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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


Part IV: The Supposed Evolution of the Human Skull

Chapter 2

Factors Influencing the Shape of a Skull

     For many years it has been observed that food and environment may have a profound influence in modifying bone structure. Recently it has been recognized that the human skull is particularly sensitive in this respect. Many of the more remarkable aspects of the skeletal remains of fossil man may indeed be accounted for by such means, so that any series arranged morphologically, without respect to age levels, is really meaningless. Seen in this light it is often possible to view a particular skull as owing its peculiarities not to any genetic relationship with the lower anthropoid forms, but to a certain community of habit and environment causing convergence and having absolutely nothing whatever to do with derivation. The form may be due to historical processes and have no palaeontological significance whatever. This was Portmann's contention.
     C. S. Coon also attributed Neanderthal's form entirely to disease and to cold adaptation, with long trunk, short limbs and arms, deep chest, etc., exactly like the Eskimo.
(13) Even man's teeth can be profoundly modified by conditions of life. Singh and Zingg noted that two of the more recent feral children found in India (both of whom are now dead) had developed longer and more pointed canines, presumably as a result of the eating of raw meat without the use of any cutting utensils. (14) Another feral child, Clement of Overdyke, had noticeably projecting teeth due to an uncooked vegetarian diet. The "Wild Boy of Aveyron" had developed canines conical in shape and very sharp, besides their being longer than normal. Finally, Kaspar Hauser, kept captive in a small dungeon for perhaps 12 or 14 years, had, in spite of being given cooked food, developed a markedly depressed frontal region as though "pressed down from above."

13. Coon, C. S., The Story of Man, Knopf, New York, 1962, pp.40, 41.
14. Singh, J. A. L, and Zingg, Robert M., Wolf-Children and Feral Man, Archon Books, Shoe String Press, Hamden, Connecticut, 1966, p.18.

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     Of the Australopithecines there are believed to have been two types, A. africanus, and A. robustus. Robustus is considered to be a later type, but less human. Africanus had no saggital crest, or "keel," robustus had. J. T. Robinson sees this, and stresses it is the result of diet, and robustus was a plant eater. (15) The gorilla is also a plant eater, in whom the saggital crest is enormous. Plant fibers can clearly be a tougher diet than meat.
     Robert B. Eckhardt, in an article entitled "Population Genetics and Human Origins," observed wisely:

     Indeed, are there any grounds for assuming that morphological evidence alone makes it possible to draw a valid distinction between the majority of these early hominids and some ancestral hominid that may be concealed among them? In view of the morphological variability among living hominoids, I think not.

     So neither stratigraphical position nor morphological form is a safe base on which to establish either age or relationship. With no possibility of applying the test of actual breeding for assessment of relatedness, what really is left but pure guesswork?
     Although it seems little attention was paid to his remarks at the time, Wilson D. Wallis some years ago pointed out:

     The evidence of prehistoric human remains does not in itself justify the inference of a common ancestry with the apes. We base this conclusion on the fact, if fact it be, that practically all the changes in man's structure traceable through prehistoric remains are the result of changes in food and habit.
     The most notable changes are found in the skull. Briefly the story of changes is to: a higher frontal region, increased bregmatic height, smaller supercilliary ridges, increased head width, less facial projection, decreased height of orbits and a shifting of the transverse diameter downward laterally, a more ovoid palate, smaller teeth, diminished relative size of the third molar, shorter, wider and more ovoid mandible, decrease in size of condyles, decrease in distance between condylar and coronoid processes, and in general greater smoothness, less prominent bony protuberances, less of the angularity and "savageness" of appearance which characterizes the apes. This is evolution in type, but the evolution is result rather than cause. . . .
     Practically all of these features of the skull are intimately linked together so that scarcely can one change without the change being reflected in the others. . . .  Change is most marked in the region in which chewing muscles function. . . .  The adjacent walls of the skull are flattened and forced inward as well as downward, producing the elongation of the skull. The temporal muscles reach far up on the skull,

15. Robinson, J. T., "The Origin and Adaptive Radiation of the Australopithecines," in Evolution and Hominization, edited by G. Kurth, Fischer, Stuttgart, 1962, pp.123-127.
16. Eckhardt, Robert B., "Population Genetics and Human Origins," Scientific American, Jan., 1972, p.96.
17. Wallis, Wilson D., "The Structure of Prehistoric Man," in The Making of Man, Modern Library, New Yok, 1931, pp.69ff.

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giving rise to a high temporal ridge: they extend forward as well as backward, giving a more prominent occipital region, and a more constricted forward region, resulting on the forehead region of the skull in the elevation of the supercilliary ridges and intervening glabellar region. Projecting brow ridges are associated with stout temporal and masseter muscles and large canines. . . .  Constriction of outer margins of orbits produces the high orbits which we find in apes, and to a less marked degree in prehistoric human remains.

     Even the nature of the soil can have its effect in modifying bone structure. Coon observed: "In my North Albanian series, I found that the tribes of man living on food raised on granitic soil were significantly smaller than those who walked over limestone." (18) We really have no idea at present, how extensively our conditions of life modify our bone structure, nor the exact mechanisms involved. So we simply do not know precisely why the typical fossil remains of early man were so brutalized. Certainly it need have had absolutely nothing to do with an animal ancestry.
     With respect to the Eskimos, there is some question as to whether their diet of frozen meat, cooked or otherwise, is really as tough as might be supposed. Some authorities claim that frozen meat has a consistency little tougher than deeply frozen canned salmon, the freezing process having a kind of tenderizing effect. It is also argued that the Eskimo habit of chewing skins very thoroughly to soften them for clothing is limited to the womenfolk, whose facial modification is less pronounced than in the male population.
     Fig. 4, however, shows a characteristic Eskimo male face, with the skull form outlined to indicate that the greatest width is at the jowls and not in the temple region. The head of Gainsborough's Blue Boy, in Fig. 5 however, shows how a refined diet tends to produce a head form of another kind with the greatest width in the temporal region. The drawing of the Eskimo is taken from a magnificent photograph reproduced on the front cover of Ciba Symposia of July, 1948. This particular issue was devoted to aspects of Eskimo life, and the articles were all contributed by Edwin H. Ackerknecht, who pointed out that:

     The cheek bones and jaws of the Eskimo are very massive, possibly under the influence of the intense chewing he has to practice, which also results in a tremendous development of the chewing muscles. Eskimo teeth are often worn down to the gums, like animal teeth, from excessive use.

