894, I. p. 262). 

288 Appendix. 

generally called after the locality in which it is exposed. 
In the Western Hebrides for instance it is called Lewisian, 
although it may be of the same age as the Laurentian of 
Canada. " It is not impossible that they " (the Laurentian 
rocks) " may reach the Western Hebrides, which lie in the 
latitude of Labrador" (Suess, 'The Face of the Earth,' 
IV. p. 258). If so it is not surprising to find that the 
ocean floor abounds in ancient nummulite shells. The 
Laurentian and Lewisian rocks are nummulitic. 

NOTE E. Precambrian Fossils (p. 73). 

In the Survey Memoir * The Geological Structure of 
the North-west Highlands of Scotland/ 1907, the piped 
quartzites * above the Torridonian and below the Olenellus 
zone are reckoned as Lower Cambrian ; there are, then, 
no known Precambrian fossils in Great Britain. 

C. D. Walcott gives an account of Precambrian fossils 
of North America in ' Precambrian Fossiliferous Forma- 
tions/ Bulletin Geol. Soc. America, X. pp. 199-244, 
Pis. 22-28, 1899; also in * Precambrian Algonkian 
Algal Flora ' (Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 
64, p, 77, pis. 4-23, 1914), and in * Notes on Fossils from 
Limestone of Steeprock Series, Ontario, Canada/ Canadian 
Geol. Survey Memoir 28, p. 17, 1912. Several of the 
fossils described in these memoirs are probably pseudo- 

Dr. G. Abbott (' Nature/ Dec. 31, 1914, p. 477) points 
out the remarkable similarity between Atikokania from 
Steeprock and " concretions " in the Fulwell Limestones. 
The Steeprock limestones are at the base of the Algonkian, 
and Dr. Walcott believes they are marine. Probably, like 
the Fulwell rock, they will be nummulitic limestones. 

Cryptozoon ? occidentale Dawson (Bull. Geol. Soc. 
America. X. p. 233), which Dawson compared to Loftusia> 
appears to be (like Loftusia itself) a pseudomorph. 

Dr. Walcott thinks the entire series of Algonkian 

* It is very doubtful whether the "pipes" are due to worms. 
Dr. A. G. Hogbom believes the pipes may have arisen from a 
purely mechanical cause, such as the ascent of bubbles in wet sand 
in certain conditions of tide and sandy shore. Bull. Geol. Inst. 
Upsala, xiii. p. 45, 1915. 

Appendix. 289 

limestones of western America may be fresh-water deposits 
laid down in epi-continental basins wholly or sometimes 
partly cut off from the ocean. It will be possible in some 
measure to test this theory. If, like common chalk, the 
rocks are nummulitic, they will be marine. 

The calcareous masses of supposed Algonkian algae so 
closely resembling the fresh-water " Lake Balls " of the 
present day as described by Dr. Walcott, bear some 
resemblance also to Fulwell-quarry concretions. 

NOTE F. On Geological Succession (p. 2). 

As examples the following may be cited : 

Goatfell in Arran. From the shore one climbs past 
red sandstone, then schists are reached, and finally a granite 
core (A. Geikie). 

Again, in a journey across England from the Essex 
coast to the Welsh mountains a succession of diluvial, less 
recent, and very ancient rocks will be met with. The 
" Floetz " and " primitive " strata of the mountains of 
Thuringia, Harz and Erzgebirge described by Lehmann 
and Fiichsel also afford classical examples. 

The sea may skirt strata of any age, and the relative 
heights of less ancient and more ancient strata vary. A 
simple succession is selected in the text. 

NOTE G. On previous Notices of Organic Remains in 

T<rw onus /? nr.k c /n O7V 

J O 

Igneous Rocks (p. 97). 

Among the writers who have described organisms in 
igneous rocks and gneisses may be mentioned Dr. G. 
Jenzsch, * Ueber eine mikroskopische Flora und Fauna 
krystallinischer Massengesteine,' Leipzig, 1868. He 
describes organisms in the melaphyre of Zwickau, but I 
doubt if the highly organised fresh-water fauna and flora 
described by Dr. Jenzsch belonged to the rock. 

Dr. Jenzsch also speaks of organisms in porphyry. He 
promised to figure them, but no further descriptions 

Dr. Otto Hahn wrote a book entitled ' Die Urzelle nebst 
dem Beweis dass Granit, Gneiss .... Meteorstein und 


290 Appendix. 

Meteoreisen aus Pflanzen bestehen ' (1879). Dr. Hahn did 
good work in figuring certain appearances he saw in 
Eozoon. He depicts certain curious funnel-shaped struc- 
tures, which he regarded as species of algae. As a matter 
of fact they are portions of nummulites. Mobius, again, 
figured some of these objects (which he considered to be 
purely mineral forms) in his memoir on ' Eozoon ' (PI. 34, 
fig. 44). 

The scientific world can hardly be blamed for regarding 
Dr. Harm's work as " a somewhat elaborate joke." Once 
he upset some fuchsin on a marble slab and proceeded to 
clean the latter. 

" Ich rieb sie. Plotzlich was sah ich ! Kelche von I 
Meter Lange. Taf. xxi. Ich nenne sie Marmora Darvuini. 
Meine Schreibtisch hat dieselbe Platte. . . Ich schrieb also 
eine ganze Abhandlung iiber die Urzelle auf der Urzelle, 
denn der ganze Marmor ist nichts als Pflanze. Wirklich 
nicht bios Ironie des Schicksals." The strange figure 
of the supposed plant occupies a whole plate. Again this 
author saw Sponges (Urania, etc.), Corals and Crinoids in 
the chondrules of meteorites, and " vegetable cells " in the 
Widmanstatten figures which appear on polished surfaces of 
siderites exposed to acids, and which are said to be due 
to inequality of action of reagents on three kinds of alloys. 
In all these instances there is no doubt Dr. Hahn was mis- 
taken. In spite of all this, in * Die Urzelle ' he figures 
appearances which actually exist. 

C. Montagna ' Nouvelle theorie du Metamorphisme des 
Roches/ 1869, figures Lepidodendron scales in granite of 
Calabria, a doubtful interpretation. 

A. Sismonda (Comptes Rendus, 1865, tome 60, p. 492), 
describes an imprint of Equisetum in gneiss. 

NOTE H. On deposition of Magnesium Carbonate from 
Sea-water (p. 102). 

Sir John Murray informed me in a letter that an analysis 
of a large Tridacna shell from Tongatabu showed I per cent, 
of magnesia in the inner layer of the shell, and no less than 
10 to 12 per cent, in the outer parts near the umbo. "The 

Appendix. 291 

Tridacna was alive when collected, and twelve sailors had 
dinner out of it." 

It is highly improbable that the animal secreted a shell 
with i per cent, magnesia in one part and 1 2 per cent, in 
another. It would seem as if the higher proportion at the 
umbo was due partly to deposition from the sea, and partly 
to solution of the calcium carbonate leaving a larger pro- 
portion of magnesium carbonate behind. 

NOTE J. On Archbishop Usher s calculation concerning 
the Age of the World (p. 140). 

I saw one day in the parish church of the ancient 
Cinque Port of Sandwich the following epitaph : 

" 'Twas on October's three and twentith day, 
The world was born as learned annals say." 

Here followed the moral which I am sorry to say I have 
forgotten. I was sufficiently curious " to look up the 
reference," and found the learned annals to be " Annales 
veteris et novi testamenti " (1650) by James Usher. The 
learned chronicler consulted " sacred and exotical history," 
the astronomical calendar and the old Hebrew calendar. 
He therefrom computed that " the creation of the world did 
fall out upon the 710. year of the Julian period, placing its 
beginning in the autumn." " Forasmuch as the first day of 
the world began with the first day of the week, I have 
observed that the Sunday, which in the year 710 aforesaid 
came nearest the autumnal equinox, notwithstanding the 
staying of the sun in the days of Joshua, and the going 
back of it in the days of Ezekiah, happened upon the 23rd 
day of the Julian October ; from thence concluded that 
from the evening preceding that first day of the Julian 
year both the first day of the creation and the first motion 
of time are to be deduced." 

NOTE K. On the Markings of Diatoms (not referred 
to in text). 

Certain considerations lead me to offer a suggestion 
probably already familiar to students of Diatoms- 
concerning the valve-markings. Some of the silica of 

U 2 

292 Appendix. 

the lithosphere appears to be derived from a scum of 
vegetable protoplasm living at the surface of the ocean. 
The universality of markings in Diatoms must be due to 
some all-prevailing general cause, which in the case of these 
chlorophyll-containing plants may well be photosynthesis. 
This process involves the liberation of bubbles of oxygen 
in the region of the endochrome granules. Pfitzer and 
Paul Petit have classified Diatoms according to the 
characters of the endochrome. Petit states (in Pelletan's 
Diatomees, Introduction) that a constant relation exists 
between the disposition of the endochrome and the 
external form of the siliceous skeleton. As regards the 
deposition of silica his view is that at the moment of 
deduplication of valves silica is conveyed by protoplasmic 
currents in the form of anastomosing threads, the meshes 
remaining as spaces. 

The spheroidal cavities in the valves rather suggest 
models of a set and compressed foam ; and linear spaces 
might arise from pressure, or from fusion of spheres. If 
the spheroidal cavities are not bubble-moulds it is difficult 
to account for the deeply biconcave form of any particular 
strand of the protoplasmic or siliceous network. The silica 
could not form where the bubbles are, and when that 
material sets, the bubble-cavities would remain mar- 
shalled in order and fixed. 

