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Printed for R. PHILLIPS, by E. Hemsted, Great New Street, Fetter Lane, London
To the Editors of the Medical and Physical Fournal.
(With an Engraving.) GENTLEMEN,
PERCEIVING that your very useful work is rendered not only valuable to the medical profession, but likewise to the naturalist; I beg to transmit to you for publication, a draw ing of a curious extraneous fossil, should you think it of sufficient importance. To me this drawing is very interesting, inasmuch as it is the production of a young gentlenian who studied anatomy at my Theatre. * It represents, with great spirit and correctness, the fossil remains of a young crocodile or alligator, an animal which perhaps was never indi, genous in this island ;+ at least in any of she species at pre, sent existing,
That parts of apparently exotic animals are frequently found in this country, is well known to every naturalist: but there is a doubt whether these did actually belong to animals now only living near to the equator, or are remains, pre
This gentleman, Mr. Alfred Jukes, of Birmingham, has also favoured me with some fine representations of uncommon anatomical sub jects, that have occurred in the dissections which have taken place within these last twelve months.
of That the climate of the British islands was, at some remote period, congenial to crocodiles, elephants, and other quadrupeds of the torrid zone, I cannot believe. An hypothesis founded on a wild conjecture of the position of this globe being changed, and with this change of position its temperature reduced, seems to be refuted by the beaver (Castor fiber) having formerly been an inhabitant here, and also from che fossil bones of the Elk Cervui elephas.) being frequently found in Ireland. Both these animals are now inhabitants of the frigid zone. A fair deduction from these premises would be, that in some early period, the climate' of Britain was mich colder than at presént.'
served by a process in natural chemistry, as evidence of the former existence of genera of animals, possibly, now extinct. . If the fossil remains discovered in this country did belong to races of animals now existing only within the tropics, two conjectures may be offered to account for their being found
at this distance from their native soil, without having re, . course to some violent change of climate to prove that they might be indigenous here.
The waters of the general deluge may bave carried them from one quarter of the world to another, especially the ampbibia, and being left in regions far from their natural climate, and subsiding in situations favourable to fossilization, their remains have been preserved to this time. . It is no improbable conjecture, that many of the bones of exotic animals dug up in various parts of this island, belonged to animals brought hither by the Romans. The passion this people had for collecting extraordinary creatures from every part of the world to which they had access, gives force to this opinion. That rare animal the Camelopardalis Giraffa, which we are now permitted to see in Europe only in dead specimens, was exhibited alive at Rome. The Roman Consul, Lucullus, brought hither the cherry, which being first planted in Kent, has taken the name of that county. The Helix pomatių, now so numerous in Surry and other parts, was imported by Sir Kenelm Digby. My friend, Mr. Winston, of Newman Street, presented me with the hoofs of a very large exotic deer, which were dragged from the bottom of the Thames, * along with the head of a lion; and I can point out the spot, where about thirty years ago the largest white bear (Ursus maritimus) ever seen in this country, is buried : but as it is under a public highwayt, which has since been made, and as the ground is very much raised, it is almost impossible now to obtain the bones. Some centuries hence, perhaps the skeleton of this animal may be found in a mass of sulphate of lime, carbonate of lime, or other mineral;
le, and hender a pubi ever seen in cars ago the I can
* It is a curious fact that bones are so yaluable an article of commerce, that men are employed incessantly in dragging the bottom of the river to obtain them. The animal oil being extracted from the bones thus obtained, the parts 'remaịning,' particularly of the shaok bones, are rasped into hartshorn shavings, and are under this metamorphosis converted into jellies, &c. &c. for our splendid, entertainments. The less delicate of these bones, or rather those which have an inconvenient shape for the action of the rasp, are, with a similar trading dexterity, made into ivory-black. It At the entrance of Brook-street, a few yards from the middle of the New Road, and at a short distance from Tottenham Court, from which it bears west. . .
and may then excite.conjectures similar to those which now, Occupy our minds. If from any accident, in future times these bones should be discovered in a fossil state, the naturalist of that period will have his doubts and conjectures removed by this record, placed in a work which cannot fail to be consulted, in succeeding ages, by the physician and the man of science.
There is reason to believe, however, that many, possibly the greater - portion of the fossil remains of large animals 03. in these islands, and in many other parts of the globe, do,
not owe their deposition to either of the foregoing causes, having now no existing prototypes ;* and that the bones of enormous size, frequently found very far beneath the surface, are the remains of extinct genera, once indigenous in the coun tries where these remains are discovered. Many facts are on record which give force and authority to this opinion. Some years since, the skeleton of an enormous sloth was found in. Spain, of which I have a drawing. This skeleton mea. sured twelve feet in length, and certainly was the remains of an animal incognitum ; as the largest of the Bradypus genus, (Bradypus ursinus) is about the ordinary size of the Ursus arcticus, or black bear. I have seen several fossil molar teeth of an animal incognitum carnivorous), found on the coast of Essex; and nearly the size of those of the adult elephant. Similar productions may be seen in the British Museum; and in the private collections of many naturalists are preseryed parts of unknown animals. The horns of an animal of the Beeye tribe have been found of an enormous magnitude, belonging to a creature of whose present existence we have no knowledge. The most extraordinary among these remains of former times is the claw of a quadruped (probably rapacious) of a size exceeding all belief, were it not now to be seen in Mr. Bullock's Museum.t. Even human bones -* We must not positively decide that an extinction of these races of.... animals has happened. Perhaps a farther exploration of this earth may. bring us acquainted with some of them in a living state. Many crea-, tures have been brought into Europe, and particularly into England,.. within a few years, of whose existence we had not the most distant.". idea... The Elephas americanus may yet live; and the rara avis of Jua: venal* is no longer a wonder, now we have found the Anas atrata. The discovery of the Macropus gigantea, the Ornithoryncus paradoxus,' and the Syren lacertina, ought not to make us credulous, but they may make us doubt what forms of being range in unexplored forests, or swim in unknown seas.
+ The Museum of Mr. Bullock, in Piccadilly, has in it many rare and curious specimens of nature, collected at a great expence, and with an “ Nara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno." Sat. vị. 02