Изображения страниц

deduce the power of the Creator from the description of an animal never created at all, but the product of the man's own imagination !

I turn to the description itself, and find as exact a portrait as we can imagine of the Elephas primigenius, prefacing this for the sake of illustration by a sketch of the skeleton.

“Behold now Behemoth, which I made with thee," part of the same creation, and of course contemporaneous, an herbivorous animal, but the chief of the ways of God. “Lo now his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.” Čould any characteristic be more true of an elephant ?

[ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

Skeleton from 16 to 18 feet in height; tusks from 12 to 13 feet in length. The Belgian specimen in the British Museum has a much longer tail.

[ocr errors]


'He moveth (or setteth up) his tail like a cedar,"_true apparently of the mammoth. “ The sinews of his thighs are wrapped together.” “ His bones are as strong pieces of brass, his bones are like bars of iron ” (look at the skeletonwhat muscles these apophyses must have been designed to support). He is chief of the ways of God. He that made him has endowed him with his weapons of offence, * "curved tusks.We have here the picture complete. Look at the curved tusks in the engraving.

*i wa See Ges. Ler. in loco.

Even the modern elephant can be a formidable antagonist. I extract from Dr. Falconer (p. 259) the account of the death of a “Goondah," or wild elephant, which for a long time was the terror of a district in India. “It was killed in the jungles on the banks of the Ganges, at no great distance from Meerut, in May, 1833, by a party of four experienced sportsñen, who went out for the express purpose of killing it. The savage animal made no fewer than twenty-three desperate and gallant charges against a battery of at least sixteen doublebarrel guns to which it was exposed on each occasion, and fell after several hours with its skull literally riddled with bullets."'*

The old commentators probably thought that the elephant was unknown in Arabia, but we now understand that the elephant abounded in the neighbouring district of Mesopotamia, in the days of Thothmes III., about 1500 years B.C., who, in a campaign against Nineveh, captured on a hunting expedition, one hundred and twenty wild elephants.† In the ninth century B.C. the same creature is represented on the Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer II. as part of the tribute brought by the tribe called Muzzi, from the headquarters of the Tigris to the Assyrian monarch. It had no doubt been exterminated in the interval from the plains of Mesopotamia, as at a preceding period it had been from the banks of the Jordan and the forests of Arabia.

There can be little doubt that at some period the elephant, or mammoth, extended from the head-waters of the Tigris to the forests of Siberia.

There is in fact scarcely any limit to be placed to the migrations of the elephant family in some one of their forms, of which we have now several but sadly degenerate representations.

I conclude that we have good ground for believing that the description of the Behemoth in the book of Job is that of a then existing form of the Elephas primigenius, symbolizing with the now extinct mammoth, in the curved tusks, the gigantic stature, the waving and bushy tail, and not improbably also in the character of its food, and of its teeth fitted for the mastication of a somewhat indiscriminate vegetable diet.

The now submerged forests of the shores of Britain seem to have furnished the sustenance exactly fitted to the wants of this huge creature, which appears to have abounded therein,

* The skull is now in the British Museum, + See Appendix C.

[ocr errors]

for it is stated that on the coast of Norfolk alone the fishermen, in trawling for oysters, fished up, between 1820 and 1833, no less than two thousand molar teeth of elephants, and these, according to Sir Charles Lyell, of not less than three species. If we give credence to the view of geologists that in the Pleistocene period the whole of the shore until we pass the depth of one hundred fathoms was dry land, we should indeed recall magnificent plains of pasture for these noble creatures and

appropriate hunting-ground for their enemies. But this is as nothing compared to the plains of Siberia. New Siberia and the isle of Lachou are for the most part only an agglomeration of sand, ice, and elephant teeth." every tempest, the sea casts ashore new quantities of mammoths' tusks, and the inhabitants of Siberia carry on a profitable commerce in this fossil ivory. Every year during the summer innumerable fishermen's barks direct their course towards this ‘isle of bones’; and during winter immense caravans take the same route—all the convoys drawn by dogs-returning charged with the tusks of the mammoth, each weighing from one hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds."

Think of the apparatus of bone and muscle requisite to wield this tremendous double “sword.”

The fossil ivory thus withdrawn from the frozen north is imported into China and Europe, where it is employed for the same purposes as ordinary ivory.

The “isle of bones” has served as a quarry of this valuable material for export to China for five hundred years, and it has been exported to Europe for upwards of a hundred, but the supply from these strange mines remains undiminished.