Recently N. E. Brown * after a prolonged search has 
found genuine pores in the frustule of a species of 
Pinnularia. In this form the pinnate markings are linear 
cavities, and the pores form a single row of dots along the 
centre of each line. The dots are so close together that 
they seem to form a continuous line (Lc. pi. 23, fig. 13). 

D. D. Jackson ('American Naturalist' 1905, p. 287) 
attributes certain of the movements of Diatoms to the 
escape of gases. 

Referring to species of Udctea, A. and E. S. Gepp 
write : t " The calcareous sheath of the filaments is seen to 
be porose." " In all probability their " (the pores) " dis- 

* Journal Quekett Microscopical Club, 1914, p. 317. 
t 'The Codiaceae of the Siboga Expedition,' 1911, pp. 5, 6, 102, 
and Fig. 182. ' 

Appendix. 293 

tribution corresponds with that of the green chromatophores 
inside the filaments, and they themselves mark the spots 
where bubbles of oxygen were evolved during the photo- 
synthetic process of the plant." " Presumably the 
deposition of CaCO 3 would be effected at the time of 
photosynthesis only and naturally could not occur at the 
points where bubbles of gas were clinging to the sides of 
the filaments." " The pores which are so abundant in 
the calcareous sheath are minute spherical bubble-like 
chambers in the thickness of the calcareous layer. They 
are each covered by a delicate calcified pellicle in which is 
a minute ostiole." These spherical bubble-like chambers 
each covered with a pellicle pierced by a minute ostiole 
seem comparable with the bubble-like cavities in the 
siliceous valves of Diatoms. 

NOTE L. Diatomaceous Ooze (p. 30). 

The Diatomaceous ooze from St. 157, 1950 fathoms, in 
the Southern Ocean (Challenger Station 157), is a fine 
white floury deposit which crumbles at a touch. This ooze 
is rich in nummulite probably derived from ice-borne 
erratics or floating pumice. Not only have the nummulites 
become glassy and powdery, but parts of the anatomy, such 
as disks of the pillars, have acquired a superficial resem- 
blance to CoscinodiscuS) many species of which are present 
in the deposit. The nummulitic structures will be found in 
regular series, and high powers will show the spirodiscoid 

NOTE M. Barbados Earth (p. 66). 

Barbados earth, a pliocene formation, is usually regarded 
as a rock composed almost exclusively of Radiolaria. I 
find it, however, to be a silicified earthy deposit of nummu- 
lites very rich in undissolved Radiolaria. Because Radio- 
larian oozes are usually found at great depths it is assumed 
that the Barbados deposit may perhaps have been formed 
at a depth of 3000 fathoms. The nummulites appear to 
have lived contemporaneously with the Radiolaria sunk 
from the surface, for the two elements are mixed together 
in the samples I have seen, so that it is not a case of 

294 Appendix. 

Radiolaria sinking into a more ancient nummulitic mud. 
As it is highly improbable that nummulites lived below 
1000 fathoms, probably the Barbados earth was not formed 
at the abyssal depth usually assigned to it. (See ' Geology 
of Barbados/ Part II. Oceanic Deposits. Jukes-Browne 
and Harrison. OJ.G.S. p. 170, 1892.) 

NOTE N. Chalk with Flint and without Flint (p. 44). 

The presence or absence of layers of flint seemingly 
depends on two factors, viz. the abundance or paucity of 
benthos and plankton siliceous organisms and the degree 
of permeability of the rock. A marly chalk in shallow 
water would probably be poor in siliceous benthoplankton 
and would be relatively impermeable, so that disseminated 
silica would not all gravitate to form a layer. The upper 
chalk which indicates deep-water conditions might have a 
rich benthos sponge fauna and an oceanic plankton one, 
and the pure nummulitic deposit would be very permeable. 
W. K. Brooks pointed out the singular poverty of the 
coral-reef areas in plankton, and the great richness of the 
oceanic areas not far away. 

In Portland, Dorset, the Jurassic rocks from the point 
of view of chert beds are in the reverse order to the chalk. 

NOTE P. Origin and Metamorphism of Rocks (p. 13). 

It may be well to mention that theories of aqueous and 
igneous origin of rocks are distinct from aqueous, igneous 
and aquo-igneous theories of metamorphism of rocks. 
Igneous rocks have an aqueous origin, and seemingly 
their metamorphism is partly due to aquo-igneous 

NOTE R. Affinities of Lagena and Biloculina (p. 180). 

These forms may belong to a parallel series comparable 
with that of Cyclodypeus Orbitolites for example. The 
entosolenian body in L. marginata may be the modified 
relic of a lost central chamber. In any case the term 
" introvert " seems unsuitable. 


A plain record of facts should hardly be in 
need of an epilogue any more than was the play of 
the immortal Bottom* whose theme too was of 
" raging rocks and shivering shocks." 

I hope, however, it may not be altogether 
amiss to make mention of certain phantasies 
engendered in my mind in the course of the work 
and arising out of that work ; and an epilogue 
seems the only place in which to bestow on such 
unsubstantial things a local habitation. I refer 
more particularly to a new version of the story 
of Proteus, whom some influenced perhaps by 
etymological fancies suppose to signify elemental 
and primitive substance. The legend in certain of 
its aspects seems to anticipate modern ideas of 

A few personal notes bearing on matters in the 
text are also included. 

# # * # 

The first link in the chain of events leading 
to the final overthrow of the usurping dominion 
of Pluto was forged, as was befitting, by a humble 
dependant on the bounty of Neptune, to wit, a poor 
fisherman of Porto Santo. 

* " No epilogue, I pray you ; your play needs no excuse." 

296 Sea-Floors or Benthoplankton. 

One day he caught on his briquera hooks a 
small lump of rock lying on the bottom of the sea. 
Strange to relate, this seemingly trivial capture was 
an event of no small importance to science. It 
was as if some Arabian Nights djinn had been 
brought up from the vasty deep, a djinn of the kind 
that point out paths leading to hidden treasure, but 
along which they themselves do not go. 

The fisherman, instead of impatiently throwing 
the stone back into the sea, kept it for a learned 
friend, Senhor Noronha, who had a hobby for 
collecting sea-things. Some years later, Senhor 
Noronha gave the stone to Canon Norman, another 
enthusiastic seeker-after and storer of Neptune's 

Canon Norman, wishing to know the nature of 
a mysterious calcareous crust on the stone, sent 
it to the British Museum (Natural History). As 
soon as I had examined the little patch, in order 
to learn the cause of it I set out for Porto Santo. 
After dredging for nine days, I obtained living 
examples of the encrusting organism, which was 
found to be a siliceous sponge with a supplementary 
calcareous skeleton. For a time the nature of the 
latter continued to be obscure. At this stage I 
examined certain ancient fossils with a superficial 
resemblance to the calcareous crust, and drifted on 
to studying some still more ancient lumps of rock 
named Eozoon, which were found to possess definite 
organic structure. 

In Porto Santo, again, I first detected organic 
structure in an igneous rock, viz., in a piece of 

Epilogiie. 297 

trachyte given me by Senhor Noronha. The gift 
proved to be something of a talisman. For through 
it there was conjured up a true vision, at first dim 
and obscure but later clear and defined, of life, the 
foam-born, building up in the course of immeasurable 
aeons the visible frame of the earth. 

# # # # 

After the discovery of the nummulitic nature of 
nearly the whole island of Porto Santo, of the 
buildings, wine-presses, soil, etc., the name Eozoon 
portosantamtm seemed a fitting one for the fossils. 
The friendly inhabitants had sometimes jokingly 
greeted me as fellow-citizen, and it occurred to 
me to suggest to the commune the adoption of a 
nummulite shell for a crest. When the igneous rocks 
of Madeira were likewise found to be nummulitic, 
Eozoon atlanticum seemed a more fitting name. 

On my return to London, I annexed in one 
morning for Eozoon the volcanic rocks of the 
Arctic and Atlantic, and in the afternoon of the 
same day those of the Pacific, Indian and Antarctic 
oceans. The designation Eozoon orbis-terrarum 
then suggested itself; and, further, a nummulite 
shell seemed a fit emblem for the Hague Conference 
(or future parliament of man), in view of the fact 
that mineralized masses of these shells (territories) 
are the chief subjects or objects of adjudication. 

If Eozoon, after taking in the world, had sighed 
for more worlds to conquer, its fortunes would have 
surpassed those of Alexander, for its desires would 
have been realized. When the empire of the 
nummulites was found to extend to space a final 

298 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

alteration of name to Eozoon universum apparently 
became necessary. Later Eozoon was found to be 
simply a mass of ordinary nummulites, and there 

was no longer need to invent specific names for it. 

* * * * 

The inhabitants of Porto Santo often find on 
the northern coast of the island giant Entada beans 
stranded after their long voyage across the ocean. 

Columbus, who married the daughter of Pere- 
strello, governor of the island, spent several years 
there before he made the great voyage. It has 
been said that the Entadas gave Columbus the idea 
of the existence of land below the western horizon. 
The story has been denied, but yet is likely to be 
true. Admittedly the north shore of the little island 
does not front the region whence the beans actually 
came, but Columbus would know that these huge 
mysterious seeds, products of the abundance of 
tropical life, could hardly have come from Europe. 

It is singular that the island should have been 
associated with two important discoveries, viz., of 
the new world and of the oceanic and organic 
origin of the planetary crust. 

