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Observations by P. C.
In England the teeth and bones of elephants have been often found fossil; and yet it is allowed on all hands, that sơ many elephants were never brought hither by men, as have been dug up.
In particular, besides the above accounts, I had a large grinder from Norfolk, which was found with other teeth and bones.
From Mersey Island in Essex, was sent me a large grinder, and part of a thigh-bone; these were found with the intire skeleton, which was destroyed by the country people.
Mr. John Luffkin, in Philos. Transact. No. 274. mentions bones and teeth of an elephant found near Harwich ili Essex.
Mr. Somner, in Phil. Transact. No. 272. mentions an elephant found at Chartam, near Canterbury: the teeth were all grinders, four in number.
Dr. Woodward mentions two large tusks of an elephant, found at Bowden Parva, in Northamptonshire. He had besides several pieces of elephants teeth dug up in a gravel pit at Islington.
Unless we allow Dr. Woodward's hypothesis of the deluge, it is difficult to conceive how the teeth, bones, &c. of this vast animal came to be found so frequently in this island.
The Romans were the only people who could bring any to intimidate the Britons in their wars: but we have not the least account of any such thing.
MR. URBAN In your Magazine for May, we have three letters, communicated by the ingenious Peter Collinson, Esq. F. R. S. giving an account of bones of elephants found at different places in Sussex, Essex, and near Canterbury; wherein that gentleman observes that “the Romans were the only people who could bring any elephants to intimidate the Britons in their wars;" which indeed is true; and we find that in fact elephants were brought over by the Romans. In Polyænus's Stratagems we find a victory gained by the Romans over the Britons by means of an elephant.
« Cæsar," says that author, “ in Britain attempted to pass a great river, (supposed the Thames) Casolaunus, (in Casar Čassivellaunus) king of the Britons, opposed his passage with a large body of horse and chariots. Caesar had in his company a vastly large elephant (veyssos in.€5) a creature before that time unknown to the Britons. This elephant he fenced with an iron coat of mail, built a large turret on it, and putting up bowmen and slingers, ordered them to pass first into the stream. The Britons were dismayed at the sight of such an unknown and monstrous beast, (copatov riteepues Onçıou) chey fled, therefore, with their horses and chariots, and the Roa mans passed the river without opposition, terrifying their : enemies by this single creature.” Cæsar, in his Commentaries, it is likely, omitted this account, thinking that the mention of it would detract from the honour of his conquests, since it could be no merit to conquer a people who ran away from his elephant, rather than from his troops.
Hence we may collect, 1. That an elephant was in Cæsar's retinue, and that the Romans knew, that a conquest had been gained by it.
2. That it is reasonable to suppose, that as they reaped such advantage from one elephant, they would bring over more of those animals with them.
3. That as the Roman conquests were chiefly about Sussex, Esses, and Kent, it is most likely that the bones of those creatures should be found in those counties.
It cannot be proved, indeed, that these bones have not lain ever since the general flood; but an historical truth is, in my opinion, preferable to any hypothesis whatsoever.
Kastinskoi on the Don, Dec. 5, 0. S. 1784. MR. URBAN, In the neighbourhood of this town, which is about 30 versts from Voronetch, on the brink of the river Don, are found a vast number of bones, of a very large size, dispersed about in the greatest disorder. They consist of teeth, jawbones, ribs, spinal vertebræ, the os pubis, hip-bones, tibia, &c. not at all petrified, but in their natural state, only somewhat decomposed by the depredations of time. They are found in a space nearly three ells in depth, and about forty fathoms in length. I called together some boors that were at work at a distance, and gave them a few copeeks for digging a couple of arshines in depth (1. e. four feet and a halt') farther upon the bank of the river; but nothing of the kind appeared. And, from' repeated trials made by others, we may conclude, that not ti.e slightest vestige of similar bones
is to be perceived either above or below the before-mentioned
of the river. Now, how has it come to pass that these bones have been accumulated and circumscribed within so small a space of ground? by what singular event has this spot been made the receptacle of so enormous a quantity? What man soever, that has seen the skeletons of elephants, would hesitate a moment to pronounce, that these bones at Kastinskoj are tire bones of that animal? The like are found in different parts of Russia, and especially in Siberia. And it is above all things to be remarked, that they are commonly, not to say always, found on the very brink of rivers.
We often meet with difficulties that throw a damp on all inquiry, and seem immediately to strike us as beyond the utmost efforts of the human mind to solve. There are others which seem to solicit our researcb, by affording several data from whence we may set out. From what I have laid down above, the present seems to be of the latter kind; and your readers will probably be more inclined to agree with me, when they have perused what I have to offer them on the subject. Such reasonable conclusions as any of them will please to draiv, I shall be glad to see; and, having all circumstances faithfully laid before them, they will be as well enabled to reason on the matter as if they were upon the spot. We are so used to the discussion, that it grows rapid on our hands; therefore those to whom it comes with the attractions of novelty are now most likely to hit upon a true solution.
