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back, as is well stated in the Edinburgh Review, to upwards of 4000 years before Christ'. It need hardly be added, that the period usually assigned to the Noachian deluge (B.C. 2348) is manifestly of a much more recent date, nor is there any valid reason to imagine that the Egyptians as a nation were ever subjected to such a catastrophe.
But the discoveries of zoologists in modern times limit still more strictly the bounds of this legendary deluge so far as it
may be supposed to have affected the numerous tribes of living beings. Oceans are impassable barriers to quadrupeds, and equally so to birds without wings; and it is found that distant quarters of the globe, such as South America, Australia and New Zealand, possess races of quadrupeds or wingless birds peculiar to their own localities : thus South America has her sloths and armadillos, which occur in the fossil as well as recent state; New Holland is characterized both by fossil and recent kangaroos; and New Zealand has long possessed very singular wingless birds peculiar to her islands, while she is besides almost destitute of any indigenous quadrupeds. Asia and Europe taken together have also their own group of animals, fossil as well as recent, including, for instance, elephants and camels, horses and cattle, all of which are distinct from those above mentioned.
“ It is an undoubted fact,” observes the great naturalist Buffon, “that when America was discovered, its indigenous quadrupeds were all dissimilar from those previously known in the Old World. The elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cameleopard and camel, the dromedary, buffalo, horse, ass, lion, tiger, apes and baboons, and a number of other mammalia, were nowhere to be met with on the new continent; while in the old, the American species of the same great class were not anywhere to be seen, such as the tapir, lama, pecari and jaguar, the couguar, agouti, paca, coati, and sloth?”
1 Edinburgh Review, No. 168, p. 429. The Chevalier Bunsen's Ancient Egypt (Ægyptens Stelle in der Weltgeschichte), vol. iii. p. 123.
A similar generalization with respect to the local distribution of fossil species of mammalia is thus enunciated by Professor Owen, the first comparative anatomist of our own time: “Not a relic,” he says, “ of an elephant, a rhinoceros, a hippopotamus, a bison, a hyæna or a lagomys, has yet
been detected in the caves or the more recent tertiary deposits of South America. On the contrary, most of the fossil mammalia from those formations are as distinct from the Europæo-Asiatic forms, as they are closely allied to the peculiarly South American existing genera of mammalia2 »
Sloths and armadillos are referred to by the learned Professor, as apparently the last remnants of a widely extended mammalian fauna in South America, “which once almost equalled in the size and number of its species that of the Europæo-Asiatic expanse, and was as peculiarly characteristic of the remote continent in which almost all its representatives have been entombed.”
“ If ever,” continues Professor Owen, “the first types of the primary groups of the class Mammalia radiated from a common centre, it must have been at a period incalculably remote, and there is small hope of our ever being able to determine its site, by reason of the enormous alternations of land and sea that have come to
1 Buffon, vol. v., quoted by Mr. Lyell in his Principles of Geology, vol. iii. chap. vi.
? British Fossil Mammalia, by Professor Owen, F.R.S.; Introduction, p.xxxix. 1 See Linnæus' preface to the Museum Regis Adolphi Frederici,' 1754 : and the excellent remarks in Dr. Pritchard's . Physical History of Man,' vol. i. 1826, pp. 16, 81.
the class was first introduced into our planet. We find however that, from the period when the great masses of dry land assumed the general form and position that they now present, the same peculiar forms of mammalia characterized their respective faunæ: and the evidence of the distribution of the recent and extinct pliocene mammalia favours the conclusion that New Zealand, Australia, South America and the Old World of the geographers have been as many distinct centres of creation.
“ By the same evidence we are compelled to admit, that the difficulties which beset the Linnæan view of the actual diffusion of organized beings are insurmountable. According to the hypothesis that all existing land animals radiated from a common Asiatic centre within the historical period, we must be prepared to believe that the nocturnal Apteryx, which is neither organized for flying nor swimming, migrated across wide seas, and found its sole restingplace in the island of New Zealand, where alone the remains of similar wingless birds have been found fossil, --that the wombats, dasyures and kangaroos as exclusively travelled to Australia, where only have been found, in pliocene strata and bone caves, the remains of extinct and gigantic species of the same genera or families of marsupialia,—and that the modern sloths, armadillos and anteaters chose the route to South America, where only, and in the warmer parts of North America, are to be found the fossil remains of extinct species of those very peculiar edentate genera. It is not less striking and suggestive, though at first sight less subversive of the recent
dispersion theory, to find the macacus, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, hyæna, beaver, pika, hare and rabbit, vole and mole, still restricted to that great natural division of dry land, the Old World of geography, to which the fossil remains of the same genera or species appear to be peculiar. These generalizations must be interpreted agreeably with right reason, and not warped to suit with preconceived views.”
Sufficient proofs have now been adduced that the remote regions of South America, Australia and New Zealand were not deprived of their native tribes of quadrupeds by any universal deluge. Birds and insects have also remained, like the mammalia, within the general limits of the countries to which they had originally belonged; and indeed, in the case of insects, it is found that the South African varieties are so entirely distinct from others, that they constitute an additional separate group in themselves.
A primæval difference is further manifest in various races of human beings: the native Australians are distinguished by their singularly long arms and attenuated limbs, while the flat nose, woolly hair and large lips of the African negro especially characterize him as belonging to a separate group; and the repetition of the same remarkable features in the pictorial and sculptured representations of the ancient negro race, which have been frequently noticed in the tombs and statues of Egypt, dernonstrates that these peculiar characteristics have been for thousands of years permanently impressed on the same indigenous tribes.
Again, in Africa the most convincing testimony is afforded, that within the last five thousand years, the productive soil of that continent has not been visited by any diluvial wave. Senegal produces an extraordinary tree,
called the Adansonia digitata, or Baobab, which has ats tained to the age of 5150 years, having therefore commenced its growth as a seedling about B.C. 3300, or nearly a thousand years before the epoch usually assigned to the Noachian flood. Mr. Adanson discovered the singular longevity of this tree by first measuring it round, and then finding its diameter, which amounted to thirty feet: subsequently, as Mr. Lyell informs us, he made an incision to a certain depth in it, and counted 300 rings of annual growth, observing also the thickness which the tree had gained in that period. A mean rate of increase was next calculated, after the average rate of growth of younger trees of the same species had been ascertained, and the age of the great tree was thus determined. Such an ancient tree remains as a memorial of the regular succession of the seasons, continued through the very period when the general deluge is supposed to have occurred.
Numerous proofs are exhibited in volcanic districts of a still greater lapse of time undisturbed by any flood of waters. Eighty volcanic cones, each composed of loose scoriæ and ashes, have been noticed in the vicinity of Mount Etna. The age of the central mountain itself goes back far beyond historical periods?, but in modern times it has been observed that an interval of about a century usually occurs between the more serious eruptions of Etna; and as every cone has required considerable igneous power for its formation, a period of many thousand years must have elapsed during the successive elevation of these volcanic mounds alone. Mr. Lyell suggests that the eighty cones have not been formed in less than 12,000
| Lyell's Principles of Geology, book iv. chap. 8.