Table of Contents
Part III: Establishing a Palelithic
Intelligence as Judged by Facial
and Head Forms
THERE IS NO
doubt that some people who look intelligent, are intelligent:
and there is no doubt that some people who look idiotic, are
idiots. In both cases we are guided as a rule by the appearance
of the face -- not by the shape of the skull. The point is an
important one. It is possible for an artist to impose upon the
same skull whether it is large, normal, or small a face which
suggests a philosopher or a moron, according to his fancy. It
is not true that everyone who looks intelligent is intelligent,
but there is truth in the observation that the man who looks
like an idiot is likely to be one. Faces can be deceiving, but
there is no question that we do make judgments on the basis of
something we see there, whether it is apathy or animation, sparkle
or vacuity, or whatever it may be: and in a large number of cases
our judgment is apt to be correct.
Thus, if we had actual portraits
of Paleolithic Men, we might be in some position to judge more
precisely whether their faces were intelligent faces or as vacuous
as the face of an ape. But since we do not have such portraits
(there may be a possible exception), (56) since we have only skulls and often only a small
part at that, there really is no way in which we can assess their
intelligence on the basis of bone structure.
There are, of course, certain configurations
of the cranium which appear to us to imply brutality or nobility,
according to whether the form approaches the idealized White
Man both with respect to proportion and to size (i.e., as to
cranial capacity). But it is very important
56. This exception is possibly to be found
in the beautiful ivory head discovered by Dr. Karl Absolon at
Vestonice which he suggests is the earliest known portrait of
a human being. Several beautiful photographic reproductions appear
in Illustrated London News, London, Oct. 2, 1937; and
see also "The Fallacy of Anthropological Reconstructions,"
Part V. in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 in The Doorway
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to keep in mind that
the human skull under certain conditions is very plastic and
can, due to influences which result from eating habits, and certain
diseases, be deformed in a way which increasingly approximates
the gorilla-type of skull configuration. And it is equally important
to bear in mind that there does not appear to be any clearly
established relationship between mental capacity and cranial
capacity, some geniuses having surprisingly small heads and some
idiots surprisingly large ones. Yet so strong is the pressure
of evolutionary philosophy upon our thinking that whenever we
are presented with a reconstructed head in which the features
have been brutalized by the artist, and whenever we are informed
in the accompanying text that the owner's cranial capacity was
less than that of modern man by such and such an amount, we automatically
and inevitably assume that the creature was something more nearly
animal than human in mental capacity. Franz Boas has rightly
By analogy, we associate lower
mental traits with brute-like features. In our naive everyday
parlance, brutish features and brutality are closely connected.
We must distinguish here, however, between anatomical, muscular
development of the face, trunk and limbs due to the habits of
life. . . . We are also inclined to draw inferences in
regard to mentality from a receding forehead, a heavy jaw, large
and heavy teeth, perhaps even from inordinate length of arms
or an unusual development of hairiness.
It appears that neither cultural
achievement nor outward appearance is a safe basis upon which
to judge the mental aptitude of races.
We shall now
consider very briefly these two factors, the brutalization of
the facial form and the assessment of cranial capacity in fossil
men. And, since this is a more straightforward matter, we will
consider first the significance of cranial capacity.
Perhaps the most succinct and comprehensive
review of the significance of cranial capacity as an index of
intelligence was written by Weidenreich in 1948. His opening
words in this article were as follows: (58)
The discovery of the remains
of Peking Man in the cave of Choukoutien, and evidences of a
relatively advanced culture at the same site, confronted paleontologists
with a new, unexpected and vital problem.
The find of ash layers and burned
stones and bones revealed that the man who lived there had knowledge
of fire; and the find of stone implements, some of them skillfully
chipped, proved that this man was already an able artisan.
On the other hand, the anatomical
record of the skulls shows that the cave dwellers represented
a very primitive type, morphologically
57. Boas, F., Mind of Primitive Man, Macmillan,
2nd edition., 1939, pp.16f.
