Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/658

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Antiquity of Man in America.—The discoveries that are constantly being made in this country are proving that man existed on this continent as far back in geological time as on the European Continent; and it even seems that America, really the Old World geologically, will soon prove to be the birthplace of the earliest race of man. One of the late and important discoveries is that by Mr. E. L. Berthoud, which is given in full, with a map, in the "Proceedings of the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences for 1872," p. 46. Mr. Berthoud there reports the discovery of ancient fireplaces, rude stone monuments, and implements of stone in great number and variety, in several places along Crow Creek, in Colorado, and also on several other rivers in the vicinity. These fireplaces indicate several ancient sites of an unknown race differing entirely from the mound-builders and the present Indians, while the shells and other fossils found with the remains make it quite certain that the deposit in which the ancient sites are found is as old as the Pliocene, and perhaps as the Miocene. As the fossil shells found with the relics of man are of estuary forms, and, as the sites of the ancient towns are on extended points of land and at the base of the ridges or bluffs, Mr. Berthoud thinks the evidence is strongly in favor of the locations having been near some ancient fresh-water lake, whose vestiges the present topography of the region favors.—American Naturalist.

 

Effects of Coal-Gas on Plants.— Some of our readers will remember that, in Philadelphia, a few years ago, a florist, Mr. Thomas Robertson, had his plants destroyed by gas escaping from the street mains. He applied to the city for damages, but judge and jury decided that coal-gas would not injure plants. Since that time reports have been given of experiments by some learned Frenchman, who also decided that no injury resulted, and now it is said experiments have recently been made in Berlin to ascertain the effect of coal-gas upon the roots of trees exposed to its influence. Three trees were selected, two limes and a maple, and, after seventy days, the gas was cut off, to see whether the trees which had become blasted would recover. One of the lime-trees again put forth foliage, but exhibited evidences of ill health, while the remaining two trees were killed. That part of the earth which was compacted around the roots appeared to transmit most rapidly the poison of the gas. We suppose there is no one who has had any unbiased experience in the matter but knows that coal-gas will destroy plants in the manner stated. Those who have had no experience had better take care to guard against it.—Gardener's Monthly.

 

Cromlechs in Algeria.— The Cromlechs (dolmens) of Algeria was the subject of an address made by General Faidherbe at the Brussels International Congress. He considers these structures to be simply sepulchral monuments, and, after examining five or six thousand of them, maintains that the dolmens of Africa and of Europe were all constructed by the same race during their emigration from the shores of the Baltic to the southern coast of the Mediterranean. The author does not, however, attempt to explain the existence of these monuments in other countries — Hindostan, for instance, and America. In Africa, he says, cromlechs are called tombs of the idolaters — the idolaters being neither Romans, nor Christians, nor Phœenicians, but some antique race. He regards the Berbers as the descendants of the primitive dolmen-builders. Certain Egyptian monuments tell of invasions of Lower Egypt 1,500 years before our era by blond tribes from the West. The bones found in the cromlechs are those of a large and dolichocephalous race. General Faidherbe gives the average stature (including the women) at 1.65 or 1.74 metre, while the average stature of French carabineers is only 1.65 metre. He did not find a single brachycephalous skull. The profiles indicated great intelligence. The Egyptian documents already referred to call the invaders Tamahu, which must have come from the invaders' own language, as it is not Egyptian. The Tuaregs of the present day may be regarded as the best representatives of the Tamahus. They are of lofty stature, have blue eyes, and cling to the custom of bearing long swords, to be wielded by both hands. In Soudan, on the banks of the Niger, dwells a negro tribe ruled by a royal family (Masas), who are of rather fair com-