More Digging

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Archeological and paleontological digging in Africa and Europe (TIME, Oct. 22) has its counterpart in the Americas, and also in China, whence comes the report from Roy Chapman Andrews that his expedition has discovered the eggs of the dinosaur.

China. Mr. Andrews, accompanied by his wife Yvette, heads the third Asiatic expedition of the American Museum of National History. Leaving Peking last Spring they went to the railroad’s end beyond Kalgan in the Khingan mountains. By motor they passed through the gateway of Inner Mongolia and across the Gobi Desert, 1,000 miles. Some went to Urga, present capital of Mongolia; Andrews and the main party turned south to the Altai ranges to fossil fields located last season when the skull of Baluchitherium, giant primitive rhinoceros, was discovered.

Wildest hopes of the size and importance of fossil deposits have been confirmed. Asia is the center of dispersal of mammalian life. That was a theory. It is in process of being proved. The existence of a land bridge between Asia and North America has unquestionably been established. Until these deposits were found, the chief source of dinosaur remains was in the Rocky Mountain states.

Two tons of fossils have been despatched to America, including the skull of a creodont, the largest known primitive carnivorous animal, measuring 33×21 inches; teeth and jaws of coryphodon, lophidon and other large carnivorae; several skulls of the rhinoceros-like titanotheres; some complete skeletons of dinosaurs of the inguanodon type. The discovery of several fossil dinosaur eggs gives definite proof that the prehistoric reptiles were hatched from eggs. As eggs contain over 90% water, they are rarely fossilized. The deposits were distributed through the Mesozoic and early Tertiary eras, roughly 5,000,000 to 15,000,000 years ago.

Mr. Andrews owes his position as leader of the Asiatic expedition to a unique combination of scientific authority and practical resourcefulness in big game hunting and open-air life. He is as thoroughly at home in these as the late Theodore Roosevelt, the late Paul J. Rainey, Martin Johnson, Carl E. Akeley and other famous sportsmen. He is 39 years old, a graduate of Beloit College (1906) and an M. A. of Columbia (1913). He has been associate curator of mammals in the American Museum of Natural History for over 15 years, has taken part as special naturalist or director in several expeditions for the Museum in Alaska and the Orient. The first Asiatic expedition of the museum went out 1916-1917, the second 1919, and the present one, beginning in 1922, will last until 1927. At the end of the present season the expedition will take a recess for refitment and an American lecture tour. In the party this year are J. B. Shackelford, photographer and cinematographer, equipped with special Akeley cameras, Dr. Charles P. Berkey, geologist, Dr. Walter Granger, paleontologist, and other scientists.

Later on the expedition may continue southward into Eastern Turkestan and Tibet. In the same region, southwest of Urga, is the site of Karakhoto, buried capital of the Mongol emperors, discovered by the Russian scientist Kozlov (TIME, March 17), who is now on another expedition to central Asia.

Books descriptive of the earlier scientific adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews are: Across Mongolian Plains—Camp and Trails in China, Whale Hunting with Sun and Camera.

Philippines. The Philippine archepelago was inhabited by Chinese before its present natives, according to findings of an archeological expedition of the University of Michigan, headed by Dr. Carl E. Guthe. Hundreds of pieces of pottery of the Ming, Tang and Sung dynasties were unearthed.

South America. The alleged Tertiary human skull discovered in Patagonia (TIME, April 28, May 12) was declared nothing but a piece of solid sandstone, shaped with curiously human-like features, by Prof. Elmer S. Riggs, paleontologist of the Field Museum, Chicago. “Only one of nature’s little jokes,” said he.

Thomas E. Duffy, American chemical engineer, prospecting in the desert of northern Chile, near the Peruvian border, found a great collection of Indian relics in tombs, including beautiful wood and stone carvings, statues of an unknown heavy wood, turquoise jewelry, hundreds of mummified bodies. Experts of the Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, dated them provisionally at 1800 B. C.

Guatemala. At Quirigua, many remarkable monoliths elaborately carved, and huge statues of turtles and other animals were found by Profs. William Gates and J. J. Waterman, American experts in charge of archeological work for the Guatemalan Government. On some of the monuments the figures are all male; on others, all female. There is an entire absence of representation of weapons of war, indicating the advanced and peaceful state of culture. The United Fruit Company, which has big plantations throughout the region, is helping to protect the Guatemala ruins.

United States. Vertebrate fossils and bones of great significance were the product of the Albert Thompson expedition of the American Museum of Natural History in the Snake Creek fossil quarries of western Nebraska: 1) A tooth of a native ape, the only one known in the New World. 2) Skull and jaws of a gigantic camel, much larger than the modern Bactrian. It is attributed to the Pliocene period (about 1,500,000 years ago). 3) Skull and bones of three-toed horses, fossils of a dwarf rhinoceros, a giant pig, and the moropus or clawed ungulate, all belonging to the lower Miocene period (2,000,000 or more years ago). The Nebraska fossil fields are among the richest in the world. They were discovered in 1877 by James H. Cook, an old Indian scout, the first fossils were taken out in the ’90’s, and the American Museum has been working them for six years, securing thousands of bones of more than 150 species of animals, many of which were previously thought confined to the Old World. Mr. Thompson has been excavating at Snake Creek for six months.

A new skeleton of Diplodocus Carnegii, the 85-foot saurian which waded through the swamps of Utah approximately 10,000,000 years ago, has been hewed out in 25 tons of sandstone, near Vernal, Utah, by Dr. C. W. Gilmore, of the U. S. National Museum. It was hauled 152 miles over mountains to a railroad. It will take five years to clean and mount. The original specimen of the species is in the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh. Diplodocus stood 16 feet high at the hips, weighed 18 tons in the flesh, had a tiny snake-like head and an elongated neck and tail composed of scores of vertebrae and tail-bones varying from three feet to one inch in length. It browsed on trees, bushes.

Strange three-toed tracks were found on blocks of sandstone on a farm six miles from Leesburg, Va., quarried to make a walk on the estate, formerly owned by President James Monroe. Smithsonian Institution scientists, investigating, declared it the footprint of a dinosaur’s hind-leg, the fourth toe being too short to make an impression. Further digging in the quarry may reveal new finds. Comparatively few traces of dinosaurs have been found in the Eastern states.

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