Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/484

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



alveoles of reptiles, and which probably corresponded, not with true teeth, but with thickenings of the horn of the bill. The bill also, toward its anterior third, seems to have represented a real tooth, but a tooth of a bony nature and of continuous substance with the bill itself. This mode of dentition had been previously observed by Richard Owen in the Odontopteryx toliapica.

The lower mandible is marked by its terminal extremity, which seems to have been slender, and by its hinder half presenting faintly-accentuated muscular attachments.

A part of the sternum does not permit us to say whether that portion of the skeleton had a keel. The shoulder seems to have been composed of a quite short breast-bone with a wide posterior articular surface, of a coracoid bone and of a scapulum, the group isolated and quite different from the single bone of the ostrich. The humerus is, like all the other bones of the wing, more voluminous than in the ostrich. The cubitus rather recalls the shape of that bone in ordinary birds, and bears marks indicatory of feathers. The radius was thin, the metacarpians appear to have been independent, offering a characteristic of great value, for it occurs only in two other orders. The iliac bone, very distinct, is remarkable for the sloping character of its posterior border. It is very difficult in the face of such characteristics to fix the true affinities of the gastornis. MM. Hebert, Ed. Lartet, and R. Owen, have expressed opinions on this point, and the latter is inclined to refer the fossil bird to the order of the waders, and more especially to the rails. M. Alphonse Milne-Edwards is of a different opinion, and is rather disposed, on the ground of a variety of osteological traits, to classify the gastornis with the ducks. But he is prompt to recognize that the Eocene animal offers peculiarities so different from anything shown in living nature that it is impossible to place the gastornis in any of the established natural groups. Another gastornis has been found at Reims, which Dr. Lemoine has described under the name of Gastornis minor; and the author has besides found the remains of two entirely different genera of birds.—Translated from La Nature.


By the late Hon. T. WHARTON COLLENS.

WHAT a vast difference there is between us and our ancestors who lived three thousand years ago! What savages they were! What a polished people are we! Surrounded by all the glories and lights, blessings and hopes of civilization, we can hardly realize the fact that we are the descendants of men who roamed in