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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/570

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Thenceforward two views of paleontology and two modes of study gradually differentiated from one another, the one zoölogical, the other geological. In the one case we study fossils in taxonomic groups—i.e., as species, genera, families, orders, etc.—and trace the gradual evolution of each of these from generalized forms to their specialized outcomes, completing as far as possible the genetic chain through all time. In the other we study fossils in faunal groups, as successive geological faunas, and the geographic diversity in each geological period—i.e., the evolution of geologic faunas and the causes of geographic diversity in each. In a word, we study the laws of distribution of faunas in time geologically and in space geographically, and the causes of these laws in each case. The first is strictly a branch of zoölogy and botany, and we leave it to these specialists. The second alone belongs properly to geology. In this purely geologic paleontology, as seen from its scope given above, there are many questions of widest philosophical interest which are only now attracting the attention they deserve. I only touch lightly two which have been brought forward in these very last years of the century.

I. General Laws of Faunal Evolution.—The evolution of the organic kingdom from this strictly geological point of view may be briefly formulated as follows:

1. Throughout all geological time there has been a general movement upward and onward, as it were abreast, everywhere. If this were all, there would be only geological progress, but no geographical diversity. Geological history would be the same everywhere. A time horizon would be easily determined by identity of fossil species. This we know is not true. Therefore there are other elements besides this.

2. In different countries, isolated from one another and under different conditions, evolution takes different directions and different rates, producing geographical diversity in each geological period. This diversity increases with time as long as the isolation continues. If this were all, the geographical diversity by continued divergence would have become so great that it would be impossible even approximately to determine any geological horizon. The history of each country must be studied for itself. A general history of the earth would be impossible. But this also is not true. There is therefore still another element.

3. From time to time, at long intervals—i.e., critical periods—there are widespread readjustments of the crust to internal strain, determining changes of physical geography and of climate, and therefore wide migrations of species with mingling and conflict of faunas. This would produce more rapid movement of evolution,