chapter  3
17 Pages

The Human Fossil Record

Two assumptions made in the recent literature about the study of the human fossil record during the 1860-1890 period should be qualified. First, as human fossils were often interpreted as being representative of ancient European races rather than of evolutionary stages in human evolution, it has sometimes been assumed that it is because the idea of evolution was not widely spread or accepted yet. Thus, Tattersall (1995: 15) asserts:

This alleged opposition between an evolutionary perspective and one concerned with the establishment of human’s racial past is maintained also by Leguebe (1986: 19):

As far as the application of evolutionism to humankind is concerned, we have seen in the previous chapter how the transmutation theory was widely embraced after 1860. Therefore, we should look elsewhere to explain why ancient human remains were interpreted as representatives of prehistoric European races.