Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/110

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In dealing with this question we have to remember in the first place that the number of quite undoubted palæolithic human bones of the earliest period is all but absolutely nil; and that even the few dubious and suspected bodily remains which we possess, presumably of that age, are for the most part mere broken fragments. Most of our palæolithic bones belong to the latest cave age, and represent a comparatively high race of savages, known as the Cro-Magnon men. Of their earlier predecessors we know but little. We have, however, two remarkable portions of skulls, one of which is almost free from suspicion, while the other, though more doubtful, is still accepted as genuine by good Continental anthropologists. Both apparently belong to the earliest age of the cave-men. The first is the celebrated jaw of La Naulette. This is a massive and prognathous bone, with enormous and projecting canine teeth; and these canine teeth, as Mr. Darwin notes, point back very clearly to a nearly anthropoid progenitor.[1] The second is the much-debated Neanderthal skull, which possesses large bosses on the forehead, strikingly suggestive of those which give the gorilla its peculiarly fierce appearance. So good an anatomist as Professor Rolleston assures us that, if these frontal sinuses had been found without the skull to which they are attached, he would have been a bold man indeed who would venture to pronounce them human. The thickness of the bones in the rest of the Neanderthal skeleton, to which Professor Schaafhausen calls attention, also approximates to the anthropoid pattern. "No other human skull," says that able anthropologist, "presents so utterly bestial a type as the Neanderthal fragment. If one cuts a female gorilla skull in the same fashion, the resemblance is truly astonishing, and we may say that the only human feature in this skull is its size." All the skulls of what De Quatrefages and Hamy call the "Canstadt race" show these same low characteristics, and "must have presented a strangely savage aspect." The other supposed relics of the earlier cave-men are either too slight, too much crushed, or too uncertain, to be of much use for purposes of argument. When we add that even the later cave-man was almost certainly hairy, like the modern Ainos, we have before us the picture of what may fairly be considered a sort of missing link, though only the last in a long chain.

Moreover, it is a most deceptive practice to speak of the cave-men as if they were a single set of people, representing a merely temporary type. As a matter of fact, the period covered by the cave remains is enormously long, and the men of one epoch must have differed widely from those of another. M. de Mortillet has actually distinguished three subdivisions of the cave period, marked by a successive improve-

  1. Since this article was sent to press, Professor Maska, of Neutitschein, has discovered a human jaw-bone, associated with pleistocene mammalian remains, in the Schipka cave (Moravia). This bone, which belonged to a very young child (as inferred from the development of the teeth), "is of very large, indeed, of colossal dimensions."