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And made wide shadow under bulksome waist,
Let us, however, ere we part for the evening, adventure a short walk into the wilds of the Oolite, in that portion of space now occupied on the surface of the globe by the north-eastern hills of Sutherland, where they abut on the precipitous Ord.
We stand on an elevated wood-covered ridge, that on the one hand overlooks the blue sea, and descends on the other towards a broad river, beyond which there spreads a wide expanse of a mountainous, forest-covered country. The higher and more distant hills are dark with pines; and, save that the sun, already low in the sky, is flinging athwart them his yellow light, and gilding, high over shaded dells and the deeper valleys, cliff, and copse, and bare mossy summit, the general colouring of the background would be blue and cold. But the ray falls bright and warm on the rich vegetation around us,-tree ferns, and tall club
mosses, and graceful palms, and the strangely-proportioned cycadaceæ, whose leaves seem fronds of the bracken fixed upon decapitated stumps; and along the banks of the river we see tall, intensely green hedges of the feathered equisetaceæ. Brown cones and withered spiky leaves strew the ground; and scarce a hundred yards away there is a noble Araucarian, that raises, sphere-like, its proud head more than a hundred feet over its fellows, and whose trunk, bedewed with odoriferous balsam, glistens to the sun. The calm stillness of the air makes itself faintly audible in the drowsy hum of insects; there is a gorgeous light-poised dragon-fly darting hither and thither through the minuter gnat-like groups : it settles for a moment on one of the lesser ferns, and a small insectivorous creature, scarce larger than a rat, issues noiselessly from its hole, and creeps stealthily towards it. But there is the whirr of wings heard overhead, and lo! a monster descends, and the little mammal starts back into its hole. 'Tis a winged dragon of the Oolite, a carnivorous reptile, keen of eye and sharp of tooth, and that to the head and jaws of the crocodile adds the neck of a bird, the tail of an ordinary mammal, and that floats through the air on leathern wings resembling those of the great vampire bat. We have seen, in the minute, rat-like creature, one of the two known mammals of this vast land of the Oolite,—the insect-eating Amphitherium; and in the flying reptile, one of its strangely organized Pterodactyls.
But hark! what sounds are these ? Tramp, tramp, tramp, -crash, crash. Tree-fern and club-moss, cycas and zamia, yield to the force and momentum of some immense reptile, and the colossal Iguanodon breaks through. He is tall as the tallest elephant, but from tail to snout greatly more than twice as long; bears, like the rhinoceros, a short horn on his snout; and has his jaws thickly implanted with saw-like teeth. But, though formidable from his great weight and strength, he possesses the comparative inoffensiveness of the herbivorous animals; and, with no desire to attack, and no necessity to defend, he moves slowly onward, deliberately munching, as he
the succulent stems of the cycadaceæ. The sun is fast sinking, and, as the light thickens, the reaches of the neighbouring river display their frequent dimples, and ever and anon long scaly backs are raised over its surface. Its numerous crocodileans are astir; and now they quit the stream, and we see its thick hedge-like lines of equisetaceæ open and again close, as they rustle through, to scour, in quest of prey, the dank meadows that line its banks. There are tortoises that will this evening find their protecting armour of carapace and plastron all too weak, and close their long lives of centuries. And now we saunter downwards to the shore, and see the ground-swell breaking white in the calm against ridges of coral scarce less white. The shores are strewed with shells of pearl,—the whorled Ammonite and the Nautilus; and amid the gleam of ganoidal scales, reflected from the green depths beyond, we may see the phosphoric trail of the Belemnite, and its path is over shells of strange form and name,—the sedentary Gryphæa, the Perna, and the Plagiostoma.
But lo! yet another monster. A snake-like form, surmounted by a crocodilean head, rises high out of the water within yonder coral ledge, and the fiery sinister eyes peer inquiringly round, as if in quest of prey. The body is but dimly seen; but it is short and bulky compared with the swan-like neck, and mounted on paddles instead of limbs; so that the entire creature, wholly unlike anything which now exists, has been likened to a boa-constrictor threaded through the body of a turtle. We have looked upon the Plesiosaurus. And now outside the ledge there is a huge crocodilean head raised; and a monstrous eye, huger than that of any other living creature,—for it measures a full foot across,-glares upon the slimmer and less powerful reptile, and in an instant the long neck and small head disappear. That monster of the immense eye,--an eye so constructed that its focus can be altered at will, and made to comprise either near or distant objects, and the organ itself adapted either to examine microscopically or to explore as a telescope,-is another bepaddled reptile of the sea, the Ichthyosaurus or fish-lizard. But the night comes on, and the shadows of the woods and rocks deepen : there are uncouth sounds along the beach and in the forest; and new monsters of yet stranger shape are dimly discovered moving amid the uncertain gloom. Reptiles, reptiles, reptiles,-flying, swimming, waddling, walking ;—the age is that of the cold blooded, ungenial reptile ; and, save in the dwarf and inferior forms of the marsupials and insectivora, not one of the honest mammals has yet appeared. And now the moon rises in clouded majesty; and now her red wake brightens in one long strip the dark sea; and we may mark where the Cetiosaurus, a sort of reptilian whale, comes into view as it crosses the lighted tract, and is straightway lost in the gloom. But the night grows dangerous, and these monster-haunted woods were not planted for man. return then to the safer and better furnished world of the present time, and to our secure and quiet homes.
The Lias of the Hill of Eathie-The Beauty of its Shores-Its Deposits, how
formed-Their Animal Organisms indicative of successive Platforms of Existences-The Laws of Generation and of Death- The Triassic System-Its Economic and Geographic Importance-Animal Footprints, but no Fossil Organisms, found in it-The Science of Ichnology originated in this fact-Illustrated by the appearance of the Compensation Pond, near Edinburgh, in 1842—The Phenomena indicated by the Footprints in the Triassic System-The Triassic and Permian Systems once regarded as one, under the name of the New Red Sandstone-The Coal Measures in Scotland next in order of Succession to the Triassic System -Differences in the Organisms of the two Systems-Extent of the Coal Measures of Scotland-Their Scenic Peculiarities, Ancient Flora of the Carboniferous Period—Its Fauna-Its Reptiles and Reptile Fishes—The other Organisms of the Period-Great Depth of the System-The Processes by which during countless Ages it had been formed.
The Lias forms, as I have already had occasion to remark, the base of the great Oolitic system. I dealt in my last address with the productions, vegetable and animal, of those long ages of the world's history which the various deposits of this system represent, and attempted a restoration of some of its more striking scenes, as they must have existed of old in what is now Scotland. But in glancing once more at the Lias, we must pass from the living to the dead, from the vital myriads that once were, to the cemetery that contains their remains. I shall select as my example a single Liassic deposit of Scotland, but in several respects one of the most remarkable,—that of Eathie, on the shores of the Moray Firth, about four miles from the town of Cromarty. And in visiting it in its character as a great burial-ground,—the final resting-place, not only of perished individuals, but also of extinct tribes and races, and in scanning its strangely sculptured monuments, roughened with