GEOLOGICAL OUTLINE OF THE EARTH
Geological Periods – Primitive State of the Globe – Primary Period – Transition
Period – Secondary Period – Tertiary Period – Deluge Period – Post-Deluge Period
– Birth of Man.
1. The Earth carries within it the evident traces of its formation. One can follow the
phases of it with a mathematical precision in the different rocks which compose its framework.
The whole of these studies constitute the science of geology, a science born of this century, and
which has thrown light upon the much controversial question of its origin, and of that of the
living beings which inhabit it. Here there is no point upon which one can hang a hypothesis. It is
the rigorous result of the observation of facts, and into the presence of facts doubt is forbidden
to enter. A history of the formation of the globe is written in the geological beds of the Earth in
a clearer manner than in books hitherto written, because it is Nature itself who speaks and not
the imagination of men that created systems. Where one sees the traces of fire, one can say with
certitude that fire has existed; where those of water are seen, one says with no less certainty that
water has been there; where one sees those of animals, one infers that animals have lived there.
Geology is therefore a science of observation: it draws conclusions only from that which
it sees. Upon doubtful points it affirms nothing. It utters only debatable opinions concerning
phenomena, of which the definite solution awaits more complete observations. Without the
discoveries of geology, as well as those of astronomy, the genesis of the world would still lie in
legendary shadows. Thanks to it, today man knows the history of his habitation; and the
trelliswork fables which surrounded his cradle is crushed, never to rise again.
2. Everywhere where stony cavities exist, natural excavations, or apertures opened by
man, one observes that which is called stratifications, or superposed beds. The rocks which
present this phase are designated stratified rocks. These beds, of a very variable thickness,
sometimes of only a few hundred inches, sometimes a hundred yards and more, are
distinguished from one another by the color and nature of the substances of which they are
composed. Works of art, the boring of wells, the exploding of quarries, and, above all, mines,
have given the means of observation to a considerable depth.
3. The beds are generally homogeneous; that is to say, that each one is formed of a
similar substance, or of diverse substances which have co-existed, and have formed a compact
whole. The line of separation isolating them from one another is always distinctly defined as in
the different parts of a ship. No part is seen mingled or lost in another, each remains within its
own respective limits. Such is the case, for example, in the colors of the prism or the rainbow.
By these characters, observers decided that they had been successively formed, deposited
upon one another by different causes and conditions. The deepest have naturally been formed
first, and those nearest the surface subsequently. The last of all, that which is found on the
surface, is the bed of vegetable which owes its properties to the destruction of organic matter
which produces plants and animals.
4. The lower beds, placed under the vegetable, have received in geology the name of
rocks, a word which in this acceptation implies not always the idea of a stony substance, but
signifies a resting-place of some mineral substance. Some are formed of sand, of clay or loam, of chalk or pebbles; others of stones, properly speaking, of greater or lesser hardness, such as
sand-stone, marbles, chalk, limestone, millstone, coals of the Earth, asphalt, etc. They say that
the power of a rock depends upon its thickness.
By the inspection of the nature of these rocks or beds, one recognizes by certain signs,
that they are produced by heated substances sometimes vitrified by the action of fire, others, by
terrestrial substances deposited by water. Some of these substances have remained
disintegrated, as sand; others at first in a pasty state, under the action of certain chemical agents
or other causes, have become hardened, and have acquired in time the consistence of stone.
Superposed stony beds show successive deposits. Fire and water have then played their parts in
the formation of the materials composing the solid framework of the globe.
5. The normal position of terrestrial or stony beds producing aqueous deposits is
horizontal. When one sees these immense plains, often extending as far as the eye can see in a
perfectly horizontal line, united as if leveled by a roller, or depths of valleys as smooth as the
surface of a lake, one can be certain that at some distant epoch these places have been for a long
time covered by tranquil waters, which, in retiring, have left the beds dry upon which they were
deposited during their sojourn. After the retreats of the waters, these beds have become covered
with vegetation. If in place of fertile, muddy clay or chalky ground, which afford nourishment
for soil, the waters had deposited only siliceous sand without aggregation, we should find here
dry and sandy plains constituting waste lands and deserts. The deposits left by partial
inundation and those which form the alluvium at the mouth of rivers, give us a faint idea of this.
6. Although the horizontal is the most normal and usual position of these aqueous
formations, one sees, often to a considerable extent in mountainous districts, rocks, which
indicate by their nature that they were formed by water in an inclined, and sometimes even in a
vertical position. Now, as according to the laws of the equilibrium of liquids and weights, the
aqueous deposits can be formed exclusively upon horizontal planes, it is therefore supposed that
those which rest on inclined planes are drawn into the lower depths by currents, and by their
own weight. It is evident that these deposits have been raised by some force, after their
solidification and transformation into stone.