58. Weidenreich, Franz, "The Human Brain in the Light of
Its Phylogenetic Development," Scientific Monthly, Aug.,
inferior to any fossil human type unearthed
up to that time. The cranial capacity of the first skull to be
found is not much over 900 cc.
in discussing these finds, was so convinced that a creature with
a cranial capacity so small could not possibly have produced
this kind of culture that he therefore had to assume that some
higher race, morphologically more modern, had overwhelmed the
primitives with their small brains, whose bones were represented
by Peking Man, and after so doing had left the artifacts and
other cultural evidences which were therefore their own work
and not that of Peking Man. (59) Weidenreich used this proposal by Boule as a springboard
for a most conclusive essay which showed that the underlying
concept which relates brain size to culture level is quite insupportable
from the evidence. And, in Weidenreich's view, the convolutions
or surface complexities of the brain do not give any indication
of level of intelligence either.
He deplored the confidence with
which the statement is often made that "cranial capacity
is a fairly accurate measure of the mental status from the most
primitive primates to Homo sapiens." (60) And he said, "We do not know of any fact which
proves that the mere increase of the size of the brain is tantamount
to an advance in mental ability." (61) He pointed out that the famous phrenologist himself,
Gall, Anatole France the French novelist, and Gambetta the French
statesman, each had a cranial capacity of about 1100 cu. cm.
At the other extreme, we have the English writer Dean Jonathan
Swift, the English poet Lord Byron, and the Russian novelist
Turgeniev, all with a cranial capacity of about 2000 cu. cm.
(62) So Weidenreich
properly posed the question, "Had Turgeniev really twice
the mental ability of Anatole France?" And he pointed out
that one of the first fossil specimens of Early Man which seemed
to support the view that man was more brutish at the beginning,
was Neanderthal Man whose cranial capacity was around 1650 cu.
cm., which is considerably above the average modern European.
It is sometimes said that man has
a larger brain relative to his body weight than any other creature.
This, too, said Weidenreich, is quite wrong, for man is far surpassed
in this respect by the dwarf monkeys of South America, the marmosets,
which have one gram of brain per 27 grams of body substance as
opposed to man's one gram of brain substance to 44 grams of body
weight. (63) And
he is even more
61. Ibid., p.104.
62. Ibid., p.105.
63. Ibid., p.104.
far surpassed by the
Capuchin monkey with one gram of brain substance to every 17.5
grams of body substance, i.e., approximately two and a half times
as great, relatively speaking.
Again, in the matter of complexity
of surface, there is no evidence in man's favour. For, "in
the pattern of the surface of the hemispheres, primates and man
do not differ from other mammalian orders with regard to the
presence and abundance of the wrinkle system." (64) For example, the Capuchin
monkey, which many experimental psychologists regard as equal
to any highly gifted chimpanzee, possesses an almost smooth brain
surface: on the other hand, the whale has the greatest number
of finest wrinkles all over the hemispheres of its brain and
the most intricate arrangement of all animals. Thus Weidenreich
All recorded facts indicate
that neither the size nor the form of the brain, the surface
of the hemispheres or their wrinkled pattern in general or in
detail furnishes a reliable clue to the amount and degree of
general or specific mental qualities.
In keeping with
this general conclusion, it is not too surprising to find Weidenreich
express the opinion that in the face of all these facts, "It
is hard to understand why people cannot get rid of the idea that
mere size or configuration of a special convolution or fissure
must give a clue to mental qualities." (66)
It has been argued that any otherwise
normally built man, the cranial capacity of whose head is less
than 900 cc., cannot but be an idiot. Nevertheless, under certain
circumstances, a remarkable amount of brain tissue can be to
all intents and purposes rendered inactive, and yet the patient
may continue to act as an intelligent and effective member of
society -- indeed, more effective for the loss sustained. The
former principle of measuring intelligence by the number of cubic
centimeters of gray matter is now well recognized to be without
foundation, and yet this popular view which seems to fit so nicely
into an evolutionary philosophy is still kept alive, simply because
it does agree so well with that philosophy. There is almost no
factual basis for it.
Turning, then, to the brutalization
of the face. Unlike other animals, man is a very slow-maturing
creature both physiologically and psychologically. This allows
for a great deal of bone modification to take place before the
final "set" is given to the face. Some primitive cultures
deliberately distort the bone structure to an extraordinary
64. Ibid., p.106.
65. Ibid., p.107.
66. Ibid., p.106.
degree by pressure applied
with bandages during the first ten or fifteen years of growth.
