Definition: third in order or rank
Definition: third in order or rank
Sentences Containing 'tertiary'
Hence, we can understand how it is that the flora of Madeira, according to Oswald Heer, resembles to a certain extent the extinct tertiary flora of Europe.
But geology shows us, that from an early part of the tertiary period the number of species of shells, and that from the middle part of this same period, the number of mammals has not greatly or at all increased.
Geology would lead us to believe that most continents have been broken up into islands even during the later tertiary periods; and in such islands distinct species might have been separately formed without the possibility of intermediate varieties existing in the intermediate zones.
Why this should be so we do not know; nor why the later tertiary periods should have been much more favourable for their existence than the present time.
Professor Ramsay has given me the maximum thickness, from actual measurement in most cases, of the successive formations in DIFFERENT parts of Great Britain; and this is the result:-- Feet Palaeozoic strata (not including igneous beds)..57,154 Secondary strata................................13,190 Tertiary strata..................................2,240 --making altogether 72,584 feet; that is, very nearly thirteen and three-quarters British miles.
For instance, the several species of the Chthamalinae (a sub-family of sessile cirripedes) coat the rocks all over the world in infinite numbers: they are all strictly littoral, with the exception of a single Mediterranean species, which inhabits deep water and this has been found fossil in Sicily, whereas not one other species has hitherto been found in any tertiary formation: yet it is known that the genus Chthamalus existed during the Chalk period.
Nor is their rarity surprising, when we remember how large a proportion of the bones of tertiary mammals have been discovered either in caves or in lacustrine deposits; and that not a cave or true lacustrine bed is known belonging to the age of our secondary or palaeozoic formations.
Along the whole west coast, which is inhabited by a peculiar marine fauna, tertiary beds are so poorly developed that no record of several successive and peculiar marine faunas will probably be preserved to a distant age.
A little reflection will explain why, along the rising coast of the western side of South America, no extensive formations with recent or tertiary remains can anywhere be found, though the supply of sediment must for ages have been great, from the enormous degradation of the coast rocks and from the muddy streams entering the sea.
I may add, that the only ancient tertiary formation on the west coast of South America, which has been bulky enough to resist such degradation as it has as yet suffered, but which will hardly last to a distant geological age, was deposited during a downward oscillation of level, and thus gained considerable thickness.
Inland, along the whole northern bank of the Plata, I saw, besides modern tertiary beds, only one small patch of slightly metamorphosed rock, which alone could have formed a part of the original capping of the granitic series.
Look again at the later tertiary deposits, which include many shells believed by the majority of naturalists to be identical with existing species; but some excellent naturalists, as Agassiz and Pictet, maintain that all these tertiary species are specifically distinct, though the distinction is admitted to be very slight; so that here, unless we believe that these eminent naturalists have been misled by their imaginations, and that these late tertiary species really present no difference whatever from their living representatives, or unless we admit, in opposition to the judgment of most naturalists, that these tertiary species are all truly distinct from the recent, we have evidence of the frequent occurrence of slight modifications of the kind required.
I may recall the well-known fact that in geological treatises, published not many years ago, mammals were always spoken of as having abruptly come in at the commencement of the tertiary series.
Cuvier used to urge that no monkey occurred in any tertiary stratum; but now extinct species have been discovered in India, South America and in Europe, as far back as the miocene stage.
In a memoir on Fossil Sessile Cirripedes, I stated that, from the large number of existing and extinct tertiary species; from the extraordinary abundance of the individuals of many species all over the world, from the Arctic regions to the equator, inhabiting various zones of depths, from the upper tidal limits to fifty fathoms; from the perfect manner in which specimens are preserved in the oldest tertiary beds; from the ease with which even a fragment of a valve can be recognised; from all these circumstances, I inferred that, had sessile cirripedes existed during the secondary periods, they would certainly have been preserved and discovered; and as not one species had then been discovered in beds of this age, I concluded that this great group had been suddenly developed at the commencement of the tertiary series.
And, as if to make the case as striking as possible, this cirripede was a Chthamalus, a very common, large, and ubiquitous genus, of which not one species has as yet been found even in any tertiary stratum.
Lyell has shown that it is hardly possible to resist the evidence on this head in the case of the several tertiary stages; and every year tends to fill up the blanks between the stages, and to make the proportion between the lost and existing forms more gradual.
In the older tertiary beds a few living shells may still be found in the midst of a multitude of extinct forms.
