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The mammoth and mastodon, while giving us our chief evidence that there is habitable land within the interior of the globe, are not the only animals which may be studied in this connection. There are records of other animals living in that land whose like has never been seen on any portion of the outside globe, only their fossilized or semi-fossilized remains telling their story.
Robert B. Cook, writing in Knowledge for 1884, tells of the remains not only of mammoths but of hairy rhinoceros, reindeer, hippopotamus, lion, and hyena, found in northern glacial deposits, and he claims that these animals, which are not able to endure cold weather, must either have been summer visitors during the severity of the glacial period or have been permanent residents while the country had--as he thinks--a milder climate. But as the reindeer, lion, and hyena are present day forms of life and not as old as the mammoth (at least in the form in which we know them today and in which these remains show them to have been when they
were alive), it is evident that these animals visited the spots where their remains were found not from southerly climates during early glacial epochs, but that they are remains of visitors from the land of the interior. Otherwise these present day forms would not be found alongside those of the mammoth which we have shown to be a present day inhabitant of the interior of the earth. Not knowing this, Mr. Cook has great difficulty in explaining the occurrence together of these forms which in his view are earlier and later forms of life. But when we see that they are really contemporaneous the difficulty vanishes.
That some of the animal denizens of the interior world are species quite unknown to us will not seem at all strange when we think of the conditions that obtain there, and if that were the case it would not be so very strange if at times a specimen of some kind of these unknown creatures wandered out over the lip, perhaps carried by a glacier, and was seen by some inhabitant of the far northern regions. As a matter of fact there is just such a case recorded by J. W. Buel in his survey of scientific and exploratory progress entitled "The World's Wonders". He quotes Captain Hall, who lived among the Eskimos for five years, who says that this and similar stories are worthy of credence because strange things
that the Eskimos have told on other occasions have been verified afterwards.
It seems that the Eskimos often described to Captain Hall an animal which they, called the arcla: "but which is not mentioned in any book of natural history, nor did he ever see a specimen himself. . . ." The natives speak of this animal as being larger than the bear, and as very ferocious and as much more difficult to be killed. It has grayish hair, a long tail, and short thick legs, its forefeet being divided into three parts, like the partridge's, its hind feet are like a man's heels. When resting it sits upright like a man. A Neitchille Innuit, crawling into a hole for shelter, in the night, had found one asleep and quickly despatched it with his knife. It may be added here that Ebierbing, who was Hall's interpreter, now residing in the United States, confirms such accounts of the arcla, and says that the animal once inhabited his native country on Cumberland Sound.
There is another curious fact that could be explained easily on the ground of our theory but that otherwise is very puzzling. When Nordenskiold was exploring the Antarctic regions he visited Patagonia, the most southern of inhabited lands. When there he explored a large cave in which he found a large piece of skin covered with greenish brown hair, and studded on the inner side with little knobs
of bone. He identified it as the skin of a prehistoric animal called the mylodon, although along with the remains of the mylodon--for further exploration discovered no less than twenty specimens there were found many bones, teeth, and horny hoofs of a long extinct animal of the horse family, and as Mr. Edwin S. Grew says in his "Romance of Modern Geology" (where he recounts the episode), the whole thing is very puzzling (to the orthodox scientist, that is):
"It was supposed that the mylodon, like all the peculiar gigantic animals of South America, had become extinct as long ago as the mammoth or as the wooly rhinoceros. All these extinct South American animals were distinguished by peculiarly shaped teeth, and had no teeth at all in front. They are called, therefore, Edentata, and their representatives today are much smaller."
So there is no doubt that the animal which Dr. Nordenskiold discovered was a prehistoric form. But on the other hand there was a very remarkable circumstance:
"The skin was dry but sound. When it was placed in water it gave out a smell which, though unpleasant was very interesting, for it showed that the animal which had worn it could not have been dead thousands or even hundreds of years. It was in fact, evidently a piece of the skin of a mylodon, which had survived in this region until modern times.
"Further explorations were made in the cavern by Dr. Moreno of La Plata, and other naturalists, and an immense quantity of bones was obtained, and more portions of the skin of the mylodon with the hair on. The cavern had been inhabited probably several centuries ago by Indians, for human bones and weapons were obtained.
"The remains of as many as twenty mylodons have been obtained from the cavern, and many of the bones are cut or broken in a way which leads us to suspect that the human inhabitants of the cave cut up the dead mylodons for food, and split their bones to obtain the marrow.
"Some of the mylodon bones, skulls, jaw-bones, leg-bones, etc., are smeared with blood and have pieces of cartilage and tendon attached. There are other evidences which go to show that the Indians may have kept the mylodons alive in the cave and fed them with hay brought from the outside.
"Besides the relics of the mylodon and of man the cavern has yielded bones and teeth, and many horny hoofs belonging to a kind of extinct horses; and this constitutes one of the puzzling things about this cave treasure . . . . . .
"The bones that were found are not buried in lime or any preserving stone; but lie in sand where one would expect them to have perished long ago if they had been of any great age. Yet side by side with them are the bones of a long extinct horse; and
there is no tradition among the Indians today of any huge beast corresponding to the mylodon. . . . . . Possibly, though it does not seem very likely, the mylodon is still living in similar caverns in this region, as yet unvisited by man."
Now the above is very interesting in the light of our theory. The fact that the mylodon was not a relic of untold ages ago is beyond dispute: the relative freshness of its skin proves that, to say nothing of the fact that it was alive when Indians who knew how to domesticate animals were in the land--and that is very recent in the scale of time in which the mastodon and mylodon figure. But the fact that the bones of a long extinct horse-like animal were found alongside those of the mylodon, showing that the mylodon, an animal known to be very old and yet, in this case, proved also to be very recent, and the horse-like creature were contemporary. That means that the horse-like animal is not so old as we think.
Where, then, could either one of them have come from? Although the country has been explored since Mr. Grew's book was written no mylodons have been found as he suggests they might be. Evidently these were the remains of some specimens that in some way had wandered from the interior over the Antarctic polar lip and either through being caught on a floe or carried by a glacier they drifted on to some land which connects with Patagonia.
[paragraph continues] That the Indians, whose bones were found in the cave, died on the same spot as that in which they had lived and where they kept these animals, might almost prove that they were among the last of their kind. Otherwise as soon as their supply of food was exhausted these Indians would have gone forth in search of more and their bones would not have been found beside their banquet board.
It may be well to add at this point that the Eskimos have a well defined tradition that the mammoth lives underground. Two writers in the Scientific American Supplement independently make this assertion, and while the Eskimos are wrong, of course, in thinking that a large animal like the mammoth could burrow like a mole, the very fact that they have this idea shows that they are accustomed to seeing the mammoth at intervals and then lose sight of it for some time, the animal suddenly appearing again. If we allow that the mammoth has its present habitat in the interior of the earth, it is quite easy to see how this idea arose.
Next: Chapter XIV. The Aurora