The Ascent of Man


    THROUGH the centuries a philosopher here and a naturalist there with the notion that man was somehow linked by nature with the animal kingdom, but the notion lacked concreteness and was not taken seriously. Then came Charles Darwin, first with a theory of the evolution of organic beings which involved the ancestry of man, and sixteen years later with a cumulative study (“The Descent of Man,” 1871) which clinched his argument, and could no longer be ignored. Man took his place at the summit of the tree of organic evolution, and as the topmost branch draws the lightning, so the ancestry of man became the target upon which were concentrated the thunder-bolts of a fierce opposition. Until then, the battle of evolution had been waged upon a long front, but no sooner had the ‘origin of man’ entered the field than the zone of fiercest combat became narrowed, and to believers in the old creed the descent of man became the salient by the fate of which the whole long front of evolution was to stand or break.

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    The Ascent of Man. Nature 120, 287–288 (1927) doi:10.1038/120287a0

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