Page:American Anthropologist NS vol. 1.djvu/634

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The Last Link. Our Present Knowledge of the Descent of Man. By Ernst Haeckel (Jena). With Notes and Biographical Sketches by Hans Gadow. London : Adam and Charles Black, 1898. j6°, 4 11., 156 pp.

This little book consists primarily of an address by the veteran evo- lutionist of Jena, delivered on August 26, 1898, at the Fourth Inter- national Congress of Zoology in Cambridge, under the title " On our Present Knowledge of the Descent of Man." It is opened by an in- troduction apparently picturing present opinion on the general subject of evolution in Europe, especially on the continent ; and, in view of the eminent abilities of the author and his fame as a leading exponent of evolutionary doctrine abroad, it may be worth while for American students to glance back at the leading lines of a picture which recalls conditions existing in this country about a generation ago :

During the forty years which have elapsed since Darwin's first publi- cation of his theories an enormous literature, discussing the general problems of transformism as well as its special application to man, has been published. In spite of the wide divergence of the different views, all agree in one main point : the natural development of man cannot be separated from general transformism. There are only two possibili- ties. Either all the various species of animals and plants have been created independently by supernatural forces (and in this case the creation of man also is a miracle), or the species have been produced in a natural way by transmutation, by adaptation, and progressive heredity (and in this case man also is descended from other vertebrates, and immediately from a series of primates). We are absolutely convinced that only the latter theory is fully scientific. To prove its truth, we have to examine critically the strength of the different arguments claimed for it. (Page 7.)

Proceeding on this platform, which is surprising only in the naive assumption that it remains necessary at this end of the century, Haeckel develops his argument on lines similar to those pursued by Huxley in "Man's Place in Nature," with full reference to recently-discovered facts, especially those connected with the fossil Pithecanthropus erectus found in Java in 1894 by Dr Eugene Dubois ; this discovery forming the motive for the discussion as well as for its title. Throughout, the genus Homo is regarded from the standpoint of the zoologist alone, with no recognition of the collective and intellectual characteristics which most strongly demark man from the lower animals, and the ascent is regarded as following a single line from Lemures through Simiae, Platyrrhinae, Catarrhinae, and Anthropidse, with no distinction between the tailed line and that tailless line whence Homo must have sprung.

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