18. Coon, C. S., ref.13, p.286.
19. Hooton, E. A., Up from the Ape, Macmillan, New York, 1935, p.405. He nevertheless admits that "there is something to be said for the functional theory" (p.406).
20. Ackerknecht, Erwin H., "Eskimo History," Ciba Symposia, vol.10, July, 1948, p.912.

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     It has also been pointed out that the Eskimo skull occasionally shows a "keel" along the top, which results directly from the need for a stronger attachment or anchorage for the jaw muscles which are used much more extensively. This will be noted in Fig. 4 (b), and should be compared with the keel indicated in the skulls of three supposedly human fossils in Fig. 6 (c, d, e). It is very clearly marked in the case of the gorilla skull in Fig. 6 (a). William Howells pointed out: (21)

     Gorillas have a heavy and very powerful lower jaw, and the muscles which shut it (which in man make a thin layer on and above the temple, where you can feel them when you chew) are so large that they lie thick on the top of the head, about two inches deep, practically obscuring the heavy brow ridge over the eyes which is so prominent on the skull, and giving rise to a bony crest in the middle merely to separate and afford attachment to the muscles of the two sides.

     In the Eskimo skull and in the gorilla skull, there is therefore sometimes a certain parallelism which is in no way any indication of genetic relationship. The explanation of the Eskimo keel is an historical (i.e., cultural) one, and it is in this sense that Portmann refers to historical action as being the explanation of those aspects of fossil remains which have tended hitherto to be interpreted as evidence of biological relationship with the anthropoids. Again, Howells may be quoted: (22)

     The powerful jaw of these animals in chewing, gives rise to a terrific pressure upward against the face, and the brow ridges make a strong upper border which absorbs it.

     If man is subjected to uncooked food and forced in the absence of knives to tear it from the bone, the developing muscles will find a way of strengthening their anchorage along these bony ridges. Moreover, if there is not in the diet that which will harden the bone in the earlier years of life when such strains are first encountered, it is inevitable that the skull will be depressed while still in a comparatively plastic state, and the forepart of the brain case will be low and sloping so that it lacks the high vault we tend to associate with cultured man. Thus the massive brow ridges of Sinanthropus, so similar to those of Pithecanthropus, are, as Ales Hrdlicka pointed out some years ago, "a feature to be correlated with a powerful jaw mechanism." (23)
     It is obvious now that such a circumstance could tend to reduce

21. Howells, William, Mankind So Far, Doubleday Doran, New York, 1945, p.68.
22. Ibid., p.131.
23. Hrdlicka, Ales, "Skeletal Remains of Early Man," Smithsonian Institute, Miscellaneous Collection, vol.83, 1930, p.367.

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Fig. 6. (A) Gorilla, showing marked keel and wide zygomatic arch. (B) Modern Man with high vault and widest dimension at the temples. {C) Pithecanthropus. (D} Rhodesian Man. (E) Sinanthropus.

the high vault of the human skull which we usually associate with man's superior mental capacity. One of Weidenreich's last papers was intended to show that there is no real correlation between intelligence and cranial capacity. (24) Anyone who reads this paper will be convinced that he was perfectly right. Yet he still argued that it was man's greatly enlarged cranial capacity which gave to him his superiority

24. Weidenreich, Franz, "The Human Brain in the Light of its Phylogenetic Development," Scientific Monthly, Aug. 1948, pp.103f.

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over the other primates. Weidenreich was of the opinion that for some unknown reason, man's brain suddenly began to increase in size. This had the effect of "ballooning" the skull on an arc centred approximately at the junction of the lower jaw and the skull proper, as illustrated in Fig. 7 (c) . Not everyone has taken this theory too seriously. Howells referred to it rather contemptuously as "a feeble argument with no proof behind it." (25) He offered no alternative.
     But Weidenreich's argument is based essentially on the fact that if we rather arbitrarily draft a series of skulls, in this case the gorilla, Pithecanthropus, and modern man, and in a side view impose upon them as indicated in Fig. 7 a series of arcs centred approximately at the ear, we have a series of forms with increased ballooning from the true animal to the true man. As indicated in Fig. 4 however, Weidenreich's original drawing was hardly fair, since he exaggerated the effect by using a different scale for the various skulls.
(26) Moreover, the gorilla and modern man are contemporaries, and the series does not therefore represent anything historically factual as a series.
     There is another explanation of such a series however, in which we merely assume that the first true man had a high vault, but that the circumstances of his early history were such as to deprive him of some of the essentials of culture thus forcing him to adopt the use of raw meat, which in time greatly developed the jaw muscles and thus "deflated" the high vault with which his ancestors had been endowed. This is exactly the reverse of Weidenreich's theory, but it has this at least in its favour, that there is historical evidence to support it. The evidence of history, as observed in the actual time sequence of many of the fossils which Weidenreich was forced to arrange out of order, is manifestly against his theory. The objection to our alternative, of course, is that we must assume that man was equipped with a high vault and presumably a large brain to go with it, from the very first.
     It could also be argued that if at first, man's genetic heritage provided him with the means to grow a high vault, then when this could not develop, the mechanism compensated itself by building a much thicker vault instead. It might happen therefore that the high vault with normal bone thickness is more or less exactly represented by a low vault with a much thicker bone shell. The weight of both forms of skull would presumably be quite similar. Some of the early skulls show this thickening.

