Darwin Theory Is Proved True
English Scientists Say the Skull
Found in Sussex Establishes Human Descent from Apes.
THOUGHT TO BE A WOMAN'S
Bones Illustrate a Stage of Evolution Which has Only Been
CREATURE COULD NOT TALK
Probably Lived at a Time When Other Species of Human Had
Developed Further Elsewhere
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES December 22, 1913
LONDON. Dec. 21.A race of ape-like and speechless man, inhabiting England hundreds of thousands of years ago, when they had for their neighbors the mastodon and other animals now extinct is the missing link in the chain in man's evolution, which leading scientists say they have discovered in what is generally described as "the Sussex skull." To this Dr. Woodward proposes to give the name of "eoanthropus," or "man of dawn."
Prof. Arthur Keith says that the discovery marks by far the most remarkable advance in the knowledge of the ancestry of man ever made in England and supports the view that man was derived not from a single genus or species, but from several different genera. He goes on:
"It gives us a stage in the evolution of man which we have only imagined since Darwin propounded the theory."
Prof. Keith expresses the opinion that the skull is what anthropologists have been seeking for forty years, namely, a tertiary man, mankind of the pliocene age, which was the beginning of the first great glacial period.
"There is no doubt at all," he said, "that this is the most important discovery concerning ancient man ever made in England. It is one of the three most important discoveries of the sort ever made in the world. The other two were the discovery of the individual known as Pithecanthropus, made in Java in 1802 by Prof. Eugene Dubois. The other, which equals it in instructiveness and importance, is the skull discovered at Heidelberg six years ago.
"The Heidelberg skull is the best dated one, for it was found at a depth of eighty feet, in a formation acknowledged by every one to belong to the beginning of the pleistocene period, which immediately preceded the great ice age.
"Regarding the nature of the new discovery in size of brain, it is at least equal to the brains of many individuals in living races, but the character of the brain is extremely primitive, more so than in any living race.
"The next thing to note is that the skull shows a great number of the characteristics which we see in modern man, especially with regard to the occipital region of the skull, the neck and ear passages, and the joint between mandible and skull, whereas in the Neanderthal man, who lived at a much later date than the Sussex woman, (it is most probably the skull of a woman) you get all these apelike characteristics.
"This supports the theory that many of us hold, that in the pleistocene period there were at least two very distinct and independent species of primitive man, and probably many more than two, which future discoveries will reveal.
"I agree with Dr. Smith Woodward that the human individual now discovered is an absolutely new type, and no doubt it is an extremely primitive type. Possibly he has been a little too precipitate in saying it belongs to a new genus of humanity."
Several points of interest have developed from the scientists' examination of the skull, which, by the way, they are inclined to believe belonged to a female. The chief point is the size of the brain cavity, which is estimated by Dr. Woodward at 1,070 cubic centimeters. This compares with 1,000 to 1,200 in aboriginal Australian women and 1,080 in the Gibraltar skull, belonging to the pleistocene period.
In form the brain was flattened, and, as in the modern man, the left forepart of the brain was larger than the right. Another feature to which attention has been drawn is the enormous thickness of the skull. Both these are point of resemblance with the skull of the Neanderthal man.
Attention is drawn to the fact that in a host of details, such as the formation of the ear and the joints of the lower jaw, the skull, unlike that of the Neanderthal man, is of the human as opposed to the anthropoid type. The neck, on the other hand, must have been squat and apelike, and the formation of the chin retreating, like that of a dog.
According to Dr. Woodward, there are two points which definitely and positively mark the skull as human. These are found first in the nature of the hinge for the lower jaw, which agrees absolutely with that in modern man, and differs emphatically from that of apes, and second, in the presence of the two conspicuous sub-conical bosses of bone at the base of the skull, known as the mastoid processes. These are peculiar to the human race, but the bosses of bone in the Sussex man are smaller than in the higher race.