The question that presents itself at setting out is :Are we to attribute the appearance of such fossil bones in these parts to some general revolution our globe bas undergone in times extremely remote; or to some particular and local event? It is very possible that these of the Don, and those of Siberia, may have been produced by the same
Will it be allowed as probable, that great troops of elephants, forced by a certain imminent danger to leave their natal soil, were reduced to perish in some country more or less remote, more or less to the north or to the south? When we consider the vicinity of Persia, does not that idea come in aid of the suggestion as to the bones of elephants on the banks of the Don? And what shall binder us then from supposing that other troops of these animals may have ventured farther to the north, where they found that death they endeavoured to avoid at home? That the banks of rivers should be their only cemeteries, may be explained from the ravages occasioned by inundations, which inay have left their carcases on these spots.
Those whom these suppositions do not satisfy, may tell us, that a number of things are still wanting towards enabling us to form any judgment on the origin of those heaps of bones daily discovered in the bowels of the earth. It were much to be wished, that some active and ingenious naturalist would collect together all the particulars that have from time to time been given on that subject. But nothing appears to me more striking than the facts related by the Abbé Fortis, in his observations on the isles of Cherso and Ozero in the Adriatic. He describes two carerns in the former of those two isles; and adds, that the shores of Istria afford a great number which are very spacious. One of these two caverns is, properly speaking composed of three grottos, that communicate with each other. Their inside, from top to bottom, is between two beds of marble. In these are a quantity of bones, in a half petrified state, and connected together by a kind of ferruginous ochre. They lie in one of the deepest recesses of this subterranean cave, two feet above the ground, and at the depth of thirty feet beneath the superficies of the mountain, which is all of marble. These fossil bones, of which other vestiges are met with on this isle, are found scattered along the whole of Dalmatia, as they are all over the isle of Cherso. They are the bones of various terrestrial animals, some broken, and some intire. They are found in greatest quantities in vertical and horizontal gaps, and in the interstices of the beds of marble which constitute the base of the hills of this isle. Every parcel of these bones is enveloped in a coat of quartz and stalactes above a palm in thickness. The substance of these bones is calcined and shining. As they are constantly found in the isle of Cherso, in a stony and martial earth, and as these beds of marble preserve a certain correspondence with the sides of the cavern and the continent; we may suppose that these layers, alternately composed of a stratum of marble and one of bones, agree with the northern shore of the Quarnaro, as far as the isles of the Archipelago, and probably farther. At the Museum Britannicum they shew enormousjaw-bones with all their teeth, bones, and tusks, similar to the bones and tusks of the largest elephants, all of them found in the earth on the banks of the river Ohio, and sent to the Museum by the celebrated Dr. Franklin. These bones have hardly changed their nature. As to the jaw-bones, they certainly never did belong to elephants; the teeth of them are not disposed in laminæ, like those of that animal, but are of the nature of the teeth of carnivorous animals. They are attributed, till something better can be found out for them, to VOL. II.
the mahmout, the existence whereof is totally destitute of all probability.
In the cabinet of the Royal Society at London there is a large piece of the rock of Gibraltar, containing a great quantity of fragments of human bones; which, although they have not changed their nature, are perfectly inherent to the mass of the rock.
Mr. Thomas Falkner, in his description of the country of the Patagonians, relates, that a very large quantity of what to all appearance were human bones, of extraordinary magnitude, are found on the banks of the river of Carcarania or Tercero, at a little distance from the place where it falls into the Parana. They are of different sizes, and seem to have belonged to people of different ages. Mr. Falkner says, " he has seen the bones called tibia, ribs, sternums, fragments of sculls, and particularly molar teeth, which are above three inches in diameter at the root. I am assured," adds he, “ that the like bones are found on the banks of the Parana, Paraguay, and even in Peru."
When I passed through Chirikova, about thirty versts from Simbrisk, I was shewn various bones of elephants, found in different parts upon the two shores of the Sviæga. The inhabitants produce likewise several little works carved out of the tusk of one of these animals discovered twenty-five years ago in the same place, the ivory of which is very yellow. A much greater number of these bones, and even the scull of an elephant, were dug up near Nagadkina, on the bank of the rivulet Birutsk, which runs into the Sviæga. The people here have made a number of little toys, &c. of the ivory found in these parts, which differs in no respect whatever and cannot be distinguished, froin the finest ivory ever used. The point of the tusk, employed in these works, is the only part of it that is the least calcined, and began to exfoliate. But is it not to the last degree astonishing, that a bone should be preserved, in a hot climate, without undergoing the slightest alteration, through an almost infinite succession of years?
It is pretended, that near the village of Nagadkina the remains of two ancient entrenchments still exist; and that, whenever the earth is turned up about them, they are sure to find a quantity of human bones. If this be true, though I could learn nothing probable about it, it would occasion a, sort of little triumph to some authors, who are of opinion, that all these elephant-bones, found under ground in the different countries of the North, belonged to those animals that were brought by the armies that came on expeditions,