25. Howells, William, ref.31, p.76.
26. Weidenreich, Franz, Apes, Giants and Man, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1946, fig.36.

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    Weidenreich elaborated his ballooning theory in his book Apes, Giants and Man. He assumed that man started with a powerful jaw mechanism. Then he explains what he thinks must have happened: (27)

     The reduction of the jaws went hand in hand with a reduction of the chewing and cervical muscles. The space required for the attachment of these muscles to the skull surface consequently became smaller, and so did the power of the whole chewing apparatus. The superstructures which reinforce a primitive skull in the forms of crests and ridges diminished accordingly. . . .
     Exaggeratedly expressed, the evolution of the human brain case proceeds like the inflation of a balloon; and it looks as though the enlargement of its content the brain, was the driving factor. . . .  The transverse axis around which the skull is bent runs approximately through the jaw points. . . .  All the smaller structural alterations of the human skull are correlated with and dependent upon each other and the extent to which they are governed by the trend of the skull transformation as a whole. All fossil human forms, from the more ancient morphological stage to the most advanced ones, show that the state of the minutest structure of the cranial bones corresponds in some way to that of the entire skull form and thereby proves that all forms must once have passed through the same principal phases. . . ,

     Now reversing the pattern we can view the process quite differently. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that early man was subsequently forced to eat tough food, after the initial family had multiplied and wandered apart; and that this food lacked that which would harden the skull in its formative period of development: then the strengthening of the chewing and cervical muscles would go hand in hand with the building of a superstructure of bone to provide the necessary anchorage in the form of crests as well as ridges in the front, at the rear, and on the top of the skull, but the skull itself would remain pliable enough that it would undergo considerable distortion.
     The "keel" which is so noticeable in the case of the gorilla, naturally tended to appear in early man because the muscles pulled the sides of the skull in, under the increased tension. This is indicated in Fig. 8.
     When the jaw was used for cracking bones, etc., the chief point of stress would regularly occur at the chin, since the clamping action between the teeth would normally be one-sided. This again led to a certain degree of compensatory thickening. But unlike the apes, man is a talking creature and makes much more use of his tongue. There is reason to believe that the reinforcement of man's chin takes the form of a bony ridge outwards rather than inwards, on this account, and this gives the prominence which is characteristic of the human jaw. The apes and other anthropoids on the other hand have the

27. Ibid, ref.26, p.33.

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reinforcement in the form of a ledge which reaches inward instead, and this is known as the simian shelf. In some fossils of early man there is some evidence of a simian shelf, and presumably this is a reinforcement in addition to that which is normal for man's chin, by way of compensation for the added load placed upon the structure at this point. Tugging at flesh in the absence of satisfactory "cutlery," or maybe just bad table manners, contributed quite possibly to the alveolar prognathism which is often found in these early remains. The increasing muscle development which rose up under the zygomatic arch naturally forced the latter outwards and required a stronger form.
     It is quite likely therefore that the functioning of the jaw mechanism determines whether the skull will be depressed or not. The fossil human forms then show clearly that the entire series has been affected to a large degree by the same depressive and compressive forces. Thus if early man were to have been utterly deprived of culture it seems quite certain his fossil remains would have revealed an extreme primitiveness which might easily be misinterpreted as evidence of a recent emergence from some anthropoid stock. Yet in point of fact it could happen that individuals might become degenerate at any period in history and leave behind them a cemetery of the most deceptive fossil remains. Humphrey Johnson remarked in this direction

     It seems likely that in very early times the human form possessed a high degree of plasticity which it has since lost, and that from time to time such exaggerations of certain racial characters, probably brought about by an unfavorable environment, have occurred. In the Pekin-Java branch of the human family, the exaggeration of the ape-like traits has occurred to a very high degree: it later took place, so it would seem, though not quite so pronounced in Neanderthal Man, and has occurred again though to a far lesser extent in the aborigines of Australia.
     Some of the low features of the Australians may, as Prof. Haddon thinks, be due to racial senility and thus the resemblance to Neanderthal man may be regarded as secondary or convergent. By a wider application of this principle we may consider that "convergence" has played a part in bringing about the resemblances of paleoanthropic men to the anthropoid apes.

     And quoting Wallis once more: (29)

     If the above interpretations are correct it follows that a return to the conditions of diet and of life which characterized prehistoric man would be followed by a return to his physical type. Yet if there were this transition to a type more simian we could not say that we were

28. Johnson, Humphrey, The Bible and the Early History of Mankind, Burns and Oates, London, 1947, p.89.
29. Wallis, Wilson D., ref. 17, pp.72ff.

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approaching a common ancestor. The similarity would not be due to the transmission of qualities from a common ancestor of a remote past. If this be true it is equally true that an increase in similarities as we push back the time period does not imply common ancestry if the changes are due to changes in function, following changes in diet. . . .  It seems clear that mere resemblance cannot constitute an argument for phylogentic descent.

     Wallis then points out with great pertinence that in any given group of human beings, the male is likely to resemble the anthropoid ape more nearly in bone structure than the female; and yet it is obvious that the male cannot be more closely related than the female. So he concludes that the more muscular male converges towards the ape which is more muscular than man simply because he is more muscular. He attributes the comparative inattention of physical anthropologists to this whole subject to the fact that "an age with its mind made up to evolution of a unilinear type has seen what it looked for."
     Moreover, it is not necessary to assume that such functional changes take a very long time to leave their mark. In fact, C. S. Coon pointed out that the case is quite otherwise:

     Head form, although it changes with much less speed than stature, for it is not directly concerned with gross size, nevertheless responds to the stimuli which control it and we must not be surprised if long heads have in some instances become round heads during the course of hundreds of generation.    

