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Great Officer of the Legion of Honour, Counsellor of State, and Member of the 
Royal Council of Public Instruction, One of the Forty of the French Academy, 
Perpetual Secretary to the Academy of Sciences, Member of the Aca- 
demies and Royal Societies of London, Berlin, Petersburgh, 
Stockholm, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Gottingen, Turin, 
Bavaria, Modena, The Netherlands, Calcutta, and of 
the Linnsean Society of London, &c. &c. &c. &c. 





Triomphante des eaux, du tr^pas, et du temps, 
La terre a cru revoir ses premiers habitans. 






,„„,„„„ t [WHITE- FBIARS« 


KHS IDl-USA S.JKL.XV.U IK ,.,..„,.,,,,. ,,,„ /„ 

8 i [ ( ">'( >C i'i Eg ' 

EXlBlPffitAIS'T ' i ■ ■■ CS . 

TABLE of the Extent of Zodiacal Constellations, as they are drawn on our Globes, and of 
the Times which the Colures employ in traversing them. 




Longitudes in 

Year of the 

Year of the 


Longitudes in 

Year of the 

Year of the 







!• 0° 23' 40' 

— 389 


1 a 

7" 11° 0'44 



— 441 


2 a 

7 12 18 



— 710 



7 16 35 


— S034 

— 742 


7 22 20 34 



2 S 

— 810 


y scorp. 

7 27 41 







7 28 30 15 


2 r tail 

1 20 51 




20 27 20 




17 29 31 






1 19 6 


— 8215 

1 A 

7 28 50 6 




— 8798 


8 23 48 




2 6 59 40 


— 9504 

8 6 57 38 







8 12 35 30 






8 21 47 27 


A Coch. 

2 24 42 40 

— 4300 



35 36 40 




22 57 21 1653 





2 28 9 20 




8 28 28 20 



3 39 



9 3 32 56 




3 6 18 40 




9 10 50 28 



3 15 44 




9 14 15 15 


— 12187 


3 17 27 30 



9 23 2 19 


3 20 28 9 



9 25 39 25 




3 22 27 10 




24 17 40 




27 11 50 1957 




1 » 

3 24 21 55 


+ 45 


9 29 39 15 



— 254 

2 « 

10 1 3 58 


— 426 


10 1 15 30 




— 702 

10 14 53 30 



10 IS 59 28 



10 23 1 12 





19 1 5 




23 21 17 





4 12 30 



lu 8 56 




4 27 3 10 




10 20 36 30 





11 34 


— 15521 


5 18 50 55 




11 6 7 




11 13 56 12 



5 A 

11 18 3 28 




36 20 55 




39 7 28 






5 19 2 22 




11 15 49 





11 23 49 




— 4827 

12 11 22 


— 1S459 

— 1178G 


12 24 26 




7 4 9 50 



12 26 34 58 







48 15 18 




40 45 58 



Mean \ 
Duration J 




3 11 20 10 



— 1847 

To face page 121. 


Alluvial deposites. 

Limestone formation, with millstone (meulieres). 

Sandstone and sand of" Fontainbleau. 

Gypsum with bones. Siliceous Limestone. 

Coarse limestone. 
(Clay of London.) 

Tertiary sandstone, with lignites (brown coal), 

Plastic clay. Molasse. Nagelfluhe. 



soft (tuffeau). 



Green sand. 

Wead clay. Secondary sandstone with lignites. 

Ferruginous sand. 

Ammonites . 

Limestone of Jura. 

Quadersandstein, or white sandstone, 
sometimes above the lias. 

(Muschelkalk. - 
Ammonites nodosus. 

Slaty beds with fish and 


Coral rag. 

Dive clay. 

Oolites and Caen lime 

Marly or calcareous lias 
with graphcea arcuata 

Marls with fibrous gypsum. 
Arenaceous layers. 

Saliferous variegated sandstone 

Product, aculcat. 
Magnesian Limestone. Zechstein 

Coppery slate. 

(Alpine limestone.) 


Co-ordinate formations of porphyry, 
red sandstone and coal. 

Transition formations. 

Slates with Lydian stone, greywacke, diorites, euphotides. 

Limestone with orthoceratites, trilobites, and evomphalitee 

Primitive formations. 
Clayey slates (Thonchicfer) , 
Mica slates. 

[To face page 136. 


Beneath the chalk are green sands, the lower layers of which have 
some organic] remains. Still deeper are ferruginous sands. In many 
countries, both these are strongly marked with sandstone layers, in 
which are also found lignites, amber, and relics of animals. 

Under this is the vast mass of strata composing the chain of Jura 
and the mountains which form its continuation into Swabia and Fran- 
conia ; the main ridge of the Appenines, and a vast many beds in 
France and England. It consists of calcareous slates, rich in fish and 
crustaceous animals ; extensive beds of oolites, or of a granular lime- 
stone ; marl, grey limestone, having pyrites characterised by the pre- 
sence of ammonites ; oysters with bent valves, termed gryphaeae ; and 
of reptiles more and more singular in construction and character. 

Extensive layers of sand and sand- stone, often bearing vegetable 
impressions, support all these beds of Jura, and are themselves sup- 
ported by a layer of limestone, which is so replete with numerous 
shells and zoophytes that Werner has called it by the too common 
name of shelly limestone, and which other sandstone strata, of the 
sort called variegated sandstone, separate from a limestone still more 
ancient, not less incorrectly called Alpine limestone ; because it composes 
the high Alps of the Tyrol, but which in fact is found in our eastern 
provinces, and throughout the whole south of Germany. 

It is in this limestone, termed shelly, that the vast masses of gyp- 
sum and rich layers of salt are deposited; and beneath it are thin 
layers of coppery slates, very rich in fish, and amongst which are also 
found fresh-water reptiles. The coppery slate is supported by a red 
sandstone of the period when those famous layers of coal were depo- 
sited, the resource whence the present generation is supplied, and the 
remains of the earliest vegetable productions which ornamented the 
face of the globe. We find, from the trunks of ferns, whose impres- 
sions they have preserved, how much these ancient forests differed 
from the present. 

We next arrive at those transitive formations in which primaeval na- 
ture, a nature inanimate and solely mineral, seemed still to contend 
for empire with animated nature. Black limestone, and slates which 
only present Crustacea and shells of species now extinct, are present- 
ed alternately with the remains of primitive formations, and announce 
to us the fact of our having reached the most ancient formations that 
it has been permitted to us to discover ; those ancient foundations of 
the actual coating of the globe, the marble and primitive slates, the 
gneisses, and finally the granites. 

Such is the exact arrangement of the successive masses with which 
vol. i. p 


nature lias enveloped this earth. Geology has detected it hy com- 
bining the lights of mineralogy with those furnished by the sciences 
of organic structure and existence ; an order so new and pregnant 
with fact, that it has only been acquired since the actual proofs 
offered to observation have been preferred to fantastic systems, and 
contradictory conjectures on the primary origin of the globe, and all 
those phenomena, which in nowise resembling those to which we are 
accumstomed, could neither detect therein, to throw a light on the facts, 
materials to produce it, or a touchstone to try and prove. Some years 
since, the majority of geologists might be compared to historians who 
were only interested in the history of Fiance with regard to what 
passed amongst the Gauls before Julius Cyesar ; but yet these histo- 
rians, in composing their romances, availed themselves of their ac- 
quaintance with subsequent facts, while the geologists alluded to en- 
tirely neglected the posterior occurrences which alone could cast any 
light on the obscurity of former times. 

In conclusion, it only remains for me to present the result of my 
individual researches, or in other words the summary of my great 
work. I shall enumerate the animals that I have discovered, in an 
order the reverse of that which I have followed in enumerating the 
formations. By going deeper and deeper into the series of layers, I 
got more and more remote as to the epochs of time. I shall now 
commence with the most ancient formations, and mention the animals 
found in them, and passing from epoch to epoch, point out those 
which successively present themselves, in proportion as they approach 
more nearly to the present age. 

Enumeration of the Fossil Animals detected by the Author. 

We have seen that zoophytes, mollusca, and certain Crustacea begin 
to appear in the transition formations ; there may be even at that 
period bones and skeletons of fishes ; but they are at a very consider- 
able distance from the epoch in which we discover the remains of ani- 
mals which live on the earth and breathe the air of nature. 

The vast beds of coal, and the trunks of palms and ferns, of which 
they retain the impressions, although already evidencing dry lands, 
and a vegetable thereon, do not yet show any bones of quadrupeds, 
nor even of oviparous quadrupeds. 

It is only a little above, in the coppery bituminous slates, that we 
discover the first traces of them ; and what is very remarkable, the 
first quadrupeds are reptiles of the lizard tribe, very much like the large 
monitors now existing in the torrid zone. Several individuals of this 


species are found in the mines of Thuringia, in the midst of in- 
numerable fishes of genera now unknown, but which, in their cor- 
respondence with the genera of the present times, appear to have lived 
in fresh water. 

We know that the monitors are also fresh-water animals. A little 
higher is the limestone called Alpine, and above it the shelly lime- 
stone, so rich in entrochites and encrinites, which forms the basis of a 
great part of Germany and Lorraine. 

It has produced skeletons of a large sea tortoise, whose shells might 
be from six to eight feet in length ; and those of another oviparous 
quadruped of the lizard tribe, of great size, and with a sharp pointed 

Ascending through the sandstones, which only offer vegetable imprints 
of lrjge arundinaeese, bamboos, palms, and other monocotyledonous 
plants, we reach the different layers of the limestone called limestone 
of Jura, because it forms the principal nucleus of this chain. 

Herein the class of reptiles developes itself fully, and manifests 
itself in various forms, and of gigantic size. 

