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Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences
This JOURNAL, the official organ of the Washington Academy of Sciences, aims to present a brief record of current scientific work in Washington. To this end it publishes: (1) short original papers, written or communicated by members of the Academy; (2) short abstracts of certain of these articles; (3) proceedings and programs of meetings of the Academy and affiliated Societies; (4) notes of events connected with the scientific life of Washington. The JOURNAL is issued semi-monthly, on the fourth and nineteenth of each month, except during the summer when it appears on the nineteenth only. Volumes correspond to calendar years, Prompt publication is an essential feature; a manuscript reaching the editors on the first or the fifteenth of the month will ordinarily appear, on request from the author, in the next issue of the JOURNAL.
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PALEONTOLOGY.-On some Tertiary fossils from the Pribilof Islands. WILLIAM H. DALL, U. S. National Museum.
In 1899 I enumerated the fossils found at Black Bluff, St. Paul Island, Bering Sea, Alaska. They occur at this place in fragments of sedimentary rock torn from the ocean bed and upheaved with their enclosing lava above the sea level. Mr. G. Dallas Hanna, of the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries, who has been stationed on the island for a number of years, reports that the Black Bluff locality is now entirely exhausted of its fossils. However, this loss is more than made up for by the discovery of two new localities, one on St. Paul and one on St. George Island. Curiously enough the locality on each island is locally known as Tolstoi Point, the Russian word Tolstoi meaning "broad" being used geographically in numberless localities in Alaska.
The collection is of interest as linking up the age of the strata from which these fragments were derived with the beach deposits at Nome which are referred to the late Pliocene.
In Mr. Hanna's collection are 47 species of which 44 are mollusks, 31 gastropods and 13 bivalves.
The St. Paul collection has only seven species, all found on both islands and also found at Black Bluff, so they are possibly of the same age as the Black Bluff series. Of the St. George
1 Published with the permission of the Director of the U. S. Geological Survey.
2 The Fur Seals and Fur Seal Islands of the North Pacific Ocean, part III. Pp. 546. Government Printing Office. 1899.
FOSSILS COLllected by MR. G. Dallas Hanna FROM SEDIMENTARY INCLUSIONS IN THE VOLCANIC ROCKS OF ST. PAUL and St. George Islands, Bering Sea.
Plicifusus arcticus Philippi..
Volutopsius sp. aff. malleatus Dall..
Volutopsius sp. aff. regularis Dall..
Pyrulofusus sp. aff. harpa Mörch (dextral).
Buccinum glaciale parallelum Dall...
Buccinum tenue Gray...
Buccinum sp. indet..
Boreoscala greenlandica Perry.
Argobuccinum oregonense Redfield.
Trichotropis n. sp.
Iphinoë kroyeri Philippi..
Tachyrhynchus n. sp.....
Natica clausa Broderip & Sowerby...
Natica aleutica Dall........
Velutina laevigata Pennant..
Cingula robusta Dall...
specimens seven species appear to be new out of thirty-three which are specifically identifiable, or nearly 20 per cent.
The ensemble of the collection points to climatic conditions similar to those prevailing at present in the region, while the earliest Nome bed indicates decidedly warmer water. It is probable that this Pribilof fauna conformed to more rigorous conditions prior to the glacial epoch.
The St. George collection as a whole has only seven species identical with those found at Black Bluff, St. Paul Island, which latter fauna is doubtless Pleistocene. With the Pliocene second elevated beach fauna at Nome one-third of the St. George collection is identical, but in this third the characteristic warmer water species are not represented. So I conclude that the material obtained by Mr. Hanna represents a period later than the Nome second beach and earlier than that of the Black Bluff fauna. A list of the species is given in table 1. The type specimens are preserved in the U. S. National Museum. BOTANY.-The ancestry of maize. J. H. KEMPTON, Bureau of
Plant Industry. (Communicated by William R. Maxon.) In a recent article entitled The evolution of maize, Weatherwax1 raises again the issue of the origin of the genus Zea. He reviews the literature, summarizes the descriptions, and presents in a new light many of the morphological differences and similarities of Zea mays and the related plants, Euchlaena luxurians and Tripsacum dactyloides. Students of these genera will welcome the bringing together of these descriptions, accompanied as they are by excellent illustrations. Since the article aims at a comprehensive evaluation of the relationship of these genera, it is perhaps unfortunate that much of the "gross morphology" has been disregarded, with a consequent overemphasis of the organological features. There are, moreover, a few misstatements, and some of the views of previous workers seem to have been misinterpreted. It is hoped that a discussion of these points will contribute to a better understanding of the subject.
1 WeatherwaX, PAUL. The evolution of maize. Bull. Torrey Club 45: 309-342
In the description of Zea, the statement appears that variation in this genus is mostly quantitative in nature, a conclusion hardly justified by the facts. The line of demarcation between quantitative and qualitative variation is, of course, more or less arbitrary, but there can be no question that Zea stands apart from related genera in the number of discontinuous variations. It is unfortunate that Weatherwax has not had the opportunity to become acquainted with the instructive variations isolated by experimental breeders.
Another statement that must be challenged is that branches of maize may arise "singly or two or more from one node" (p. 316). It is difficult to understand how this error survived a second reading. Reference is made, however, to a text figure for substantiation. This figure seems to have been drawn from a normal plant and furnishes no evidence of this most unusual type of branching.
Equally surprising, from a morphologist, is the confusing of husks or bracts with prophylla. On page 314 we learn,
and the shortness of its axis enables the leaf sheaths to cover the inflorescence and mature fruit. In some cases the laminae and ligules of these prophylla are present (Fig. 6) but often they are lacking (Fig. 7)." Again, in the legend under Fig. 7, page 315, "the prophylla have lost their laminae and ligules." That prophylla sometimes possess laminae and ligules would be an important observation, if true, but it seems clear that the author has failed to distinguish between these most interesting and highly specialized organs and the relatively unspecialized bracts, or husks. This confusion by a professed morphologist is the more astonishing in view of the unusual structure of prophylla and their consequent interest from a morphological standpoint.
In drawing attention to the unsatisfactory treatment accorded the female inflorescence of teosinte by previous investigators, Weatherwax has, inadvertently no doubt, misquoted Collins, and in justice a correction should be noted. We have, quoting from Weatherwax: "Collins' description2 (p. 525) of the spike 2 COLLINS, G. N. The origin of maize. Journ. Wash. Acad. Sci. 2: 520-530.