     The evidence today is making it very clear that there is less and less justification for the tendency to demand great lengths of time for "evolutionary" change. The truth is that the living body is amazingly plastic and highly responsive to environmental pressures, though precisely what the mechanism is, has so far eluded us.
     We have already noted how feral children may develop canine teeth of quite exceptional form. If by chance their skulls were excavated some centuries later, physical anthropologists would be quite wrong were they to make the assumption that this particular tooth structure had taken centuries to form. We know, in fact, that it probably took less than ten years. And the researches of Boas and others into the change of head-form among the successive siblings of the United States from an area of longheadedness, shows that such changes can occur with remarkable rapidity -- again, within a matter of a score of years or less. The earliest born children resemble the parents. Later born children begin to vary in the direction of the new home-country, until the last born children have head-forms quite different from their parents. Thus 

30. Coon, C. S., The Races of Europe, Macmillan, New York, 1939, pp.28f. 

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Boas (31) showed that the influence of environment makes itself felt with increasing intensity according to the time elapsed between the arrival of the parents and the birth of the child. The curious thing is that those children who were born in the old homeland still maintain the head-form of the parents, even though they grow up in the new land. Evidently the head shape is determined during prenatal development so that if prenatal development occurs in the old country the influence of the new country is not felt. Boas' work has since been confirmed by H. L. Shapiro (32)
     Coon also mentions that modifications in the skull form resulting from dietary habits, particularly the eating of raw meat and the absence of bone hardening substances in childhood, may occur, under sub-Arctic conditions, with remarkable rapidity. He notes that these changes are functional changes and he concluded:

     Metrical and morphological differences in physical type which appear during the course of the millennia may imply, in some instances, a response to environment rather than a diversity of origin.

     We have, then, a mechanism that might account for all the variant forms of fossil man without recourse to hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary history. Such changes appear to persist so long as the environmental conditions which provoked them persist. And there is evidence that even when the environmental conditions change somewhat, reversion to the original type may be delayed a little. It is generally thought that this kind of inheritance of an acquired character is effected through the cytoplasm, through so-called plasmagenes as opposed to nuclear genes.
     The significance of such facts here is that there may be a measure of persistence or carry-over in facial forms which have been developed in response to certain environmental pressures, which thus provides us with racial characteristics which are then traceable not to a diversity of stocks, but to an historical circumstance. It does not require any great feat of imagination to see that as man began to multiply and spread into new areas where new types of food became available and new environments led to modified living habits, changes might take place in his physical form. Wood Jones
(34) pointed out the needs created by any well-defined ecological situation are likely to be met 

31. Boas, Franz, Changes in Bodily Form of Descendants of Immigrants, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1911; reprint, Columbia University Press New York, 1912.
32. Shapiro, H. L., Migration and Environment, Oxford University Press, 1939.
33. Coon, C. S., ref.30, p.29.
34. Jones, Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold, London, 1953, p.76.

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by all living things subjected to them by directive responses of a similar kind. The pliability of living forms is great. Ralph Linton put it this way: (35)

     If we are correct in our belief that all existing men belong to a single species, early man must have been a generalized form with potentialities for evolving into all the varieties which we know at present. It further seems probable that this generalized form spread widely and rapidly and that within a few thousand years of its appearance small bands of individuals of this type were scattered over most of the Old World. These bands would find themselves in many different environments, and the physical peculiarities which were advantageous in one of these might be of no importance or actually deleterious in another. Moreover, due to the relative isolation of these bands and their habit of inbreeding, any mutation which was favorable or at least not injurious under the particular circumstances would have the best possible chance of spreading to all the members of the group. It seems quite possible to account for the known variations in our species on this basis without invoking the theory of a small number of originally distinct varieties.

     Or we may quote Franz Boas in the same connection: (36)

     If we bring two organically different individuals into the same environment they may, therefore, become alike in their functional responses and we may gain the impression of a functional likeness of distinct anatomical forms that is due to environment, not to heredity.

     It is abundantly clear by now, therefore, that we are dealing here with a fact which is very widely recognized. Yet, in spite of this, it is seldom referred to when the search for the missing link seems to be getting warm.
     When Broom found a number of items, teeth, parts of the jaw, and parts of the cranium, etc., of the specimen subsequently named Australopithecus transvaalensis, the matter was reported in the Illustrated London News with pictures of the then most recent additions to the finds, and a reconstruction of the "head." The significant factors in this find, according to Broom, lie in the presence of a clearly ape-like form of the head and the obviously humanoid aspect of certain of the teeth. No one would doubt, we are told, seeing the skull, that it was the skull of a variety of chimpanzee or an anthropoid ape. But looking at the teeth apart from the rest of the skull he said:

     If casts of these teeth had been sent to all the anatomists of the world, probably 95% would have certified that they are human. The size, the arrangement and the wearing are all human characters. . . .
     We need not at present discuss the exact position of Australopithecus, but we can without hesitation state that here we have an anthropoid ape with a brain capacity probably between 450 and 650 cc., and  

35. Linton, Ralph, The Study of Man, Appleton Century, New York, 1936, p.26.
36. Boas, Franz, ref.31, p.133.
37. Broom, Illustrated London News, May 14,1938.

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thus definitely an ape, but which has teeth which are almost typically human. The incisors, canines, premolars, and first molars are hardly to be distinguished from human teeth. The second and third molar are considerably larger than in man, but very similar to human teeth in structure.
     It seems to me that these human characters are much more likely to indicate affinity with man, than that such characters have been twice independently evolved.

