Tuesday, February 5, 1935

“Old Bill” Suggests—

Anthropologists are handicapped in their study of early man and preman by the lack of skeletal remains. The only prehistoric animals that left their calling cards in the clays, shales or sedimentary rocks were those that were drowned or entombed with reasonable frequency. Even in those dim days man was smart.

The mastodon would form the habit of going to a convenient spring for a drink during a series of dry years, do the same thing during a wet year and vanish in quicksand. Papa, mamma, and baby mastodon are found all together, not once but many times. We can trace, period by period, the development of their upper front teeth into tusks and their upper lip into a trunk.

Pitchecanthropus, on the contrary, by the time his brain power had gained a level equal to that of a modern fox, became mighty hard to catch. He kept to the open rocky ridges, to the trees or to the cliffs. Until he attained tribal organization and the practice of burying his dead, his bones swiftly weathered away. For a geologic period of 250,000 to 500,000 years onlly three or four partial skeletons have been found.

Hairy and hungry as he was, his embryonic reasoning powers set him apart from the horse, with its limited mentality, prodigious memory and acute apprehensions. He did not stampede and seldom relied on a trail being safe because it had been safe the previous season.

Modern man, with his tendency to rely on rules or symbols to preserve his liberties without active participation in government on his own part, seems to be thinking more like a quadruped than like his own shrewd but untutored ancestors.


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