Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/356

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found it was a deep depression in the farm, and the site suggested the possibility of an ancient beaver-dam. But in that case a stream should be seen flowing through the middle. There was none there. I learned afterward that formerly there was just such a stream, but that in order to utilize the meadow it had been diverted to one side of the valley or depression, and the channel thus left had been filled up by taking from the banks or higher slopes; after this it was planted with corn. I found a drain about eighteen inches wide in progress of construction across this meadow. The ditcher had literally cut through a buried monster precisely at a point which took away a part of the bases of the tusks and some portion of the face of the animal. It was indeed a veritable mastodon. Digging under my direction was at once resumed. Both tusks were soon fully exposed, and the left one was successfully uncovered and removed to the side of the drain. Before removal I took exact measurements, and fortunate it was that I did, for in a very few minutes after being put on the dry ground it separated or unfolded, like the concentric layers of an onion, and in a few minutes more began crumbling into powder. The concentric rings thus separated were uniformly a quarter of an inch thick, so that these unfoldings gave no hint of the animal's age, for the ivory was so fine and compact that no smaller divisions were discernible. This splendid ivory was in consistency like new white cheese, and the surfaces of separation gave the precise feeling to the fingers as when they are passed over a freshly cut piece of soft cheese. The left tusk was removed almost entire; the right tusk was nearly all removed, and fragments of both were secured, though very soft and unsatisfactory, for upon drying even these selected fragments crumbled to powder.

Four molars were obtained, which were found in exact relative position to the tusks. So soft were the bones that all further digging only provoked sighs of disappointment. Of course, the position of the two tusks indicated that of the skull. We tried carefully to uncover the head so as to save it, but in vain. The spade took up a spit of dark substance which proved to be the arched forehead of the brute, which also crumbled away after a short time. But a wonderful story that short time told. This high-vaulted forehead might please some amateur phrenologist, but as a cerebral indicator of intellect it was an immense fraud. It was the genuine elephant forehead, "only more so." On cleaning it, by gently pulling out certain tufts of fine roots and vegetable fiber, this great piece of bone was literally honeycombed with air-cells, each one big enough to hold a hickory-nut. These were the extraordinarily developed frontal sinuses.

But a word about the tusks. The two were in the normal position, as of the animal lying on its right side, with the back toward the ancient stream. The ditcher had nearly destroyed one of the tusks by attempting to get it out before my arrival. The upper one, that is, the left tusk, had lost all that portion which had been cut through