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OUR ORIGIN AS A SPECIESby@scientificamerican

OUR ORIGIN AS A SPECIES

by Scientific American 8mNovember 28th, 2023
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There seems to be a manifest desire in some quarters to anticipate the looked for and, by some, hoped-for proofs of our descent, or rather ascent, from the ape. In the September issue of the Fortnightly Review a writer cites, in this relation, the "Neanderthal skull, which possesses large bosses on the forehead, strikingly suggestive of those which give the gorilla its peculiarly fierce appearance;" and he proceeds: "No other human skull 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 the skull is its size.” In testing the question as between Linnæus and Cuvier of the zoological value of the differences between lowest man and highest ape, a naturalist would not limit his comparison of a portion of the human skull with the corresponding one of a female ape, but would extend it to the young or immature gorilla, and also to the adult male; he would then find the generic and specific characters summed up, so far, at least, as a portion or "fragment" of the skull might show them. What is posed as the "Neanderthal skull" is the roof of the brain-case, or "calvarium" of the anatomist, including the pent-house overhanging the eye-holes or "orbits." There is no other part of the fragment which can be supposed to be meant by the "large bosses" of the above quotation. And, on this assumption, I have to state that the super-orbital ridge in the calvarium in question is but little more prominent than in certain human skulls of both higher and lower races, and of both the existing and cave-dwelling periods. It is a variable cranial character, by no means indicative of race, but rather of sex.
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Oldest US science mag (est. 1845). Features contributions from Einstein, Tesla & 150+ Nobel laureates.

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