John Almon.

The American journal of science and arts online

. (page 90 of 102)
Online LibraryJohn AlmonThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 90 of 102)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Coal-measures of Iowa), and Pinna peracuta Shumard ; also the
following Carboniferous types of fishes, viz : CtenopiyMus semi-
drcuUiris Newberry and Worthen, Cladodus mwiifer N. & W.,
Autitodus and ChomcUodus of undetermined species, and another
form nearly allied to, or identical with Deltodus. We likewise
found a fine tooth of Petalodus destructor N. & W., so character-
istic of the Illinois Coal-measures (referred by Prof. Marcou to
the Mountain limestone), in the same beds at Bock-bluff inclu-
ded by him as a part of the Lower Dyas,

It will therefore be seen, that in addition to nearly all of our
common Coal-measure species of other animal remains, we now
know from these supposed Permian rocks of Nebraska and Iowa,
the following genera, oelieved to be either exclusively Carbonifer-
ous, or not known above the Coal-measures, viz : Ptcsulina, Eri'
sQcrinus^ Belleraphon^ PhUlipsia^ Petahdus^ Cladodus^ Ctenoptychius,
OhomataduSj Aniliodiu and Gochliodus ; while not a single trace of
any peculiarly Permian type of fishes, has ever been found in
these rocks.

But it may be proper to mention more precisely the localities
and positions at wnicn these Carboniferous types were discovered.
In the first place we would state that we found FusuUna cylin-
jirica in vast numbers along with nearly all our Coal-measure
species at Bock-bluff in the very beds referred b^ Prof. Marcou
to the Lower Dyas. We likewise found this fossil in great num-
bers 2f miles west, and less abundantly at Mr. Morton's place
If west of the Nebraska City landing, associated with the same
Coal-measure species, at the elevation of 76 to 80 feet above low
water mark of the Missouri ; also at Wyoming, 7 miles north,
and at Bennett's mill, 3 miles northwest of Nebraska City, aJl in
the same beds referred by Prof. Marcou to the lower part of the
Upper Dyas.* TerAratula bomdens^ Ortkis carbonaria, jRetzia punc*
tulifera^ Pinna peracuta^ Cladodus mortiftr^ teeth of Antiiodtis
and DeUodiLs f were all found at Nebraska Citv in division B of
Prof. Marcou's section (the last two by Dr. White of Iowa).

The teeth of Clmoptychius semicircularis were found, one in a
shaft at Nebraska City, at near the horizon of Prof. Marcou's di-
vision B ; another at that horizon by Dr. White at Bennett's mill,
and another by the same gentlemad at Omaha, in beds referred by
Prof. M. to the Mountain limestone. We also found it in beds
he referred to the latter horizon at Bellevue. The Chomadotus
was found by Mr. St. John of the Iowa survey, in the so-called
Upper Dyas at Bennett's mill. The same Phillipsia figured by
Fro£ Geinitz from Plattsmouth, and a tooth of a Gochliodus have

* Fuaulina and other oarb. fosails, also oocur in an 18 inch bed of limestone one
mile below the outcrop at Nebraska City luiding, and at a higher geological horizon.



Digitized by



Google



832 Review of GeinUt an the rocks and fossils of Nebraska.

beea found in Iowa bj Dr. White, in limestone above the hor-
izon of beds containing the same group of dossils characterizing
Pro£ Marcou's division G at Nebraska City ; while Pecten avieu-
latiLSy and Avieulopecten Ooxanus^ were found in that bed at the
last mentioned locality.