The new discovery seems to me important not 
only on account of its value as an instrument of 
research, but also because of the labours that have 
been devoted by men of science to problems * con- 
cerning the nature and origin of igneous rocks and 
meteorites. It may appear strange that success 

* Palaeontological ones with a pronounced mineralogical 
aspect, or vice versa, mineralogical problems into which palaeon- 
tological considerations enter. 

Epilogue. 299 

should have come to one who is not by profession 
either a geologist or a petrologist. There exists a 
certain element of "chance" even in scientific re- 
search: "nor yet (is) favour to men of skill; but 

time and chance happeneth to them all." 

# # # # 

The Legend of Proteus, the Ancient One of 
the Sea. 

Telemachus seeking news of his father Odysseus 
visits the court of Menelaus, who tells his guest 
the story of his return journey after the fall of 
Troy. Becalmed at Pharos, he and his men are in 
danger of starvation. The nymph Eidothee taking 
pity on him, advises him to capture and question 
Proteus, that " takes all manner of shapes of things 
that creep upon the earth, of water likewise, and of 
fierce fire burning." 

Neptune's shepherd, having come ashore and 
counted his seals, lays himself down to rest in the 
midst of his flock. Menelaus and three of his men, 
who had been lying in ambush under the flayed 
skins of seals, rush forward and hold him down. 
When caught " that ancient one forgot not his 
cunning. At first he turned into a bearded lion, 
and thereafter into a snake, and a pard and a huge 
boar ; then he took the shape of running water, and 
of a tall and flowering tree." But the men, mindful 
of the nymph's advice, grasp him steadfastly and 
press him the more. At last, resuming his proper 
shape, he yields the desired information. 

The accumulated exuviae of Proteus are as 
deceptive in appearance as Proteus himself (see the 

300 Sea- Floors or Benthoplankton. 

records of petrogeny and palaeontology), and 
apotheosized fragments of these remains have even 
been enshrined in temples. 

Under close observation, the earth's crust is seen 
to be a mineralized deposit of the coiled shells of 
NummuliteS) first cousin to the houseless Amoeba 


* * * * 

The Mysterious Birth and Transformations of 
Deathless Proteus. 

At one time the earth, covered with a universal 
mantle of waters, was without life. 

But a dawn came when there arose at the edge 
of the azure plain a crimson and golden glory.* 
The rim of the sun's orb appeared above the 
horizon. At that moment, a ripple on the bound- 
less deep caught the light and seemed as a flame 
of fire. A cloud of transparent particles of a 
peculiar dust suspended in the glowing wave 
entangled and entrapped the rays, and suddenly 
assumed a bright green colour. Proteus was 

Suffused with radiant energy, his appetite (per- 
haps the first appreciable psychic manifestation) was 
insatiable and the food supply, consisting as it did 
of air, water and salts of the sea, inexhaustible. 

With great rapidity he spread over the face of 
the waters in the form of floating prairies. From the 
sea he extracted material wherewith he built himself 

* Presage of a chequered pilgrimage for Proteus, 
f The records relating to the manner of Proteus' birth are 
somewhat vague, and open to various interpretations. 

Epilogue. 301 

innumerable palaces of opal ornamented with 
wondrous designs formed seemingly by the windows 
of exhalation. On the ocean-floor he constructed 
on a spiral plan marble halls of many a thousand 
columns. These abodes when deserted became 
changed into adamantine crystal and sardonyx and 
ruby and emerald and sapphire and the mother- 
substance of these gems. In the course of aeons 
the ruins formed an immensely thick accumulation 
the known crust of the earth. 

Proteus' self underwent ever higher transfor- 
mations. He became a sac with an inner surface 
for digestion and an outer one sensitive to im- 
pressions from the surroundings. Then a series of 
sacs remained joined in a row, the various units 
becoming highly specialized, and so on. When the 
sea-floor emerged as land above the waters, he 
became adapted to living in the aerial ocean, creeping, 
running and flying therein. 

At last behold him standing erect, endowed with 
great psychic storage-batteries encased in bony mail, 
no longer Neptune's thrall, but lord of the earth, 
the ocean and the air, seeking to solve the enigma 
of the infinite and eternal universe and of his 
own existence therein ; and believing himself pre- 
destined, at the end of his toilsome ascent up 
" the mountainous slopes of the ages," from the 
summit of the mount of blessing to behold 

" Beyond a hundred ever rising mountain lines, 
And past the range of night and shadow, 
The high-heaven dawn of more than mortal day 
Strike on the mount of vision." 

* * * * 


" That the cell consists of more elementary units of organization 
is nevertheless indicated by a priori evidence so cogent as to have 
driven many of the foremost leaders of biological thought into the 
belief that such units must exist, whether or not the microscope 
reveals them to view." E. B. Wilson. 

THAT the rind of this ocean-planet should be composed of 
a deposit of marine calcareous shells formed by Rhizopodal 
protoplasm, that the calcareous matter should be replaced 
by silica, that the covered-in deposits should become 
heated owing to mechanical chemical and radioactive 
causes, that the mass of silicic acid (silica), alkalies, alkaline 
earths, etc., should combine to form silicates, that the 
molten pent-up material should be squeezed through the 
overlying strata and occasionally hurled into space with 
explosive violence, all this is in no way contrary to what 
might be expected. I have now, however, to call attention 
to a discovery of a wholly unexpected kind. I find that 
protoplasm, beneath its various and ever-changing aspects, 
has a definite fundamental structure of a very remarkable 
nature, which I have already named " spirodiscoid." 

The discovery, if true, would be of high importance not 
only in itself but in its implications. For we cannot hope 
adequately to understand the nature of the mysterious 
phenomena of growth, development and heredity, of 
organic evolution in fact, until we know the real structure 
of the material basis of those phenomena. Further, a 
perception of the architectural design of protoplasm may 
lead to a knowledge of the principles in accordance with 
which that design has been formed. 

As this discovery, strangely enough, has resulted from 
the observations on igneous rocks, I think it would be well 
to publish here a brief supplement. A fuller account 

Supplement. 303 

with photographs will be given later when circumstances 



I had found the nummulite shell to be built of " spiro- 
disks," i.e. disk-like spirals with a coiled series of secondary 
spiral disks in planes vertical to the primary, each 
secondary again having its series of secondary spirals, and 
so on to the limits of microscopic vision. Presently I 
found the spirodiscoid structure outlined in " granules " in 
the protoplasm of various Foraminifera and in Amoeba. 
An examination of plant protoplasm revealed similar 
spirodiscoid outlines. 

Returning to the investigation of animal protoplasm, I 
found the spirodisks in the nuclei of white and coloured 
blood-cells of vertebrates, in squamous and columnar 
epithelium, in the nuclei of cerebro-spinal ganglion cells 
and of fibrillar tissues, viz., tendon, nerve and muscle. 
Accordingly I have arrived at the conclusion that proto- 
plasm is constructed on a spirodiscoid plan. 

The reader may well take up a guarded attitude when 
confronted with a new theory of protoplasmic structure. 
Even a superficial study of the vast literature relating to 
this subject brings out a strange fact, justifying an attitude 
of defence. Distinguished men of science after devoting 
much labour to the investigation of protoplasm have 
arrived at very conflicting results, so that we have many 
theories, viz., (i) granular, (2) spherular, (3) fibrillar, (4) 
spiro fibrillar, (5) reticular, (6) alveolar, (7) fundamentally 
homogeneous, the reticular and fibrillar appearances being 
due to artefacts formed by coagulation or precipitation. 
Truly the elusive Proteus " that takes all manner of shapes " 
has been at his old tactics, but I believe it has fallen to my 
lot to behold " the ancient one " in his real form. Accord- 
ingly I am constrained to bring forward yet another theory, 
viz. the spirodiscoid, or rather " spirad." A spirodisk is 
built of spirads, the latter being the smallest microscopic 
and the still smaller ultra- microscopic, presumably spiral 
elements of spirodisks. 

304 Supplement. 

According to Altmann * the protoplasm of a cell is 
composed of " granules " or bioblasts, which are essentially 
a kind of very simple organism and which undergo division, 
in fact omne granulum e granulo. Daringly carrying his 
theory to its logical conclusion, Altmann classifies his 
granule organisms into " monads " and " nematodes " 
(thread organisms). He regards his elementary organisms 
as organic crystals which grow by intussusception, whereas 
inorganic crystals grow by apposition. According to E. B. 
Wilson " Altmann's premature generalization rests upon 
a very insecure foundation and has been received with just 

J. Kiinstlert believed protoplasm to be built of closely- 
packed spherules, each of these having a firm wall and fluid 

W. Flemming % sums up the results of his investigations 
with the statement that besides the nucleus and occasional 
(etwanig) granules, only two different essential substances 
can be distinguished in the cell, viz. fibrils and the material 
between them, the former being slightly more refractive 
than the latter. 

V. Fayod believes protoplasm to be formed of spirally- 
coiled hollow fibrils spirofibrillae, the latter often being 
plaited together into hollow cords or ropes spirosparta. 
The spirofibrillae are composed of tough transparent 
uncolourable material. The lumina of the coils are filled 
with granular protoplasm, the circulation of which is 
confined to these " vessels." Fayod injected plant tissues 
with mercury under a pressure of I 5 atmospheres, by 
fixing the material at the end of a long glass tube i to 
2 metres long and gently filling with the metal. The 
mercury is supposed to fill the interior of the hollow fibrils 
and cords. 

