PROTOROSAURUS, Von. Meyer.
Sp. Protorosaurus Speneri, Von M.—The first fossil Saurian' on record is that which marks the circumstance by its generic name, and honours its describer by the specific one. The slab of " copper-slate" from the Permian beds of Eisenach in Thuringia, displaying, either in fossils or impressions, the skull, vertebral column, and bones of the fore foot of the reptile in question, was figured and described by Spener, a physician at Berlin, in The original specimen is now in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, where it forms part of the Hunterian series of fossils. It was obtained from a copper-mine near Eisenach, at a depth of 100 feet from the surface.
A second specimen, showing the two fore limbs, a hind limb, and part of the trunk, was described by Link in 1718.t envier gives copies of portions of two other specimens in his Ossentens Fossiles.t The healthy, honest mind of Spener is shown by the conclusions which he formed from the state of preservation of his specimen (" (amnia, enim, minutissima, etiam apophyses, spince," etc.), and from its association with equally well preserved remains of fishes, and even of the delicate leaves of plants, against the notions of those fossils merely simulating, and never having been, the living organisms which they represented—notions which were then advocated under the sounding phrase of "plastic force," as they have lately been under that of " prochronism." Spener's only doubt was, whether the reptile had been a crocodile or a lizard ; but he inclined to the former view, on account of the proportions of the head to the trunk. He then enters upon speculations as to how a crocodile could have come into Germany ; and shows the usual effect of a mind biassed by a hypothetical diluvial catastrophe not demonstrated by observation and inductive research, and to the extent of such bias benumbed in the exercise of the faculty for the acquisition of natural truth.
The seven cervical vertebra are proportionally larger than in any known recent or fossil terrestrial or aquatic Saurian ; they resemble in this respect the cervical vertebra of Ptero dactyles ; the tail is long, and its vertebra differ from those of all other known reptiles, recent or fossil, in having the spinous processes bifurcate, diverging in the direction of the axis of the The muscular power of the neck is indicated by traces of bone-tendons. The dorsal vertebrae exceed eighteen in
number, and have higher spines than in the modern Monitors; the dorsal ribs are long, and longitudinally impressed. The hind limb is much longer than the fore limb, and the leg is longer, in proportion to the thigh and foot, than in the Moni tors. The teeth are sharp-pointed, slender ; there appear to be at least twenty in both upper and lower jaws in Spenefs specimen.
It may be concluded, from the length and strength of the tail and the peculiar provision for muscular attachments in that part, and from the proportions of the hind limbs, that the Protorosaurus was of aquatic habits, and that the strength of its neck and head, and the sharpness of its teeth, enabled it to seize and overcome the struggles of the active fishes of the waters which deposited the old Thuringian copper-slates.
At Spynie and Cummingstone, in the neighbourhood of Elgin, N. B, in a stratum of a fine-grained whitish sandstone, cemented by carbonate of lime, situated between " Old Red " and " Purbeck " formations, and resting conformably upon the former, evidences of Saurian (Crocodilian and Lacertian) reptiles, characteristic of triassic time, have been discovered. The remains of the large reptile, with pitted bony dermal scales, had been, on their first discovery, referred to a genus of fishes by Agassiz, under the name of Staganolepis, or "pitted scale," probably from the belief that the formation belonged to the " Old Red System." I determined the crocodilian nature of the scales, and the affinity of the reptile to the Thecodonts, in the breadth of the coracoid or pubis as shown by the cast of the bone, at the meeting of the British Associa tion at Leeds, in September 1858. I have since been favoured by Mr. Duff with a tooth, assoicated with scales of Staganolepis, which is " thecodont " in character, and like that of Cladyodon.