From all the foregoing facts, it will be seen, that I ara com-
pelled to dissent from the conclusions adopted by Prof. OeinitZy
not only in regard to the relations of many of the Nebraska fos-
sils investigated by him to the European Permian species to
which he has referred them, but also respecting the age of the
rocks from which they were obtained. Oi the various species he
identifies with foreign Permian forms, there are, it seems to me,
not more than some four or five that are so closelv similar thai
no very satisfactory distinction can be detected, nx>m external
characters at least. These are the forms he refers to Nucula
Beyrichi^ Leda KazanensiSj Schizodus Bossicus^ Avicuia spdun-
caria*=^{P8eiLdomonoii8)j and Pleurophorus Pallasi. The first four
of these are, I acknowledge, very similar to the Permian roecies
to which he has referred them, while the fifth seems to oe as
nearly like Pleurophorus costatus. The fact, however, that we
know comparatively little of the hinge and interior of these shells,
while they are mainlv such forms as often present few reliable
external characters tor specific distinction, and belong for the
most part, to genera in which the species are frequently very
similar, must weaken our confidence in these specific identifica-
tions, under such circumstances. But when we take into con-
sideration the additional fact, that they can all be identified upon
quite as good grounds with forms found far down in beds ac-
knowledged by all to belong the Coal-measures, or which have
even at some places been referred by Prof. Marcou to the Moun-
tain limestone, and especially when we bear in mind, the nu-
merous unquestionably Carboniferous types with which they are
here directly associated in the beds under consideration, the im-
propriety of basing important conclusions upon them must be
apparent.

it may be urged, however, that with the aid of extensive col-
lections of European Permian species for comparison, Prof.
Geinitz has had far better facilities for arriving at correct oonclu-
sions, in regard to the relations of all of these Nebraska fossils to
foreign forms, than can be commanded here. Granting this to
be to a considerable extent true (for I have had for comparison
a tolerable collection of the more common European Permian
species), I must still contend — with all due deference to his de-
servedly high standing as a geologist — that his peculiar views in

* The species fij^ored by Prof. Qeinitz under this niune as elsewhere stated, came
from the FermlBn of Kansas and was not found In Nebraska. He refers to that
species, however, specimens from Nebraska City, doubtless the same form we saw at
ifennett's mills, ana eyidently veiy closely allied to the species S^wuaria.



Digitized by



Google



Review of Ckinitx an the rocks and fossils of Hebraskcu 883

regard to specific and generic distinctions, are snch as to materi*
ally detract from the value of his paleontological conclusions in
a case like that under consideration. The &ct that he has un-
miestionablj identified specifically^ with European forms, several
Nebraska fossils belonging to entirely different genera, and in
some instances different families, shows conclusively, that if he
has kept pace with the recent advances made in conchology and
other departments of natural history, he has not, in this instance
at least, brought to bear that degree of exactness of discrimina-
tion the present state of zoological science shows to be absolute-
ly necessary, before we can hope to arrive at sound conclusions
in paleontology.

The necessity for great care in identifying species and genera
of shells, has of late years been forcibly illustrated by various
anatomical researches, but particularly by the results of the val-
uable investigations of the lingual dentition of the Oasteropoda^
made by Loven, Troschel, and others, in Europe, and Dr. Stimp-
son, Mr. Morse, and others, in this countrv, by which means
forms long regarded as specifically identical have been found to
be quite distinct, and so in regard to the genera and higher
groups. A case, however, coming njore directly home to paleon-
tologists and geologists, is that in which recent microscopical in-
vestigations have rendered it probable that a form, until very re-
cently regarded by the highest living authorities as the common
Spvnfei* cuspidatus of Sowerby, is not only specifically, but even
generically or subgenerically distinct.*

Yet the question may naturally suggest itself, whether, if we
admit that only a very few, or even none, of these Nebraska fos-
sils are absolutely identical with European Permian species^ the
near affinities of a portion of them to foreign species of that
epoch, ought not to be regarded as a sufficient evidence of the
contemporaneous age of the rocks from which these were ob-
tained, with those of the Permian of the old world. At a first
glance, looking at these Permian typesf only, this would certainly
seem to be a logical conclusion ; and reasoning upon evidence
of this kind. Dr. Hayden and the writer actually referred some
of these beds on the Missouri to the Permian in 1858, (Trans.
Albany Inst., vol. iv.) On afterwards ascertaining, however,
that a very large proportion of our most common and charac-
teristic Coal-measure fossils occur in the same bods containing
these few Permian types, while the latter, including the so-called
Monotis, the Bakevellias, Pleuropharus, Schizodus^ &c., are also occa-
sionally met with fiEir below, in unquestionable and acknowledged

