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FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Chambers's London Journal
Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 59, Ju...
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Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 59, July 9, 1842.
Blanchard, Edward Litt Leman.
11 October 2015
London: W. Strange ... W. Clements ... and G. Berger
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NUMBER 59. Ichnology. BY W. I. HALL, ESQ. Ti-irs department of geological investigation is con- versant with the phenomena of footsteps impressed by animals on the strata of the earth. The term has been derived from two Greek words signifying “a discourse on footsteps." In 1823, Mr. Duncan published an account of tracks and footmarks of animals impressed on sandstone in the quarry of Corn Cockle Muir. This account appeared in the Transactions the Royal Society ofEdi'nhnrgh. Dr. Buckland caused a living cmys (tortoise) and Iestuda green to walk on soft sand, clay, and paste of unbaked pie-crust. He found the correspondence of the footsteps of the latter with the fossil footsteps, sutliciently close, allowing for dilference of species, to render it probable that the fossil footsteps were impressed by testurln gnaw. In 1831, Mr.G. P. Scrope found, after visiting the Dumfries quarries, minute undulations “' 3 t ripple-rnarlrs of water upon sand, together with nu- merous foot tracks of small (crustacean 1) animals on the strata offorest marble near Bat . In 1836, Professor Hitchcock discovered footsteps of birds in the new red sandstoneof the valley of the Con- necticut, which he referred to at least seven species, ull apparently waders (grallatores) having very long legs, and of various dimensions, from tie size of a snipe to twice the size of an ostrich. These footmarlrs were found at various depths beneath the actual surface, in quarries of laminated tlagstones, at live places near the banks of the river, within a distance of 30 miles. The inclination of the sandstone is from 5 degrees to 30, and the tracks appear to have been made on it before the strata were so inclined. Seven of these tracks are considered by him to have been made by seven different species, it not genera. The footsteps appear in a regular succession on the continuous track of an animal in the act of walking or running, with the right and left foot always in their proper places. There is occasionally a variation in the distance of the intervals beneath each foritstep on the same track, but to no greater amount than tho alteration of its pace by the bird would explain. Many tracks of different indivi- duals,and ditferent species, are often found crossing each other, and the footsteps are sometimes crowded together in thesame manner that impressions of the feet of ducks and geese are left on the muddy shore of the stream or pond where they resort. The professor remarks, how- ever, that none of the footsteps appear to be those of web-footed birds, they most resemble those of waders. The impressions of three toes are usually distinct, except in a few instancea; that of the hind toe is mostlywanting, as in the footsteps of modern birds of the same order. At Mount Thorn, near Northampton, in one uarry were discovered four nearly parallel tracks ofa gigantic bird, whose foot measured fifteen inches i.n length, ex- clusive of the largest claw, which was two inches in length. All the three toes were broad and thick. one of the tracks a regular succession of six of these enormous footsteps appeared at A distance of four feet from each other; in others the distance varied from four to six feet, and it is supposed ii? the latter was the longest step of this bird-giant whilst it was running. The footsteps next to be noticed are those of another enormous bird, whose toes were, however, more slender than those of the last, but measured from Efteen to six- teen inches in length, exclusive of a remarkable appen. dage, extending backwards from the heeleight or nine inches, and apparently intended to sustain the , unirntll w en waking on a soft bottom. The impressions of this appendage bear a resemblance to those of wiry fea- thers or coarse bristles, which appear to ha" Sunk into the mud and sand nearly an inch deep; but the toes had sunk much deeper, and the mu was H3595 in‘0 II ridge several inches high round their impressions, similar to the elevation round the track of an elephant in clay. Six feet sometimes seem have made the length of this bird’: stride. Other tracks indicate shorter No. 27.-Vol. ll: 5 pa H SATURDAY, JULY 9, 1542. steps, and the smallest impression tallies with afoot ofonly an inch long, with a step ranging from three to hve inches. It is to be noted that in every track the length of the step increases with the size of the foot, and is much longer than the steps of any known existing spe- cies of bir s. A greater length of leg is tlicnce in- ferred than that of modern wading birds, and it is con- sidered that the steps at four feet asunder probably in- dicate 3 leg of six feet in length. The margin of shallow water subject to changes of level, and in which sediments of sand an mud were ultimately deposited, appears to have been the locality, where these ancient birds congregated. The inferred length of limb would have been well adapted for wading in such a place. The bones offilies only have yet been found in the rock which has transmitted to us these footsteps, which are of the highest interest to the Palmontologist, as they establish the new fact of the existence of birds at the (comparatively) early epoch of the new red sandstone formation ; and further show that some of the most ancient forms ofthis class attained a size for exceeding that of the largest among the feathered inhabitants of the present surface, rind were adapted for wading and running rather than for (light. In December 1856, Mr. Babbage was the author ofn paper “ On Impressions in Sandstone resembling those of Horses’ Feet.” In this paper, after noticing those in the channel of astrcain on the extensive moor called Pwll-y-duon, about seven miles from Merlliyr Tydvil, to which his attention was drawn by Mr. Guest, of Dowlais, and the analogous casts in the old red sand- stone of Forfarsbire, there called Kelpieffeel, he describes some observations made by Mr. Lyell, on impressions left by llledusm on the rippled sand near Dundee. On removing the gelatinous body of the animal, a circular space was exposed, not rippled, but having