« AnteriorContinuar »
neck; the tail was much mutilated, only eight, out of twentyeight or thirty caudal vertebræ, remaining; the proboscis was gone, but the places of the insertion of its muscles were visible on the skull. The skin, of which about three-fourths were saved, was of a dark grey color, covered with a reddish wool, and coarse long black hairs. The dampness of the spot where the animal had lain so long, had in some degree destroyed the hair. The entire skeleton, from the fore part of the skull to the end of the mutilated tail, measured sixteen feet four inches; its height was nine feet four inches. The tusks measured along the curve nine feet six inches, and in a straight line from the base to the point, three feet seven inches.
Mr. Adams collected the bones, and had the satisfaction to find the other scapula, which had remained, not far off. He next detached the skin on the side on which the animal had lain, which was well preserved; the weight of the skin was such, that ten persons found great difficulty in transporting it to the shore. After this, the ground was dug in different places to ascertain whether any of its bones were buried, but principally to collect all the hairs which the white bears had trod into the ground while devouring the flesh; and more than thirty-six pounds' weight of hair were thus recovered. The tusks were repurchased at Jatusk, and the whole expedited thence to St. Petersburg; the skeleton is now mounted in the museum of the Petropolitan Academy.*
It might have been expected that the physiological consequences deducible from the organization of the extinct species, which was thus in so unusual a degree brought to light, would have been at once pursued to their utmost legitimate boundary, in proof of the adaptation of the Mammoth to a Siberian climate; but, save the remark that the hairy covering of the Mammoth must have adapted it for a more temperate zone than that assigned to existing Elephants,t no further investigations of the relation of its organization to its habits, climate, and mode of life,
* A part of the skin and some of the hair of this animal, were sent by Mr. Adams to Sir Joseph Banks, who presented them to the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. The hair is entirely separated from the skin, excepting in one small part, where it still remains firmly attached. It consists of two soris, common hair and bristles; and of each there are several varieties, differing in length and thickness. That remaining fixed on the skin is thick-set and crisply curled; it is interspersed with a few bristles, about three inches long, of a dark reddish color. Among the separate parcels of hair are some rather redder than the short hair just mentioned, about four inches long, and some bristles nearly black, much thicker than horse-hair, and from twelve to eighteen inches long. The skin when first brought to the Museum, was offensive to the smell. It is now quite dry and hard, and where most compact is half an inch thick. Its color is the dull black of the living Elephant.
“La longue toison dont cet animal était convert semblerait même démontrer, qu'il était organisé pour supporter un degré de froid plus grand que celui qui convient à l'éléphant de l'Inde.”—Pictet, Paleontologie, 8vo, tom. i, p. 71, 1844.
appear to have been instituted; they have in some instances, indeed, been rather checked than promoted.
Dr. Fleming has observed, that "no one acquainted with the gramineous character of the food of our Fallow-deer, Stag, or Roe, would have assigned a lichen to the Reindeer." But we may readily believe that any one cognizant of the food of the Elk, might be likely to have suspected cryptogamic vegetation to have entered more largely into the food of a still more northern species of the deer tribe. And I can by no means subscribe to another proposition by the same eminent naturalist, that “the kind of food which the existing species of Elephant prefers, will not enable us to determine, or even to offer a probable conjecture conceming that of the extinct species.” The molar teeth of the Elephant possess, as we have seen, a highly complicated and a very peculiar structure, and there are no other quadrupeds that derive so great a proportion of their food from the woody fibre of the branches of trees. Many mammals browse the leaves; some small rodents gnaw the bark; the Elephants alone tear down and craunch the branches, the vertical enamel plates of their huge grinders enabling then to pound the tough vegetable tissue and fit it for deglutition. No doubt the foliage is the most tempting, as it is the most succulent part of the boughs devoured ; but the relation of complex molars to the comminution of the coarser vegetable substance is unmistakeable. Now if we find in an extinct Elephant the same peculiar principle of construction in the molar teeth, but with augmented complexity, arising from a greater number of the triturating plates and a greater proportion of the dense enamel, the inference is plain that the ligneous fibre must have entered in a larger proportion into the food of such extinct species. Forests of hardy trees and shrubs still grow upon the frozen soil of Siberia, and skirt the banks of the Lena as far north as latitude 60°. In Europe, arboreal vegetation extends ten degrees nearer the pole, and the dental organization of the Mammoth proves that it might have derived subsistence from the leafless branches of trees, in regions covered during a great part of the
with snow. We may therefore safely infer from physiological grounds, that the Mammoth would have found the requisite means of subsistence at the present day, and at all seasons, in the sixtieth parallel of latitude; and relying on the body of evidence adduced by Mr. Lyell in proof of increased severity in the climate of the northern hemisphere, we may assume that the Mammoth habitually frequented still higher latitudes at the period of its actual existence. "It has been suggested," observes the same philosophic writer, " that, as in our own times, the northern animals migrate, so the Siberian Elephant and Rhinoceros may have wandered towards the north in summer.” In making such excursions during the Second SERIES, Vol. IV, No. 10.-July, 1847.
