Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/121

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ANTHROPOLOGY

comparison with the gorilla, as on the whole the most anthropomorphous ape. In the general proportions of the body and limbs there is a marked difference between the gorilla and man. The gorilla’s brain-case is smaller, its trunk larger, its lower limbs shorter, its upper limbs longer in proportion than those of man. The differences between a gorilla’s skull and a man’s are truly immense. In the gorilla, the face, formed largely by the massive jaw-bones, predominates over the brain-case or cranium; in the man these proportions are reversed. In man the occipital foramen, through which passes the spinal cord, is placed just behind the centre of the base of the skull, which is thus evenly balanced in the erect posture, whereas the gorilla, which goes habitually on all fours, and whose skull is inclined forward, in accordance with this posture has the foramen farther back. In man the surface of the skull is comparatively smooth, and the brow-ridges project but little, while in the gorilla these ridges overhang the cavernous orbits like penthouse roofs. The absolute capacity of the cranium of the gorilla is far less than that of man; the smallest adult human cranium hardly measuring less than 63 cub. in., while the largest gorilla cranium measured had a content of only 34½ cub. in. The largest proportional size of the facial bones, and the great projection of the jaws, confer on the gorilla’s skull its small facial angle and brutal character, while its teeth differ from man’s in relative size and number of fangs. Comparing the lengths of the extremities, it is seen that the gorilla’s arm is of enormous length, in fact about one-sixth longer than the spine, whereas a man’s arm is one-fifth shorter than the spine; both hand and foot are proportionally much longer in the gorilla than in man; the leg does not so much differ. The vertebral column of the gorilla differs from that of man in its curvature and other characters, as also does the conformation of its narrow pelvis. The hand of the gorilla corresponds essentially as to bones and muscles with that of man, but is clumsier and heavier; its thumb is “opposable” like a human thumb, that is, it can easily meet with its extremity the extremities of the other fingers, thus possessing a character which does much to make the human hand so admirable an instrument; but the gorilla’s thumb is proportionately shorter than man’s. The foot of the higher apes, though often spoken of as a hand, is anatomically not such, but a prehensile foot. It has been argued by Sir Richard Owen and others that the position of the great toe converts the foot of the higher apes into a hand, an extremely important distinction from man; but against this Professor T. H. Huxley maintained that it has the characteristic structure of a foot with a very movable great toe. The external unlikeness of the apes to man depends much on their hairiness, but this and some other characteristics have no great zoological value. No doubt the difference between man and the apes depends, of all things, on the relative size and organization of the brain. While similar as to their general arrangement to the human brain, those of the higher apes, such as the chimpanzee, are much less complex in their convolutions, as well as much less in both absolute and relative weight—the weight of a gorilla’s brain hardly exceeding 20 oz., and a man’s brain hardly weighing less thin 32 oz., although the gorilla is considerably the larger animal of the two.

These anatomical distinctions are undoubtedly of great moment, and it is an interesting question whether they suffice to place man in a zoological order by himself. It is plain that some eminent zoologists, regarding man as absolutely differing as to mind and spirit from any other animal, have had their discrimination of mere bodily differences unconsciously sharpened, and have been led to give differences, such as in the brain or even the foot of the apes and man, somewhat more importance than if they had merely distinguished two species of apes. Many naturalists hold the opinion that the anatomical differences which separate the gorilla or chimpanzee from man are in some respects less than those which separate these man-like apes from apes lower in the scale. Yet all authorities class both the higher and lower apes in the same order. This is Huxley’s argument, some prominent points of which are the following: As regards the proportion of limbs, the hylobates or gibbon is as much longer in the arms than the gorilla as the gorilla is than the man, while on the other hand, it is as much longer in the legs than the man as the man is than the gorilla. As to the vertebral column and pelvis, the lower apes differ from the gorilla as much as, or more than, it differs from man. As to the capacity of the cranium, men differ from one another so extremely that the largest known human skull holds nearly twice the measure of the smallest, a larger proportion than that in which man surpasses the gorilla; while, with proper allowance for difference of size of the various species, it appears that some of the lower apes fall nearly as much below the higher apes. The projection of the muzzle, which gives the character of brutality to the gorilla as distinguished from the man, is yet further exaggerated in the lemurs, as is also the backward position of the occipital foramen. In characters of such importance as the structure of the hand and foot, the lower apes diverge extremely from the gorilla; thus the thumb ceases to be opposable in the American monkeys, and in the marmosets is directed forwards, and armed with a curved claw like the other digits, the great toe in these latter being insignificant in proportion. The same argument can be extended to other points of anatomical structure, and, what is of more consequence, it appears true of the brain. A series of the apes, arranged from lower to higher orders, shows gradations from a brain little higher that that of a rat, to a brain like a small and imperfect imitation of a man’s; and the greatest structural break in the series lies not between man and the man-like apes, but between the apes and monkeys on one side, and the lemurs on the other. On these grounds Huxley, restoring in principle the Linnean classification, desired to include man in the order of Primates. This order he divided into seven families: first, the Anthropini, consisting of man only; second, the Catarhini or Old World apes; third, the Platyrhini, all New World apes, except the marmosets; fourth, the Arctopithecini, or marmosets; fifth, the Lemurini, or lemurs; sixth and seventh, the Cheiromyini and Galeopithecini.

It is in assigning to man his place in nature on psychological grounds that the greater difficulty arises. Huxley acknowledged an immeasurable and practically infinite divergence, ending in the present enormous psychological gulf between ape and man. It is difficult to account for this intellectual chasm as due to some minor structural difference. The opinion is deeply rooted in modern as in ancient thought, that only a distinctively human element of the highest import can account for the severance between man and the highest animal below him. Differences in the mechanical organs, such as the perfection of the human hand as an instrument, or the adaptability of the human voice to the expression of human thought, are indeed of great value. But they have not of themselves such value, that to endow an ape with the hand and vocal organs of a man would be likely to raise it through any large part of the interval that now separates it from humanity. Much more is to be said for the view that man’s larger and more highly organized brain accounts for those mental powers in which he so absolutely surpasses the brutes.

The distinction does not seem to lie principally in the range and delicacy of direct sensation, as may be judged from such well-known facts as man’s inferiority to the eagle in sight, or to the dog in scent. At the same time, it seems that the human sensory organs may have in various respects acuteness beyond those of other creatures. But, beyond a doubt, man possesses, and in some way possesses by virtue of his superior brain, a power of co-ordinating the impressions of his senses, which enables him to understand the world he lives in, and by understanding to use, resist, and even in a measure rule it. No human art shows the nature of this human attribute more clearly than does language. Man shares with the mammalia and birds the direct expression of the feelings by emotional tones and interjectional cries; the parrot’s power of articulate utterance almost equals his own; and, by association of ideas in some measure, some of the lower animals have even learnt to recognize words he utters. But, to use words in themselves unmeaning, as symbols by which to conduct and convey the complex intellectual processes in which mental conceptions are suggested, compared, combined, and even analysed, and new ones created—this is a faculty which is scarcely to be traced in any lower animal.