All this wealth of animal life seems suddenly and violently to have come to an end by the waters of a deluge.*

Erman remarks that the alluvial deposits of Siberia, in which are found the bones of the mammoth and leaves and twigs of the birch and willow, consist to the depth of one hundred feet of strata of loam, fine sand, and magnetic sand, and that they have been deposited from waters which at one time, and it may be presumed suddenly, overflowed the whole country as far as the Polar Sea. It is only in the lower strata of the New Siberian wood-hills (composed largely of driftwood) that the trunks have that position which they would assume in swimming or sinking undisturbed. On the summit of the hills they lie flung upon one another in the wildest disorder, forced upright in spite of gravitation, and with their

* The Epoch of the Mammoth, Southall, 1878.

tops broken off or crushed as if they had been thrown with great violence from the south on a bank, and then heaped up.

So it is clear that at the time when the elephants and trunks of trees were thrown up together, one flood,* extended from the centre of the Continent to the furthest barrier existing in the sea as it is now.

Mr. Howorth says, “We find the mammoth remains aggregated in hecatombs on the pieces of high grounds, and not scattered indiscriminately.t An immediate change of climate seems to have supervened, so as to allow the bodies of the mammoth to be at once frozen, and thus preserved intact. It seems that the animals fled to the higher eminences for safety when the waters spread around them, I reminding us of the deluge of Deucalion, as described by Horace“Omne cum Proteus pecus egit altos

Visere montes."

No human remains nor works of art are met with in these deposits. “ The appearance of the Tundra," $or alluvial plain," seems to point to a not very distant submergence of the whole of Siberia, as far south as the highlands which roughly mark the present northern limit of trees”; but the climate in the Mammoth epoch was milder, for, "remote from the present line of trees, among the steep banks of the lakes and rivers, are found large birch-trees, complete, with bark, branches, and roots. At first sight they appear well preserved, but on digging them up they are found in a thorough state of decay. The first living birch-trees are not now found nearer than three degrees to the south, and then only as shrubs."

I direct particular attention to this, for it is evident that the era in which these trees lived and flourished coincided with the (Pleistocene ?) era of the mammoths, and of a much more genial temperature than now prevails. The period during which a birch-tree can be continually decaying until it turns absolutely to dust, marks out exactly the length of this space, and may be placed side by side with the accumulation of stalagmite in, at all events, the upper floor of Kent's Cavern. Are we to believe that 250,000 years have elapsed since these birch-trees lived, and that the bodies of the mammoths have been kept in ice all this long age so fresh that the Siberian wolves can now feed and fatten upon them ?

* See Falconer's Palæon. Mcm., p. 243.
Proceedings of the British Assoc. 1869, p. 90.
I Appendix D.

Hedenstrom, quoted by Southall, p. 327.

M. D’Orbigny,* whose grand work in nine quarto volumes is no doubt the best on all subjects connected with the geology of South America, is of opinion that the destruction of the great races of animals which inhabited the country before the present era was owing to a flood; which swept the soil and the animals from the surface, and deposited them together in an unstratified mass, covering not less than 23,750 square leagues. This formation of the Pampas deposit of the same red argillaceous earth with bones, which appears to cover almost all South America, and is found even at the elevation of 400 mètres above the level of the sea, coincided with the last elevation of the Cordilleras; the extrusion of the trachyte rocks,“ sur une longueur de trente-six degrés," “ mouvement l'un des plus grands qui ait lieu à la surface du globe;" and with a great line of dislocation, due, without doubt, to considerable sinkings towards the west in the bosom of the great ocean.

All this reminds one of the Scriptural expression, “In that day were broken up all the fountains of the deep;” † and is something startling, vast, gigantic; and since the same author finds traces of the same event in Auvergne, it would suggest some world-wide catastrophe.

I do not know how far it is conceded by geologists that the general disappearance of the mammoth was coincident with “the Palæolithic Flood,” but “that there was such a flood, covering no inconsiderable area in Belgium, in France, in England, in the valley of the Tiber, in the valley of the Mississippi, and elsewhere, there is no doubt. It is what Dr. Andrews calls the flood of the Loess.'"

“With regard to the fact of this flood there is no question, the only question is as to the extent of it. There are some indications that it was even more serious than has been supposed."

I refer to several able and recently published works for further information, especially the one just quoted, remarking only that the era at which this supposed flood occurred cannot reasonably be put back more than a few thousand years.

Was it in this deluge that the creatures perished whose remains are found in a los Gigantes,” near Santa Fé, at an elevation of 7,800 feet; and again, by Humboldt, at the elevation of 7,200 feet, near Imbaburra, in Quito; and again in Central Asia, at 16,000 feet elevation ? See Buckland Rel. Dil., p. 222.

* D'Orbigny, tome iii. pp. 80, 254, 273, &c. + See Hebrew.

I Page 128. The Epoch of the Mammoth, by J.C. Southall, A.M., LL.D. 1878; also Appendix D.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »