Human Palæontology


THE last ten years have witnessed a profound change in the aspect of human palaeontology. Important fossils of hitherto unknown types of men and an ape (the Taungs Skull) have been found which reveal new and provocative information and add enormously to the range of facts that call for interpretation. Such unexpected types of the human family as Rhodesian Man and ‘the Lady of Lloyds'’ set new and intriguing problems. The recent discoveries of representatives of Homo neanderthalensis in Gibraltar, Italy, Germany, the Crimea, and Palestine have extended the geographical range of this uncouth species and also given welcome corroboration to the generally accepted ideas as to the significance of Neanderthal Man and the part he played in human history. More significant than all these discoveries are the important fossils found in China and the revelation of a new genus of the human family that is more primitive and generalised than any other type at present known. The exceptional value of Peking Man, however, lies in the fact that he provides us with a bond of union between the other early members of the human family, whose fossil remains before the discoveries at Chou Kou Tien seemed to be irreconcilable with one another. At the present moment, with all this new and highly significant information collected from many scattered regions No.of the earth, there is an urgent need for a critical review of the whole evidence and an attempt to interpret its meaning. The tempting task now for the first time becomes possible of achievement, of creating a solid and coherent foundation for a real science of human palæontology.

New Discoveries relating to the Antiquity of Man.

Sir Arthur Keith. Pp. 512. (London: Williams and Norgate, Ltd., 1931.) 21s. net.

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SMITH, G. Human Palæontology. Nature 127, 963–967 (1931).

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