The middle part, composed of oolites and lias, or of grey limestone 
with grypheae, has had in deposite the remains of two genera the most 
extraordinary of all, which have united the characters of the class of 
oviparous quadrupeds with the organs of motion similar to those of the 

The ichthyosaurus discovered by Sir Everard Home has the head 
of a lizard, but extended into a pointed muzzle, armed with conical 
and pointed teeth; enormous eyes, of which the scelerotica is 
strengthened with a bony case ; a spine composed of flattened vertebrae, 
like the pieces used at the game of draughts, and concave on both 
sides like those of fishes ; the ribs slender, the sternum and shoulder- 
bones like those of lizards and ornithorynchi ; the pelvis small and 
weak; and four limbs, of which the humeri and femora are short and 
thick, and the other bones flatter, and set nearer each other, like the 
stones of a pavement, so as to compose, when enveloped in skin, 
fins all in a piece, and scarcely able to be bent ; in a word, analogous, 
both in its use and construction, to those of cetacea. These reptiles 
lived in the sea ; on land they could at best only crawl along like seals ; 
and at the same time they breathed elastic air. 

The remains of four species have been discovered. 
That most extensively found (I. communis) has blunt conical teeth, 
and is sometimes twenty feet long. 

The second (I pi city o don) at least as large, has compressed teeth, with 
round and swelling roots. 



The third (I. ienuirostris) has slender and pointed teeth, and the 
muzzle slim and lengthened. 

The fourth (I. intermedins) has teeth of a medium nature hetween 
the last species and the first. The two latter species do not attain 
half the size of the two former. 

The jrfesiosaurus, discovered by Mr. Conybeare, must have appeared 
even more monstrous than the ichthyosaurus. It had similar limbs, 
but rather more elongated and flexible ; its shoulder and pelvis were 
stronger, its vertebra? were nearly assimilated to those of lizards ; but 
what distinguished it from all oviparous and viviparous quadrupeds, 
was a slender neck as long as its body, composed of thirty vertebra? and 
upwards, a number greater than that of the neck of all other animals, 
rising from the trunk like the body of a serpent, and terminated by a 
very small head, in which are to be found all essential characteristics 
of those of lizards. 

If any thing could justify those hydras and other monsters which 
are so often drawn on the monuments of the middle ages, it would 
assuredly be this plesiosaurus. 

Five species are already known, the most generally distributed (P. 
dolicliodeirus) is more than twenty feet long. 

A second (P. recentior) found in recent strata, has flatter vertebra?. 

A third (P. carinatus) has a prominence on the lower surface of the 

A fourth, and lastly a fifth (P. pentagonus) and (P. trig onus) have 
respectively five and three prominences. 

These two genera are everywhere distributed in the lias. They 
were discovered in England, where the lias is exposed in cliffs of great 
extent, and they have been also found in France and Germany. 

With them there existed two species of crocodiles, whose bones are 
also deposited in the lias, amongst ammonites, terebratulae, aud other 
shells of this ancient sea. We have skeletons of them in our cliffs at 
Honfleur, where are found the remains from which I have drawn their 

One of the species, the long-nosed gavial, has a muzzle longer and 
the head sharper than the[gaviai, or long-nosed crocodile of the Ganges; 
the body of its vertebrae is convex in front, whilst in the crocodiles now 
existing they are so behind. It has been found in the lias of Franco- 
nia as well as in those of France. 

A second species, the short-nosed gavial, with a muzzle of mid- 
dling length, less pointing than that of the gavial of the Ganges, and 
more so than the crocodiles as now seen in San Domingo. The verte- 
brae were slightly hollowed at the two extremities. 


But these crocodiles are not the only animals which have been found 
n these beds of secondary limestone. 

The fine oolite quarries of Caen have produced a very remarkable one, 
of which the muzzle, as long and as pointed as the long-nosed gavial 
has a head wider behind, with the fossa? of the temporal bones larger. 
It was, by reason of its stony scales, with round cavities, the best 
armed of all the crocodiles. The teeth of the lower jaw are alternately 
longer and shorter. 

There is another species in the oolites of England, but it is only known 
by some parts of its cranium, which is not sufficient to afford a perfect 
idea of it*. 

Another very remarkable genus of reptiles, whose remains, although 
also found in the concretion of lias, abound particularly in the oolite 
and the higher sands, is the megalosaurus properly so called, for, 
with the shape of lizards, and particularly of the monitors, of which 
it has also the cutting and indented teeth, it was of so enormous a size, 
that in assigning to it the properties of the monitors, it would exceed 
seventy feet in length. It would be a lizard as large as a whale. 
It was discovered in England by Mr. Buckland, but we have them also 
in France, and some of its bones have been found in Germany, if not 
of the same species, at least of as pecies which cannot be classed 
with i3ny other genus. We are indebted to M. cle Sceramerring for the 
first description of it. He discovered the remains in the superior strata 
of the oolites, in the calcareous schists (slates) of Franconia, long cele- 
brated for the numerous fossils with which they have supplied the 
cabinets of the curious, and which will be made still more useful 
by the services which their peculiar adaptation for the purposes of 
lithography will enable them to render to the arts and sciences. 

Crocodiles also are found in these limestone-schists, and always those 
with the long muzzle. M. de Scemmerring has described one (the C. 
prisons) of which the entire skeleton of a small individual was pre- 
served almost as well as it could have been in our cabinets. It is one 
of those which resemble the real gavial of the Ganges ; but the united 
portion of its lower jaw is not so long ; the lower teeth are alternately 
and regularly longer and shorter, and it has ten additional vertebrae at 
the tail. 

But the most remarkable animals which are deposited in these 
limestone-schists are the flying lizards, which I have named ptero- 

They are reptiles with a very short tail, a very long back, a muzzle 

* We expect a full explanation of it from the researches of Mr. Conybeare. 


greatly extended and armed with sharp teeth ; supported on high legs, 
the anterior extremity has an excessively elongated claw, which proba- 
bly supported a membrane which sustained it in the air, together with 
four other toes of ordinary size, terminated by hooked claws. One of 
these strange animals, whose appearance would be frightful, was about 
the size of a thrush, and the other that of a common bat ; but from 
fragments we find that there existed a much larger species. 

A little above tliese calcareous schists is the limestone (nearly homo- 
genous) of the ridge of Jura. It contains also bones, but always those 
of reptiles — crocodiles and fresh- water tortoises — of which it produces 
an abundance in the environs of Soleure. They have been there disco- 
verd and scrutinized with much care by M. Hugi; and from the frag- 
ments already collected we can easily recognize a considerable number 
of the species of the fresh-water tortoise, or emydes, which ulterior dis- 
coveries only can determine, but many of which have been already dis- 
tinguished by their sizes and shapes from all kinds of known emydes. 
It is among these numerous oviparous quadrupeds of all sizes and 
forms; in the midst of these crocodiles, of these tortoises, of these 
flying reptiles, of these immense megalosauri, of these monstrous 
plesiosauri, that some small mammifera are said to be first detected. 
It is certain that jaw bones, and some bones discovered in England, 
belong to this class, and particularly to the family of didelphides, or 
those of insectivorous animals. 

It may however be suspected, that the stones which encrust them 
have originated from some local recomposition subsequent to the epoch 
of the formation of these layers. However that may be, w T e find still 
that the reptile tribe predominated exclusively for a long time. 

The ferruginous sands placed in England above the chalk, abound 
with crocodiles, tortoises, megalosauri, and particularly with a reptile 
which presents the singular character of using his teeth like our her- 
bivorous mammifera. 

Mr. Mantell, of Lewes, in Sussex, discovered this peculiar animal, 
as well as other large reptiles, in the sands beneath the chalk. * He 
named it the iguanodon. 

In the chalk itself there are only reptilia : we find remains of tor- 
toises and crocodile?. The famous soft sandstone quarries (carrieres 
de tuffau) of the mountain of Saint Peter, near Maestricht, which be- 
long to the formation of chalk, have given, beside the very large sea 
tortoises, and a vast quantity of shells and marine zoophytes, a genus 
of lizards not less gigantic than the megalosauri, which has become 
famous from the researches of Camper, and by the figures which 
Faujas has given of its bones in his historv of this mountain. 


It was upwards of twenty-five feet long ; its great jaws were armed 
with very strong teeth, conical, rather arched and ridged, and it had 
also some of these teeth in the palate. There were more than a hun- 
dred and thirty vertebrae in its spine, convex in front and concave be- 
hind. Its tail was high and broad, and formed a large vertical oar. 
Mr. Conybeare has recently proposed to call it the mosasaurus. 

The clays and lignites, which are above the chalk, have only produced 
crocodiles ; and I have every reason to conclude that the lignites in 
Switzerland, in which have been found the bones of the beaver and 
mastodon, belong to a more recent period. It is only in the coarse 
limestone which rests on these clays that I have first found the bones 
of mammifera ; and even these belong to marine mammifera, to un- 
known dolphins, to lamantins and morses. 

Amongst the dolphins, there is one whose muzzle, more lengthened 
than in any known species, had the lower jaw united to an extent 
nearly equal to that of a gavial. It was found near Dax, by the late 
President of Borda. 

Another of the rocks in the department of Orne, has also a long 
muzzle, but rather differently shaped. 

The whole genus of lamantines is now marine, and inhabit the seas 
of the torrid zone ; and that of the morses, of whom we have but one 
living species, is confined to the icy sea. However, we find the ske- 
leton of these two species together in the layers of the coarse lime- 
stone of the middle of France ; and this union of species, of which the 
most similar are now in opposite zones, will again occur in our re- 
searches more than once. 

Our fossil lamantins differ from the known lamantins, by having 
a head more elongated, and otherwise constructed. Their ribs, easily 
recognised by their rounded thickness and by the density of their tex- 
ture, are not rare in our different provinces. 

As to the fossil morse, we have as yet only fragments insufficient 
to characterise the species. 

It is only in the layers which have succeeded the coarse limestone, 
or at most in thosewhich might have been formed at the same time with 
it but deposited in the fresh-water lakes, that the class of land mam- 
mifera begins to show itself in any abundance. 

I regard as belonging to the same age, and as having lived at the 
same time, but perhaps in different situations, those animals whose 
remains are buried in the molasse and the ancient beds of gravel in 
the south of France ; in the gypsum layers mingled with limestone, 
similar to those in the environs of Paris and Aix, and in the marly 


deposites of fresh water, covered by the marine beds of Alsace, the 
province of Orleans, and of Berri. 

This animal population has a very remarkable character in the 
abundance and variety of certain genera of pachydcrmata, which are 
unknown amongst the quadrupeds now existing, and the character- 
istics of which are more or less nearly related to tapirs, rhinoceroses, 
and camels. 

The genera, whose discovery is entirely due to me, are — the pa- 
Iceotheria, the lophiodonta, the anoplotheria, the anthracotheria, the 
c7icropotami, and the adapis. 

The paleeotheria resemble the tapirs in the general form, in that of 
the head, and particularly in the shortness of the bones of the nose, 
which proves that they had, like the tapirs, a small proboscis ; and 
also in having six incisores and two canine teeth in each jaw ; but 
they resembled the rhinoceros in their grinders, of which the upper 
ones were square, with prominent ridges differently shaped, and the 
lower ones shaped like double crescents, and their feet in like manner 
were divided into three toes, while the fore feet of the tapir have four 

It is one of the genera, the most distributed and numerous in 
species, that are found in the layers of its particular period. Our 
gypsum quarries in the environs of Paris are crowded with them. The 
first (P. magnum) as large as a horse. Three resemble swine, but one 
(P. medium) has narrow and long feet ; one (P. crassmn) with larger 
feet ; one (P. latum) with feet still larger and much more short ; the 
fifth species (P. curtimi) of the size of a sheep, is much lower, and has 
feet still larger and shorter in proportion than the last ; a sixth (P. 
minus) is of the size of a small sheep and has slim feet, the lateral 
toes of which are shorter than the others ; and finally there is one 
(P. minimum) not larger than a hare, which has also long and slender 

They have also been found in other provinces of France ; at Puy in 
Velay, in the beds of gypseous marl, one species (P. velaunum), very 
similar to the (P. medium), but differing from it in the formation of 
the lower jaw; in the vicinity of Orleaus, in the layer of marly stone, 
a species (P. aurelianense) distinguished from the others by having 
the returning angle of the lower grinders with the crescent cleft into 
a double point, and by some difference in the prominences of the upper 
grinders ; near Issel, in a layer of gravel, or molasse, "along the decli- 
vities of the Black Mountain, a species (P. isselanuni) characterised 
like those of Orleans, but smaller ; but principally in the molasse of 


the department of the Dordogne, the palssotberium occurs not less 
abundantly than in the gypsum quarries of Paris. 

The Duke de Caze has discovered in the quarries of one field, bones 
of three species, which appear different from all those of our envi- 

The lophiodons resemble the tapirs still more closely than the palseo- 
theria do, as their lower grinders have transverse prominences like the 
tapirs. They differ from them, however, because they have the front 
teeth more simple, and the back one of all has three prominences, and 
the upper ones are rhomboidal and ridged similarly to those of the 

*We are ignorant of the form of their muzzle and the number of 
their toes. I have discovered exactly twelve species, all in France, 
embedded in the marly stones, formed by the fresh-water deposites, 
and filled with lymnese and planorbes, shells which are peculiar to 
pools and marshes. 

The largest was found near Orleans, in the same quarry as the pa- 
la?otheria. It closely resembles the rhinoceros. 

There is another smaller species in the same place ; a third is to 
be found at Montpellier ; a fourth n ear Laon ; two near Buchsweiler, 
in Alsace ; five near Argenton, in Berri ; and one of the three is again 
found near Issel, where there are two others. There is also a very 
large species near Gannat. 

These species differ in size, which in the smallest is scarcely equal 
to that of a lamb three months old, and in details in the formation of 
their teeth, which it would be tedious to enter upon here. 

The anoplotheria are at present only found in the gypsum quarries 
in the environs of Paris. They have two characteristics not observed 
in any other animals ; feet with two toes, of which the metacarpus 
and metatarsus are distinct, and not joined in one solid piece, as in 
ruminating animals ; and teeth in a continuous series, without any 
space intervening. Man alone has teeth so closely placed without any 
gap between. Those of the anoplotheria consist of six incisores in 
each jaw ; one canine and seven grinders on each side, as well above 
as below; their canine are short, and resemble the exterior incisores. 
The first three grinders are compressed ; the other four are, in the 
upper jaw, square, with transverse ridges, and a small cone between 
them ; and in the lower jaw, shaped like a double crescent, but with- 
out any prominence at the base. The last has three crescents. Their 
head is oblong, and does not announce that the muzzle has terminated 
either with a proboscis or a snout. 


This extraordinary species, comparable to no species now exibting, 
is subdivided into three sub-genera. The anoplotheria, properly so 
called, the anterior grinders of which are still tolerably thick, and the 
posterior of the lower jaw have a plane ridge in the crescent. The 
xiphodons, whose anterior grinders are thin and cutting, and whose 
posterior in the lower jaw have, immediately opposite to the concavity 
of each of their crescents, a point which by use assumes the form of the 
crescent, so that there the crescents are double, as in ruminating 
animals. The dichobunes, whose exterior crescents are also pointed at 
the beginning, and which thus have points arranged in pairs on the 
back grinders of the lower jaw. 

The anoplotheria, the most common in our gypsum-quarries (A. com- 
mune), is an animal as tall as a wild boar, but much larger, and with a 
very long and very thick tail, so that as a whole it has nearly the pro- 
perties of the otter, but much larger. It is probable that it swam well 
and frequented lakes, at the bottom of which the bones have become 
incrusted by gypseous deposites. We have one smaller species, but 
otherwise quite similar (An. secundariuni) . 

We have as yet found only one xiphodon, a very remarkable animal, 
which I have named An. gracile. It is slender and slightly formed, like 
the most beautiful gazelle. 

There is one dichobwie, nearly the size of a hare, which I call An. 

In addition to its sub-generic characteristics, it differs from the ano- 
plotheria and xiphodons by having two small and slender toes on 
each foot on the sides of the two large toes. 

We are not aware whether these lateral toes existed in the two other 
dichobunes, which are small, and scarcely exceed the Guinea pig in 

The genus of anihracotheria is nearly the medium between the 
pala^otheria, the anoplotheria, and hogs. I have thus named it, be- 
cause two of its species have been found in the lignites of Cadibona, 
near Savone. The first was nearly as large as the rhinoceros; the se- 
cond was smaller. They are also found in Alsace and Velay. Their 
grinders are similar to those of the anoplotheiia, but they have project- 
ing canine teeth. 

The genus cheropotamns is found in our gypsum quarries, together 
with the palaeotheria and anoplotheria, but itis much more rare. The back 
grinders are square at top, rectangular at bottom, and have four large 
conical projections, sin rounded by some smaller. The front grinders 
are short cones, slightly compressed, with double roots ; its canine teeth 


are small. We are not yet acquainted with its incisores nor its feet. 
I have only one species, of the size of a Siam hog. 

The genus adapts has in the same way but one species at most, not 
larger than a rabbit. This is also found in our gypsum-quarries, and 
must have had a close alliance with anoplotheria. 

Thus we have mentioned nearly forty species of pachydermata, belong- 
ing to genera now quite extinct, to the sizes and shapes of which we 
have no closer existing resemblance than in the tapirs and a daman. 

This great number of pachydermata is the more remarkable, as the 
ruminantia, now so numerous, in the genera of stags and gazelles, and 
which attain so vast a size in those of oxen, giraffes, and camels, are 
rarely to be found in the strata to which we have been alluding. 

I have never detected the smallest relic in our gypsum -quarries, and 
all that has come to me consists of some fragments of a stag, of the 
size of the roebuck, but of another species, collected from the palseo- 
theria of Orleans, and in one or two other small fragments from 
Switzerland, both perhaps of equivocal origin. 

But our pachydermata were not consequently the only inhabitants 
of the countries where they lived. In our gypsum-quarries, at least 
we find with them carnivora, glires, many sorts of birds, crocodiles 
and tortoises, and these two latter also accompany them in the molasse 
and marly rock of the middle and south of Fiance. 

At the he^d of the carnivora I placed a bat very recently disco- 
vered at Montmartre, and of the proper genus vespertilio*. The exist- 
ence of this genus at so remote an epoch is the more surprising, as 
neither in this formation, nor in those which follow it, have I been 
able to discover any trace either of cheiroptera nor of quadrumana. No 
bones, no tooth of monkey nor maki, however, presented themselves to 
me in my long researches. 

Montmartre has also produced for me the bones of a fox different 
from ours, and equally different from the jackals — isatisis, and the 
various species of foxes which are known in America ; also the bones 
of a carnivorous animal a-kin to the racoon and coaties, but larger 
than any of the known species ; those of a peculiar species of civet 
cat ; and of two or three other carnivora which could not be deter- 
mined for want of parts sufficiently perfect." 

What is yet more singular is, that there are skeletons of a small 
sarigue, a-kin to the marmoset, but different, and consequently of an 
animal whose genus is now confined to the new world. We have also 

* I am indebted to the Count de Bournon for my knowledge of this; and as it is 
not described hi my great work, I give drawings of it in Plate 2, figs. 1 and 2. 


collected skeletons of two small glires, or the genus of the dormouse 5 
and a head of the squirrel genus. 

Our gypsum-quarries are more prolific in bones of birds than any 
of the other layers, either anterior or subsequent to its deposite. We 
find whole skeletons, perfect skeletons, and parts of at least ten spe- 
cies of all the orders. 

The crocodiles of that age resembled our common crocodiles, in the 
form of the bead, whilst in the layers of the epoch of tbe Jura forma- 
tion, we only discover the species a-kin to the gavial. 

There has been found at Argenton a species remarkable for its com- 
pressed teeth, with sharp edges cutting like the dentated teeth of cer- 
tain monitors. We also see some remains in our gypsum-quarries. 

The tortoises of this age are all of fresh-water production ; some 
belong to the sub-genus of emydes-, and there are some as well at 
Montmartre as in the molasse of the Doidogne, of a greater magni- 
tude than any now existing; the others are trionyces, or soft tortoises. 

This genus, which is easily distinguished by the venniculated sur- 
face of the bones of its shell, and which now only exists in the rivers 
of hot countries, such as the Nile, the Ganges, and the Oronoco, was 
very plentiful in the same formations as the palaeotheria. There are a 
vast quantity of these remains at Montmartre, and in the molasse 
sandstone of the Dordogne, and other gravelly deposites of the south 
of France. 

