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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: August 2010
  • First published in: 1863



Post-pliocene Alluvium containing Flint Implements in the Valley of the Somme.

THROUGHOUT a large part of Europe we find at mode-rate elevations above the present river-channels, usually at a height of less than forty feet but sometimes much higher, beds of gravel, sand, and loam containing bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, horse, ox, and other quadrupeds, some of extinct, others of living, species, belonging for the most part to the fauna already alluded to in the last chapter as characteristic of the interior of caverns. The greater part of these deposits contain fluviatile shells, and have undoubtedly been accumulated in ancient river-beds. These old channels have long since been dry, the streams which once flowed in them having shifted their position, deepening the valleys, and often widening them on one side.

It has naturally been asked, if man coexisted with the extinct species of the caves, why were his remains and the works of his hands never embedded outside the caves in ancient river-gravel containing the same fossil fauna? Why should it be necessary for the geologist to resort for evidence of the antiquity of our race to the dark recesses of underground vaults and tunnels, which may have served as places of refuge or sepulture to a succession of human beings and wild animals, and where floods may have confounded together in one breccia the memorials of the fauna of more than one epoch? Why do we not meet with a similar assemblage of the relics of man, and of living and extinct quadrupeds, in places where the strata can be thoroughly scrutinised in the light of day?