JAMES J. WALSH, Author of
MAN, Isle of. See ISLE OF MAN.
MAN, Prehistoric Races of. Until nearly the middle of the 19th century, the dawn of human existence was commonly assumed to have been coincident with the beginning of recorded history, roughly some 6,000 or 7,000 years ago. Though even in the preceding cen tury some evidence had been adduced which indicated that a stone-using age had antedated the use of metals, it was not until 1833 that the discovery in the of Engis, near Liege, Belgium, of human bones mingled with those of mammoth, wooly rhinoceros and cave-bear proved (though the proof was not universally recognized for several years) that man must have been a contemporary of these extinct crea tures of the remote Diluvial epoch, or, as it is called to-day, the Glacial or Pleistocene period. Together with this discovery two others stand out as prominent landmarks in the history of palmoethnology. One was the finding, in 1856, of the famous Neanderthal skeleton, which demonstrated that a low type of mankind, phys ically very different from any modern race, had existed in western Europe in some distant prehistoric time, now known to have been earlier in the Pleistocene than the period of the Engis men. A few years later a fragment of mammoth tusk was found on which was scratched a realistic portrait depicting the hairy mammoth in the flesh, showing that consider able artistic ability had been achieved by man before the extinction of these great Pleistocene elephants, at a time antedating recorded history. Since these pioneer discoveries, evidence has accumulated greatly and we now know that the man who made this engraving some 15,000 or 20,000 years ago was fairly recent in compari son with the low-browed Neanderthal, and that the latter was antedated in turn by a still more primitive and probably ancestral type, the Heidelberg man, of vastly more remote anna uity. It may be stated here that our knowledge of Pleistocene ethnography is based snit largely on European material with a few !ions to be mentioned below, but this doer imply that Europe is to be regarded as ate cradle of the human family, for the concer-z, of competent opinion is that the earliest bola nidx diverged from their simian relatives in central Asia, probably in Miocene times, and that from this centre the family gradual radiated, its branches becoming geographically isolated, some dying out during the and others finally becoming differentiated lam the several great divisions of mankind — tralian-African, Polynesian-European and American, and their racial subgroups. See MAN.
This is not the place for a discussion of Pleistocene geology or of the much-disputed Ice Age chronologies; it must suffice to naY that the duration of the Pleistocene, according to the estimates of Penck, one of the leading authorities, was: between 500,000 and years, and othet investigators usually make le near his minimal figure. There is evidence that there were in the northern hemisphere not less than four glaciations, with three warmer interglacial periods, the beginning of the reces sion of the fourth and last ice-sheet data back perhaps 17,000 to 25,000 years. As to the time of the earliest appearance of actual the genus Homo, we are probably well with'" the limit of likelihood if we assign to the Heidelberg man, the oldest known type, .art,_ antiquity of 250,000 years. Contrasted with such age as this the so-called historic period of some 7,000 years seems a brief span indeed The comparison becomes most graphic if !le represent the duration of man's past the length of a yard-stick, in which case the extent of recorded history will be fairly measured by the terminal inch.
Any discussion of the earliest types of man must include some mention of Pithecanthropus, "the ape-man of Java," though the relation of this most famous of fossils to mankind is still dubious. In 1891-92, Dr. Eugene Dubois of Holland, while conducting geological explora tions in central Java, unearthed in the dry bed of the Solo or Bengawan River, near Trinil, a fossilized skull-cap or calvaria, two molar teeth, and at a distance of some 50 feet from these, a thigh-bone, all clearly of primate character and presumably from a single individual.
The thigh-bone was more man-like than that of any ape, its conformation indicated erect gait and its size a creature some five feet six inches tall. The cranium had an extremely narrow, low and retreating forehead with a prominent transverse ridge above the orbits and a capacity of 850 to 900 cubic centimeters, or about midway between the lowest normal human and the go rilla in bulk of brain, though somewhat nearer the minimal human measure. In 1894 Dubois published a careful study of these remains to which he assigned the name Pithecanthropus erectus (erect-standing ape-man), and which he hailed as the long-hoped-for 'missing link' between ape and man. The exceptional import ance of the fossil was generally recognized at once, but authorities have never unanimously agreed with Dubois' view concerning its inter mediate position. A considerable number of anthropologists place it within the human lam. ily, and the literature contains many refer ences to "Trinil Man." Elliott Smith, following Dubois, believes that certain brain-impressions in the skull suggest the power of articulate speech. On the other hand, some able anat omists incline to regard the creature as more closely allied to the apes, and it has even been considered a giant gibbon. In view of the incompleteness of the remains and the slightly uncertain association of the femur with the skull, it is perhaps best to regard Pithecanthro pus tentatively, simply as an extinct primate of erect gait, much higher as to brain volume and presumably as to intelligence than any known ape; hence a sort of 'super-ape," but much lower in mentality than any normal man. In any case the assumption that it is necessarily a direct ancestor of Homo is unwarranted, for it may equally well belong to a collateral branch of the hominid family which became extinct,— Ian uncle instead of a grandfather of man)); but it must be admitted that Pithecanthropus admirably fills the specifications for a °missing link." Unfortunately, its geological age is some what uncertain; it is either late Pliocene or early Pleistocene. Osborn tentatively estimates its antiquity at 500,000 years. (Figures 1 and IA.) The earliest remains which are unquestion ably human consist of a remarkable lower )aw found in 1907 in the Mauer sands, ancient river deposits near Heidelberg, Germany. Proof of the vast antiquity of the specimen is afforded by superjacent strata nearly 80 feet in thickness, and by the associated mammalian fossils, in cluding species of elephant, rhinoceros, etc., which had previously been assigned to the second (by some to the first) warm inter glacial phase. This human relic is not only vastly ancient, but more primitive, in some respects more ape-like, than any other indu bitable human remains. The jaw is exceedingly massive and large and entirely lacks the chin projection of modern races, which gives it a remarkably ape-like appearance (Fig. 5), but the teeth and the form of the dental arch prove it to be quite human. Professor Schoetensack, who described the fossil, makes it the type of a new species, Homo heidelbergensis, the Heidelberg man. It resembles the Neanderthal type somewhat and may be ancestral to it. No cultural remains were found associated with the jaw and opinion is divided as to whether this type had attained even the level of culture represented by the earlier Palaeolithic flints, though some anthropologists place the "eoliths" still earlier. As the second interglacial period is believed to have extended over some 150,000 years and to L merged inn the third glacial some 150,000 or 200,000 years go, it seems not unlikely that Heidelberg man may have flour ished some 200,000 or :ars ago and for aught we know to the contrary his race may have endured for tens of thousands of years, countless generations passing without leaving a trace save this single fossilized jaw. The in terval which elapsed from the day when this precious relic found its resting-place in the ancient river-sand to the period of Neander thal man was probably vastly longer than that between Neanderthal times and our own day. Nevertheless it must be understood that esti mates of Pleistocene chronology vary greatly and are all highly conjectural.