Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

LAURENTIAN—when the earth had become sufficiently cooled to sustain life, a tiny atom of protoplasm was evolved ; later was developed, as we have seen, a central nucleus (amæbæ); then masses of these nucleated cells (synamæbe); then the cells became ciliated, forming ciliæ ; then, a number of these cells assuming a horse-shoe shape, a rudimentary mouth was formed; then an alimentary canal was developed in the same manner, evolving a low form of worm. In the next period—the SILURIAN-we find rudimentary spinal cords and vertebre developing; then heads, hearts, and single nasal cavities. In the next—the DEVONIAN period—we find double nostrils developed, also fins and jaws, gills and lungs. Hitherto all life has been “aquatic.” Now we come to the period of “air-breathers,” the first of which were double-breathers, in both water and air-mud fishes. In the next—the CARBONIFEROUS—we find tails and legs, and reptiles evolved, and from the latter complete “air-breathers ” -birds. Then the enormous class of mammals. In the next two periods—the TRIASSIC and JURASSIC—we find a further development of mammals with marsupial bones. In the next—the EOCENE-brain convolutions and placentals evolved ; hoofed animals, beasts of prey, water and air quadrupeds with claws, etc. In the next—the MIOCENE

-we find the order of Primates being evolved from mammalia ; many thousands of years probably elapsing before mammals were evolved from previously existing animals, and placentals from them.

Each species of animal goes on developing in its own way, becoming more and more differentiated from the others. Man is an example of this, and his development is quite distinct from any other form of life. All vertebrates—fishes, frogs, reptiles, birds, and mammals—the highest form of which is MAN, have in common a spinal column, a head at the upper part, and limbs attached, and have all sprung from a common ancestry. We may see animals, such as the bird and the tortoise, utterly opposed to each other and to man in appearance, but they are not so in reality; for we find that the wings of birds and of bats are simply the arms of all vertebrates.

Every scientific discovery which is opposed to the generally-received opinion, whether right or wrong, usually has its opponents, who, through ignorance or senseless bigotry and irrational attachment to existing belief, try to bring ridicule upon the new theory, an instance of which we have in the powerful and cruel opposition to the true or heliocentric theory of the universe. Truth must be sacrificed on the altar of custom or ecclesiasticism-i.l., suppressed for the sake of existing rights and belief. This is what has occurred in the doctrine of the EvolUTION OF Man. Ignorant and bigoted dissentients try to make it appear that man has descended from an existing ape; but this is not so. Man and ape have a common origin, from the sub-order of Primites, which we have seen evolved in the Miocene period, and which consisted of lemurs and anthropoid apes. Anthropoids consisted of new-world platyrhines—tailed monkeys, old-world catarhines--apes and baboons, and man. Their common ancestry is seen in certain rudimentary bones at the base of his spine, which man possesses, though he has no visible tail. Every mammal and bird, though they have no use for them as gills, possess gill clefts; and, though there are some special bones existing in certain animals

, as those which support the kangaroo's pouch and the human kneebone—the patella, these are no part of the original spinal system, but are simply developments of necessity for special purposes.

Apes of the old world are the nearest approach to man, being the highest of their class; and, from their numerous resemblances to man, are called “anthropoids.” This class includes gibbons, orangs, chimpanzees, and gorillas, all being without tails and cheek-pouches, and possessing teeth and catarhine nostrils like man. Man and the anthropoid ape are similar in structure, bodily life, gesture, and expression, and both are subject to the same diseases, form distinct societies, and combine for protection ; combination favouring the development of emotional and intellectual strength. Where man differs from the ape is in the fact that he has a heavier brain and a broader forehead, smaller cheek-bones, less conspicuous canine teeth, and possesses the power of building up ideas; he is more erect, has a more perfectly developed vocal mechanism, a better heel, and a shorter arm. Man alone, after his infancy is past, walks thoroughly upright. His prolonged infancy helped to evolve gentleness, as his custoni of using sticks and stones, and of building shelters, evolved intelligence. Man and the

anthropoid, then, branched off in different directions from a common ancestor, through many centuries of evolution and development. To this day there is a nearer approach to similarity between savage man and the anthropoid ape than there is between savage and civilized man.

The development of man from the minute ovule of the human ovary is simply a recapitulation of his evolution from the structureless atom of protoplasm from which all organic life originally sprang. “Exactly in those respects in which developing man differs from the dog, he resembles the ape...... It is only in the later stages of development that the young human being presents marked differences from the young ape, while the latter departs as much from the dog in its development as the man does. Startling as this may appear, it is demonstrably true, and it alone is sufficient to place beyond all doubt the structural unity of man with the rest of the animal world, and more particularly and closely with the apes. Thus identical in the physical processes by which he originates ; identical in the early stages of his formation ; identical, in the mode of his nutrition, before and after birth, with the animals which lie immediately below him in the scale ; man, if his adult and perfect structure be compared with theirs, exhibits a marvellous likeness of organization. He resembles them as they resemble one another; he differs from them as they differ from one another."*

There is an all-pervading similitude of structure, says Professor Owen, between man and the anthropoid apes.