heat of that brief season, the Mammoths would be arrested in their northern progress by a condition to which the Reindeer and Musk Ox are not subject, viz. the limits of arboreal vegetation, which, however, as represented by the dominating shrubs of Polar lands, would allow them to reach the seventieth degree of latitude.* But, with this limitation, if the physiological inferences regarding the food of the Mammoth from the structure of its teeth be adequately appreciated and connected with those which may be legitimately deduced from the ascertained nature of its integument, the necessity of recurring to the forces of mighty rivers hurrying along a carcass through a devious course, extending through an entire degree of latitude, in order to account for its ultimate entombment in ice, whilst so little decomposed as to have retained the cuticle and hair, will disappear. And it can no longer be regarded as impossible for herds of Mammoth to have obtained subsistence in a country like the southern part of Siberia where trees abound, notwithstanding it is covered during a great part of the year with snow, seeing that the leafless state of such trees during even a long and severe Siberian winter, would not necessarily unfit their branches for yielding sustenance to the well-clothed Mammoth.
With regard to the extension of the geographical range of the Elephas primigenius into temperate latitudes, the distribution of its fossil remains, teaches that it reached the fortieth degree north of the equator. History, in like manner, records that the Reindeer had formerly a more extensive distribution in the temperate latitudes of Europe than it now enjoys. The hairy covering of the Mammoth concurs, however, with the localities of its most abundant remains, in showing that, like the Reindeer, the northern extreme of the temperate zone was its metropolis.
Attempts have been made to account for the extinction of the race of northern Elephants, by alterations in the climate of their hemisphere, or by violent geological catastrophes, and the like extraneous physical causes. When we seek to apply the same hypothesis to explain the apparently contemporaneous extinction
the gigantic leaf-eating Megatherian of South America, the geological phenomena of that continent appear to negative the occurrence of such destructive changes. Our comparatively brief experience of the progress and duration of species within the historical period, is surely insufficient to justify, in every case of extinction, the verdict of violent death. With regard to many of the larger Mammalia, especially those which have passed away from the American and Australian continents, the absence of sufficient signs of extrinsic extirpating change or convulsion, makes it almost as reasonable to speculate with Brocchi, * on the possibility that species like individuals may have had the cause of their death inherent in their original constitution, independently of changes in the external world, and that the term of their existence, or the period of exhaustion of the prolific force, may have been ordained from the commencement of each species.
* In the extreme points of Lapland, in 70° north latitude, the pines attain the height of sixty feet; and at Enontekessi, in Lapland, in 68° 30' north Jatitude, von Buch found corn, orchards, and a rich vegetation at an elevation of 1356 feet above the sea.-Lindley, Intr. to Botany, pp. 435, 490.
Art. III.—Note upon Carex loliacea, Linn., and C. gracilis, Ehrh.;
by A. GRAY.
UNDER the name of Carer loliacea, two distinct species have long been confounded, which, although they have been of late to some extent distinguished, yet their history and synonymy still require elucidation.