     But in the same paper there had already been reported by W. P. Pycraft (38) some three years earlier, a remarkable series of finds in South America of three skulls belonging to quite unrelated animals in which a particular bone structure on the lower jaw had assumed substantially the same striking form entirely in response to diet and having nothing to do with common descent. These three skulls belonged to marsupials and at the time were described by Sir Arthur Smith Woodward as perhaps the most remarkable "mimics" (as he called them) hither discovered.
     The famous saber-toothed tiger had an extraordinary long upper canine which projected far below the lower jaw when the mouth was closed. This necessitated the hinging of the lower jaw in a special way so that it would clear the upper canines and allow the animal to seize its prey. In Fig. 9 first the jaw of a typical cat is shown, opened to its maximum extent. This may then be compared with the jaw of the saber-toothed tiger which must be dropped much further to clear the saber teeth. The surprising thing about these newly discovered skulls is that in all three the very long saber teeth are protected, when the mouth is closed, by bone flanges on the lower jaw along which the upper canines lie. In Fig. 9 this structure can be clearly seen. The other two skulls show a parallel development, although the photographs of them available to the public do not show quite as clearly the precise form of the protective flange; but there is no doubt about the parallelism in structure. The important thing is, as Pycraft observed, that these flanges illustrate "the molding effects of particular modes of life which more commonly than is generally realized, start with the choice of food" [emphasis mine].
     Perhaps it is not so remarkable after all to find Australopithecine with teeth so strikingly like human teeth.
We may quote Wood Jones once more:

     All these needs are met by the development of structures directed towards their satisfaction. It seems therefore certain that structures developed for the satisfaction of these common needs may bear a considerable likeness to each other, although the animals manifesting them

38. Pycraft, W. P., Illustrated London News, Feb.16, 1935.
39. Jones, Wood, ref.34, p.71. 

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may be utterly unrelated by kinship or descent. Since so many basic needs are common to all animals and these functional needs are satisfied by the development of appropriate structures, it is to be expected that a common ground plan of parts and organs might be detected as underlying the very varied superstructures of large groups of animals.

    Yet the slightest resemblance between an early human fossil and the skull or other parts of some lower primate is at once taken to mean genetic affinity, and it is seized upon as proof in part of the general theory that man has been derived by some such steps from an animal ancestor. Against such hasty assumptions we must now be much more ready to examine the parallelisms to see whether they may not be explained satisfactorily on other grounds. In this connection it is well to underscore the words of LeGros Clark, who over twenty years ago pointed out: (40)

      In the evaluation of genetic affinities anatomical differences are more important as negative evidence than anatomical resemblances are as positive evidence. It becomes apparent that if this thesis is carried 

40. Clark, LeGros, Early Forerunners of Man, 1934, as quoted by Rendle Short in Transactions of the Victoria Institute, London, vol.67, 1935, p.255. 

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to a logical conclusion it will necessarily demand a much greater scope for the phenomenon of parallelism or convergence in evolution, than has usually been conceded by evolutionists. The fact is that the minute and detailed researches which have been carried out by comparative anatomists in recent years have made certain that parallelisms in evolutionary development have been proceeding on a large scale and it is no longer to be regarded as an incidental curiosity which has occurred sporadically in the course of evolution. Indeed, it is hardly possible for those who are not comparative anatomists to realize the fundamental part which this phenomenon has played in the evolutionary process.

     The influence of environmental pressures in modifying the structure of an organism is so common in fact, that it would almost seem as though convergence of unlike forms until they are alike is more frequent in nature than the reverse -- divergence of like forms until they are unlike. And yet the latter is the fundamental requirement of evolution.
     Although too little attention seems to have been paid to his work, Leo S. Berg, in a book devoted to this question, argued:

     Convergence and not divergence is the rule, not the exception. This appears to be all pervasive, both among plants and animals, both present, recent, and extinct. We do not find a few simple forms giving rise to a great variety; we find a great variety assuming similarities that have in the past led, or misled all naturalists into thinking that the opposite was taking place. . . .
     In studying extinct forms of life, it is most unusual to find a common ancestor for any series of living animals or plants living today. The common ancestor almost invariably turns out to be in some respect or other more complicated than its alleged descendants.

     It ought not to surprise us therefore to find anthropoid forms appearing in varying degree among true Homo sapiens.
     With respect to the influences of temperature on body form and colour, a remarkable case is given by A. F. Shull who reported some experiments in which pupae of certain butterflies were subjected to abnormally low temperatures.
(42) There emerged from them insects having a pattern and colours resembling a more northerly variety of the same species, and there was reason to believe that the two varieties were genetically similar but in the different environments in which they occurred naturally, they had appeared as different varieties. When transported into a similar environment, the variation was reduced markedly. In a lesser degree there is some evidence that human beings may respond to environmental pressures to become alike in certain respects. Cold climates tend to stimulate a lengthening of the 

41. Berg, Leo S., Nomogenesis, or Evolution Determined by Law, English translation, Constable, London, 1926, p.174.
42. Shull, A. F., Evolution, McGraw Hill, New York, 1936, p.249.

