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in size all the types of fossil fauna. Generally speaking, although many of the giant forms of the primæval world do not exist in the present condition of things, yet their place has been filled by other gigantic shapes, so that the present state of nature is not inferior to the earlier state in respect to the size of the organic forms. On the other hand, animals of middle-sized and small, even microscopic dimensions are not wanting in the fossil fauna.?
· The mammoth (according to some the name is corrupted from the Behemoth of the Bible, according to others from the Russian “mammont”) did not exceed the largest living elephant in size ; on the contrary, it had a smaller head, weaker chest bones, and shorter, thicker legs. When we are told that fossil tusks of 12 feet long and more are found, it must be remembered that the tusks of elephants grow on till the animal dies, no matter how great its age is ; and as the mammoth was neither tamed nor hunted for the sake of ivory, it could grow on, and reach the advanced age which was natural to it much oftener Ithan our elephants do. (Fraas, p. 410.) The body of the northern whale is sometimes 66 feet long, and at the fins reaches the immense size of 40 feet in circumference ; the body of the sperm whale is sometimes 75 feet long and 38 feet round ; and lastly, the fin-backed whale exceeds all other animals in length, and is 100 feet long by 10 round. We look in vain for these nionsters of the deep in the earlier periods of creation. ... The largest crocodiles are on an average 20 to 30 feet long. This was supposed to be too little for the fantastic giants of the primæval world. When the bones of the iguanodon were first found, its length was immediately reckoned to be 160 feet ; R. Owen reduced it to 28 feet, of which 3 were for the head, 12 for the body, and 13 for the tail. The hylæosaurus and megalosaurus are often supposed to reach a length of from 60 to 80 feet; and the size and massive form of their separate bones astound all who are not familiar with their organization ; but the massive form of a single bone does not determine the whole size of the body. Owen's trustworthy computation puts the length of the hyläosaurus at most at 25, and the megalosaurus at 30 feet. These are the most colossal land saurians; the longest ichthyosaurus did not attain to more than 30 feet. Giebel, Op. cit. p. 128. It is generally supposed that the dinotherium was from 18 to 20 feet long.
2 I am able to refute the theory that the primæval world only produced gigantic animals, and that no vertebrate as small as the present ones existed, by adducing a species of sorex from the Molosse formation at Mainz, which is smaller than the smallest existing shrew mouse, and that is saying a great deal. H. v. Meyer, Ueber die Reptilien, etc., p. 111. Many deposits several hundred feet thick in the chalk strata have been
Yet one more question : Do fossil men, or remains of men, exist? If by fossils we mean the remains of organic beings which are found in a more or less altered condition in the strata of the earth's crust, this question must undoubtedly be answered in the affirmative. For human remains have been repeatedly found in the same place and in the same condition as the fossil bones of animals; for instance, a whole skeleton was found in a limestone stratum on the coast of Guadeloupe. The formation of limestone strata is going on still, so that it does not follow that any deposit found in them is of ancient date; and in fact the fossil man of Guadeloupe has been proved to be at most a few centuries old.
But the word “fossil” often conveys to our minds another idea : the remains of plants and animals belonging to the primæval world are called fossils, in contradistinction to those of the present world, so that the bones of species of animals now existing, as, e.g., the present races of dogs, sheep, and cattle, would not be called fossils, even if they were found petrified or buried in strata. This strict distinction between the primæval and the present world is connected with the theory that the plants and animals which are supposed to belong to the earlier periods of the earth's history all formed of the smaller shell animals, which are called foraminifera or poly. thalamaceæ ; millions of their bodies were required in order to form one cubic foot of chalk. (Vogt, Lehrb. der Geol. i. 560.) In the limestone which is used for building in Paris, there are such enormous masses of foraminifera of the size of a grain of millet, that we may say that Paris is, in great part, built of these crustacea. (Wagner, Gesch. der Urwelt, ii. 510. Cf. Lyell, Geology, i. 35.)
