Imágenes de página
PDF

importance for fuel, but very perfect remains of vegetables are dispersed in great abundance through the marly slates and limestone quarries which are worked there, and afford the most perfect history of the vegetation of the Miocene Period, which has yet come within our reach.*

• I have recently been favoured by Professor Braun of Carlsruhe, with the following important and hitherto unpublished catalogue, and observations on the fossil plants found in the Fresh-water formation of CEningen, which has been already spoken of in our account of fossil fishes. The plants enumerated in this catalogue, were collected during a long series of years by the inmates of a monastery near CEningen, on the dissolution of which they were removed to their present place in the Museum of Carlsruhe. It appears by this catalogue that the plants of CEningen afford examples of thirty.six species belonging to twenty-five genera of the following families.

[table]

This table shows the great preponderance of Dicotyledonous plants in the Flora of CEningen, and affords a standard of comparison with those of the Brown-coal of other localities in the Tertiary series. The greater number of the species found here correspond with those in the Brown-coal of the VVetteraw and vicinity of Bonn.

Amid this predominance of Doctyledonous vegetables, not a single herbaceous plant has yet been found excepting some fragments of Ferns and Grasses, and many remains of aquatic plants: all the rest belong to Dicotyledonous, and Gymnospermous ligneous plants.

Among these remains are many single leaves, apparently dropped in

No distinct catalogues of plants found in the Pliocene, or most recent periods of the Tertiary series, have yet been published.

the natural course of vegetation; there are also branches with leaves on them, such as may have been torn from trees by stormy weather; ripe seed vessels; and the persistent calix of many'blossoms.

The greater part of the fossil plants at (Eningen (about two-thirds) belong to Genera which still grow in that neighbourhood; but their species differ, and correspond more nearly with those now living in North America, than with any European species, the fossil Poplars afford an example of this kind.

On the other hand, there are some Genera, which do not exist in the present Flora of Germany, e. g. the Genus Diospyros; and others not in that of Europe, e. g. Taxodium, Liquidambar, Juglans, Gleditschia.

Judging from the proportions in which their remains occur, Poplars, Willows, and Maples were the predominating foliaceous trees in the former Flora of (Eningen. Of two very abundant fossil species, one, (Populus latior,) resembles the modern Canada Poplar; the other, (Populus ovalis) resembles the Balsam Poplar of North America.

The determination of the species of fossil Willows is more difficult. One of these (Salix angustifolia) may have resembled our present Salix viminalis.

Of the genus Acer, one species may be compared with Acer campestre, another with Acer pseudoplatanus; but the most frequent species, (Acer protensum,) appears to correspond most nearly with the Acer dasycarpon of M orth America; to another species, related to Acer negundo, Mr. Braun gives the name of Acer trifoliatum. A fossil species of Liquidambar (L. europeum, Braun.) differs from the living Liquidambar styracifluum of America, in having the narrower lobes of its leaf terminated by longer points, and was the former representative of this genus in Europe. The fruit of this Liqeidambar is preserved, and also that of two species of Acer and one Salix.

The fossil Linden Tree of (Eningen resembled our modern large leaved Linden tree (Tilia grandiflora.)

The fossil Elm resembled a small leaved form of Ulmus campestris.

Of two species of Juglans, one (J. falcifolia) may be compared with the American J. nigra; the other, with J. Alba, and like it, probably belonged to the division of nuts with bursting external shells, (Gary a Nuttal.)

Among the scarcer plants at (Eningen, is a species of Diospyros (D. brachysepala.) A remarkable calyx of this plant is preserved, and shows in its centre the place where the fruit separated itself: it is distinguished from the living Diospyros lotus of the South of Europe by blunter and shorter secPALMSIN SECONDARY AND TRANSITION SERIES. 385

Fossil Palms.

The discovery of the remains of. Palms Trees in the Brown-coal of Germany has been already noticed; and the

Among the fossil shrubs are two species of Rhamnus; one of these (R. multinervis, Braun) resembles the R. alpinns, in the costalion of its leaf. The second and most frequent species, (R. terminalis, Braun) may with regard to the position and costation. of its leaves, be compared in some degree with R. catharticus, but differed from all living species in having its flowers placed at the tips of the plant.

Among the fossil Leguminous plants is a leaf more like that of a fruticose Cytisus than of any herbaceous Trefoil.

Of a Gleditschia, (G. podocarpa, Braun) there are fossil pinnated leaves and many pods; the latter seem, like the G. Monasperma of North America, to have been single seeded, and are small and short, with a long stalk contracting the base of the pod.

With these numerous species of foliaccous woods, are found also a few species of Conifers. One species of Abies is still undertermined; branches and small cones of another tree of this family (Taxodium europeum, Ad. Brong.) resemble the Cypress of Japan (Taxodium Japonicum.)

Among the remains of aquatic plants are a narrow-leaved Potamogeton; and an Isoetes, similar to the 1. lacustris now found in small lakes of the Black Forest, but not in the Lake of Constance.