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nose, perhaps to create a longer passage of warming for the air inhaled, before it reaches the lungs. Limbs may be shortened slightly, for the same reason, to reduce radiation of heat from the body. In very hot climates the air passage to the lungs may be shortened by a corresponding shortening or flattening of the nasal passages. (43) And there are other even more striking bodily modifications in response to heat and high humidity that lead to the Nilotic Negro type and the Pygmy type, in both of which the body has increased its surface area (for radiation purposes) relative to the body mass, in one instance by assuming a very long thin form, and in the other by reducing the total size. Both the Nilotic Negroes and the Pygmies of the Ituri forest in Africa, share a similar environment of high temperature and high humidity. (44)
     Thomas Gladwin points out that animals are modified in the same way as human beings in environments of this extreme kind. When F. B. Sumner reared white mice at 20 degrees and 30 degrees C., he found that at the higher temperatures they developed longer bodies, tails, ears, and hind feet.
(45) Yet, surely it has nothing to do with genetic relationships.
     We must also consider the possibility in some particular instances that some fossils may occasionally represent diseased types. Disease will produce some striking changes in the human form, and often these changes are not merely in the general direction of what must be termed "ugliness," but specifically they tend towards the anthropoid character. Thus Jesse Williams pointed out:

     Degenerate types show characteristic markings that are known as stigmata of degeneration. Common stigmata are: (1) receding forehead, indicating incomplete development of frontal lobes of the brain; (2) prognathism, a prominence of the maxillae. (3) the canine ear; (4) prominent supercilliary ridges; (5) nipples placed too high and supernumerary nipples.

     Among the disorders which commonly operate to effect a modification of bone structure, those which are related to glandular disturbances are the most common. In fact a few years ago there was a remarkable

43. On these points see further: "Stature and Geography," Scientific American, Apr. 1954, p.46. Montagu, Ashley, "A Consideration of the Concept of Race," in Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Physiology, vol.15, 1950, p.325ff., and "Physical Characteristics of the American Negro, Scientific Monthly, July, 1943, pp.58ff.
44. Gladwin, Thomas, "Climate and Anthropology," American Anthropological Institute, vol.49, Oct.-Dec., 1947, p.607ff.
45. Klotz, J. W., Genes, Genesis and Evolution, Concordia, St. Louis, 1955, p.28.
46. Williams, Jesse, Textbook of Anatomy and Physiology, 5th edition, Saunders, Philadelphia, 1935, fn. p.49.

     pg.17 of 25     

man by the name of Maurice Tillet, a wrestler better known in some circles as "the Angel," who was so Neanderthal in aspect that Henry Field who knew him very well, induced him to pose appropriately dressed as a caveman, with ax and loin cloth, among a group of reconstructed Neanderthal men in the Field Museum of Natural History. It appears that he was so readily lost among the wax figures that surrounded him, that he could not be singled out until at a given signal he plunged forward with an unearthly howl while Pathe Cameras ground away! The sudden coming to life of this apparently prehistoric figure was quite a shock to all who subsequently viewed the film. (47)
     Henry Field says of this man, however, that he was highly intelligent, a graduate of the University of Toulouse, and spoke in addition to his mother tongue, Spanish, English, and a little Russian, for his father, a French geologist, had once worked in the Urals. The secret of his extraordinary Neanderthal appearance was in the most unusual enlargement of his pituitary gland. He was examined by a number of experts and it was unanimously agreed that this was a clear case of acromegaly caused by hyperpituitarism for which, fortunately in his case, nature had made some special provision, so that he had survived into adulthood. So enlarged was the gland that he would certainly have died long before but for the fact that a space of unusual development had been left for the growth of this ductless gland. He died in September, 1954. Field considered him a true Neanderthal type.
     Speaking of the operation of these glands, A. C. Haddon remarked:

     During recent years it has been recognized that certain glands discharge internal secretions, or hormones, which alter stature, length of limb, size of jaw, shape of nose, growth of hair, texture of skin, and other characters which are in the main those wherein one race of mankind differs from another. Sir Arthur Keith suggests that racial characters are determined largely by the activity of the hormones and that the inherited condition of the glands provides a mechanism for the fixation of racial types. It must not be supposed that the facts adduced by Keith imply that such groups as Mongols or Negroes are in any sense pathological, but merely that for some reason or another certain ductless glands function in some respects more actively, or less so, in these than in other groups. It remains to be shown what conditions of life or nutrition induced the supposed increased or decreased production of the hormones in question, or whether the conditions were "sports" which have been fixed by heredity. It has yet to be proved that these hormones are alone responsible for all racial differentiation, though they may well be contributing factors.

47. Field, Henry, In the Track of Man, Doubleday, New York, 1953 pp.230f.
48. Haddon, A. C., History of Anthropology, Thinker's Library Watts, London, 1949, pp.34f.

     pg.18 of 25     

     pg.19 of 25     

     Since Neanderthal Man is usually considered as a "race," the possibility that racial characteristics of this kind could in fact be the result of pituitary or other glandular disturbance, is greatly strengthened by the case of Maurice Tillet. We thus have, in addition to the influences of diet and eating habits, the possible influences of glandular abnormality. It is conceivable that the giantism which has been found to characterize some early fossils of man, could be traced to the same factor. In this case history as opposed to genetics, in Portmann's sense of the terms, would possibly explain Gigantopithecus and Meganthropus, and so forth, as well as the grossness of some European forms; and any attempt to fit them into a genetic series would be a waste of time.
     But it is not only the pituitary gland which can so modify the human form. Sir Arthur Keith, in another work on this subject, pointed out that the characteristics used as physical criteria by etymologists for distinguishing different racial stocks are affected by several glands in the body. Of these the chief are the pituitary and pineal glands, but the thyroid gland in the throat and the adrenal glands in the kidneys are also of importance. Abnormal growth of the pituitary leads as we have seen to enlargement of the chin, nose, and brow. These features to some extent are common to almost all so-called cavemen. Keith put it this way:

     We are justified in regarding the pituitary as one of the principal pinions in the machinery which regulates the growth of the human body and is directly concerned in determining . . . the tendency to strong eyebrow ridges.

