To Lacepede, with a Catalogue Washington, July 14, 1808SIR,
-- If my recollection does not deceive me, the collection of the remains of the animal incognitum of the Ohio (sometimes called mammoth), possessed by the Cabinet of Natural History at Paris, is not very copious. Under this impression, and presuming that this Cabinet is allied to the National Institute, to which I am desirous of rendering some service, I have lately availed myself of an opportunity of collecting some of those remains. General Clarke (the companion of Governor Lewis in his expedition to the Pacific Ocean being,on a late journey, to pass by the Big-bone Lick of the Ohio, was kind enough to undertake to employ for me a number of laborers, and to direct their operations in digging for these bones at this important deposit of them. The result of these researches will appear in the enclosed catalogue of specimens which I am now able to place at the disposal of the National Institute. An aviso being to leave this place for some port of France on public service, I deliver the packages to Captain Haley, to be deposited with the Consul of the United States, at whatever port he may land. They are addressed to Mr. Warden of our legation at Paris, for the National Institute, and he will have the honor of delivering them. To these I have added the horns of an animal called by the natives the Mountain Ram, resembling the sheep by his head, but more nearly the deer in his other parts; as also the skin of another animal, resembling the sheep by his fleece but the goat in his other parts. This is called by the natives the Fleecy Goat, or in thestyle of the natural historian, the Pokotragos. I suspect it to be nearly related to the Pacos, and were we to group the fleecy animals together, it would stand perhaps with the Vigogne, Pacos, and Sheep. The Mountain Ram was found in abundance by Messrs. Lewis and Clarke on their western tour, and was frequently an article of food for their party, and esteemed more delicate than the deer. The Fleecy Goat they did not see, but procured two skins from the Indians, of which this is one. Their description will be given in the work of Governor Lewis, the journal and geographical part of which may be soon expected from the press; but the parts relating to the plants and animals observed in his tour, will be delayed by the engravings. In the meantime, the plants of which he brought seeds, have been very successfully raised in the botanical garden of Mr. Hamilton of the Woodlands, and by Mr. McMahon, a gardener of Philadelphia; and on the whole, it is with pleasure I can assure you that the addition to our knowledge in every department, resulting from this tour of Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, has entirely fulfilled my expectations in setting it on foot, and that the world will find that those travellers have well earned its favor. I will take care that the Institute as well as yourself shall receive Governor Lewis's work as it appears.
It is with pleasure I embrace this occasion of returning you my thanks for the favor of your very valuable works, sur les poissons et les cetacees, which you were so kind as to send me through Mr. Livingston and General Turreau, and which I find entirely worthy of your high reputation in the literary world. That I have not sooner made this acknowledgment has not proceeded from any want of respect and attachment to yourself, or a just value of your estimable present, but from the strong and incessant calls of duty to other objects. The candor of your character gives me confidence of your indulgence on this head, and I assure you with truth that no circumstances are more welcome to me than those which give me the occasion of recalling myself to your recollection, and of renewing to you the assurances of sincere personal attachment, and of great respect and consideration.
Contents of the large square Box.
- A Fibia.
- A Radius.
- Two ribs belonging to the upper part of the thorax.
- Two ribs from a lower part of the thorax.
- One entire vertebra.
- Two spinous processes of the vertebra broken from the bodies.
- Dentes molares, which appear to have belonged to the full-grown animal.
- A portion of the under-jaw of a young animal with two molar teeth in it. These teeth appear to have belonged to a first set, as they are small, and the posterior has but three grinding ridges, instead of five, the common number in adult teeth of the lower jaw.
- Another portion of the under-jaw, including the symphisis, or chin. In this portion the teeth of one side are every way complete; to wit, the posterior has five transverse ridges, and the anterior three.
- A fragment of the upper-jaw with one molar tooth much worn.
- Molar teeth which we suppose to be like those of the mammoth or elephant of Siberia. They are essentially different from those of the mammoth or elephant of this country, and although similar in some respects to the teeth of the Asiatic elephant, they agree more completely with the description of the teeth found in Siberia in the arrangement and size of the transverse lamina of enamel. This idea, however, is not derived from actual comparison of the different teeth with each other, for we have no specimens of Siberian teeth in this country; but from inferences deduced from the various accounts and drawings of these teeth to be found in books. A few of these teeth have been found in several places where the bones of the American animal have existed.
- An Astragalus.
- An Oscalcis.
- In the large box in which the preceding bones are, is a small one containing a promiscuous mass of small bones, chiefly of the feet.
- In the large irregular-shaped box, a tusk of large size. The spiral twist in all the specimens of these tusks which we have seen, was remarked so long ago as the time of Breyneus, in his description of the tusks of the Siberian mammoth in the Philosophical Transactions, if that paper is rightly recollected, for the book is not here to be turned to at present. Many fragments of tusks have been sent from the Ohio, generally resembling portions of such tusks as are brought to us in the course of commerce. But of these spiral tusks, in a tolerable complete state, we have had only four. One was found near the head of the north branch of the Susquehanna. A second possessed by Mr. Peale, was found with the skeleton, near the Hudson. A third is at Monticello, found with the bones of this collection at the Big-bone lick of Ohio, and the fourth isthat now sent for the Institute, found at the same place and larger than that at Monticello.
- The smallest box contains the horns of the mountain ram, and skin of the fleecy goat.