Darwin-L Message Log 7:55 (March 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<7:55>From JMARKS@YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU  Thu Mar 17 05:52:40 1994

Date: Thu, 17 Mar 94 06:35:49 EST
From: Jon Marks <JMARKS@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.edu>
Organization: Yale University
Subject: Groundhog Day in anthropology
To: Darwin-L <darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>

Actually, we have previously lived through the question of whether or not
H. erectus could have evolved out of H. sapiens several times.

     In 1962, Carleton Coon published The Origin of Races, in which he put
forth the argument that the transition had occurred independently in five
different areas.  Europe first, then Asia, then Africa (x2), then Australia.
Which, he suggested, accounted for the cultural "backwardness" of the
non-white peoples: they just hadn't been members of the species for very long.

     Though his interpretations of the anthropological material were generally
rejected within physical anthropology, evolutionary biologists were more
divided.  Dobzhansky trashed the book in Scientific American (reprinted in
Current Anthropology) saying that its central thesis was genetically virtually
impossible; but Mayr reviewed it quite favorably in Science, as did
Simpson in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.

     The only glaring error I caught in the Time story was calling the Java
remains Anthropopithecus erectus, when it was Pithecanthropus erectus.  Dubois
adopted the name Pithecanthropus from Haeckel.  Earnest Hooton later observed
that "Pithecanthropus erectus" is an anagram for "Pursue the person, catch

        --Jon Marks

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