Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/114

This page has been validated.

the deposit of the earliest implement-bearing beds. Nor is the apparent duration of this period diminished by the consideration that the floods which hollowed out the valleys were not in all probability of such frequent occurrence as to teach palæolithic man by experience the danger of settling too near to the streams, for had he kept to the higher slopes of the valley there would have been but little chance of his implements having so constantly formed constituent parts of the gravels deposited by the floods.

The examination of British cave deposits affords corroborative evidence of this extended duration of the palæolithic period. In Kent's Cavern at Torquay, for instance, we find in the lowest deposit, the breccia below the red cave earth, implements of flint and chert corresponding in all respects with those of the high level and most ancient river gravels. In the cave earth these are scarcer, though implements occur which also have their analogues in the river deposits; but, what is more remarkable, harpoons of reindeer's horn and needles of bone are present, identical in form and character with those of the caverns of the reindeer period in the south of France, and suggestive of some bond of union or identity of descent between the early troglodytes, whose habitations were geographically so widely separated the one from the other.

In a cavern at Creswell Crags, on the confines of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, a bone has, moreover, been found engraved with a representation of parts of a horse in precisely the same style as the engraved bones of the French caves. It is uncertain whether any of the river-drift specimens belong to so late a date as these artistic cavern remains; but the greatly superior antiquity of even these to any neolithic relics is testified by the thick layer of stalagmite which had been deposited in Kent's Cavern before its occupation by men of the neolithic and bronze periods. Toward the close of the period covered by the human occupation of the French caves there seems to have been a dwindling in the number of the larger animals constituting the Quaternary fauna, whereas their remains are present in abundance in the lower and therefore more recent of the valley gravels. This circumstance may afford an argument in favor of regarding the period represented by the later French caves as a continuation of that during which the old river gravels were deposited, and yet the great change in the fauna that has taken place since the latest of the cave deposits included in the palæolithic period is indicative of an immense lapse of time. How much greater must have been the time required for the more conspicuous change between the old Quaternary fauna of the river gravels and that characteristic of the neolithic period! As has been pointed out by Prof. Boyd Dawkins, only thirty-one out of the forty-eight well-