From these considerations we can conclude with certitude that all these stony beds
composed of aqueous deposits, in a perfectly horizontal position, have been formed during the
succession of ages by tranquil waters; and that, whenever they are found in an inclined position,
the Earth has been violently agitated and subsequently broken up by general or partial
earthquakes of more or less importance.
7. A characteristic fact of the highest importance for the unexceptional testimony it
furnishes, consists in fossil remains of vegetables and animals encountered in innumerable
varieties in the different beds; and as those remains are even found in the hardest stones, it is
necessary to conclude that the existence of these beings antedates the formation of these stones.
Now, if we consider how many centuries must have been spent in this hardening process, which
has eventually brought them to the condition in which they have been from time immemorial,
one is forced to the conclusion that the time of the advent or organized beings upon the Earth is
lost in the night of unknown ages, and that it is consequently very far behind the dates assigned
by Genesis. *
* Fossil, from the Latin fossilia and fossilis, derived from fossa, “ditch,” and from fodere, “to dig or
plough the earth.” This word is used in geology to signify bodies, or the remains of organized bodies,
belonging to creatures that lived in prehistoric times. It is equally applied to mineral substances bearing
traces of the presence of organized beings, such as the imprints of vegetables or of animals. The word
“fossil,” in a more general acceptation, has been substituted for that of petrifaction, which applies only to
bodies transformed into stone by the infiltration of siliceous or calcareous substances in the organic
tissues. All the petrifactions are necessarily fossils, but all fossils are not petrifactions. The formation
with which stony beds are covered, when they are plunged into waters charged with calcareous
substances, such as those of the Saint-Allyre stream, near Clermont, in Auvergne, France, are not
properly speaking, petrifactions, but simple incrustations. Monuments, inscriptions and other objects
produced by human effort belong to the science of archeology.
8. Among these vegetable and animal fossils are those which have been penetrated
throughout by siliceous or calcareous substances, which have transformed them into stone, of
which some have the hardness of marble: these, properly speaking, are petrifactions. Others
have simply been enveloped by matter in a soft state, and a few of them are found in a perfect
state in the hardest stones. Others have left only imprints, but of a distinct perfect delicacy. In
the interior of certain stones the imprint of feet have been discovered, also the form of fingers
and nails, from which it is concluded that some animal has produced them.
9. The animal fossils are but little comprehended. One finds sometimes the solid and
resisting parts, such as bones, scales, and horns. Sometimes these are complete skeleton, but
more frequently only detached portions of which it is easy to recognize the production. By the
inspection of a jaw or a tooth, one sees immediately whether it belongs to a herbivorous or
carnivorous animal. As all the parts of an animal have a necessary correlation, the form of the
head, of a shoulder-blade, of a bone of the leg, or a foot, suffices to determine the size, the
general form, and the mode of life of the animal. * The terrestrial animals have an organism
clearly separating them from aquatic animals. Fish and shell-fish fossils are excessively
numerous; shell-fish alone sometimes forming entire beds of great thickness. By their nature,
one quickly determines whether they are marine or fresh-water animals.
At the point to which George Cuvier has carried the science of paleontology, one bone alone suffices
often to determine the race, species, and form of an animal, also its habits, by which it can be entirely
10. The masses of pebble-stone rock, which in certain places constitute important rocks,
are unequivocal indication of their origin. They are rounded like the pebble-stones on the
seashore, an unmistakable sign that they have been subjected to the effects of waters. The
countries where they are found buried in large quantities have most certainly once been
occupied by violently agitated waters.
11. Rocks of diverse formations are also characterized by the nature of the fossils they
enclose. The most ancient ones contain vegetable and animal remains, which have entirely
disappeared from the surface of the globe. Certain more recent species have completely
disappeared, but have preserved an analogy, which differs only in size and slightly in form.
Others, of which we see the last representations, are tending evidently to disappearance in a
near future, such as the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, etc. Thus, as the terrestrial beds
approach our epoch, the animal and vegetable species they contain approach those animals and
vegetables which still exist.
The perturbations and inundations which have taken place upon the Earth since its origin
have completely changed the conditions of vitality, and have made entire generations of living
12. By interrogating the nature of the geological beds, one knows in the most positive
manner if, at the epoch of their formation, the country which encloses them was occupied by the
sea, by lakes, or by forests and plains peopled with terrestrial animals. If, then, in the same
country one finds a series of superposed beds containing alternately marine and fresh-water fossils many times repeated, it is an unexceptionable proof that this same country has been
many times encompassed by the sea, covered by lakes, and become dry again.
And how many centuries upon centuries certainly, thousands of centuries perhaps has it
required to accomplish each period of this? What a powerful force must have been required to
displace and replace the ocean, to raise mountains! How many physical revolutions, violent
commotions, the Earth has passed through before becoming what it has been through historic
ages! And they try to make us believe that the formation of the Earth took less time than is
necessary to propagate a plant!
