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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31

The Ancestry of Man

The Ancestry of Man.

Respecting, in particular, our own origin, the accepted theory is, that our ancestry may be traced back, not indeed, as is com- page 5 monly said, to the anthropoid apes, but to some extinct form which was the common progenitor of the ape and of man.

Upon this especially interesting point I read an extract from Darwin's "Descent of Man":—

"Man is descended [at an interval, say, of a million years] from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World. All the higher mammals are probably derived from an ancient marsupial animal, and this, through a long line of diversified forms, either from some reptile-like or amphibian-like creature, and this again, from swine fish-like animal. In the dim obscurity of the past, we can see that the early progenitor of the vertebrata must have been an aquatic animal, provided with branchiate [gills], with the two sexes united in the same individual, and with the most important organs of the body, such as the brain and the heart, imperfectly developed. This animal seems to have been more like the larvae of the existing marine Ascidians than any other known form."

A small, blunt point in the upper part of the in folding margin of the human ear is a relic of the " pointed ears " worn by our progenitor who swung himself from tree to tree in the forests of the Old World; the prolongation of the spinal column is a reminiscence of his tail; whilst the covering of the chin in males, and of the upper part of the head in both sexes, is a remnant of his shaggy coat, lengthened and improved, as well as limited in area, by the operation of what Darwin calls "sexual selection."