Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/44

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34
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Cambridge observes, in the tenth annual report: "Dr. Abbott has probably obtained data which show that man existed on our Atlantic coast during the time of, if not prior to, the formation of the great gravel deposit which extends toward the coast from the Delaware River, near Trenton, and believed to have been formed by glacial action. From a visit to the locality with Dr. Abbott, I see no reason to doubt the general conclusion he has reached in regard to the existence of man in glacial times on the Atlantic coast of North America."

The support given to Dr. Abbott's conclusions by investigators stamps them as of high interest, while his own arguments are entitled to the same respectful consideration. Several of his observations are not easily set aside. For instance, he says, "if the same age is ascribed to these paleolithic implements and the ordinary Indian relics," then, as already asked, "how could the one series become imbedded, often to great depths, and not representatives of any class of weapons, domestic utensils and ornaments?" It would, indeed, be a singular operation of Nature, that selected one class of relics only for preservation. The conclusion is, "that in the essentially unmodified débris of the terminal moraine in central New Jersey, and in others upon the surface (which, however, are in part only of more recent origin), it is shown that the occupancy of this portion of our continent by man extends back into the history of our globe, in all probability to even an earlier date than the great ice age; and that the maximum severity of the climate did not destroy him; and that subsequently he tenanted our seacoast and river-valleys, until a stronger and more warlike race drove him from our shores."

It is not the purpose of the writer, however, to attempt to add anything to the argument, especially as he is assured that the question now seems to concern the probability of man having existed in America prior to the glacial period. We, therefore, take the evidence as it stands, leaving its strengthening or overturning, as the event may prove, to the future, aiming in this article to give a fuller illustration than has heretofore been attempted of the agreement of the theory with accepted history; for, possibly, it may eventually appear that the glacial man is more closely connected with historic man than could have been expected.

Professor Marsh observes, that "the evidence, as it stands to-day, although not conclusive, seems to place the first appearance of man in this country in the Pliocene," adding that "the best proofs of this are found upon the Pacific coast." The proofs, however, are a little shadowy, consisting of a stray bone or two, instead of stone axes and arrow-heads; though it is clearer that some of the first inhabitants, whenever they came, entered from Asia by Behring Strait, the destruction of the miocene bridge, which once existed there, not impeding their advance. It is unnecessary, however, to suppose that the glacial man was unable to find his way westward from Central Europe.