13. The study of the geological beds attests, as has previously been stated, to successive
formations, which have gradually changed the form of the globe, and divided its history into
many epochs. These epochs constitute that which is called geologic periods, the knowledge of
which is necessary to establish a true Genesis. Geologists count six principal periods, which
they have designated as follows: first the primary, second the transition, third the secondary,
fourth the tertiary, fifth the deluge, sixth the post-deluge or present period. Rocks formed
during the duration of each period are called thus: primitive, transition, secondary rocks, etc.
One says that such and such rocks, such and such fossils, are found in rocks of such and such
14. It is essential to remark that the number of these periods is not absolute, and that it
depends upon system of classification. One does not comprehend, in the six principal periods
designated above, all which are marked by notable and general change in the state of the globe;
but observation proves that many successive formations have been produced during the history
of each. That is why they are divided into periods, characterized by the nature of the rocks,
which bear twenty-six general and very characteristic formations, without counting those which
are produced by modifications due to purely local causes.
PRIMITIVE STATE OF THE GLOBE
15. The depression of the poles and other conclusive facts are certain indications that the
Earth had been originally in a fluid or soft state. This state could have been caused by matter
having been liquefied by fire or softened by water.
It is proverbially said: “There is no smoke without fire.” This true proverb is an
application of the principle: “There is no effect without a cause.” For the same reason one can
say: “There is no fire without a focus.” Now, by facts which pass under our eyes, there is not
only smoke produced, but also very real fire which must have a focus. This fire coming from
the interior of the Earth, and not from on high, the focus must be within; the fire being
permanent, the focus must be equally so.
The heat which is augmented by measure as it penetrates the interior of the Earth, and
which at a certain distance from the surface attains a very high temperature; the hot springs, so
much warmer according to the depth from which they come. Fires and masses of heated and
burning substances, which escape from volcanoes with vast upheavings, or by crevasses
produced by earthquakes, can leave no doubt concerning the existence of an interior fire.
16. Experience demonstrates that the temperature has been raised one degree by every
thirty yards of depth: whence it follows that at a depth of three hundred yards the augmentation
is ten degrees, at three thousand yards, one hundred degrees, a temperature of boiling water; at
thirty thousands yards, seven to eight leagues (from twenty-one to twenty-four miles), one
thousand degrees; at twenty-five leagues (seventy-five miles), more than thirty-three hundred
degrees, a temperature at which no known material can resist fusion. From there to the center there is still a space of more than fourteen hundred leagues (forty-two hundred miles), may be
twenty-eight hundred leagues (eighty-four hundred miles), in diameter, which must be occupied
by molten substances.
Although this is only a conjecture judging cause by effect, it has all the elements of
probability; and one arrives at this conclusion, that the Earth is still an incandescent mass
covered with a solid crust of twenty-five or more leagues (seventy-five miles) in thickness,
which is scarcely the one hundred and twentieth part of its diameter. Proportionally speaking, it
must be much thinner than the thinnest rind of an orange.
For the rest, the thickness of the terrestrial crust is very variable in many places; for there
are some countries, especially volcanic territories, where the heat and flexibility of the soil
indicate that it is much thinner. The high temperature of hot springs is also an indication of
close vicinity to the central fire.
17. It is then evident that the primitive state of the softness or fluidity of the Earth must
have been caused by the action of heat, not by water. The Earth was then originally an
incandescent mass. In consequence of the caloric rays, it became liquefied. It has been gradually
cooled, and the cooling process has naturally commenced on the surface, which has become
hardened, whilst the interior has remained in a fluid state. One can thus compare the Earth to a
block of coal coming red from the furnace, the surface cooling by contact with the air, although,
if one breaks it, the interior is found to be yet burning.
18. At the epoch when the terrestrial globe was an incandescent mass, it contained not
one atom more or less than it does today. Only under the influence of this high temperature, the
greater part of the substances composing it, and which we see under the form of liquids and
solids, earth, stones, metals, and crystals, were found in a very different state. They have only
been submitted to a transformation. In consequence of the cooling process and mixtures, the
elements have formed new combinations. The air, considerably inflated, became extended to an
immeasurable distance. All the water forcibly reduced to vapor was mingled with the air. All
the substances susceptible of volatilization – such as metals, sulphur, carbon – were there found
in a gaseous state. The state of the atmosphere was then in no way comparable with its present
condition. The density of all these vapors gave it an opacity through which no ray of sunlight
could penetrate. If a living being could have existed on Earth at this period, he would have had
for light only the sinister brightness of the fires beneath his feet, the burning atmosphere, and
not even the existence of the sun would be noticed.
19. The first effect of the cooling process was to solidify the outermost surface of the
melted mass, and to form there a resisting crust, which, thin at first, little by little thickened.
