Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/26

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16
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

matter, mixed with flint instruments. Thus they were known in 1848, yet even as early as the last century De Saussure had drawn the attention of the scientific world to their existence. But in 1858 they were first actually described by M. François Forel, a Swiss. M. Rivière commenced excavations in 1869; it was not, however, till 1872, while making the cutting for the railway, that the first human skeletons became unearthed by him on March 26th, six metres and a half below the level of the older excavations, in cave No. 4. Beside the one on which M. Rivière wrote his monograph in 1873, two others[1] were discovered lying near it about the same time, but so badly were they broken that he made mention of only that one, which is now in the Natural History Museum of Paris. On its head were found some shells forming a circlet, as also some carved reindeer teeth in the same position, while beneath the head was found a curved flint blade. It was supposed to have been the skeleton of an Ethiopian, at first, but there were differences that marked a race that has now passed away, or become somewhat altered: the orbital cavities were larger, and its height, though not great, was abnormal. We pass over this skeleton,[2] and all that M. Rivière has already written about it, and all the names[3] that he has given to the flint and

  1. In a paper of February, 1892, by M. Binet-Heutsch, entitled Nouvelles Découvertes aux Grottes de Menton, we find mention of a skeleton that was found in the same cave by M. Rivière in the following year (1873), far less well preserved than the first. It was of enormous size, and was more than two metres in height; the skull was damaged during the excavation. Possibly this may be one of the skeletons that we have mentioned, on the excellent authority of one who was present with M. Rivière at the time, as having been discovered with the 1872 skeleton. Mention, however, is made by M. Rivière of three skeletons, that he found, in a brochure entitled Découverte d'un second Squelette humain de l'Époque Paléolithique dans les Cavernes de Baoussé-Roussé, Nice, 1873. With the measurements given of these last three skeletons by M. Rivière, M. Adolphe Megret (by his method of multiplying the length of the phalangine of the medial finger by sixty-four), in his Étude de Mensurations sur l'Homme préhistorique, calculates their living heights to have been respectively 1·984, 1·920, and 2·048 metre.
  2. An amusing Box and Cox episode recalls to our mind the name of Mr. Moggeridge, a gentleman who many years ago lived at Mentone, and who published an excellent outline panorama of all the mountains as seen from the Borrigo Valley bridge, and who had scientifically studied the exact maximum and minimum temperature at the top of each summit. This gentleman, being equally persuaded that he would find human bones beneath the other remains of extinct animals and flint instruments, used to work at the cave during hours when it was deserted, leaving the soil somewhat disturbed, to the bewilderment of M. Rivière on his return the next day. It fell, however, to the lot of the Frenchman to remove the last layers of earth, and, therefore, to have gained the sole honor of being the discoverer.
  3. Among other names, M. Rivière, in his monograph published in 1873, Découverte d'un Squelette Humain de l'Époque Paléolithique dans les Cavernes des Baoussé-Roussé dites Grottes de Menton, gave that of "bâton de commandement" to a small bone, un métacarpien principal gauche, appartenant à lEquus cavallus (a chief left metacarpal of a horse), which is 0·21 metre in length, or about eight inches. It is pierced by a hole, and he re-