The existence of Grasses at the period when this formation was deposited, is shown by a well preserved impression of a leaf, similar to that of a Triticum, turning to the right, and on which the costation is plainly ex

Fragments of fossil Ferns occur here, having a resemblance to Pteris aquilina and Aspidium Filix mas.

The remains of Equisetum indicate a species resembling E. palustre.

Among the few undetermined remains are the five-cleft and beautiful veined impressions of the Calyx of a blossom, which are by no means rare at (Eningen.

No remains of any Rosacea^ have yet been discovered at this place." Letter from Prof. Braun to Dr. Buckland, Nov. 25, 1825.

In addition to these fossil Plants, the strata at (Eningen contain many species of fresh-water Shells, and a remarkable collection of fossil Fishes which we have before mentioned, P. 285. In the family of Reptiles they present a very curious Tortoise, and a gigantic aquatic Salamander, more than three feet long, the Homo Diluvii testis of Scheuchzer. A Lagomys and fossil Fox have also been found here. (See Geol. Trans. Lorn!. N. S. vol. iii. p. 287.

Vol. i.—33

[graphic]

more frequent occurrence of similar remains of this interesting family, in the Tertiary formations of France, Switzerland, and England, whilst they are comparatively rare in strata of the Secondary and Transition series, suggests the propriety of consigning to this part of our subject the few observations we have to make on their history.

The existing family of Palms* is supposed to consist of nearly a thousand species, of which the greater number are limited to peculiar regions of the torrid Zone. If we look to the geological history of this large and beautiful family, we shall find that although it was called into existence, together with the most early vegetable forms of the Transition period, it presents very few species in the Coal formation (See Lindley's Foss. Flora, No. XV, PI . 142, P. 163,) and occurs sparingly in the Secondary series ;f but in the Tertiary formation we have abundant stems and leaves, and fruits, derived from Palms.J

Fossil Trunks of Palm Trees.

The fossil stems of Palms are referable to many species; they occur beautifully silicified in the Tertiary deposites of Hungary, and in the Calcaire Grassier of Paris.§ Trunks of Palms are also found in the Fresh-water formation of Mont Martre.*—It is stated, that at Liblar, near Cologne, they have been seen in a vertical position-! Beautifully silicified stems of Palm Trees abound in Antigua, and in India, and on the banks of the Irawadi, in the kingdom of Ava.

In Oct. 1835, I saw in the Museum at Leyden, a living Salamander three feet long, the first ever brought alive to Europe, of a species nearly allied to the fossil Salamander of CEningen. This animal was brought by Dr. Siebold from a lake within the crater of an extinct volcano, on a high mountain in Japan. It fed greedily on small fishes, and frequently cast its epidermis.

* See PI. 1, Figs. 66, 67. 68.

•J- See Sprengel's Account of Endogenitcs Palmacites in New red sandstone, near Chemnitz, (Halle, 1828.) and Cotta's Dendrolithen, (Dresden and Leipsig, 1832. PI. ix, x.)

t Eight species in the family of Palms are given in Ad. Brongniart's list of the fossils of the Tertiary Series.

(j Our figure PI. 64, Fig. 2, represents the summit of a beautiful fossil Trunk in the Museum at Paris, allied to the family of Palms, and nearly four feet in circumference, from the lower region of the Calcaire Grossier at Vaillet near Soissons. M. Brongniart has applied to this fossil the name of Endogenites echinatus. The projecting bodies that surround it, like the foliage of a Corinthian Capital, are the persistent portions of fallen Petioles which remain adhering to the stem after the leaves themselves have fallen off. They have a dilated base embracing one-fourth or one-third of the stem; the form of these bases, and the disposition of their woody tissue in fasciculi or fibres, refer this fossil to some arborescent Monocotyledonous Tree allied to the Palms.

It is not surprising to find the remains of Palms in warm latitudes where plants of this family are now indigenous, as in Antigua or India; but their occurrence in the Tertiary formations of Europe, associated with the remains of Crocodiles and Tortoises, and with marine shells, nearly allied to forms which are at present found in seas of a warm temperature, seems to indicate that the climate of Europe during the Tertiary period, was warmer than it is at present.

Fossil Palm leaves.

We have seven known localities of fossil Palm leaves, in the Tertiary strata of France, Switzerland, and the Tyrol; and among them at least three species, of flabelliform leaves, all differing not only from that of the Chemazrops humilis, the only native palm of the South of Europe, but also from

* Prostrate trunks of Palm trees of considerable size are found in the argillaceous marl beds above the Gypsum strata of the Paris basin, together with shells of Lymnea and Planorbis; as these Trunks occur here in freshwater deposites they cannot have been drifted by marine current from distant regions, but were probably natives of Europe, and of France.

t It is not shown whether these Palm trees were drifted in this position, or arc still standing in the spot whereon they grew like the Cycadites and Conifers in the Isle of Portland.

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »