Part III: Establishing a Palelithic I.Q.
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 Papers Series
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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 observed: (57)
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., 1948, p.103.
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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.
Marcellin Boule, 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.
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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 concluded: (65)
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.
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degree by pressure applied with bandages during the first ten or fifteen years of growth. (67)
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 wrote: (70)
It follows 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, p.191.
68. “The Supposed Evolution of the Human Skull,” Part IV in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 in The Doorway Papers Series.
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.
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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.
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these same people give evidence of having plenty of intelligence and no little artistic skill.
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.
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One 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 Paper. (74)
74. “If Adam Had Not Died,” Part III in The Virgin Birth and the Incarnation, vol.5 in The Doorway Papers Series..
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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved
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