Election of Office-bearers for 1891.—President—E. Tregear; Vice-presidents—A. McKay, Hon. R. Pharazyn; Council—Sir J. Hector, Sir W. Buller, W. M. Maskell, A. de B. Brandon, G. V. Hudson, W. T. L. Travers, and C. Hulke; Secretary and Treasurer—R. B. Gore; Auditor—T. King.
In the absence of the newly-elected President, Mr. Hulke remained in the chair, and thanked the members for the assistance they had afforded him during his term of office.
Papers.—1. “On a Deposit of Diatomaceous Earth at Pakaraka, Bay of Islands,” by A. McKay, F.G.S. (Transactions, p. 375.)
Mr. Maskell said that, as he had been referred to in Mr. McKay's paper, it would be necessary for him to ask the writer's leave to add a short note for the Transactions, explaining his view of this rather puzzling matter. He had no pretensions to a knowledge of geology; but it was possible that a microscopist's observations might sometimes come in usefully as an aid to a geologist, and perhaps this was the case in the present instance. Put very shortly, the point was this: When Mr. McKay handed over to him some specimens of these diatomaceous deposits, he was at once struck with three peculiarities in them. First, the upper deposit evidently owed its greenish tinge to the presence of endochrome in the diatoms, showing therefore that these organisms were not only recent, but alive. Secondly, the lower deposit, on the other hand, was not only pure-white, from the absence of endochrome, but also remarkably and exceptionally clean and clear from sand and dirt, having all the appearance
of a perfectly pure fossil diatomaceous mass. Thirdly (and this was the important point), in the upper deposit he found only a quantity of two species of the genera Melosira and Himantidium, with a very few Naviculæ; whilst in the lower deposit, with one species of Melosira and a few Naviculæ, there were many specimens of a peculiar-shaped diatom, which, from the distinct cross visible on it, he took for a Stauroneis. Having submitted specimens of this to Dr. De Lautour, of Oamaru, a leading diatomist of the colony, that gentleman considered it as a new species; and he agreed with Mr. Maskell that it was undoubtedly “fossil.” Specimens of the deposit were also sent to Mr. Grove, one of the first authorities in England on diatoms, and to Mr. Hardman, another very eminent student of the same family, at Liverpool; and these gentlemen, whilst ascribing this particular diatom to the genus Achnanthes, also agreed that it was clearly fossil. Now, the result of these investigations showed positively, as he thought, that there is a radical and important difference between the two deposits. The upper one is recent, with living diatoms, and no Achnanthes; the lower one is conspicuously full of Achnanthes, quite in a fossil state. If the geological evidence, taken by itself, seemed to point to a similarity of conditions and of time in which both deposits were formed, the microscopical observations went to show that there must have been a considerable difference of time, at least. It seemed to him that the two classes of evidence would have to be taken together; or, at least, the indications of the microscope should receive full attention. The case certainly was a peculiar one, as the two deposits were so closely adjoined.
Mr. Hulke supposed that Mr. McKay wished to show that he had evidence of evolution, while Mr. Maskell contended that this had not been proved. Had those deposits been bones, Mr. McKay would not, he presumed, say they were the same had the bones been of distinct forms. It would be interesting to know whether the lower deposits were much abraded.
Mr. McKay briefly replied, and said he felt sure that his statements would be fully borne out by any one carefully examining the district where these deposits have been found.
2. “On the Botany of Antipodes Island,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 436.)
3. “On the Botany of the Snares,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 426.)
4. “On the Wandering Albatros;” with an Exhibition of Specimens and the Determination of a New Species (Diomedea regia),” by Sir Walter Buller, K.C.M.G., F.R.S. (Transactions, p. 230.)
5. “Contributions to the Knowledge of the Fossil Flora of New Zealand,” by Professor Dr. Constantin Baron von Ettingshausen, Hon. Mem. N.Z. Inst.; communicated by Sir James Hector. (Transactions, p. 237.)
6. “On Pleurophyllum, Hook. f.” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 431.)
7. “Description of New Species of Centrolepis,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 441.)
8. “On the Macrocephalous Olearias of New Zealand, with Description of a New Species,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 443.)