The heads of the early ape-men were of the same character as those of the chimpanzee and gorilla---dolichocephalic and prognathous, and they were, like apes, tree-and cave-dwellers (troglodytes). In the limestone caverns of France have been discovered the fossil remains of men who inhabited caves and belonged to the Paleolithic or Pleistocene period. Rough, unpolished stone implements and weapons were found with them. In the strata of a later period have been found stone implements of a lighter make and better finish ; also spear-points made of horn, probably for killing game, and skin-scrapers, probably for preparing skins for clothing; for, with the development and civilization of man as a cave

* T. H. Huxley, Man's Place in Nature.

ones.

dweller, a finer and less heavy skin would naturally be gradually developed, thus necessitating clothing in the case of those who had wandered away from tropical regions into colder

In the strata of a still later period than the Paleolithic, admirably proportioned lancet-shaped implements of flint have been found, suitable for arrows, javelins, and lances. And, later still, arrows, darts of deer's horn, and bone appear; also stone and flint tools, evidently used for making the above. But not one polished implement or fragment of pottery has been found within that period. The mammoth still tenanted the valleys, and the reindeer was the common article of food ; they (paleolithic men) were hunters and possessors of the rudest modes of existence, and with but little of what is now called civilization."*

In Kent's cavern, near Torquay, in England, has been found the fossil of a human jaw buried in stalagmite, containing four teeth. This was found lying in the strata of the Paleolithic age, below remains of extinct animals; while below all were bone and (unpolished) stone implements of human workmanship. In the cave of Engis, in the valley of the Meuse, has been found part of a skull of a man of low degree of civilization, and of limited intellectual faculties. And in the cave of Neanderthal, in Belgium, a skeleton was found which has attracted much attention by its singularly brutal appearance; it appears to be the nearest approach yet found to the missing link between man and the anthropoid ape; the cranium is human, but the super-orbital ridges are thick, prominent, and ape-like. A human skull has also been found beneath four different layers of forestgrowth, dating at least 50,000 years ago.

In the Neolithic or New Stone Age, the implements and weapons of man which have been discovered are polished ; pottery has been found, and evidences of the use of fire, showing that man was gradually adopting some form of social life. In this age are found lake dwellings, which would lead us to infer that his intellect was not sufficiently developed to enable him to protect himself from the invasion of wild animals in a simpler manner.

It is not surprising that so few specimens of primeval human remains have been discovered, when we consider the

[blocks in formation]

enormous lapse of time through which the evolution of man has proceeded, and the natural tendency to the extinction of the various grades of life between them, by the irresistible pressure of civilized man. The Caribs of Tasmania have, for instance, become extinct; while Australians, New Zealanders, aboriginal Americans, Eskimos, and others, are also becoming extinct. A far greater physical and mental interval is found to exist between a Hottentot—whose language consists of a series of clicks, or a hairy Ainu of Yesso, who are described as being “hardly above wild beasts,” and a cultivated European, than exists between the Hottentot or the Ainu and the anthropoid ape.

Man, in his primitive condition, was a tree-dweller ; from this he became, as his intellect further developed, a cavedweller; and, later, a lake-dweller and builder of huts and houses. In the Old Stone Age (the Paleolithic) we find traces of his stone implements with which he protected himself and obtained food ; in the New Stone Age (the Neolithic) we find his flint implements. In his primitive condition his head was long (dolichocephalic) and small, containing within it an ill-developed brain, his jaws prognathous, and his orbital ridges prominent. He was of medium stature, having bones of great thickness, which denoted great muscular strength. From this condition he was further evolved until he acquired a round medium-sized (mesocephalic) head, a well-developed brain, less prominent chin and mouth, and shorter arms-long arms being no longer necessary for clinging to branches of trees. His head, though weighted with a heavier brain, does not droop forward ; and it is probably due to this fact that he has a perfect development of vocal mechanism.

The consciousness of superiority naturally suggested to man, in an early stage of civilization, that he was the object of a special creation, separate from other animal life ; but, as we have seen, though the highest form of animal evolution, he had not the least grounds for such a supposition. He was too ignorant and superstitious to understand that it was by his superior intelligence, and the faculty of speech alone, that he gained his ascendancy. As he acquired the habit of protecting himself from foes and from the inclemency of weather-exemplified in his building shelters and by co-operation with his fellows, living in com

« AnteriorContinuar »