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Earth In Space And Time
THE earth on which we live is a spinning globe. Vast though it seems to us, it is a mere speck of matter in the greater vastness of space. Space is, for the most part, emptiness.
First Living Things
WE do not know how life began upon the earth. Biologists, that is to say, students of life, have made guesses about these beginnings, but we will not discuss them here. Let us only note that they all agree that life began where the tides of those swift days spread and receded over the steaming beaches of mud and sand.
How Old Is The Earth
Speculations about geological time vary enormously. Estimates of the age of the oldest rocks by geologists and astronomers starting from different standpoints have varied between 1,600,000,000, and 25,000,000.
Natural Selection And The Chain Of Species
NOW here it will be well to put plainly certain genral facts about this new thing, life, that was creeping in the shallow waters and intertidal muds of the early Paleozoic period, and which is perhaps confined to our planet alone in all the immensity of space.
Life And Water
WHEREVER the shore line ran there was life, and that life went on in and by and with water as its home, its medium, and its fundamental necessity.
Earliest Animals
And after the plants came the animal life.There is no sort of land animal in the world, as there is no sort of land plant, whose structure is not primarily that of a water-inhabiting being which has been adapted through the modification and differentiation of species to life out of the water.
Why Life Must Change Continually
The Record of the Rocks is like a great book that has been carelessly misused. All its pages are torn, worn and defaced, and many are altogether missing. The outline of the story that we sketch here has been pieced together slowly and painfully in an investigation that is still incomplete and still in progress.
Sun A Steadfast Star
Another entirely different cause of changes in the general climate of the earth may be due to variations in the heat of the sun. We do not vet understand what causes the heat of the sun or what sustains that undying fire.
Changes From Within The Earth
A third great group of causes influencing climate are to be found in the forces within the world itself. Throughout the long history of the earth there has been a continuous wearing down of the hills and mountains by frost and rain and a carrying out of their material to become sedimentary rocks under the seas.
Man May Control Change
And while we are enumerating the forces that change climate and, the conditions of terrestrial life, we may perhaps look ahead a little and add a fourth set of influences, at first unimportant in the history of the world so far as the land surface is concerned, but becoming more important after the Age of Reptiles, to which we shall proceed in our next chapter.
Age Of Reptiles
WE know that for hundreds of thousands of years the wetness and warmth, the shallow lagoon conditions that made possible the vast accumulations of vegetable matter which, compressed and mummified, are now coal, prevailed over most of the world.
Flying Dragons
One special development of the dinosaurian type of reptile was a light, hopping, climbing group of creatures which developed a bat like web between the fifth finger and the side of the body, which was used in gliding from tree to tree after the fashion of the flying squirrels. These bat lizards were the Pterodactyls.
First Birds
Far less prevalent at this time were certain other truly bird-like creatures, of which the earlier sorts also hopped and clambered and the later sorts skimmed and flew. These were at first by all the standards of classification Reptiles.
Age Of Hardship And Death
This great period of Mesozoic life, this second volume of the book of life, is indeed an amazing story of reptilian life proliferating and developing. But the most striking thing of all the story remains to be told. Right tip to the latest Mesozoic Rocks we find all these reptilian orders we have enumerated still flourishing unchallenged.
First Appearance Of Fur And Feathers
Were there mammals in the Mesozoic period? This is a question not yet to be answered precisely. Patiently and steadily the geologists gather fresh evidence and reason out completer conclusions. At any time some new deposit may reveal fossils that will illuminate this question.
Age Of Mammals
THE third great division of the geological record, the Cainozoic, opens with a world already physically very like the world we live in today. Probably the day was at first still perceptibly shorter, but the scenery had become very modern in its character.
Tradition Comes Into The World
In the forests and following the grass over the Eocene plains there appeared for the first time a variety and abundance of mammals. Before we proceed to any description of these mammals, it may be well to note in general terms what a mammal is.
An Age Of Brain Growth
A number of types of mammal already appear in the Eocene. Some are differentiating in one direction, and some in another, some are perfecting themselves as herbivorous quadrupeds, some leap and climb among the trees, some turn back to the water to swim, but all types are unconsciously exploiting and developing the brain which is the instrument of this new power of acquisition and educability.
World Grows Hard Again
Through millions of animal generations the spinning world circled about the sun ; slowly its orbit, which may have been nearly circular during the equable days of the early Eocene, was drawn by the attraction of the circling outer , planets into a more elliptical form.
Man Supposed To Be Descended From A Walking Ape
THE origin of man is still very obscure. It is commonly asserted that he is descended from pomp man-like ape such as the chimpanzee, the orangutang, or the gorilla, but that of course is as reasonable as saving that I am descended from some Hottentot or Esquimaux as young or younger than myself.
First Traces Of Man Like Creatures
Among the earliest evidences of some creature, more man-like than any living ape upon earth, are a number of flints and stones very roughly chipped and shaped so as to be held in the hand. These were probably used as hand-axes.
Heidelberg Sub-Man
After Pithecanthropus, that first glimpse of something at least sub-human in the record of geology, there is not another fragment of human or man-like bone yet known from that record for an interval of hundreds of thousands of years.
Piltdown Sub-Man
We must turn over the Record for, it may be, another 100,000 years for the next remains of anything human or sub-human. Then in a deposit ascribed to the Third Inter glacial period, which may have begun 100,000 years ago and lasted 50,000 years, the smashed pieces of a whole skul lturned up.
Neanderthal Men, An Extinct Race
IN the time of the Third Interglacial period the outline of Europe and western Asia was very different from what it is to-day. Vast areas to the west and north-west which are now under the Atlantic waters were then dry land, the Irish Sea and the North Sea were river valleys.
Daily Life Of The First Men
In Worthington Smith's Man the Primeval Savage there is a very vividly written description of early Palaeolithic life, from which much of the following account is borrowed.
Last Palaeolithic Men
When the Dutch discovered Tasmania, they found a detached human race not very greatly advanced beyond this Lower Palaeolithic stage. But over most of the world the Lower Palaeolithic culture had developed into a more complicated and higher life twenty or thirty thousand years ago.
Last Rhodesian Skull
In the summer of 1921 a very interesting find was made in a cave on the Broken Hill property in South Africa. This was the skull, but without the lower jaw, and a number of bones of a new species of Homo intermediate between the Neanderthal Man and the True Men (Homo Sapiens).
Later Postglacial Palaeolithic Men, The First True Men
THE Neanderthal type of man prevailed in Europe at least for tens of thousands of years. For ages that make all history seem a thing of yesterday, these nearly human creatures prevailed. If the Heidelberg jaw was that of a Neanderthaler, and if there is no error in the estimate of the age of that jaw, then the Neanderthal Race lasted out for more than 200,000 years!
Hunters Give Place To Herdsmen
It was about 12,000 or fewer years ago that, with the spread of forests and a great change of the fauna, the long prevalence of the hunting life in Europe drew to its end. Reindeer vanished. Changing conditions frequently bring with them new diseases.
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