Linnæus established his C. loliacea upon a Swedish plant, indicated in the Flora Suecica, No. 840, to which the specific name was first applied in the Species Plantarum, with the phrase: “C. spiculis subovatis sessilibus remotis androgynis, capsulis ovatis teretiusculis muticis divaricatis." He further describes it as having from four to eight small ovate spikelets scattering at the apex of the culm, and the perigynia “ovate, obtuse, pointless, and rounded on the lower side ;” and proceeds to compare it with C. muricata, (which as to the Flora Suecica, is stated by Wahlenberg to be the C. stellulata, Good.,) from which it is said to differ in its smaller size, and in the less divaricate obtuse fruit. I suppose that there is no authentic specimen preserved in the Linnæan herbarium.
In the year 1802, Schkuhr figuredt and described what he, with much hesitation, took for C. loliacea, remarking however that this Linnæan species was a very doubtful plant, and that what he had taken for it was probably only a variety of C. muricata; which seems to have been the case.
In the next year the real C. loliacea was, as I suppose, correctly taken up by Wahlenberg, a botanist most likely to know the Linnæan plant, who well characterized it as follows: “C. spiculis basi masculis subdistantibus ternis paucifloris, squamis brevibus, capsulis subovali-ellipticis utrinque convexiusculis obtusis obtusangulis divaricatis, ore integerrimo, bracteolis setigeris, foliis angustissimis." I
In 1805, Willdenow gave a new phrase, viz. “C. spica androgyna composita, spiculis subquaternis inferne masculis subapproximatis, stigmatibus binis, fructibus ellipticis obtusis nervosis com
Cited by Lyell, “Principles of Geology,” (1835,) vol. iii, p. 104. + Reidgr.'t. Ée, No. 91.
Wahlenb. in Act. Holm. 1803. p. 147.
pressis erectis."* This character was evidently drawn from the specimen in his herbarium marked fol. 2, the source of which is not recorded, and from which Kunth has also recently derived an additional description of C. loliacea; while the fol. 1, holds a Swedish specimen of a different plant, sent by Swartz under the name of C. loliacea, which (judging from a memorandum made on inspection several years ago) is most probably the C. tenella of Schkuhr. This C. tenella, Willdenow remarks, is the same as C. loliacea, but is incorrectly delineated and described by Schkuhr as having the spikelets masculine at the summit. Here is the beginning of the confusion, soon further complicated by Schkuhr himself, in which these two very distinct species have ever since been involved.
Schkuhr established and figured his C. tenella, in the first part of his work on Carices, in 1802, (No. 15, t. Pp, f. 104,) upon a plant which he found in the herbarium of a friend, who was entirely ignorant of its source, or even whether he had collected it himself or received it from a correspondent. This friend, as he elsewhere states, was Hedwig. Schkuhr's herbarium shows that he subsequently received the same species from Sweden, through Thunberg, ticketed "C. loliacea, Linn. In Nordlandia Norvegiæ rarius, per Nordlandiam Sueciæ copiose.” In the same work, Schkuhr also figured (t. E, f. 24) a plant of unrecorded origin, which he took for the C. gracilis of “Ehrhart, Gram. [Phytophylac?] 78.” The specimen which Schkuhr figured is not preserved in his herbarium; but in a paper fixed to the folio under this name, marked “Saamen," I found the very perigynium and achenium (i.e.) separately delineated in his figure. The perigynium is distinctly beaked, the staminate flowers are plainly depicted as occupying the summit of the spikelets, and the whole figure so nearly agrees with the smaller states of C. rosea, that I can scarcely doubt it was derived from that plant. In place of the specimen actually figured, the herbarium of Schkuhr contains one with a printed ticket, "C. gracilis, Ehrh.: Upsal,” which is probably an authentic specimen from Ehrhart's original collection, but which, as it certainly is not the plant which Schkuhr has depicted, I suppose to have been received at a later period, and that the specimen which served for the figure in question was then discarded.
On obtaining possession of this authentic specimen (as I take it to be) of Ehrhart's C. gracilis, Schkuhr could not fail to perceive that it was precisely the same species with his own C. tenella, and with what had already been sent him from Sweden under the name of C. loliacea. Accordingly, in his Supplement, (1806,) he united the two, (but without explaining the
• Wild. Sp. Pl. 4, p. 237.