This crust constitutes the stone called “granite,” of an extreme hardness, named thus by reason
of its granulated appearance. The three principal substances found there are feldspar, quartz or
crystal rock, and mica. This last has a brilliant metallic tint, although it is not a metal.
The granite-bed is then the first ever formed upon the globe, which it entirely envelops,
and of which it constitutes in some sort the bony framework. It is the direct product of melted
matter consolidated. Upon it and in the cavities that its violently agitated surface presented are
successively deposited the beds of other rocks subsequently formed. That which distinguishes
this from later formations is the absence of all stratification; that is to say, it is in its whole
extent a compact and uniform mass, and not divided by different kinds of beds. The
effervescence of incandescent substances must have produced numerous and profound
crevasses through which this substance was expelled.
20. The second effect of the cooling process was to liquefy certain vaporous substances in
the air, which were precipitated to the surface of the ground. There were then shower and lakes
of sulphur and bitumen, veritable stream of iron, copper, lead, and other heated metals
infiltrating themselves into the fissures which constitute today the metallic veins and arteries of
Under the influence of these different agents the granite surface experienced successive
decomposition. Combinations were formed which resulted in primitive rocks distinct from the
granite rocks, but in confused masses, and without regular stratifications.
Then came the waters, which, falling upon a burning soil, vaporized anew, fell again and
again in torrents until the temperature permitted them to rest upon the soil in a liquid state.
At the formation of the granite rocks the regular series of geologic periods commence.
To the six principal periods it is proper to add that of the primitive incandescent state of the
21. Such was the aspect of this first period, a veritable chaos of all the elements mingled
together seeking their position where no living being could possibly exist, as one of its
distinctive characters in geology at this time is the absence of all traces of vegetable and animal
It is impossible to decide upon the duration of this primary period: no more can we of the
ones that follow. But, judging from the time necessary for a cannon-ball of given volume
heated to the red-white heat to become sufficiently cool to allow of a drop of water resting upon
it in a liquid state, it has been calculated, that, if this cannon-ball were of the magnitude of the
Earth, more than one million years would be necessary.
22. At the commencement of the transition period the solid granite crust had thickened only a little, and offered but a feeble resistance to the effervescence of the burning substance
which it covered and repressed. Numerous rents were made, by means of which the interior
land was thrown out. The soil presented considerable inequalities of surface.
Waters not very deep covered nearly all the surface of the globe, with the exception of
elevated lands formed of rocks frequently submerged at their base.
The air gradually became purged from the heavier gaseous substances, which, while
condensing by the cooling process, were precipitated to the surface of the ground, then drawn
into and dissolved by the waters.
At this epoch it is necessary to understand “cooling process” in a relative sense; that is to
say, in connection with the primitive state; for the temperature must have still been burning.
The thick aqueous vapor which was raised on all sides from the immense liquid surface
fell in abundant and warm rains, obscuring the air. Soon, however, the rays of the sun began to
shine through this foggy atmosphere.
One of the last substances of which the air has been purged, because it is naturally in a
gaseous state, is carbonic-acid gas, which then formed one of its constituent parts.
23. At this epoch beds of earthly sediment began to form, deposited by waters charged
with lime and other matters peculiar to organic life.
Then appeared the first living beings of the vegetable and animal kingdom. At first few
in number, one finds more and more frequent traces of such as one penetrates more and more
deeply into the beds of this formation. It is to be remarked, that everywhere life is manifested as
soon as conditions are propitious to vitality, and that each species is born as soon as the proper
conditions of its existence are produced.
24. The first organized existences which appeared upon the Earth were vegetables of the
least complicated organization, designated in botany under the names of cryptogams,
acotyledonous plants and monocotyledonous plants, such as lichens, mushrooms, mosses, ferns,
and herbaceous plants. One does not now see trees with woody trunks, but only those of the
palm species, whose sponge-like trunks are analogous to the stems of herbs.
The animals of this period, which have succeeded to the first vegetation, are exclusively
marine. These were at first polyps, radiates, zoophytes, animals whose rudimentary and simple
organizations approach most nearly to vegetable forms. Later came fishes and shellfish, the
species of which do not exist now.
25. Under the empire of heat and humidity and in consequence of the excess of carbonic
acid dispersed into the air – a gas improper for the respiration of terrestrial animals but
necessary to the plants – the exposed terrains were quickly covered with a pungent vegetation
while at the same time aquatic plants multiplied on the surface of marshes. Plants, which in our
day are simple herbs a few inches high, attained a prodigious height and magnitude; there were
then forests of tree-like ferns from eight to ten yards in height, and of proportionate magnitude;
plants called wolfs foot, and a kind of moss of the same size, equisetum arvense, * four or five
yards high, which we hardly see now. At the end of this period pines or fir-trees began to
* A marsh-plant commonly called horsetail.
