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RECENT DISCOVERIES RELATING TO THE ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF MAN

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Science  20 May 1927:
Vol. 65, Issue 1690, pp. 481-488
DOI: 10.1126/science.65.1690.481

Abstract

Let us therefore conclude with consideration of the ancestry of man according to the modified concept of "dawn men," not "ape-men." In the first place, over an incredibly long period of time the Dawn Men have been tool-makers, of high adaptability and wonderful technique. We have then a biped, a being with a hand capable of grasping and controlling tools, a tool-maker with as fine a sense of touch as that of any of the present-day etchers, engravers and artists. In my opinion, the pro-man psychology, leaving out the evidence of anatomy and morphology, is certainly that of a Dawn Man and not of an "ape-man." I agree with my colleagues that man passed through an arboreal stage, but I believe that this stage did not progress so far as to carry man into a stage approaching that of the anthropoid apes. Dollo has stated the law of the irreversibility of evolution. The brachiating hand of the ape was used as a hook—apes do not grasp a branch with the fingers and thumb but hook the whole hand over the branch, as trapeze workers do to-day—and the thumb was therefore a grave danger. If man had gone through a prolonged period of brachiating in the branches of trees he would have lost his thumb. I agree to putting our arboreal ancestors back to Eocene time, but I predict that even in Upper Oligocene time we shall find pro-men, and if we find Oligocene pro-man—in Mongolia, for example—that he will have pro-human limbs, not proanthropoid ape limbs.