Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/157

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



DECEMBER, 1889.




THE DESCENDANTS OF PALÆOLITHIC MAN IN AMERICA.

By Dr. CHARLES C. ABBOTT.

THE modest, peaceful valley of the Delaware River, from the head of tide-water southward, is as little suggestive of the Arctic Circle, for at least nine months of the year, as do its low and weedy banks in summer suggest the tropics. On the contrary, every tree, shrub, sedge, beast, bird, or fish that you see above, about, or within it is a feature of a strictly temperate climate. Nevertheless, a dim recollection of more stirring times still clings to it, and the year not unfrequently opens with the river firmly ice-bound. Over its shallows are often piled great masses of up-river ice, borne hither after a storm by the swollen current. Often the broad and shallow channel is effectually closed, and the river becomes, for the time being, a frozen lake.

But the ice, of late centuries, has not been able to hold its own for any significant length of time. The increasing warmth of the sun, and the south winds with their accompanying rains, soon start the little icebergs oceanward, or melt them when they are securely stranded. Except a few scattered masses along the shady shores, the river, by April, is a quiet, shallow, tide-water stream again.

No appreciable amount of detritus is now brought from the up-river region by a single winter's accumulation of ice. As the river and its shores are to-day, so they were a century ago perhaps for many; but the winter of our varying year is a mere puppet-show compared with what New Jersey winters once were, and the culmination of arctic rigors gave our Delaware Valley, in that distant day, a far different aspect; and, with each suc-