Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/325

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
311
THE PEOPLING OF AMERICA.

refuted. Adding his personal researches to those of his predecessors, Hale first drew up the map of Polynesian migrations. Twenty years afterward I was able to complete the work of the learned American by the aid of documents collected after the appearance of that, the fundamental study. Now, as has been said by our lamented Gaussin, so competent for all that relates to Oceania, the peopling of Polynesia by migrations starting from the Indian Archipelago is as clearly demonstrated as the invasion of Europe by barbarians in the middle ages.

Like Polynesia, America was peopled by colonists from the Old World. Their point of departure is to be found and their tracks are to be followed. The labor will indeed be more difficult and longer upon the continent than in Oceania, principally because the migrations were more numerous and go back to a higher antiquity. The first Indonesian pioneers, who, departing from the island of Bouro, landed in the Samoan and Tongan Archipelagoes, probably made the passage toward the end of the fifth century, or near the time of the conversion of Clovis. The peopling of New Zealand by emigrants from the Manaias goes back, at most, to the earlier years of the fifteenth century. Thus, the peopling of Polynesia was all accomplished during our middle ages, while the first migrations to America date from geological times.

Two investigators to whom we owe some valuable discoveries, MM. Ameghino and Whitney, have traced the existence of American man back to the Tertiary age. But this opinion, as you know, has been contested by men of equal repute, and I believe that the view of the latter is confirmed by the comparison of the fossil faunas of the pampas, Brazil, and the Californian gravels. Hence, judging by the little that we know, man reached Lombardy and the Cantal when he had not yet penetrated to America. It is undoubtedly necessary at this point to make the most formal reserves with reference to the future; but, if the fact is confirmed, it seems to me to admit of easy explanation. Everything leads me to think that America and Asia were separated previous to the Quaternary age as they are now. Had it been otherwise, the species of mammalia common to the north of both continents would surely have been more numerous. The men and the land animals of the shores of Bering's Sea would have been stopped there. But when the great geological winter rapidly brought in a polar temperature in place of a mild climate like that of our California, the ancient Tertiary tribes were forced to migrate in every direction. A certain number of them embarked upon the bridge of ice which the cold had cast between the two shores, and arrived in America with the reindeer, as their Western congeners arrived in France with the same animal.