Not long since, a number of specimens of mineral and animal products were received at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, from New Mexico, and among other things was a horned lizzard, accompanied by a letter trom Judge Houghton, of that Territory, stating that the animal was taken aJive from a block of stone, so solid as to preclude the entrance of the smallest insect; the lizzard lived forty-eight hours alter it was released from its long imprisonment. The letter states that this lizzard must have been in the position in which it was found since the commencement ol the formation of the rocks, and which, ii true must make it a very old animal indeed. Many stories have been reported of toads and lizzards having been liberated alive from solid rocks, and it is a prevalent opinion that they were enclosed while alive by the reck forming over them. We have seen a stone ourselves from which a toad was liberated of this antideluvian type, but not different in any respect from the present species. The place from which the animal was taken was somewhat hollow, and appeared to be a snug;, strong nest, but as part of the rock was broken up before we saw it, we could not tell whether there was or was not some entrance ;,av it. Geologists lu"-e ux, fo;Ui in toads or lizzards being enclosed alive in solid rocks— the rocks forming over them. On this subject,, Dean Buckland, the celebrated zoologist, remarks :— "There is," he says, " a want of sufficiently minute and accurate observation in those so frequently recorded cases, where toads are said to be found alive within blocks of stone and wood, in cavities that had no communication whatever with the external air. The first effort of the young toad, as soon as it has left its tadpole state and emerged from the water, is to seek shelter in holes and crevices of rocks and trees. An individual, which, when young, may have thus entered a cavity by some very narrow aperture, would find abundance of tood by catching insects, which, like itself, seek shelter within such cavities, and may have increased so much in bulk as to render it impossible to go out again through the narrow aperture at which it entered. A small hole of this kind is very likely to be overlooked by common workman ; who are the only people whose operations on stone and wood disclose cavities in the interior of sirch substances. In the case of toads, snakes, and lizzards,that occasionally issue from stones. that are broken in a quarry, or in sinkiiig wells, and sometimes even from strata at the bottom of a coal mine, the evidence is never perfect to show that the reptiles were entirely enclosed in a solid rock; no examination is ever made, until the reptile is first discovered by the breaking of the mass in which it was contained, and then it is too late to ascertain, without carefully replacing every fragment (and in no case that I have seen reported, has this ever been done), whether or not there was any hole or crevice by which the animal may have entered the cavity from which it was extracted. Without previous examination, it is almost impossible to prove that there was no such communication. In the case of rocks near the surface of the earth, and in stone quarries, reptiles find ready admission to holes and fissures." By the last news from Europe, there was still great talk of war, but not a blow had been struck.
This article was originally published with the title "Imprisoned Reptiles"