     Such brow ridges are among the features of fossil man which have tended, in the public mind, to give the most ape-like cast to the face. It is curious that such ridges are more marked among Europeans, i.e., the White Man, than among some of the other races. In fact Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley showed quite marked brow-ridge formation, and it has been suggested by some physiologists that such prominences are evidence of great energy. (50) This could speak well for men of prehistoric times.
     Speaking of the thyroid gland, Robert Speer pointed out:

     Many characteristics which have hitherto been regarded as hereditary 

49. Quoted by Sir John A. Thompson, in The Outline of Science, vol.4, Putnam, New York, 1922, p.1097.
50. Mottram, V. H., The Physical Basis of Personality, Penguin Books, Hammondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1949, p.79.
51. Speer, Robert, Of One Blood, Friendship House, New York, 1924, p.11.

     pg.20 of 25     

or racial, may be due to environmental causes, it is probable, for example, that stature and longheadedness may be caused by higher or lower activity of the thyroid gland, and that this may in turn be influenced by food, particularly iodine.

     Among animals, the changes due to food, temperature, etc., can be quite remarkable. George Dorsey has given an interesting list of some of the changes which can be induced. He wrote, (52)

     For example, tadpoles fed on thymus gland become big dark tadpoles -- but never develop into frogs; if fed adrenal gland, they become very light in color. Larvae of bees fed royal jelly become queens; on bee bread, non-fertile females or workers. Canaries fed on sweet red pepper become red in color. The germ as the "bearer of heredity" is meaningless or monstrous apart from its usual environment. . . .
     The hormones actually known are definite and specifically acting indispensable chemical products which modify development and growth of other organs, especially during embryonic life, and the entire metabolism, including that of the nervous system, during adult life. Then, too, there is a collective operation of the endocrines as yet not definitely known, but summarized by Barker as follows:
     "More and more we are forced to realize that the general form and the external appearance of the human body depends to a large extent upon their functioning. Our stature, the kinds of faces we have, the length of our arms and legs, the shape of the pelvis, the color and consistency of our integument, the quantity and regional location of our fat, the amount and distribution of hair on our bodies, the tonicity of our muscles, the sound of the voice, and size of the larynx, the emotions to which our 'exterieur' gives expressio n --all are to a certain extent conditioned by the productivity of our hormonopoietic glands. We are, in a sense, the beneficiaries and the victims of the chemical correlations of our endocrine organs."

     Keith pointed out that a poorly developed thyroid leads to stunted growth, to undeveloped nose and hair, and to a flat face. These are characteristic of some of the so-called Mongolian peoples, and it is possible that decrease in thyroid has affected the people of East Asia as a whole. So also the Hottentot and the Bushman differ according to his theory, from the Negro, along lines which might be explained in part by deficiency in thyroid. The adrenal further controls sex characters such as hairiness of the face and body. These are characteristic of European and Australian people, whereas the Negro and Mongolian are perhaps immature in this respect. At any rate, such was Keith's thesis. (53) We may point out what Samuel Brody observed: (54) 

52. Dorsey, George, Why We Behave Like Human Beings, Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1925, pp.108, 203.
53. Keith, Sir Arthur, "Evolution of Human Races in the Light of the Hormone Theory," Johns Hopkins Bulletin, 1922.
54. Brody, Samuel, "Science and Dietary Wisdom," Scientific Monthly, Sept. 1945, p 216.

     pg.21 of 25    

     Congenital blindness, missing kidneys, missing limbs (hardly likely to be inherited), cleft palate, harelip, and other abnormalities were apparently produced in calves, pigs, and rats by withholding vitamin A (and also vitamin B2 in rats) from the pregnant mother's diet. Richardson and Hogan observed about a dozen cases of hydrocephalus -- characterized by a great skull with little brain -- in newborn rats from mothers fed a 'synthetic diet' complete in all the known dietary constituents. Deficiency of some unknown essential dietary factor may account for this abnormality.

     It might be argued that such observations are not really relevant since it is in the skull form and in the limb proportions that fossil man shows the closest resemblance to anthropoid apes, etc. However, it would not do to overlook the possibility that all these factors may operate in varying degree, each making its impress upon the skeletal remains in its own way and to a different extent when in concert with other influences. Some of the groups of fossils, particularly Neanderthal specimens, seem so much alike as a whole, and so uniformly different from modern man, that it has been customary to assume they represent a true and independent race. The same was thought of the Anthropus series (Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus, which some authorities now classify simply as Homo sapiens). (55) But we now have instances in which Neanderthal types are found intermixed with, and quite clearly contemporaneous with, men of completely modern type. This is true of the discoveries on Mount Carmel in Palestine, which revealed a mixed population that made any clear distinction between the two types impossible in this instance. (56)
     There is a further consideration. As men multiplied on the earth and began to crowd out the original settlements, weaker elements in the population would be driven out. Such people might become waifs and strays, and could well perish in isolation because of the hardships encountered in a new and unfamiliar environment. Possibly it is such people whose remains we find, for as a rule the fossils represent only a very small group, and often only a single individual. That these remains should show varying degrees of primitiveness is not surprising. The extent to which a whole community may suffer in such a manner was unhappily illustrated some 300 years ago in Ireland. Robert Chambers has given the story:

     The style of living is ascertained to have a powerful effect in 

55. "The Names of Fossil Man," note in Science, vol.102, July, 1945, p.16.
56. Howells, William, ref.21, p.202. Howells refers to the skull finds in the following terms: "It is an extraordinary variation. There seems to have been a single tribe ranging in type from almost Neanderthal to almost sapiens."
57. Chambers, Robert, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, Churchill, London, 1844.

      pg.22 of 25      

modifying the human figure in the course of generations, and this even in its osseous structure. About 200 years ago, a number of people were driven by a barbarous policy from the counties of Antrim and Down in Ireland, towards the seacoast: there they have ever since been settled, but in unusually miserable circumstances.
     And the consequence is that they now exhibit peculiar features of the most repulsive kind, projecting jaws with large open mouths, depressed noses, high cheek bones, and bow legs, together with an extremely diminutive stature. These, with an abnormal slenderness of limbs, are the marks of a low and barbarous condition all over the world. It is peculiarly seen in the Australian aborigines.