« See Prooeed. Acad. Nat. Set Plulad., Deo. 1865, p. 27 ; this Journ., May, 1867,
and Ann. and Mag. Nat Hiatory for July. 1867.

f By Permian types, I mean forms dosely alUed to^ bat not necessarily identical
with, Permian species.



Digitized by



Google



334 Review of OeinUx on the rocks andfoseils of Nebraska,

Coal-measare strata, we were led to doubt the accuracy of our
first conclusion.

These doubts were afterwards confirmed, when on going out
into the interior of Ejinsas, we found there an extensive series
of strata, in no way separable from the Coal-measures, containing
several of these and a few other Permian types, along with
nearly all our common Goal-measure fossils, such as Fusuiina
cylindrica, Productua longiepinus f {=Productus Wabashemis N. &
P.), P. punciahis^ P. costaius^ P. NArascensis (=P. horrescem of
Prof G^intz's list), Ghonetes mucronataj Spirifer camerahu, S.
planaconvexus, Syixtrilasma hemiplicata, Streptorhynchus crenislrioj
the so-called Orthia Missouriensis, Athyris mbtilita^ Naiicopsie
Pricit\ Etwmphalus rugosus* (Hall not Sowerby), species of Phil-
lipsia^ and Bellerophon, Pttalodus Alleghenienais^ and numerous
others that might be mentioned. These we found often mingled
in the same beds with the few Permian types, and in other in-
stances in beds alternating with those containing the latter. In
ascending several hundred feet higher in the series, we observed
the Goal-measure forms gradually dropping off until at last, above
a certain undefined horizon, with the exception of one or two
of the latter, only Permian forms were observed. Although we
regarded these upper beds as the true representatives of the Per-
mian, we gave a section of the whole series, down so as to include
a considerable thickness of beds below, with lists of fossils, show-
ing the range of the various types, without drawing any line of
demarkation, because we were satisfied nature had no where de-
fined any abrupt physical or paleontological break here in the
series. We likewise stated that we believed no geologist, study-
ing these rocks without a knowledge of the classification adopted
in the old world, would ever have thought of making any im-
portant division here between the Permian and the Goal-meas-
ures ; and that if the intermediate series containing a mingling of
the two types of fossils is to be separated at all from the Goal-
measures, we would do it only under some such provisional name
as the Permo-carboniferous series.

It will be remembered by those who have read Prof. Marcou's
paper on the rocks under consideration, (Bull. Soc Geol. Fr., 2d
sen, xxi, p. 182, 1864), that he referred the Nebraska City beds
(including those at Bennett's mill and Wyoming) to the upper
Dyas ; those at Bock-bluff and Plattsmouth to the lower Dyas,
and those above the Platte, at Bellvue, St. Mary's, and Omaha City
(erroneously printed Omalia City), to the Mountain limestone.
The outcrops at Plattsmouth and Bock-bluf^ he thought, oon-

* Since pointing out the differences between this and Spvrorbia pkmorUtig^ I
observe Prof. Geinitz flgares under the latter name, in his Djas, one fonn with the
greatest concayity apparently on the left, another with it on the rig^t side. The
quadrangular form of its whorls, and its flattened periphery, however, deaily sep-
arates our shell from both of these.



Digitized by



Google



Review of GeinUz on the rocks and fossils of Nebraska. 335

tained the remains of an " eminently New Bed Sandstone fauna,
approaching, however, the Carboniferous fauna," (ibid, p. 140.)

