Discourses Biological and Geological: Essays

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Appleton, 1913 - Biology - 392 pages

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Page 32 - Indians. Crocodiles of modern type appear ; bony fishes, many of them very similar to existing species, almost supplant the forms of fish which predominate in more ancient seas ; and many kinds of living shellfish first become known to us in the chalk. The vegetation acquires a modern aspect. A few living animals are not even distinguishable as species, from those which existed at that remote epoch. The Globigerina of the present day, for example, is not different specifically from that of the chalk...
Page 247 - But the great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact...
Page 259 - But expectation is permissible where belief is not, and if it were given me to look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time, to the still more remote period when the earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions which it can no more see again than a man can recall his infancy, I should expect to be a witness of the evolution of living protoplasm from not living matter.
Page 336 - Mathematics may be compared to a mill of exquisite workmanship, which grinds you stuff of any degree of fineness ; but, nevertheless, what you get out depends on what you put in ; and as the grandest mill in the world will not extract wheat-flour from peascods, so pages of formulae will not get a definite result out of loose data.
Page 22 - Micraster), is itself over-run by an incrusting coralline, which spreads thence over more or less of the surface of the sea-urchin. It follows that, after the upper valve of the Crania fell off, the surface of the attached valve must have remained exposed long enough to allow of the growth of the whole coralline, since corallines do not live imbedded in mud.
Page 21 - ... happened, another animal might attach itself to the dead and naked skeleton, might grow to maturity, and might itself die before the calcareous mud had buried the whole. Cases of this kind are admirably described by Sir Charles Lyell. He speaks of the frequency with which geologists find in the chalk a fossilized sea-urchin, to which is attached the lower valve of a Crania. This is a kind of shell-fish, with a shell composed of two pieces, of which, as in the oyster, one is fixed and the other...
Page 26 - It is obvious that the chalk must have been upheaved and converted into dry land, before the timber trees could grow upon it. As the bolls of some of these trees are from two to three feet in diameter, it is no less clear that the dry land thus formed remained in the same condition for long ages. And not only do the remains of stately oaks and well-grown firs testify to the duration of this condition of things, but additional evidence to the same effect is afforded by the abundant remains of elephants,...
Page 288 - There seems, then, no escape from the admission that neither physical geology nor palaeontology possesses any method by which the absolute synchronism of two strata can be demonstrated. All that geology can prove is local order of succession.
Page 112 - The result, therefore, of this physical inquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning, — no prospect of an end.
Page 314 - This is the view in which we are now to examine the globe; to see if there be, in the constitution of this world, a reproductive operation, by which a ruined constitution may be again repaired, and a duration or stability thus procured to the machine, considered as a world sustaining plants and animals.

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