But it is not, Dr. Woodward declares, till we come to an examination of the lower jaw that the full significance of the discovery becomes apparent, for while the brain case is emphatically human the jaw is as emphatically apelike. Found by itself it might and would be regarded as that of an ape with many human features in its general conformation.
This remarkable fragment agrees with the celebrated jaw found about five years ago on Jauer Heidelberg and known as the Heidelberg jaw, but it presents an apelike feature which the less ancient Heidelberg jaw does not. The most striking point of both is the extraordinary receding chin, the jaw sloping backward sharply from the base of the teeth, which had a decided forward thrust.
In the living races of mankind the chin is always more or less conspicuous, the lower border of the jaw standing well in advance of the teeth, which are mounted vertically along its rim.
Other apelike features of the jaw are the absence of the muscular ridge along its inner surface, known as the mylohyoid ridge, affording attachments for the muscles of swallowing and speech. This ridge is always present in the human jaw.
Finally in apes two branches of the lower jaw, where they meet in front behind the teeth, form a sort of platform on which the tongue rests. In man this platform has been suppressed, thus greatly enlarging the cavity of the mouth and rendering speech possible.
It is, therefore, generally agreed that the skull belonged to a race of men who lacked the power of speech.
A prominent anthropologist, who was interviewed, said that the evidence on that point was convincing, the "speech centres" in the brain being so feebly developed that brain power was practically non-existent.
It is also clear that the front teeth, which are missing, must have been very large and protruding, and man with such teeth could not talk. Yet the back teeth must have been human teeth.
As has already been explained in dispatches to THE NEW YORK TIMES, the Sussex skull is not entire, but the fragments discovered are sufficiently complete to give, when fitted together, a fairly accurate picture of a greater portion of the brain-containing part of the skull. The face and the greater part of the forehead are missing, but fortunately half of the lower jaw with the first and second molar teeth in situ was recovered. The front part of the mandible also is missing, but there is enough to show that the chin conformation was identical with that of the anthropoid apes.
Not a single bone of the limbs or trunk was found.
The skull was apparently complete when unearthed by workmen, but not realizing the importance of their find they broke it up into three fragments right away. Charles Dawson, an amateur geologist, heard of the affair by chance, and with the aid of Dr. Woodward recovered as many fragments as possible. They also discovered in the same spot two broken pieces of the molar of the pliocene type of elephant, a molar cusp of a mastodon, teeth of the hippopotamus, castor, and equus, and fragment of an antler of the cervus elaphus.
Mr. Dawson, in telling of the discovery, said the fragments of the skull, like the fossils found with them, were deeply stained and impregnated with iron oxide.
The same stratum also contained samples of eoliths, or the most primitive flint forms ascribed to human workmanship, which occur so plentifully on the Kentish plateau, twenty miles north of the scene of the present discovery. These included two highly worked flints of a type known as chellean, but they are fawn colored, while the other flints were deeply stained like the fossil bones found with them.
The human skull shows no mark of having been rolled and worn like the fossil bones of the pliocene animals that lay near it. Hence Mr. Dawson and Dr. Woodward expressed the opinion that the human fossil bones were not of the same age as the pliocene animals, but belonged to the much later date, indicated by flints, namely, the middle pleistocene period.
This opinion, however, is not shared by some other scientists. Sir Edwin Ray Lankester thinks the age of the skull could not be considered satisfactorily established, and urges the geological society to take the necessary steps to determine exactly the age of the deposit.
Prof. Boyd Dawkins, on the other hand, saw no reason to doubt that the period was that given to it by the first investigators.
A member of the Anthropological Institute suggests that the whole controversy as to whether the skull belongs to the pliocene or pleistocene period will turn on a geological examination of the deposit in which it was embedded.
This anthropologist, after seeing the skull, believes that it is probably older than any other relic of prehistoric man found. There is, he thinks, a point of doubt as to the jawbone. It was not found in the same place as the skull, and he holds it possible that it does not belong to the skull. It is unquestionable apelike and it is not impossible that further examination may show that it does not fit the skull at all.