The fresh-water lakes about which these animals lived, and which 
received their bones, nourished, besides tortoises and crocodiles, some 
fishes and some shelly animals. All that have been collected are as 
foreign to our climate, and even as unknown in our present waters, 
as the palaeotheria and other contemporary quadrupeds. 

The fish even belong partly to unknown species. 

Thus, we cannot doubt but that this population, which may be 
termed that of the middle age, — this first great production of mammi- 
fera, has been entirely destroyed ; and in fact, wherever we discover 
their remains, there are above them vast marine deposites, so that the 
sea must have overwhelmed the countries which these races inhabited, 
and has covered them for, a very considerable period. 

Were the countries thus innundated vast in extent ? The investiga- 
tion of the ancient beds formed in their lakes has not yet enabled us 
to decide this question. 

To the same epoch I attribute our gypsum beds, and those of .Aix 
many of the quarries of marly stones, and the molassic sandstones, at 
least those of the south of France. I am also disposed to assign to the 
same period, portions of the molasses of Switzerland, and the lignites 


of Liguria and Alsace, in which are found quadrupeds of the families 
above described ; but I do not learn that any of these animals are 
found in other countries. The fossil bones of Germany, England, 
and Italy, are all either older or more recent^than those we have enu- 
merated, and belong either to that ancient race of reptiles of the Ju- 
raic and copper -slate formations, or to the deposites of the last gene- 
ral deluge — the diluvial layers. 

We may then believe, as there is no proof of the contrary, that, 
at the epoch when these numerous pachydermata existed, the globe 
only afforded them ; as habitations, a small number of tolerably fertile 
plains, wherein they could multiply ; and perhaps these plains were 
isolated regions, separated by considerable spaces of lofty chains, 
where we do not find that our animals have left any vestiges of their 

We have, through the researches of M. Adolphe Brongniart, be- 
come acquainted with the nature of the vegetables which covered these 
few countries. In the same layers with our palseotheria are collected 
trunks of palm trees, and many other beautiful plants, whose genus is 
now only to be found in hot climates ; palm trees, crocodiles, and 
trionyces are always found in] greater or lesser numbers wherever the 
ancient pachydermata are discovered. 

But the sea, which had covered these countries and destroyed their 
animals, left great deposites, which still form, at a trifling depth, the 
basis of our great plains ; then it retired again, and yielded vast sur- 
faces to a new population, of which the relics are to be found in the 
sandy and muddy layers of all known countries. 

It is to this tranquil deposit of the sea that we should ascribe some 
cetacea very much like those of the present time — a dolphin similar 
to our epaulard, and a whale very similar to our rorquals — both ex- 
humed in Lombardy by M. Cortosi ; a large whale's head found in 
the very centre of Paris, and described by Lamanon and by Dauben- 
ton ; and a genus entirely new, which I discovered and named ziphius, 
and which at least consists of three species. It is allied to the cacha- 
lots and hyperoodons. 

In the population which fills our post-diluvial and superficial strata, 
and which has existed in the deposite we have just mentioned, there 
are no longer palseotheria, anoplotheria, nor any of this peculiar genus. 
The pachydermata, however, still were found there ; the gigantic pachy- 
dermata, elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami, accompanied by innu- 
merable horses, and many large ruminantia. Carnivora of the size of 
lions, tigers, andjHiyaenas, desolated the new animal kingdom. Its 


general character, even in the extreme north, and on the banks of our 
Icy Sea, was similar to that now only presented by the torrid zone ; 
and yet there was no species exactly similar to those of the present 

Amongst these animals, in particular, was the elephant, called by 
the Russians the mammoth (elephas primigenius of Blumenbach) from 
fifteen to eighteen feet in height, covered with a coarse red wool, and 
long black bristly hairs, which formed a mane along its back : its 
enormous tusks were implanted in alveolae longer than those of the 
elephants of our times ; otherwise it was very similar to the elephant 
of India. It has left thousands of its carcases, from Spain to the bor- 
ders of Siberia, and has been discovered throughout North America ; 
so that it was spread over the two coasts of the Atlantic ocean, if 
indeed the ocean was at that time in the place where it now flows. It is 
well known that its tusks are still so well preserved in cold countries, 
that they are used for the same purpose as new ivory ; and, as we before 
remarked, individuals have been found w r ith the flesh, skin, and hair, 
which had been frozen since the final catastrophe of the globe. The 
Tartars and Chinese have imagined it to be an animal which lives 
under ground, and perishes whenever it appears in daylight. 

After it, and nearly equal to it, came also, in the countries forming 
the two present continents, the narrow-toothed mastodon, which re- 
sembled the elephant, being armed, like it, with enormous tusks, but 
these tusks covered with enamel ; lower in the legs, and with grinders 
mamillated and cased with a thick and shining enamel, which have 
long supplied what is called the occidental turquoise. 

Its remains, so common in the temperate parts of Europe, are not 
found so generally in the north ; but we discover them in the moun- 
tains of South America, with two kindred species. 

North America has an immense quantity of the remains of the great 
mastodon, a species still larger than the preceding, as tall in proportion 
as the elephant, with tusks not less enormous, and whose grinders, full 
of sharp points, have caused it to be taken for a carnivorous animal. 

Its bones were very thick, and had much solidity ; even its hoofs 
and stomach are said to have been found in good preservation, and easily 
recognizable. It is asserted that the stomach was filled with the 
crushed branches of a tree. The savages believe that this race was 
exterminated by the gods, lest they should destroy the human race. 

"With these enormous pachydermata existed two genera rather less 
than the rhinoceros and hippopotami. 

The hippopotamus of the period was common enough in the coun- 


tries which now form France, Germany, and England, and particular- 
ly in Italy. Its resemblance to the present African species was such 
that it requires an attentive scrutiny to ascertain the distinguishing cha- 

There was also, at this period, a small species of hippopotamus, of 
the size of a wild hoar, to which we have at present nothing similar. 

The rhinoceroses of large size were at least three in number ; all double- 
horned. The species most distributed over Germany (viz. Rh. tichor- 
hirius), and which, like the elephant, is found to the very shores of the 
Icy Sea, where entire individuals are to be discovered, had a long 
head, the bones of the nose very strong, supported by an osseous junc- 
tion of the nostrils, not simply cartilaginous, and wanted iucisores. 

Another species, rarer and belonging to a more temperate climate 
(Rh. incisivus*), had incisores like the present rhinoceros of the East 
Indies, and particularly resembled that of Sumatra. Its distinctive 
characteristics were to be found in a different formation of the head. 

The third (Rh. leptorhinus) wanted incisores, like the first and the 
Cape rhinoceros of the present day; but it was distinguished by a 
muzzle more pointed and limbs more slender. In Italy particularly, 
its remains are found in the same strata as those of the elephants, 
mastodonta, and hippopotami. 

Lastly, there is a fourth species (Rh. mimitus), furnished, as the 
second, with incisores, but of lesser size, and scarcely larger than a 
hog. It was undoubtedly rare, for its relics have only been collected 
in some places in France. 

To these four genera of large pachydermata may be added a tapir, 
equal to them in size, and consequently twice or thrice as large in the 
linear dimensions as the American tapir. 

We find its teeth in many parts of France and Germany, and gene- 
rally accompanied with those of the rhinoceros, mastodon, and ele- 

There is still another to be added to these, which occurs, however, 
in very few places, — a large pachyderma, of which only the lower jaw 
has been found, and whose teeth were doubly crescented and modu- 
lated. M. Fischer, who discovered it amongst the bones from Siberia, 
has named it the elasmotherium. 

The genus of the horse also existed at this period. Thousands of 
its teeth are found with those which we have just described, in nearly 
all their deposites : but it is impossible to say whether it was or was 
not of the same species as that now existing, because the skeletons of 


this species so much resemble each other, that they cannot be deter- 
mined from isolated fragments. 

Ruminating animals were infinitely more numerous than at the 
epoch of the palseotheria ; their numerical proportion even must differ 
hut little from what it now is ; hut we are convinced that there were 
many different species. 

This we may confidently assert with respect to the stag, of superior 
size even to the elk, which is common in the mail deposites and turf 
bogs of Ireland and England, and of which remains have heen disin- 
terred in France, Germany, and Italy, in the same beds which contain 
the bones of the elephant. Its large and branching antlers extend 
twelve or fourteen feet from one point to the other, in allowing for the 
curved portions. 

This distinction is not so clear with respect to the bones of deer and oxen 
which have been collected in certain rocks ; they are (and particu- 
larly in England) sometimes accompanied with the bones of the ele- 
phant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, and those of a hyena, which are 
also met with in many layers of alluvial deposites, together with the 
pachydermata : consequently they are of the same age ; but there is 
yet much difficulty in deciding how they differ from the present breeds 
of similar animals. 

The clefts of the rocks of Gibraltar, Cette, Nice, Uliveta, near Pisa, 
and others on the banks of the Mediterranean, are filled with a red and 
firm cement, which envelopes fragments of rock and fresh-water shells, 
with many bones of quadrupeds, for the most part fractured, and which 
have been called osseous breccia?. The bones which fill them some- 
times present characteristics sufficient to prove that they have belonged 
to animals unknown at least in Europe. We find there, for instance, 
four species of deer, three of w ; hich have characteristics in their teeth 
observable only in the deer of the Indian Archipelago. 

There is a fifth race known, near Verona, whose antlers exceed in 
spread those of the deer of Canada. 

We also find in particular places, with the bones of the rhinoceros 
and other quadrupeds of this epoch, those of a deer so closely resem- 
bling the rein-deer, that it is difficult to assign distinguishing charac- 
ters to it ; and what is still more extraordinary, rein- deer are confined 
to the coldest climates of the north, whilst the whole genus of the rhi- 
noceros belongs to the torrid zone. 

