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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/816

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tic of the oldest Erian beds. The specimens which I have seen from New York, from Gaspé, and from Brazil, leave no doubt in my mind that these were really marine plants, and that the form of a spiral frond, assigned to them by Hall, is perfectly correct. They must have been very abundant and very graceful plants of the early Erian, immediately after the close of the Silurian period.

It is not surprising that great difficulties have occurred in the determination of fossil algae. Enough, however, remains certain to prove that the old Cambrian and Silurian seas were tenanted with sea-weeds not very dissimilar from those of the present time. It is further probable that some of the graphitic, carbonaceous, and bituminous

PSM V32 D812 Silurian vegetation restored.jpg
Fig. 6.—Silurian Vegetation Restored. Profannularia, Berwynia. Nemafophyton, Sphenophyllum, Arthrostigma, Psilophyton.

shales and limestones of the Silurian owe their carbonaceous matters to the decomposition of algae, though possibly some of it may have been derived from graptolites and other corneous zoöphytes. In any case, such microscopic examinations of these shales as I have made, have not produced any evidence of the existence of plants of higher grade, while those of the Erian and Carboniferous periods, similar to the naked eye, abound in such evidence. It is also to be observed that, on the surfaces of beds of sandstone in the Upper Cambrian,