Thus, there is remarkable plasticity
here, and certain factors of an environmental or a cultural nature
can have tremendous effect in modifying features. In another
Doorway Paper, (68)
we have explored at some length and illustrated with a number
of line drawings the effect of such "pressures" in
order to show that the normal tendency is for the bone structure
of the face and head to be brutalized wherever these pressures
result from primitive conditions of living. The eating of uncooked
or partially cooked foods has the effect, especially in childhood,
of strengthening the jaw mechanism and causing it to become more
massive in structure, and the increased musculature deforms the
skull in certain unmistakable ways. The overall effect is to
depress the forehead, rendering the brow ridges more prominent,
and forcing outwards the zygomatic arch, thus accentuating the
cheekbones. The tugging of flesh from bone in the absence of
knives may also accentuate these modifications of the normal
jaw structure. Squatting in the absence of chairs may have a
tendency to arch the back and lead to the head being carried
more forward with respect to the shoulders, so that the muscles
that hold the head erect are not only increased in mass but cause
also a corresponding enlarging of the bone where the anchorage
occurs along the occipital torus. These effects may be particularly
pronounced when the diet is lacking in bone hardening substances.
Thus the overall effect in a primitive
society is very often to produce a facial form that is peculiarly
brutalized, not for genetic reasons but for historic ones, i.e.,
reasons in the life history of the individual. That this kind
of brutalization can take place even among a people who have
once known a higher culture and have been forcibly thrust out
into a harsh environment, is borne out by what happened to certain
Irish families of whom Robert Chambers spoke so eloquently. (69) Thus Professor Wallis
that a return to the conditions of diet and life which characterized
prehistoric man would be followed by a return to his physical
type. Yet if there were this transition to a type more simian
67. For some photographs showing the extraordinary
extent to which the human head can be deformed without injuring
the owner, see the article by Beatrice Blackwood and P. M. Danby,
"Artificial Cranial Deformation in New Britain," Journal
of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Jan.-Mar., 1955,
68. "The Supposed Evolution of the Human Skull," Part
IV in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 in The Doorway Papers
69. Chambers, Robert, "Vestiges of the Natural History of
Creation," Churchill, London, 1844.
70. Wallis, W. D., "The Structure of Prehistoric Man,"
in The Making of Man, edited by V. F. Calverton, Modern
Library, New York, 1931, pp.72-73.
we could not say that we were approaching
a common ancestor. The similarity would not be due to the transmission
of qualities from a common ancestor of a remote past. If this
be true, it is equally true that an increase in similarities
as we push back the time period does not imply common ancestry.
. . . It seems clear that mere resemblance does not constitute
an argument of phylogenetic descent.
This is not
a new concept by any means. It has been admitted freely by many
authorities: Portmann, Wallis, Hooten, Howells, Hrdlicka, Ackerknecht,
Johnson, Coon, Pycraft, Wood Jones, and Gladwin. The phenomenon
can be best described as illustrating what is commonly called
convergence, in which living organisms approach each other in
form when they are subjected to the same environmental pressures.
Since this must often occur in nature, it is not surprising to
find Leo S. Berg stating that "convergence and not divergence
is the rule, not the exception. It appears to be all pervasive
both among plants and animals, present, recent and extinct." (71)
In summary, therefore, it may be
said that quite apart from disease, a normal, healthy, human
cranium can be brutalized merely as the result of a series of
factors in the total environment which have nothing to do whatever
with animal ancestry. And it becomes possible for the possessor
of a fine intelligent brain to leave behind a skull which would
be interpreted by anthropologists as being far down the scale
of evolving man. We tend to assume that the painters of those
extraordinary subterranean art galleries in Europe must have
had features and head forms of noble and benign appearance. In
point of fact, they may have been quite brutal in appearance.
This may not have been so, but some of the skulls which
have been reconstructed in our museums into half-ape half-men
creatures may in fact have been the housings of highly intelligent
and refined minds. It is true that one would expect a high intelligence
to enable its possessor to live a more refined existence, an
existence which would minimize the harsh effects of food and
climate upon the bony structure of the skull. But modern Eskimos,
who still follow the traditional ways of living for the greater
part of their lives, show at least some of the features which
characterize the skull of an ape, a powerful jaw and a mild form
of keel in the roof of the skull where the attachment of the
muscle has reinforced itself, a slightly depressed forehead and
strengthened brow ridges, and a face which from the front is
seen to be widest at the level of the zygomatic arches rather
than in the temporal region as in those whose upbringing has
been gentler. Yet
71. Berg, Leo S., Nomogenesis: of Evolution
Determined by Law, English translation, Constable and Co.,
London, 1926, p.174.
these same people give
evidence of having plenty of intelligence and no little artistic
There is also the factor of disease.
