Man, Time, and Fossils: The Story of Evolution

By Ruth Moore | Go to book overview

VI
GIARD SHRIMPS AND NEW EVIDENCE

THE RISING SUN burnished a path across the waves beating on the Calais coast. In the gathering light of the pleasant French dawn, a bearded, solidly built man and several younger men picked their way across the rocky points of the cape--Cape Gris-Nez.

They stopped frequently. Often they turned over rocks and peered beneath them. They poked into crevices wet with the surf. Every now and then they would drop some specimen of the marine life they were collecting into the containers they carried.

The leader of the little group was Alfred Giard, professor of zoology at the University of Lille. The younger men were his students. They were on one of their regular early morning specimen-hunting expeditions.

But the diatoms, the algæ, the worms, and other organisms they picked up on the rocks and those that they collected on the sandy beaches that stretched toward Ambleteuse or on the tidal flats meant more to Giard than material for his students to dissect. The remarkable similarities of the countless little sea creatures were convincing Giard that Darwin had been correct in maintaining that all life had evolved from earlier and simpler forms. The relatedness of all living things seemed undeniable.

At the same time, Giard was struck by the differences he saw. As he studied the perfect adaptation of the tiny organisms to the waves on which they floated, to the rocks to which they clung, or to the moist sand in which they burrowed, he became

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