     This is not an isolated instance. Here is a case in which the "primitive" appearance of a whole group of people is entirely the result of historical factors. Undoubtedly these people, given the proper opportunity, were quite capable of proving themselves in every sense completely human and probably quite as intelligent as any so-called "modern" man. Yet if it ever happened that without any knowledge of the circumstances, their remains were exhumed by some archaeologist, they might well lead the finder to suppose he had run across a mass burial of prehistoric men.
     Moreover, small isolated populations whether of animals, insects, or people, tend to vary more widely than large populations. Viktor Lebzelter formulated the principle that where the population is large, the culture will be heterogeneous and the physical type homogeneous, but where the population is small, the physical types will be heterogeneous but the culture homogeneous.
(58) The reasons for this are fairly obvious. A small community will be closely knit in its behaviour patterns and problem solutions and decorative motifs, etc. But at the same time there will be a measure of inbreeding that will tend to bring mutant genes together in a state of homozygosity so they will then manifest themselves in varieties of new kinds. This is less likely to happen where the population is large.
     But it is also found that when a single species is introduced into a new environment there is a tendency for a large number of new varieties to arise almost immediately. This was first noticed by geologists in studying the sudden appearance of many new varieties of a species once they appeared at a certain level in the rocks for the first time. Sir William Dawson referred to it many years ago.
(59) Ralph Linton confirmed it for man. (60) Charles Brues illustrated it from entomology. (61) Adolph Schultz, in the Cold Spring Harbor Symposia 

58. Lebzelter, Viktor, Rassengeschichte de Menscheit, Salzburg, 1932, p.27.
59. Dawson, Sir William, The Story of the Earth and Man, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1903, p.360.
60. Linton, Ralph, ref.35, pp.26f.
61. Brues, Charles, "Contributions of Entomology to Theoretical Biology," Scientific Monthly, Feb., 1947, p.130.

     pg.23 of 25     

for 1950 referred to it in connection with all primates (68). Colin Selby discussed the mechanism in a paper entitled "Modern Views of the Origin of Specis". (63) The fact is well known. Yet, once again, it is not too often that one hears of its relevance to the present issue. But it is entirely relevant, for one of the most remarkable aspects of many of the major finds of fossil man is the variability of types found in a single deposit.
     This is true of the fossils from the Upper Cave at Choukoutien,
(64) of the discoveries at Obercassel, (65), and of the group discovered in the Tbun and Skuhl caves on Mount Carmel in Palestine. (66)
     In conclusion we could not do better than to end with a quotation once more from Wilson Wallis, himself a veteran anthropologist and one who in spite of his views in the matter, would still derive man from some lower form of animal life. His honesty in facing the facts and his courage in stating his convictions so forthrightly are therefore all the more commendable:

     As regards prehistoric human remains we cannot conclude that the increasing resemblance to apes as we go back in time implies simian ancestry, seeing that these changes may be due to changes in food and posture, representing the acquisition of form growing out of function or closely correlated with function. In that case prehistoric man's increasing resemblance to apes has some other explanation than descent from a common ancestor, beng, if our interpretation is correct, a case of convergence, the response of similar form to similar function. . . .
     We cannot afford to close our eyes to facts because we shy away from their implications. A good case is not strnethened by adducing poor reasons in support of it, and no fear of giving comfort to the enemy should lead us to suppose that a partial concelament of truth, which arises from a concealment of part of the truth, can compensate for the loss of unprejudiced consideration of the facts of life whether they seem to fit ino our schemes of evolution or fail to fit.
     Since the day of Darwin the evolutionary idea has largely dominated the ambitions and determined the findings of physical anthropology, sometimes to the detriment of the truth.

62. Schultz, Adolph, "Man and the Cararrhine Primates," Cold Spring Harbor Symposia, vol.15, 1950, p.50.
63. Selby, Colin, "Modern Views of the Origin of Species," Christian Graduate, Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, June, 1956, p.99.
64. "Homo sapiens at Choukoutien," Antiquity (England), vol.13, June, 1939, p.243.
65. Weidenreich, Franz, ref.26, p.86.
66. Romer, Alfred, ref.8, p.220.
67. Wallis, Wilson D., ref.17, p.75.

     pg.24 of 25     




Note on S. L. Washburn's Experiment

     For those who may happen to be familiar with the experiments carried out by S. L. Washburn, Department of Anatomy, College of Physicians and Surgeons, at Columbia University, and reported in the Anatomical Record (vol.99, 1947, pp.239-248), in which he tried to demonstrate experimentally the theory of ballooning as propounded by Weidenreich, the following observations are written.
     By severing the chewing muscles of rats, no alteration was found to occur in the skull form. It was evidently not possible by such a means to obtain a higher vault. Washburn's conclusion was therefore that Weidenreich's theory was without foundation. He went even further when he summed up his convictions as follows:

     Constriction of the brain case by the temporal muscles could not be demonstrated in the rat, nor does it seem probable that it occurs in man.

     However, this is going considerably beyond the evidence. There is no reason to suppose that the rat's gene complement has the capability of supplying the material necessary to provide a higher vault, if diet permitted. With man the case is quite otherwise.
     Had Washburn added to the muscular tension instead of reducing it, he might well have obtained some reduction in what vault there is, and this would then have supported the thesis we have been proposing in place of Weidenreich's. (See Fig. 11.)  

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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