There are in the layers of which we are speaking, remains of a 
species very similar to the fallow-deer, but a third larger, and quanti- 


ties of horns very much resembling those of our deer, as well as bones 
very closely assimilating to those of the aurochs and those of the do- 
mestic ox, two very distinct species, which former naturalists had im- 
properly confounded. . However, the entire heads, like those of other 
animals, as well as the musk ox of Canada, which have often been dug 
up, do not come from positions sufficiently assured to enable us to de- 
termine that these species were cotemporary with the great pachyder- 
mata that we have above mentioned. 
# The osseous braccise, of the banks of the Mediterranean, have also 
afforded two species of lagomys, an animal now only existing in Sibe- 
ria ; two species of rabbits, lemmings, and rats of the size of the water- 
rat, and that of a mouse. They are also found in the caverns of Eng- 

The osseous bracciae, contain even the bones of shrew mice and 

There are in certain sandy strata of Tuscany, the teeth of a porcu- 
pine, and in those of Russia, the head of a species of beaver larger 
than ours, which Mr. Fischer calls trogontherium. But it is principally 
in the class Edentata, that these races of animals, prior to the last 
period, assume a size much greater than that of the present congene- 
rate species and attain even a gigantic size. 

The megatherium unites one portion of the generic character of the 
armadilloes with a portion of that of the sloth, and in size it equals 
the largest rhinoceros. Its nails must have been of monstrous length 
and power ; all its frame has vast solidity. It has yet only been 
found in the sandy strata of North America. 

The megalonyx resembled it much in its characteristics, but was 
somewhat less ; its nails were longer and sharper. Some of its bones 
and entire toes have been found in certain caverns in Virginia, and in 
an island on the coast of Georgia. 

These two enormous edentata have only deposited their remains in 
America ; but Europe possessed one which did not yield to them in 
bulk. It is not known by a single terminating toe-joint ; but this is 
sufficient to convince us that it very much resembled a pangolin, but a 
pangolin is nearly twenty feet long. It lived in the same districts as 
the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the immense tapir; for we. find its 
bones with theirs in a sandy layer near Darmstadt, not far from the 

The osseous bracciae also contain, but very rarely, bones of carnivora, 
much more numerous in caverns, that is to say, in cavities larger and 
more complicated than the clefts or veins containing osseous bracciae. 

VOL. I. Q 


The Jura formation particularly is celebrated for them, in that part 
which extends into Germany, where for ages incredible quantities have 
been carried off and destroyed, because peculiar medical properties 
have been assigned to them, and there is sufficient remaining to 
astound the imagination. They are principally bones of a species of 
very large bear (ursus speheu-s) characterised by a rounder forehead 
than that of any of our living bears ; with these bones are mingled 
those of two other species of bears (U. arctoideus et U. priscus), 
those of a hyena, (H. fossilis) allied to the spotted Cape hyena, but 
differing in certain details of its teeth, and the form of its head ; 
those of two tigers or panthers, those of a wolf, those of a fox, those of 
a glutton, those of weasels, civets, and other small carnivora. 

"We may remark here, that singular association of animals of which 
those similar live now in climates as distant as the Cape, the country 
of the spotted hyenas, and Lapland, the country of our gluttons. And 
we have thus seen in a cavern in France, a rhinoceros and a rein-deer 
beside each other. 

Bears rarely occur in alluvial strata, though they are said to have 
been found in Austria and Hainault, of the large species discovered in 
caves, and there is one in Tuscany of a peculiar species, remarkable 
for its compressed canine teeth (U. cullriclens); hyenas are found there 
more frequently. We have discovered them in France with the bones 
of elephants and rhinoceroses. A short time since a cavern was dis- 
covered in England which contained prodigious quantities of them, of 
all ages, and in the soil even the excrements were plainly to be recog- 
nized. They must have lived there for a long period, and they had 
dragged into their cave the bones of the elephants, rhinoceroses, hippo- 
potami, horses, oxen, deer, and of various glires which are there min- 
gled with their own remains, and bear evident marks of the tooth of 
the hyenas. But what must have been the soil of England when these 
enormous animals served as prey to these ferocious beasts ? These 
caverns also contain the bones of tigers, wolves and foxes ; but those 
of the bear are of extremely rare occurrence *. 

However this may be, we see that at the period of the animal popu- 
lation, now under our consideration, the class of carnivora was numer- 
ous and powerful. It had three bears with rounded canine teeth ; 
one bear with compressed canine teeth, a large tiger or lion, another 
of the felis tribe of the size of a panther, a hyena, a wolf, a fox, a glut- 
ton, a martin, or polecat, and a weasel. 

See Mr. Buckland's admirable work ' Reliquiae Dihraans.' 



The class of glires, composed generally of a weak and small species, 
has had but little notice from fossil collectors ; and yet its remains, in 
the layers and deposites of which we are treating, have also presented 
unknown species, such in particular is a species of lagomys of the os- 
seous bracciae of Corsica and Sardinia, somewhat similar to the Alpine 
lagomys of the high mountains of Siberia ; so true is it, that it is not 
in the torrid zone that we must always seek for animals resembling 
those of the epoch preceding the last general catastrophe. 

These are the principal animals whose remains have been discovered 
in that mass of earth, of sand and of mud, in that diluvium, which 
everywhere covers our vast plains, fills our caverns, and chokes up the 
fissures of many of our large rocks. They formed most indubitably 
the population of the continents at the epoch of the great catastrophe 
which has destroyed their race, and which prepared the soil on which 
the animals of the present day subsist. Whatever resemblance cer- 
tain of the species of the present day offer to them, it cannot be dis- 
puted that the total of this population had a totally distinct character, 
and that the majority of the races which composed it have been anni- 

It is wonderful, that among all these mammifera, of which at the pre- 
sent day the greater part have a congenerate species in the warm cli- 
mates, there has not been one quadrumanous animal, not a single 
bone, or a single tooth of a monkey, not even a bone or a tooth of an 
extinct species of this animal. 

Neither is there any remains of man. All the bones of the human 
race which have been collected along with those which we have 
spoken of, have been the result of accident *, and besides their 
number is extremely small, which it certainly would not be if men 
had then been established in the countries inhabited by these ani- 
mals. Where then was the human race ? Did the last and most per- 
fect work of the Creator exist nowhere ? Did the animals which now 
accompany him on earth, and of which there are no fossil remains 
to be traced, surround him ? Have the lands in which they lived 
together been swallowed up, when those which they now inhabit, and 
of which, a great inundation might have destroyed the anterior popu- 
lation, were again left dry ? On this head the study of fossils gives 

* See, in Mr. Buekland's ' Reliquiae Diluvianse,' an account of the skeleton of a 
female found in a cave in Pavyland ; and in my ' Recherches,' v. iv. p. 193, concern- 
ing a fragment of a jaw found in the osseous brecciae, at Nice. 

M. de Schlotheim collected human bones in the fissures of Kcestritz, where there 
are also rhinoceros bones ; but he himself is doubtful as to the epoch of their de- 



us no information, and in this Discourse we must not seek an answer to 
our question from other sources. 

It is certain, that we are at present at least in the midst of a fourth 
succession of terrestial animals, and that after the age of reptiles, after 
that of palaeotheria, after that of mammoths, mastodonta and megatheria, 
the age arrived in which the human species, together with some do- 
mestic animals, governs and fertilizes the earth peaceably ; and it is 
only in formations subsequent to this period, in alluvial deposites, in 
turf-bogs, in the recent concretions, that those bones are found in a 
fossil state, which all belong to animals known and now existing. 

Such are the human skeletons of Gaudaloupe, incrusted in a species 
of travatine with land shells, slate and fragments of the shells and ma- 
drepores of the neighbouring sea ; the bones of oxen, deer, roebucks, 
and beavers of common occurrence in turf-bogs, and all bones of the 
human race, and of domestic animals found in the deposites of rivers, 
in burial grounds, and in fields of battle. 

None of these remains belong either to the vast deposite of the great 
catastrophe, or to those of the ages preceding that wonderful event. 




Every one has heard of the Ibis, the bird to which the ancient Egypti- 
ans paid religious worship ; which they brought up in the interior of 
their temples, which they allowed to stray unharmed through their 
cities, and whose murderer, even though involuntary, was punished by 
death * ; which they embalmed with as mnch care as their own 
parents. To this bird was attributed a virgin purity ; an inviolable 
attachment to their country, of which they were made the emblem — 
an attachment of such force, that they would die with huuger, if re- 
moved elsewhere ; a bird which possessed sufficient instinct to know 
the increase and wane of the moon, and regulated accordingly the 
quantity of its daily nourishment, and the development of its young; 
which checked, at the very frontiers of Egypt, the serpents which 
would have carried destruction into this sacred landf, and inspired 
them with so much terror, that they even feared their feathers^: ; this 
bird, whose form the gods themselves would have assumed, if compelled 
to adopt a mortal shape, and into which Mercury was really transformed 
when he desired to travel over the earth, and teach men the arts and 

Not any other animal could be as easily recognizable as this one ; 
for there is no other of which the ancients have left us, as they have of 
the ibis, such admirable descriptions, figures so exact and even co- 
loured, and the body itself carefully preserved with its feathers under 
the triple covering of a bituminous preservation of thick linen, in 
many folds, and in vessels solid and highly varnished. 

And yet, of all modern writers who have spoken of the ibis, Bruce 
alone — a traveller more celebrated for his courage, than the accuracy 
of his notions on natural history — has not been in error regarding the 

* Herod. 1, 2. 

t iEliaD, lib. 2, c. xxxv and xxxviii. 
+ Ibid, lib. xxxviiii. 

158 ON THE IB1S - 

true species of this bird ; and his ideas in this respect, exact as they 

were, have not been adopted by other naturalists*. 

After many changes of opinion concerning the ibis, it was apparently 
agreed, at the period when I published the first edition of this work, to 
five the name of ibis to a bird, a native of Africa, nearly the size of 
the stork, with white plumage, and the plumes of the wings black, 
perched on long red legs, with a long beak, arched with cutting edges, 
rounded at the base, jagged at the point, of a pale yellow colour, and 
with its face covered with a red skin, without plumage, which does not 
go farther than its eyes. 

Such is the ibis of Perraultf, the white ibis of BrissonJ, the white 
ibis of Egypt of Buffon§, and the tantalus ibis of LiniiBeus, in his 
twelfth edition. 

