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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/495

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THE GREAT CEMETERY IN COLORADO.

Miocene harvest: The first is the discovery of monkey remains; the discovery of snakes and lizards in American Miocene, and related to the corresponding genera of the Eocene of Wyoming Territory; the settlement of the correct relations of five species, of which three species and one genus, Hypertragulus, were new, the relation being to Moschidœ, or the musk-deer family; the determination of the genus Symborodon, as allied to the rhinoceros on the one side, and to Eobasileus on the other; the discovery of numerous insectivora, allied to the mole. Such is an epitome of the results of the summer's work in Colorado.

In Wyoming Territory occurred the fact so highly important to strategraphical geology—the discovery of the Bridger strata of fossils just above the coal at Evanston. This fixed the age of the deposit geologically, a fact of primary importance to the geologist; the discovery of the new genus, Anchœnodon, an animal near to the swine animals of the genus Elotherium, also allied to Anthracotherium of Europe; the discovery of the large animal A. insolens; also of long canine tusks of Bathmodon.

In Kansas numerous fishes and reptiles were discovered. One of these was the saurodont (lizard-toothed) fish, Portheus gladius. This creature was terrible. He had a pectoral spine which he could elevate at pleasure, and it was four feet long.

Thus we have for a summer's work, by Prof. Cope, not less than 150 species of vertebrate animals alone, of which 100 are new. This makes no account of the collections of the invertebrates. "There is a view generally entertained by naturalists and geologists, that genera and species of animals and plants are greatly more numerous at the present age of the world than in any previous geological period. This seems to me an entire misconception of the character and diversity of the fossils which have been discovered in the different geological formations." So wrote the lamented Agassiz just twenty years ago. Surely there can be no uncertain opinion on that subject now. "Prof. Cope has obtained from the ancient sea and lake deposits of Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, etc., about 350 species of vertebrated animals, of which he has made known to science for the first time more than 200 species!"

Profoundly and alike wonderful, then, to philosopher and naturalist is this story of the irrevocable extinction of entire races of animals. And the same earth-area of that wellnigh fabulous land has seen even greater things than these; for, both before and since the historic age began, it has beheld the passing away, into the darkest dimness of tradition, whole tribes and languages of men.