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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/383

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PALEONTOLOGICAL DISCOVERY.

HISTORY AND METHODS OF PALEONTOLOGICAL DISCOVERY.[1]
By Professor O. C. MARSH.
II.

WHILE the Paris Basin was yielding such important results for paleontology, its geological structure was being worked out with great care. The results appeared in a volume by Cuvier and Alexandre Brongniart, chiefly the work of the latter, published in 1808.[2] This was the first systematic investigation of Tertiary strata. Three years later, the work was issued in a more extended form. The separate formations were here carefully distinguished by their fossils, the true importance of which for this purpose being distinctly recognized. This advance was not accepted without some opposition, and it is an interesting fact that Jameson, who claimed for Werner the theory here put in practice, rejected its application, and wrote as follows: "To Cuvier and Brongniart we are indebted for much valuable information in their description of the country around Paris, but we must protest against the use they have made of fossil organic remains in their geognostical descriptions and investigations."[3]

William Smith (1769-1839), "the father of English geology," had previously published a "Tabular View of the British Strata." He appears to have arrived independently at essentially the same view as Werner in regard to the relative position of stratified rocks. He had determined that the order of succession was constant, and that the different formations might be identified at distant points by the fossils they contained. In his later works, "Strata identified by Organized Fossils," published in 1816-'20, and "Stratigraphical System of Organized Fossils," 1817, he gave to the world results of many years of careful investigations on the Secondary formations of England. In the latter work, he speaks of the success of his method in determining strata by their fossils, as follows: "My original method of tracing the strata by the organized fossils imbedded therein is thus reduced to a science not difficult to learn. Ever since the first written account of this discovery was circulated in 1799, it has been closely investigated by my scientific acquaintances in the vicinity of Bath, some of whom search the quarries of different strata in that district with as much certainty of finding the characteristic fossils of the respective rocks as if they were on the shelves of their cabinets."

The systematic study of fossils now attracted attention in England also, and was prosecuted with considerable zeal, although with less

  1. President's address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Saratoga, New York, August 28, 1879.
  2. "Essai sur la Géographie Mineralogique des Environs de Paris," 4to, 1808.
  3. Translation of Cuvier's discourse. Note K. (B.), p. 103, 1817.