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Georges Cuvier Quotes
Why has not anyone seen that fossils alone gave birth to a theory about the formation of the earth, that without them, no one would have ever dreamed that there were successive epochs in the formation of the globe.
But the revolutions and changes which are responsible for the present state of the earth are not limited to the upsetting of the ancient strata and to the ebbing of the sea after the formations of new layers.
Hence the same instant which killed the animals froze the country where they lived. This event was sudden, instantaneous, without any gradual development.
It is evident that one cannot say anything demonstrable about the problem before having resolved these preliminary questions, and yet we hardly possess the necessary information to solve some of them.
Moreover, it thus follows that not a great deal of time was needed for the large animals of the three major parts of the world to become known to the people who spent time on the coasts of those regions.
My object will be, first, to show by what connections the history of the fossil bones of land animals is linked to the theory of the earth and why they have a particular importance in this respect.
Secondly, the nature of the revolutions which have altered the surface of the earth must have had a more decisive effect on the terrestrial quadrupeds than on the marine animals.
The appearance of the bones of quadrupeds, especially those of complete bodies in the strata, tells us either that the layer itself which carries them was in earlier times dry land or that dry land was at least formed in the immediate area.
The lowest and most level land areas show us, especially when we dig there to very great depths, nothing but horizontal layers of material more or less varied, which almost all contain innumerable products of the sea.
The older the layers, the more each of them is uniform over a great extent; the newer the layers, the more they are limited and subject to variation within small distances.
The traces of upheavals become more impressive when one moves a little higher, when one gets even closer to the foot of the great mountain ranges. There are still plenty of shell layers. We notice them, even thicker and more solid ones.
Thus it cannot be denied that the masses which today form our highest mountains were originally in a liquid state; for a long time they were covered by waters which did not sustain any life.
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