* ' Die Genese der Zelle.' Beitrage z. Physiol. (C. Ludwig). 1887. 
* Die Elementarorganismen und ihre Beziehungen zu den Zellen.' 
2nd Edit. 1894. 

f ' Contributions a 1'etude des Flagelles.' Bull. Soc. Zool. France. 

\ ' Zellsubstanz, Kern und Zelltheilung.' 1882. 

' Ueber die wahre Structur des lebendigen Protoplasmas und der 
Zellmembran.' Naturwiss Rundschau V. p. 81. 1890. 

Supplement. 305 

He gives six figures of the spirofibrillae in the cells of 
Fucusand \nArisarum. He regards Altmann's granules as 
broken down particles of spirofibrillae. Criticizing Fayod's 
results Biitschli remarks, " I need scarcely state that 
supported by the results of my investigations I must deny 
Fayed' s statements altogether." I, for my part, think 
Fayod's investigations, excepting those on blood plasma, 
to be very interesting, and his results valuable. 

Biitschli * considers protoplasm to be a microscopic 
foam, the spaces or " alveoli " being filled not with air as 
in soap-and-water foam but with liquid. 

The various " reticular " theories as, for example, that 
of H. M. Bernard,! usually unite the features of the granular 
and fibrillar, chromatin granules being situated at the 
nodes of a linin-chromatin network. 

E. B. Wilson J writes, " In common with many other 
investigators, therefore, I believe that protoplasm may in 
fact be homogeneous down to the present limit of 
microscopical vision." 

The extraordinary divergences of opinion concerning 
the structure of protoplasm appear to be due to the varying 
appearance of this changeable and susceptible material 
under differing conditions ; the varying technique as 
regards reagents, optical instruments, the quality and 
intensity of light, etc. ; and in addition to all these the 
preconceptions of the observer. 

In view of the efforts that have been made by many 
eminent men to discover the fundamental structure of 
living matter, it is only after careful research that I venture 
to bring forward my own observations and conclusions. 

To find that protoplasm is formed of granules, of fibrils 
straight or twisted, of spherules, of networks, of foam, or 
that it is homogeneous down to the limits of vision, 
would certainly be very interesting, especially to those 

* ' Investigations on Microscopic Foams and on Protoplasm.' 
English Transl. by E. A. Minchin 1894. The work contains a good 
critical summary of the various theories of protoplasm, and descriptions 
of many beautiful experiments with artificial foams. 

f 'Some Neglected Factors of Evolution.' 1911. 

J 'The Cell in Development and Inheritance.' 

306 Supplement. 

engaged in the study of protoplasm, but perhaps facts 
of this kind would not carry us much farther, The 
discovery, however, that protoplasm has a visible funda- 
mental structure apparently traceable to the operation 
of physical and chemical laws would be of high interest 
from the point of view of a firmer linking up of biology 
with chemistry and physics. Emil Fischer points out 
(Ber. xxix. I, 1906, p. 530) that views differ concerning 
the precise point where an association of biology and 
chemistry would be profitable. Perhaps one profitable 
meeting-point would be on the ground of the minute 
morphology of protoplasm, built as it is of spirads or 
spiral masses of asymmetric protein molecules. 

The great belt of Tertiary nummulites stretching across 
the eastern hemisphere is not an enigma but a link in a 
long chain of events stretching back nearly to the dawn 
of life. Similarly, the planetary deposit of nummulites 
constituting the bulk of the earth's crust is something 
more than a phenomenon to be recorded in the annals of 
systematic palaeontology ; the nummulitic spirality may 
be an expression of the molecular asymmetry of natural 
organic products. 

I for my part find " granules " or rather granular 
appearances often present in protoplasm living and dead, 
stained and unstained, and I can very frequently see the 
granules as parts of the peculiar structures termed spiro- 
disks ; and, further, a granule above a few yu, in diameter is 
itself often seen to be a spirodisk with a series of definitely 
placed smaller granules in relation with it. 

Granules vary in size, and especially in their behaviour 
towards reagents and stains. Altmann, who did an 
immense deal of work on granules in cells of invertebrates, 
fixed his material with osmic acid, and stained with aniline 
dyes, such as aniline acid fuchsin. It is evident that many 
of the granules have an affinity for the latter, and hold on 
to it even after " differentiating " treatment with picric 
acid alcohol, which washes out the dye from less retentive 
tissues. Hence these particles came to be called " fuchsino- 

Supplement. 307 

phile granules " or " Altmann's granules." Protoplasm 
and cells contain granules other than fuchsinophile, such as 
pigment granules, kerato-hyalin of squamous epithelium, 
and eosinophile granules. As already mentioned, Altmann 
regarded his " granules " as organisms. Others have held 
these bodies to be artefacts, or again, metabolic or secretory 

My own opinion is that " granules " are the essential 
elements of protoplasm, that they are parts of spirodisks, 
and that they are themselves spirodiscoid. 

Spaces between granules appear to be occupied by a 
more fluid and less easily stainable material. Just as the 
numerous cell species differ in function, so also the granules 
in these cells (in nucleus and cytoplasm for instance) differ 
in function and in chemical composition, and react differently 
towards stains and reagents. I believe the kerato-hyalin 
non-fuchsinophile granules of squamous epithelium to be 
morphologically the same as the fuchsinophile granules of 
ordinary columnar epithelium or as the granules in gland 
cells, or as Nissl's granules in ganglion cells. 

The failure to detect the nummulites in Eozoon and 
igneous rocks was simply due to the fact that it never 
occurred to anyone to look for these shells, and naturally 
the almost obliterated outlines are not to be seen unless 
carefully sought for. In the case of protoplasm, however, 
it is somewhat surprising that this closely-scrutinized 
material should not long ago have yielded up the open 
secret of its spirodiscoid structure.* If a number of persons 
are imprisoned in a labyrinth the possessor of a map will 
find the way out. So with the spirodiscoid plan in mind, 
the coils will be detected in nuclei which had previously 
appeared to be confused tangles or networks, and in 
cytoplasm which had seemed structureless or merely 
" granular." It was my prolonged observation of sections 
of igneous rocks that led to the discovery of what I believe 
to be the fundamental structure of living matter. A layer 
of particles of protoplasm on the ocean floor built calcareous 

* Perhaps the fibrillar structure of fibrillar tissues and the mitotic 
phenomena of cell division were chiefly responsible for this fact. 

X 2 

308 Supplement. 

models of their own inherent structure ; then the calcareous 
molecules became replaced by silica. Accordingly the 
silicated nummulosphere is an expression of the minute 
structure of living matter. I can now see granular 
structure in chalk, igneous rocks, and meteorites. In 
chalk, the calcified models of Altmann's granules make up 
Ehrenberg's " granulirte scheibchen." In igneous rocks 
and meteorites the " granules " have become silicated. The 
earth's crust is made of fossilized " granules." The 
spirodisk in animal and plant protoplasm is identical 
with that of fossil nummulites. In the protoplasm of cells 
I can sometimes see nucleolus, nucleus and cytoplasm as 
central, middle and faint outer zones of one spirodisk. 
Again what seem to be limiting membranes of nucleolus 
and nucleus are sometimes seen to be well-defined rims of 
coils. Series of outer coils cleared of their inner coils by 
the mechanical action of injected mercury apparently 
constitute the hollow spirofibrillae and spirosparta of 
Fayod who got nearer the truth than other observers. 
Altmann's granules are spirodisk elements (or spirads) of 
larger spirodisks, and Biitschli's foam spaces only i /z- in 
diameter are the gaps between the septum-like spirads of 
small spirodisks. As for fibrillae, I believe these also to 
be spirodiscoid in character though I have not at present 
succeeded in detecting their intimate structure. (Observers 
frequently refer to the " granular " appearance of fibrils.) 
I had similar difficulties in making out the structure of the 
furrowed and ridged " marginal cord " in nummulites. In 
some sections of foetal dog lent me by Dr. R. J. Gladstone, 
the developing striped muscle appears as a richly nucleated 
plasmodium in the jelly of which the fibrillae mysteriously 
appear. All the nuclei are spirodisks, and I believe each 
nucleus has its attendant fascicles and perhaps loops of 

According to Wilson (I.e. p. 22), " It is nevertheless 
certain that ... the nucleus actually consists of self-propa- 
gating units of a lower order than itself, and there is some 
ground for regarding the cyto-microsomes in the same 
light." Wilson mentions some of the names given to 

Supplement. 309 

these hypothetical bodies Physiological units (Spencer), 
gemmules (Darwin), pangens (De Vries), biophores (Weis- 
mann), bioblasts (Beale), etc. To the long list I shall 
venture to add still another term, viz., "spirads," with the 
statement that they are not hypothetical, but actual and 

I shall now briefly record a few preliminary observations 
on animal and vegetable cells. Mostly I have made use 
of Zeiss 2 mm. apochromatic objective, 4 and 1 8 oculars, 
drawn out tube, and dim light ; but I have tried many 
other combinations and conditions. 

Blood cells. Fresh blood was examined pure, and 
after treatment with water, salt, acetic acid, and aniline 
stains. Human colourless corpuscles, of which five kinds 
are now described, show the " granular " nucleus especially 
after addition of acetic acid. The spirodiscoid plan of the 
so-called granules often becomes clear. The two or three 
nucleoli often seen are secondary spirodisks. Even very 
small "granules" 2 or 3 /^ in diameter will be seen as 
discoidal bodies with peripheral smaller granules, the latter 
too small to be further resolved. 

