Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/703

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NOTES ON PALÆOPATHOLOGY.

about on the water during the day, and feed along the shore or in the marshes at night, always holding the wing well up until the fracture unites. The case is different with land birds, where, in getting about, the seat of the break is often violently disturbed.

PSM V42 D703 Left carpo metacarpus from the hand of an extinct swan.jpg
Fig. 2.—Left Carpo-metacarpus from the Hand of an Extinct Swan (Olor paloregonus) from Oregon. Outer aspect and natural size from the specimen by the author. a, the seat of the disease on the summit of the first metacarpal.

This interesting fossil specimen, then, goes to prove that the union of fractures of the shafts of the long bones in the vertebrata during the later Tertiary times was identical with what now occurs in the case of existing forms. Such a thing would be most naturally suspected, but, as with some of the simpler, self-evident theorems in geometry, it is invariably required that the proof be forthcoming. It is quite another thing to conjecture how this fracture came about. If I be right in my guess that the specimen was a bird, and that bird was a goose, why, it may have been done in battle with one of its own kind; it may have been done by a blow from a bird of prey, which afterward failed to secure the quarry.[1]

Such evidence as I possess upon the first-mentioned supposition is by no means to be implicitly relied upon; and in the case of the second supposition such a circumstance as is pointed at would certainly be one of the rarest occurrence.

The bone could much more easily have been broken by having been struck by an arrow by its flint-pointed head, provided it were shot with sufficient strength from a bow. Of the probability of that I leave the reader to judge for himself; there is some evidence to sustain such a conjecture, no inconsiderable part of which has been presented above, and more can easily be found between the lines.

I pass now to the consideration of one other pathological condition pre-


  1. In the collection I discovered the remains of two new species of extinct eagles.