Animals of the past - PDF book by Frederic A. Lucas

Animals of the past 

Animals of the past
Animals of the past 

From introduction:

At the present time, the interest in the ancient life of this earth is greater than ever before, and very considerable sums of money are being ex- pended to dispatch carefully planned expeditions to various parts of the world systematically to gather the fossil remains of the animals of the past. 

That this interest is not merely confined to a few scientific men but is shared by the general public, is shown by the numerous articles, including many telegrams, in the columns of the daily papers.

 The object of this book is to tell some of the interesting facts concerning a few of the better known or more remarkable of these extinct inhabitants of the ancient world; also, if possible, to ease the strain on these venerable animals, caused by stretching them so often beyond their due proportions. 

The book is admittedly somewhat on the lines of Mr Hutchinsons "Extinct Monsters" and " Creatures of Other Days" but it is hoped that it may be considered with books as with boats, a good plan to build after a good model. 

The information scattered through these pages has been derived from varied sources; some have of necessity been taken from standard books, a part has been gathered in the course of museum work and official correspondence; for much, the author is indebted to his personal friends, and for apart, he is under obligations to friends he has never met, who have kindly responded to his inquiries.

 The endeavour has been conscientiously made to exclude all misinformation; it is, nevertheless, entirely probable that some mistakes may have crept in, and due apology for these is hereby made beforehand.

 The author expects to be taken to task for the use of scientific names, and the reader may perhaps sympathize with the old lady who said that the discovery of all these strange animals did not surprise her so much as the fact that anyone should know their names when they were found. The real trouble is that there are no common names for these animals.

 Then, people who call for easier names do not stop to reflect that, in many cases, the scientific names are no harder than others, simply less familiar, and, when domesticated, they cease to be hard: witness mammoth, elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, boa constrictor, all of which are scientific names. And if, for example, we were to call the Hyracotherium a Hyrax beast it would not be a name, but a description, and not a bit more intelligible. 

Again, it is impossible to indicate the period at which these creatures lived without using the scientific term for it Jurassic* Eocene, Pliocene, as the case may be because there is no other way of doing it. Some readers will doubtless feel disappointed because they are not told how many years ago these animals lived. 

The question is often asked How long ago did this or that animal live? But when the least estimate puts the age of the earth at only 10,000,000 years, while the longest makes it 6,000,000,000, it does seem as if it were hardly worthwhile to name any figures. 

Even when we get well toward the .present period we find the time that has elapsed since the beginning of the Jurassic, when the Dinosaurs held a carnival, variously put at from 15,000,000 to 6,000,000 years; while from the beginning of the Eocene, when the mammals began to gain the supremacy, until now, the figures vary from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 years. So the question of age will be left for the reader to settle to his or her satisfaction. 

The restorations of extinct animals may be considered as giving as accurate representations of these creatures as it is possible to make; they were either drawn by Mr Knight, whose name is a guarantee that they are of the highest quality, or by Mr Gleeson, with the aid of Mr Knighfs criticism. That they are infallibly correct is out of the question; for, as Dr Woodward writes in the preface to " Extinct Monsters," " restorations are ever liable to emendation, and the present

Some Contents:

Use of scientific names, xvi; estimates of the age of the earth, xvii; restorations by Mr Knight, xviii; Works of Reference, xix.


Definition of fossils, 1; fossils may be indications of animals or plants, 2; casts and impressions, 3 ; why fossils are not more abundant, 4; conditions under which fossils are formed, 5; enemies of bones, 6; Dinosaurs engulfed in quicksand, 8; formation of fossils, 9; petrified bodies frauds, 10; natural casts, 10; leaves, 13; incrustations, 14; destruction of fossils, 15; references, 17.


Methods of interrogating Nature, 18; thickness of sedimentary rocks, 20; earliest traces of life, 21; early vertebrates difficult of preservation, 22; armoured fishes, 23; abundance of early fishes, 25; destruction of fish, 26; carboniferous sharks, 29; known mostly from teeth and spines, 30; references, 32.


Records of extinct animals, 33; earliest traces of animal life, 34; formation of tracks, 35; tracks in all strata, 36; discov- ery of tracks, 37; tracks of Dinosaurs, 39; species named from tracks, 41; footprints aid in determining the attitude of ani- mals, 43; tracks at Carson City, 45; references, 47.


The Mosasaurs, 49 ; history of the first known Mosasaur, 50 ; jaws of reptiles, 53 ; extinction of Mosasaurs, 55 ; the sea- serpent, 56 ; Zeuglodon, 58 ; its habits, 59 ; Koch's Hydrar- chus, 61 ; bones collected by Mr. Schuchert, 63 ; abundance of sharks, 64 ; the great Carcharodon, 65 ; the arrangement of sharks' teeth, 67 ; references, 68.


Earliest birds, 70 ; wings, 71 ; study of young animals, 73 ; the curious Hoactzin, 74 ; the first intimation of birds, 76 ; Archaeopteryx, 77 ; birds with teeth, 78 ; cretaceous birds, 79 ; Hesperornis, 80 ; loss of power of flight, 81 ; covering of Hesper- ornis, 82 ; attitude of Hesperornis, 83 ; the curious position of legs, 84 ; toothed birds disappointing, 85 ; early development of birds, 86 ; eggs of early birds, 87 ; references, 88.


Discovery of Dinosaur remains, 90 ; nearest relatives of Dinosaurs,- 91 ; relation of birds to reptiles, 92 ; brain of Dinosaurs, 93 ; the parallel between Dinosaurs and Marsupials, 95 ; the great Brontosaurus, 96 ; food of Dinosaurs, 97 ; habits of Diplodocus, 99 ; the strange Australian Moloch, 100 ; combats of Triceratops, 101 ; skeleton of Triceratops, 102 ; Thespesius and his kin, 104 ; the carnivorous Ceratosaurus, 106 ; Stegosaurus, the plated lizard, 106 ; references, 109.


Fossils regarded as sports of nature, 111; qualifications of a successful collector, 112; chances of collecting, 114; excavation of fossils, 115; strengthening fossils for shipment, 117; the great size of some specimens, 118; the preparation of fossils, 119; mistakes of anatomists, 120; reconstruction of Triceratops, 121 ; distinguishing characters of bones, 122 ; the skeleton a problem in mechanics, 124 ; clothing the bones with flesh, 127 ; the covering of animals, 127 ; outside ornamentation, 129 ; probabilities in the covering of animals, 130 ; impressions of extinct animals, 131 ; mistaken inferences from bones of Mammoth, 133 ; colouring of large land animals, 134 ; colour markings of young animals, 136 ; references, 137.


Legend of the Moa, 139 ; our knowledge of the Moas, 141 ; some Moas wingless, 142 ; deposits of Moa bones, 143 ; legend of the Roc, 144 ; discovery of ^Epyornis, 145 ; large- sounding names, 146 ; eggs of great birds, 147 ; the Patago- nian Phororhacos, 149 ; the huge Brontornis, 150 ; development of giant birds, 153 ; distribution of flightless birds, 154 ; the relation between flightlessness and size, 156 ; references, 156.

book details :
  • Author: Frederic A. Lucas
  • Publication date 1901
  • Company: New York : McClure, Phillips & Co

  • Download 22.8 MB


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