Neanderthal skulls are sometimes held to be diseased skulls,
and some of the stoop attributed to certain fossil specimens
is now believed to be a result of bone disease of various kinds.
Moreover, it is still well established that certain disorders
of the endocrine gland can have the effect of greatly modifying
the bone structure, and always in such a direction as to tend
towards the brutalization of it in its appearance. (72) In view of the fact that
disease is believed to have been in evidence in only a few instances
of fossil man, we shall not enlarge upon it, but the reader will
find much interesting and elegant information in the works of
the following: Brody, Dorsey, Haddon, Keith, Mason and Swyer,
Speer, and Soffer. (73)
There is, therefore, little from
history to support the evolutionary interpretation of the development
of intelligence in man from a low to a high level. One cannot
assume evolution, and then use the assumption to arrange
the evidence in such a way as to provide the proof of it. We
have no knowledge of any normal child born in health into even
the most primitive tribe of which we have any record, who was
any less intelligent or educable in the right conditions than
our modern hospital babies. And conversely, we do know that a
modern hospital baby can grow up to be more brutal, savage, and
inhuman than any primitive people have ever shown themselves
to be. Neither tools, art, head form, cranial capacity, nor facial
features will support the supposed evolution of man. An arrangement
of the evidence can be made which superficially may look as though
it is supporting this theory, but the whole artificial structure
is undermined by the unexpected discovery (one might almost say,
unwelcomed discovery) of a completely modern type who appears
to be earlier than his supposed ancestors -- like Swanscombe
and Fontechevade Man, for example.
72. For example, see Jesse William's textbook
of Anatomy and Physiology, Saunders, Philadelphia, 5th
edition 1935, fn. p.49.
73. Brody, S., "Science and Dietary Wisdom," Scientific
Monthly, Sept., 1945, p.216.
74. George Dorsey, Why We Behave Like Human Beings, Blue
Ribbon Books, New York 7, 1925, pp.108-109; A. C. Haddon,
History of Anthropology, Thinkers Library, London, 1949,
p.34f.; Sir Arthur Keith, quoted by Sir John A. Thompson, The
Outline of Science, vol.4, New York, Putnam, 1922, p.1097;
and "Evolution of the Human Races in the Light of the Hormone
Theory," Johns Hopkins Bulletin, 1922; A. Stuart
Mason and G. I. M. Swyer, Endocrine Disorders, Fairlawn,
New York, 1959, pp.15-17; Robert Speer, Of One Blood,
Friendship House, New York, 1924, p.11; and Louis J. Soffer,
"Diseases of the Endocrine Glands," Lea and
Febiger, Philadelphia, 1956, pp.103-104.
problem which has plagued the whole study of the origin of man
has been to define what is man as opposed to what is animal.
Although the definition that I am going to propose in the Epilogue
could hardly be considered a satisfactory one from a scientific
point of view, because no conceivable experiments could be performed
to test it out, from the theological point of view, it has much
to commend it -- and this definition will therefore be explored
as a Christian rather than a scientific concept. This might appear
to be quite unsatisfactory in approaching a subject which most
people would consider to be essentially a physiological matter.
There are two things which may be said about this, however: first,
that the Christian faith does not look upon man as a spiritual
being rather incidentally provided with a body as a temporary
measure, but as a spiritual being indwelling a body which was
uniquely designed as a proper house without which the spirit
cannot express itself completely. Thus, the nature of man's body
is very important in the Christian view. And secondly, anthropologists
themselves have been quite unable to come up with a definition
of man, as opposed to the animals, which will provide a clear
cut guide in the assessment of fossil remains. So there is some
justification for seeking a Christian definition of man to distinguish
him from the animals. Our need is to be able to identify the
hallmark of humanness, and as man now is, I believe this hallmark
must be sought in the realm of the soul, not the body. I am persuaded
that un-Fallen man was distinct from animals physiologically
as well as spiritually, but this is the subject of another Doorway
74. "If Adam Had Not Died," Part
III in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in
The Doorway Papers Series..
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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