Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/88

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ciation of living and extinct forms as we have observed in Europe. Reindeer, musk-sheep, bisons, horses, elks, and bears were to be seen along with the mammoth, the great elephant-like mastodon, and the gigantic extinct sloth of South America. A lower jaw found in the same place, which I have examined in Philadelphia, leaves no doubt in my mind that the lion was among the carnivores of the United States, which lived on the above-mentioned animals. It is not more strange that the lion of the Old World should be found in the New, than that the musk-sheep, now only alive in the Arctic regions of North America and Greenland, should have ranged through Siberia into Europe as far to the southwest as the Pyrenees. Asia was then united to Northeastern America, and the Straits of Behring were then an elevated tract of land offering free passage to migrating animals.

Thus far in our inquiry into the British lion, we have been led to consider a condition of things in Britain quite different from that of the present day, and in tracing the animal to the Continent, and finally to the United States, we have seen that tracts of land, now sunk beneath the sea, connected our islands with the Continent, and joined North Asia to North America. It must also be remarked that the lion appears in the Old and New Worlds at the same hour, if I may use the metaphor, of the geological clock, when "the old order" was yielding "place unto the new," and the living species were becoming more abundant than the extinct among the higher mammalia—in other words, in the Pleistocene age.

We have now to direct our attention to the retreat of the lion from Europe. At the close of the Pleistocene age the great extension of Europe to the west sank beneath the Atlantic, and the North Sea and the English Channel flowed over the hunting-grounds of the lion, and formed "the silver streak" of which we have so much reason to be proud. A change in the wild animals accompanied, as it always does, the change in geography; some animals became extinct, such as the mammoth, while others retreated to more congenial districts, and among them the lion. Not a trace of that animal has been discovered in the peat-mosses and other superficial accumulations in Britain, France, Germany, or Italy, which took place in the prehistoric age, or the interval between the Pleistocene on the one hand and the frontier of history on the other. It was probably at this time retiring southward into the districts in which it lived in the time of the early Greek writers.

The first discovery on record of the fossil lion was made in Hungary. Strange to say, the earliest notice of the living lion relates to the adjacent region divided from the valley of the Danube by the Balkan Mountains. Herodotus (vii, c. 124-'6), in describing the march of Xerxes through Roumelia, before the battle of Thermopylæ, writes:

While Xerxes was on the march in this direction lions fell upon the baggage-camels. They came down by night and left their usual haunts, and touched