Coloured blood cells. The anomalous nature of 
mammalian coloured blood corpuscles presents a highly 
interesting problem. Physiologists have been in doubt 
whether to regard these bodies as cells without nuclei, as 
cells with nuclei (Bottcher), as nuclei without cell-bodies 
(Huxley, Strieker), or as objects not comparable with 

I hope to show that an understanding of the real 
structure of mammalian coloured blood cells will not only 
afford a beautiful example of an increasingly perfect 
adaptation of means to ends, but will throw a new light on 
the meaning of the "cell" and its "nucleus" truly a 
ponderous superstructure of induction to establish on a 
foundation 7-5 //, in diameter (the width of the human 
coloured blood cell !) 

Human coloured blood corpuscles are now generally 
regarded as structureless biconcave disks differing from the 

3 1 o Supplement. 

nucleated coloured blood cells of lower vertebrates in being 
non-nucleated. I believe this view to be erroneous, for 
there are no essential differences between the coloured 
corpuscles of fishes, amphibia, reptiles, birds, and mammals, 
though there appear to be such. 

A. Boettcher pointed this out fifty years ago,* but he 
was held to have been led into error f owing to the methods 
he employed. I find coloured human blood corpuscles are 
spirodisks with very faintly but indubitably differentiated 
central coils. A drop of blood simply with a cover slip 
lowered on it and examined under 3500 diameters in a low 
light showed in a peripheral zone of plasma a number of 
cells with regular radial marginal crenations. In these 
blood cells I could distinguish central coils, not merely as 
an optical effect in a biconcave body but as parts of a 
structure with two coils and with series of radial spaces 
and lines. The marginal crenations (resembling modified 
" marginal alveoli *' of Butschli) were seen to be circular 
rims with spaces between ; a corpuscle on edge was like a 
milled coin with rounded bars for ridges. Frequently 
pointed crenations occur all over a cell. This condition 
may be due to the projection of edges of interior coils in 
slightly varying planes. The pointed shape may result 
from distortion of the minute plastic secondary disks. The 
whole cell is plastic and sensitive, reacting rapidly to 
changes in the medium. The phenomenon of crenation 
may arise, then, in part owing to radial secondary spiro- 
disks being rendered prominent on account of osmotic 
changes in the spaces between them ; and the crena- 
tions reveal the otherwise almost invisible structure of 
the corpuscle. Under strong crenation a third order of 
spiral becomes visible, even secondary coils appearing 

In the lower vertebrates the central coils (constituting 
the " nucleus ") are well-marked and still differ chemically 
from the outer ; but comparative observations only confirm 
the view that all the coloured corpuscles, whether circular 

* Virchow's 'Archiv' vols. 36, 39, and Mem. Acad. Imp. Sci. St. 
Petersbourg (vii ser.), XXII. No n. 2 plates, 1876. 
t Quain's 'Anatomy,' ed. ix. vol. ii. p. 29. 1882. 

Supplement. 3 1 1 

or oval, whether with slightly or markedly differentiated 
central coils are essentially identical structures. 

The function of the coloured corpuscles is to carry 
oxygen. Therefore the more homogeneous the structure, 
the more evenly and easily will the oxygen-carrying 
haemoglobin be diffused, and the more rapidly will the 
vitally important * function of the cell be carried out. 
Hence the mammalian coloured blood cell is the most 
highly evolved from the point of view of utility and 
efficiency. In the lower vertebrates the disturbing presence 
of the " nucleus " still offers a structural and chemical 
barrier which is at last broken down in the mammals. The 
biconcavity in some of the mammalian cells may be due 
to the smaller size of the chemically uniform central coils, 
which latter easily swell out in water. Where the central 
coils (though small) differ chemically from the peripheral 
the former may be biconvex in the mass. 

This gradual obliteration of the distinction between 
nucleus and cytoplasm following on the attainment of a 
chemical uniformity required for a special purpose, will I 
believe throw light on the meaning of the " cell." For the 
latter is sometimes seen to be a spirodiscoid structure with 
central coils or " nucleus " differentiated chemically from the 
peripheral coils or " cytoplasm." 

Epithelium. Moist squamous epithelial cells examined 
in water show well a large discoidal spirodiscoid nucleus ; 
also spirodiscoid arrangement is traceable in groups of 
granules in the cytoplasm. These cytoplasmic coils, some- 
times seen as the continuation of the nuclear coils, are 
looser and less distinct than the latter. The successive 
series of " rings " have been mistaken for large alveoli (not 
those of Blitschli), for meshworks, etc. 

The spirodiscoid nucleus in cylindrical epithelium 
appears to stand on its " rim," and the cytoplasmic coils 
to be squeezed up into an elongated bundle. The 
granules are distributed throughout the cell excepting in a 
clear zone at the outer end. 

Among the many lines of investigation being followed 

* Nature shields the red-cell-forming bone marrow as effectively 
as the nervous marrow. 

312 Supplement. 

at that beneficent institution, the Cancer Research Labora- 
tories, Middlesex Hospital, is one dealing with Altmann's 
granules. Dr. Henry Beckton * has found these bodies 
to be absent from cancer cells. Accordingly a very 
valuable test subject to certain reserves is afforded for 
diagnosing the benign or malignant character of any par- 
ticular growth. In the hope that my present work might 
possibly throw some gleam of light on the great problem 
of malignant tumours, I applied to the laboratories for the 
loan of some sections. In the fine typical series entrusted 
to me, I can see spirodisk structure in the nuclei of the 
epithelial cells ; and further, in a columnar-celled cancer 
of the colon I can make out very faintly-outlined 
" granules " forming extra-nuclear coils in the cytoplasm. 

My belief is that these " granules " are morphologically 
identical with " Altmann's," but that owing to degenerative 
(? colloid) changes they no longer respond to the Altmann 
reaction, no more than do the keratohyalin granules. The 
value of the Beckton test would be in no wise diminished 
by the fact of the granules being still faintly discernible, 
for even so, in malignant cells they have undergone peculiar 
changes as regards degree of visibility and reaction to stains. 

Another line of research at Middlesex Hospital has 
been that of the influence of radium in relation to 
Altmann's granules. In regard to inoperable cases of 
malignant disease nothing seems at present to hold out so 
much promise as radio-therapy. Throughout (the kingdom 
of life from Diatoms to negroes, Nature screens living 
matter from the effects of over-stimulation by radiant 
energy.! The degenerate essential cells of malignant 

* "Absence of Altmann's Granules as a Histological test for 
Malignant Disease." Journ. Pathol. Soc. xiv., p. 408, 1910. In 
Journ. Pathol. Soc. xiii. p. 191, 1909, Dr. Beckton describes his 
modification of Altmann's method for fixing, staining, and differen- 
tiating. In place of osmic acid for fixing he uses formol-Miiller 
solution ; for staining, aniline acid fuchsin ; and picric acid alcohol 
for differentiating. 

t Those who work much with X rays and radium have to adapt 
themselves to a new situation by interposing metal between the skin 
and the penetrating rays. Apparently radium may bring on a kind 
of cancer, possibly by causing a certain degree of degeneration in 
overstimulated cells. 

Supplement. 3 1 3 

growths succumb more quickly to excessive radio-bom- 
bardment than do the cells of healthy tissues. Apparently 
radio-therapy makes use of this fact to kill or maim the 
essentially malignant cells while not injuring the healthy. 

The finding in normal and morbid epithelial cells of 
structure not hitherto detected, viz., the spirodiscoid 
arrangement of the so-called Altmann's granules and the 
discovery of the essential nature of these granules, justify 
the hope that some further advance may be made. If 
cancer be due to a parasite although there is not a 
particle of evidence to show that it is it would be less 
difficult to detect the intruder, if the plan of construction of 
normal cells were known, than it would be in the absence 
of such knowledge. 

Plant protoplasm, like that of animals, commonly has a 
granular appearance, and the granules are arranged in 
the spirodiscoid manner, i.e., a central nucleolus (if visible 
as such), and nucleus and cytoplasm are central median 
and peripheral coils of spirodisks. 

I have seen this structure in the seed-pods of nas- 
turtium, in the apical cells of Nitella and Chara, in the 
antheridia of Chara, in staminal hairs of Tradescantia, in 
cells of potato, in growing root- tip of bean plant, in ovules 
of L ilium, etc. 

I am greatly indebted to Prof. Blackman and Mr. Paine, 
of the Imperial College of Science, for the loan of some 
beautiful sections of root-tip of bean plant * and of ovules 
of Lilium, the former stained with iron-haematoxylin 
and showing all the stages of mitosis f in the rapidly 
growing cells. 

When a cell is going to divide, the chromatin of the 
nucleus arranges itself as a convoluted thread or spireme J 
formed of a single or double row of deepiy-stainable 
granules. The coiled thread breaks up into straight or 
curved rods the chromosomes, constant in number for 
each species. While these changes have been taking 

* See Plate XXIV. 

t Mitos, a thread. 

J Spirema, a coiled thread. 