After examining the fossils collected by Prof. Marcou from
these beds, however. Prof. Gbinitz refers 80 of the 36 forms
composing this so-called " eminently new red fauna " to Carbon-
iferous species, and thinks these rocks hold the position of the
upper division of the Carboniferous limestone, or Fusulina lime*
stone of Bussia and Spain ; while the outcrops of llock-bluff, he
thinks, may be considered an upper marine member of the pro-
ductive coal formation. It is, therefore, only the Nebraska City
beds, and those at Mr. Morton's, Bennett's mill and Wyoming,
that he refers to the Dyas.

In not admitting the Plattsmouth and Bock-bluff exposures
as belonging to the New Bed, Prof. Geinitz certainly corrects a
grave error of Prof. Marcou's; but if by the words "Carbonif-
erous, or Fusulina limestone," he means to place these rocks on
a parallel with any part of the Subcarboniferous or Mountain
limestone series, as Prof Marcou has done those above the
mouth of the Platte, he falls into as great an error as that he
corrects. The evidence of this statement is, the fact that the
^roup of some thirty odd species of fossils found at these locali-
ties is precisely that characterizing the Coal-measures of Illinois,
Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, and with the exception of four or
five species generally considered common to our Coal-measures
and tne Mountain limestone, the;^ are all distinct from the fos-
sils found in our Carboniferous limestones below the Millstone
grit.^ In addition to this, they are, with three or four excep-
tions, now known all to occur at Nebraska City, Bennett's mills,
and Wyoming, in the very beds Prof. Geinitz considers Upper
Dyas, along with other Coal-measure species.

It is probable Prof. Geinitz was mainly led to refer the Platts-
mouth rocks to the horizon of the Fiundina limestone of Bnssia and
Spain, by the occurrence in them of numerous Fusulina^ and, as
he terms it, " the leading genus PkiUipsia ;" since he acknowl-
edges that a large proportion of the fossils found there also oc-
cur in the rock he refers to the Dyas. He was, therefore, evi-
dentlv not aware of the fiict that with nearly aU of the Platts-
mouth fossils, countless millions of Fusulina also occur in the
Bock-bluff section, placed by him in the Coal-measures; as well
as (excepting so far as regards the numbers of Fusulina) in the

* The following is a list of species known to occur in the Plsttsmouth rocks,
viz: FiisuHna qflindrica (in great numbers), Zeacrimu mtterospimuf, OytUhoerinus
hardUpherieuaj Produchi* semireHculaiiu^ P. Nebrateeiuis^ P. eostatua, P. FtcMenianus^
P. longitpiwuj P.pundaku, Ohonetesmueronaiua^ Sirvpkyrhywihmcrtnisifria, Syntri-
iasma TiemipUeata, MeekeUa sMUooostata, Affiyris subHUta, RhynchoneUa CTtoA, Retoia
punrtuUfera, Spirifer eamertUua, Spirifer planoeonvexua, Sp, lineaiuaf, Spiriferina
Kmtuckmsia, MycMna mibquadrata, M, amplat, Pecten {tf) avicuUUuSt Aviculopecten
oeeidentaUe, Pinna peractia^ AUorisma mbcnneata, BeiO/erophon carbonar.a^ Euomr
phalus ntgoiuif NcudUua IQinoiBetuiat, PhiUipna undet. sp.



Digitized by



Google



886 Review of Cfeiniix on the rocks andjbssib of Nebraska.

same beds he and Prof. Maroou inclade as the inferior mem-
ber of the Upper Dyas near Nebraska City, at Wyoming and
at Bennett's mill. He also ignores the fact^ that Prof. Marooa
mentions seeing in the Plattsmoath beds, a specimen of the so-
called Monotia* (PseudomoTiotis), one of the most important types
relied upon to prove the divison C, at Nebraska Citr, a part of
the Dya8.t Nor does he appear to daly appreciate the fact that
there is no one limestone in this country, that can be properly
termed "the Fusulina limestone^^^ for we have numeroos jPusuUna
limestones, at various horizons through the whole Goal-measures
of Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas ; while Dr. White finds
it aud the genus PhiUipsia, in Iowa, above beds containing the
same groups of fossils characterizing the division at Nebraska
City, referred by Prof. Marcou to the Upper Dyas.