26. In consequence of the displacement of the waters, the grounds which produced these
masses of vegetation were many times submerged, covered again with terrestrial sediment,
during which those which had become dry appeared in their turn with a similar vegetation; thus
there were many successive generations of vegetables destroyed and renewed again. The
animals being aquatic suffered nothing from these changes.
These remains accumulated during a long series of years, and formed beds of great
thickness. Under the actions of heat, of humidity, of pressure, exercised by subsequent
terrestrial deposits, and, without doubt, also various chemical agents, such as gas, acids, and
salts, products of a combination of primitive elements, these vegetable substances were
submitted to a fermentation converting them into coal. The coal-mines are, then, the direct
result of the decomposition of a mass of vegetables accumulated during the transition period.
That is why they are found in almost every country. *
* Turf is produced in the same manner by the decomposition of vegetable matter in marshy grounds; but
with this difference, being much more recent and formed under different conditions, it has not had time to
27. The fossil remains of the luxuriant vegetation of this epoch are being discovered
today under the ice of the polar regions, as well as in the torrid zone: therefore it is necessary to
conclude, that, since vegetation was uniform, the temperature also must have been equally so.
The poles were then not covered with ice as now: then the Earth drew its heat from itself, from
the central fire which equally heated all the solid bed, then too thin to offer to it successful
resistance. This heat was much greater than that conveyed by the solar rays, enfeebled as they
were by the density of the atmosphere. Later on, when the central heat could exert only a feeble
influence upon the surface, that of the sun preponderate; and the Polar Regions, receiving only
oblique rays giving very little heat, became covered with ice. One understands that at the epoch
of which we speak, and for a long time after, ice was unknown upon the Earth.
This period has been a very long one, judging from the number and thickness of the
* In the Bay of Fundy (Nova Scotia), M. Lyell found upon a coal-bed four hundred yards in thickness,
sixty-eight different levels, presenting evident traces of many forest soils, the trunks of the trees of which
were still garnished with their roots (L. Figuier). Supposing that it takes one thousand years to form each
of these levels; it must have taken sixty-eight thousand years to form this coal-bed alone.
28. With the transition period the colossal vegetation and animals which characterized
this period disappeared. Perhaps it was caused by a change in atmospheric conditions, or on
account of inundations having destroyed all which had life on Earth. It is probable that the two
causes have contributed to this change; for, by a study of the rocks which mark the end of this
period, we find signs of great earthquakes, upheavings, and eruptions which have thrown upon
the Earth great quantities of lava, and also notable changes which have appeared in the three
29. The secondary period is characterized, under the mineral kingdom, by numerous and
important beds, which attest a slow formation in the waters, and mark very different
Vegetation is less rapid and less colossal in growth than in the preceding period, caused
no doubt by the diminution in heat, and humidity, and by modifications experienced by the
constitutive elements of the atmosphere. To herbaceous and pulpy plants were joined those with
woody stalks and, properly speaking, also the first trees.
30. Animals are still aquatic or amphibious at this time; animal life upon the Earth
seeming to have made but little progress. A great quantity of shell-covered animals have been
developed in the seas by the formation of calcareous substances; also new fishes of a more
perfect organization than those of the previous period have appeared, also the first of the whale
tribe. The most characteristic animals of this period are monstrous reptiles, among which are
The ichthyosaurus, a species of lizard-fish, which attained ten yards in length, the jaws of
which, being of a prodigious length, were armed with one hundred and eighty teeth. Its general
form was a little like the crocodile, but without the scaly breastplate; its eyes were as large as
the head of man; it had fins like the whales, and spouted water into the air like them.
The plesiosaurus was another marine animal, as large as the ichthyosaurus, the
excessively long neck of which was bent like that of the swan, which gave to it the appearance
of an enormous serpent attached to the body of a turtle or tortoise. It had the head of a lizard
and the teeth of a crocodile. Its skin must have been smooth; for no trace of scales, or
carapaces, have been found. *
In 1823 the first fossil of this animal was found in England. Later on, this same type of fossil was also
found in France and in Germany.
The teleosaurus approaches nearer the actual crocodiles, which appear to be the
diminutive descendants of it. Like them it had a scaly breastplate, and lived at times upon the
Earth as well as in the water. Its body was about ten yards in length, allowing three or four for
the head alone. Its enormous mouth had an aperture two yards in length.
The megalosaurus was a great lizard and a kind of crocodile from fourteen to fifteen
yards in length, essentially carnivorous, nourishing itself with reptiles, small crocodiles, and
tortoises. Its formidable jawbone was armed with teeth like a double bladed pruning or garden
knife bent round behind in such a way, that, once having entered into their prey, it was
impossible for the latter to disengage themselves.