3 1 4 Supplement. 

place in the nucleus, a small body in the cytoplasm 
(centrosome), if not already divided, separates into two 
portions, each having a corona of u rays." The inter- 
centrosome rays meet to form a " spindle," with the 
chromosomes forming an equatorial plate at the junction 
of the bases of the opposing cones. The chromosomes 
split logitudinally into two, the halves move apart to the 
poles, and each set there forms a daughter nucleus of a 
new cell. This wonderful process has for its object the 
distribution of the chromatin granules of the nucleus into 
two halves, and some authorities (e.g. A. Brauer) think 
into two equal halves. Strasburger and E. B. Wilson 
believe the influence emanating from the centrosome to be 
chemotactic. Van Beneden, the discoverer of the centre- 
some, attributed the migration of the chromosomes from 
equator to poles to the tension of spindle fibrils. Prof. S . 
Leduc * considers the phenomena of mitosis as being due 
to osmotic pressure setting up currents radiating from or 
to centres of concentration. By dropping into a saline 
solution two tinted drops (" centrosomes ") less or more 
concentrated than the common medium, and between the 
two drops a third more or less concentrated and tinted one 
(" nucleus "), he obtained the various stages of karyokinesis 
in due sequence (see the astonishing pictures from photo- 
graphs, I.e. p. 125, Fig. 77 A D). The above sketch is an 
outline of what takes place in all " somatic " cells. In germ 
cells there is a singular modification which consists in a 
" prophetic " reduction of the number of chromosomes 
to half, so that when the germ cells unite, the 
balance is again restored. My own observations on 
growing root- tip of bean show the cells with their 
nucleolus, nucleus and cytoplasm to be spirodisks. The 
spireme gives me the impression of being an uncoiled 
spirodisk, but I am not certain. I can only make out the 
spirodiscoid structure before and after the mitosis, but not 
while the latter is proceeding. 

A nucleus stained with iron haematoxylin has the 
general appearance of a network with dark nodal points. 
Fortunately very long training in the matter of the 

* " La Biologic Synthetique," 1912. 

Supplement. 3 1 5 

calcified and mineralized spirodisks of the nummulites, 
of igneous rocks and meteorites enabled me to see the real 
form underlying this very deceptive appearance. Spiro- 
disks are mortal and subject to change, and cells may be 
crowded with alveoli, secondary products, etc., therefore it 
is necessary to make numerous observations. 

To return to the stained nuclear meshwork. Careful 
observation will generally reveal very minute coils at the 
centre perhaps showing as a nucleolus. The coils are 
not quite in one plane, but oscillate slightly above and 
below a central median plane. It is well to bear this fact 
in mind in following round the curves as they get larger 
and broader. Between the curves will be seen regularly 
and serially arranged " granules." When the space 
between successive curves becomes greater the "granules" 
enlarge, to the extent that presently they themselves can be 
seen to be spirally coiled. The secondary spirals are like 
cogs on a wheel and vary in appearance according to the 
aspect, whether horizontal, vertical, or oblique. When 
secondary coils attain a sufficient size they show their own 
series of secondaries. 

The chromatin granules are spirads, and the object of 
mitosis is the proper distribution of spirads. 

There is a more rare process of division without mitosis, 
i.e. direct division of nucleus and cell into two. Here we 
must assume the spirads to be already suitably arranged 
for distribution into two sets. 

The phenomenon of sex occurs almost throughout the 
kingdom of life, but in spite of much study of its manifesta- 
tions in animals and plants, authorities agree that there is 
still an inexplicable residuum of mystery. G. C. Parker * 
writes, " The essence of a sexual cell is that " (unlike a 
gonidium or a spore) " it cannot give rise by itself to a new 
organism." It has to be fertilized. "Again, sexual cells 
differ in sex, but there are as yet no facts to demonstrate 
any essential structural difference between male and 
female cells. What is known about them tends to prove 
their structural similarity rather than their difference." 

* Encyc. Brit. ed. xi. Article, " Reproduction." 

3 1 6 Supplement. 

According to E. B. Wilson, * " The conclusion has become 
in a high degree probable that sex is controlled by factors 
internal to the germ cells." He asks, " Upon what con- 
ditions within the fertilized egg does the sexual differentia- 
tion depend ? In some way, we may now be reasonably 
sure, upon the physiological reactions of nucleus and 
protoplasm." It has occurred to me that possibly the sex 
difference may be due to the " spirads " of germ cells being 
enantiomorphs (opposite forms). Polariscopic and micro- 
scopic observations on the oogonia and antheridia of Chara 
yielded negative and inconclusive results. I think, how- 
ever, the path is worth following. Protein molecules are 
laevo- and dextro-gyre, and protoplasm in the mass has 
a gyrate structure. A glance at the figures of male cells 
of plants and animals shows a marked tendency to helicoid 
form probably partly in keeping with their motile function. 
Possibly natural selection would seize on a character 
such as protoplasmic enantiomorphism to secure the 
advantages that result from the blending of different 
strains. It is suggested that an enantio-spirad theory 
might help to explain the sex quality of the germ cell, and 
the incompleteness of the single cell. 

Almost throughout the organic world there exists a 
parallel series of two kinds of " germ " cells, commonly but 
not always exhibiting visibly-contrasting features especially 
as regards size and mobility. The two kinds of cells may 
form part of one organism or of two organisms specifically 

When Penicillium is put into a solution of racemic 
ammonium tartrate the organism selects the dextro-tartrate 
and leaves the laevo-tartrate. According to one theory 
the reaction depends on the organism and dextro-salt 
being molecularly adapted to each other as templet and 
material to be moulded, hand and glove, or lock and key. 

Similarly it is suggested that possibly the attraction- 
characters of the two kinds of germ cells may depend on 

* "Recent Researches in the Determination and Heredity of Sex." 
4 Science,' vol. xxix. p. 53, 1909. 

Supplement. 3 1 7 

the existence in them of dominant laevo-gyre or dextro- 
gyre physiological units (spirads). 

Apparently one objection to this supposition lies in the 
fact that the chromosomes of germ cells of two parent 


One of a score or so of NH. CH. COOH. bricks such as go to the making 
up of a protein molecule. The polypeptide contains Arginine, but is more 
complex. If a protein molecule be compared with a judge's wig, with say 
twenty coils, Arginine would represent only one coil. (The formula of 
Arginine is (NH 2 . C: NH. NH) CH 2 CH 2 CH 2 CH (NH 2 ) CO. OH.) 
C, at bare meeting-points of wires ; H, white disks ; O, dark disks and dark 
wings, (acid CO. OH with C and H) ; N, white triangles, (amines with 
H and CH.) A spiral arrangement round the supporting pillar has been 
brought into relief by means of white paint. 

Figure of model published by kind permission of Prof. H. E. Armstrong. 

organisms often continue to be distinguishable after division 
of the nucleus of the fertilized ovum. 

If the observations recorded in this supplement are 
correct, then biological evidence shows protoplasm to be 
constructed on a spiral plan. The polariscope reveals that 

3 1 8 Supplement. 

the molecules of the proteins of which protoplasm is 
formed are spirally constructed, for they rotate the plane of 

" Prof. H. E. Armstrong and E. F. Armstrong have 
constructed a model to illustrate the spiral arrangement in 
space of the groups of atoms of a polypeptide. See figure, 

P- 3I7- 

Dr. P. W. Robertson, in his research on the melting 
points of the Anilides, p-Toluidides, and a-Naphthalides 
of the Normal Fatty Acids (Trans. Chem. Soc., 1908, 
vol. 98, p. 1033), observes that " a maximum and minimum 
occur in the same series at a difference of six carbon 
atoms, a result which can possibly be correlated with the 
fact that a chain of six carbon atoms bends round on itself 
in space." 

It would appear that stereochemistry, physics, and 
biology bring evidence tending to show that the materials 
of which the physical basis of life is composed have a spiral 
plan of construction. 

# # # 

How the discovery of a peculiar kind of spirality in 
living matter will affect the great controversy between 
vitalists and mechanists it would be rash to predict. 
Huxley would have as soon spoken of the horologity of a 
clock as of the " vital force " of an organism. Prof. F. R. 
Japp believes some directive force may have come into 
operation when life originated. Lord Kelvin wrote, " The 
only contribution of dynamics to theoretical biology is the 
absolute negation of automatic commencement or auto- 
matic maintenance of life." 

According to Lord Kelvin again, " A watch spring is 
much farther beyond our understanding than is a gaseous 
nebula." The little coil of steel when wound up is the 
vehicle of the mysterious force of elasticity. Much farther 
still beyond our understanding is the spirally coiled spirad 
of a human brain cell, the vehicle, it may be, of sensation, 
volition and thought. 

SUMMARY. The " granules " so often present in 

* S. B. Schryver, " The General Characters of the Proteins," 

Supp lement. 319 

protoplasm are very frequently seen to be arranged 
in a peculiar spiral fashion which I have named 
spirodiscoid. The granules themselves, when of sufficient 
size, are likewise seen to have a similar construction. The 
spiral plan is visible in the so-called nuclear network 
in cells, and less distinctly in the cytoplasm. 

The illustrious Pasteur saw, through the medium of his 
theory of the molecular asymmetry of natural organic 
products, a vision of distant horizons. By the discovery of 
the visible spirodiscoid and spirad structure of protoplasm, 
and of its skeletons constituting the bulk of the known 
crust of the earth, it may be that one of those horizons 
has been reached. 




Note. Plates II C, II D, HE and XI. were done and 
printed off at an early period of the work. They include several 
useless photographs which could not well be eliminated later. 

Fig. r. Nummulitid pillars and chambers of Orthophragmina 
pratti, x no. Figure of no value here. 