Again, in speakine of the Bock-bluff c«ds as a " marine mem-
ber of the upper productive Coal-measures," Prof. Geinitz seems
not to be aware of the fact, that the whole of our western Coal-
measures abound in marine fossils, there being no member of
our entire Paleozoic series containing a greater profusion of
marine types of fossils than the Coal-measures of Nebraska,
Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, &c. Had he fully
understood all of these facts, and the true relations to each other,
and to the other Carboniferous rocks in this country, of the
several outcrops from which the fossils submitted to him were
obtained, there can be no doubt whatever, but he would have
arrived at different conclusions from those adopted by him, re-
specting the age of these rocks, if not in several instances re-
specting the specific relations of the fossils themselves, to Euro-
pean Permian forms.

After a thorough revision of the whole subject, and a personal
examination of all of the exposures mentioned by Prof. Marcou,
and numerous others in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, not visited
by him ; as well as after a careful study of extensive additional
collections of fossils from these rooks over wide areas, I have no
hesitation in reasserting, that all the rocks above the mouth of
Platte river referred by Prof Marcou to the Mountain limestone,
and those of Plattsmouth and Bock-bluff placed by him as Lower
Dyas, and by Prof. Geinitz, in part on the horizon of the Upper
member of the Mountain limestone, and in part in the Upper
Coal-measures, as well as those by both of them referred to the
Upper Dyas at Wyoming and Bennett's mill and Nebraska City,
witn possibly the exception of divisions C and D at the latter place,
belong to the horizon of the 'Upper Coal-measures. The only
point m regard to which there can be any reasonable doubt is,
whether the divisions C and D at Nebraska City, belong more prop-

♦ Bull Soc. Geol. Pr^ H, xxi, 139.

f It is well known to oocur at ev«n mudh lower horizoas in Kftnuaa.



Digitized by



Google



Review of Creinitz on the rocks and fossils of Nebraska. 887

erly to the horizon of the rooks Dr. Hayden and I termed Per-
mo-carboniferous in Kansas, or to the Coal-measures proper. Or,
whether in case it is decided that we mwt draw an arbitrary
line somewhere in this region, directly between the Goal-meas"
ures and Permian, it may not be thought most consonant with
the range of types here to brin^ down this line, in spite, so to
speak, of the various acknowledged Carboniferous forms found
in these beds, so as to include the divisions C and D in the Per-
mian.

The great objection however, to the adoption of the latter con-
clusion, is not only the occurrence of so many unquestionable
Carboniferous species in the bed C, at Nebraska City, but the
fact that nearly the whole group of fossils found in this bed C
at that place, including most of the Permian types, such as the
so-callea AviciUa speluncaria^ A,p%nnaeforrms^ Scnizodus, Bakevellia^
Pleurophorus, Leda, Nucula^ Cythere^ &c., also occur in Iowa, be*
neath others containing nearly all of our most common and char-
acteristic Upper Coal-measure tvpes, and indeed beneath heavy
beds of limestone, agreeing in lithological characters, and con-
taining the same groups of fossils found in those on the Missouri
referred by Prof. Marcou to the Mountain- limestone, as has al-
ready been determined by Dr. White (see this Journal, July, 1867,
p. 28.)* During my late excursion to the west I had the pleas-
ure of visiting, with that gentleman, some of these localities in
Iowa At one place in Union county, we found directly over-
lying a bed containing the fossils characterizing division C at
Nebraska City, a black fissile shale, containing several specimens
of Aviculopecten rectilaierrea {Avicula rtctalaierarea Cox), a species
which in Kentucky characterizes the horizon of the ninth coal
bed of that State. Immediately above this black shale, in a de-
composing limestone with marly partings, we found Fuaulina
eylindrtca Fischer, Spirifer eamercUiu Morton, Spirifer Vrii Plero.,
& planoconvexus and Spiriferina Kenitiekensis Shumard, Orthis
earhonaria Swallow, Producttts Nisbrascensts Owen, P. longispinus
Sowerby?, Ghonetes Vemeuiliana,TX. &. P., JSlreptorhynchtis crenu
striata, Naticopsis Wkeeleri {=Littorina IFAeeZm Swallow, a spe-
cies scarcely aistinguishable from Naiica marice M. Y. & E., from
the Carboniferous rocks of Bussia), and the same little PhiUipsia
figured by Prof. Geinitz from Plattsmouth.

