Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/94

This page has been validated.

Asiatic and African forms, was mild, though somewhat cooler than that of the later Pliocene. It grew colder at the end when the glacial period was ushered in.

While of course the remains of man, or his flint tools, are to be looked for in the Pliocene beds of Europe, it is still possible that he was an immigrant from southeastern Asia, and shared in the migration of animal life which reached Europe from that region at the beginning of the Quaternary or Pleistocene.

It is now generally recognized that the 'missing link' or half ape, half man creature (Pithecanthropus erectus) of Java, whose skull (calvarium), femur and three molar teeth were discovered by Dubois in beds shown by him to be of Pliocene age, was the immediate precursor of man.

In the absence of any traces of man in the Tertiary beds of Europe may he not have, geologically speaking, suddenly appeared in Western Europe in company with Elephas meridionalis?

In his 'History of the European Fauna,' Scharff states that the genus Elephas makes its first appearance in the Upper Miocene of India.

"Our European E. antiquus is, according to Professor Zittel, probably identical with E. armeniacus of Asia Minor, while E. meridionalis agrees in all essential characters with the Indian E. hysudricus. The Indian and European species of fossil elephants altogether are very closely related, and the supposition that they all have had their original homes in the Oriental region offers, I think, no serious obstacle. The view of the European origin of the mammoth especially is open to very serious objections. It does not occur in any European Pliocene deposits, and could not therefore have originated in our continent until Pleistocene times."

It may be here stated that the mammoth (Elephas primigenius) is believed to be a descendant of Elephas meridionalis.

We may, then, provisionally at least, venture to suppose that the human descendants of the Java ape-man shared in this great wave of migration of tropical beasts, birds, insects, shells, etc., which at the end of the Pliocene or beginning of the Quaternary passed by way of Asia Minor and Greece into Europe, and peopled the plains and roamed through the forest lands of western Europe.

This view is supported by the fact that after the many years of research in the upper tertiary beds of Europe, no indubitable trace of flint tools of human workmanship or any other traces of human occupation have yet been discovered, while thousands of them, we speak within bounds, have been taken from the preglacial gravel beds of France and of England, which lie next above the Tertiary strata.