Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/87

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§ 1. Man Descended from a Walking Ape. § 2. First Traces of Man-like Creatures. § 3. The Heidelberg Sub-man. § 4. The Piltdown Sub-man. § 5. The Riddle of the Piltdown Remains.

§ 1

THE origin of man is still very obscure. It is commonly asserted that he is "descended" from some man-like ape such as the chimpanzee, the orang-utang, or the gorilla, but that of course is as reasonable as saying that I am "descended" from some Hottentot or Esquimaux as young or younger than myself. Others, alive to this objection, say that man is descended from the common ancestor of the chimpanzee, the orang-utang, and the gorilla. Some "anthropologists" have even indulged in a speculation whether mankind may not have a double or treble origin; the negro being descended from a gorilla-like ancestor, the Chinese from a chimpanzee-like ancestor, and so on. These are very fanciful ideas, to be mentioned only to be dismissed. It was formerly assumed that the human ancestor was "probably arboreal," but the current idea among those who are qualified to form an opinion seems to be that he was a "ground ape," and that the existing apes have developed in the arboreal direction.

Of course, if one puts the skeleton of a man and the skeleton of a gorilla side by side, their general resemblance is so great

  1. In this and the next chapters the writer has used Osborn's Men of the Stone Age, Sollas' Ancient Hunters, Dr. Keith's Antiquity of Man, W. B. Wright's The Quaternary Ice Age, Worthington Smith's Man, the Primeval Savage, F. Wood Jones' Arboreal Man, H. G. F. Spurrell's Modern Man and his Forerunners, O. T. Mason's Origins of Invention, Parkyn's History of Prehistoric Art, Salomon Reinach's Repertoire de l' Art Quaternaire, and various of the papers in Ray Lankester's Science from an Easy Chair.