The iguanodon (iguana), the largest lizard which had appeared upon the Earth, measured
from twenty to twenty-five yards from the head to the extremity of the tail. Its snout was
surmounted by a horn formed of bone, similar to the iguana of our day, from which it seem to
have differed only in size; the latter having a body not a yard in length. The form of the teeth
prove that it was herbivorous, and the feet that it was a land animal.
The pterodactyl was a strange animal of the size of a swan, being like a reptile in body,
with the head of a bird. Its toes, which were of a prodigious length, were united with a fleshy
membrane like that of the bat, which served it as a parachute when it precipitated itself from the
height of a tree or rock upon its prey. It had no horny beak like birds; but the jawbones were as
long as half its body, and were garnished with teeth terminating in a point like a beak.
31. During this period, which must have been very long as the number and importance of
the geological beds attest, animal life developed largely in the watery elements, in like manner
to vegetation in a previous period. The purer air, more conducive to respiration, permits some
animal to live upon the Earth. The sea has been many times displaced, but without violent
commotion. With this period disappeared in their turn those races of gigantic aquatic animals,
replaced later by analogous species, less disproportionate in form, and of infinitely smaller size.
32. Pride has influenced man to say that all animals were created for his purposes and for
his needs. But what is the number of those which directly serve him, which he has been able to
subject, compared to the incalculable number of those with which he has never had and will
never have any connection? How is it possible to sustain a similar thesis in presence of these
innumerable species which alone have populated the Earth for thousands and thousands of
centuries before he came here himself, and which have disappeared? Can one say that they
have been created for his profit? However, these species all had their utility in life. God would
not create them for nothing in order to give himself the pleasure of destroying them; for all had
life, instincts, and the capacity for misery and happiness. What then was the object? It must
have been a sovereignly wise one, though we are still unable to comprehend it. Perhaps the
secret will one day be given to man, in order to humble his pride; but in the meantime how
many ideas crowd upon us in presence of these new horizons into which we are permitted to gaze, and which display to us the imposing spectacle of this creation, so majestic in its slow and
mighty developments, so admirable in its foresight, so punctual, precise, and invariable in its
33. With the tertiary period commences for the Earth a new order of things. The aspect
of its surface is completely changed; the conditions of vitality are profoundly modified, and
approach the present state of the Earth. The first part of this period is signalized by an arrest in
animal and vegetable productions. Everything bears traces of an almost entire destruction of
living beings, and then appeared successively new species, the better organization of which is
adapted to the locality where they are called to live.
34. During preceding periods the solid crust of the globe, by reason of its thinness,
presented, as has been said, a pretty feeble resistance to the action of the internal fire. This
envelope, easily broken, permitted melted substances to be freely expelled to the surface of the
Earth. After having acquired a certain thickness, this did not take place. Burning substances
compressed on all sides, like boiling water in a closed vessel, would end in an explosion. The
granite mass, violently broken at many points was riddled with crevasses, like a cracked vase.
Upon the line of these crevasses the solid crust was raised and reformed, formed peaks, chains
of mountains, and their ramifications. Certain parts of the envelope which were not rent where
simply piled up, whilst upon other points excavations and depressions were produced.
The surface of the Earth became during the tertiary period very unequal. The waters,
which until this time had covered in a nearly uniform manner the greater part of its extent,
flowed down into the lowest places, leaving vast continents of dry land, or summits of isolated
mountains, which formed islands.
Such is the great phenomenon which has been accomplished in the tertiary period, and
which has transformed the aspect of the globe. It was not produced instantaneously or
simultaneously at all points, but successively at epochs more or less remote from one another.
35. One of the first consequences of these uprisings has been, as has been said, the
inclination of the primitively horizontal beds of sediment, and which have remained everywhere
in this horizontal position where the soil has not been overthrown. It is in the flanks and in the
vicinities of the mountains that these inclinations are steeper.
36. In countries where the beds of sediment have preserved their horizontal position, in
order to reach that of the first formation, it is necessary to pass through all the others, often to a
great depth, at the end of which one invariably finds the granite rock. But, when these beds
have been elevated into mountains, they have been carried above their normal level, sometimes
to a very great height, in such a way that, if one makes a vertical trench upon the side of the
mountain, they are shown in all their thickness, superposed like the different layers of a
This explains why quite large beds of marine shell fossils are often found on high
elevations of land. It has been generally recognized that at no epoch the sea has been able to
attain such a height; for all the water on the Earth is not sufficient for it, and would not be even
were it a hundred times greater in volume. Some might say that the quantity of water had
diminished; but then the query would come. What had become of it? The uprisings which are
now incontestably demonstrated by science explain completely and logically the marine
deposits which are found upon certain mountains. *
* Beds of marine shell fossils were found five thousand meters above the sea level, in the Andes of
37. In places where the uprising of the primitive rock has produced a complete rent in
the soil, perhaps by its rapidity, perhaps by form, height, or volume of the raised mass, the
granite has appeared bare like a tooth which pierces the gums; the beds which were covered,
elevated, upheaved, and recovered have been brought to life; whilst rocks belonging to the most
ancient formations, and which were found in their primitive position at a great depth, form now
the soil of certain countries.