At other places in the same region in Iowa, Dr. White has
found in the limestones and other beds holding a still higher
position, nearly jill of the above fossils, and many other Carbon-
iferous types, such as Afeekella stricUo-oostata (PliccUtda striaUh
cosiata Cox), Myalina subquadrata Shumard, Productus oostatus^
Athyris svihtilxta, and numerous FustMna, with teeth of Cbchluh

* It Is also well known that In Kansas, beds containing a similar mingling of Per-
mian and Carboniferoos types of fossils alternate with others containinfi^ almost ez-
dosively Carboniferons forms, through a considerable thickness of strata.



Digitized by



Google



888 Review of Gfeinitx on the rocks andfosnli of Nebraska.

duSy &0. Indeed, Dr. White has already shown that the beds in
Iowa, containing the group of fossils foand in the division C, at
Nebraska City, hold a position abont the middle of the Upper
Goal-measures in that State (see this Journal for July, 1867.)

I may also add, that our examinations through Iowa, fully and
completely confirm Dr. White's statement, that no Subcarbonif-
erous rocKs are met with after leaving the outcrops seen along
the Desmoines river, in goin^ westward all the wa;^ to the Mis-
souri nor along the Missouri, m that State ; all this intermediate
country being occupied by Goal-measures, excepting some insig-
nificant patches of Cretaceous sandstone. I am aware Pro£ Mar-
cou has expressed the opinion that all of the Coal-measures of
Iowa» Missouri, Illinois, &c., really belong to the horizon of the
Mountain limestone. I can only say, however, that this is done
in the &ce of the indisputable facts, that the fossils of these
rocks in Iowa, Nebraska, Ejmsas and Missouri, differ, as already
stated, almost entirely from those of our Subcarboniferous rocks^
as every one in this country knows ; and agree exactly with
what he calls an "eminentlv new red &una" at Flattsmoatb,
while the Coal-measures of Illinois, containing the same fiiona
characterizing those of the other States named, can be traced
without interruption to the southern boundaries of that State,
and also into Kentucky, where they are separated from the Sub-
carboniferous rocks, by from fifty to three nundred or more feet
of Millstone grit In addition to this, it is now generally known
that Lesouereux has found the flora of the Coal-measures of
Illinois, Kentuckjr and Indiana, to agree with remarkable exact-
ness, so far as the identity and similarity of species are concerned,
with that of the true Goal-measures of Europe.

Indeed, so thoroughly have our western Carboniferous rocks
been studied of late years, during the progress of the several
State geological surveys ; and so completely are the order of
succession, thickness, characteristic fossils, &c., of their va-
rious subdivisions known, that almost any amateur collector in
these districts can instantly decide, from a few corals, crinoids
or shells, whether they came from a horizon above or below
the Millstone grit. In fact, in a verv ^reat majority of cases, a
single species would be sufficient to decide this question.

in short, all the facts presented by Prof. Qeinitz and Pro£
Marcou, when explained by what is known in regard to the
geological structure of the country in western Iowa, eastern
Kansas, and other neighboring districts of the west, exactly
coincide with, and confirm the views published by Dr. ECayden
and myself in 1858. That is, that there is in this region, a
gradual shading off from an upper Coal-measure to a Permian
fauna, through a considerable thickness of strata, forming a some*
what intermediate group which we called the Permo-carboniferooa



Online LibraryJohn AlmonThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 90 of 102)