On the contrary, we have every reason to believe, from the study of the tertiary formations, that species and groups of species gradually disappear, one after another, first from one spot, then from another, and finally from the world.
In the several successive palaeozoic formations of Russia, Western Europe and North America, a similar parallelism in the forms of life has been observed by several authors; so it is, according to Lyell, with the European and North American tertiary deposits.
Even if the few fossil species which are common to the Old and New Worlds were kept wholly out of view, the general parallelism in the successive forms of life, in the palaeozoic and tertiary stages, would still be manifest, and the several formations could be easily correlated.
We may doubt whether they have thus changed: if the Megatherium, Mylodon, Macrauchenia, and Toxodon had been brought to Europe from La Plata, without any information in regard to their geological position, no one would have suspected that they had co-existed with sea-shells all still living; but as these anomalous monsters co-existed with the Mastodon and Horse, it might at least have been inferred that they had lived during one of the later tertiary stages.
So, again, several highly competent observers maintain that the existing productions of the United States are more closely related to those which lived in Europe during certain late tertiary stages, than to the present inhabitants of Europe; and if this be so, it is evident that fossiliferous beds now deposited on the shores of North America would hereafter be liable to be classed with somewhat older European beds.
Lyell has made similar observations on some of the later tertiary formations.
The cetaceans or whales are widely different from all other mammals, but the tertiary Zeuglodon and Squalodon, which have been placed by some naturalists in an order by themselves, are considered by Professor Huxley to be undoubtedly cetaceans, "and to constitute connecting links with the aquatic carnivora."
He would be a bold man who, after comparing the present climate of Australia and of parts of South America, under the same latitude, would attempt to account, on the one hand through dissimilar physical conditions, for the dissimilarity of the inhabitants of these two continents; and, on the other hand through similarity of conditions, for the uniformity of the same types in each continent during the later tertiary periods.
Several facts in distribution--such as the great difference in the marine faunas on the opposite sides of almost every continent--the close relation of the tertiary inhabitants of several lands and even seas to their present inhabitants--the degree of affinity between the mammals inhabiting islands with those of the nearest continent, being in part determined (as we shall hereafter see) by the depth of the intervening ocean--these and other such facts are opposed to the admission of such prodigious geographical revolutions within the recent period, as are necessary on the view advanced by Forbes and admitted by his followers.
We can further understand the singular fact remarked on by several observers that the productions of Europe and America during the later tertiary stages were more closely related to each other than they are at the present time; for during these warmer periods the northern parts of the Old and New Worlds will have been almost continuously united by land, serving as a bridge, since rendered impassable by cold, for the intermigration of their inhabitants.
Thus, I think, we can understand the presence of some closely allied, still existing and extinct tertiary forms, on the eastern and western shores of temperate North America; and the still more striking fact of many closely allied crustaceans (as described in Dana's admirable work), some fish and other marine animals, inhabiting the Mediterranean and the seas of Japan--these two areas being now completely separated by the breadth of a whole continent and by wide spaces of ocean.
It cannot be said, on the ordinary view of creation, that there has not been time for the creation of mammals; many volcanic islands are sufficiently ancient, as shown by the stupendous degradation which they have suffered, and by their tertiary strata: there has also been time for the production of endemic species belonging to other classes; and on continents it is known that new species of mammals appear and disappear at a quicker rate than other and lower animals.
But this difficulty partially disappears on the view that New Zealand, South America, and the other southern lands, have been stocked in part from a nearly intermediate though distant point, namely, from the antarctic islands, when they were clothed with vegetation, during a warmer tertiary period, before the commencement of the last Glacial period.
It is believed that glacial periods have occurred repeatedly during the geological history of the earth, but the term is generally applied to the close of the Tertiary epoch, when nearly the whole of Europe was subjected to an arctic climate.
Likewise, by way of preliminary, I desire to remind the reader, that while in the earlier geological strata there are found the fossils of monsters now almost completely extinct; the subsequent relics discovered in what are called the Tertiary formations seem the connecting, or at any rate intercepted links, between the antichronical creatures, and those whose remote posterity are said to have entered the Ark; all the Fossil Whales hitherto discovered belong to the Tertiary period, which is the last preceding the superficial formations.
But upon investigation we find, that not only are the whales of the present day superior in magnitude to those whose fossil remains are found in the Tertiary system (embracing a distinct geological period prior to man), but of the whales found in that Tertiary system, those belonging to its latter formations exceed in size those of its earlier ones.
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