Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/109

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WHO WAS PRIMITIVE MAN?

on mammoth ivory or reindeer horn of various animals, living or extinct. In fact, they seem to have been in most essential particulars almost as advanced as the modern Esquimaux, with whom Professor Dawkins conjecturally identifies them.

But if Professor Dawkins means us to understand that the cavemen were physically developed to the same extent as the Esquimaux, it is necessary to accept his conclusion with great caution. It does not follow, because the Esquimaux are the nearest modern parallels of the cave-men, that the cave-men therefore resembled them closely in appearance. Several of the sketches of cave-men, cut by themselves on horn and bone, certainly show (it seems to me) that they were covered with hair over the whole body; and the hunter in the antler from the Duruthy cave has a long pointed beard and high crest of hair on the poll utterly unlike the Esquimau type. The figures are also those of a slim and long-limbed race. And when Professor Dawkins tells us that the very earliest known man was unquestionably a man and not a "missing link," it becomes a matter of importance to decide exactly what the phrase "a missing link" is held to imply.

Man differs from the anthropoid apes mainly in the immensely larger development of his brain; for the other peculiarities of his pelvis, his teeth, and the position of his head on the shoulders, are mere small adaptive points, dependent upon his upright attitude and the nature of his food. Even the lowest savage and the oldest known human skull have a brain-capacity far bigger in proportion than that of the highest apes. Now, this brain could not, of course, have been developed per saltum it must have been slowly evolved in the course of a long and special intercourse with nature. But between civilized man and his early ancestor, common to him and the anthropoid apes, there must at some time have existed every possible intermediate link. Some such links still survive in the Bushman, the Australian black fellow, and the Andaman-Islander. Other and earlier links probably became extinct at various previous periods, under the pressure of the higher varieties from time to time developed, just as these lowest savages are now in process of becoming extinct before the face of the European colonist. But we would naturally expect the men of the pal├Žolithic period to be still a trifle more brute-like in several small particulars than any existing savages, because they were so much the nearer to the primitive common ancestor, a few of whose distinctive traits they would probably retain in a higher degree than any race now living. In short, while it would be absurd to suppose that pal├Žolithic men were "missing links" in the sense of being exactly half-way houses between apes and Bushmen, it is yet natural to expect that they would be the last or penultimate links in a chain whose other links are many and wanting. Do we, as a matter of fact, find any such slight traces of brute-like structure in the earliest human remains which have come down to us?