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Origin of Man Again


    AT the Victoria Institute or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, on March 25, Mr. Douglas Dewar read a paper entitled “A Critical Examination of the supposed Fossil Links between Man and the Lower Animals”. The paper contains no critical examination of any of the fossils, but it shows how expert opinion has differed regarding the interpretation of the relationships of the relatively few specimens which have been found. The interpretation of fragmentary fossils is a ticklish business (witness the controversy regarding the significance of the Caithness fossil Palceospondylus, notwithstanding that scores of complete specimens are known), so that no one need be unduly disturbed by different interpretations of anthropoid fragments. Nevertheless, Mr. Dewar correctly sums up the position when he states that “science can truthfully say that it knows not when, where or how, man originated”; but he understates the truth when he says that this is all that science knows, for although there is “no conclusive evidence that any Primate genus has been transformed into any other genus”, there are resemblances in detail and gradings which require much explanation if transformism is to be rejected. To say that “each new type appears in the rocks having all its characteristics, as if it had migrated from some other locality”, simply pushes the problem back to the ‘other locality’. How did it originate there?

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