Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/664

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644
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

On the one hand, we had the evidence, in the remains of man and his workmanship, associated with all the characteristic animal remains referred to, that man—man, thinking and capable of applying his conceptions to fabrications for his uses—was contemporary with the cave animals, the tichorhine rhinoceros, and the mammoth; and, if the evidence is perfectly authentic (and no doubt has been expressed), that he was even prone to embody his conceptions in rude pictorial art. Thus, man had for some time been generally acknowledged to have existed at least as far back as can be claimed for the man of Mentone.

On the other hand, the skeletal remains of the man of that period were altogether too fragmentary to allow of any definite opinion as to his structural characteristics. The data for such opinion have now been rendered available by M. Rivière's discovery; and, although he has not yet published positive details, the negative results afforded us indicate that the fossil man was, in all respects, a typical man, perhaps even differing less from his successors in Europe than do some other existing races. It is at least very certain that he had no decided apelike characteristics. Even more! He was man to excess! The proportions of the fore limb to the hind, and of the median and distal portions of each to the proximal, so far from proving a condition intermediate between man and the apes, or embryonic or juvenile humanity, or even affinity to the negro, indicate that he was more unlike the apes in such respects than are some of the existing races; nor is this evidence rebutted by any characteristics of the skull, the dentition or otherwise, so far as the testimony allows us to judge.

So much wild speculation is rife, and enthusiastic anthropologists are so much carried away by a vague idea of some startling discovery that may be at any moment made, that a counter-irritant may not be misplaced; and, where so much prophecy has been indulged, a little from ourselves may be pardoned.

With the evidences of the existence of man specialized as much as he is now, at a period so early as he is known to have lived, it is scarcely too rash to assert that it is useless to expect to find any evidence of his simian origin in any bones exhumed in the later formations in Europe, and much less in America. And, in view of the negative results of the extensive paleontological explorations made in Europe, it is almost as unlikely that any such remains will ever be found, even in the anterior formations. The anxious may therefore contemplate with a happy serenity the explorations made, for every skeleton found, in its perfect, man-like features, will not only disprove the existence of the dreaded intermediate link, but will add to the value of the negative evidence against the existence of such a link—that is, in Europe or America. And, on theoretical considerations, this is what might be expected.

But it would be altogether too rash to predict that, because no such evidence will, in all probability, be afforded by Europe or Amer-