1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Anthropoid Apes

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ANTHROPOID APES, or Manlike Apes, the name given to the family of the Simiidae, because, of all the ape-world, they most closely resemble man. This family includes four kinds, the gibbons of S.E. Asia, the orangs of Borneo and Sumatra, the gorillas of W. Equatorial Africa, and the chimpanzees of W. and Central Equatorial Africa. Each of these apes resembles man most in some one physical characteristic: the gibbons in the formation of the teeth, the orangs in the brain-structure, the gorillas in size, and the chimpanzees in the sigmoid flexure of the spine. In general structure they all closely resemble human beings, as in the absence of tails; in their semi-erect position (resting on finger-tips or knuckles); in the shape of vertebral column, sternum and pelvis; in the adaptation of the arms for turning the palm uppermost at will; in the possession of a long vermiform appendix to the short caecum of the intestine; in the size of the cerebral hemispheres and the complexity of their convolutions. They differ in certain respects, as in the proportion of the limbs, in the bony development of the eyebrow ridges, and in the opposable great toe, which fits the foot to be a climbing and grasping organ.

Man differs from them in the absence of a hairy coat; in the development of a large lobule to the external ear; in his fully erect attitude; in his flattened foot with the non-opposable great toe; in the straight limb-bones; in the wider pelvis; in the marked sigmoid flexure of his spine; in the perfection of the muscular movements of the arm; in the delicacy of hand; in the smallness of the canine teeth and other dental peculiarities; in the development of a chin; and in the small size of his jaws compared to the relatively great size of the cranium. Together with man and the baboons, the anthropoid apes form the group known to science as Catarhini, those, that is, possessing a narrow nasal septum, and are thus easily distinguishable from the flat-nosed monkeys or Platyrhini. The anthropoid apes are arboreal and confined to the Old World. They are of special interest from the important place assigned to them in the arguments of Darwin and the Evolutionists. It is generally admitted now that no fundamental anatomical difference can be proved to exist between these higher apes and man, but it is equally agreed that none probably of the Simiidae is in the direct line of human ancestry. There is a great gap to be bridged between the highest anthropoid and the lowest man, and much importance has been attached to the discovery of an extinct primate, Pithecanthropus (q.v.), which has been regarded as the “missing link.”

See Huxley’s Man’s Place in Nature (1863); Robt. Hartmann’s Anthropoid Apes (1883; London, 1885); A. H. Keane’s Ethnology (1896); Darwin’s Descent of Man (1871; pop. ed., 1901); Haeckel’s Anthropogeny (Leipzig, 1874, 1903; Paris, 1877; Eng. ed., 1883); W. H. Flower and Rich. Lydekker, Mammals Living and Extinct (London, 1891).