Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/699

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

without decisive proofs. Moreover, the pithecans seem to have been evolved in an inverse direction from man. Rejoicing in the heat, they perish rapidly when brought into the temperate zones, and this is especially the case with the anthropoid apes. Thus, while man, coming from the north, advances toward the south only when the depression of temperature favors his progress in that direction, the monkeys, to which a strong heat is a vital element, were developed in an age when Europe had a sub-tropical climate, and disappeared from that continent as soon as the climate became temperate, so that their departure coincides with the arrival of man. They fled south to find the heat they needed, precisely when the diminution of the heat opened to man the region from which it excluded his predecessors. The necessity of placing the cradle of the pithecans in a hot country enables us to separate the monkeys of the Eastern and Western Continents into two distinct groups marked by differences in dentition important enough to oblige us to assume an extreme antiquity for their separation. Both are descended from the lemurians, now represented only in Madagascar, but of which early tertiary fossils are found in Europe. The most recent lemurians in Europe are found at the end of the Eocene. It is later, in the Miocene and that not the lowest, that we meet pithecans similar to those of the equatorial zone of the Eastern Continent. At this epoch, which was nearly that of Oeningen and the Mollassic Sea, which divided Europe from east to west, a subtropical climate still prevailed in the center of the continent, and the palm-trees extended up into Bohemia, along the northern banks of the great interior sea. By favor of this temperature the monkeys occupied Europe to near the forty-fifth degree, but without going above it, to disappear forever as soon as it became cool enough for men and elephants.

The Mesopithecus Pentelici, of which M. Gaudry has discovered twenty-five individuals at Pikermi, was small, walked on its four paws, and lived on twigs and leaves. The Dryopithecus of St. Gauclens had the characteristics of the highest anthropomorphs, with the bestial face of the gorilla; but it is to this animal that M. Gaudry is inclined to attribute the flints, intentionally chipped, according to the Abbe Bourgeois, of the Beauce limestone at Thénay, in the St. Gaudens geognostic horizon. The Pliopithecus of Sansan (Gers) resembles a gibbon. To find the present analogues of the Pliopithecus and Dryopithecus of Miocene Europe, it is necessary to go across the tropic of Cancer to about 12° north latitude, or more than thirty degrees south of the locality of these fossils. If, as is probable, the same interval existed between the perimeter frequented by the European anthropomorphs and the natal region in which man was originally confined, we shall find the latter in the latitude of Greenland, at 70° or 75°. This is indeed an hypothetical calculation, but it is based on a double argument hard to refute.