Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/94

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In such meteoric stones, and especially in the class called chondrites, on account of the peculiar spherical inclosures found in them, the eminent German geologist, Dr. Hahn, has recently discovered an entire series of organic remains. By a laborious process of grinding down and polishing these fragments he succeeded in producing a large number of thin laminæ or delicate stone shavings, which he subjected to a careful series of investigations under the most powerful microscopes. He has recently published a book on this subject, containing on thirty-two plates more than one hundred representations of these laminæ of meteorites, every one of which contains different forms and figures, which Dr. Hahn positively identifies not as mineralogical but as organic, and, in fact, as zoölogical formations belonging to the different classes of sponges, corals, and crinoids. These pictures, which have been reproduced from the original laminæ by photography, without any alterations or additions by a draughtsman, must cause great surprise to every geologist and paleontologist, who will at once recognize the structure of well-known coral types on several of the plates. The majority of the meteorites containing these forms are part of the celebrated great meteoric fall of Knyahinya in Hungary, which took place on the 9th of June, 1866.

Dr. Hahn, having sent the whole of his original shavings, comprising over three hundred specimens, to the noted zoölogist Dr. Weinland for examination and determination, the latter has also published a report on this subject in a German scientific journal, and the present article is based on the statements of these two scientists.

The result of a thorough examination of these specimens, with a complete comparison of his own great collection of corals, fully convinced Dr. Weinland that a large number of the formations in question are without doubt remains of coral belonging to the class of the favositines, which on the earth are now to be found only in a fossil state, and then only in the oldest, or palæolithic, stratum.

The terrestrial polypous branches of these favositines are composed of polypary tubes running parallel to each other. At the top, where the cups (calyx) open and the then living polyps are sitting, the coral branches of the favosite present a more or less regular network, composed of the walls of the different polyps. Besides, this class is especially characterized by the cross-partitions in the polypous tubes, as well as by the regular rows of minute holes in these walls, which facilitate the connection between each tube with its neighbors.

Now these polyparies (i. e., bundles of tubes entirely similar to those of the earth's favositines) can be found in a large number of Dr. Halm's meteoric laminæ, which originated not from a single but from many separate falls of meteorites. Many of them show with perfect clearness the very same cross-partitions and rows of holes at fixed intervals from each other with so much regularity that it is impossible to admit a coincidence. At the same time, no geologist would attempt