« PreviousContinue »
On the syndactylous condition of the hand in man and the anthropoid apes. By C. CARTER BLAKE, F.G.S., F.A.S.L. (D.)— I have now the honour to call the attention of the Section to a curious abnormity which is presented by the integument of a specimen of old male gorilla which was brought from the Gaboon by Mr. W. Winwood Reade, and presented by that gentleman to the Museum of the Anthropological Society of London. The specimens of Gorilla which have been the subjects of the elaborate and complete memoirs which have appeared from the pen of MM. Duvernoy and Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire, in the Archives of the Paris Museum (vols. viii and x), and by Professor Owen in various parts of the Zoological Transactions, have, with those described by other authors, all coincided in one attributed character, true as regards the specimens with which they were acquainted, which probably represent the majority of specimens of gorilla which had been examined in Europe. This statement, reduced to a general proposition, was that the integument of the skin of the fingers was more or less connected across the first digital phalanx, in such a manner that the first joints were firmly connected together by skin, sometimes as far as the distal extremity of the first phalanx, sometimes merely to the middle of this phalanx. In no specimen of gorilla, of the description of which I am yet cognisant, are the digits of the anterior extremity free to the same extent as in man, in which the distal extremities of the metacarpals mark the termination of the amount of syndactyly of the hand. In the specimen of gorilla to which allusion is made in this short note, the digits of the fingers present a different condition of connection than in the typical specimens described by zoologists. The second (index), third (medius), and fourth (annulus) digits are free beyond the distal end of the metacarpals as in the human subject; the fifth digit (minimus) is also in a less degree attached to the annulus than in the specimens of gorilla contained in various public museums. We have thus a specimen of gorilla in which the digits of the hand are almost as free as in the hand of the lower races of mankind. Careful examination by a lens, of the integument, before the preparation of the specimen by Mr. Leadbeater, who first called my attention to this abnormity, demonstrates the fact that the epidermis covers the cutis on the inner sides of the interdigital spaces of the first phalanges of this specimen. The consistency of this epidermis merely differs in degree from that of the homologous structure in the foot, and in other parts of the body. It would be interesting to compare such a curious abnormity of the integument with the similar abnormities which exist in the human VOL. I.-NO. III.
species. The human fingers are most frequently connected together by syndactyly, and remain during life in that state of arrested development (as regards the integument) which is typified by the permanent stage of development of the gorilla. On the other hand, I have never yet met, either in the chimpanzee or oran-útan, with a similar case of freedom of digits to that here described. We must, however, recollect that the number of specimens of chimpanzee and oran-utan, which have been accurately described anatomically, form a very small percentage. How many individuals of gorilla may exist, in which a similar “ accidental” variety may exist, must remain for a long time unknown to us. Syndactyly is often congenital. A case has recently come before my observation of a married female, in which the medius and annulus of both hands are firmly connected together by integument. A similar condition prevails in one of her children; another has the deformity on the right hand; whilst the youngest preserves the digits in their normal condition. The speculation whether a like rule or its converse may or may not prevail in the ape; whether it might not through generations during which the congenital defect of the gorilla, or absence of the characteristic syndactyly, might be transmitted, operate towards the production of a more prehensive form of hand, must, however, be postponed until a vaster series of specimens shall be examined by anthropologists or zoologists.
On the ligamentous action of the long muscles in man and other animals. By Dr. CLELAND (Da.)—The author pointed out that, in the human subject, maximum flexion of the hip-joint could not be obtained along with full extension of the knee, on account of the shortness of the hamstring muscles; and so also maximum flexion of the ankle-joint, along with full extension of the knee, was prevented by the shortness of the gastrocnemius muscle. This limitation of movements by the shortness of muscles, he said was best seen in the humeral region of the horse, where it was so great that very little flexion or extension of the shoulder could occur without a cortesponding movement at the elbow; well-marked instances of similar interdependence of joints were to be found in other parts of the horse, and also in other animals--e.g., in the legs and wings of birds. He proceeded to show that movements of that description compelled in the humeral region of the horse were exactly those most frequently and usefully employed by human beings; that the shoulder and elbow were usually flexed and extended together; that likewise in walking, leaping, &c., flexion and extension of the hip, knee, and ankle went together; that in those movements the long muscles were not alternately contracted and extended, but kept in a state of medium contraction, very slightly altering their length, and were, therefore, evidently not the muscles which produced those movements. On the other hand, it was shown that a muscle passing over two joints, if maintaining a definite length, would cause another muscle passing over only one of them to act upon both. It was argued, that in the movements referred to, the long muscles gave force, but not velocity.