Fig. 2. Section of Cornish Granite, x 65. Portion of a 
nummulite in horizontal aspect, showing region of central median 
plane. Section shows 3 furrowed marginal cords sloping down 
from west to east, and septa and alar prolongations at right angles 
to them. The lowest furrowed cord just above lower edge of 
photo shows over the middle an inverted V- or U-like septum 
about 20 mm. high, and the slit-like orifice of same just above 
cord. Note circular areas of dotted disks astride of cord, also 
convexity of cord from side to side. To see dotted circles or 
disks a lens X 3 should be used, but photo will bear magnification 
of 10. After careful inspection, the picture (especially lower 
third) will be found to be crowded with details of organic structure. 

Fig. 3. " Wold Cottage " meteorite. Portions of marginal 
cord with remains of septa astride, lying obliquely in lower half 
of photo. Compare with Fig. 2. x 260. 

Fig. 4. Particle from " Wold Cottage," at one time mistaken 
by me for Radiolarian: but is part of end of bundle of fine 
tubules ; similar pattern later seen in situ in Tertiary nummulite 
shells. X 1500. 

Fig. 5. Supposed Radiolarian ! Really a particle of nummu- 
litic structure, neck of "bottle" being a crystal. X 450. 

Fig. 6. Cornish granite. Two areas of broken down disk 
structure. X 260. 

Fig. 7, 8. Supposed Diatoms in granite ! Really nummulitic 
particles. -Fig. 7 x 2000. Fig. 8 X 1500. 

Fig. 9. Chantonnay meteorite. Two parallel sets of dots 
(upper very faint) astride furrowed cord. Highly magnified. 

[To face end. 

-% ^ 





Fig. 10. Section of Eozoon, poor but showing in upper lighter 
part of photo a portion of a broad curved band of marginal cord 
with bases of septa across, and (under lens X 3) disk structures. 
X 175. 

Fig. ii. Cornish granite. Three marginal cords passing 
obliquely downwards from left to right and alars at right angles. 
I can see better by reversing figure. The curve of a broad ridged 
marginal cord can be followed from middle of the then right edge 
near circular patch. With lens X 3 circular granular disks are 
clearly visible lying across cord, also faintly two fan-like septa 
with semicircular edge in oblique projection, x 65. 

Fig. 12. Cornish granite. Rhomboidal felspar crystal to left 
of centre shows -J inch (3 mm.) above middle of lower left border 
and well between two parallel dark streaks a spiral rim (i mm. 
diam.) with cog-like light and dark flecks. On left are two much 
larger concentric rims with radial "septa" and "alars." The 
upper dark streak, nearly tangential to inner of these, stabs five 
septa, x 3. Lens necessary. 

Fig. 13. Cornish granite. Photo poor but showing about 
centre of photo in oblique-vertical perspective three coils (respec- 
tively 2, 4 and 9 mm. in diameter) of central part of a shell ; also 
radial septa ; second coil like a thick-rimmed ring. X 6. 

Fig. 14. Denmark granite. Showing two marginal cords 
passing obliquely from left to right and two embracing alars, 
also septa and disk-structure. X 95. 

Fig. 15. Denmark granite. Two coils of marginal cord; 
and septa and alars. X 95. 

Fig. 1 6. Surface of Denmark granite showing faint outlines 
of several shells. X 4. 









(. ; to 

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7 A 




x A* 

' * 



Fig. 17. "Wold Cottage" meteorite. The lighter circular 
area about an inch in diameter against upper part of right edge of 
photo shows beautifully the spiro-discoid structure, i.e. coils of 
miniature "marginal cord " with radial " septa " and " alars " in 
plane vertical to " parent" spiral. X 260. 

Fig. 1 8. Barbotan meteorite. Fragment of much-blasted 
nummulite. Orientation better found by making left border the 
lower. About centre is curved rim with circular lines of ridges 
and with bands across. Around left half are three or four septa 
and alars passing across a second cord near left upper corner. 

X 6 5- 

Fig. 19. "Wold Cottage" meteorite. Sections of portions 
of three nummulites. Below and to right trans, section showing 
striated gothic edge of spiral lamina, also coil of marginal cord 
in oblique projection. In lower left quadrant a shell in perp. 
sect., and in upper left one in trans, sect. X 6. 

Fig. 20. " Wold Cottage." Dark patch. Poor, but showing 
traces of disk structure. X 2500. 

Fig. 21. Barbados Earth boiled at temp, of 1700 C. to form 
a glass. Certain dark specks in the glass show distinct traces of 
nummulitic structure that have escaped solution. X 2500. 

(Barbados Earth is a deposit of siliceous nummulites rich in 
still undissolved Radiolaria.) 

Fig. 21. Receptaciilites neptuni* showing continuity of nummu- 
litic structure in light and dark areas. The photo is from section 
shown on p. 254, fig. 38. Light and dark areas have precisely 
the same nummulitic structure ; also there are disks partly on 
light partly on dark side of sharp dividing line. X no. 

* Recently I have found that the photograph from which Fig. 39 was 
taken shows a nummulite very plainly when magnified only three diameters. 



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Plate. H.E. 



Fig. 39- Surface of a piece of chalk from Haling, X 5. 
There are portions of several nummulites visible in photo. The 
whole surface shows nothing but nummulitic structure, and every 
particle is in orderly arrangement, i.e. there is no debris. A 
marginal cord with septa curves round lower left corner within 
radius of 18 mm. Above middle of lower border are embracing 
gothic arches and a septum of shell in trans, section. (Lens 
X 3 necessary for seeing details.) 

Fig. 40. Surface of flint, x 8. As in Fig. 39, but silicified. 
Nummulitic structure faintly visible over whole field. A 
marginal cord with septa curves upward obliquely in projection 
from left of centre of lower edge of photo to right of centre of 
upper edge. 

Fig. 41. Eozoon canadense, banded structure, X 4. Nummu- 
litic structure is traceable both in light and dark bands, but with 

Fig. 42. From section of Eozoon, and wrongly described 
in Nummulosphere I. as a small nummulite shell. The dark 
gibbous area is really only a minute particle, o i mm. in 
diameter, of a nummulite. The area shows disk structure 
especially along straight edge, and also septa astride of cord 
along upper left edge. X 250. 

Fig. 43. Rough surface of Cornish granite showing part of a 
marginal cord and embracing alar ; also spirodisks single and 
in series. X 4. (Photo seen better reversed.) 

Fig. 44. Cornish granite. In upper left corner a septum in 
projection with " pans-pipe " rim, rising from banded cord ; at 
lower left corner of photo part of another cord ; disks fairly 
plentiful. X 65. 

Fig. 45. Cornish granite. A broad band of marginal cord 
extending across from S.E. to N.W. corner with two'septa across 
and in projection ; disks well shown. X no. (Low-power lens 
should be used.) 

Fig. 46. Monte Somma bomb. Part of vitrified septum. 
For long a mystery to me, at first taken for Globigerina ! 
Series of faint circles visible in projection round rim of large 
circle above. X no. 

Fig. 47. Cornish granite. Good spirodisk in oblique 
projection in lower right corner. Lower of three radiating bands 
is probably the edge of a layer of spiral lamina. X nc. 

Fig. 48. Banded trachyte. Surface X J. 

Fig. 49. Radiolarian in Barbados earth heated to white hot 
slag condition, x 500. 

Fig. 50. One of several dark spots in a section of glass 
bead made by melting Barbados earth in electric furnace. 
Useless figure ; better seen in Plate II. E, Fig. 21. 















C/ N 











Plate XI 


*** ^* 






Fig. A. Section of Portland oolite, x 3^. Concentric 
beaded bands of marginal cord and radial alars and septa 
of nummulites faintly visible over the whole field, but seen best 
in right half of upper left quadrant. The granules follow to a 
considerable extent the lines of nummulitic structure. (Low 
power lens necessary.) 

Fig. B. Section of Schlern dolomite, x 4. Marginal cord 
and septa of a nummulite. Many hours of the closest scrutiny 
are necessary to trace the nummulitic structure in this apparently 
structureless confusion. (Owing to increased experience since 
Plate XII. was done, I would now have little difficulty in rendering 
obvious the nummulitic nature of dolomite.) 

Fig. C. Dresden syenite, X 4. Nummulitic structure rather 
muzzy and confused, but abundant. In lower third marginal 
cords passing down obliquely from left to right with septa across. 
Within centre of right edge of photo, 3 mm. below lower edge of 
C, a disk 3 mm. across and with cogged rim, also three little 
dotted circles to left of disk. A disk in oblique perspective, 
6 mm. diam., with left lower rim blacked out, is visible 18 mm. 
above centre of picture. 


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Fig. A. Section of Totternhoe Stone (Lower Chalk), x no. 
A curved band of marginal cord with septa extends from side to 
side across middle of field. (Picture too dark, and not equal to 
negative. It has been difficult to get good results from photos of 
any of the chalks.) 

Fig. B. Section of Melbourn Rock (Middle Chalk) to show 
circular and oval " spheres," x 65. These " bodies" are simply 
clarified areas in nummulitic rock. The areas are usually dis- 
coidal, and not spheres either whole or in section. Nummulitic 
structure exists in the clear spaces, and can often be traced from 
light to dark areas. (See also PI. XXIII. Fig. H.) 

Fig. C. Weathered surface of a lump of Eozoon canadense, 
i.e. of a mass of very ancient nummulites. Natural size. The 
external form and inner structure of the nummulites in various 
aspects are visible to unaided eye, or under lens X 3. They are 
best seen in lower half of picture, where one or two might almost 
serve for descriptions of species. 



i -x 















Fig. A. Section of Clee Hill dforite by transmitted light, 
X 4. Coils of marginal cord, with septa of a nummulite. 
Parallel lines of cord with bands across, and dishes between 
septa are visible with a lens. 

