Saturday, August 04, 2007


Evolutionary Enigma

Since people seem to be enjoying this, here is another mystery guest. But this one will be a little tougher, since I'm pretty sure that the article the quotation comes from is not online, subject to being Googled.

... Darwin's book on the descent of man has appeared, but it has not convinced me. I still cannot comprehend how man in the course of time could have developed from an ape-like animal. My doubts on this score are very simple. No matter how I view apes, they always seem to be organized for an arboreal life, whereas, in contrast, man is organized to walk upright on solid ground. Of course, it is said that both faculties have developed in the course of time through "adaptation." But then, for what environment should this problematic primate archetype have been organized, since, obviously, all animals require a specific environment? Were they perhaps climbing animals that had a few descendants so obsessed with the idea of progressing that they refrained from climbing trees for thousands and millions of years until their lower extremities became adapted for an upright gait? It would seem easier for me to imagine that this archetype was plantigrade. A few of their descendants were so glutinous that they refused to leave the trees which supplied their food, and from these evolved the "poor relations" which we sometimes call apes.

"But," someone might ask, "why bother yourself about the question of how these first primates may have lived? It is enough that they must have existed if the descent of man is to be explained." But to this I reply that no matter how necessary it may seem for such an explanation, I cannot believe that a creature has lived and reproduced itself which was not organized from the start as one of the possible forms of life that could inhabit this earth.


Karl Ernst von Baer

- but only after the additional clue.
Still pretty good! I might have recognized the picture of von Baer because I've seen it a number of times before but it could have been a while before I dredged up enough from my memory to place a name to it (or at least had enough to go on to look him up).
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