Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/117

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113
FLORISSANT; A MIOCENE POMPEII

PSM V73 D117 Fossil calyx of porana tenuis.png

Fossil Calyx of Porana tenuis.
(The genus is now Asiatic.)

species are only partially known from very incomplete fragments. The paleontologist and the historian not only desire to know how successive events are related, but are keenly alive to the necessity for detailed information concerning the contemporaneous events and objects of any one period. Hence it is that the uncovering of Pompeii and Herculaneum stirs the blood of the most lethargic, for there is presented to our gaze the actual life of nearly two thousand years ago in all its detail and variety. We know, perhaps, that the ancients had certain customs, used certain tools, enjoyed particular kinds of art and literature; but to accurately restore their daily life, even with the aid of many brilliant descriptive passages left by their writers, was a difficult feat for the imagination.

PSM V73 D117 Fossil land snail vitrea fagalis.png

Fossil Land Snail (Vitrea fagalis). (Enlarged.)

To find two cities buried just as they stood at the beginning of the Christian era is not merely to gain an incalculably precious insight into the life of, that period, but to obtain a landmark of the utmost service for comparisons, both with earlier and later times.

For like reasons, the naturalist may well look for earlier deposits in which living animals and plants are preserved somewhat as at Pompeii; and may feel thankful if in all the world one or two such places exist.

The most famous of such localities is Œningen, on the north or Baden side of a narrow arm of Lake Constance leading to the Rhine. The products of this wonderful fossil-bed—or rather, succession