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First Traces Of Man Like Creatures

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Among the earliest evidences of some creature, more man-like than any living ape upon earth, are a number of flints and stones very roughly chipped and shaped so as to be held in the hand. These were probably used as hand-axes. These early implements ("Eoliths") are often so crude and simple that there was for a. long time a controversy whether they were to be regarded as natural or artificial productions. The date of the earliest of them is put by geologists as Plies-Gene-that is to say, before the First Glacial Age. They occur also throughout the First Interglacial period. We know of no bones or other remains in Europe or America of the quasi-human beings of half a million years ago, who made and used these implements. They used them to hammer with, perhaps they used them to fight with, and perhaps they used bits of wood for similar purposes.

But at Trinil, in Java, in strata which are said to corre spend either to the later Pliocene or to the American and European First Ice Age, there have been found some scattered bones of a creature, such as the makers of these early implements may have been. The top of a skull, some teeth, and a thighbone have been found. The skull shows a brain-case about half-way in size between that of the chimpanzee and man, but the thigh-bone is that of a creature as well adapted to standing and running as a man, and as free, therefore, to use its hands. The creature was not a man, nor was it an arboreal ape like the chimpanzee. It was a walking ape. It has been named by naturalists Pithecanthropus erectus (the walking ape-man).

Of the makers of the European Eoliths we have yet to bones at all. We can only guess at their appearance.

While these early men or "sub-men" or "pseudo-men" of the Eoliths were milling about Eatope four or five hundred thousand years age, there were mammoths, rhinoceroses, a huge hippopotamus, a giant beaver, and a bison and wild cattle in their world. There were also wild horses, and the sabre-toothed tiger still abounded, There are no traces of lions or true tigers at that time in Europe, but there were bears, otters, wolves, and a wild boar. It may be that the early sub-man sometimes played jackal to the sabre-toothed tiger, and finished up the bodies on which the latter had gorged itself.



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