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With regard to the most degraded savages, intelligent travellers have always found among them a belief (however crude) in some superior being* as the cause of some natural phenomena. Moreover, the error is generally committed of viewing the actual condition of these savages, and not their capacity. Now, many individuals of socalled civilized nations would not resemble them if we were to apply to them the standard of such men as Aristotle, Newton, Shakspere, etc. It is the possibility of the development of self-consciousness which decides the human character.
Ancient physiologists have laid down the maxim that the human brain exceeds in size and weight that of any other animal. This is true in by far the greater number of cases. Whilst the human brain is rarely less than two pounds or 1000 grammes, and varies generally between two to three, and even four pounds, the weight of the brain of some of the largest quadrupeds—such as the ox, horse, camel, etc. —is rarely much above a pound, and considerably less in the bear, lion, etc.
In the elephant, however, the whale, etc., it was found that they possess a brain absolutely heavier than the human brain. That of the elephant has been rated at from eight to ten pound, of the whale four to five pounds.
It was then laid down as a law that the brain of man exceeded that of any other creature, when considered in proportion to the rest of the body.
This axiom again holds good in most cases; for while the human brain in proportion to the body is on the average as 1 : 35 to 37, it was found in the whale as 1 : 3,300; in the elephant, 1 : 500; in the ox, 1 : 1000 to 800 ; in the horse, 1 : 700 to 400; bear, 1: 265; dog, 1: 250.
Further investigations have, however, invalidated the general maxim, as in some of the smaller animals, both in birds and mammals, the weight of the brain in proportion to the rest of the body exceeds that of the human brain.
In the canary bird and greenfinch it is about 1 : 14. In some small apes, also, the brain is, relatively to the body, heavier than in man. Thus, in the sajou, 1 : 13; saimiri, 1 : 24, &c.
• [As regards this often quoted assertion that all savages, without exception, have some kind of belief in a God and a future life, Dr. Lang, Aborig.of Australia, says, " They have no idea of a superior divinity, no ohjecls of worship, no idols nor temples, no sacrifices, nothing whatever in the shape of religion to distinguish them from tho beasts." This statement has been confirmed by Sir Charles Nicholson, V.P.A.S.L. Dr. Mouat has made siuiilur observations respecting the Andaman islanders.—Ed.]
Again, the relative weight of the hrain in different animals, compared with their psychical qualities, is against the above axiom, in as much as, for instance, the relative weight of the brain of the ass is double that of the horse, psychically so superior to the donkey.
Comparative anatomy has, however, proved that no animal possesses such a development of the hemisphere and the grey matter as man.
Comparative anatomy has also shown that no animal brain exhibits so numerous, deep, and asymmetric convolutions in both hemispheres as that of man.
In some cetacea the convolutions are more numerous, but the sulci are scarcely a few lines in depth, whilst in the human brain they descend in many places above an inch. In some carnivora the sulci are deep, but much less numerous, and always strictly symmetrical on both hemispheres. This applies also to the apes and ruminants, in which the sulci are both less numerous and deep than in man.
There can be no doubt that the arrangement is for the purpose of increasing the surface of the brain. If in the given space of the cranial cavity the brain is to have a larger surface than can be afforded by the inner part only of the skull, the brain mass must necessarily be arranged in folds. These convolutions, and the grey mass of which they are composed, and which in psychological respect is the active portion of the nervous mass, are more developed in man than in any other creature. It would then follow that the psychical status of man corresponds with the greater development of the hemispheres, and especially on the extent of their surface, caused by the number and depth of the convolutions.
The Senses.—There is another character which distinguishes man from the brute, besides the higher cerebral development—the connection of man with the external world by the variety and intensity of his organs of sense.
Though individual animals excel man in the acuteness of some sense, there is none in which all the senses are capable of an equal development. This holds especially good is respect of the organ of touch, in which he by far excels all other creatures. Considering, now, that the development of all our faculties is only effected by sensible impressions, and all our knowledge derived by the medium of our senses, the advantage which man possesses in this respect above animals is sufficiently manifest.
Language. The possession of the power of expressing his thoughts by articulate sounds has ever been considered as the distinctive character of man, it being met with among all human beings, and absent in all animals. The reason why animals do not speak has generally been attributed to a different organization of the larynx and other appendages. Thus Camper considered the presence of two pouches near the larynx of the orang-outang as an impediment of speech. But all anatomical disquisitions on this subject have failed to explain the absence of articulate language in some animals on merely anatomical grounds. Moreover it is well known that some animals are capable of uttering articulate sounds. Leibnitz speaks of a dog in Meissen which could articulate ninety words.
It is quite clear that language in man must have been the consequence of the necessity of intercommunication with his fellow men, and must have sprung from the psychical nature of man. The necessity of intercommunication between animals being limited to physical desires, such as food, protection, and sexual intercourse, are sufficiently expressed by inarticulate sounds.
