University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
History of Science and Technology

Page View

(Thursday, November 4, 1869)

Huxley, T. H.
Triassic Dinosauria,   pp. 23-24

Page 23

Nov. 4, t869]
is meant, not merely to promote a friendly intercourse
among scientific men, but to be a kind of propagandist
for the advancement of science through the general com-
munity. So we make a compromise between sober,
serious, hard work for science on the one hand, and un-
restrained festivities on the other. The German meetings
keep less prominently before them the scientific culture of
the world outside, and aim rather at the strengthening
of the hands of the individual worker.
  From the papers read at the different sections ; from the
discussion which they elicited; and still more perhaps from
the public addresses on subjects of general interest given
to the whole assembled meeting; one could gather some
suggestive traits of the present current of thought in at
least one great section of the cultivated society of Germany.
What specially struck me was the universal sway which
the writings of Darwin now exercise over the German
mind. You see it on every side, in private conversation,
in printed papers, in all the many sections into which such
a meeting as that at Innsbruck divides. Darwin's name
is often mentioned, and always with the profoundest
veneration. But even where no allusion is specially made
to him, nay, even more markedly, where such allusion is
absent, we see how thoroughly his doctrines have per-
meated the scientific mind even in those departments of
knowledge, which might seem at first sight to be furthest
from natural history. "You are still discussing in Eng-
land," said a German friend to me, " whether or not the
theory of Darwin can be true. We have got a long way
beyond that here. His theory is now our common starting
point." And so, as far as my experience went, I found it.
  But it is not merely in scientific circles that the influence
of Darwin is felt and acknowledged. I do not think it is
generally known in England, that three years ago, when,
after the disastrous war with Prussia, the Austrian Parlia-
ment had assembled to deliberate on the reconsolidation
of the empire, a distinguished member of the Upper
Chamber, Professor Rokitansky, began a great speech,
with this sentence:-' The question we have first to
consider is, Is Charles Darwin right or no ?' Such a
query would no doubt raise a smile in our eminently
unspeculative houses of legislature. But surely never was
higher compliment paid to a naturalist. A great empire
lay in its direst hour of distress, and the form and method
of its reconstruction was proposed to be decided by the
truth or error of the theory of Darwin. " The two men,"
said one able physician of Vienna to me (himself, by the
way, a North-German), "who have most materially in-
fluenced German thought in this country are two English-
men-George Combe and Charles Darwin."
  There was another aspect of the tone of thought at
Innsbruck, which could not but powerfully impress a
Briton. Although we were assembled in the most ultra-
Catholic province of Catholic Austria, there was the most
unbridled freedom of expression on every subject.
  In an address on recent scientific progress, Helmholtz
thus expressed himself-" After centuries of stagnation
physiology and medicine have entered upon a blooming
development, and we may be proud that Germany has
been especially the theatre of this progress-a distinction
for which she is indebted to the fact that among us, more
than elsewhere, there has prevailed a fearlessness as to
the consequences of the wholly known Truth. There are
also distinguished investigators in England and in France,
who share in the full energy of the development of the
sciences, but they must bow before the prejudices of
society, and of the Church, and if they speak out openly,
can do so only to the injury of their social influence.
Germany has advanced more boldly. She has held the
belief, which has never yet been belied, that the full Truth
carried with it the cure for any injury or loss which may
here and there result from partial knowledge. For this
superiority she stands indebted to the stern and dis-
interested enthusiasm which, regardless alike of external
advantages and of the opinions of society, has guided and
animated her scientific men."
  This liberty of expression, however, seemed sometimes
apt to wear not a little the aspect of a mere wanton
defiance of the popular creed. Yet it was always received
with applause.
  In an address on the recent progress of anthropology,
Karl Vogt gave utterance to what in our country would be
deemed profanity, such as no man, not even the most
free-thinking, would venture publicly to express. Yet it
was received, first with a burst of astonishment at its
novelty and audacity, and then with cries of approval and
much cheering. I listened for some voice of dissent, but
could hear none. When the address, which was certainly
very eloquent, came to an end, there arose such a pro-
longed thunder of applause as one never hears save after
some favourite singer has just sung some well-known air.
It was a true and hearty encore. Again and again the
bravos were renewed, and not until some little time had
elapsed could the next business of the meeting be taken
up. Not far from where I was standing, sat a Franciscan
monk, his tonsured head and pendent cowl being con-
spicuous among the black garments of the savans. He
had come, I daresay, out of curiosity to hear what the
naturalists had to say on a question that interested him.
The language he heard could not but shock him, and the
vociferation with which it was received must have fur-
nished material for talk and reflection in the monastery.
                                     ARCH. GEIKIE
  T will probably interest geologists and palaeontelogists
  to know that a recent examination of the numerous
remains of Thecodontosauria in the Bristol Museum,
enables me to demonstrate that these Triassic reptiles
belong to the order Dinosauria, and are closely allied to
Megalosaurus. The vertebrae, humerus, and ilium, found
in the Warwickshire Trias, which have been ascribed
to Labyrinthodon, also belong to Dinosauria. The two
skeletons obtained in the German Trias near Stuttgart,
and described by Prof Plieninger, some years ago, are
also unquestionable Dinosauria; and, as Von Meyer is of
opinion, probably belong to the genus Teratosaurus, from
the same beds. Von Meyer's Plataosaurus, from the
German Trias, is, plainly, as he has indicated it to be, a
  As Prof. Cope has suggested, it is very probable that
Bathygnathus, from the Triassic beds of Prince Edward's
Island, is a Dinosaurian; and I have no hesitation in
expressing the belief, that the Deuterosaurus, from the
Ural, which occurs in beds which are called Permian, but
which appear to be Triassic, is also a Dinosaurian. It is
also very probable that Rhopalodon,which occurs in these
rocks, belongs to the same order. If so, the close resem-
blance of the South African Galesaurus to Rhopalodon,
would lead me to expect the former to prove a Dinosaur.
  I have found an indubitable fragment of a Dinosaurian
among some fossils, not long ago sent to me, from the
reptiliferous beds of Central India, by Dr. Oldhani, the
Director of the Indian Geological Survey. Further, the
determination of the Thecodonts as Dinosauria, leaves
hardly any doubt that the little Ankistrodon from these
Indian rocks, long since described by me, belongs to the
same group.
  But another discovery in the same batch of fossils from
India, leaves no question on my mind that the Fauna of
the beds which yield Labyrinthodonts and Dicynodonts in
that country, represents the terrestrial Fauna of the Trias
of Europe.  I find, in fact, numerous fragments of a
crocodilian reptile, so closely allied to the Belodon of the
German Trias, that the determination of the points of
difference requires close attention, associated with a Hype-
rodapedon, larger than those discovered in the Elgin Sand-
stones, but otherwise very similar to it.

Go up to Top of Page