It was to this very bird that M. Blumenbach, at the same time con- 
fessing its rarity at the present day, at least in Lower Egypt, asserted 
that the Egyptians paid divine honours || ; and yet M. Blumenbach 
had an opportunity of examining the skeleton of a real mummy ibis, 
which he opened in London^}. I was in the same error as these 
learned men whom I have just mentioned, until I had an opportunity 
of examining by myself some mummies of the ibis. 

This pleasure was first procured for me by the late M. Fourcroy, to 
whom M. Groberl", colonel of artillery, returning from Egypt, had 
given two of these mummies, both taken from the pits of Saccara. On 
unfolding them carefully, we perceived that the bones of the embalmed 
bird were much smaller than those of the tantalus ibis of naturalists; 
that they were but very little larger than those of the curlew ; that the 
beak resembled that of the latter, only being somewhat shorter in pro- 
portion to its thickness, and not at all similar to that of the tantalus ; 
in fact, that its plumage was white, with the plumes of the w : ing 
marked with black, as stated by the ancients. 

"We were then convinced that the bird embalmed by the ancient 

* Bruce's French translation, in 8vo. v. xiii, p. 264, and Atlas plate xxxv, under 
the name Abouhannes. 

f Description of an ibis, and two storks. Acad, des Sciences of Paris v. iii 
pi. iii, p. 61, 4to. ed. 1754, pi. xiii, fig. 1. The beak is represented as truncated at 
the end, a fault of the engraver. 

% Numenius sordide albo rufescens, capite anteriore nudo rubro ; lateribus rubro 
purpureo et carneo colore maculatis, remigibus majoribus nigris, rectricibus sordide 
albo rufescentibus, rostro in exortu dilute luteo, in extremitate aurantio, pedibus 
griseis. Ibis Candida Brisson Ornithologie, vol. 5, p. 349. 

§ ' Planches Enlumin^es,' num. 389. Hist, des Oiseaux, v. viii. in 4to. p. 14 
pi. 1. The last figure is copied from Perrault, with the same fault. 

|| Handbuch der Naturgeschichte, p. 203, of the edit. 1799, but in the edition of 
1807, he has restored the name of ibis to the bird to which it belongs. 

\ Philosophical Tranactions, for 1794. 


Egyptians was certainly not the tantalus ibis of naturalists ; that it 
was smaller, and that it must be of the curlew genus. 

We learnt, after some research, that the ibis mummies opened be- 
fore by other naturalists were similar to our own. BufFon expressly 
says, that he had examined many ; that the birds they contained had 
the beak and size of curlews, and yet he blindly follows Perrault, in 
taking the tantalus of Africa for the ibis. 

One of these mummies opened by BufFon is still in the Museum, 
and is similar to those which we have opened. 

Dr. Shaw in the supplement to his travels (fol. edit. Oxford, 1746, 
plate 5, pp. 64 to 66), describes and depicts with care the bones of a 
similar mummy ; the beak, he says, was six English inches in length, 
like that of the curlew, &c. In a word, his account exactly tallies with 
our own examination. 

Caylus (Recueil d'Antiquites, vol. vi. pi. 11, fig. 1), represents the 
mummy ibis as only one foot seven inches high, including its ban- 
dages, although he expressly says, that the bird was then placed on its 
feet, with the head erect, and that no part of it had been bent in the 

Hasselquist, who took a small black and white heron for the ibis, 
gives as his principal reason, that the size of this bird, which is that of 
a crow, corresponds very well with the size of the mummies of the 
ibis*. How then could Linnaeus give the name of ibis to a bird as 
large as a stork? How indeed could he consider this bird as the same 
with the ardca ibis of Hasselquist, which, besides its smallness, had a 
straight beak? And how could this latter error of synomy have been 
perpetuated in the Systema Natures, down to the present time ? 

A short time after the examination made with M. Fourcroy, M. 
Olivier, had the complaisance to show us some bones which he had 
brought from two mummies of the ibis; and to open two others with 
us. The bones there found resembled those of the mummies of 
Colonel Grobert, only one of the four was smaller, but it was easy to 
judge by the epiphyses, that it had belonged to a young individual. 

The only drawing of the beak of an embalmed ibis, which does not 
entirely agree with those which we examined, was that of Edwards 
(plate cv) ; it is a ninth larger, and yet we do not question its accuracy ; 
for M. Olivier shewed us also the length, an eighth or ninth longer 
than the others, in proportion of 180 to 165 equally taken from a 

This beak only shows that there were among the ibis species, indi- 

* Hasselquist Iter Palestinum, p. 249, magnitude*, seu cornicis, and p. 
250, vasa quae in sepulcris iaveniuntur, cum avibus conditis, hujus sunt magnitudinis 


viduals larger than others, but proves nothing in favour of the tantalus, 
for it has not the same shaped beak as that; it precisely resembles the 
curlew; and, besides, the beak of the tantalus is a third larger than that 
of our large embalmed ibises, and two-fifths that of the smallest. 

We are moreover assured that there are similar variations in the size 
of our European curlews, according to age and sex; they are still 
larger in the green curlews of Italy, and in our pewits (barges) ,• and 
it appears that this is a property common to the greater part of the 
species of long-billed (becasses) birds. 

Finally, our naturalists returned from the expedition to Egypt with 
a rich harvest of objects, ancient as well as modern. My learned friend 
M. Geoffroy St. Hilaire particularly occupied himself in collecting, with 
great care, mummies of every sort, and had brought a great number of 
those of the ibis, as well from Saccara as from Thebes. 

The former were in the same state as those brought by M. Grobert ; 
that is to say, that their bones had experienced a kind of half combus- 
tion, and were without consistency; they broke on the least touch, and 
it was very difficult to procure one entire, still more to detach them so 
as to form a skeleton, 

The bones of those of Thebes were much better preserved, either 
from the greater heat of the climate, or from the greater care be- 
stowed in their preparation: and M. Geoffroy having sacrificed se- 
veral of them, my assistant, M. Rousseau, contrived, by the exercise 
of patience, skill, and ingenious and delicate methods, to form an 
entire skeleton, by stripping all the bones, and uniting them with 
a fine wire thread. This skeleton has been placed in the museum, 
of which it forms one of the most striking ornaments. We subjoin an 
engraving of it. See Plate 4. 

We remark that this mummy must have been that of one kept in a 
state of domesticity in the temples ; for the left shoulder has been 
broken and then united. It is probable that a wild bird, whose wing 
was broken, would die before it healed, for want of strength to pursue 
its prey, or power to escape from its enemies. 

This skeleton enables us to determine unhesitatingly the character 
and proportions of the bird ; we clearly see that it was in every re- 
spect a real curlew, rather larger than that of Europe, but with its 
beak thicker and shorter. We subjoin a comparative table of the di- 
mensions of these two birds, taken, for the Ibis, from the skeleton of 
the mummy of Thebes, and for the Curlew, from a skeleton which was 
formerly in our anatomical galleries. We have added those of the 
parts of the ibises of Saccara w T Hch we have been enabled to obtain 






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We see by this table that the ibis of Thebes was larger than our 
curlew ; that one of the ibises of Saccara was of the medium"size be- 
tween that of Tliebes and our curlew ; and that the other was smaller 
than this latter bird. We observe also, that the different parts of the 
body of the ibis have net the same proportions to each other as those 
of the curlew have. The beak of the former, for instance, is re- 
markably shorter, although all the other parts are larger, &c. 

Yet these differences of proportion do not go beyond what may dis- 
tinguish the species of the same genus ; the form and character which 
are to be considered as generic, are precisely similar. 

The true ibis, then, must be sought no longer amongst these tall 
tantali with a sharp beak, but amongst the curlews ; and here we 
should note that by the word curlew {courlis) we do not mean the 
artificial genus formed by Latham and Gmelin, of all long-shanked 
(echassiers) birds, with a beak curved downwards, and a head devoid 
of plumage, whether their beak be rounded or sharp, but a natural 
genus, which we shall call numenius, and which will include all the 
long-shanked birds with beaks curved downwards, soft and rounded, 
whether their head be devoid of, or covered with plumage. It is the 
curlew genus, such as Buffon has imagined it*. 

A glance over the collection of birds in the king's cabinet enables us 
to recognise a species which has not been yet either named or de- 
scribed by authors of systems, except perhaps Mr. Latham, and which, 
examined with care, will satisfy us as being the same with those which 
the ancient monuments and mummies have given as the characteristics 
of the ibis. 

We add an engraving of it. See Plate V. 

It is a bird rather larger than the curlew ; its beak is curved in a 
manner similar to that of the curlew, but rather shorter, and much 
thicker in proportion, a little flattened towards the base, and marked 
at each side with a furrow which proceeds from the nostril to the 
extremity, while in the curlew the corresponding furrow is effaced 
before it reaches midway down the beak. The colon of this beak is 
more or less black. The head and two-thirds of the beak are entirely 
destitute of featheis, and the skin is black. The body feathers, those 
of the wings and tail are white, with the exception of the ends of the 
large wing-feathers, which are black ; the four last secondary feathers 
have remarkably long beards, spread out, which fall upon the ends of the 
wings when closed ; their colour is a brilliant black with a violet shade. 

* We have definitely established this genus in our ' Regne Animal,' vol. i, p. 483, 
and it appears to have been adopted by naturalists. 


The feet are black, the legs thicker, and the toes evidently longer 
in proportion than those of the curlew ; the membranes between the 
bases of the toes are also more extended ; the leg is wholly covered 
with small polygonal scales, or what are called reticulated ; and the 
back of the toes even has only similar scales, whilst the curlew has 
two-thirds of the legs and the whole of the toes, scutulated, that is, 
furnished with transverse scales. There is a reddish hue under the 
wing, towards the commencement of the thigh, and on the covers of 
the large anterior wing ; but this tint appears to be an individual cha- 
racteristic, or the result of accident ; for it does not appear in any 
other individuals otherwise precisely similar. 

