AMONG the fossil remains of the human species supposed to have claims to high antiquity, and which have for many years attracted attention, two of the most prominent examples area—
First,—‘The fossil man of Denise,’ comprising the remains of more than one skeleton, found in a volcanic breccia near the town of Le Puy-en-Velay, in Central France.
Secondly,—The fossil human bone of Natchez, on the Mississippi, supposed to have been derived from a deposit containing remains of mastodon and megalonyx. Having carefully examined the sites of both of these celebrated fossils, I shall consider in this chapter the nature of the evidence on which the remote date of their entombment is inferred.
Fossil Man of Denise.
An account of the fossil remains, so called, was first published in 1844, by M. Aymard of Le Puy, a writer of deservedly high authority both as a palaeontologist and archaeologist. M. Pictet, after visiting Le Puy and investigating the site of the alleged discovery, was satisfied that the fossil bones belonged to the period of the last volcanic eruptions of Velay; but expressly stated in his important treatise on palæontology that this conclusion, though it might imply that man had coexisted with the extinct elephant, did not draw with it the admission that the human race was anterior in date to the filling of the caverns of France and Belgium with the bones of extinct mammalia.