Fig. B. Nummulites laevigata (from Selsey). Perpendicular 
section (ground down), X 20. Showing two marginal cords, 
also septa. 

Fig. C. Dresden syenite, X 60. Same view of a nummu- 
lite as in Fig. B. 









Fig. A. Stavropol meteorite. Section x 5, viewed by trans- 
mitted light. 

Fig. B. The same, X 10. (The central squarish black 
patch and two large white ones easily compare with the same in 
Fig. A.) Concentric radial shell-structure and spirodiscoid 
structure fairly clear. 

Fig. C. A centre of a coil, X 95. (It is not certain whether 
this centre is that of a shell or of a spirodisk.) The furrowed 
band of marginal cord with coils winding at slightly different 
planes, with septa astride, and with smaller spirodisk structure is 
absolutely clear and indubitable after a little careful study with 
a lens. 

Fig. D. Centre of C, X noo. 

Note. The Stavropol meteorite is a flat brick-shaped object 
about 5 by 4 inches in area and 2 inches thick. It was seen to 
fall on March 24 (o.s.), 1857, at 5 P.M. by a man working on a 
farm, and at a distance of about eighty yards, at Stavropol in 
the Caucasus. The specimen is in the Petrograd Museum. See 
H. Abich., Bull. Acad. Imp. Sci. St. Petersbourg, torn. ii. 1860, 
p. 407. The photographs are those of a section made from a 
fragment in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.). 






'* ^ 



Fig. A. Section of Snake River Basalt, X 10. Showing a 
slightly wider area than in PI. XIV. A. 

Careful study will show the ridged band of a " marginal cord " 
like a spirally wound motor-car tyre, with " septa " across. For 
guide to centre of coil see diagram. 

Fig. B. Mica X 3i- This wonderful photograph is crammed 
with details of nummulitic structure. The mica film was flaked 
off a thick block of dark amber-coloured Himalayan mica given 
to me by the great mica firm of Messrs. Wiggins. I have 
detected nummulitic structures even in the most transparent 
varieties of mineral by using the highest powers, but here the 
shell structure can be seen with a lens X 3. Spiral coils of 
marginal cord with septa and alars and spirodiscoid structures in 
all these are present over the whole field. 



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/ i : 






Fig. A. Section of "Wold Cottage" meteorite, x 4. To 
left of middle of upper half of picture is a well-marked coil of 
marginal cord about two inches across and in slightly oblique 
perspective. Right half of coil shows (like a motor-car tyre) a 
curve from above down and also from side to side ; parallel 
ridges well seen, also parts of septa across breadth, and spirodisks 
of which the whole shell is built. Within and nearly concentric 
with above coil is a smaller one near centre of the shell ; and 
without and nearly concentric a much larger and less clearly 
denned marginal cord. The field where not too dark is crowded 
with nummulitic, including spirodisk structure (see, for instance, 
double band of disks crossing a marginal cord, just above centre 
of lower border of photograph). 

Fig. B. Section of Ensisheim meteorite, x 4. Nummulitic 
structure is abundant, but less clear than in the " Wold Cottage " 

Fig. C. Dresden syenite. Section showing portions of broad 
band-like coils of marginal cord and also septa. X 95. 


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A v 

(C B 







Fig. A. Diatom ooze (Challenger, St. 157 Southern 
Ocean, 1950 fms.). Crushed fragment in balsam, X 65. It can 
be said with entire certainty that the six or seven circular, oval or 
(J -shaped bands are parts of septa or marginal cords of num- 
mulite shells (and not Radiolaria). The structure is obscured by 
the numerous Diatoms. When the eye is trained, it becomes 
possible to detect abundant spirodiscoid structure throughout. 
X 65. 

Fig. B. Red Clay (Challenger, St. 165, 2600 fms.). 
Crushed fragment in balsam x 260. In lighter areas nummulitic 
structure is visible. (The poor results in this figure led to the 
making of the excellent sections, of which photos are shown in 
PI. XXI. Figs. C, D.) 

Fig. C. Section of a hard chalk from Missenden, x 4. The 
whole field is full of nummulitic structure, viz., spiral coils of cord 
and the septa, but it is very difficult to make out. When magni- 
fied 12 diameters the section shows Globigerina and "spheres." 

Fig. D. Small diamond from Transvaal, x 4. Showing 
nummulitic structure. 

Fig. E. The same diamond X 260. Portions of marginal 
cord, septa, and spirodisks are visible to the trained eye, especially 
above centre of lower edge of picture. 





Fig. A. Section of rotten trachyte permeated with sulphur 
from interior of upper crater of Tenerife, x 4i. The coils of a 
much-blasted nummulite in perpendicular section are visible to 
the trained vision. The rock section has a pale reddish tinge, 
the red being much more apparent in sections. 

Fig. B. The same X 450. Every particle of the rock 
section shows nummulitic structure. The portion here selected 
shows part of a coil of marginal cord. The part figured was 
chosen to compare with Tschermak's figure of the section of Seres 
meteorite showing antler-like crystal with a wedge of olivine 
(biologically, part of marginal cord and septum). In addition 
there are septa and spirodiscoid structures. 

Fig. C. Section of Red Clay (Challenger, St. 165, 2600 fms.). 
Showing portion of a nummulite, X 10. Best viewed by making left 
border the lower. Curved series of circular disks seen across the 
field. Patient study with lens affords a wonderful revelation. 

Fig. D. The same X 260. Shows coiled disk-structure, i.e. 
miniature marginal cord and septa. 

Note. This plate is one of the most interesting of the set. 
The sections were made from red clay and rotten trachyte 
hardened in balsam.. The trachyte would have become red clay 
if it had fallen into the ocean. Red Clay comes from one 
universal deposit of mineralized nummulites. The " clay " may 
have been erupted from a submarine deep-seated part of the 
deposit, or from a supra-marine or upheaved area of the deposit, 
or lastly from the disintegrated surface of the deposit in situ. 



V ^ 

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Fig. A. Section of Radiolarian Chert, X 10. The figure 
within white square is shown magnified in B. 

Fig. B. One of the Radiolaria, x 450. Figs. A, B, are 
not needed here, and would have been deleted had it not been 
inconvenient to do so. 

Fig. C. Polished surface of Mazapil meteorite, x 5. The 
fine dotted or granular markings distinct from lines of the 
section or from cracks are here and there arranged in circular 
groups or defined curved bands. 

Fig. D. The same as C, but X 175. Photographed by 
reflected light. Here the organic and nummulitic structure is 
unmistakably apparent to the trained eye. (Use of lens X 3 

Fig. E. Surface of Jamestown meteorite, X 5. Showing 
outlines of nummulitic structure, X 5. 

Fig. F. Section of chalk (Upper chalk, Haling). Showing 
nummulitic structure, X 450. It is very difficult to secure good 
definition partly owing to halation. Fig. F, though poor, will 
well repay study. The negative was the best of many attempts. 




. . ' 



: - 

.:.-. ' 



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c *' 


Fig. A. Nummulites laevigata. Vertical section. Inter- 
pillar area of spiral lamina, showing the tubulated-striated appear- 
ance, and faint traces of spirodiscoid structure, x 260. 

Fig. B. N. laevigata. Section of a pillar showing faint traces 
of spirodiscoid structure in the supposed glassy structureless 
calcite. X 1500. 

Fig. C. N. laevigata. Horizontal aspect of spiral lamina 
showing orifices of tubules. X 260. 

Fig. D. As in C, but X noo. Showing dotted granular 
structure and traces of spirodiscoid structure between tubules. 

Fig. E. Ehrenberg's granulated disklets from chalk, showing 
rings (the latter seen to be beaded under power of 350). x 275. 

Fig. E'. Other (smaller) examples of E, showing the beaded 
rings as solid disks (spirodisks). x 2000. 

Fig. F. " Morpholiths " such as shown in Fig. 5, p. 50 ; 
really a mass of spirodisks. x 2500. 

Fig. G. Two " canals " in Eozoon, showing granular serpentine 
to contain nummulitic structure continuous with similar fainter 
structure in the calcite. x 450. 

Fig. H. Melbourn Rock, showing "spheres" X 450. The 
edge of lowest sphere shows banded cord. Very careful study 
with lens X 3 will reveal other coils and " septa," i.e. this 
" sphere " is a spirodisk. 

Note regarding Fig. " JE," as marked on plate. E is the 
right half of the divided figure, and E' the left half (marked 
E on plate). See guide diagram. 

' c? 






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Figs. A-G. Growing root-tip of bean, stained with iron- 

Figs. H-J. Ganglion cells of grey matter of human brain. 

Figs. A-B X 2500. At lower end of the great nucleus in B is 
a rouleau of three large spirodisks obliquely on edge. 

Figs. C-G X 1500. Some of these figures show fairly well the 
spirodiscoid structure both in nucleus and cytoplasm. 

Figs. H-J x 1500. The pictures are far too dark (and not so 
good as the negatives). The spirodisk structure is clearly visible 
in the preparations, for which I have to thank Dr. R. S. Trevor of 
the Pathological Laboratory, St. George's Hospital. 

Note. The above figures are best viewed under a strong light, 
and with a lens magnifying only 2 diameters (about 6-inch focus). 

If the pictures fail to convince though C-G are fairly good 
it is only necessary to examine, under oil immersion, any vegetable 
or animal cells or tissues to learn that the physical basis of life 
has a spirodiscoid structure. 








TO * 642-2997 








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