Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/389

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
369
PALEONTOLOGICAL DISCOVERY.

the name Ichthyosaurus, and Conybeare, who gave the generic designation Plesiosaurus, and also Mosasaurus, were among the earliest writers in England on fossil reptiles. The discovery of these three extinct types, and the discussion as to their nature form a most interesting chapter in the annals of paleontology. The discovery of the Iguanodon, by Mantell, and the Megalosaurus, by Buckland, excited still higher interest. These great reptiles differed much more widely from living forms than the mammals described by Cuvier, and the period in which they lived soon became known as the "age of Reptiles." The subsequent researches of these authors added largely to the existing knowledge of various extinct forms, and their writings did much to arouse public interest in the subject.

Richard Owen, a pupil of Cuvier, followed, and brought to bear upon the subject an extensive knowledge of comparative anatomy, and a wide acquaintance with existing forms. His contributions have enriched almost every department of paleontology, and of extinct vertebrates especially, he has been, since Cuvier, the chief historian. The fossil reptiles of England he has systematically described, as well as those of South Africa. The extinct Struthious birds of New Zealand he has made known to science, and accurately described in extended memoirs. His researches on the fossil mammals of Great Britain, the extinct Edentates of South America, and the ancient Marsupials of Australia, each forms an important chapter in the history of our science.

The personal researches of Falconer and Cautley in the Siwalik Hills of India brought to light a marvelous vertebrate fauna of Pliocene age. The remains thus secured were made known in their great work, "Fauna Antiqua Sivalensis," published at London in 1845. The important contributions of Egerton to our knowledge of fossil fishes, and Jardine's well-known work, "Ichnology of Annandale," also belong to this period.

The study of vertebrate fossils in Germany was prosecuted with much success during the present period. Blumenbach, the ethnologist, in several publications between 1803 and 1814, recorded valuable observations on this subject. In 1812 Summering gave an excellent figure of a pterodactyl, which he named and described. Goldfuss's researches on the fossil vertebrates from the caves of Germany, published in 1820-'23, made known the more important facts of that interesting fauna. His later publications on extinct amphibians and reptiles were also noteworthy. Jäger's investigations on the extinct vertebrate fauna of Würtemberg, published between 1824 and 1839, were an important advance. To Plieninger's researches in the same regiori, 1834-'44, we owe the discovery of the first Triassic mammal (Microlestes), as well as important information in regard to Labyrinthodonts. Kaup's researches on fossil mammals, 1832-'41, brought to light many interesting forms, and to him we are indebted for the