Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/117

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WHO WAS PRIMITIVE MAN?

they had been developed straightway from a totally inferior quadrumanous form, and reached their Pleistocene mental eminence by a leap. "The implements of the drift," says Professor Dawkins, "though they imply that their possessors were savages like the native Australians, show a considerable advance on the simple flake left behind as the only trace of man of the mid-Pleistocene age." They also show a still greater advance upon the very rude chips of the unknown mid-Miocene ancestor. Hence the progressive improvement is exactly what we should expect it to be, and we are justified, I think, in concluding that by the beginning of the Pleistocene age the evolving anthropoid had reached a point in his development where he might fairly be considered as a man and a brother. At the beginning of that age, he was probably what naturalists would recognize as specifically identical with existing man, but of a very low variety. By the mid-Pleistocene he had become an ordinary savage of an exaggerated sort, and by the age of the drift he had reached the stage of making himself moderately shapely stone implements. The river-drift man, however, as Professor Dawkins believes, has no modern direct representative—or, to put it more correctly, the whole race, even in its lowest varieties, has now quite outstripped him, certainly in culture, and probably in physique as well.

At last, we reach the age of the cave-men. By that period, man had become to a certain extent cultured. He had learned how to make finished implements of stone and bone, and to draw and carve with spirit and with a rude imitative accuracy. It is possible enough that the cave-man was the direct ancestor of the Esquimaux, and that that race has kept its early culture with but few later additions and improvements.[1] Nevertheless, it does not at all follow that in physical appearance the earlier cave-men were the equals of the Esquimaux, or, indeed, that the Esquimaux are any more nearly related to them than ourselves. They may have been darker-skinned and less highly human looking; they probably had lower foreheads, with high bosses, like the Neanderthal skull, and big canine teeth like the Naulette jaw. Even if the Esquimaux are lineally descended from the later cave-men with little change of habit or increase of culture, the mere lapse of time, aided by disuse of parts, may have done much to modify and mollify these brute-like traits. "The fact that ancient races," says Mr. Darwin, "in this and several other cases" [he is speaking of the inter-condyloid foramen, observed in so large a proportion of early

  1. I am not, however, inclined to attach much importance to the evidence of Esquimau art; or rather, that art seems to me to point in the opposite direction. After carefully comparing numerous specimens, I am convinced that the art of the cave-men is of quite a different type from that of the Esquimaux, and far higher in kind. Both, it is true, represent animals; but there the likeness stops. The Esquimaux represent them with wooden stiffness; the cave-men represent them with surprising spirit and life-like accuracy.