This first individual came from the collection of the stadtholder, 
and we do not know its native country. The late M. Desmoulins, 
assistant naturalist at the museum, who had seen two others, said that 
they came from Senegal. One of them must have been" brought by 
M. Geoffroy di Villeneuve. But we shall presently find that Bruce* 
found this species in Ethiopia, where it is called Abou Hannes (Father 
John) ; and that Savigny saw it in abundance in Lower Egypt, where 
it is called Abou Mengel (Father of the Sickle,) It is probable that 
the moderns will not take the assertion of the ancients literally, that 
the ibis never quitted its own country without perishing f. 

This assertion would besides be as contrary to the tantalus ibis, as 
to our curlew ; for the individuals which we have in Europe came from 
Senegal. It was then that M. Geoffroy de Villeneuve brought that 
now in the museum of natural history ; it is even much more rare in 
Egypt than our curlew, since no one after Perrault mentions having 
seen it there, or received one from thence. 

An individual without the reddish hue, but otherwise entirely simi- 
lar to the first, was brought home by M. de Labillardiere, after his 
voyage in Australasia with M. d'Entrecasteaux. 

We have since learnt that this sort of numenius has, when young, 
the head and neck furnished with feathers on those parts, which, as 
they advance in age, become denuded, and that the scapularies are less 
expanded, and of a paler and duller black. It is in this state that the 
late M. Peron brought one from Australasia, which did not differ from 
our own and that of Labillardiere, except in some black lines on the 
early feathers, and the first coverings of the wings, and the head and 
top of the neck were ornamented with blackish plumage. A young 
individual brought by M. Savigny from Egypt, and depicted in the 

* Bruce, loc. cit. ; and Sevigny, Mem. sur l'ibis, p. 12. 
f ^Elian, lib. 2, cap. xxxviii. 


first plate in his Memoir of the Ibis, and in the great work on Egypt 
" Birds," plate 7. The feathers of the head and back of the neck are 
rather grey than black, and those of the front of the neck are white. 
Finally, Brace's drawing, in his Atlas, plate 35, was also made from 
a young individual seen in Abyssinia, and nearly similar to that of 
M. Savigny. 

We have received from Pondicherry, by M. Leschenault, an indi- 
vidual resembling that of Peru, of which only the head, and a small 
part of the back of the neck, are covered with white feathers ; but it is 
not less certain that all these birds have the head and neck bare when 
they reach their full growth. 

The late M. Mace sent from Bengal to the museum, many individu- 
als of a species closely allied to this, of Which the beak is rather longer 
and less curved ; the first feather only has a little black on two sides 
of its extremity, and the secondary feathers are also rather extended 
and lightly tinged with black. 

According to M. Savigny (page 23 of his work) it appears that M. 
le Vaillant has observed another, which has also the secondary feathers 
extended, but which always preserves its feathers, and whose face is 
of a red colour. 

The same M. Mace also sent a tantalus, closely resembling that 
which naturalists have regarded as the ibis, but the small wing-cover- 
ing of which, and a large band below the breast, are black, speckled 
with white. The lower secondary feathers are lengthened, and of a 
white colour. We know that in the tantalus ibis of naturalists, the 
small wing-coverings are speckled with lilac, and that the under part 
of the body is entirely white. 

We add a table of the parts of some of these birds, which we have 
been able to measure accurately in stuffed individuals. If we compare 
them with those of the skeletons of the ibis mummies, we shall judge 
how impossible it was for an instant to believe that these were the 
mummies of the tantalus. 



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If we examine the books of the ancients and their monuments, and 
compare what they have said concerning the ibis, or the figures they 
have left of it, with the bird we have just described, we shall find all 
our difficulties vanish, and all testimonies agree with the best of all, 
that is, the body of the bird itself, preserved it its mummy state. 

Herodotus says (in his Euterpe, No. 76), " The most common ibises 
have the head and front of the neck denuded, the plumage white, ex- 
cept on the head, on the nape of the neck, the ends of the wings, and 
the rump, which are black. The beak and feet resemble those of the 
other ibises;" and he had said of these " They are of the size of the 
crow, of an entirely black colour, and have feet like those of the crane, 
with a crooked beak." 

How does it occur that the travellers of modern days do not give 
us descriptions of birds as accurate as that which Herodotus has made 
of the ibis ? 

How can this description be applied to a bird which has only the 
face denuded, and of a red colour, to a bird which has the rump white, 
and not covered as ours by the black feathers of its wings ? 

And yet the last characteristic was essential to the ibis. Plutarch 
says (de Iside et Osiride), that the form of a lunar crescent was to be 
found in the manner in which the white was cut by the black in the 
plumage of this bird. It was, in fact, by the union of the black of 
these latter wing-feathers with that of the two extremities of the 
wings, that there is formed in the white a large semicircular indention 
which gives to the white the appearance of a crescent. 

It is now difficult to explain what he meant, by saying that the feet 
of the ibis formed an equilateral triangle with its beak. But we can 
understand the assertion of ^Elian, that when it draws back its head 
and neck into its feathers, it has something of the appearance of a 
heart *. It was thence, according to Horus Apollo (c. 35), made the 
emblem of the human heart. 

According to what Herodotus says of the nudity of the throat, and 
of the feathers which covered the upper part of the neck, he seems to 
have had in his eye an individual of a middle age, but it is no less 
certain that the Egyptians knew also very well those individuals with 
the neck entirely denuded. We see such represented from sculptures 
of bronze in the collection of Egyptian antiquities of Caylus (vol. i, pi. 
10, No. 4 ; and vol. v, pi. 11, No. 1). This latter figure so much re- 
sembles the bird given in pi. 5, that we may think it wa3 taken from it. 

* .<Elian, lib. x, cap. xxix. 


The paintings of the Herculaneum leave no species in doubt. The 
paintings, No. 138 and 140, of David's edition, and vol. ii, p. 315, No. 
59, and p, 321, No. 60, of the original edition, which represent Egyp- 
tian ceremonies, have many ibises walking in the courts of the temples. 
They are exactly similar to the bird that we have pointed out. We 
recognize particularly the characteristic blackness of the head and 
neck, and we easily see by the proportion of their figure with the per- 
sons of the picture, that it must have been a bird of half a metre at the 
most, and not a metre or nearly so, as the tantalus ibis. 

The mosaic of Palasstrina also presents in its middle part many ibises 
perched on the buildings ; and they differ in no respect from those of 
the paintings of Herculaneum. 

A sardonyx in the collection of Dr. Mead, copied by Shaw, App. pi. 
5, and representing an ibis, seems to be the minature of the bird we 
have described. 

A medal of Adrian, in large bronze, represented in the Farnesian 
Museum, vol, vi, pi. 28, fig. 6, and another of the same emperor, in 
silver, represented in vol. iii, pi. 6, fig. 9, gives us figures of the ibis, 
which, in spite of their smallness, are very similar to our birds. 

As to the figures of the ibis engraved on the plinth of the statue of 
the Nile, at Belvedere, and on the copy of it in the garden of the 
Tuileries, they are not sufficiently finished to serve as proofs; but 
amongst the hieroglyphics of which the Institute of Egypt has 
caused impressions to be taken on the spot, there are many which 
decidedly represent our bird. We give one of these impressions com- 
municated by M. Geoffroy {Plate 6). 

We particularly insist on this latter figure, because it is the most 
fully authenticated of all ; having been made at the time and on the 
spot where the ibis was worshipped, and being cotemporaneous with its 
mummies ; whilst those we have above cited, done in Italy, and by 
artists who did not profess the Egyptian worship, may not be so 

We owe Bruce the justice of saying, that he detected the bird which 
he has described under the name of abouhannes, as the real ibis. He 
expressly says, that this bird appeared to him to resemble that which 
the mummy pitchers contained ; he also says, that this abouhannes, 
or Father John, is well known and common on the banks of the Nile, 
whilst he never saw there the bird represented by Buffbn, under the 
name of the white ibis of Egypt. 

M. Savigny, one of the naturalists of the expedition to Egypt, also 
assures us that he never discovered the tantalus in this country, but he 
found many of our numenius near the lake Menzale, in Lower Egypt, 
and he brought their relics away with him. 


The abouhannes has been placed by M. Latham in his Index Ornitho- 
logicus, under the name of tantalus JEthiopicus ,• but he makes no 
mention of the conjecture of Bruce on its identity with the ibis. 

Travellers before and after Bruce appear to have all been in error. 

Belon thought that the white ibis was the stork, thereby evidently 
contradicting all testimonies ; and none have been of his opinion except 
the apothecaries, who took the stork for an emblem, confounding it 
with the ibis to M'hom they attributed the invention of clysters *. 

Prosper Alpinus, who relates that this invention was due to the ibis, 
gives no description of this bird in his medicine of the Egyptians f. 
In his Natural History of Egypt, he only speaks of it from Herodotus, 
to whose words he only adds, doubtless after a passage of Strabo, to 
which I shall recur presently, that this bird resembles the stork in size 
and figure. He says, that he was told that they were found in abun- 
dance, both white and black, on the banks of the Nile ; but it is evident 
by his expressions, that he did not think they had been seen +. 

Shaw says of the ibis §, that it is now excessively rare, and that he 
had never seen one. His emseesy, or ox-bird, which Gmelin very im- 
properly makes to correspond with the tantalus ibis, is the size of the 
curlew, white bodied and with red beak and feet. It is found in the 
fields near cattle ; its flesh is not well flavoured, and soon.decays ||. It 
is easy to perceive that it is not the tantalus, and still less the ibis of 
the ancients. 

Hasselquist neither knew the white ibis, nor the black ibis ; his 
ardea ibis is a small heron with a straight beak. Linnaeus (tenth 
edition), has correctly placed it amongst the heron tribe ; buttle was 
in error, as I have already remarked, in afterwards removing it as 
synonymous with the tantalus genus. 

De Maillet (Descrip. de l'Egypte, part 2, p. 23), conjectures that 
the ibis may be a bird peculiar to Egypt, and which is there called 
Pharaoh's fowl (chapon de Pharaoh), and at Aleppo Saphan-bacha. It 
devours serpents. There are a black and white species, and it follows, 
for more than a hundred leagues, the caravans going from Cairo to 
Meccca, to feed on the carcasses of the animals which are killed on 
the journey, whilst at any other season not one of them is to be seen 
on this route. But the author does not consider this as certain ; he 

* ^Elian, lib. ii, cap. xxxv. Phil, de Solest. An. Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. ii. de 
Anim. Prop. 16 etc. 

f De Med. ^Egypt. lib. i, fol. v. i. Ed. Paris, 1646. 

