The wonderful remains of the Archæopteryx, recently acquired for the British Museum, have naturally drawn attention to a muchneglected department of palæontology; and it will therefore not only be interesting, but useful also to the advance of science, to pass under review, at the present time, the state of our knowledge of the former existence of birds during past geological ages. The early authors, for the most part, speak not of fossil bird-remains properly so called, but in reality of mere
... in reality of mere incrustations by "petrifying springs," of the fanciful tracery of dendritic markings, or the imagined resemblances of oddly-formed stones. Thus Albertus Magnus, in his book 'De Mineralibus,' printed in 1495, describes a fossil nest, with eggs, on the branch of a tree. This might or might not be a true fossil, but our recent discoveries of fossil birds and reptiles' eggs, and the knowledge we have now of delicate objects truly fossilized, such as insects, fruits, flowers, and feathers, renders it possible that some of the old records of such may have had a foundation of truth, and gives a probability that some at least may be brought within the capacity of belief as actual facts. With this view, we shall quote from the old authors all the passages known to us, commenting on them as occasion may require; and in thus working up the bibliography of fossil ornithology and arranging the whole of our knowledge of the subject, as far as we have the power to do so, we shall be able to separate facts from fictions, and give a solid basis for further investigations in the future study of ornithological palæontology.