The Coming of Man

The Coming of Man

The Coming of Man

The Coming of Man

Excerpt

It seems needless to write a preface to a book which is merely and altogether an introduction, a small book on a great subject.

We are beginning to appreciate the importance of the story of man's slow and endless "coming." To select and chronicle a few of the most conspicuous successive stages of his ascent and to sketch their essential characteristics is far from easy. To discover the meaning of the changes and processes involved in his ascent is like searching for buried treasures. Condensed histories of the growth of the United States during a few centuries fill a dozen or more large volumes. We must attempt to compress the whole biological history of animal and human life into one booklet. The attempt seems absurd.

We will begin by enumerating the most prominent stages, the land marks, of human evolution, the rise of one function after another to preeminence in the animal body. We will not attempt to construct a genealogical tree of the animal kingdom; but only to note the appearance, advance or culmination of organs or powers which gave their possessors marked advantage and temporary or permanent success. We will try to introduce the reader to a few typical familiar forms, which appear to have been stranded near the high- water mark of the tide of life in some long-passed time, and thus make him acquainted with the leading characters or actors of their place and day. We cannot attempt to give a detailed description of the anatomy of these unconscious heroes of the great drama; but only to notice their deeds, efforts, struggles and achievements. At best our sketch can be only a rude outline devoid of all shading and of many important features: we hope that it is true substantially and not misleading.

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