Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/226

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and many varieties of ruminants. These latter have their definite characteristics, and the former have their distinguishing peculiarities. But there is nothing that fills up the gap between the ruminants and the pig tribe. The two are distinct. So also is this the case between the groups of another class—reptiles. We have crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and tortoises, and yet there is nothing—no connecting link—between the crocodile and lizard, or between the lizard and snake, or between the snake and the crocodile, or between any two of these groups. They are separated by absolute breaks. If, then, it could be shown that this state of things was from the beginning—had always existed—it would be fatal to the doctrine of evolution. If the intermediate gradations which the doctrine of evolution postulates must have existed between these groups—if they are not to be found anywhere in the records of the past history of the globe—all that is so far a strong and weighty argument against evolution; while, on the other hand, if such intermediate forms are to be found, that is so much to the good of evolution, although, for the reason which I will put before you by-and-by, we must be cautious in assuming such facts as proofs of the theory.

It is a very remarkable fact that, from the commencement of the serious study of paleontology, from the time in fact when Cuvier made his brilliant researches upon the fossil remains of animals found in the quarries of Montmartre, Paleontology has shown what she was going to do in this matter, and what kind of evidence it lay in her power to produce.

I said just now that at the present day the group of pig-like animals and the group of ruminants are entirely distinct; but one of the first of Cuvier's discoveries was an animal which he called the Anoplotherium, and which he showed to be, in a great many important respects, intermediate in its character between the pigs on the one hand and the ruminants on the other; that, in fact, research into the history of the past did so far—and to the extent which Cuvier indicated—tend to fill up the breach between the group of ruminants and the group of pigs. All subsequent research has also tended in this direction; and at the present day the investigations of such men as Rütimeyer and Gaudry have tended to fill up and connect, more and more, the gaps in our existing series of mammals. But I think it may have an especial interest if—instead of dealing with these cases, which would require a great deal of tedious osteological detail—I take the case of birds and reptiles—which groups, at the present day, are so clearly distinguished from one another that there are perhaps no classes of animals which in popular apprehension are more completely separated. Birds, as you are aware, are covered with feathers; they are provided with wings; they are specially and peculiarly modified as to their anterior extremities; and they walk perpendicularly upon two legs; and those limbs, when they are considered anatomically,