Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/390

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

istence of man. We have likewise reached the same result in our search for human skulls and bones. We have to recognize that students can not assume that man existed in the Tertiary, or that there is any probability that the human race had its beginning in that epoch; on the contrary, we find a great void which we try to fill with fantastic imaginings, but which furnishes us with no real specimen.

After the Congress of Lisbon, students were more moderate and confined themselves to the search for known objects. Among these objects, archaeological finds predominated, and it is easy to understand why archæology has more and more taken the place of anthropology. Palæanthropological objects are so rare, and for the most part so liable to suspicion, that even till the present time the attempt to describe the most ancient race of Quaternary men is beyond the power of science. We have had two examples in Europe that afforded little encouragement: the attempts based on the Canstadt and on the Neanderthal skulls, which, as two eminent students once supposed, belonged to the extinct aborigines of the primitive European race. We discussed the question raised over these two skulls fifteen years ago, at the Congress of German Anthropologists in Ulm, and found that the Canstadt skull did not belong to the Quaternary, while the Neanderthal skull was at least very far from having a typical form.

I shall not examine the whole series of similar discoveries, most of which have only furnished us single exceptional skulls. But I must declare that even if these skulls had been what they were described as being and their geological position had been exactly defined, they could not have constituted proof of the existence of an inferior primitive race that could be regarded as a step between animals and existing man. Many of these skulls appear to be very ancient; but they resemble in all respects the skulls of modern races, and some of them even those of civilized races. We seek in vain for the "missing link" connecting man with the monkey or any other animal species.

We must, however, understand ourselves on a preliminary question. There exists a tradition common to all peoples, or we might say a dogma common to all religions, recognized by all students, ancient and modern, that the human body has an animal organization; that the same physiological and pathological laws rule human and animal life alike. Notwithstanding this uniformity, there exists a definite barrier separating man from the animal, which has not yet been effaced—heredity, which transmits to children the faculties of their parents. We have never seen a monkey bring a man into the world, nor a man produce a monkey. All men having a simian appearance are simply pathological variants. The opinion of Carl Vogt that microcephalous men,