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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/504

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of stone foresters—a curiosity in Nature of which the world offers but few duplicates. Imbedded hard within the trunk, and held by it fast as in a vise, are the blades of two gang saws, the wreck of a barbaric effort to section the tree and remove it in parts to the World's Columbian Exposition. It is stated that this effort at desecration was only abandoned after it had involved the expenditure of some three thousand to four thousand dollars.

Near by is a stump whose surface measures eleven feet in diameter, and it may well be that excavation nearer to the roots would disclose a size fully equal to that of its more "costly" neighbor. All in all, the trees in this region are much larger than those of the "petrified forest" of Arizona, and their comparative antiquity gives them a special claim upon the attention of the geologist. In the more southerly tract they rarely attain a diameter of four or at most five feet, and more generally two and three feet give the full measure. Most of the fragments lie prostrate—an indication that there was a subversion of the forest before petrifaction set in, and it is difficult to find pieces of more than four feet continuous length. The trees, so far as botanical study has determined them, were pines, and not the more stately Sequoias of the north. And yet, even with such forms, a giant stature was not exactly absent, for only a short time back a prostrate shattered trunk was measured over a length of about a hundred and fifty feet. It is, by way of contrast, a little remarkable that at Florissant so many (perhaps most) of the trees still retain an upright position, a condition that suggests peaceful decay, or at least one that was not associated with any cataclysm of the land surface. In whatever way overwhelmed to death—and the falling ash would itself be quite competent to effect this—it seems not unlikely that silicification proceeded to a level prescribed by the surface of the heated waters of the lake, above which the trees fell. It would be a satisfaction, certainly, to have excavations conducted here; but whether carried out or not, the region is one that stands with its own interest, and to which the tourist can safely be recommended to carry his explorations in search of Nature's wonderland.

 


 
Some remarkable sculptures in ivory—described as being executed with marvelous art and great vigor and accuracy—have been discovered in a cave at Brassempouy, near Pau, France. They are assigned to the beginning of what the French archæologists call the Magdalenian period or the end of the Mousterian. One of them exhibits the features of prominent haunches and pendant breasts which are often seen among the Hottentots and other African tribes; another, a head, presents a Basque physiognomy, and bears a coiffure carefully arranged in parallel braids so as to resemble an ancient Egyptian headdress.