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.