38. The granite mass, dislodged by the effect of the earthquakes, has left in some places
fissures through which the melted substances have escaped: the volcanoes. The volcanoes are
like chimneys to this immense furnace, or better still, like escape-valves, which, in providing an
exit for the great excess of burning substances, preserve them from terrible commotions,
whence one can infer that a large number of active volcanoes is a source of safety to the whole
One can form an idea of the intensity of this fire by learning how volcanoes opened in the
midst of an ocean are not extinguished by the immense waters which cover and penetrate them.
39. The uprisings of the Earth in one solid mass have necessarily displaced the waters
which have flowed back into hollow places, become deeper by the uprising of emerged rocks
and by depressions; but these same low depths have been raised in their turn sometimes in one
place, sometimes in another, and have repelled the waters, which have flowed elsewhere
successively until they have found a stable resting place.
The successive displacements of this liquid mass have violently agitated the surface of
the Earth. The waters, in passing away, have drawn portions of rocks of anterior formation,
brought to light by the earthquakes; denuded mountains which were recovered, and brought to
light their granite or calcareous base. Deep valleys have been hollowed out, and others filled in.
There are, then, mountains formed directly by the action of the central fire: they are
principally granite mountains. Others are due to the action of the waters, which, in drawing
mellow Earth and soluble matters after them, have hollowed out valleys around a calcareous or
other resisting base.
The substances drawn by running waters have formed the beds of the tertiary period,
which are easily distinguished from the preceding ones less by their composition, which is
nearly the same, than by their disposition.
The beds of the primary, transition, and secondary periods, formed upon a slightly
undulating surface, are nearly uniform over all the Earth. Those of the tertiary period, to the
contrary, formed upon a very unequal base and by the procession of the waters, have a more
local character. Everywhere, by digging to a certain depth, one finds all the anterior beds in the
order of their formation; whilst the tertiary rocks are not found everywhere, nor all the beds of
40. During the earthquakes which took place at the commencement of this period, one
finds that organic life has been arrested, which is proved by the absence of fossils in these
rocks. But, as soon as a calmer state was restored, vegetables and animal re-appeared. The
conditions of vitality being changed, the atmosphere becoming purer, new species, with more
perfect organization, were formed. As regards structure, the plants differed very little from those
of our time.
41. During the two preceding periods the Earth uncovered by water was of very small
extent, marshy and frequently submerged: that is why the animals were all either aquatic or
amphibious. The tertiary period, in which vast continents have been formed, has been
characterized by the appearance of terrestrial animals.
Just as the transition period has brought forth colossal vegetables, and the secondary
period monstrous reptiles; the tertiary period has produced gigantic mammal animals, such as
the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, paleotherium, megatherium, dinotherium, the
mastodon, mammoth, etc. The two latter elephant varieties were 5 to 6 meters tall, and their
tusks would reach 4 meters long. It has produced birds as well, some of the species of which are
living now. A few of the animals of this period have survived subsequent inundations. Others
that have been designated by the generic term, “pre-diluvium animals,” have completely
disappeared, or have been replaced by analogous species, in form lighter and smaller in which
the original types have been merely outlined: such are the felisspeloea, a carnivorous animal
about the size of the bull, having the anatomical characteristics of tiger and lion; the cervus
megaceron, a variety of deer of which the horns, three yards in length were separated by three
to four yards from their extremities.
42. This period has been marked by one of the greatest inundations which have ever
visited the globe, which changed once more the aspect of its surface, and destroyed completely
a multitude of living species, of which only few remains have been found. Everywhere are left
traces which attest its generality. The water, violently driven from its bed, has surrounded
continents, drawing with them Earth and rocks, denuding mountains, and uprooting forests of a
century’s growth. The new deposits which they have formed are designated in geology “diluvial
43. One of the most significant traces of this great disaster are rocks called “erratic blocks.”
Thus are named granite rocks that are found isolated in plains reposing upon tertiary beds, and
in the midst of diluvial rocks, sometimes many hundred of miles from mountains whence they
have been torn. It is evident that they can have been transported so great a distance only by the
violence of a current. *
* It is one of these blocks, evidently by its composition coming from the mountains of Norway, which
serves as the pedestal to the statue of Peter the Great at St. Petersburg.
44. A no less characteristic fact, and one the cause of which is not yet explained, is that
among the diluvial rocks are found the first aerolites. It is, then, at this epoch that they began to
form. The cause which produced them did not previously exist.