X Recherehes Egypt, lib. iv., cap. i, vol. i, p. 199, of the Leyden edit. 1735. 

§ See French translation, v. ii. p. 167. 

|| See Shaw's French translation, vol. 1, p. 330. 


even says that we must give up the idea of understanding the ancients 
when they speak so as to seem unwilling to be understood. He 
concludes that the ancients have perhaps indiscriminately' comprised 
under the name of ibis, all those birds which were serviceable to Egypt 
in clearing it of the dangerous reptiles which the climate abundantly 
produced; such as the vulture, falcon, stork, sparrow hawk, &c. 

He was right in not considering his Pharaoh's fowl as the ibis; for, 
though the description is very imperfect, and Buffon believed that he 
detected the ibis in it, it is easily seen, as well as by what Pococke says 
of it, that this bird must have been carnivorous ; and, in fact, we see 
by the figure given by Bruce (vol. v, p. 191, of the French edition), 
that Pharaoh's fowl was only the rachama, or small white vulture, with 
black wings (vultur perenopterus of Linnaeus) a bird very different from 
that which we have above proved to be the ibis. 

Pococke says, that it appears by the descriptions given of the ibis, 
and by the figures which he had seen of it in the temples of Upper 
Egypt, that it was a species of crane. I have seen, he adds, a quan- 
tity of these birds in the islands of the Nile ; they were for the most 
part of a greyish colour (French translation, ed. 12mo.vol. ii. p. 153). 
These few words are enough to prove that he did not know the ibis 
better than the others. 

The learned have not been more fortunate in their conjectures than 
the travellers. Middleton compares with the ibis, a bronze figure of 
a bird with a short curved beak, the neck very long, and the head orna- 
mented with a' small crest, a' figure which never had any similarity to 
the bird of the Egyptians (Antiq. Mon. pi. 10, p. 129). This figure, 
besides, is not at all in the Egyptian style, and Middleton himself 
agrees that it must have been made at Rome. Saumaise, on Solinus, 
says nothing which relates to the real question. 

As to the black ibis, which Aristotle places near Pelusium only *, it 
was long thought that Belom alone had seen it f . The bird described 
by him under this name, is a species of curlew, to which he attributes 
a head similar to that of the cormorant, that is to say, apparently bald, 
with red beak and feet % ; but as he makes no mention of the ibis in 
his journey §, I suspect that it was only in France that he made this 
relation of the two, and by comparison with the ibis mummies. It 
is certain that the curlew with red beak and feet, was unkuown in 

* Hist. Anim. lib. ix, cap. xxvii, and lib. x, cap. xxx. 

+■ Buffcra's Hist. Natur. des Oiseaux, in 4to. vol. viii, p. 17. 

X Belon. Nat. des Oiseaux, pp. 199 and 200 ; and Portraits d' Oiseaux, fol. v. 44. 

§ Observations de plusieurs singularity, &c. 

VOL. I. K 


Egypt*, but that the green curlew of Europe (Scohpax falcinellus ol 
Linnaeus) is commonly seen there, and is even more plentiful than the 
white numenius f ; and as it resembles it in form and size, and that at 
a distance its plumage may appear black, we can hardly doubt but this 
was the real black ibis of the ancients. M. Savigny had a painting 
made of it in Egypt %, but only from a young individual. The figure 
of Buffon is from a full-grown bird, but the colours are too bright. 

The mistake which at present prevails respecting the ibis, originated 
with Perrault, who was the first naturalist who made known the tan- 
talus ibis of the present day. This error, adopted by Brisson and 
Buffon, has passed into the twelfth edition of Linneeus, where it is 
mixed with that of Hasselquist, which had been inserted in the tenth, 
forming together a most monstrous compound. 

It was founded, under the idea that the ibis was essentially a bird 
inimical to serpents, and in this very natural conclusion, that a sharp 
beak was necessary to devour serpents, and more or less analogous to 
that of the stork or heron. The idea is even the only good objection 
that can be adduced against the identity of our bird with the ibis. 
How, it is asked, could a curlew, a bird with a weak beak, devour 
these dangerous reptiles ? 

Our answer is, that positive proofs, such as descriptions, figures 
and mummies, should always claim more belief than accounts of pecu- 
liar habits, too often devised without any other motive, than to justify 
the various worships paid to animals. We might add, that the ser- 
pents from which the ibises freed Egypt, are represented as very nu- 
merous, but not as very large. I believe, too, that I have ascertained 
decidedly, that the bird mummies, which had a beak precisely similar 
to that of our bird, were real serpent-eaters ; for I found in one of their 
mummies the undigested remains of the skin and scales of serpents, 
which I have preserved in our anatomical galleries. 

But, at the present time, M, Savigny, who has observed whilst 
living, and even more than once disseeted our white numenius, the 
bird which everything proves to have been the ibis, asserts that it only 
eats worms, fresh-water shell-fish, and other similar Fsmall animals. 
Supposing that there is no exception to this, all we can conclude is, 
that the Egyptians, as has before occurred to them and others, gave a 
false reason for an absurd worship. It is true, that Herodotus said, 
that he saw in a place on the borders of the desert §, near Buto, a 

* Savigny. Mem. sur l'lbis, p. 37. 

-j- Idem, ibid. 

X See the great work on Egypt. Hist. Nat. des Oiseaux, pi. 7-, fig. 2. 

§ Euterpe, cap. lxxv. Herodotus 9ays, a place in Arabia; but we cannot see how 
a place of Arabia could be near the city of Uutawhich was in the western part of the 


narrow defile, in which an infinite quantity of bones and remains, 
which he was told were the relics of winged serpents, which sought to 
penetrate into Egypt at the beginning of spring, and that the ibis 
stopped their progress ; but he does not say that he witnessed their 
combats, nor that he had seen these winged serpents in a perfect state. 
The whole of his testimony consists then in having observed a mass of 
bones, which might have been those of this multitude of reptiles and 
other animals which the inundation destroyed every year, and whose 
carcasses it would naturally convey to the points where it stopped, to 
the borders of the desert, and which would accumulate more abund- 
antly in a narrow defile. 

Yet it is in consequence of this idea of the combat of the ibis with 
the serpents, that Cicero gives a hard and horny beak to this bird *. 
Having never been in Egypt, he figured to himself that it must be so 
by analogy. 

I am aware that Strabo says, that some part of the ibis resembles 
the stork in shape and height f, and that this author ought to have 
known this well, since he assures us that in his time the streets and 
crossways of Alexandria were so filled with them, that they were a se- 
rious inconvenience ; but he spoke from memory. His testimony can- 
not be received when he contradicts all others, and particularly when 
the bird itself is there to disprove it. 

Tn like manner I shall not concern myself about a passage of 
^Elian J, who states (like the Egyptian enbalmers) that the intestines 
of the ibis were ninty-six cubits in length. The Egyptian priests of 
all classes have given such extravagant descriptions of natural history, 
that we cannot make of much consequence whatever one of the lower 
order might assert. 

Another objection may be made against me, drawn from the long 
extending and black feathers which cover the rump of our bird, and of 
which we detect some traces in the abouhannes of Bruce. 

The ancients, it may be said, say nothing of it in their descriptions 
and their figures of it do not represent them. But I have, to back my 
assertion, more than a written testimony or a traced image. I have 
found precisely similar feathers in one of the mummies of Saccara ; I 
preserve them most carefully, as being at once a singular monument of 
antiquity, and a proof undeniable of the identity of the species. These 
feather* having an uncommon form, and not being found, I believe, in 

* Avis excelsa, cruribus rigidis, corneo proceroque rostro. Cic. de Nat. Doer, 
lib. i. 

f Strab. lib. xvii. 

X ^Elian, Anim. lib. x, cap. 29. 


any other curlew, leave in fact, no doubt, of the accuracy of my opinion. 

I conclude this memoir by a recapitulation of its results. 

1st. The tantalus ibis of Linnceus should form a genus distinct from 
the tantalus loculator. Their character will be rostrum Iceve, vali- 
dum, arcuatum, apice utrinque emarginatum. 

2nd. The other tantili of the latter editions should form a genus 
with the common curlews, and may be called the numenius. Their 
character will be rostrum teres, gracile, arcuatum, apice mutico, for 
the special character of the subgenus of the ibises we must add, sulco 
literati per totum longitudinem exarato. 

3rd. The white ibis of the ancients is not the ibis of Peraultand Buffon, 
which is a tantalus ; nor the ibis of Hasselquist, which is an ardea ; 
nor the ibis of Maillet, which is a vulture ; but a bird of the genus 
numenius, or curlew, of the subgenus ibis, which has only hitherto 
been described by Bruce, under the name of abouhannes. I name it 
numenius ibis, albus , capite et collo adulti nudis, remigium apicibus, 
rostro et pedibus nigris, remigibus secundariis elongatus nigro 

4th. The black ibis of the ancients is probably the bird known in 
Europe under the name of green curlew, or the scolopax falcinellus 
of Linnaeus ; it also belongs to the genus of curlews, and to the sub- 
genus of ibises. 

5th. The tantalus ibis of Linnaeus, in the real state of synonomy, 
includes four species of these different genera, viz. 

1 . A tantalus, the ibis of Perault and Buffon . 

2. An ardea, the ibis of Hasselquist. 

3 and 4. Two numenii, the ibis of Belon, and the ox-bird of Shaw. 

We may judge by this example, and by many others, of the state in 
which this worst Systema Natures still remains, which it would be so 
important to cleanse gradually of the errors which throng it, and with 
which it appears continually to be loaded, by adding characters and 
synonyms and species, without just selection or competent judgment. 

The general conclusion of my labour is, that the ibis still exists in 
Egypt as it did in the time of the Pharaohs, and that it is to the error 
of naturalists we are indebted for the belief so long prevalent, that the 
real species was lost or altered in its form. 

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