· Leonhard, Geologie, iii. p. 520. Fraas, p. 448.
9 Fraas, p. 450. Marcel de Serres suggests that the name "Humatiliæ" be used instead of fossils for petrifactions of this latter kind.
became extinct, or were destroyed by geological catastrophes, and that after a “ tabula rasa,” as it were, had thus been made on earth, the present vegetable and animal world was created. Thus fossil men would be primæval men, so that if it could be proved that these fossil men exist, it would follow that, in ancient times, the earth was inhabited by men, the so-called PreAdamites, who were not our ancestors, but who died out before our ancestors were created. But, as we shall see later, most modern geologists have given up the idea of a strict distinction in the sense that I have spoken of between the present and the primæval world. According to the theory which is gradually becoming established, some kinds of animals which exist now also existed in the earlier periods, and we are therefore not justified in assuming that a geological catastrophe took place, which destroyed the former animal and vegetable world, and preceded the creation of the present flora and fauna. Consequently there is no distinct boundary between the primæval and the present world in the sense that I have spoken of, and the idea of a primæval race of men falls to the ground. If the period before the first appearance of man on the earth is called the primæral age, of course there can be no question of primæval men; they would have been men existing before the first men.
If, therefore, we put aside the secondary meanings which have been attached to the word “fossil," and take it in its proper significance, we may speak quite unhesitatingly of fossil men ; and if human remains are found in any deposits, or caverns, or anywhere, the question is not whether these remains are fossils, but whether their age can be ascertained.
I shall have to enter fully into this question later. At present let us put aside human fossils, and let us look back at the history of fossils in general. What a change has taken place in the views of men of science during the course of not quite four centuries! The things which were formerly looked upon as strange lusus naturc, fit subjects for a collection of curiosities, now take a prominent position in geology as medals of creation; and in scientific zoology and botany, as the remains of extinct organic species. We can hardly understand now how such erroneous ideas can have prevailed on this subject in former times ; and yet those who held those views were learned men, of great scientific merit, who were as firmly persuaded of the correctness of the theories which are now recognised as erroneous, as are the scientific men of the present day of the truth of their views. This brings the progress of science vividly before us, but it also shows us how imperfect and uncertain is all human knowledge ; for although the scientific views of the past are now corrected, who will guarantee that the further progress of research may not prove that much which we now think that we know concerning the things of nature is false ; and that in a hundred years' time, many of the views held by the greatest geologists of the present day will not meet with the pitying smile which we now bestow on the geological theories of the 17th century? Quenstedt's striking words can be again applied here : "No doubt the natural sciences may boast now-a-days of knowing some superficial things with certainty, nevertheless even this knowledge has been obtained only by an erroneous
system. For if the beliefs which are held to be undoubted by one generation are immediately put aside by the next as false, the discreet observer will not fail to remark it. They are only human opinions, which appear in a new light as soon as new points of view have been opened out by the progress of science.”! That all our knowledge is fragmentary is true also of natural science.
The history of palæontology contains an important lesson for theologians also. It was hasty to assert that because all fossils were caused by the Deluge, their existence was to be considered as a proof of the truth of the Biblical narrative, and, like Scheuchzer, to unite theology and natural science in a close alliance ; the alliance could not last, for it was founded on an error. Since then theologians have perceived that it is far better to take up a position of reserve as regards natural science, and not to mix up theological and scientific matters, but to content themselves with proving that the results of scientific inquiry do not contradict the Bible and religion; a thing which is easily accomplished, and is quite sufficient for the dignity of revelation.
The immediate points of contact between Biblical theology and palæontology are not—as I shall point out in my next lecture—such as to make a hostile collision between them probable. Indirectly, however, the further development of this science, as of all sciences, has its importance for religion. The great English geologist, Sir Charles Lyell, says: "The proofs now accumulated of the close analogy between extinct
Sonst und Jetzt, p. 280.