Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/574

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American Museum, the first in charge of Messrs. Matthew and Granger into southwestern Wyoming, making special search for additional remains of the great horned Uintatherium. They were rewarded by the discovery of two skeletons and a fine lower jaw. One of these skeletons was in such a position that it appeared to have been mired in what was at the time a soft, tenacious clay, but is now an olive shale. They also discovered two fine skulls of the primitive running rhinoceros, Hyrachyus, the skull and part of the skeleton of Hyopsodus, which has long figured as a lemur, but is now thought to be an insectivore; three skulls of the primitive tapir, Isectolophus; six skulls and portions of the skeleton of Palæosyops, and two skulls of carnivores. In spite of diligent search no additional remains were secured of the fossil horse of the Bridger. The most important general feature of this work, however, is the fact that the Bridger formation can now be definitely divided up into a series of great geological steps, A, B, C, D, each characterized by a distinct assemblage of animals or by distinct and different stages of evolution. The second American Museum party, under Mr. Brown, well known for his successful explorations in Patagonia and Montana, went out with the special object of securing a complete skeleton of some of the great plesiosaurs of the cretaceous. Continuing his work of 1902 and 1903, Mr. Brown made special search in the Pierre shales, securing near Edgemont, South Dakota, the greater part of the skeleton of a Plesiosaur, including skull, jaws, complete neck about fifteen feet long, one complete paddle, part of the pectoral girdle and some dorsal vertebræ. In the same locality another plesiosaur and several long snouted marine crocodiles were found.

In the museums which have been enriched by last season's explorations the work of preparation for exhibition and scientific description is progressing. It is, unfortunately, an extremely slow and difficult matter to prepare a fossil, however carefully collected, for exhibition. It takes two years or more to work out the collections of a single season; the result is that most of our museums are collecting materials more rapidly than they can be worked up; hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of boxes are stored away. With larger endowments or with special gifts these treasures could be more rapidly brought to light.

The popular interest in the ancient history of North America as shown in the rise and fall of the successive dynasties of animal life is rapidly increasing; the daily journals give a large amount of space to fresh discoveries—usually with a considerable amount of exaggeration. The animals in themselves are so wonderful, and the mere presence of representatives of South America, Africa, Asia and western Europe, in the Rocky Mountain region, appeals so strongly to the imagination, that the bare scientific facts are of sufficient interest without exaggeration.