Notes upon the opening of a Cist of the Stone Age, on the Coast of the Moray Frith. By GEORGE E. ROBERTS, F.A.S.L., and Professor Busk, F.R.S. - Mr. Roberts says that, in company with his friends Dr. Gordon and Mr. Harvey Gem, he had lately visited two mounds situated upon the sandy shores at Bannat Hill, a mile from Burghead; and after examining their contents, they turned their attention to the small cairns of rudely piled stones which lie a few yards from one of the shell middens, and which evidently marked the burial places of the tribe. Two of these were piled around small enclosed spaces, formed by the junction of four upright stones. A fragment of human jaw lying on the sand outside one of those led them to search among its contents for other bones, but unsuccessfully. The second cairn, however, with its central cist, yielded better evidence. This, like the neighbouring tomb, was a rude erection of four flat sandstone slabs, placed vertically, so as to enclose a space 30 inches long by 20 inches in width. The depth of the stone, which nearly corresponded with that of the grave, was 22 inches. Three of the stones had been slightly smoothed before use. The direction of this grave was S.S.E. by N.N.W. This, however, was of no moment, as the adjoining one differed so much in this respect as to lie at nearly right angles to it. The cavity thus formed was filled with sand, into which they dug, and presently succeeded in discovering a skeleton, which had apparently been buried in a crouching position, the legs below the knee being bent beneath the hams, and the head bowed towards the knees, brachycephalic, and presenting other peculiarities, which Mr. Busk had described in a note attached to the paper. From the position of the skeleton he was at first inclined to consider that the cist had never been broken into, but the absence of some few of the vertebræ and of the smaller bones, rendered this somewhat uncertain, though the disturbance, whether from curiosity or another motive, seemed to have been insignificant. He regretted, however, to add, that the box in which he
of the stone ponded with thaidth. The de
packed the bones was tampered with during its transit from Elgin to London, and some of the bones, including the lower jaw, from which precious evidence might have been obtained bearing on the Moulin Quignon enigma, never reached him. He had made inquiries about the matter since, but fruitlessly. No pottery or fashioned stones accompanied the skeleton.
The note by Professor Busk was to the effect that the bones had belonged apparently to a young individual about five feet eight or nine inches in height, of slight make, and no great muscular development. At first sight, from the comparative delicacy of form and want of muscular impressions, one would be inclined to regard them as those of a woman, but if so she must have been of more than the usual stature. Unfortunately no part of the pelvis, which would enable a correct judgment as to this point to be formed, was found among the remains. If the owner was a man he must have been a small size, and not of a strong build, with a remarkably small head for a male. The cranium was decidedly brachycephalic, the proportions of length to breadth being as 1.00 to .823, and for its size rather unusually high, the proportion of that dimension being to the length as 808 to 1.00. The forehead was narrow, and the superorbital ridges very slightly projecting, although the frontal sinuses were well developed. Compared with other ancient crania this might be regarded as belonging to the same class as those which had been considered as appertaining to the stone period of the North of Europe.
Mr. CARTER" BLAKE said that although the shortheaded propor. tions of the skull reminded us of the skulls of the stone period of Denmark, or of the skull which had been discovered at Kellet, in Lancashire; although the manner in which the body was entombed, with the corpse in a crouching posture, are to a certain extent in accordance with similar conditions in such ancient remains, as, e.g., those from Aurignac, in the south of France; yet the undoubted association of the skeleton with bronze remains, precluded our conception of such an extreme antiquity as that which would be coeval with the formation of the shell mounds of Denmark. More recent evidences, however, acquired by Mr. Lubbock, have rewarded that inquirer, by undoubted bronze remains from kjokkenmöddings in Scotland, and the important facts which Mr. Roberts and Professor Busk had laid before the Section, have for the first time given us reliable evidence respecting the physical characters of these old prehistoric inhabitants of Scotland. Although the harsher features which characterized the skulls of the Danish stone period are softened, yet there is just so much family likeness as to lead us to the conclusion that one and the same general type of man inhabited Northern Europe, in Denmark, before the Baltic had so changed its beds, as to be no longer capable of
supporting those especially marine mollusca, which have passed away since the advent of our hunting and fishing population on its shores.
J. CRAWFURD, Esq., F.R.S., On the Commixture of the Races of Man as affecting the Progress of Civilization.—It was not until the discovery of a new world that races of man of strikingly contrasted qualities came to intermix. In the western world, the intermixture of nations which followed the conquests—first of the Romans, and afterwards of the northern nations—was an union of races of equal quality; and hence it cannot be predicated that either improvement or deterioration was the result. Very different was the case in the eastern world. There Greeks, Romans, and Goths intermingled with races greatly inferior to themselves—such as Egyptians and Syrians—and hence the deterioration to which, in a great measure, must be ascribed that decline in civilization which ended in the downfall of the Roman power. Nature has endowed the various races of man with widely different qualities, bodily and mental, much in the same way as it has done with several closely allied species of the lower animals. When the qualities of different races of man are equal, no detriment results from their union. The mongrel French and English are equal to the pure breeds of Germany and Scandinavia. When, on the other hand, they are unequal, deterioration of the higher race is the inevitable result. When the disparity of races is extreme, no amalgamation at all takes place, for an antipathy is the result, somewhat similar to that which prevents admixture between closely allied species of the lower animals in the wild state. The Hottentots, the Caffres, and the Negroes of Southern Africa have lived immemorially side by side without crossing. The author then remarked that the antipathy of race is presented in the greatest intensity and on the largest scale in the new world, the highest and lowest types of man being there brought face to face. The author then alluded to the laws of several of the American states with regard to Negroes, and stated his opinion that it is the presence of this African race, too prone to live and labour in slavery or in social degradation, and utterly incapable of rising to an equality with the higher race among whom it has been planted, that has caused the .present distracted state of the North-American continent.
Mr. CRAWFURD's Second Paper commenced with the Mongolian Race. As the race seems one throughout, although, by alternations of invasions and conquests, no doubt considerable intermixture must have taken place, no appreciable difference, whether in physical form or intellectual capacity, has followed. Towards the western frontier, however, there seems to have been some commixture with the Hindus,