The dispute about the origin of language, whether it was a gift of nature or the invention of man, may be decided in this way, that man owes his capacity of speaking to nature, but its application to his own invention. Hence the same notion and the same object is designated in different languages by different words, unless congruent circumstances led to the application of similar sounds.
Upright Stature.—The erect stature of man is the distinctive character mostly dwelt upon by physiologists.
It is true that some plantigrades, as bears, etc., and some apes, can assume for a limited time an erect posture, but this is only exceptionally done; but man in the most degraded state always walks upright, which is the necessary consequence of the structure of his skeleton and the muscles connected with it. . ' .
The large and heavy head of man, about one-fourteenth of his whole weight, is so articulated upon the vertebral column that it is balanced upon it. . . .
The legs are so constructed that they perfectly support the body when erect, whilst in a horizontal position they would be very cumbrous. The hand is so clearly an organ of prehension and touch, that it seems unfit to serve as a mere support.
The proportions of the various parts of the human body exhibit a variety and a capacity of development not to be found in any animal. Man alone can stand, walk, run, spring, climb, swim, ride, drive, sit, or lie on his back for a long time. In some of these motions man is excelled by animals, which however are mostly limited to some particular kinds of locomotion. Our jugglers, rope dancers, contortionists, etc., prove of what a variety of motions man is capable.
Man possesses, in addition, organs of assimilation such as no animal enjoys, owing to the structure of his teeth, the alimentary canal, etc. Indeed, there is no animal in which all the three species of teeth are found in such an uninterrupted proportion as in man. The possibility of the distribution of mankind on all parts of the globe is owing to the pliability of man's organization. But few animals can support, like man, the differences in climate, etc. It is also remarkable that the creatures approaching nearest to man, namely, the orangs and chimpanzes, are so far behind man in this respect, that they soon perish when removed from their native spot.
NOTES ON THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN.
When did man make his first appearance on our globe?
Was man a witness of the last change in the surface of the earth, and of the inundations by which the gravel called diluvium has been deposited? And, if so, must he not have been the contemporary of many of the extinct gigantic animals?
No one doubts that the physical condition of the globe we inhabit, and the history of mankind, are legitimate subjects of human inquiry; and yet frequently where these questions have been raised there has been a great repugnance to discuss them on their own merits, from a vague fear that the facts elicited would clash against popular opinion.
The evidence in favour of a much greater antiquity of the human race than was hitherto allowed has been gradually accumulating. The facts which are everywhere brought to light, though perhaps not as yet universally acknowledged, are sufficiently pregnant, and the deductions from them too important to be any longer ignored; they must be thoroughly sifted, and either affirmed, or, if possible, refuted.
The present paper is a summary of the leading facts and opinions under discussion.
There is a circumstance connected with our subject which appears rather curious. While individuals or families are most anxious to trace their pedigree as far back as possible, and take pride in the antiquity of their descent, and while nations are equally tenacious of their remote antiquity, humanity, in the aggregate, prefers, in relation to the existence of the rest of animals, to be considered as a modern creation, not dating further back than sixty centuries.
An intense egotism may, perhaps, be at the bottom of this apparent paradox. Man, in his pride, is so much in the habit of considering himself as the last link, as the epitome of the vegetable and animal world, in short as the lord of the creation, that he conceives it beneath his dignity to appear upon the scene until every thing had been duly prepared for his reception.
Chronological Data.—The Book of Genesis has formed the basis of our common chronology on the assumption that it gives the true epoch of the creation of the world and of man; yet the biblical texts differ. Thus, according to the Alexandrian version, 2,262 years are reckoned from the Creation to the Deluge. The Hebrew account has 1,656, and the Samaritan text 1,307 years.
Hence chronological computators greatly differ, and Desvignoles (Chronology of Sacred History), has collected above two hundred different calculations, varying from 3,483, the shortest, to 6,984, the longest period said to have elapsed between the Creation of the world and the commencement of our present era, so that the difference amounts to above 3,000 years.
That the Hebrew chronology falls infinitely short in reference to the creation of our globe is almost universally admitted even by those who contend for the consistency of Geology with Sacred History; hence the six days of creation are by many of these reconcilers considered as periods of time of indefinite length.
Hindoo Chronology.—According to the Indian mythology the world is to last four ages (yugs), three of which have already passed. The last, or the kali-yuga, commenced, according to Lepsius, in April 1302 B.C.
Conarda, a Cashmerian king, is supposed to have reigned 2448 B.C., and the era of king Vicramadyta is fixed at 58 R.c.
The pundits, by extending the Chaldean astrological cycle, make it '4,320,000 years.
Chaldcean Chronology.—The 36 decans of the zodiac multiplied by the 12 months of the year yielded the mystic number 432. The grand year of astronomy, or the time supposed by the Chaldeans to be required for the sun, fixed stars, etc., to return to the same celestial starting point, was first 25,000, then 36,000, and at last 432,000 years, agreeing with the supposed duration of ten Graeco-Chaldaean generations. The deluge terminated the cycle.