around half the border. a depression of a horse-shoe form. These marks, however, were not considered b Mr. Ly:-ll as identical with those culled li':lpi'es’feet, but merely as far analogous as to invite urt er observations, and to ‘make it desirable to possess drawings of the impressions which different species of Medusrc leave when thrown by the tide upon a beach of soft mud or sand. In Saxony, at the village of llessberg, near lIild- burghausen, fossil footsteps were a few years ago dis- covered in several quarries of grey quartzose sandstone, alternating with beds of red sandstone, nearly of the age of the red sandstone of Com Cockle llluir. The two gentlemen who have attentively studied these fossil footsteps, state that these impressions of feet are partly concave and partly in relief. The depressions are upon the upper surfaces of the sandstone slabs, but the footmarks in relief are only upon the lower surfaces, and cover the de ressiuns. In short, the footmarks in reliefare natura casts, formed in the subjacent foot- steps, as in moulds. On one slab, six feet long by five feet wide, many footsteps ofmore than one animal. and of various sizes, occur. The larger impressions, which seem to be those of the hind foot, are generally eicrht inches in length and five in width, and one was twelve inches long. Near each large footstep, and at II regular distance (about an inch and a half) before it, a smaller rint ofafore-foot, four inches long and three inches wide, occurs. The footsteps follow each other in pairs, each pair in the same line, at intervals of fourteen inches from pair to pair. The large, as well as the small steps, show the great toes alternately, on the right and left side; each step makes the rint of live toes, the first or great toe being bent inivar , like a thumb. Though the fore and bind feet differ so much in size, they are nearly similar in form. Dr. Buckland states that M. Link has made out the footsteps of four species of animals in the llildburghausen sandstone, and that it has been conjec- tured that aome of these have been derived from gigantic Batracliians. In 1838, Mr. Cunningham discovered the footsteps of several animals in the new r sandstone at Store- ton Hill, on the west side ofthe llersey. These fool- PRICE THREE HALFPENCE. steps occur on live consecutive bcds of clay in the same quarry; the clay beds are very thin ; and having received the impressions of the feet, afforded a series ofmoulds in which casts were taken by the suc- ceeding deposits of sands, now converted into sand- stones. The casts of the feet are salient in high relief on the lower surfaces of the beds of sandstone, giving exact models oftlic feet, and toes, and claws of these mysterious animals, of which only some teeth, a frag- ments ofa skull and vertebrae have as yet been found. In examining some of the slabs of stone extract:-<1 at the de tli of above thirty‘ feet, Mr. Cunningham ob- served that their under surface was thickly covered with minute liemispliericnl projections, or costs in relief, of circular pits, in the immediate subjacent layers of clay. In the opinion of some eminent geologists, the origin of these marks must be ascribed to shower: of ruin, which fell upon an argillaceous beach exposed by the retiring tide, and their pros:-rvation to the filling up of the in- dentations by sand. On the same slab are impressions of the feel of small reptiles, which appear to hnvepassed over the clay previously to the shower, since the foot- mcrlrs are also in ented with circular pits, but to a less degree. This last circumstance is accounted for b the supposition that the pressure of the animal ren ered those portions less easily note upon. But it is not in the elder strata alone that those traces of animals hzive been noticed. Dr. Buckland says, that in recent excavations for making a dock at Peinbrtiy, near Llanelly, in Pemhrolresliire, tracks of deer and of large oxen have been found on clay subjacent to ii bed of peat, the lower peat bring moulded into footsteps; similar impressions were also found upon the upper surface of the peat beneath a bed of silt, and bones both of oxen and dear in the peat itself. Footmarks ofdeer have been also noticed in Mr. Talbot’; excavations for in harbour near lllargani burrows, on the east of Neath. lint by far the most remarkable di . y of this de- scription that was ever made took place at a little village called Griesbacli, in Silesia. Some workmen who were engae in making ii quany for veins of marble that were supposed to be abundant in that district, found em- bedded in a rock the perfect skeleton ofwhat was termed at the time the Ociliynlnphmi. The outline of the skele- ton bore a tolerably close resemblance to that of the Hippopotamus, save that instead of four legs the animal must have possessed eight, impressions of the footsteps of which were plainly visible in the sandstone. T e head suggested a comparison between the llippopotsmus and the imaginary unicorn, retaining the peculiari- ties of both, and yet not being an exact likeness of either. From the centre of the forehead rose a long horn which appeared to e been broken off hav at the tip, and the lioofs had evidently been of , the most colossal size, since the traces remaining upon the sandstone exhibited in each several case n superficies of sixteen inches. Th’s wonderful animal, which must have had an antediluvian origin, seems to have been the giant of its class; for it is conjectured from the frag- ments that remains, its height could not have been less than two and thirty feet. This is as much beyond the size of our boasted elephant as a whale surpasses the propor- tion of a herring, and is calculated to excite equal emo- tions of wonder and admiration in our minds. This indeed was abeast which would have ma e in woods rm-nble. and the gnarled oak Shrinks .r in mud approach." The fragments of this mammoth octoped having been hewn out oflhe quarry, remain for the inspection of the curious in the long room of the Berlin Museum. be above isa pretty full account ofthe subject. If it has excited in the mind of even one reader ii disposi- tion to study that branch of science which, in the mag- nitude and sublimity of the objects of which it treats, ranks next to astronomy, the object of the writer will be attained. That person will discover that the more terrestrial phenomena are studied, the more they lead to deeper delight, and more awful contemplation of their glorious and beneticent Author. . ' . ,l 1’ -..'%,s:....... ..