45. It is toward this epoch that the poles commenced to be covered with ice, and the glaciers
were formed on the mountains, which indicates a notable change in the temperature of the
globe. This change must have been sudden; for, had it operated gradually, animals, such as the
elephant, which live now only in warm climates, and which are found in great numbers in a
fossil state in the polar territories, would have had time to withdraw little by little, to the more
temperate regions. Everything goes to prove that they have been suddenly seized by great cold,
and enveloped in ice. *
* In 1771, the Russian naturalist Pallas found in the midst of the ice from the North the entire body of an
elephant fossil, covered with its skin, still maintaining part of its flesh. In 1799, another elephant fossil
was found and described by the naturalist Adams. It was equally immersed in a huge block of ice, near
the mouth of the Lena River, in Siberia. The people who lived in the neighborhood (Jakoutes) tore its
flesh apart to feed their dogs. Its skin was covered with a long mane and the neck was covered with thick
fur. The head, not including the tusks, measured more than 3 meters and weighed more than 400 pounds.
Its skeleton is at the museum of Saint Petersburg. On the island and on the beaches of the glacial ocean
large quantities of tusk are found, which constitute objects of considerable commerce under the name of
ivory fossil, or ivory from Siberia.
46. This was, then, the veritable universal deluge. Opinions are divided as to the cause
which produced it; but, whatever they may have been, the fact no less exists.
It is generally supposed that a sudden change took place in the position of the axes of the
Earth, by which the poles were displaced, whence a general projection of the water upon the
surface. If this change had come about gradually, the waters would have been displaced by
degrees without agitation; whilst everything indicates a violent and sudden commotion. While
in ignorance of the veritable cause, one can give only hypothesis.
The displacement of the waters can have been occasioned only by the uprising of certain
parts of the solid crust, and the formation of new mountains on the bosom of the waters, like
that which took place at the commencement of the tertiary period; but, beyond there having
been a general inundation, this would explain nothing of the sudden change of the temperature
of the poles.
47. In the agitation caused by the displacement of the waters, many animals have perished;
others, in order to escape inundation, have withdrawn to the high elevations, into caves and
crevasses, where they have perished in masses, perhaps by famine, perhaps by devouring one
another, or by the flowing of the water into the places where they have taken refuge, and from
whence they could not escape. Thus is explained the cause for the great quantity of bones of
animals, carnivorous and otherwise, which are found mixed-up in certain caves, named by
reason of this “bone caverns.” They are found most frequently under the stalagmites. In a few
of them the bones seem to have been drawn there by the current of the waters. *
* A great number of similar caverns have been discovered, of which some are quite extensive. There
exist some in Mexico which are many miles in extent. That of Adelsberg, in Carniola, Austria, is no less
than nine miles. One of the most remarkable is the Gailenreuth, in Wurtemberg. There are many in
France, England, Germany, Sicily, and other countries of Europe.
POST-DELUGE OR PRESENT PERIOD – BIRTH OF MAN
48. The equilibrium once re-established on the surface of the globe, animal and vegetable
life promptly resumed their course. The consolidated soil had taken a firmer position; the purer
air agreed with more delicate organs. The sun, which shone with all its splendor through a
limpid atmosphere, produced with its light a less suffocating, more vivifying atmosphere than
that of the interior furnace. The Earth was inhabited by less ferocious animals; the more
succulent vegetables offered a finer alimentation. All at length was prepared for the new host
which must come to inhabit the Earth. It was then that man appeared, the last created being, he
whose intelligence henceforth must concur with the general progress by progressing himself.
49. Has man existed on the Earth only since the deluge period? Or did he appear before
this epoch? This question is a disputed one now; but its solution, whatever it may be, is only of
secondary importance, as it would change none of the established facts, neither it negate the
appearance of the human species on Earth prior to the date assigned by the Biblical Genesis, by
many thousands of years.
The reason why it has been thought that the advent of man was posterior to the deluge is,
because no authentic traces of his appearance previous to this have been found. The bones
discovered in diverse places, and which have been thought to belong to a supposed race of pre-
diluvium giants, have been recognized as the bones of quadrupeds.
That which is beyond doubt is, that man did not exist either in the primary, transition, or
secondary periods, not only because no traces of him are found, but because conditions were not
prepared for his appearance. If he has appeared in the tertiary period, it must have been towards
the end, and then men must have been very few in number.
Besides, the deluge period, having been short, has not produced notable changes in
climacteric and atmospheric influences. Animals and vegetables were about the same before as
after. It is then, not a material impossibility that the advent of man took place before this great
inundation. The presence of the monkey at this period adds to the probability which recent
discoveries appear to confirm. *
Whether or not man has appeared before the great universal deluge, it is certain that his
career as a human being has never really commenced to outline itself until the post-deluge
period, which is specially characterized by his presence.
* See : « l'Homme antédiluvien » and « Des outils de pierre, » by Boucher de Perthes ; « Discours sur les
révolutions du globe, » by Georges Cuvier, with remarks from Dr. Hoefer.